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National Parks: Take a Tour of Their Past Through Vintage Photos

National Parks: Take a Tour of Their Past Through Vintage Photos

A look back at a scenic slice of American history

INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty Images

 

Coronavirus has changed many Americans' summer travel plans, and while some people feel comfortable enough to hit the road, others are planning staycations or opting for virtual sight-seeing instead. To ease the travel itch and transport you back in time, we’ve compiled a collection of cool retro photos of America’s national parks.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

This antique photograph features one of the most beautiful landmarks in America's national parks: the Wawona Big Tree, located in Mariposa Grove, the largest giant sequoia grove in Yosemite National Park.

Smoky Mountain National Park

Smoky Mountain National Park

KuntalSaha/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This picture was taken of the Cable Mill at Cades Cove landscape in Smoky Mountain National Park during the fall. The water mill in the picture is still operational and used for recreational purposes.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

NNehring/E+ via Getty Images

This scanned film with grain features Badger Pass ski lodge in Yosemite National Park in 1950. California is home to some of the most popular ski resorts in America.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This antique photograph features Glacier Point at Yosemite Valley in California, which has much more to offer than beaches and Disneyland.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

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This vertical black and white photograph was taken in Yosemite Valley circa 1920.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

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This antique photograph features Buffalo Bill and his party at Point Sublime in Grand Canyon National Park.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

guy_ver/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

This black and white print scan depicts Yosemite National Park at dusk.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

This antique photograph features Artist's Point in Yosemite Valley.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Historic American Engineering Record/Library of Congress

 

 

This image shows roads leading to Crater Lake National Park near Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This antique photograph was taken at Echo Cliffs in Grand Canyon National Park, a destination every American should visit in their lifetime.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

Originally named the Sapphire Pool, the spot in this antique photograph taken in Yosemite National Park is now called Biscuit Basin for the biscuit-shaped deposits that have formed around it.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

This antique photograph was taken at the New Hance Trail in Grand Canyon National Park. America’s national parks are full of amazing hiking trails for beginners and experienced hikers alike.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This antique photograph was taken at Giant's Coffin in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky — home of one of the coolest caves in the world.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Crissman, Joshua/Library of Congress

 

America’s national parks have plenty of strange natural wonders. This photograph shows a crater of Periodical Hot Lake and Leaf Formation in the Limestone Series of Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress

 

 

A Native American seated on the edge of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, in a photo taken between 1910 and 1925.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

A photo of a mule train and tourists on horseback in Arizona's Grand Canyon in 1920.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

American Stereoscopic Company/Library of Congress

 

 

A horse-drawn coach passing through an arched gateway at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress

 

This 1935 photo shows the post office at Nethers inside Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Historic American Engineering Record/Library of Congress

 

 

A photo taken in Crater Lake National Park near Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

An antique photograph of one of America's top natural wonders: the Grand Canyon.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

An antique photograph of Golden Gate in Yellowstone National Park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Keystone View Company/Library of Congress

 

A man taking in the gorgeous mountain scenery of Mount Rainier and Pyramid Peak in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Historic American Engineering Record/Library of Congress

 

 

Tourists wearing vintage fashions visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

A 1922 photo of the rugged Cowlitz Glacier in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Historic American Engineering Record/Library of Congress

 

Visitors pose for a photo in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, one of the most underrated small towns in America.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress

 

A rocky ridge partially covered with snow and glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park, home to plenty of majestic mountains.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Marion Post Wolcott/Library of Congress

 

A 1941 photo of the Many Glacier Hotel on Lake Sherburne in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower National Monument

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

An antique photograph of Devils Tower of Vitrified Rock, a movie location you can actually visit and the namesake feature of Devils Tower National Monument.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

An antique photograph of the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces in Yellowstone National Park, a truly mesmerizing sight.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

This image from 1926 shows photographers in an ice cave in Paradise Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Curtis & Miller/Library of Congress

 

 

In this photo taken between 1911 and 1920, a group of men and women climb Paradise Glacier in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Visitors make a hazardous crossing of Cowlitz Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, in this photo taken between 1900 and 1910.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

An antique photograph of the French Broad River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

ilbusca/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

An antique photograph of visitors taking in the amazing view from Glacier Point in Yosemite Valley, California.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

President Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidge look at bears outside the Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Keystone View Company/Library of Congress

 

A woman leans over a geyser at The Punch Bowl in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Arnold Genthe/Library of Congress

 

 

Women play in the snow at Yosemite National Park in this photo taken between 1903 and 1906.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress

A photograph of the Glacier National Park entrance in 1914.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Russell Lee/Library of Congress

 

 

Tourists at cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, one of the most amazing man-made marvels in America.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Keystone View Company/Library of Congress

An automobile driving on a road through a tunnel carved out of a tree in the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress

 

 

Horseback riders on the trail of Indian Henry's in Washington state’s Mount Rainier National Park.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

A photograph showing a group of people relaxing in a boat in the middle of Crater Lake with the cone in the background.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Wolcott, Marion Post/Library of Congress

 

Cars drive through Montana’s Glacier National Park, one of the most underrated parks in America, in this 1941 photo.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon

Sequoia & Kings Canyon

Matson Photo Service/Library of Congress

 

 

Visitors take in a beautiful sunset in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in July 1950.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Historic American Engineering Record/Library of Congress

 

 

One of the most difficult national parks to visit, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is accessible today thanks to the road infrastructure built between 1915 and 1931.

Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park

Balthazar Korab/Library of Congress

 

Originally known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, part of Gateway Arch National Park in Saint Louis, was constructed between 1947 and 1965 and dedicated in 1968.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

American Stereoscopic Company/Library of Congress

 

This photo taken near the turn of the century documents President Theodore Roosevelt's western tour in which he visited Liberty Cap in Yellowstone National Park.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Historic American Engineering Record/Library of Congress

 

 

Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and visitors wouldn't be able to take in its beauty without roads to access the park's scenic features. This picture depicts national park roads being created near Klamath Falls, Klamath County, Oregon.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress

 

 

This photo depicts a 1936 United States Resettlement Administration work camp located in a Badlands National Park extension in South Dakota.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress

 

 

This photo from the 1920s shows an old-fashioned car cruising through Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, one of the best places to see autumn leaves in the country. Can’t get enough of the vintage photos? Here is a collection of retro beach photos from back in the day.

Updated June 26, 2020, at 2:10 p.m.: Due to a reporting error an earlier version of this slideshow incorrectly stated the Rocky Mountain National Park extended to Canada. Those slides have been removed. 

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