Our wildly wonderful national parks give us so much. From endless beauty and inspiration to awesome outdoor adventures – we all benefit from our parks in so many ways. 

We hope this list inspires you to give back to your national parks during this season of giving!

1. Join Us

Want to learn more about what National Park Trust is doing to complete (yes, complete!) our national parks? Are you interested in helping young people discover and care for our parks?

Join our e-community and follow our social media posts:


2. Volunteer

The cold months are a perfect time to assist National Park Service staff as they complete maintenance projects that were deferred during the busy summer months.

Be sure to talk with a park ranger first. Then, gather a group of friends to help with trail maintenance, clean-ups, and other conservation projects!

3. Walk the Talk

More than 330 million people visited our national parks last year. It is up to us to inspire others to respect and care for our ecological and cultural resources by practicing leave-no-trace principles.

Lead by example when you share your park adventures by planning ahead, disposing of waste properly, respecting wildlife and other visitors, and leaving what you find behind for others to discover.

4. Share the Wonder of Parks With Kids

Every unit in our National Park System is a treasure worthy of protection. For almost 150 years, national parks have been defended by a passionate community of park champions.

It is up to all of us to continue this important work by taking young people from every community to parks now. Use our ParkPassport App to plan your trip. 


5. Donate to National Park Trust on Giving Tuesday

When you make a gift to the Park Trust on December 3rd, it will be used right away to defend the habitats of endangered species, clean air and waterways, dark skies, natural sounds, and the stories that define this country.

Add a Giving Tuesday Reminder to Your Calendar:


Have you ever heard a strange sound when walking through the woods? Or come across an abandoned cabin? These are typical experiences when exploring the outdoors but they are also the root of many great scary stories. Here are some chilling tales to put you in the Halloween mood:

Galen Clark, known as Yosemite’s first park ranger, picked up a few ghost stories during his day.

Yosemite National Park – One of the nation’s most well-known parks is certainly not immune to paranormal reportings. In 1857, Galen Clark (the park’s first ranger) reported a strange wailing sound coming from Grouse Lake. Believing it was a puppy that was lost, he thought little of it. But when he asked a group of Native people at their camp, they told him that the sounds belong to a boy who drowned long ago and since that time howls at passers-by. To this day, tales of the Grouse Lake Ghost are still told within the park, with many fearing his harrowing cries. 

Grand Canyon National Park – During the 1920s, it is said that a father and son fell to their death after losing their footing on the Transept Trail, near Grand Canyon Lodge. The child’s mother, upon hearing the news of her husband and son, became so overcome with sorrow that she decided to take her own life. Known as the ‘Wailing Woman’, hikers have claimed to have heard her spirit howl as it roams the path her loved ones last took. 

Mammoth Cave National Park – The country’s biggest cave system has generated more than 150 paranormal reportings – not surprising given it makes up 400 miles of subterranean passages. Many reportings have come from park rangers who deliver tours, but one particular story is well known. It concerns the fate of Floyd Collins, a cave explorer who was pinned down by a boulder at the entrance to Sand Cave. Trapped and in pain, Collins waited for rescuers to arrive, but it was to no avail: four days later, a rockfall sealed him inside the cave and he starved to death. His fate has sparked claims that his spirit still lingers amongst the dark passages.

Pictured is William Floyd Collins, whose corpse used to be on display inside Mammoth Cave National Park.

Said to prowl the area along the Norton Creek Trail, Spearfinger was an old witch who had one long finger that was made out of obsidian and deadly sharp.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – If the misty mountains of this park weren’t eerie enough, wait until you hear this Cherokee legend. It concerns the haunting of an evil witch the Cherokee called Spearfinger who roams the Great Norton Creek Trail. Preying on children, the legend claims that she disguises herself as a grandmother to lure them away from their homes. Then, using her sharp knife-like finger, she cuts them up to feed on their body parts. While many believe this story to be a myth, Cherokee hunters claim to have spotted her on numerous occasions.

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Of course, no story about paranormal activity can be complete without discussing UFO sightings. In the sandy plains of southern Colorado, strange lights are commonly reported to appear across the night sky. Some claim that this phenomenon first began in the 1600s when local Native people first recorded seeing strange objects in the sky. To this day, there are still continuing reports of lights, ranging from patterned streaks to random dots, contributing to the unsolved mysteries of the area.

If these tales didn’t scare you enough, be sure to check out the following links:


Apply Now for a Free Park Trip!

Kids to Parks Day is May 16, 2020! National Park Trust (NPT) invites students across the country to participate in the 10th annual Kids to Parks Day, a nationwide grassroots movement to celebrate America’s parks and public lands.

In honor of this day, NPT is once again hosting the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest to help educators engage their students with their local parks. This national contest is open to all Title I schools in the United States (grades pre-K through 12). Classes can receive funding for a Kids to Parks Day event at a local park or public land/waterway in their community.

Students must research and write the proposal themselves. (Though we encourage teachers to provide support and feedback!) Teachers and staff will also have a short section to complete as well. Your entries should explain how your experience will promote education, health and wellness, and park stewardship. NPT will award park grants up to $1,000 to winning entries. We encourage schools to implement their Kids to Parks Day event during the month of May 2020 but exceptions can be made based on school schedules.

The Contest opens October 23rd, 2019 and all entries are due by February 14th, 2020.

To learn more, or to apply, visit

Arts in Parks

October is Arts in Parks month! Whether you are inspired by a park to create your own art, wish to visit an artist in residence at a park, or tour a historic site to learn about an artist, the National Park system has so much to offer! To learn more about the artistic happenings in our parks, available all year long, visit

Four of NPT’s Buddy Bison Youth Leadership team participated in the #ParkArt challenge this month, check out their creative works of art below:

Photographed by Clara

Drawn by Penny

Painted by Sofia

Painted by Audrey

NPT and Partners Add 1,495 Acres to the Appalachian Trail

If you’ve seen the pristine waters and lush terrain at Maine’s Bald Mountain Pond, you’d understand why National Park Trust (NPT) worked with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), National Park Foundation (NPF), Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), The Conservation Alliance, and Elliotsville Foundation on the acquisition of an adjacent 1,495-acre parcel of old-growth woodland to benefit the National Park Service’s Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT).

The remoteness and scenic views make the property an iconic destination for backcountry adventures that combine paddling and hiking on the AT into a single day’s outing. Preserving this land from development also protects the nearby Bald Mountain Pond which is one of the few bodies of water that holds landlocked arctic char in the lower 48 states. The federally-listed threatened Canada Lynx also roams nearby, along with moose, fisher and black bears. It is one of the largest 150-year-old forest blocks in central Maine.

On September 20, 2019, National Park Trust and our partners held a dedication ceremony in Monson, ME to unveil a new plaque that is now displayed in the Monson Maine Appalachian Trail Visitor Center to honor the contributions of two career National Park Service employees, John Kauffmann and Ben Thompson, to the NPS science program.

This land protection was made possible thanks to an extraordinary bequest from John Kauffmann to NPT and the National Park Foundation and wind mitigation funds received by TPL, a generous gift from The Conservation Alliance and grassroots work by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. TPL bought the land and in June 2019 officially transferred ownership to the National Park Service.

NPT board member Elizabeth Ulmer and Howie Thompson, son of Ben Thompson, check out the newly unveiled dedication plaque that is now displayed in the Monson Maine Appalachian Trail Visitor Center.