Cultural Landscapes of the West and Pacific Islands

Cultural landscapes of the West Coast and Pacific Islands reflect the rich and diverse cultural heritage found in the national parks across the Pacific Northwest, eastern Nevada, California, Hawaii, and the far Pacific Islands, including Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. These include designed landscapes, strategic sites and cantonments built by the U. S. Military, and large-scale park planning that reflects principles of the NPS Rustic style found throughout many early parks.

Cultural landscapes also include those that are vernacular in character: vast landscapes associated with historic overland migration, hard rock mining, and rural districts comprised of agricultural settlements and ranching enterprises that have been in continuous operation for more than six generations. Important historic sites include the homes of individuals significant in American culture, such as American naturalist John Muir and American playwright Eugene O'Neill, and battlefield sites associated with the Indian Wars of the 19th and 20th centuries and World War II. Many landscapes across the region convey the cultural heritage and sense of place for the African American, Asian American, Latinx American, Native American, and Pacific Islander communities.

The condition of the landscapes is a reflection of the type and location for many of these properties. This is especially true of the large scale vernacular landscapes in remote locations, such as backcountry mining landscapes, working dairy ranches, and military ruins. The primary impact affecting the condition of these cultural landscapes is long-term environmental exposure and climate change, creating both rapid loss of features and the sometimes slow decay or loss of integrity to natural systems that define the significance of the landscape.
Three people equipped for field work gather over a report in a dry southern California landscape

Featured Articles

Stories about cultural landscapes in national parks of the West and Pacific Islands

View through dark, lichen-covered rocks to a rectangular structure and water cistern in a clearing

Cultural Landscape Profiles

An overview of a few of the landscapes in the West and Pacific Islands. More to come!

Last updated: January 23, 2020