A Modern Interpretation

Want to experience a national park? Just click, and listen.

By Amy Leinbach Marquis

Boots crunch gravel. Birdsong fills quiet spaces. A narrator introduces a wild landscape in such detail that the walls around you disappear. Who knew a podcast—a digital audio recording—could make you feel like you’re in a national park? The virtual travel experience is now as vivid and natural as ever, thanks to NPCA’s innovative new podcast series.

Award-winning host Jim Williams takes listeners on an interpretive tour through Yosemite National Park in California where the easy, musical cadence of a ranger’s voice rises and falls with tales of Buffalo Soldiers—African American men who served as Yosemite’s first park rangers. Farther south in Joshua Tree National Park, crickets serve as a musical backdrop on a hike through a Suess-like landscape threatened by global warming. In another episode, a creaky door places listeners in an old stone building beside a canyon trail in New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument, where the Park Service is cleaning modern graffiti off 800-year-old cliff dwellings.

Most people enjoy podcasts—or broadcasts for iPods—by downloading the sound files to their digital devices so they can listen on the go. But you can also copy the file to your computer, grab a pair of headphones, and let the story carry you away.

park-stories-podcast by npca

Amy Leinbach Marquis

This article appears in the Winter 2008 issue.

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