Sound Gallery

An acoustic technician looks at the spectrogram of natural sounds gathered from a national park location.
An acoustic technician analyzes a spectrogram of natural sounds gathered from a national park location.

NPS

National Park Service scientists record and analyze sounds in national parks to inform and improve management of national parks across the country. The data is collected through recording systems installed by the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division in selected parks for about a month at a time. The systems record audio as mp3 files and sound pressure levels in decibels, and are designed to replicate the hearing experience of a person on the ground.

Sounds gathered are analyzed at the Listening Lab, a research collaborative between the NPS and the Sound and Light Ecology team at Colorado State University.
Technicians study these sounds using spectrograms — images that display the sounds according to brightness and color, frequency, and time of occurrence (see graphic, right).The audio recordings provide information about their source of origin, such as wildlife, weather, park visitors, and park operations, and how these variables interact. Visit Measuring Sound to learn more about how the NPS measures and analyzes sounds. This list of available reports summarizes sound measurements taken in national parks.

The following sound clips are selections of wilderness and human-made sounds recorded in national parks.The files are in the public domain and may be downloaded. Enjoy, and please give the appropriate credit.

For additional recordings, listen to
Sounds of the Parks by the Listening Lab. Check also the Yellowstone National Park Sound Library and audio postcards short stories about soundscapes unique to Yellowstone's ecology.

Amphibians

Wood frog stares warily from its mossy perch on the forest floor
A wood frog stares warily from its mossy perch on forest floor in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

NPS

Birds

Cultural-Historical

Guards fire the cannon during a historical battle re-enactment at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Maryland.
Guards fire the cannon during a historical battle re-enactment at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Maryland.

NPS

Geological

Snowy mountain peak shows avalanche in process at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Snowy mountain peak shows avalanche in process at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

NPS

Machines

Dramatic buttes frame this view of a helicopter in flight at Grand Canyon National Park.
Dramatic buttes frame this view of a helicopter in flight at Grand Canyon National Park.

NPS

Hydrological

Waterfall at Glacier National Park
Waterfall at Glacier National Park, Montana.

Gabriel Morrow / NPS

Insects

Honey bee gathers nectar from blooming yellow flowers
A honey bee gathers nectar from blooming yellow flowers at Zion National Park.

NPS

Mammals

Meteorological

Lightning bolts illuminate the night sky.
Lightning bolts charge the night sky.

NPS

Reptiles

Alligator basks in the sun from among wetlands grasses in Everglades National Park.
Alligator basks in the sun from among wetlands grasses in Everglades National Park.

NPS / Emma Brown