Adding Park Tiles to ArcGIS Desktop

Posted on 23 May 2014 by David Warren

We just made a big update to the National Park Service’s basemap, Park Tiles, and have fielded questions from quite a few GIS users in the NPS who want to bring the basemap into ArcGIS Desktop. Luckily the process is fairly simple!

To start, you must either be part of the NPS Organizational Account for ArcGIS Online or create an account within the NPS GIS Portal. If you do not already have an NPS Organizational Account, send me an email and I’ll respond with an invitation. Or, if you prefer, you can sign in to the NPS GIS Portal and create your own account instantly.

In ArcGIS versions 10.2 and above, it is now possible to pull in tiled map services from basemap providers other than Esri, such as Mapbox, Stamen, and, of course, the National Park Service. To access these basemaps, you must first run ArcGIS Administrator (assuming you have administrator rights on your computer).

ArcGIS administrator.

Click the “Advanced” button in ArcGIS Administrator, and then choose “Manage Portal Connections”.

Manage {ortal connections.

This will allow you to add your NPS Organizational Account and/or a NPS GIS Portal account to ArcGIS Desktop. is already added to your connections, so you don’t need to manually add it. If you’d like to add the NPS GIS Portal Account, select “Add”.

Add the NPS GIS Portal Account.

Next you will be prompted to connect to the NPS GIS Portal account. This can be done by placing into the address bar and clicking “OK”.

Add URL.

If you prefer to connect to the NPS GIS Portal through ArcGIS Desktop, ensure that the portal entry is highlighted and choose “Connect”.

Connect to the NPS GIS Portal.

Click “Save” and then “OK” to close out ArcGIS Administrator. You should now be set up to interact directly with or NPS GIS Portal via ArcGIS Desktop. From here, you can open a blank map document in ArcMap and choose “File > Sign In”.

Sign in.

For the rest of this walkthrough, I am going to sign in to the NPS GIS Portal because that’s what I highlighted in ArcGIS Administrator. If was highlighted before saving, you will also see the option to sign in to

Sign in to the NPS GIS Portal using the login credentials you created in a previous step.

Sign in to the NPS GIS Portal.

After signing in to the NPS GIS Portal, you can add the Park Tiles basemap - as well as basemaps from other providers. Go to “File > Add Data > Add Basemap”. The “Add Basemap” window will open, and all the basemap items available through the NPS GIS Portal will be available to you.

Add basemap.

Under the “Table of Contents”, with the “List by Drawing Order” tab highlighted, you should see Park Tiles available under the “Basemap” Layer.

List by drawing order.

The map will not display until you complete one last step. Right-click on the “Basemap” level, and choose “Ungroup”. By default, ArcMap pulls basemaps in as “Group Layers”, and ungrouping releases the tiles. Now you should be able to use Park Tiles within ArcGIS Desktop.

Ungroup the basemap.

You can use this same process for all basemaps added to the NPS Organizational Account and NPS GIS Portal. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch. Enjoy your mapping!

The final map.