Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage Round-Up of National Parks

Looking back in time to all the national parks I've visited, has been a great trip down Memory Lane.
The inspiration for this was delivered by Pam at Digging.  She asked us to share our stories of national parks, after watching the Ken Burns series, The National Parks.

I've visited many of the parks, monuments and historic sites.  Many of these trips were when I was a child.  So, the photos I have were taken decades ago, with an old Kodak camera. 

My parents liked to travel and camping was the most economical way to go.  My dad was always into the economics of things.  But, camping is a great way to get close to the nature and...essence...of a place.

One park we visited way back then was Grand Teton National Park.  See the sticker above, I found in the box, when looking for photos?  It's been hiding in there for fifty something years.  Pretty cool, huh?
But, not as cool as the park, itself.

Grand Teton National Park, circa 1954

Rugged peaks are the signature of the Tetons.  There was some controversy over this park.  The people who lived in the region, weren't too happy about the Federal Government coming in and taking control of the land.  So, it took many years to have it all come together.  The original Grand Teton National Park, was established by congress in 1929, and only included the Teton Range, and the lakes around in.  In 1943, President Roosevelt decreed a large part of the area The Jackson Hole National Monument.  Then, in 1950, the two were combined to make the park we know today.

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, circa 1954

I remember we camped at Jenny Lake.....a 'bottomless' lake.  I couldn't quite grasp that as a child.  Bottomless....that's pretty deep.  But, I could see how beautiful it was. 

We hiked around the lake and, I'm sure, my parents fished.

Next up was Yellowstone National Park....which is right next door.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, circa 1954

Yellowstone was America's first National Park.  Established in 1872.

Beyond the canyon and river, it's an other worldly landscape, with lava pots and spewing geysers. 

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, circa 1954

Old Faithful is the most famous of these.  It's a geyser that 'blows' every hour.  Sometimes, it actually goes off on schedule.
I remember the fragile looking 'crust' under the board walks placed over the boiling pits.  Pam at Digging, has some good, more up to date pictures of this.

Camping in Yellowstone was an adventure.  We had our trusty tent again, and it was all pretty primitive.  You were warned to not leave food in the campsite, because of the bears.  So, we put ours in the car, and were lucky the bears didn't break in.  And, there were plenty bears.  Even, a mother and her two cubs.  No picture of them.  But, I found one of a big black bear that came to visit.
Yellowstone National Park, circa 1954

Next, let's go further west.  We went out to California to visit relatives.  Quite a pleasant trip, way back then, crossing the desert without air conditioning in the car.  Almost like real pioneers.

We did all the California things...Disneyland, the beach...then up to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Yosemite National Park, circa 1959

Yosemite has a varied and controversial history.  It became a National Park in 1890.  It is such a beautiful place.  There still is the pull between preservation to the point of closing it off, and making it available for all to enjoy.  It's a place I hope to return to some day.

Our time was short, so we headed back east.  We drove through the 1950s version of Las Vegas, and across the Hoover Dam.  Then, spent the night at Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park, circa 1959

Much has been written about this famous place.  It became a National Park in 1919.  If you get a chance to go, you should.  It's quite amazing.  I returned with my husband and friends in 2005 via one of the helicopter tours out of Las Vegas, for a special birthday.  That was exciting.  We flew through the areas they allow aircraft, landed on the canyon floor and had a nice champagne lunch.  There are pictures of that trip.  I think they're living in the old computer.  I need to dust that off and transfer them over to the laptop.

Petrified Forest National Monument, circa 1959

Close by to Grand Canyon is Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.  The Petrified Forest wasn't a National Park when I was there in 1959, it was a monument.  It became a National Park in 1962.  I remember being disappointed with it.  I guess I thought those 'trees of stone' would be standing.  Remembering back, it was pretty interesting, though.

So, those are the 'way back when' places.  There are many other parks we've visited, not so many pictures.  One place I visited as a child, then again in 1979, with my children, and one more time in 2002, with grandchildren, is Great Sand Dunes National Park, in Colorado.   It's an amazingly big pile of sand.  Another great place to see.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, circa 1979

Great Sand Dunes National Park, circa 2002

As I said at the beginning, this has been a fun trip back into my family history.  There are so many parks we haven't visited, and many we'd like to revisit.  If you get a chance, visit as many National Parks as you can.  In the mean time, go see  Pam at Digging. She has links to a lot of other blogger's trips.

I'll leave you with this travel sticker memento from long ago.  It is so iconic of the times.

Happy Trails


  1. Linda, what a great post! Black&white photography is classic! I thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you!

  2. This just about made me cry. I love your black and whites from the past. When I was a kid we traveled the U.S. a lot and I saw all these parks. There was something so special about it. I wonder if that spirit still exists in this generation? Maybe I just don't hear about it or see it.?
    Great post!

  3. Thanks Tatyana and LeSan.
    The black and white are nice, aren't they. The Yosemite one has an Ansel Adams feel to it. Who knew my mother could do that with her little Kodak.
    There was something special about it all, back then. We didn't have all the bells and whistles of today...and didn't miss them, one bit. Not sure how many of us would be willing to forego them, today. Including this old camper :).

  4. What a great tour, and you got a wonderful bear photo too. Thanks for sharing your many national park visits with us.

  5. Hi Linda, this is the most amazing post every! How fortunate you were to travel like that, camp and have pictures of the trip, with handwriting on them even! I am in awe of everything. The old stickets are pure art, the cowgirl in short shorts with belly showing takes the cake! Those boots are to die for! :-)


I love your comments. Thanks for dropping by.

This is a word verification free blog. It seems to be working out, so far.