So far, more than six hundred Traveler readers have accepted our invitation to view the extended version of the Marine Corps commercial “America’s Marines” and try to identify the NPS units visible in the scenes showing the Silent Drill Platoon as they toured and performed in some of America’s cities, towns, and special places – including national parks. Nobody has been able to put it all together, despite the fact that vital clues are provided at the Marine Corps website where the “extended” commercial can be viewed. We’re not surprised. This was a very tricky one. Read on.
Almost everybody correctly identified four NPS units that can be seen in the commercial. They are, in order:
• Independence National Historical Park. That’s Independence Hall.
• Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. That’s the 630-foot high Gateway Arch.
• Lake Mead National Recreation Area. That's the Hoover Dam.
• Golden Gate National Recreation Area. That’s the Golden Gate view from the Marin Headlands.
Another NPS unit visible in that last scene is Fort Point National Historic Site. The old brick masonry fort situated under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge is counted as a separate NPS unit, even though it is also a component of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
But wait!! How about Rocky Mountain National Park? And Grand Canyon National Park, for crying out loud?! Well, I told you this was a tricky one.
The Rocky Mountain scene was shot near Leadville, Colorado, which is quite a ways southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. Larry Repanshek thinks that the mountain at the left rear is the fourteener named Mount Elbert (Colorado’s highest mountain). I’m inclined to agree, though I’ve not confirmed that.
The Grand Canyon scene was filmed at Guano Point on the Haulapai Indian Reservation, which is situated on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon in Mohave County, Arizona. This reservation has the controversial glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk.
Postscript: How the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial’s Gateway Arch came to be used as a backdrop for this commercial is a bit of a puzzler. St. Louis is not among the 14 scheduled stops on the SDP tour indicated with stars on the tour map. Accompanying narratives don’t mention the city or the park, but we can assume that St. Louis was one of the referenced "15 locations" used to create the commercial.