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Celebrate Arches National Park’s Anniversary, November 12th

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

A Red Rock Wonderland

Visit Arches National Park and discover an amazing landscape of landforms, textures and contrasting colors unlike any other place in the world. The park features more than 2,000 natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. Discover this red rock wonderland and be amazed by its natural formations, beautiful colors and inspiring sunsets.

Arches National Park lies north of Moab in Utah. Bordered by the Colorado River in the southeast, it’s known as the site of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, such as the massive, red-hued Delicate Arch in the east. Long, thin Landscape Arch stands in Devils Garden to the north. Other geological formations include Balanced Rock, towering over the desert landscape in the middle of the park.

The park lies above an underground evaporite layer or salt bed, which is the main cause of the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths. Over millions of years, the salt bed was covered with debris eroded from the Uncompahgre Uplift to the northeast.

Except for isolated remnants, the major formations visible in the park today are the salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone, in which most of the arches form, and the buff-colored Navajo Sandstone. These are visible in layer cake fashion throughout most of the park. Over time, water seeped into the surface cracks, joints, and folds of these layers. Ice formed in the fissures, expanding and putting pressure on surrounding rock, breaking off bits and pieces. Winds later cleaned out the loose particles. A series of free-standing fins remained. Wind and water attacked these fins until, in some, the cementing material gave way and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many damaged fins collapsed. Others, with the right degree of hardness and balance, survived despite their missing sections. These became the famous arches.

Although the park’s terrain may appear rugged and durable, it is extremely fragile. More than 1 million visitors each year threaten the fragile high desert ecosystem. The problem lies within the soil’s crust which is composed of cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, and lichens that grow in the dusty parts of the park.

Arches National Park

Click here to see the Arches National Park poster.

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Celebrating Badlands National Park’s Anniversary

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota and protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets (the most endangered land mammal in North America) live today. The South Unit, or Stronghold Unit, is co-managed with the Oglala Lakota tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances, a former United States Air Force bomb and gunnery range, and Red Shirt Table, the park’s highest point at 3,340 feet.

This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. Badlands National Park is a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

Authorized as Badlands National Monument on March 4, 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation on January 25, 1939 that established Badlands National Monument. In the late 60’s, Congress passed legislation adding more than 130,000 acres of Oglala Sioux tribal land, used since World War II as a U.S. Air Force bombing and gunnery range, to the Badlands to be managed by the National Park Service. An agreement between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the National Park Service governing the management of these lands was signed in 1976. The new Stronghold and Palmer Creek units added lands having significant scenic, scientific and cultural resources. Congress again focused it’s attention on the Badlands in 1978 on 10 November, it was re-designated as Badlands National Park.

> Click here to see the Badlands National Park poster!

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Celebrating Theodore Roosevelt & the National Park Service

Theodore Roosevelt

Often called “the conservation president,” Theodore Roosevelt, made an impact on the National Park System well beyond his term in office. As President from 1901 to 1909, he doubled the number of sites within the National Park system and signed legislation establishing five new national parks: Crater Lake, Oregon; Wind Cave, South Dakota; Sullys Hill, North Dakota (later re-designated a game preserve); Mesa Verde, Colorado; and Platt, Oklahoma (now part of Chickasaw National Recreation Area). However, the Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906 enabled President Roosevelt and succeeding Presidents to proclaim historic landmarks, historic or prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest in federal ownership as national monuments.

Crater Lake National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park

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Dry Tortugas National Park

Lighthouse at Garden Key

Some 70 miles west of Key West Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, lies one of North America’s most inaccessible national parks. Renowned for pirate legends, shipwrecks, and sheer unspoiled beauty, Dry Tortugas National Park harbors unrivaled coral reefs and marine life, an annual birding spectacle, and majestic Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry stronghold in the Western Hemisphere.

Continue reading Dry Tortugas National Park

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Join me on this 3-minute Seaplane Flight to Dry Tortugas National Park

In March of 2016, I visited Dry Tortugas National Park and photographed it for one of the next National Park Posters. I took the seaplane flight from Key West to Dry Tortugas — a 25 minute flight — but I’ll get you there in 3 minutes!

