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America's National Parks Podcast

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Explore our nation's treasures — our National Parks — their history, their people, and their stories. From Denali, the tallest mountain peak, to Death Valley's Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level. Nearly 90 million acres of land and the 20,000 rangers and 246,000 volunteers that protect it all at over 400 individual National Park Service units.

Explore our nation's treasures — our National Parks — their history, their people, and their stories. From Denali, the tallest mountain peak, to Death Valley's Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level. Nearly 90 million acres of land and the 20,000 rangers and 246,000 volunteers that protect it all at over 400 individual National Park Service units.
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Explore our nation's treasures — our National Parks — their history, their people, and their stories. From Denali, the tallest mountain peak, to Death Valley's Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level. Nearly 90 million acres of land and the 20,000 rangers and 246,000 volunteers that protect it all at over 400 individual National Park Service units.




Corps of Discovery

In 2018, America is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act as well as the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The 1968 National Trails System Act created and protected trails that celebrate outdoor adventure, such as the Appalachian Trail and trails that allow us to walk through history, such as the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. To celebrate this anniversary, on the America’s National Parks Podcast we’re sharing with you a two-part episode following one of...


His Name Was Mudd

On a Sunday in November of 1864, John Wilkes Booth first made the acquaintance of Dr. Samuel Mudd. The men discussed a horse sale, and Booth was invited to spend the night at Mudd's home. On December 23, the two men met again, by accident, on a street in Washington, DC. Four months later, John Wilkes Booth shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln. He broke his left leg in the process, leaping to the stage at Ford's Theater. He and his getaway man David Harold knocked on the door of Dr....


Stories from the Sands

One of the world's great natural wonders rises from the heart of New Mexico's Tularosa basin. Great wave-like dunes of baby powder-like gypsum sand engulf 275 square miles of desert. Towering mountains ring the spectacular white dunes, crowned with electric blue skies, prismatic sunsets, and mystic moonlit nights. Half a million visitors from all over the world enjoy this beautiful place each year. It's featured prominently in commercials, feature films, fashion catalogs, and music videos....


A Strenuous Holiday

In 1914, four influential men — Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs — loaded their automobiles with camping gear and embarked on the first of several historic road trips. They called themselves the “Vagabonds,” and they toured places like the Everglades, the California coast, and the forests of Vermont for two weeks nearly every summer for 10 years. The white-bearded Burroughs chronicled one such trip — the Vagabond journey to the Great Smoky Mountains — in a...


America's Spa

In the mountains of western Arkansas, there's a place where rain waters are absorbed through crevices in the earth's surface, then warmed and enriched with minerals, percolating deep underground. The water then flows back to the surface in steaming hot springs, filling the cool mountain air with steam in the winter. It's a place that humans have been using for millennia for rest, relaxation, and healing. It's also our first piece of federally protected recreation land. On this episode of...


The Sleeping Volcano

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted — it was the "deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, generating “about 500 times the force that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” it killed 57 people and thousands of animals and lopped 1,300 feet off the top of the mountain. Still, there's another volcano that is much more concerning to volcanologists. On this episode of...


Ballads of Big Bend

The shape of the southwestern edge of Texas is carved by The Rio Grande river, as it tranquilly flows bringing life to some of the most remote regions of the country. Here, the Rio takes a giant turn north, a Big Bend creating the heel in Texas's shape. The Rio Grande represents something else, though, it's the border between the United States and Mexico, and at a border crossing, one man welcomed Americans to our southern neighbor through songs that floated among the canyon. On this...


Rangers Make the Difference

July 31st of each year is set aside by the International Ranger Foundation as World Ranger Day to honor park rangers around the globe who are on the front line in the fight to protect our natural heritage. It's also an opportunity to pay tribute to rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. To honor this past Tuesday's World Ranger Day, on this episode of America's National Parks we're highlighting three stories of National Park Service rangers who have gone above and beyond the...


The 14th Colony

Everyone knows America's legendary origins — 13 colonies fighting off the tyranny of the British Empire to form our Union — but did you know there was, if only for a brief time, an extra-legal 14th colony? If that blows your mind, you'll be even more astounded to find out its name ... it was called Transylvania. It was made possible by a famous name, too, a man called Daniel Boone. On this episode of America's National Parks, The Transylvania Purchase, a land which laid its gateway at a gap...


