Summer is here and America’s national parks are full of visitors. If you’re currently one of them or plan to be soon, you need this site, National Park Maps, in your life.
We all have fond memories of arriving at a national park. You arrive at the entrance booth, hand the ranger your money, and in return receive a brochure-like map. It’s the first, and maybe only, souvenir of your trip. The trademark white font across the black bar gives way to iconic glimpses of what sights lie ahead, and a distinctive overview map.
Well, a park ranger has drawn inspiration from these childhood memories and worked tirelessly to digitize and upload these brochures for you to download. For free.
National Park Maps (tagline: Here, I uploaded a bunch of free maps for you. Wooo!) is the brainchild of Matt Holly, an employee of National Park Service’s Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate, Colorado. Taking advantage of a forced lay-off in 2013 he started putting the maps online to keep himself busy. With the aim of helping national park users plan their trips by creating a central location for the maps, he now dedicates his free time to improving and curating the massive and ever-growing online database.
This fantastic resource for outdoor enthusiasts offers the very same official maps that the national park staff distribute to the public at the entrance to parks. All 59 national parks are represented, and the site currently hosts over 1,700 free, hi-res maps available to download, save, view and print. Those maps include 3D depictions, color coded depth maps, as well as your basic topo maps.
On his website, Matt describes his passion:
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 hard work for you and collected maps of each park and hosted them here. I’ll be continually updating this site over time, adding more parks and including as many free downloadable maps as I can find. I’ll post new pages in the Latest Updates section as I add more
Besides hosting the main national park brochure maps, I’ve also endlessly paged through park newspapers, management documents, and other non-user-friendly PDFs in order to extract the maps and provide them here for you. Enjoy the fruits of my labor! I cut out all the extra info to give you just the maps, straight up.
With all 59 national parks represented, Matt can also track which maps are requested the most. In 2016 the top 3 maps downloaded were: Acadia National Park at the top spot, with Grand Canyon and Glacier National Parks following it. So far, in early 2017, the Grand Canyon has the top spot.