The National Parks: America's Best Idea

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PBS (ended 2009)

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  • Season 1 (16)
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  • Hidden Hawaii

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 35 - 11/26/09

    America's newest marine sanctuary, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, encompasses the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The monument is bigger than all U.S. national parks combined-yet the majority of this environment has never been seen. What is in this vast marine conservation area? And, what will it take to protect it? National Geographic embarks on a month-long expedition to explore stunning coral reefs, shallow water environments, and rare species unique only to Hidden Hawaii.moreless
  • Death Valley

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 34 - 11/26/09

    Death Valley National Park is a land of extremes. It's the driest place in the United States, the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere and, at one time, the hottest single location recorded on earth. Yet here-in this seemingly inhospitable chasm-life thrives. More than 1,000 species of plant call this park home. And, several animal species here live nowhere else on Earth. Journey with National Geographic, from the park's highest peak, at 11,049, to its lowest point, a staggering 282 feet below sea-level, and meet the scientists who are working to protect this wild place as the mercury rises.moreless
  • Canyonlands

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 33 - 11/26/09

    Canyonlands is the little-known jewel of the American National Parks. This stark landscape of extraordinary features contains more than 300,000 acres of desert wilderness, towering spires and spectacular canyons. But this rugged terrain is more than a pretty picture-it is a history book of time. Its stories stretch from the geologic forces that created this land, to the beginnings of life on earth and from ancient people, to the cowboys and outlaws of the Old West. Venture beyond the tourist hotspots and discover the hidden secrets of Canyonlands National Park.moreless
  • Appalachian Trail

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 32 - 11/10/09

    For more than half of the U.S. population, the Appalachian Trail is less than a day's drive away. Yet despite its proximity to many major cities, few truly know the splendor of this national treasure. National Geographic travels off the beaten track to discover the remote and often unknown corners of the 5-million-step journey.moreless
  • Everglades

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 31 - 11/27/08

    The Everglades' 1.5 million acres are home to some of the most unusual creatures on the planet - carnivorous plants, amphibious birds, fish that breathe air and cacti that grow in water. To better understand this remarkable ecosystem, National Geographic journeys by foot, airboat, helicopter and kayak to explore its hidden secrets. As water is diverted to farmlands and rapidly growing cities of Florida, the Everglades and its many species are in danger. National Geographic goes beyond the tourist hotspots to explore the hidden reaches that few will ever see and examines the complex issues threatening the future of the Everglades and the extraordinary creatures who live within.moreless
  • Grand Canyon

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 30 - 11/27/08

    It hosts nearly 5 million tourists a year, but visitors see only a tiny fraction of the Grand Canyon's true beauty. Some of its backcountry has almost never felt the tread of a human foot. Even scientists know precious little about the canyon's 91 mammal species and more than 350 types of birds, its vegetation, and how and when it was formed. Now, National Geographic joins a rare scientific expedition to explore the canyon's entire 277-mile length. Explore the canyon's geological history, study the microscopic colonies of vegetation that survive where no other plant can and examine its many unique creatures to unlock some of the mysteries of this wonder of the world.moreless
  • Extreme Alaska: Denali National Park

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 29 - 11/22/07

    Located near the top of the world, Denali National Park is home to more than six million acres of extreme wilderness. Venture beyond the tourist hotspots and join National Geographic on a low-to-high-altitude trek through Denali's breathtaking ecosystems. Elevation sets the rules in this subarctic land where only the most hardy creatures - including man - can survive. Witness remarkable moose-on-moose combat in Denali's taiga forest, follow beautiful dall sheep through the tundra's craggy rocks, and climb alongside an expedition to the death-defying summit of Mount McKinley, North America's tallest mountain. Featuring cinematography of big game, glacier crevasses, and snowcapped mountains, Extreme Alaska: Denali National Park is an absorbing adventure through one of the Earth's most remarkable places.moreless
  • Secret Yellowstone

