Park History

No Matter What Lens You Look Through, the Grand Canyon Is Pretty Impressive

Sure, the 1920s footage is grainy and just black and white, but this vintage home movie of the Grand Canyon is worth watching. Be sure to look for the pack trains headed down into the canyon.

Mount Who? How Did This Famous Park Get Its Name?

Mount Rushmore in 1905.
The nearly 400 units of our National Park System include the names of some famous men and women, along with those of natural features and historical events, but the origin of one of those monikers is a bit more obscure.

Cape Lookout National Seashore To Mark 150th Anniversary of Lighthouse This Fall

It could be argued that the two most important jobs along the Eastern seaboard during the 19th century were that of lighthouse keeper and life-saver. The former worked hard to warn ships off shoals, while the latter worked to save those who ships foundered.

Early Tourism at Bryce Canyon National Park: No Color in This Film, But Hot and Cold Running Water in the Cabins!

Today practically all you need to say is "Bryce Canyon" to create a colorful mental picture of this Southwestern gem of the National Park System. But back in the early 1900s when a travelogue of the park was filmed, the color had to be in the narrative.

This Park Includes Great History, Fine Scenery and a Mouse That Howls Like a Wolf

View from Betatakin overlook
Navajo National Monument includes great history, fine scenery and an off-the-beaten-path location that allows you to escape the crowds. The park also includes an interesting wildlife species—a carnivorous mouse with a call said to resemble the howl of a wolf.

This Park Has Ties to a Pirate, a Forgotten American Holiday and a Chart-Topping Song

This unit of the National Park System commemorates an event that was once celebrated as a national holiday, helped put a general in the White House, and inspired a popular song a few decades ago. Just for good measure, the park story also includes a legendary pirate.

Mount Rainier National Park: One of the Oldest in the System, But Appearances Can Deceive

It is one of the oldest parks in the National Park System, having been established on this date in 1899, and yet ... there's a decidedly new face to Mount Rainier National Park.

March 1st was a Big Day for More Than One Park

Buffalo River scene.
March 1st is a landmark date for our national parks—and not only because it's the birthday for Yellowstone. Another park became the first of its kind exactly one century after Yellowstone was established. This one includes cliffs, caves and canoeing in its list of attractions.

The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That

Firehole River, Yellowstone NP, Kurt Repanshek photo.
One of the more enduring stories about America's national park movement is that it was spawned in the early fall of 1870 during talk around a campfire deep in the heart of today's Yellowstone National Park. But did it?
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Campers in Yosemite National Park in 1901 Were "Somewhat Troublesome"

Early campers in Yosemite National Park.
Bob Janiskee posted a recent story on the Traveler entitled, "Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo." Some wags might suggest that title could also refer to campgrounds in Yosemite Valley in times past—and a old government report suggests they'd be correct.

Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece

Say what you will about corporate altruism, whether it's self-serving or truly benevolent, but in the case of Grand Teton National Park without it the park would be a shell of its present form.

You'll Find Tuff Blocks, Fibrolite Axes and Squirrels with Tufted Ears at Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier NM by zadro.
Houses made of tuff blocks and axes made of Fibrolite may sound like a workshop in high-tech building materials or "green living," but you'll find examples of this very old technology in a park with great scenery and top-notch archeology. If you visit this area, keep your eyes open for squirrels with tufted ears.

Bryce Canyon National Park: This Small Corner of Utah Packs a Colorful Punch

Bryce Canyon National Park, Marion Littlefield photo.
Though covering fewer than 36,000 acres -- and most folks simply gaze down on most of that acreage -- Bryce Canyon National Park carries the impact of a park much, much larger.

"There I Grew Up" – This Park Offers Presidential History in a Unique Package

Lincoln Living Historical Farm
This park includes a unique visitor center and an excellent living history program, but before it was added to the National Park System, it was primarily known as a memorial to the mother of one of our most famous presidents. Mom still gets plenty of respect, but her son is now the focus in a small park that has lots to offer.

More than Just Another Pretty Lake - Curecanti National Recreation Area

Curecanti National Recreation Area, East Portal.
Curecanti National Recreation Area includes not one, but three mountain lakes, and can claim bragging rights in several categories. It also offers some surprising attractions not found in most reservoir-based recreation areas, including a "fluffy muffin" and a treat for railroad history buffs.

How An Earlier Administration Bolstered The National Parks Through A National Program

The events of this past week and the advent of a new government cannot help but take our minds back to other times in our history, particularly to 1933. It was in that winter, another troubled time in our national history, that Franklin Roosevelt assumed the presidency. As it does now, the United States in 1933 faced severe and unresolved economic problems.

Rocky Mountain National Park: It Shames the Andes and Alps

"l ain't never seen them, but my common sense tells me the Andes is foothills, and the Alps is for children to climb." So said mountain man Del Gue in one of the memorable lines from Jeremiah Johnson. He was, of course, comparing those mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

Great Basin National Park: It's More Than Simply A Cave

What in the world was Jim Hansen thinking back in the 1990s when, as a U.S. representative from Utah and chair of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Lands, he said Great Basin National Park should be removed from the National Park System?

Aztec Ruins and the River of Lost Souls

Aztec Ruins National Monument in the fall.
Aztec Ruins and the River of Lost Souls may sound like a title for the next Indiana Jones movie, but these are real places that you can visit—and you won't even need a passport or a hyper-active spirit of adventure. One small disclaimer is in order: The Aztecs had no connection with these impressive remains of a long-departed civilization.

Pruning the Parks: Whatever Became of Marble Canyon National Monument (1969-1975)?

Outgoing presidents long have made a practice on January 20, their last day in office, of leaving parting gifts. For Lyndon Johnson, his gift to the nation 40 years ago was a national monument that served to protect the Grand Canyon from further dam building.

This Park Can Lay Claim to "Tallest" and "First" – and It Was a Real Bargain to Boot

Eagle Lake, Acadia N.P.
Home to the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast, the first national park east of the Mississippi River celebrates an anniversary today. It's had three different names during its 93-year history—and the taxpayers got a real bargain when this area was added to the National Park System.

One of Our Oldest National Parks was Also the First of Its Kind in the World

A western version of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys played a role in establishment of this site, which was the first cave in the world to be designated as a national park. It was also among the first NPS areas to use fire as a natural tool to maintain the landscape—but not inside the cave!

This Park Combines Scenery and History on a Desert Island

Coral reefs and desert islands, legends of pirates and sunken gold, an old military fort that housed a famous prisoner, and world-class bird watching—you'll find them all at this park.

Drive to the Top of This Volcano for an Impressive View

Capulin Volcano.
This 1,000-foot-high cinder cone was formed after earthquakes and fireworks-like explosions hurled molten rock thousands of feet into the air. Nope, it's not in Hawaii, and this mount is not named for a saint.

The Texas White House is Now Open for Visitors

Texas White House
The current occupant of the Oval Office has ties to the Lone Star State, but the term "Texas White House" is normally associated with a former president. Public tours of the Texas White House became available for the first time this year, along with other changes at the park that commemorates the 36th president from his ancestral roots to his final resting place.

Water Works Are The Main Attraction at Gauley River National Recreation Area

Water. Torrents of water. Screaming cataracts that over the eons have sliced through some of the most intriguing Appalachian geology. And which, in the process, have created one heck of a playground.

Take a Walk Through a 700-Year-Old House

Spring flowers at Tonto National Monument. NPS photo.
One of the oldest national monuments in the country celebrates its anniversary today, and it's been around for over a century. The primary attraction in this park has been around a lot longer, and if you're up to a bit of a hike, you can take a walk through a house built 700 years ago.

This House Belonged to "The Most Powerful Family in America"

Vanderbilt mansion portico
A former president, a cult and "the most powerful family in America" all had a role in the story of this park, which celebrates its 68th anniversary today. For a look at the lifestyle of the formerly rich and famous, you're welcome to drop by a take a look—during park hours.

When You Really Want A Park To Yourself, Consider Capitol Reef National Park

Think of Capitol Reef National Park and, if you're familiar with this isolated outpost in Utah's canyon country, you'll likely envision soaring reefs of rock. But few would even imagine battles between mountain lions and lynx.

This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos

Jackson painting of covered wagons. NPS image.
This park offers dramatic views from a trail named Saddle Rock, formations with names such as Eagle Rock, and compelling tales of pioneers who made their way over Mitchell Pass. It also houses the world's largest collection of original sketches, paintings, and photographs by a famous American artist and photographer.
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