Exploring the National Parks

August is National Parks Month, but the Smithsonian has celebrated the National Park Service for decades! Enjoy a selection of national parks images from the Archives' collection.

August is National Parks Month, but the Smithsonian has been celebrating the National Park Service for decades! Since the Smithsonian’s very beginnings as the United States National Museum, its scientists have traveled through and conducted research in national parks. Mammologist Vernon Bailey conducted field work in the Badlands, South Dakota, and Everglades National Park. Waldo Schmitt, a biologist and curator at the Smithsonian's US National Museum, went on a research trip to the Tortugas in Florida. Botanist Frederic Coville participated in the Death Valley Expedition in 1891, to survey the plants and animals of what is now the California national park. Field collector, taxidermist, and exhibit specialist for what became the National Museum of Natural History Watson Perrygo, trekked through the Smoky Mountains as part of his travel through Tennessee and the Carolinas in the late 1930s.

Throughout these expeditions, and many other trips through the U.S. national parks, Smithsonian explorers took photographs. Enjoy a selection of national parks images from our collection—then get outside and explore! 

1 of 10

Men preparing for a dive on Tortugas Laboratory Trip, 1930. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA RU007231 [SIA2009-0883].

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park, before excavation and repair by the Smithsonian’s Bureau of Ethnology, 1906. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number 2003-19495.

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park, after excavation and repair by the Smithsonian’s Bureau of Ethnology, 1908. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA Acc. 12-492 [SIA2012-6554].

Crossing the New Swift Current bridge on horseback, near the Swift Current waterfalls in Montana’s Glacier National Park, 1870. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA RU007177 [SIA_007177_B15_F36_I01].

Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott and his family riding horses through the Grand Canyon, May 1903. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA2010-3246.

Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott and his family having a picnic in the Grand Canyon, May 1903. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA-SIA2010-3247.

Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott viewing in the Grand Canyon, 1915. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number 83-14116.

The Haden Survey group at Yellowstone National Park’s Lower Geyser Basin, 1872. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA RU007177 [SIA2010-3558].

Two men exploring the Yellowstone Lake by boat, as part of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological

The Haden Survey group at Yellowstone National Park’s Lower Geyser Basin, 1872. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number SIA RU007177 [SIA_007177_B14_F04_I01]

Related Resources

Leave a Comment

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. For copyright questions, please see the Terms of Use.