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!
- Protecting Wildlife in Our National Parks: William Temple Hornaday and the American Bison, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Science Service, Up Close: Field Work at Yellowstone, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- The National Park that Never Was, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives