A park ranger is diligently uploading these free cartographic resources for the enjoyment and convenience of all.

A 3-D map of Hawaii’s Haleakala National Park. (npmaps.com)

Map addicts, you’ve been warned: A park ranger has been diligently uploading maps from hundreds of America’s national parks for the enjoyment, education and convenience of all. According to npmaps.com, some 1,053 high-resolution national park maps are available to view, save, and download for free.

The site is not officially affiliated with the National Park Service, on whose vast and multifaceted web presence many of these maps also appear. Rather, it is a way to consolidate and organize the agency’s valuable cartographic resources, which represent some of the finest American mapmaking of the past century.  

Matt Holly, a ranger with the NPS’ Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate in Colorado, launched the website during the government shutdown of 2013, according to a recent interview with National Parks Traveler. He’s been updating gradually ever since, and as of last month had uploaded maps from about 100 of the country’s 411 national park units. Besides general park maps, the library includes trail maps, camping maps, nautical charts, guides to local geology and archeology, and more—all of them in the public domain. For each map, Holly removes excess text and branding, buffs up the image quality, and writes lively descriptions. 

Holly has been a fan of maps since he was a child, according to National Parks Traveler. The NPS’ classic black-striped brochure-maps—created especially for the NPS by design-world icon Massimo Vignelli—resonate deeply with Holly.

“Receiving that map means I am now in a crown jewel; I am experiencing the best of what America has to offer and what this nation most values,” Holly said in the interview. “There's a sense of pride and ownership that goes with the map the ranger hands over.”

Admittedly, clicking through an online trove of NPS maps isn’t quite the same experience. Let’s hope Holly’s passion project gets more Americans off of laptops and into the varied, beautiful lands of the nation’s parks. Below, check out a sampling of what’s available on the site. 

Topographic map of Mount Rainier National Park

(npmaps.com)

Bryce Canyon regional map

(npmaps.com)

Boston Harbor nautical chart

(npmaps.com)

Overhead map of Alcatraz Island

(npmaps.com)

South rim of the Grand Canyon

(npmaps.com)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Protestors hold a sign that reads "Respect Democracy Our Vote Matters"
    Equity

    The Conservative Backlash Against Progressive Ballot Measures

    In many states, ballot initiatives on expanding Medicaid, limiting gerrymandering, and raising the minimum wage swept to victory in November. Now lawmakers are doing their best to reverse them.

  2. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.

  3. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  4. Perspective

    Why Historic Preservation Needs a New Approach

    With new tools and financing methods, preservationists could save endangered spaces without alienating those who should share our cause. Here’s how we can adapt.

  5. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?