Where can I find information about the geology and natural history of National Parks?

Our National Parks are the showcases of our nation's geological heritage. The National Park Service has websites for most individual parks which include information about their geology and natural history. 

A source of information from the USGS is our Geology and Ecology of National Parks website. The website has listings for regions of the country and within those a listing of individual parks covered.

Geologic maps for some national parks are available from the USGS through the USGS Store and the National Geologic Map Database.

As the science agency for the Department of the Interior, the USGS does a great deal of research in national parks. All of our related publications are listed in the USGS Publications Warehouse. You can also check our Science Data Catalog.

 

Related Content

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What is the National Geologic Map Database?

An exhaustive database ( NGMDB ) that provides bibliographic access to thousands of geologic, geophysical, and other kinds of maps available in USGS publications, Web sites, and in popular science journals.

How did Half Dome, the massive rock monument in Yosemite National Park, acquire its unique shape?

At the head of the valley in Yosemite National Park - as if on a pedestal - stands Half Dome. It is smoothly rounded on three sides and a sheer vertical face on the fourth. Half Dome, which stands nearly 8,800 feet (2,682 meters) above sea level, is composed of granodiorite, and is the remains of a magma chamber that cooled slowly and crystallized...

Are there geologic maps or publications for where I live?

Detailed geologic mapping has not been completed for the entire United States, but maps are available for most locations. Geologic maps at many scales and from many sources are listed in the National Geologic Map Database . Some geologic maps can be purchased in hard copy through the USGS Store . Download digital geologic maps for entire states...
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Date published: October 12, 2017

Shedding Light on Contaminants in Congaree National Park

A recent study led by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the National Park Service found dozens of contaminants within the protected areas of Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

Date published: July 5, 2017

Finding Yourself Outdoors

Updated USGS digital topographic maps feature more trails and other recreation points of interest

Date published: May 10, 2017

Glaciers Rapidly Shrinking and Disappearing: 50 Years of Glacier Change in Montana

The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University.

Date published: September 16, 2016

EarthView–Landslide Spreads 6 Miles Across Glacier Bay National Park

Two snapshots from Landsat show the extent of a landslide in an Alaska National Park.

Date published: December 17, 2013

Decade of Fire Island Research Available to Help Understand Future Coastal Changes

A new resource about Fire Island, N.Y. is now at the fingertips of coastal managers, planners and the public that will be useful for understanding and predicting future change on the island.

Date published: August 13, 2013

National Scenic Trails Added to US Topo Maps

Just in time for late summer recreation, the newly released US Topo maps for Wisconsin feature the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. 

Date published: February 19, 2010

Biologists to Release 13 Fishers in Olympic National Park Saturday Release will Culminate Three-Year Project to Restore Native Mammal to Olympic National Park

Thirteen native fishers will be released on Saturday, February 20 within the Elwha and Quinault valleys of Olympic National Park, capping a three-year restoration project and bringing the total of reintroduced animals to 90. Seven males and six females will be released.
 

Date published: September 24, 2007

Acid Rain Makes Some Shenandoah National Park Streams Unfavorable to Fish

Many streams in Shenandoah National Park are vulnerable to acid rain. Steep slopes, small watersheds, and underlying geology, combined with acid rain make many streams inhospitable to native fish for extended periods of time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Date published: April 12, 2006

Explore and Hike the San Andreas Fault: U. S. Geological Survey and National Park Service Unveil New Guidebook

When Dr. Philip W. Stoffer, geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, Calif., learned he had cancer of the lymph system in 2004, he was not sure if he was going to live. The statistics for survivors were grim. He knew he had to do whatever he could to try to survive.

Date published: March 29, 2000

Chytrid Fungus Associated With Boreal Toad Deaths in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Recent deaths of endangered boreal toads in Rocky Mountain National Park have been linked to a chytrid fungus and are the second such diagnosis in Colorado, according to scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey.

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USGS scientist doing weather station repairs in Glacier National Park.
September 12, 2017

USGS scientist doing weather station repairs in Glacier National Park.

USGS scientist Erich Peitzsch does repair on the Sperry Weather Station in Glacier National Park. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior during the 2017 fire season. 

Geologist Jamey Jones studying and preparing to collect samples of igneous rocks in Lake Clark National Park
July 20, 2017

Geologist collecting igneous rock samples in Lake Clark Nat'l Park

The photo was taken by Erin Todd during helicopter-supported geologic fieldwork in Lake Clark National Park this past summer. The project is funded by the USGS Mineral Resources Program that is focused on investigating the bedrock geology of the national park and surrounding areas through geologic mapping and supporting analytical work such as geochemistry and

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An Everglades Park ranger holds a Burmese Python by the tail.
October 4, 2016

An Everglades Park ranger holds a Burmese Python by the tail.

An Everglades Park ranger holds a Burmese Python by the tail. 

Loch Vale lake at Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.
August 29, 2016

Loch Vale lake at Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.

Loch Vale lake at Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. 

Image shows a satellite image of Crater Lake with the National Park boundary in yellow.
August 17, 2016

Sentinel 2A View of Crater Lake National Park

A Sentinel 2A image of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Taken on May 28, 2016. Credit: European Space Agency.

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.
April 5, 2016

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.

Collecting macroinvertebrates in Glacier National Park.
December 31, 2015

Collecting macroinvertebrates in Glacier National Park.

Collecting macroinvertebrates in Glacier National Park.

A diver takes a core sample from a massive brain coral (Diploria strigosa) in Dry Tortugas National Park
December 31, 2015

Coral coring in Dry Tortugas National Park

A diver uses an underwater drill to take a core sample from a massive brain coral (Diploria strigosa) in Dry Tortugas National Park. 

Image: Scientist Climbs Giant Sequoia, Sequoia National Park, CA
September 1, 2015

Scientist Climbs Giant Sequoia, Sequoia National Park, CA

A scientist from the University of California, Berkeley climbs a giant sequoia to measure its drought stress.

Canyonlands National Park as seen by Landsat 8
March 29, 2015

Canyonlands National Park as seen by Landsat 8

Canyonlands National Park was one of four national parks esatblished (1964) under the leadership of Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. Image, Landsat 8, 3/29/2015.

Image: Sandstone Peaks in Zion National Park
December 26, 2014

Sandstone Peaks in Zion National Park

Zion Canyon is characterized by its dramatic sandstone peaks.

Image: Sandstone Formation in Arches National Park
December 24, 2014

Sandstone Formation in Arches National Park

A sandstone formation in Arches National Park.