THIS Nation is richer in natural scenery of the first order than any other nation; but it does not know it. It possesses an empire of grandeur and beauty which it scarcely has heard of. It owns the most inspiring playgrounds and the best equipped nature schools in the world and is serenely ignorant of the fact. In its national parks it has neglected, because it has quite overlooked, an economic asset of incalculable value.

The Nation must awake, and it now becomes our happy duty to waken it to so pleasing and profitable a reality. This portfolio is the morning call to the day of realization.

Individual features of several of our national parks are known the world over; but few to whom the Yosemite Valley is a household word know that its seven wonderful miles are a part of a scenic wonderland of eleven hundred square miles called the Yosemite National Park. So with the Yellowstone; all have heard of its geysers, but few indeed of its thirty-three hundred square miles of wilderness beauty. Some of the finest of our national parks here pictured you probably have never even heard of. The Sequoia National Park, a hundred miles south of the Yosemite, one of the noblest scenic areas in the world, is the home of more than a million sequoias, the celebrated Big Trees of California; but even its name is known to few. The Crater Lake National Park incloses the deepest and bluest lake in the world surrounded by walls of pearly fretted lavas of indescribable beauty—a very wonder spot; but it is probably least known of all.

The main object of this portfolio, therefore, is to present to the people of this country a panorama of our principal national parks set side by side for their study and comparison. Each park will be found highly individual. The whole will be a revelation.

This is the first really representative presentation of American scenery of grandeur ever published, perhaps ever made. The selection, which, with the text and form, is by Robert Sterling Yard, is from photographs collected during a period of many months from all available sources, and represents the most striking work of many photographers.

The portfolio is dedicated to the American people. It is my great hope that it will serve to turn the busy eyes of this Nation upon its national parks long enough to bring some realization of what these pleasure gardens ought to mean, of what so easily they may be made to mean, to this people.

Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior in Charge of National Parks.

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Last Updated: 30-Oct-2009