How Our View of National Parks Shapes American Identity

What We Seek and Find in Our Sacred Environments Reflects Our Country’s Character

Few natural regions have been photographed as often, or in such varied ways, as the American West. Many of these alluring, emotionally resonant landscapes lie within the boundaries of national parks, and photography has played a crucial role in promoting this heritage, thereby helping to articulate a crucial aspect of American identity. Frank Jay Haynes, Carleton Watkins, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston and Lee Friedlander are among the masters who trained their lenses on the granite face of Yosemite, waited patiently to capture the burst of a Yellowstone geyser, …

Nature Needs Greater Diversity—In Its Human Visitors

Drawing More Non-Whites Into Parks and Natural Areas Requires Changes in Access, Staffing, Recruitment—and Narratives

“Is nature only for white people?” was the deliberately provocative query that framed a Zócalo/Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County panel discussion. It was quickly dispensed with by the …

Why Americans Invented the RV

In 1915, New Creature Comforts Created by Technology Merged with the Back to Nature Movement

On August 21, 1915, the Conklin family departed Huntington, New York on a cross-country camping trip in a vehicle called the “Gypsy Van.” Visually arresting and cleverly designed, the …

How Hawai‘i Forces Us to Redefine the Meaning of ‘Native’

An Environmental Historian Argues That Being Indigenous Is More Alchemy Than Fact

I was born in the Territory of Hawai‘i, three weeks before statehood. As a kid I played in its dirt, ran around in the rain (my hometown of Hilo is …

The Photographer in the Garden

How the Camera Conveys the Ways We Cultivate Nature

Gardens are the birthplace of some of our most enduring myths and creation stories. Many religions posit the idea of a lush, sacred place where humans once dwelt in harmony …

America’s National Parks Were Never Wild and Untouched

Montana's Emblematic Glacier National Park Reveals the Impact of Human History and Culture

In 1872, Congress created the first national park, Yellowstone, so that its scenic features would be “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and …