Mission 66

White sign with black text - This is a Mission 66 Project Colorado National Monument
Mission 66 Sign - Colorado National Monument East Entrance

NPS Photo

Visitation to the parks more than doubled from 1946 to 1955 due to pent up postwar demand for travel and recreation. Many of the buildings, roads, and utility systems dated from before World War II. These structures were previously built with hand tools in an "NPS Rustic" style using natural materials that blended with the setting. The boom of post war tourism was more than the rustic infrasturcture could handle. National Park Service Director Colin Wirth proposed an ambitious 10-year capital improvement project to modernize National Park Service sites. The program was named "Mission 66" after the proposed project completion date of 1966, which was also the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The U.S. Congress appropriated more than a billion dollars over this 10-year period. The National Park Service built more than 100 visitor centers, countless comfort stations and picnic shelters, headquarters buildings and over 1,000 units of much needed employee housing. These new buildings were constructed in a "Modern" style that used local materials. In addition, trails were constructed, roads were widened, utility systems were added, and hundreds of maintenance structures were built. Colorado National Monument was one of the sites to benefit greatly from this initiative.

In addition to the construction within existing parks, the system itself expanded, redefining what could and should be protected by the National Park Service. Examples include Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore. Within that same 10-year period, Congress added 50 new sites to the agency.


Other National Park Service Units Featuring Mission 66 Architecture

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    Last updated: March 6, 2024

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