'Golden Age' of Park Roads

Motor tourism created a demand for modern high-quality park roads. National Park Service landscape architects collaborated with Bureau of Public Roads highway engineers to develop a systematic approach to the design and construction of park roads. This collaborative effort produced a 'Golden Age' of park road development that began in the mid 1920s and lasted until World War II. Automobile roads had to be wider, straighter and better paved than stagecoach routes, but they were designed to harmonize with their surroundings and "lie lightly on the land."

The golden age of park roads was also the golden age of postcards. Eight tours, featuring postcards from the 20s, 30s and 40s of some of America's classic park roads, are included here. You may either experience them in order by following the 'road signs' or select the topic of your choice from the roadway at any time.

National Parks in the East

To enable more Americans to enjoy national parks conveniently, the National Park Service began creating parks closer to major eastern population centers. Roads played a dominant role in the development of these parks -- today among the most popular in the national park system.

Acadia National Park (Maine)
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina, Virginia)
Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina, Tennessee)
Skyline Drive (Virginia)

National Parks in the West

Road construction in the mountainous west posed great challenges to park planners: how could roads be constructed in such difficult terrain without damaging the scenic resources of the parks?

Glacier National Park (Montana)
Mt. Rainier National Park (Washington)
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
Yelowstone National Park (Montana, Wyoming)

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