95 Inspiring Captions & Quotes About National Parks
Looking for quotes about national parks or national park captions for social media? You’re in the right place! Whether you need an extra something to add to a card, want to liven up your content, or you’re seeking some outdoor inspo, these 95 national park quotes have you covered.
There’s no denying that spending time in The Great Outdoors is transformative. It positively impacts our mental health, reduces anxiety and stress, and can even help you sleep better.
And with over 425 individual units to explore across 85 million-plus acres in all 50 states, what better place to start than America’s national parks? Home to some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes on Earth, our parks inspire and heal in a way that’s difficult to put into words.
Even if you can’t visit one right now, simply thinking about it has impressive benefits, too (instant mood boost, anyone?). That’s where quotes about national parks come in.
From the world-renowned dramatic beauty of Yosemite to little-known, underrated gems, we hope these national park quotes and national park captions inspire you to get out there and explore. Or at least, get you thinking about doing so.
Before jumping into the quotes, we want to remind you to practice Leave No Trace when you’re enjoying Mother Nature. Essentially, that means leaving things better than you found them — pack out your trash and pick up a few other pieces, plan and prepare well, and (literally) tread lightly.
Henry David Thoreau said it best: “In wilderness is the preservation of the world.”
Jump ahead to:
- Top 10 Quotes About National Parks
- General Quotes About National Parks
- National Park Captions for Social Media
- Quotes About Individual National Parks
- John Muir Quotes About National Parks
- Historic National Park Quotes
- National Park Quotes About Conservation
Top 10 Quotes About National Parks
There are hundreds of national park quotes out there. But these have always resonated with us on a deeper level, making us want to lace up our hiking shoes and hit the road for our closest park.
1. “The parks do not belong to one state or to one section.
Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.”
— Stephen Mather, the first-ever director of the National Park Service (1917-1929)
2. “That is all the National Parks are about. Use, but do no harm.” — author Wallace Stegner
3. “Within National Parks is room–glorious room–room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve.” — naturalist Enos Mills, who was responsible for creating Rocky Mountain National Park (and many national park quotes)
4. “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” — John Muir
5. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” — John Muir
6. “The parks are the Nation’s pleasure grounds and the Nation’s restoring places…. The national parks…are an American idea; it is one thing we have that has not been imported.” — 1916 national park quote from J. Horace McFarland, president of the American Civic Association
7. “It seemed impossible that every new national park appeared more spectacular than the last—or at least more unusual. As I stood gaping at the awesome beauty, Mather joined me. Neither of us spoke for some time.
Then I heard him say, ‘Horace, what God-given opportunity has come our way to preserve wonders like these before us? We must never forget or abandon this gift.’ — Horace Albright, Stephen Mather’s successor / NPS director, 1929-1933
8. “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” — Lyndon B. Johnson
9. “A national park is not a playground. It’s a sanctuary for nature and for humans who will accept nature on nature’s own terms.” — conservationist Michael Frome
10. “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” — one of Wallace Stegner’s many national park quotes
General Quotes About National Parks
From uber-famous ones you’ve heard hundreds of times to some we’re confident you’ve never heard, these quotes about national parks have a little of everything.
11. “But most of all, none of this will mean anything unless we have a safe haven for these wilderness places. We must have a National Park Service. Everyone of us must pull our oar!
[…] Remember that God has given us these beautiful lands. Try to save them for, and share them with, future generations. Go out and spread the gospel!” — one of many famous national park quotes from Stephen Mather
12. “There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and the wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.
The parks stand as the outward symbol of the great human principle.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
13. “The national parks belong to everyone. To the people. To all of us. The government keeps saying so, and maybe, in this one case, at least, the government is telling the truth. Hard to believe, but possible.” — Edward Abbey (looking back, one of the funnier national park quotes!)
14. “No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs—anything—but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out.
We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places.” — Edward Abbey in Desert Solitaire
15. “If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors.
