Budget Travel

These Vintage National Park Pix Will Make You Smile

Bears beg for food at a car in Yellowstone National Park, August 1958.

The roadside waterfall known as the "Weeping Wall" along the Going-to-the-Sun Highway in Glacier National Park, Montana, looks almost the same today as it did when this photo was snapped in 1960. The two big differences are the vintage car and the relatively empty highway. Today, the road gets clogged in high season and visitors who want to park at the Continental Divide at Logan Pass must plan to arrive before 10 a.m. or be prepared to wait patiently for a parking spot.

Sure, the awe-inspiring view of the Grand Canyon remains the same, but unlike in 1930, today's visitors tend to dress more casually and pack walking shoes with no heels.

Here, a visitor on horseback enjoys the view of Seattle Creek looking toward Mount Muncaster as viewed from the High Divide, 1934, in Olympic National Park.

This old b&w proves that Mesa Verde National Park's impressive vistas are timeless.

Back in 1929, a visit to Mesa Verde National Park's impressive Cliff House was something travelers would happily brag about when they got back home.

In 1932, this highway in Mount Rainier National Park, leading up White River Canyon to Sunrise, was new. (That's Mount Rainier in the background.)

Ok, this turned out to be a shockingly terrible idea, but back in 1939, Yellowstone's grizzly bears were lured to a "feeding ground" in the Canyon region so that visitors could see them relatively up-close. Once considered "visitor entertainment," this practice has been long discontinued at all national parks.

We're pretty sure that even in 1933, these waitresses at Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Chalets felt a little self-conscious dressed in the Swiss milkmaid costumes mandated by management. These days, summer jobs at the hotels, shops, and restaurants in the national parks are coveted positions drawing young men and women from all over the U.S. and the world.

We love the way "glorious black-and-white" captured the dramatic contours at Devil's Tower National Monument in 1933.

Back in 1936, members of a joint U.S.-Mexico International Park Commission flew over the Rio Grande, Mariscal and Boquillas Canyons, and the Chisos Mountains. Visitors today enjoy Big Bend National Park's awesome rafting on the Rio Grande and jaw-dropping views of the Chisos.

Back in 1939, the construction of the now-popular bridge over the Gardiner River on Yellowstone's Lower Falls Road was an attraction unto itself.

San Xavier del Bac Mission, near Tucson, Arizona, seen here in 1935, was regarded as one of the most beautiful mission buildings in America.

We love how this 1933 image of Grand Teton National Park demonstrates how much, and how little, has changed over the years.

Here's what the El Tovar Hotel, atop South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, looked like in 1930.

You'll be shocked and amused by how much has changed since these incredible vintage photos were snapped back in the early- to mid-20th century. But one thing that hasn't changed is our national parks' ability to awe and inspire!

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