Enjoy the flight!!!

I also visited Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park so there will be a full set of posters for Florida.

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Celebrate Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s Anniversary

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

October 21st Marks the Anniversary for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!

Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.

Located in western Colorado and managed by the National Park Service, the park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon, making it the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America. By comparison, the Colorado River drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile through the Grand Canyon. The greatest descent of the Gunnison River occurs within the park at Chasm View dropping 240 feet per mile. The Black Canyon is so named because its steepness makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths. As a result, the canyon is often shrouded in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black. At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 ft wide at the river.

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Celebrate Guadalupe Mountains National Park Anniversary, October 15th

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is situated in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and preserves the rugged spirit and remote wilderness of the American West. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet and El Capitan, were long used as a landmark by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line. The Guadalupe Peak Trail offers perhaps the most outstanding views in the park. Climbing over 3,000 feet to the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the trail winds through pinyon pine and Douglas-fir forests and offers spectacular views of El Capitan and the vast Chihuahuan Desert.

Click here to see the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Poster!

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Celebrate Saguaro National Park’s Anniversary, October 14th!

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is home to the nation’s largest cacti — the giant saguaro — the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.

Click here to see the Saguaro National Park Poster.

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Celebrate Yosemite National Park’s Anniversary – October 1st

Yosemite National Park
October 1, 2018

In the summer of 1979 — when I was just 19 years old — I had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park. As the years go by, without question, I appreciate that experience more and more.

Yosemite National Park is an amazing “classroom” and we spent time photographing the Valley, the Merced River, as well as up in the high country. But as much as the instruction, I remember some of the social time we had in the evenings with Ansel and his wife Virginia. What an amazing life to have traveled this country — and particularly to our National Parks, and how fortunate he was to see many of these places without the large crowds and restrictions that we have today.

I had been working with black and white film for a solid decade before I began working with Adams’ Zone System, and I would spend another two decades continuing to work in black and white to hone my craft.

At 19, I was pretty awestruck in his presence. I remember scraping together the last bit of cash I had — just enough to buy two of his books at the bookstore in Yosemite; “The Negative” and “The Print” — they seemed like the obvious choices. And then, in a bit more brazened move, I asked him to autograph them! Honestly, to this day, I can’t think of any possession more cherished.

My Ansel Adams Autograph Books

Ansel Adams visited and photographed many of our National Parks — and many places that have become National Parks or are otherwise better protected than they were 100 years ago. And The National Park Poster Project lets me share these incredible places with people from all over the world. Creating the next generation of National Park supporters is something that’s become more and more important to me, and I hope in some small way to contribute to this effort.

One of my goals is to connect with people by producing high-quality artwork that beautifies everyday life. When you buy one of my creations, you also help the trusts, conservancies and associations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits to these organizations who use them to raise funds for their ongoing work, and in the past year, I have made financial contributions to:

  • The National Park Foundation
  • The Yosemite Conservancy
  • Washington’s National Park Fund
  • The Glacier Conservancy
  • Friends of Acadia
  • The Western National Parks Association
  • Friends of the Smokies
  • Eastern National
  • The Rocky Mountain Conservancy

In addition, I have been able to donate posters to Yellowstone Forever, Washington’s National Park Fund, the Glacier Conservancy and other groups for their silent auctions to help with their fundraising efforts.

Ansel Adams, who in addition to being an amazing photographer — was also an environmentalist who was realistic about development and the subsequent loss of habitat. Adams advocated for balanced growth, but was pained by the ravages of “progress”. In his autobiography, he stated that, “We all know the tragedy of the dustbowls, the cruel unforgivable erosions of the soil, the depletion of fish or game, and the shrinking of the noble forests. And we know that such catastrophes shrivel the spirit of the people… The wilderness is pushed back, man is everywhere. Solitude, so vital to the individual man, is almost nowhere.”

