Working Together to Connect People to Parks

From the transcontinental railroad to the canals that forged America, national parks tell the story of transportation in America.  

The history of the National Park System is also inextricably linked to transportation. In the early part of the 20th century, the great railroads promoted parks in order to entice tourists to travel out west. The successful promotion of national parks and the advent of the automobile created a need for expanded access. Magnificently designed scenic roads and parkways have been central to defining visitor experiences by harmonizing with the environment and providing extraordinary views. 

Today, the National Park Service (NPS) transportation systems provide 300 million visitors per year with access to America’s most treasured landscapes, natural wonders, and historic sites. These critical transportation networks connect NPS sites with nearby communities and contribute to local economic activity.

NPS transportation infrastructure is increasingly at risk from climate change and severe weather, with urgent needs to make infrastructure more resilient. The NPS works with the Department of Transportation Office of Federal Lands Highway and other partners to develop innovative and equitable transportation systems, while also producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The NPS and its visitors will benefit from once-in-a-generation investments in transportation infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (the Law) and the Great American Outdoors Act. The Law increases funding for the NPS under the Federal Lands Transportation Program by 22 percent to over $1.73 billion over five years. The NPS is pursuing additional funding from the Law in order to address NPS transportation priorities:

  • Protect the climate and advance resource protection
  • Enhance visitor experience and connect diverse communities
  • Reinvest in the system and make legacy investments  

A series of bridges were constructed to raise the Tamiami Trail and restore an important ecosystem
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The NPS is working with partners to make once-in-a-generation investments in infrastructure enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

A paddleshare station at Mississippi River National Recreation Area
Alternative Transportation

Through partnerships, NPS uses transit systems, trails, and technology to integrate transportation and enhance access.

Secretaries Deb Haaland (DOI) and Pete Buttigieg (DOT) leading by example

The NPS works closely with federal agencies, state governments, local communities, foundations, and other groups to improve access to parks.

Automated shuttle with a buffalo on the side in Yellowstone
Emerging Mobility

New technologies provide opportunities for how visitors plan and experience their trips to and within NPS sites.

looking across potomac river, bridge on right, washington monument in left background

Spanning rivers and valleys, bridges were an essential part of the making of America.

mountain on left in background, road in center with cars driving toward you
Roads and Parkways

National Parks and cars grew up together. As automobiles evolved, so did National Parks.

cars backed up at a park entrance
Manage Congestion

Collecting traffic data, assessing conditions, and using appropriate planning processes can help reduce traffic and congestion issues.

Last updated: September 13, 2022