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Glimpes of the National Park System

"WHAT'S the best national park?" is a question that only a ranger can handle. Every ranger knows the answer. The park in which he is working is always the best park—and he is willing to fight anyone who says it isn't. Transfer him to duty in another park and that is the best park right off the bat. Each ranger is as loyal to his particular park as is a college grad to his alma mater. And any national park superintendent can prove to you conclusively that his park is superior to all others—in some way!

That is why each national park is formed—to preserve some outstanding and incomparable natural wonder or scenic beauty spot or historic area. Of each it can be said truthfully, "There is nothing like this anywhere else." That is true of each of the thirty-eight national parks and generally speaking, it is likewise true of each of the national monuments and most of the historical parks, battlefields and cemeteries. Each is established to preserve for public enjoyment and education some remarkable geographical formation, unusual historic area, outstanding historic landmark or place of scenic beauty.

So in planning holiday trips to the national park areas a traveler must bear in mind always that each is entirely different from the others. To illustrate, the supreme natural feature of Mount Rainier National Park is a stately, snow-covered mountain, an inactive volcano, capped the year round by snow and ice which feed the twenty-eight glaciers that flow down it sides. Yellowstone's six geyser basins contain more "hot water volcanoes" than can be found in all the rest of the world put together. Nowhere else will the traveler find granite walls so stupendous as in Yosemite Valley; nowhere else will be found waterfalls so high, cliffs so precipitous. Sequoia National Park preserves the finest groves of giant sequoias, including the largest living tree on the earth, the General Sherman. Crater Lake's deep blue waters fill the colossal cavity left in the top of mythical Mount Mazama when this ancient volcano caved in and disappeared in its own depths ages ago. Mount McKinley National Park surrounds and includes this continent's loftiest peak, rearing its crest 20,300 feet above the sea. Grand Canyon National Park is an example of how the forces of erosion have combined to carve the most stupendous chasm on earth. Hawaii and Lassen National Parks contain the only active volcanoes in our possession, but in every other natural feature these parks differ one from the other, and the volcanic activity of each hardly bears comparison. No matter how many parks you include in your itinerary, each will be different from all the others.

The majority of the national parks, seashores, lakeshores and recreation areas are wilderness places, preserved in their natural state, and bear no resemblance to the cultivated city areas, 172 historical areas, 37 recreational areas, one cultural area and the National Capital Parks. Altogether these holdings embrace over thirty million acres, all held in trust for the citizens of the United States and its visitors from other countries.

The listing which follows covers all national park areas as of March, 1972, with a brief description of each. The cities or towns given indicate the place from which the area is administered and are not always that in which it is located. To obtain further information about these areas, write:

Information Office, National Park Service, Washington, D.C. 20242, or contact your nearest regional office. These are:

Northeast Regional Office, 143 South Third St., Philadelphia, Penna. 19106

Southeast Regional Office, 3401 Whipple Ave., Atlanta, Georgia 30344

Midwest Regional Office, 1709 Jackson Street, Omaha, 68102

Southwest Regional Office, P.O. Box 728, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Western Regional Office, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94012

Pacific Northwest Regional Office, 1424 4th Avenue, Seattle, Wash. 98101

National Capital Parks, 1100 Ohio Drive S.W., Washington, D.C. 20242


Oh, Ranger!
©1928, 1929, 1934, 1972, Horace M. Albright and Frank J. Taylor
albright-taylor/chap11.htm — 06-Sep-2004