This weekend we finished the last (6th) disc in Ken Burn’s series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The set is a treasure trove of Americanism and the vast variety and beauty of God’s created world. We enjoyed every drop, sometimes with our jaws hanging open. Every video made us want to go jump in the car and get going on our own National Park tour.
On this date in 1872, Congress made a brash and unprecedented move of creating Yellowstone National Park. It was an outlandish idea to all the world, and Yellowstone is called America’s First Park, but it could be called the first in the world. Today there are almost 400 National Parks in the U.S. and over 6,500 national parks worldwide.
Peter Coyote is the primary narrator for this set, and his voice and the music are very compelling in building a beautiful mood for telling the story. More than just landscapes, which are stunningly presented, National Parks is the compilation of stories of individuals who loved the parks and sought to preserve and expand them. There are a good number of villains, too.
There were a good number of wonderful quotations from the documentary, but the two words that best encapsulate the whole series are the ones that have been mulling through my mind since I saw it a week or two ago is the idea that being in the parks, experiencing the sheer vastness, experiencing our infinite smallness, promotes the reality of our own “atomic insignificance” as Charles Sheldon said as he stood face to face with Mount McKinley.
Available on Amazon here.
Here is one of many wonderful previews of the story:
There is also a book based on the series.