National Parks: Then and Now
There were few limits to where the earliest visitors to Yellowstone National Park could go. As visitors explored its natural features, accidents and deaths followed. (NPS Photo)
Today, park guests can see the natural beauty of the park from boardwalks and trails that protect both themselves and the delicate natural features that make this place so special.
In the early years of Yosemite National Park’s existence, it took at least a week to access the park via the Wawona Road.
These days, the Wawona Road is one of the most popular ways to enter the park, and it’s manageable as a day trip thanks to the modern highway system.
A century ago, the Paradise Glacier ranked among the park’s main attractions, where visitors could walk on the ice and explore ice caves. (NPS Photo)
The ice caves have long since melted away, and the area is now better known for its spectacular wildflower meadows.
If you visited Oregon's Crater Lake National Park in 1917, you’d have one permanent park ranger, and three more rangers during the months of July, August and September.
Crater Lake continues to offer ranger programs throughout the summer months, including talks, guided sunset hikes and campground presentations.
Early visitors to Wind Cave explored one of the world’s largest cave systems by candlelight. Cave tours cost $0.50 in 1903. (NPS Photo)
Today, more than 140 miles of the cave have been mapped. Standard cave tours run $10 to $12 and make use of modern electricity.
Construction began on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road in 1919, but it wasn’t dedicated until 1933. (NPS Photo)
Driving the 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road takes at least two hours these days, without stopping. Most park-goers take at least a full day to make the drive.
The Grand Canyon has more historic buildings than just about any other park, including the stunning Grand Canyon Lodge, built on the North Rim in 1928. (NPS Photo)
As you can see, not much has changed. For the best impact, enter through the front entrance into the Sun Room, where windows open up on the Grand Canyon. (NPS Photo)
Humans have been making their way to this part of the Tularosa Basin – 275 square miles of desert in the heart of New Mexico – for more than 10,000 years. (NPS Photo)
White Sands was made a National Park in December 2019, making it the newest addition to the system as of this writing.
During Prohibition, a network of bootleggers dug tunnels through the park to aid their operations. (NPS Photo)
Many historic homes and churches still stand within the park, including three churches, a working grist mill and several restored log houses in Cades Cove.
USA TODAY 10Best