National Park Service gets nostalgic with park brochures from yesteryear

Considering that our national parks are experiencing record numbers of visitors once again this year, it is safe to say that interest in “America’s best idea” is at an all time high. The national parks encompass some of the most spectacular landscapes anywhere on the planet and are home to an equally impressive array of wildlife. Visiting one of the parks can bring back childhood memories of family vacations long past, when we’d all load up the car and hit the road for a good old fashioned cross-country road trip.

The National Park Service is hoping to help inspire an even deeper feeling of nostalgia with the recent addition of historical park brochures to their website. The page links out to literally dozens of images of the covers of the official park brochures beginning with one from Crater Lake National Park that dates back to 1913. Back then, the brochures were simple text affairs, offering helpful, but basic, information to visitors. But by the early 1920’s, the guides began to offer black and white images that gave a little more of a glimpse of what was in store for travelers who made the journey to one of the parks.

The site allows us to browse these historical brochures in two different ways. They can be examined either in chronological order or by specific parks. So, for instance, if you’re a big fan of Glacier National Park, you can check out the various brochures that have been issued there over the years. A good portion of the parks are represented in this way, although which years are available varies widely.

Personally, I found viewing them in chronological order to be far more fascinating however, as it was interesting to watch them evolve and change as the eras passed. In this format, you can begin in the 1910’s and work your way through the 1970’s, when the brochures moved to a “Unigrid” system that was created by a designer named Massimo Vignelli who worked in collaboration with the Harpers Ferry Center’s design staff. Since then, all of the park brochures have followed a similar design.

Scrolling through the images is definitely a walk down memory lane and a real treat for fans of the national parks. You can check them out, and read more about their history by clicking here.

[Photo credit: National Park Service]