1,198 Free High Resolution Maps of U.S. National Parks

1,198 Free High Resolution Maps of U.S. National Parks

From the post:

I cannot, and do not wish to, imagine the U.S. without its National Park system. The sale and/or despoliation of this more than 80 million acres of mountain, forest, stream, ocean, geyser, cavern, canyon, and every other natural formation North America contains would diminish the country immeasurably. “National parks,” wrote novelist Wallace Stegner, “are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

Stegner’s quote—which gave Ken Burns’ National Parks documentary its subtitle–can sound overoptimistic when we study the parks’ history. Though not officially designated until the 20th century, the idea stretches back to 1851, when a battalion, intent on finding and destroying an Indian village, also found Yosemite. Named for what the soldiers thought was the tribe they killed and burned, the word actually translates as “they are killers.”

Westward expansion and the annexation of Hawaii have left us many sobering stories like that of Yosemite’s “discovery.” And during their development in the early- to mid-20th century, the parks often required the mass displacement of people, many of whom had lived on the land for decades—or centuries. But despite the bloody history, the creation of these sanctuaries have preserved the country’s embarrassment of natural beauty and irreplaceable biodiversity for a century now. (The National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary just this past August.)

The National Park Service and its allies have acted as bulwarks against privateers who would turn places like Yosemite into prohibitively expensive resorts, and perhaps fell the ancient Redwood National forests or blast away the Smokey Mountains. Instead, the parks remain “absolutely democratic,” open to all Americans and international visitors, the pride of conservationists, scientists, hikers, bird watchers, and nature-lovers of all kinds. Given the sprawling, idealistic, and violent history of the National Parks, it may be fair to say that these natural preserves reflect the country at both its worst and its best. And in that sense, they are indeed “absolutely American.”

Links to numerous resources, including National Parks Maps. (Home of 1,198 free high resolution maps of U.S. national parks.)

The national parks of the United States were born in violence and disenfranchisement of the powerless. It is beyond our power to atone for those excesses and injuries done in the past.

It is our task, to preserve those parks as monuments to our violence against the powerless and as natural treasures for all humanity.

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