Looking for information to help you plan your national park vacation? Today the Traveler is rolling out the first in a series of "park profile" pages to help you with your homework.
These pages, which you can access by clicking on the Pick Your Park link in the toolbar above, provide an overview of the park in question and provide information including, but not limited, to:
* Park history, which looks at the history of the park in question and often includes some details from before the park was created.
* Lodging in the park, which provides basic lodging information.
* Camping in the park, which provides a rundown of campgrounds and backcountry information.
* A Google Earth map of the park.
* Hiking in the park, which looks at hikes in the park and, when available, points out hikes that have been featured in the Traveler to provide some first-person perspective.
* Wildlife in the park, which offers an overview of wildlife you might see and where you might see it.
* A Resources page that provides contact information for the park, lists any friends groups or cooperating associations affiliated with the park, and even lists some books relating to the park you might find interesting.
Some profile pages go even deeper. For instance, on the Acadia National Park pages you'll find a story about the park's beautiful bridges along the carriage paths. The Yellowstone page includes a feature on the Yellowstone Creation Myth. On the Grand Teton pages you'll find a story about climbing the Grand, and on the Virgin Islands National Park pages you'll find an archaeological story that looks at intriguing rock art in the park.
Where possible, we've even added Traveler's Checklist stories for the appropriate parks.
Additionally, at the bottom of each park profile homepage you'll find the latest news associated with that park.
For those with an eye for art, we've topped each profile page with a gorgeous panorama shot from the park in question from an outstanding landscape photographer. For the first series of parks we've gained the support of:
* Tom Till, a Moab, Utah-based photographer whose camera has taken him the world over and who, since 1977, has had more than 150,000 of his images appear in print. An exhibit of his images of UNESCO World Heritage Sites has been traveling the world for almost three years, with stops in Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Geneva and Oslo, among others. Though Tom has been known as a master of the large format (4x5) camera and film for over 30 years, he has switched to 35mm digital Canon equipment. Recent trips have taken him to South Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam, Denmark, Sweden, and Slovenia, and numerous sites in the United States
* Quang-Tuan Luong, a photographer who has taken images in each of the 58 national parks. He was born to Vietnamese parents in France, where he obtained a PhD as a scientist. The lure of the Alps led him to become a mountain climber and wilderness guide. When he came to the United States to conduct research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing, he fell in love with the national parks. After he became the first to photograph all of them in large format, Ken Burns featured him in The National Parks: America's Best Idea.
* Tony Bynum, a Montana-based photographer right outside Glacier National Park. Tony spends his days photographing landscapes and wild, free-ranging animals in their natural habitat; there are no captive animal photographs in his archives. Tony's images are published each year on covers of the nation's top outdoor and hunting magazines, in advertisements, and on tourism planners and brochures sent around the world. In 2010 Tony was the Guest Photographer for the Montana Office of Tourism.
We've provided links to these photographers' own websites so you can enjoy more of their images.
The initial parks added to this traveler's resource area of the Traveler are Acadia, Arches, Canyonlands, Glacier, Grand Teton, Great Smoky, Joshua Tree, Virgin Islands, and Yellowstone. We're working on similar pages for the 49 other "national parks."
The park profile pages are "living" pages. As time goes on, more and more content will be added to specific parks, and, of course, more parks will be added to the inventory. We hope you enjoy them and find them helpful.