When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.” — author Bill Bryson
16. “Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands.
That’s right. Even if you don’t own a house or the latest computer on the market, you own Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and many other natural treasures.” — Congressman John Garamendi
17. “If you go into a national park, you have stories-about the trees and about the grasses, for example, and about the animals and about the water and about all that.
You also have a human story. And the human story did not start when the national parks came in.
We need to make sure that people who visit those parks understand that there was somebody here before them. That there was somebody here before the national park and this is how they used the land.
When you walk into any natural, national park, you’re walking into someone’s homeland. You’re walking into somebody’s house. You’re walking into somebody’s church. You’re walking into somebody’s place where they’ve lived since the Creator made it for them.
And so you’re not walking into a wilderness area, you’re walking into someplace that has been utilized for generations upon generations in every form you could imagine.” — Gerard Baker, highest ranking Native American Indian in NPS history
18. “As strenuous challenge or contemplative retreat, the parks and other units of the national lands offer welcome respite from the world, a safety valve for body and spirit.” — Historian and environmental writer T.H. Watkins (and one of our favorite quotes about national parks!)
19. “There is more to America than raw industrial might…There is the part of America which was here long before we arrived, and will be here, if we preserve it, long after we depart.
The forests and the flowers, the open prairies, the slopes of the hills, the tall mountains—the granite, the limestone, the caliche, the unmarked trails, the winding little streams—well, this is the America that no amount of science or skill can ever recreate or actually ever duplicate.” — Lyndon B. Johnson
20. “In particularly tough times, we fall back on these questions of who we are, where do we come from. The national parks are our best idea and therefore, are the places where we can find the answers to those questions.” — filmmaker Ken Burns, in an interview with Frommer’s
21. “We never fell ill, not once during one year in the U.S. national parks — perhaps proof of the therapeutic properties of our natural world.” — author Stefanie Payne, one of many of her fantastic quotes about national parks
22. “The national park idea has been nurtured by each succeeding generation of Americans. Today, across our land, the National Park System represents America at its best.
Each park contributes to a deeper understanding of the history of the United States and our way of life; of the natural processes which have given form to our land, and to the enrichment of the environment in which we live.” — former NPS Director (1964-1972) George B. Hartzog, Jr.
23. “As we Americans celebrate our diversity, so we must affirm our unity if we are to remain the ‘one nation’ to which we pledge allegiance.
Such great national symbols and meccas as the Liberty Bell, the battlefields on which our independence was won and our union preserved, the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and numerous other treasures of our national park system belong to all of us, both legally and spiritually.
These tangible evidences of our cultural and natural heritage help make us all Americans.” — NPS chief historian Edwin C. Bearss
24. “National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.” — John F. Kennedy
25. “In a world that is becoming increasingly virtual, the parks remain places of visceral beauty. Places where we can remember that we are but a small part of the life on this planet, and that it is a truly wonderful planet and the only one we’ve got.” ― American author Nevada Barr
26. “It is good to realize that, if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.” — Jimmy Carter
27. “The National Parks are the Declaration of Independence applied to the landscape.” — one of several Ken Burns national park quotes from a Farmers Almanac interview
28. “I think we’re at a moment when reminding people of the treasures that we own in common, particularly in an economic crisis, where it might be pleasing to realize how rich we actually are; that you and I own some of the most spectacular ocean-front property; that you and I own, together, some of the most amazing mountain ranges;
the highest free-falling waterfalls on the continent; the most spectacular collection of geothermal features on Earth; and the grandest canyon in the world — that we own these together.” — Ken Burns, another excerpt from that same interview with Farmers Almanac
29. “No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.” — Ansel Adams
30. “Standing there, gaping at this monstrous and inhumane spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space, I feel a ridiculous greed and possessiveness come over me. I want to know it all, posess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally…” — Edward Abbey
31. “I think every child in every country, not just South Africa, every year should go to a national park, and it should be part of their basic curriculum.” — world renowned endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh, AKA “Sir Edmund Hillary of swimming”
32. “There are instances: [Henry David] Thoreau read [John] Wordsworth, [John] Muir read Thoreau, Teddy Roosevelt read Muir, and you got national parks. It took a century for this to happen, for artistic values to percolate down to where honoring the relation of people’s imagination to the land, or beauty, or to wild things, was issued in legislation.” — poet Robert Hass
33. “Industrial tourism is a threat to the national parks. But the chief victims of the system are the motorized tourists. They are being robbed and robbing themselves.
