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 npmaps.com. 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.