National Park Maps
National Park Maps

This Digital Library Contains 1000 National Park Maps

National Park Maps
National Park Maps

From barren deserts to lush forests, America's National Park System contains some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes on earth. If you don't have time to visit every NPS property, this digital map database reported by City Lab can help you explore them from the comfort of home. 

Since 2013, one park ranger has uploaded 1053 high-resolution national park maps to Matt Holly, an employee of the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate in Colorado, was inspired to launch the unofficial site as a way of organizing the service's vast body of cartography. On the website he writes:

I created this site because I love visiting national parks and planning trips by poring over a classic national park map. However, I’ve always found it time-consuming to visit each park’s web page and use an embedded map viewer or muddle through the website to find a nice printable map. So I’ve done the dirty work for you and collected maps of each park and hosted them here.

The National Park System is composed of 411 protected areas. The library contains maps from around 100 of them, and includes camping maps, trail maps, nautical charts, and local geology guides. 

One of the most exciting aspects of the database is that every map you see is in the public domain. That means that visitors are free to download the maps and use them as they please. Many of the same maps can be found on NPS's official webpages, but Holly takes extra steps to make his versions stand out. He boosts image quality while removing any superfluous text, and each map is accompanied by a summary. 

Whether you're planning a trip for the National Park Service's centennial this fall, or you're just a sucker for good map porn, the collection is worth checking out. You can view some stunning examples from the database below.

Carlsbad Cavern Vintage Map Postcard

Crater Lake Illustrated Map

Detail Map of St. John

Zion Canyon (North) Topographic Map

Devil's Garden Hiking Trail Map (Arches National Park)

[h/t City Lab]

All images courtesy of National Park Maps.

Afternoon Map
The Literal Translation of Every Country's Name In One World Map

What's in a name? Some pretty illuminating insights into the history and culture of a place, it turns out. Credit Card Compare, an Australia-based website that offers its users assistance with choosing the credit card that's right for them, recently dug into the etymology of place names for a new blog post to create a world map that highlights the literal translation of the world's countries, including the United States of Amerigo (which one can only assume is a reference to Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who realized that North America was its own landmass).

"We live in a time of air travel and global exploration," the company writes in the blog. "We’re free to roam the planet and discover new countries and cultures. But how much do you know about the people who lived and explored these destinations in times past? Learning the etymology—the origin of words—of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favorite travel destinations and the people who first lived there."

In other words: there's probably a lot you don't know about the world around you. But the above map (which is broken down into smaller bits below) should help.

For more detailed information on the background of each of these country names, click here. Happy travels!

Dan Bell
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.


All images by Dan Bell


More from mental floss studios