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Reader Participation Day: What National Park Place Names Should Be Changed?


 Aztecs had nothing to do with the ruins at Aztec Ruins National Monument. NPS photo.

Among the many thousands of named places in America's National Park System are quite a few that could reasonably be given more appropriate names.  Indeed, there are even some zingers among the unit designations of the 397 national parks. 

Two examples of inappropriate place names in our National Park System leap to my mind almost unbidden.  If the Ohio Congressional delegation can be made to sit still for it, Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve should be officially renamed Denali, which is what everybody in Alaska calls it.  New Mexico's Aztec Ruins National Monument, a place in which no Aztec ever set foot, should be renamed to honor the Ancestral Puebloans.

OK, it's your turn.  What renamings would you like to see?

By the way, this is not necessarily idle thinking. Place names in long-standing public use are seldom changed, but it does happen from time to time.  The federal arbiter for such decisions, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, approves about 85% of the 250 naming proposals it receives in a typical year. Congress has renamed national parks from time to time too, as when Custer Battlefield National Monument was redesignated Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument back in 1991.


Mount Rainier, our fifth national park and the most impressive mountain in the lower forty-eight states, was named by Capt. George Vancouver of the Royal Navy to flatter a superior officer who never saw it and who fought against us in the American Revolution!

I call it Mount Snowier, but there is a very long history and many opinions:

Cape Hatteras should have the Recreation added back to the original name! 

Who didn't think I was going to post this?

You came in right on time, samsad1.  :o)   I would have been absolutely shocked if we didn't get an OBX-themed thread going here. 

Many of the buttes at Grand Canyon to convey the history of the ancient and present Native American peoples and significant Canyon Adventurers.  Enough is already named for NPS personnel though be notable.

Wolf Trap NP for the Performing Arts should be renamed Wolf Trap NRA. Or it should just be returned to Wolf Trap Farm Park. Lots of NPS sites in the D.C. area don't have the word "national" in them.

Considering as how people have lived in the areas for nearly ten thousand years, and had other names for them... Rename Zion NP to Mukuntuweap NP.  I would suggest something similar for Death Valley NP, but I do not know what the Timbisha call it.  While at first glance this might seem to take away recognition for such places, they would benefit from a surge in domestic interest because of the publicity.  

I remember comment on this site where the author wanted any site or place name in the NPS removed of any name that indicated a person or people. The rationale is that the NPS is about "natural things" and that naming such natural things after people is wrong.

When I mentioned that Yosemite was a name that referred to people, the answer was that it would have to change.

This is sort of a silly exercise.  Mukuntuweap (really?).  Too hard to pronounce.  How about changing the name of Grand Tetons?  It's really offensive to women.  Yes, this is sarcasm.

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