National Park Service Centennial Rife With Events for Photographers

You may have heard … 2016 is the centennial of the National Park Service.

To celebrate, pretty much every park is planning special events and activities, many of which will be of interest to photographers. A few examples that were announced before the end of last year:

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park: “Shaft of Light” Photography Tour in July, highlighting the annual perfect conditions for a beam of sunlight to shine straight down to the cave floor
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve: Restoring Kennecott copper mine buildings (which are a fantastic photo subject), and exhibiting the recently donated prints by longtime local photographer George Herben
  • Acadia National Park: Two "Winter in Acadia" photography retreats led by Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, a three-time park artist-in-residence and the author of Photographing Acadia National Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park: Summer photo exhibit at the Loomis Museum, plus the Lassen Association offering photography seminars

Winter at Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, © 2012 Chris Nicholson

Also, many parks are planning events of particular interest to night photographers. Interest in night photography is rising as quickly as camera technology improvements are pushing the limits of what’s possible to capture in low light. And the national parks—many of which have pristine night skies, due to their size and remote locations—are using that interest to draw stargazers to visit.

Last year, Shenandoah, Acadia, Badlands and Pinnacles (among others) all offered night programs, including festivals and photography field trips. More are on deck for this year, including at Great Basin, Sequoia and Bryce Canyon.

The darkness of night is something the National Park Service takes seriously. Its website even has a Night Sky page that includes information about how darkness is being protected, and which also offers access to the NPS’s Night Sky Database of the U.S.

As more and more centennial events are announced, more of these opportunities will come to light. (Ha!) Be sure to keep an eye on the websites of your favorite parks to see what might be on the horizon. Also, check out, which is a virtual clearinghouse of information on centennial-related events. Lastly, be sure to follow National Parks at Night on Twitter and Facebook—we’ll announce any such events we hear about.

Seize the night!

Chris Nicholson is the author of Photographing National Parks (Sidelight Books, 2015). Learn more about national parks as photography destinations, subscribe to Chris' free e-newsletter, and more at

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