In every season, at every hour, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is a stunning and surprising landscape. Remote enough for dark skies to allow the Milky Way to shine and featuring steam rising from hot springs tinted with colorful bacteria and reflecting the aurora borealis, a night in the park offers enough wonders for a lifetime. Photo courtesy of Bryony Richards.

Walking in the deep snow can be difficult. Bison use their strong necks to push forward and make a path, their shaggy faces keep them from getting too cold and they take turns leading the way. These adaptations allow them to thrive in the harsh winter conditions of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Photo by Jim Peaco, National Park Service.

This is a different kind of traffic jam at Yellowstone National Park. Bison weigh up to 2,000 lbs and can pack a lot of attitude. They can run up to 35 miles per hour, but these appear to be taking their time. We recommend patience. Photo by Allen Beyer (www.sharetheexperience.org).

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Happy 99th Birthday*, National Park Service!

These photos of Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, King’s Canyon, and Glacier National Parks all come from the series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, 1941 - 1942, from the Records of the National Park Service.  

The National Archives is fortunate to have a substantial collection of photos by Ansel Adams.  In 1941 Adams was recruited by the Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, to photograph the national parks.  Ickes intended to select a number of these photos to be printed as murals and hung around the Department of Interior building.  Adams would later claim this was “one of the best ideas ever to come out of Washington.”

Adams’ project for the Department of the Interior began in October 1941. Adams was granted the maximum annual salary for any position not subject to congressional approval, twenty-two dollars and twenty cents a day.  In the nine months that followed, Adams traveled between parks, capturing photos of the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, Boulder Dam, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and many others.  Unfortunately, the project was terminated on July 1, 1942 due to pressures of World War II.  These photos are now public records and available at the National Archives.

Read more about Adams’ project at The Unwritten Record » Happy Birthday, Rocky Mountain National Park.  The photographer later visited the National Archives on several occasions to review his work: Ansel Adams visits the National Archives.

(*In celebration of their 99th birthday, entrance fees to National Parks are waived today, August 25, so get out and #FindYourPark!)