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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.




The Lost Horse Mine

Even before the California Gold Rush of 1849, prospectors were finding gold in Southern California. As the rewards from the mines in the Sierras began to wither, miners headed toward the deserts, where hot summers, scarce water, limited wood sources, and the difficulty and high cost of transporting equipment and provisions created a challenging mining environment. But a few hardy adventurers endured, and about 300 mines were developed in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. Few of these...


Four Men on a Mountain

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are said to tell the story of the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. But how much do you know about Mount Rushmore National Memorial? Even if you think you know the basics, there's a whole lot more that may knock your socks off.



Before dawn on what would become a perfect October day in Utah, I set out to attempt a solo hike. It wasn't the type of hike that would have been a big deal to an avid hiker, but for me, it was bound to be. On this episode of America's National Parks, host Jason Epperson's ordinary journey up the side of a cliff at Zion National Park.


Hell, with the Fires Out

It’s that time of year. You’re getting pelted with the supernatural from every direction - on TV, at the Movie Theater, in the grocery store. Far be it from us to miss an opportunity for a themed episode. On today’s episode of America’s National Parks - Three stories of the supernatural. Myths from the distant past. Ancient gods of Mount Ranier, the evil Queen of Death Valley, and the banshee that haunts Badlands National Park to this day.


How National Parks Stop Thieves

If you listened to The Curse of the Petrified Forest, our episode on the strange happenings surrounding people who stole rocks from Petrified Forest National Park, you know that the park faced a major identity crisis - people thought all the petrified wood was gone. It isn't, of course, it's pretty much all still there - but theft of small stones is still a problem for the park, just as theft and vandalization are problems throughout the National Parks System. On this episode, we take a look...


At Home with Harry and Bess

On this episode of America's National Parks, At Home With Harry & Bess, the multigenerational story of a home that would come to be known as the Summer White House, now a part of the Harry S Truman National Historic Site.


The Wonderful Wind Cave

In 1881, Jesse and Tom Bingham heard a whistling noise coming from a beach-ball-sized hole in a rock formation near Hot Springs, South Dakota. Wind was blowing out of the hole, just as it does today, with such force that it blew off Tom's hat. As the story goes, a few days later, when Jesse returned to show the phenomenon to some friends, the wind had switched directions and his hat was sucked in. The hole was the only natural entrance to a cave...a massive one. We now understand that the...


Corps of Discovery Part 2

When we left off last time Meriwether Lewis had just looked over the crest of the largest mountain range he had ever seen (or summited), hoping to see the Columbia River, and an easy path to the Pacific Ocean. Instead, there were mountains as far as the eye could see. Canoes were useless now, and the Corps of Discovery would need horses. It was Sacagawea's moment. Show notes and National Park Service resources at


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,...