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WPA National Park Posters

Posted by Navis








One of America’s dying traditions, or so it seems to be dying, is visiting our backyards: National Parks. I’ll get into that subject later but for now I wanted to share these amazing art pieces created by an aritst who goes by the name of Ranger Doug.

The history behind these posters is quite a story. You can read about why the WPA created these posters in the first place here. Here’s a little excerpt from his website:

Between 1935 and 1943 the WPA’s Federal Art Project printed over two million posters in 35,000 different designs to stir the public’s imagination for education, theater, health, safety, and travel. Due to their fragile nature only two thousand posters have survived to this day; less than one tenth of one percent!

Ranger Doug’s Enterprises is the only source for faithful reproductions of WPA National Park serigraphed posters. Originally produced between 1938 and 1941, these sixteen stunning historical posters have been painstakingly restored, one screen at a time and are now offered as silkscreened prints.

I’ve managed to collect nearly all of these stunning prints in postcard form. As some of you know, I’m an avid National Park traveler. Not only for what each park’s beauty has to offer but each park has its own fascinating history behind it that I love learning about. One of my favorite parks has to be Glacier National Park in northern Montana. I’ve never felt so small and insignificant in this universe before when I was there. Absolutely breathtaking. What are some of your favorite National Parks or National Monuments here in America?

You can purchase various prints directly from the website: Ranger Doug WPA National Park Posters.

38 Comments Leave A Comment

1

Owen says:

September 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

These are so cool.

I remember seeing and saving some of them to my Designspiration a long time ago, but had no idea they could be purchased.

2

mg33 says:

September 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Great post Tim. I’ve visited far too few national parks, and after some great trips out of the country in the past two years, I’ve made a goal of trying to see more in the US. Yosemite and Yellowstone are high on my list.

3

Chester says:

September 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Yosemite for me! Lived there for a while, unforgettable. That poster doesn’t really do it justice though IMO.

Just a note – I believe that park visitation is, or just was, at a record high due to the economy (cheaper vacation than Europe) and all those Ken Burns documentaries. Could be wrong.

4

Navis says:

September 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

@Chester -

Go out and ask any American to name three national parks. You’ll be disappointed. I’ve been asking strangers this. At least in my travels to national parks this year (Yellowstone, Redwoods, Grand Canyon, Arches… to name a few) – all I seemed to notice was the insane amounts of foreign tourists. Which is awesome! There was hardly any Americans around. Maybe state parks are receiving more visitation?

But seriously, ask people to name three national parks. Most of the time it’s this… “ummm… Yosemite………………………..”.

6

Rips O'Curr says:

September 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

These posters are fantastic! I just returned from a study of the Sierra-Nevada. The story of volcanism, tectonics and glacial events that shaped this gorgeous stretch of terrain is incredible. The entire range is rich and in our backyard! Go explore!

7

Navis says:

September 25, 2012 at 9:33 pm

@Davehardy – Ha! Actually, now that I’m looking at it, the thing is headed straight into a massive tree. Tragic ending to a near perfect family vacation. #griswolds

8

chris says:

September 26, 2012 at 12:24 am

those posters are fantastic.

valles caldera national preserve in NM is beautiful. unfortunately, it suffered some fire damage during a wildfire last year.

9

murdermitten says:

September 26, 2012 at 11:47 am

I also have a couple sets of these at home. Picked them up at Grand Tetons. My wife and I frame and display them each time we backpack in a new park. Great to see them getting some publicity on the site!

10

zenzanon says:

September 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Lassen Volcanic National Park is by far my favorite National Park and I’ve been to most of the heavy hitters. Seriously check it out if you’re in the upper half of California.

12

Sebastian says:

October 10, 2012 at 7:27 am

My girlfriend and I recently went on a roadtrip through the American south-west – we did a tour of a lot of the national parks around southern Utah and down into Arizona and Nevada. At each park we went to we would grab the corresponding poster for the park, and when we got home we said to hell with it and ordered the remaining ones on ebay.

13

jaison says:

November 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Just been looking around the internet for the WPA National Park posters after seeing the calendar at Barnes & Noble today. The images echo the era in which they were created, displaying a gorgeous style that beautifully captured the efforts to promote the parks. I need to get out there and see the parks. This past summer I traveled on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is something to experience.

15

Meltem says:

December 8, 2012 at 1:50 am

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31

Zack says:

January 22, 2013 at 5:57 am

Olympic! It has mountains, rainforest, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, valleys, ocean coastline, coastal rock formations and tons of wildlife. Easily the most diverse National Park… although I love them all.

38

James Stevenson says:

February 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I’m a little late to this party but would like to say what great posters these are. Scott – your site has become regular reading and there’s always some interesting design from yesteryear to be found here. Gorgeous stuff.

If you find yourself in London before the end of April, I’d highly recommend seeing Ansel Adams’ exhibition at the Greenwich Maritime Museum, it includes some huge floor to ceiling prints from his national park collections and his passion for those places is clear throughout his career. Indeed he’s thought of in being instrumental in bringing about many of the national park designations. Some breathtaking work, and all originals on show.

Keep up the good work (and the great music, will keep an eye out to see when you’re next in Vancouver as I recently relocated from the UK)!