America's national Park system draws visitors from across the nation and around the world. Visitors enjoy scenic wonders, learn about important events in America's history, and visit monuments to our nation's heroes.
An efficient transportation system comprised of roads, bridges, parking lots, and shuttles is pivotal to the "balancing act" between access for millions of annual visitors and protecting the natural and cultural resources of the currently 398 park units. Safe and efficient transportation systems add to visitors' enjoyment, but also help protect the natural and cultural resources of our national parks.
Accessing the national parks, whether by train, bus, automobile, or shuttle, or by nonmotorized means (bicycle, horse, walking, or boat) has defined the national park experience for generations of visitors. Park roads and parkways are outstanding design achievements that exemplify the harmonious integration of highway engineering and landscape architecture. The challenge of building roadways through remote and rugged terrain has inspired some of the most spectacular feats in the history of American engineering. Even in the most demanding locations, designers have gone to great lengths to make sure that park roads "lie lightly on the land," encroaching as little as possible on the natural and cultural surroundings.
The national parks have experienced explosive growth in visitation, rising from a few hundred thousand visits per year in the early 1900s to more than 280 million visits each year today. The ever-increasing number of personal vehicles has overextended park roadways and parking areas well beyond their limits. The National Park Service is today faced with deteriorating and inadequate infrastructure, including its roads, bridges, and transportation systems. Within the pages of this site we explore the magnitude of the existing challenges, and the methods and actions that will restore our national park treasures for future generations, while providing quality visitor experiences today.