So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of the urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while.” — Edward Abbey
34. “Nature literally has the power to heal. By slowing down and letting yourself notice the smell, sound and feel of nature, you become present, aware, and often experience less stress. You become unbusy.” — Lettie Stratton, founder of Wild Wanderer, LGBTQIA+ outdoor adventure site
National Park Captions for Social Media
Looking for something a bit shorter and sweeter? Maybe instead of quotes about national parks, one of these national park captions for Instagram would be a better fit.
35. “National Parks exist, and our planet is better for it.”
36. “The scenic ideals that surround even our national parks are carriers of a nostalgia for heavenly bliss and eternal calmness.” — Robert Smithson
37. “I crave time in Yosemite like I crave food and water.” — American rock climber Tommy Caldwell
38. “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” — Henry David Thoreau
39. “I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.” ― Aldo Leopold
40. “The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” — Theodore Roosevelt
41. “The trail compels you to know yourself and to be yourself, and puts you in harmony with the universe.” — Enos Mills
42. “Life is supposed to be a series of peaks and valleys. The secret is to keep the valleys from becoming Grand Canyons.” — Bernard Williams
43. “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” — Ansel Adams
44. “Not everybody trusts paintings, but people believe photographs.” — Ansel Adams
45. “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” — Edward Abbey
46. “There’s a lot I could say about the Grand Canyon, but it all feels too deep.”
47. “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder
48. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” — St. Augustine
49. “The Earth has music for those who listen.” — William Shakespeare
50. “Just blowing off some ‘steam’ in Yellowstone!”
51. “What kind of stories do Giant Sequoias tell? TALL tales!”
52. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu
53. “Pretty average experience.” — one of many sarcastic national park quotes from the amazing book, Subpar Parks
54. “Nature ROCKS!”
55. “The wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.” — photography critic Nancy Wynne Newhall, who wrote much of the text that accompanied Ansel Adams photographs
56. “It’s impossible to capture the beauty of nature, but it’s inspiring to try.”
Quotes About Individual National Parks
Throughout history, specific places have inspired many quotes about national parks. Looking at their grandeur, especially in parks such as Yosemite, Glacier, Arches, and Rocky Mountain, and it’s easy to see why.
With that said, however, don’t dismiss some of the less-explored national parks. Just because many aren’t the subject of famous national park quotes, doesn’t mean anything at all. Some of our favorite parks have been the most unexpected, including Badlands and Kings Canyon.
57. “Yellowstone, of all the national parks, is the wildest and most universal in its appeal…
Daily new, always strange, ever full of change, it is Nature’s wonder park. It is the most human and the most popular of all parks.” — Susan Sessions Rugh, Are We There Yet?: The Golden Age of American Family Vacations
58. A national park quote about Glacier National Park: “In that vast amphitheater of Nature, some dim memory buried deep within the DNA of all human beings was awakened.” — Dayton Duncan, screenwriter/producer who co-created The National Parks: America’s Best Idea with Ken Burns
Quotes About Yosemite
59. “I knew my destiny when I first experienced Yosemite.” — Ansel Adams
60. “Yosemite Park… None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.” — John Muir
61. “When I was about fifteen, I went to work at Yosemite National Park. It changed me forever. Nature had carved its own sculpture, and I was part of it, not the other way around.” —
62. “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” — Ansel Adams
Quotes About the Grand Canyon
63. “Well, once you’ve been in the Canyon and once you’ve sort of fallen in love with it, it never ends… it’s always been a fascinating place to me; in fact, I’ve often said that if I ever had a mistress, it would be the Grand Canyon.” — Barry Goldwater
64. “There will never be a photograph of the Grand Canyon that can adequately describe its depth, breadth, and true beauty.” — Stefanie Payne
65. “In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.” — Theodore Roosevelt
66. “The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.” — John Wesley Powell
John Muir Quotes About National Parks
A bona fide badass, John Muir is aptly known as the “Father of the national parks.”