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 28 - 11/22/07

    Discover spectacular backcountry wonders unseen by tourists as you venture off the beaten track to experience the extraordinary hidden wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Witness towering, newly mapped waterfalls; rarely seen predator behavior by wolves and grizzly bears; and ecological mysteries found only in this uniquely challenging environment. Probe the vast molten magma chamber that underlies the park and powers its incredible array of explosive geysers, seething mud pots and toxic gas vents. Featuring striking satellite imagery and dynamic computer-generated animation, this is Yellowstone as you've never seen or imagined it before!moreless
  • Secret Yosemite

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 27 - 11/22/07

    Explore Yosemite National Park in a way few have ever experienced. Get an extraordinary, close-up perspective of El Capitan as an elite climber scales this vertical rock formation twice the height of the Empire State Building. Follow in the footsteps of hikers caught in a deadly lightning storm atop Yosemite's Half Dome, and enter a hidden world 300 feet above the ground with researchers studying the incredible biophysics of giant sequoias. From the stunning spectacle of North America's tallest waterfall to the complex ecologies of mountain frogs and black bears, you'll enjoy an unforgettable glimpse into the wild heart of Secret Yosemite!moreless
  • The Morning of Creation (1946-1980)

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 6 - 10/2/09

    As the parks enter the current era, they embrace modern principles of environmentalism rather than the simple preservation of scenic localities. At the same time, a booming post-war nation makes use of the National Parks in staggering numbers - placing more stress on the growing system than ever before.moreless
  • Great Nature (1933-1945)

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 5 - 10/1/09

    The Great Depression proves to have an unexpected benefit for the National Parks as Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservations Corps makes substantial improvements to the park system. The National Park Service begins to emphasize ecosystem preservation, something that drives the creation of Florida's Everglades National Park.moreless
  • Going Home (1920-1933)

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 4 - 9/30/09

    Park Service Director Stephen Mather sees the possibilities of motor traffic for increasing the use of the park system and installs many more roadways within their boundaries. The Grand Tetons of Wyoming and the Great Smoky Mountains are among the newest areas to be designated as National Parks.moreless
  • Untold Stories: Manzanar: "Never Again"

    Clip

    7/16/09

    Manzanar: "Never Again" looks at the interconnected stories of Japanese internment during World War II, Sue Kunitomi Embrey's efforts to commemorate Manzanar internment camp, and the ongoing work of Manzanar National Historic Site to educate visitors about civil rights.moreless
  • The Empire of Grandeur (1915-1919)

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 3 - 9/29/09

    As questions arise of how the National Parks should function, the National Park Service is created to uniformly administer America's park system and to seek out and protect new areas of intrinsic worth.moreless
  • The Last Refuge (1890-1915)

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 2 - 9/28/09

    A conservationist movement grows and due to the efforts of the newly-formed Audubon Society and Sierra Club, Congress finally begins to pass Federal laws designating what people can and can not do in National Parks.moreless
  • The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890)

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 1 - 9/27/09

    Transplanted Scotsman John Muir documents the beauty of what is now known as Yosemite National Park and the United States makes the first efforts to protect this area and Yellowstone for all citizens to enjoy.moreless
  • The Making of The National Parks

    Full Episode

    9/27/09

    Filmmaker Ken Burns and his longtime colleague Dayton Duncan take us on a behind-the-scenes tour of their series THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA.
  • PBS Previews

    Clip

    5/24/09

    Filmmaker Ken Burns and his longtime colleague Dayton Duncan take us on a behind the scenes tour of their new PBS series, THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA. The team explains why they chose The Parks as their subject, as well as describing their five-year journey through research, scripting, filming and editing the series.moreless
  • The National Parks: Yellowstone Gate

    Clip

    Ranger Shelton Johnson talks about the first time he arrived in Yellowstone
  • The National Parks: Grand Tetons

    Clip

    Terry Tempest Williams talks about what the Grand Tetons mean to her
  • The National Parks: Ranger Baker

    Clip

    Ranger Gerard Baker talks about Parks being real America
  • The National Parks: New Land

    Clip

    Dayton Duncan talks about seeing the lava flow in Hawaii
  • The National Parks: TR and Grand Canyon

    Clip

    Pres. Teddy Roosevelt travels to the Grand Canyon
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