From Acadia and Great Smoky Mountains to Zion and Mount Rainier,
millions of visitors tour America's national parks. While park
roads determine what most visitors see and how they see it,
however, few pause to consider when, why, or how the roads they
travel on were built. In this extensively researched and richly
illustrated book, national parks historian Timothy Davis highlights
the unique qualities of park roads, details the factors influencing
their design and development, and examines their role in shaping
the national park experience-from the Blue Ridge Parkway and
Skyline Drive to Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road,
Yellowstone's Grand Loop, Yosemite's Tioga Road, and scores of
other scenic drives. Decisions about park road development
epitomize the central challenge of park management: balancing
preservation and access in America's most treasured landscapes.
Park roads have been celebrated as technical and aesthetic
masterpieces, hailed as democratizing influences, and vilified for
invading pristine wilderness with the sights, sounds, and smells of
civilization. Davis's recounting of efforts to balance the
interests of motorists, wilderness advocates, highway engineers,
and other stakeholders offers a fresh perspective on national park
history while providing insights into evolving ideas about the role
of nature, recreation, and technology in American society. Tales of
strong personalities, imposing challenges, resounding
controversies, and remarkable achievements enliven this rich and
compelling narrative. Key players include many of the most
important figures of conservation history-John Muir, Frederick Law
Olmsted, wilderness advocates Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall, and Ansel
Adams, and NPS directors Stephen Mather and Horace Albright among
them. An engrossing history, National Park Roads will be of
interest to national park enthusiasts, academics, design
professionals, resource managers, and readers concerned with the
past, present, and future of this quintessentially American legacy.
As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, this book
offers a fascinating and illuminating account of the agency's
impact on American lives and landscapes.
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