Referred to most commonly as simply a naturalist, Muir was an avid explorer, writer, inventor, conservationist, geologist, teacher, and family man.
We would not have Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, Kings Canyon, Petrified Forest, or the Alaska national parks without him. That being said, Muir spent a great deal of time exploring the West, so many of his iconic quotes about national parks focus on California.
67. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”
68. “No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures.”
69. “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
70. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.
This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks — the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. —
Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration, and joy of the world.”
71. “Going to the mountains is going home.”
72. “It is easier to feel than to realize, or in any way, explain Yosemite’s grandeur. The magnitudes of the rocks and trees and streams are so delicately harmonized, they are mostly hidden.”
73. “Wilderness is a necessity… there must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls.”
74. “There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.”
Historic National Park Quotes
It’s fascinating to look back on some of these quotes about national parks now. The National Park Service has certainly come a long way in just over a century.
75. “If you think that Alaska is a long way to go for a national park, so was Yellowstone in 1872. Now Yellowstone is irreplaceable. So is Alaska and so are its unspoiled wildlands and magnificent wildlife.” — from a 1977 Alaska Coalition brochure
76. “The idea of preserving in a national grouping such spots of scenic beauty and historic memory originated here in this country. In Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, other countries have followed our pioneering example and set aside their most magnificent scenic areas as national treasures for the enjoyment of present and future generations.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
77. “Every citizen shares with all the others the ownership in the wonders of our National pleasure ground, and when its natural features are defaced, its forests destroyed, and its game butchered, each one is injured by being robbed of so much that belongs to him.”
— 1887 national park quote from anthropologist George Bird Grinnell
78. “It is now recognized that (national) Parks contain more than scenery.” — Harold Bryant, cofounder, Yosemite Free Nature Guide Service, 1929
79. “The scenic ideals that surround even our national parks are carriers of a nostalgia for heavenly bliss and eternal calmness.” — Landscape artist Robert Smithson
80. “Our national park system is a dear expression of the idealism of the American people. Without regard for sectional rivalries or for party politics, the Nation has advanced constantly in the last 75 years in the protection of its natural beauties and wonders.
The success of our efforts to conserve the scenery and wildlife of the country can be measured in popular use.
The national park system covers but a fraction of 1 percent of the area of the United States, but over 25 million of our fellow countrymen have visited our national parks within the last year.
Each citizen returned to his home with a refreshed spirit and a greater appreciation of the majesty and beauty of our country.” — Then-President Harry S. Truman
81. “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons […]
…and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.” — Theodore Roosevelt
82. “The kings of England formerly had their forests ‘to hold the king’s game,’ for sport or food…and I think that they were impelled by a true instinct.
Why should not we, who have renounced the king’s authority, have our national preserves…not for idle sport or food, but for inspiration and our own true recreation?”
— one of Henry David Thoreau’s national park quotes in “Chesuncook,” in The Maine Woods, published 1864 (10 years before Yellowstone was formed)
83. ”Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness.
Britain won its wars on the playing fields of Eton. America developed its mettle at the muddy gaps of the Cumberlands, in the swift rapids of its rivers, on the limitless reaches of its western plains, in the silent vastness of primeval forests, and in the blizzard-ridden passes of the Rockies and Coast ranges.
