14 Vintage-Style National Park Posters That Will Give You Wanderlust
We went behind the scenes of some of the most stunning national park posters with the man who created them.
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Behind the lens
Rob Decker, a photographer and graphic artist, was just 19 years old when he studied under the famed Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park. Today, he’s created some of the most stunning, nostalgic, and wanderlust-worthy posters of the national parks. Decker’s posters are printed on domestically recycled paper and drawn with soy ink. He donates 10 percent of his annual profits to various U.S. conservation efforts. Read on below as Decker tells us in his own words about his inspiration and fun facts behind these posters. You’ll also want to see these 20 amazing wildlife photos from Yellowstone National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
I’ve hiked through Joshua Tree many times and with dozens of trails open to biking and horseback riding, it’s easy to explore the park. Sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain, the surreal geologic features of twisted rock makes it one of America’s rock climbing meccas. And the superclear desert night sky makes the park an oasis for stargazing.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon overwhelms the senses through its immense size: It’s 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, and exposes nearly 2 billion years of the earth’s geological history. For this shot, I waited all afternoon on the patio of the Kolb Studio for the sun to light up the canyon and the Bright Angel Trail.
While everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, these 15 other natural wonders are under the radar.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
I was impressed by the imposing cliffs at Santa Elena Canyon that rise more than 1,000 feet above the Rio Grande and separates Mexico (left) and the United States (right). Big Bend National Park is located in a remote part of Southern Texas and borders Mexico along 118 miles of the Rio Grande. The Chihuahuan Desert is quite beautiful and full of life. And at night, this Dark Sky Park puts on an amazing celestial show.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
I was pleasantly surprised to explore this beautiful, rugged landscape that’s unlike any other. Its striking geologic deposits contain some of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals, such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. Today, the park protects an expanse of mixed-grass prairie, bison, bighorn sheep prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets. Badlands National Park is located in South Dakota.
These 10 national parks that are off-the-beaten-path are well worth a visit.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado
I visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park during a summer thunderstorm—for a brief moment, the sky opened up and lit up the canyon that features some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. The Gunnison River, along with the weathering forces of nature, has sculpted this vertical wilderness. The deep, steep, and narrow canyon is big enough to be overwhelming, yet intimate enough to feel the pulse of time.
Along with Black Canyon, these are the 14 other national parks that everyone should camp at once in their lifetime.
Zion National Park, Utah
You can’t help but stand in awe as you gaze up at the massive sandstone towers and cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into the brilliant blue sky. And hiking up the Virgin River in The Narrows is an experience not to be missed. You can follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked and experience the special places they left behind.
It may be beautiful, but amateurs should think twice before taking photos here and at these locations throughout other national parks.
Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada
Although temperatures at Zabriskie Point reached 100 degrees in the afternoon, I spent several mornings in the cold attempting to capture the park’s dramatic sunrise. This is a land of extremes, with steady drought and record summer heat. In the winter, nearby peaks are frosted with snow. And rare rainstorms can bring vast fields of wildflowers in the spring.
Don’t miss these 10 stunning photos of national parks in full bloom.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
The park offers a unique meld of nature and history. The iconic Garden Key Light sits atop majestic Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry brick structure in the Americas. I spent a day exploring the 19th Century Fort and snorkeling in the crystal clear water with its incredible coral reefs and marine life. This 100-square mile park—mostly open water with seven small islands—is accessible only by boat or seaplane.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, protects and provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida panther. This poster features the mangroves that reduce coastal erosion and shelter a wide range of wildlife.
The Everglades are one of 15 beautiful places to visit before it disappears.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Known as the Crown of the Continent, I still remember my first visit in 1977 when I explored the park’s pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, spectacular lakes, moraines, and glaciers. With over 700 miles of trails, it is a hiker’s paradise for those seeking wilderness and solitude. Today you can relive the days of old through historic lodges, chalets, transportation, and stories of Native Americans.
Be sure to check out these 40 beautiful photos of national parks covered in snow.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and explored many of the sites that are part of the recreation area, like Alcatraz Island, the Marin Headlands, Muir Woods, and the area’s many beaches, including Baker Beach with its iconic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Bonus: Golden Gate National Recreation area is dog-friendly, along with these other national parks.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
I visited Hawaii Volcanoes shortly before its most recent eruptions, and even experienced a few earthquakes! During the day, it’s hard to see inside the Halema’uma’u Crater, but it’s spectacular at night. From sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet, the park contains two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, as well as some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world.
In addition to the ones in Hawaii, you can visit these active volcanoes around the world.
Celebrating 100 Years of the National Park Service: This print is based on a WPA-era poster designed around the idea of educating visitors to the parks about the risks of wildfires. Today, there are many more threats to our parks…so it’s important that we all pitch in to protect them.
Find out 31 secrets park rangers want you to know.
Point Reyes National Seashore, California
When I visit Point Reyes National Seashore, I usually head straight to the coast and I love listening to the ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands. The expansive sand beaches, open grasslands, and brushy hillsides offer plenty of hiking and exploring possibilities. Point Reyes has been home to several cultures over thousands of years, and the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of the people who lived there.