Ken Burn's “National Parks: America’s Best Idea”

Ken Burn's “National Parks: America’s Best Idea”

Missing our national parks? Ken Burn's “National Parks: America’s Best Idea” is a 6 part (12 hour) series detailing much of the history of the creation of our national parks and the people that worked so hard to make it happen.

For national park enthusiasts, “National Parks: America’s Best Idea” presents an interesting and eye opening look into the efforts and politics of many individuals, both famous and unknown, in their work to bring our national parks to life and to protect their futures. It’s an “all thumbs up” experience you will want to see.

The series begins in the 1850’s and continues to 1980.


1. The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890)
Interest grows about Yosemite and Yellowstone as a takes form between those looking for commercial gain and those who want to keep the lands prinstine. John Muir defends the lands.

2. The Last Refuge (1890-1915)
Concern grows over America’s rapid industrialization and the possibility of loss of the land’s natural wonders. Theodore Roosevelt begins establishing National Monuments using the Antiquities Act.

3. The Empire Of Grandeur (1915-1919)
Creation of the National Park Service bringing together the national parks under one federal agency.

4. Going Home (1920-1933)
As automobiles become more common, the national parks become less the domain of only the wealthy and park visitation numbers explode. The Rockefellers begin quietly buying up lands in the Teton Mountain Range.

5. Great Nature (1933-1945)
Battling America’s unemployment, president Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the Civilian Conservation Corps spawning, amongst other projects, large scale renovation projects within the national parks.

6. Morning of Creation (1946-1980)
Explores the ecological impact on the national park system caused by an estimated 62 million visitors each year. President Jimmy Carter sets aside 56 million acres of land in Alaska for the 
creation of 7 new parks. The decision is made to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

The series is available from multiple sources. Here are some, current as of this writing:

Included with a PBS streaming subscription available through Amazon.

Get the DVD set from Amazon and possibly other retailers.

Get a digital version via Amazon (you can be individual episodes or the 6 episode series.

Get the DVD set from PBS.

Local PBS stations may show it from time to time!

However you choose to watch, it's sure to entertain and increase the appreciation of our National Parks, America's Best Idea!