If we lose wilderness, we lose forever the knowledge of what the world was and what it might, with understanding and loving husbandry, yet become. These are islands in time — with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind.
In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.” — Harvey Broome, founding member of The Wilderness Society
84. “The national parks themselves…are old as we count in America. But until Stephen T. Mather conceived them all combined as a system…they had existed unnoticed. Once pointed out, however, the imagination of the nation seized the conception with immense zest…
From ocean to ocean the plain people hailed this new proof of our national idealism, and massed themselves behind the system’s splendid development…
Suddenly our national parks became our most wonderful possession…the shining badge of the nation’s glory, sharing, somewhat even of the sacredness of the flag.” — Robert Sterling Yard
85. “But our national heritage is richer than just scenic features; the realization is coming that perhaps our greatest national heritage is nature itself, with all its complexity and its abundance of life, which, when combined with great scenic beauty as it is in the national parks, becomes of unlimited value.
This is what we would attain in the national parks.” — excerpt from a 1933 book, Fauna of the National Parks of the United States
86. “The American way of life consists of something that goes greatly beyond the mere obtaining of the necessities of existence. If it means anything, it means that America presents to its citizens an opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually, as well as physically.
The National Park System and the work of the National Park Service constitute one of the Federal Government’s important contributions to that opportunity. Together they make it possible for all Americans—millions of them at first-hand—to enjoy unspoiled the great scenic places of the Nation.
The National Park System also provides, through areas that are significant in history and prehistory, a physical as well as spiritual linking of present-day Americans with the past of their country.” — Former NPS Director Newton B. Drury
National Park Quotes About Conservation
Many of the national park quotes below deal with conservation. What’s interesting here is that many of them were stated at least decades ago.
The men who are responsible for creating the National Park Service itself, as well as many individual parks, were indeed well ahead of their time.
87. “Congress (and the public which elects it) can always be expected to hesitate longer over an appropriation to acquire or protect a national park than over one to build a highway into it. Yet there is nothing which so rapidly turns a wilderness into a reserve and a reserve into a resort.”
—Joseph Wood Krutch, 1957
88. “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation, increased and not impaired in value.“
— Theodore Roosevelt
89. “The primary duty of the National Park Service is to protect the national parks and national monuments under its jurisdiction and keep them as nearly in their natural state as can be done in view of the fact that access to them must be provided in order that they may be used and enjoyed.
All other activities of the bureau must be secondary (but not incidental) to this fundamental function relating to care and protection of all areas subject to its control.” — Stephen Mather in a 1925 internal NPS document
90. “These are the people’s parks, owned by young and old, by those in the cities and those on the farms. Most of them are ours today because there were Americans many years ago who exercised vision, patience, and unselfish devotion in the battle for conservation.“
— President Harry S. Truman, during the 1947 dedication of Everglades National Park
91. “What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.” — conservationist Mollie Beattie, first female director of the US Fish & Wildlife Services
92. “Our national parks system is a national museum. Its purpose is to preserve forever … certain areas of extraordinary scenic magnificence in a condition of primitive nature. Its recreational value is also very great, but recreation is not distinctive of the system.
The function which alone distinguishes the national parks … is the museum function made possibly only by the parks’ complete conservation.” – Robert Sterling Yard, 1923
93. “If the national park is, as Lord Bryce suggested, the best idea America has ever had, wilderness preservation is the highest refinement of that idea.” — Wallace Stegner
94. “It’s essential to the survival of the country that people use and exercise their parks. Like anything that doesn’t get exercise, it has a tendency to atrophy. We want people to go out and see their property. You own the grandest canyon in the world. All you have to do is go out and visit it.”
— Ken Burns in an interview with Frommer’s
95. Let’s end this epic list of quotes about national parks with one that still rings true today.
“The National Park Service today exemplifies one of the highest traditions of public service.” — Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior
LOVE NATIONAL PARKS? CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES!
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