If you love visiting national parks during the summer but find yourself having wintertime withdrawals, keep your spirits up and your wandering soul happy. Watching a good documentary is a great way to enhance your connection with some of America’s favorite national parks, and may even help inspire plans for your next visit! Some of the best national park videos can be found on digital streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, and YouTube, so relax and snuggle up while viewing the following national park documentaries.
“The National Parks: America's Best Idea”
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Streaming, Netflix (DVD)
Ken Burns, an award-winning filmmaker and documentarian, created “The National Parks: America's Best Idea” for television in 2009. Learn about the creation of the National Park System and its rich history during this six-part, Emmy-winning series. As you journey across the gorgeous countryside, notable scenery includes the rugged beauty of Glacier National Park in Montana and the intense allure of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. This mesmerizing footage of the wild also provides a firsthand look at animals like bears, bison, and wolves that roam free in these and some of our other national parks.
The series is narrated by actor Peter Coyote, and each part recounts a specific period of national park history. You will hear other recognizable voices like those of Tom Hanks, John Lithgow, and Andy Garcia as they discuss different parts of the park system's history and current issues affecting the parks. Learn about famed naturalist John Muir's role in establishing Yellowstone, the first national park, which features sweeping vistas and majestic geysers that continue to thrill visitors to this day.
In addition to finding out a vast amount of historical information, you will view some of the most dazzling scenery ever shot. The footage is brilliantly woven together with the factual content to create a visual masterpiece that you will want to watch repeatedly.
Where to Watch: Vimeo, YouTube
“Elements” is a documentary focusing on some of the most popular national parks in the West: Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, and Zion. Follow James Klapper and his family as they take you on an adventure to experience the best scenic views these parks have to offer. The documentary also features some entertaining footage of the natural wildlife. Highlights of this film include a clear and unobstructed look at the impressive Old Faithful geyser, as well as sweeping panoramic views of the mountain scenery found within all of these western parks.
Where to Watch: Vimeo, YouTube
The nature documentary “Evergreen” features James Klapper’s unique perspective as well. This film focuses on the diverse landscapes and wildlife found within the state of Washington and includes some of the state’s national parks: Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic. As Klapper reviews each park's highlights and natural attractions, you can't help but get lost in the beautifully abundant waterfall scenery and perfectly choreographed narration.
“Rock the Park”
Where to Watch: Hulu
Join hosts Jack Steward and Colton Smith on their journey to explore all of the national parks in the United States in “Rock the Park.” Winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Travel Program, “Rock the Park” aims to encourage people to find adventure in the National Park System. Watch the hosts, known as #ThoseParkGuys, as they follow the road less traveled and end up in some of the most unique destinations that the National Park System has to offer. Episodes include an underground adventure in Mammoth Cave, rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, and overnight camping excursions.
Enjoy these and many more national park documentaries on your favorite digital streaming network. Take the information you gain and plan your next visit to a national park — and when you get back, share your favorite national park scenes at FindYourPark.com!