The arrowhead was authorized as the official National Park Service emblem by the Secretary of the Interior on July 20, 1951.
The elements of the emblem symbolize the major facets of the national park system. The Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead represents historical and archeological values.
The arrowhead was probably first used on an informational folder for Oregon Caves National Monument published in April 1952.
It soon gained recognition as the Service symbol and became widely used on signs and publications.
To forestall unseemly commercial uses of the arrowhead design, an official notice, approved March 7, 1962, was published in the Federal register of March 15, 1962 (27 CFR 2486), designating it as the official symbol of the National Park Service.