national parks service

The National Park Service turns 100 this week! We’re celebrating with iconic Museum dioramas that are located in a few of these breathtaking 400 parks, monuments, and other sites in America’s national park system. The Cougar or Mountain Lion diorama is set in Grand Canyon. Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park offers ideal habitat for cougars: shade to escape the heat, rugged terrain in which to ambush prey and nooks to eat carcasses in private. Typically solitary, males and females travel together only during the few days out of the year when they are mating. These agile cats once lived across the United States until European settlers encroached. By the early 1900s, nearly all cougars east of the Rocky Mountains had been exterminated, like most other large predators in North America. Cougars are now making a comeback in some areas—even developed ones, where the risk of conflict with humans is real.
Learn more about this National Park scene.


Tomorrow is the 100th birthday of National Park Service! We were honored to have their park rangers visit us this week.

Lindsay Brandt (Rock Creek Park) and Suzy Traut and Heath Mitchell (National Mall and Memorial Parks) answered questioned about the Organic Act of 1916, which is currently on display. 

The Organic Act created the National Park Service as we know it today. (Learn more here: The rangers also shared the history and current initiatives of the National Park Service with our visitors.

Visitors can also explore the national parks in our ReSource room with fun activities like a scavenger hunt.

Come #FindYourPark at the National Archives!

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor),  Shenandoah National Park, VA, USA

The bright color is a warning to predatory birds.Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars feed mostly on members of the pipevine (Aristolochea) family. Their bodies retain toxic alkaloids from the host plants which persist in adult butterflies, making them unpalatable to birds. Seven swallowtail butterfly species in the eastern U.S. that are palatable mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail’s coloration and are often left alone by predators.  <mm>

via: National Park Service

Will your summer vacation find you heading into the great outdoors on a trip to the more than 400 parks, monuments, and other sites in America’s national park system? If so, you’re in good company: the National Park Service, which turns 100 this summer, hosted 307.2 million visitors last year, an all time record, at sites ranging from San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We canvassed Museum curators from varied disciplines for their favorite national parks for fun and fieldwork:

Best for Bats: Carlsbad Caverns (Image via Wikipedia)

“Carlsbad Caverns is a classic. It’s a great place to see a lot of bats.” Nancy Simmons, Curator-in-Charge, Department of Mammalogy.

Best for Birds: Joshua Tree (Image via Wikipedia)

“An incredible spot. Great scenery, great plants, great birds.” Paul Sweet, Collections Manager, Department of Ornithology.

Best for Rocks: Grand Canyon (Image via Wikipedia)

“My favorite park, and pretty much favorite place on the planet, is the Grand Canyon. Amazing sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.” James Webster, Curator, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. 

Best for Inspiration: Yosemite (Image via Wikipedia)

“Chaco [Culture National Historical Park] is a favorite. And Yosemite…I worked around there for six years before going to college, and it set the course for my future as an archeologist and advocate for American Indians.” David Hurst Thomas, Curator, Division of Anthropology.

See these parks and more in National Parks Adventure, now playing at the Museum in 3D and 2D!


Fitting this week’s National Park Service theme, here’s a 3 minute bike trip along Going to the Sun Road, the road constructed by the Park Service to traverse Glacier National Park. The Road crosses the Continental divide, so a biker like this would be able to literally coast down from the roof of the continent.

Celebrating the centennial of the National Parks Service, Eastman Museum’s latest exhibition Photography and America’s National Parks is an exhibition that explores photography’s role in the development of the agency and how photographs continue to influence our understanding of these landscapes. 

Exhibition runs June 4 - October 2, 2016. Details at 

Old Faithful Geyser
Frank Jay Haynes, American, 1853 - 1921
ca. 1900
Gelatin silver print with applied color
Image: 19.8 × 12.3 cm (7 13/16 × 4 13/16 in.)
Matted: 29 × 20.2 cm (11 7/16 × 7 15/16 in.)


Hop Valley Trail

After being held captive in the truck for a half hour or so, as the rain played a private concerto on our windshield, we tramped off, grateful that the shower had hardened the deep sandy path before us. As we approached the descent into the valley, a striking backdrop unfolded before us: salmon-colored cliffs towered above some of the greenest meadows I have ever witnessed!

We zigzagged through the canyon, breathing in the clean air, and listening to the passing chirps of the birds as they chased one another through the pines. Tadpoles had made the small streams their home, and small orange and sky-blue butterflies playfully fleeted around, taking short breaks on the various wildflowers in bloom. Lizards fled from our encroaching shadows only to scurry back into the sun once we’d ambled on. It seemed to me to be a perfect wildlife refuge.

Despite spending an entire afternoon exploring Zion’s west side, we did not come across another soul. Yes, I am talking about the Zion; the nation’s 6th most visited National Park. How did we manage to escape the summer crowds? Kolob Canyon is the lesser-known and less-visited portion of the park, separate from its main area surrounding the visitor center, and mostly has trails that take a considerable bit more time to explore.

We left as the sun was starting to wane, glowing from our successful hike, and savored the landscape that never ceases to impress on the windy road back to Highway 9. Hop Valley, a hop and skip away from the main road leading to Zion NP from Hurricane, UT, truly provided the solitude and serenity I was after. 

What better time to go explore one of the National Parks near you?!

-Story and photos by Iris Picat 

Call for Submissions! 14th Annual Photo Contest

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service! Submit your best shots of America’s national parks with the tag NPS100 for a chance to be featured!


What do you do when you come across animals in the wild? National Park Ranger Kate explains… #FindYourPark


Sometimes there are just no words to describe the beauty of Glacier National Park’s high alpine meadows. Video from Glacier’s Boulder Pass Trail by Ranger Amanda, National Park Service. 

Join us August 25 at the Glacier Instameet to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday. We’ll meet at Apgar Village at 6 pm – we hope to see you then!

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25th! We’re celebrating with iconic Museum dioramas that are located in a few of these breathtaking 400 parks, monuments, and other sites in America’s national park system. The Dall Sheep diorama is set in August at midnight on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, Alaska.

Given this site’s proximity to the Arctic Circle, sunshine—even at this late hour—brightens the perpetual snow of Denali, the highest mountain in North America. This peak inspired the painter of this scene, Belmore Browne, throughout his life. In 1906 and 1910, Browne made pioneering attempts to scale the mountain, coming just shy of the summit in 1912. In 1916, he lobbied Congress to protect the area so that its animals would not “follow the buffalo” to near-extinction. In 1917, a national park was established, and Denali’s wildlife is still diverse and abundant today.

Learn more about the Dall Sheep diorama and take a National Park Adventure in 3D at the Museum!
100 Years of National Parks | LJ Reviews
In observance of the centennial of the National Parks Service’s founding, several publishers are releasing works that examine the history of the parks and the beauty and adventure to be found within their borders.

Thursday, Aug. 25, marks the National Parks Service’s centennial. Celebrate what writer Wallace Stegner has described as “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”