Ansel Adams first visited Yosemite National Park 101 years ago in 1916. Nearly 50 years would pass before my first visit — the first of many. To this day, Yosemite remains my favorite National Park, not just for the awe-inspiring beauty that is Yosemite, but also for the memories of camping with my family, backpacking the high country with friends, and of course, the summer of 1979 studying under one of the true masters!

The Yosemite National Park poster I have created features what is commonly called the “Tunnel View” — an amazing panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite National Park

Click here to see the Yosemite National Park Poster

Now, in addition to the standard Yosemite National Park prints, Artist Proofs are available. These are the first 25 prints pulled from the press run once the colors and registration is dialed in. Artist Proofs display the pressman’s color bars, which he uses to ensure colors stay consistent and plates stay registered throughout the print run. Each print displays my “AP” mark signifying it as an Artist Proof and are numbered 1-25. They are also signed and dated.

Yosemite National Park Artist Proof

Click here to see the Yosemite National Park Artist Proofs

And, all of these posters are available as canvas prints — in two sizes — 16″ x 24″ and 24″ x 36″

Yosemite National Park Canvas Print

Click here to see the Yosemite Canvas Print

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Celebrate Sequoia National Park’s Anniversary — September 25th

sequoia national park

Sequoia National Park is a testament to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity — huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,064 acres and encompasses a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet. The highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level is located within the park.

The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park’s General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other giant sequoias. The park’s giant sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Many park visitors enter Sequoia National Park through its southern entrance near the town of Three Rivers at Ash Mountain at 1,700 ft. The lower elevations around Ash Mountain contain the only National Park Service-protected California Foothills ecosystem, consisting of blue oak woodlands, foothills chaparral, grasslands, yucca plants, and steep, mild river valleys. The region is also home to abundant wildlife: bobcats, foxes, ground squirrels, rattlesnakes, and mule deer are commonly seen in this area, and more rarely, reclusive mountain lions and the Pacific fisher are seen as well. The last California grizzly was killed in this park in 1922.

At higher elevations in the front country, between 5,500 and 9,000 feet, the landscape becomes montane forest-dominated coniferous belt. Found here are Ponderosa, Jeffrey, sugar, and lodgepole pine trees, as well as abundant white and red fir. Found here too are the giant sequoia trees, the most massive living single-stem trees on earth. Here, visitors often see mule deer, Douglas squirrels, and American black bears, which sometimes break into unattended cars to eat food left by careless visitors.

The vast majority of the park is roadless wilderness; no road crosses the Sierra Nevada within the park’s boundaries. 84 percent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is designated wilderness and is accessible only by foot or by horseback.

Sequoia’s backcountry offers a vast expanse of high-alpine wonders. Covering the highest-elevation region of the High Sierra, the backcountry includes Mount Whitney on the eastern border of the park, accessible from the Giant Forest via the High Sierra Trail. On a traveler’s path along this 35-mile backcountry trail, you’ll pass through about 10 miles of montane forest before reaching the backcountry resort of Bearpaw Meadow, just short of the Great Western Divide.

Continuing along the High Sierra Trail over the Great Western Divide via Kaweah Gap, you pass from the Kaweah River Drainage, with its characteristic V-shaped river valleys, and into the Kern River drainage, where an ancient fault line has aided glaciers in the last ice age to create a U-shaped canyon that is almost perfectly straight for nearly 20 miles (32 km). On the floor of this canyon, at least two days hike from the nearest road, is the Kern Canyon hot spring, a popular resting point for weary backpackers. From the floor of Kern Canyon, the trail ascends again over 8,000 ft. to the summit of Mount Whitney. At Mount Whitney, the High Sierra Trail meets with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, which continue northward along the Sierra crest and into the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park.

Sequoia National Park

Click here to see the Sequoia National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for our National Parks! When he was just 19, he studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite. Now he’s on a journey to create original, WPA-style artwork for each of our national parks!

Click here to learn more about Rob’s work and The National Park Poster Project.

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