Amazing Day to Night Photos of US National Parks by Stephen Wilkes
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service in 2016, National Geographic has launched a yearlong exploration of the Power of Parks to help people better understand the wonders and challenges of parks around the world.
The magazine series begins with an introduction by writer David Quammen on why a national park is more than just a scenic place — it is a nation’s common ground — and features powerful day-to-night imagery by photographer Stephen Wilkes.
The issue also includes a feature article by Florence Williams that looks at how spending time in the natural world benefits the human brain. Other parks and topics in the series include Alaska’s Denali National Park, Seychelles, urban parks, a special single-topic issue on Yellowstone National Park in May 2016, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Grand Canyon, Cuba’s coral reefs and a look at the next generation of park keepers.
For more information, visit Nat Geo’s ‘Power of Parks‘ online portal
In March 1868 a 29-year-old John Muir stopped a passerby in San Francisco to ask for directions out of town. “Where do you wish to go?” the startled man inquired. “Anywhere that is wild,” said Muir. His journey took him to the Yosemite Valley in California’s Sierra Nevada, which became the spiritual home of Muir’s conservation movement and, under his guidance, the country’s third national park. “John the Baptist,” he wrote, “was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.” Today around four million people a year follow their own thirst for the wild to Yosemite.
“Today I am in the Yellowstone Park, and I wish I were dead.” So Rudyard Kipling began his 1889 account of a tour in America’s oldest national park. His disdain was aroused most by the “howling crowd” of tourists with whom he shared the visit. Attractions such as Old Faithful still draw more than three million (mostly well behaved) visitors yearly to Yellowstone; the vast majority of them never go beyond a hundred yards from a paved road. If Kipling himself had ventured deeper into the 3,472-square-mile park to witness the splendor of its river valleys and mountain meadows, his rant might well have given way to rapture.
On an April day cherry blossoms festoon West Potomac Park, part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. While the grand parks of the West may elicit more gasps of awe, urban parks draw far more visitors. The National Mall hosts 24 million a year, almost twice the number of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon combined.
The Grand Canyon is the touchstone American park; whatever happens here could have repercussions throughout the park system. It has withstood threats from ranching, mining, and logging interests and a federal dam project. Today’s challenges include a proposed town development on the South Rim and a tramway that would bring 10,000 visitors a day to the canyon floor.