NATIONAL PARK BROCHURES / SITE BULLETINS
Over the years, variously named General Information Regarding, Circulars of Information, Official Map and Guide, Rules and Regulations, Guidebooks, Mini-folders, and simply Park Brochures, besides memories, probably the number one memento from anyone's park visit is the park brochure.
The earliest park brochures were produced annually, consisting of multi-page booklets which gave a brief introduction to the park, rates for lodging and transportation services within the park, and rules and regulations. A "color" map (1 or 2 colors) was eventually added in the centerfold and more information about the park and its notable features were added to help expand the park visitor's understanding and appreciation.
Over the ensuing years park brochure designs evolved into many different formats. A need to reduce printing costs resulted in a switch from guidebooks to a smaller pamphlet format, which came in many different sizes and, in time, became more colorful.
Since 1977 the designs of all new brochures (and handbooks) have been based on the "Unigrid System" format, created by designer Massimo Vignelli in collaboration with the National Park Service's Harpers Ferry Center's design staff. A modular grid system for layout of text and graphics, black bands at the top and bottom of the brochures, and a standardized typeface are the defining features of the Unigrid system. Standard map formats complete the presentation, helping to establish a uniform identity for National Park Service brochures.
Today, the official park brochures are known for their reliability, thoroughness, visual appeal, and standard design elements that contribute to the National Park Service graphic identity. As park visitation increases and personal services decrease, the onsite portability of publications gives them a significant role in providing visitors with interpretive, logistical, and safety information.
Most parks also produce site bulletins these handouts (available at park visitor centers) cover specific topics, including additional helpful recreational information (camping, hiking, fishing), natural history (bird checklists, plants and animals) and cultural resources (indigenous culturals, historic use). Cooperating associations also provide (usually for a small fee) trail booklets or other handouts, in cooperation with NPS staff, to augment NPS literature.
Many National Park Service units also have accompanying Park Handbooks (Historical or Natural History). Most of the older Handbooks are now online, whereas the newer handbooks are not in the public domain (due to photograph copyright restrictions).
In the Web pages that follow, most of the pre-Unigrid brochures (denoted with a colored caption) include both cover and contents (just click on the brochure cover for a PDF version of its contents). In the case of the Unigrid brochures, the National Park Service elected to contract with professional photographers to produce the photos. Sadly, in most cases due to a lack of funding, the contracts did not include permission to include electronic display of their copyrighted works (print-use only). This is the reason why complete park brochures are generally not online on the National Park Service website (though as new brochures are being released, electronic rights are being acquired), and as such, are also not in the public domain (the text is in the public domain, but the photos/artwork are not). Consequently, most modern-day brochures (denoted by white captions), are cover-only due to these photograph copyrights; additionally, most booklets produced by cooperating associations are also cover-only (as they are also copyrighted). These covers represent only a portion of the original artwork.
The brochures contained on this Web page are historical in scope and are intended solely for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning please refer to the official National Park Service Website for current information. The dates under each brochure do not reflect the complete range of years that a particular brochure was issued.
Another educational tool which the National Park Service has used was the production of a series of trading cards. The Jefferson National Expansion Historical Association produced the 1st edition of their National Parks Collection in 1995 (consisting of 100 cards) followed by a second edition in 1998. The National Park Service's Civil War series was launched in 2011 at Richmond National Battlefield Park to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Additional cards were produced in 2012, expanding to parks beyond the Northeast and National Capital Regions. In 2014, cards were produced to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the collection being rebranded as Civil War to Civil Rights. A total of 550 cards were produced for that series. Additional sets were produced by the NPS Arizona office to commemorate the NPS Centennial (2016), featuring parks from the Southwest, as well as a set produced by the National Park Foundation as a fundraiser for the Latino Heritage Fund. Mike Litterst, NPS public affairs specialist, is credited with coming up with the idea for NPS-produced trading cards.
A special thanks goes to Greg Miller and Jeff Ohlfs, as well as many others, who have shared their personal brochures collections; also thanks to Jeff for sharing his extensive trading card collection. Their contributions have greatly enhanced this online collection we are eternally grateful!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is a sister agency of the National Park Service within the Department of the Interior. Established in 1903, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is entrusted with managing over 560 refuges and 38 wetland management districts, along with 70 National Fish Hatcheries, seven Fish Technology Centers and nine Fish Health Centers. For educational purposes, we are also showcasing a small collection of National Wildlife Refuge / National Fish Hatchery brochures/booklets which USFWS has produced over the years.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a sister agency of the National Park Service within the Department of the Interior. Established in 1946, the Bureau of Land Management manages over 247 million acres of land in the U.S. For educational purposes, below is a small sampling of brochures/booklets which the BLM has produced over the years.
Last Updated: 01-May-2021