National Parks Photography From the Archive of LIFE Magazine
“To see life; to see the world…to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed.” So wrote Henry Luce in a 1936 memo titled “Prospectus for a New Magazine.” This was his vision for a LIFE magazine, which he purchased that year and reinvented as the first great platform for photojournalism.
Staff photographers like Frank Scherschel, Loomis Dean, and Ralph Crane found ample opportunities to fulfill Luce’s mission in America’s growing parks system. Yosemite’s Glacier Point, Arches’ Delicate Arch, and Yellowstone’s Old Faithful were among the cover stars during the magazine’s existence. We pulled a few of our favorite shots from the archives in an effort to show you the national parks as LIFE saw them.
Yosemite National Park
The Yosemite Valley, as seen in1962, with El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Fall on the right. Read about the birth and life of Yosemite here.
Mount Rainier National Park
That's President Harry Truman driving in front of Washington State's Mount Rainier in 1945.
Olympic National Park
Scenes from Washington State's Olympic National Park captured in the fall of 1949.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park in Montezuma County, Colorado, seen here in 1960, contains the well-preserved ruins of Pueblo cliff dwellings.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Park goers in 1942 at Lassen Volcanic National Park, in northeastern California.
Everglades National Park
The swamps of the Everglades at sundown, 1961.
Grand Teton National Park
Campers at Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, 1961.
Crater Lake National Park
An undated photograph of Crater Lake, in Southern Oregon. It's the deepest lake in the United States.
Grand Canyon National Park
A ranger in Grand Canyon National Park, 1948.
Death Valley National Park
The badlands of California's Death Valley National Park, 1962.
Big Bend National Park
This undated image captures the rugged terrain of Texas's Big Bend National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park
A 1958 view of Bryce Canyon National Park's distinctive hoodoos. Read about what it feels like to be in Bryce Canyon here.
Zion National Park
A watchful mountain lion in Utah's Zion National Park, 1970. Read about what it feels like to be in Zion here.