National Park Cancellation Stamps: What is this all about?

Our First Park Together

My wife and I moved to New Jersey (we don’t live there now), back in 2006.  We ended up close to Morristown and continued to drive by Washington’s Headquarters, a National Historical Park.At some point in the spring, we took the time on a nice to stop by and check it out.  It was fun time, wildflowers were blooming, and while there was some construction, the visit was wonderful.  One thing that struck me was that something so historical, and meaningful to the trajectory of our country was basically in our backyard.

two story white colonial house sunny clear day
Washington’s HQ in Morristown NJ

Today, over fifteen years later, I just received a letter back from the Morristown National Historical Park. They provided us with the passport cancellation stamps from our visit.  The stamps will go into our new Passport book so we can begin our journey to visit our National Parks across the country.  How did this happen? I have caught a bug, called collecting National Park Cancellation Stamps.

Letter to NPS and stamps from Morristown NHS

What are National Park Cancellation Stamps?

This all started when we visited the Outer Banks North Carolina on vacation with our two kids in 2018. We visited the Wright Brother National Memorial as a break from all the sun and sand. I saw a passport stamp at the visitor center and asked for more information.  Apparently, there are stamps at almost all National Park Service properties, over 400!  There are also special stamps for special commemorations, National Historic Trails, Lighthouses, etc. That expands the number of potential stamps one can obtain into the thousands (!!).  What a great low impact way to remember a trip!  Best of all the stamps are offered free of charge! If you want to learn more, check out my page that talks all about them here.

Open passport to your national park book with stamps

After learning a little about the program, we thought it would be a nice memento of our visit to NC.  The kids stamped the book, and the stamps are a little messy, and double stamped, but all good.

Blue Passport to your national Park book on wood table

Fast forward to 2022. After haphazardly getting, and not getting stamps on our vacations, (Independence NHP, George Washington’s Birthplace NM, Great Smoky Mountains NP), I sat down with the blue passport book and started to flip through the sites. Boy, there were a lot of places we have already visited!  It was a good list!  Statue of Liberty, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Mesa Verde, San Juan, Death Valley.   Since the kids are getting older, we have started to make a concerted effort to plan bigger trips. After that we found that we could have a great time building them around the National Parks.

We are planning trips to DC, Florida and next year, a big one out west to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons!  (More to come later.)

What about all those missing Cancellations stamps from places we have already visited?

We have visited at least 14 different NPS properties in the past, so is there is a way to travel back in time and get these stamps?  The answer is of course Yes!   Sending a well-crafted letter to the NPS contact address with a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) to the sites has created good results.  We included a few pictures from our visits and try to be as complimentary as possible.  After two weeks, we have already received 5 letters back!  Along with the Morristown NHP, we also received letters from Mesa Verde National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Independence NHP, FDR National Historical Site and Vanderbilt National Historical Site.

Letter from National Park Service with Stamp from Puerto Rico

I was so impressed with the FDR/Vanderbilt NHS.  While they were the first to reply, they took the time to write a full letter replying to my request, including an apology for some of the stamps being slightly off.  I think it turned out just fine!

We are excited about the next steps for our journey and hope to be able to share more into the future!

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