Arches National Park ranger Alice de Anguera led a guided walk at the park. Admission to all national parks and national monuments will be free from Thursday, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 28, and Arches is planning to host a number of free events to celebrate the National Park Service's 100th birthday. [Photo by Andrew Kuhn / Courtesy of Chris Wonderly]

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday this month, with free admission to all national parks and national monuments from Thursday, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 28.

Two events are planned for “Founders Day” on Aug. 25 at the Arches National Park Visitor Center and the Moab Information Center.

From 7 to 9 p.m. that night, the National Park Film Festival will be held at Arches.

“Movies will be about parks outside the area and units that people don’t always think of as national parks,” Arches supervisory park ranger Lee Ferguson said. “There’s a diversity of units in the park system.”

Free tickets will be distributed on Thursday, Aug. 18, in-person, on a first-come, first served basis at both the Moab Information Center and the Arches Visitor Center. Tickets are limited to four per person. Seating is limited to 144 people.

The national park system has 401 units, including parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historic parks, historic sites, lakeshores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. Yellowstone became the nation’s first national park on March 1, 1872. The National Park Service was created by an Act of Congress and signed by President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916.

Birthday cake will be served after the movie showings, although beverages will not be available. Thus, Ferguson recommends that people bring their own water bottles.

At the Moab Information Center, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be 10 tables set up with interesting displays, as well as hands-on activities for kids and adults.

For example, park rangers will lead a junior ranger station; there will be information about “dark sky” programs; plus, representatives from agency partners – Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks, and Canyonlands Natural History Association will be on hand to talk about their organizations.

“We’re focusing the event on efforts to preserve these parks for future generations, which is the mission of the National Park Service,” Canyonlands Island in the Sky District park ranger Michael Rupp said.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes,” such as preserving Native American ruins and rock art, and monitoring sensitive animal species. The park service will also discuss what the agency is doing regarding vegetation, Rupp said.

“Founders Day is a chance for all of us to come together in a central location in town – as a good way to serve our visitors,” Rupp said. “We can share our passion, and our knowledge (of the parks).”

From wild landscapes, to national seashores, to historical battle sites, the park service has something to offer everyone, Rupp said.

Additionally, at the MIC, park rangers will be available to assist visitors with trip planning, he added.

MIC will celebrate park service centennial with hands-on activities

What: National Park Film Festival

When: Thursday, Aug. 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Arches Visitor Center, Arches National Park

Cost: Free

Information: 435-719-2241

What: National Park Service Centennial Celebration

When: Thursday, Aug. 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Moab Information Center, corner of Main and Center streets

Cost: Free

Information: 435-259-6003

For more information about the film festival, call 435-719-2241. To learn more about the Founders Day events at the Moab Information Center, call 435-259-6003.