The Land That Made a President

On his 22nd birthday, in 1880, Theodore Roosevelt married Alice Hathaway Lee. Their daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt, was born on February 12, 1884. Two days after his daughter was born, his wife and mother died on the same day in the same house. Distraught, he escaped to a cattle ranch in the Dakotas. On this episode of America's National Parks, the 26th President of the United States, and his time in North Dakota, in an area now known as Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Resources, music...


Unleashing a Tamed River

Over the past century, the United States has led the world in dam construction. There are at least 90,000 dams over six-feet tall in this country and over 2 million shorter than six feet. More than a quarter have passed their 50-year average life expectancy; by 2020, that figure will reach 85 percent. On average, we have constructed one dam over 6 feet tall every day since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On this episode of America's National Parks, the removal of the dams on...


Acadia National Park and the Year Maine Burned

Strange weather patterns set in 1947 in the state of Maine, as a quick and early spring thaw preceded months of endless rain. Finally, at the end of June, the sun broke through the clouds as temperatures climbed bringing about a warm summer. Mother nature had apparently used up all the rain in the spring, as the state went through 108 days without any appreciable rain. Everything became exceedingly dry in the hot sun and water supply dwindled. Recognizing the dangers of the dry conditions,...


The Gateway to Arizona

If there's one place in our travels that has seemed a nearly hidden gem -- a place where hardly anyone goes, yet is full of incredible beauty -- it's the confluence of the northern tip of Grand Canyon National Park, where miles of the Colorado River are protected before they enter the canyon, and the southern tip of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It's a serene place called Lee's Ferry, where the Colorado gently winds through vermillion cliffs. Rafters hit the first rapid here to...


Alcatraz and the Civil War

In the late 1840s, the U.S. government seized control of California from the Republic of Mexico and immediately went to work on protecting the new land. Located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, an island called Alcatraz was identified as a place of exceptional military utility. Nearly surrounded on all sides, it was ideally positioned to protect the entrance to the bay. You may know Alcatraz as the so-called inescapable prison which housed Al Capone and George "Machine-Gun" Kelly,...


The Curse of the Petrified Forest

In a small section of the painted desert of Arizona, you can find forests of crumbled trees, preserved as stone. Over 200 million years ago, these large conifers were uprooted by floods, then washed down from the highlands and buried by silt. Water seeping through the wood replaced decaying organic material cell by cell with multicolored silica. The land was lifted up by geological upheaval, and erosion began to expose the long-buried, now petrified wood. In the modern age, the trees have...


Drunken Subterranian Terrorism

Elevators might seem like a strange topic for a National Park Podcast, but today we're going to talk about a special elevator. In 1931, the National Park constructed what was then the second highest (or shall we say deepest) elevator shaft in the world — descending tourists 754' into the wonders of Carlsbad Caverns National Park — and it's been at the center of some pretty wild incidents. National Park Service Resources related to this episode, music credits and more at...


Dred and Harriet Scott

On April 6th, 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott walked into the unfinished St. Louis Courthouse in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, and in an act of bravery, filed separate petitions against Irene Emerson for their freedom. On that day, one of the most important lawsuits in American history, one that would ultimately hasten the start of the Civil War and divide an already divided country, began. It would take ten years and reach as far as the supreme court before it ended. On this episode of...


Legends of Denali

In 1896, the highest summit in America was named by a gold prospector in support for then-presidential candidate William McKinley, who became president the following year. Of course, for centuries before, it had gone by a different name. On this week's episode of America's National Parks, Denali, the 20,310 Alaskan summit, and the six million acres of land that surround it in Denali National Park. Show notes, music credits, and more info at


Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty stands out in New York Harbor, bearing her torch, welcoming tourists and immigrants with the American spirit of Liberty. Her story is complicated, and many apocryphal tales abound of her sitting disassembled for years while Americans tried to figure out how to assemble it. The truth is much more interesting. Today on America's National Parks, The Statue of Liberty and the history of Liberty Island. Show notes, music credits, and more info at...


Delicate Arch, and the Strange 1950s Schemes to Reinforce It

There's one natural rock arch that's known better than all others in the US, in fact, it's on the state of Utah's license plate. It had its own postage stamp, and the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay passed through it. On this episode of America's National Parks, Delicate Arch, and the strange history of attempts to protect it at Arches National Park. Show notes and more info at