8.6/10
1,239
14 user 6 critic

The National Parks: America's Best Idea 

Clip
0:49 | Clip

Watch Now

With Prime Video

ON DISC
ALL
The history of the U.S. National Parks system, including the initial ideas which led to the world's first national parks and the expansion of the system over 150 years.
Reviews

Episodes

Seasons


Years



1  
2009  
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

The Dust Bowl (TV Mini-Series 2012)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A documentary about the 1930s drought of North American prairie farm land, and its consequences during the great depression.

Stars: Dorothy Williamson, Donald Worster, Timothy Egan
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (TV Mini-Series 2014)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

A documentary that weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

Stars: Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann, George Will
Documentary | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

The story of the most important American exploration expedition in American history and the participants in it.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Hal Holbrook, Adam Arkin, John Logan Allen
Baseball (1994–2010)
Documentary | History | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  

A documentary on the history of the sport with major topics including Afro-American players, player/team owner relations and the resilience of the game.

Stars: John Chancellor, Daniel Okrent, Ossie Davis
Jazz (2001)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A survey of the musical form's history and major talents.

Stars: Keith David, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet
Prohibition (TV Mini-Series 2011)
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The story of the American activist struggle against the influence of alcohol, climaxing in the failed early 20th century nationwide era when it was banned.

Stars: Peter Coyote, Pete Hamill, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A biography of the life and work of the American architect.

Directors: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Stars: Edward Herrmann, Philip Bosco, Julie Harris
The War (2007)
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families.

Stars: Keith David, Katharine Phillips, Tom Hanks
Mark Twain (TV Movie 2001)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A biographical film about the acclaimed American humourist and author.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Keith David, Kevin Conway, Philip Bosco
Documentary | Adventure | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The saga of Horatio Nelson Jackson, the first man to cross the United States by automobile--in 1903!

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Keith David, Tom Hanks, Adam Arkin
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Documentary showing the history of the world-famous Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, the impact it still has on people and the state of liberty as a personal and political concept in America in 1985.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: David McCullough, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi
The West (TV Series 1996)
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Stephen Ives' "The West" is a PBS 4-Video Series co-produced by Ken Burns: - "Death Runs Riot" 85 min. - "Fight No More Forever" 85 min. - "Ghost Dance" 58 min. - "The People" 82 min.

Stars: Peter Coyote, N. Scott Momaday, Murphy Guyer
Edit

Cast

Series cast summary:
Peter Coyote ...  Himself - Narrator 6 episodes, 2009
William Cronon William Cronon ...  Himself - Historian 6 episodes, 2009
Dayton Duncan Dayton Duncan ...  Himself - Writer 6 episodes, 2009
Shelton Johnson Shelton Johnson ...  Himself - Park Ranger 6 episodes, 2009
Alfred Runte Alfred Runte ...  Himself - Historian 6 episodes, 2009
Paul Schullery Paul Schullery ...  Himself - Writer 5 episodes, 2009
Carl Pope Carl Pope ...  Himself - Sierra Club 5 episodes, 2009
Terry Tempest Williams Terry Tempest Williams ...  Herself - Writer 5 episodes, 2009
Murphy Guyer Murphy Guyer ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Philip Bosco ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Kevin Conway ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Tom Hanks ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Kim Heacox Kim Heacox ...  Himself - Writer 4 episodes, 2009
Adam Arkin ...  Reader 4 episodes, 2009
Lee Stetson Lee Stetson ...  Himself - Muir Historian / ... 4 episodes, 2009
Amy Madigan ...  Reader 4 episodes, 2009
Lee Whittlesey Lee Whittlesey ...  Himself - Historian 3 episodes, 2009
Nevada Barr Nevada Barr ...  Herself - Former Ranger 3 episodes, 2009
Juanita Greene Juanita Greene ...  Herself - Journalist 3 episodes, 2009
Gerard Baker Gerard Baker ...  Himself - Park Superintendent 3 episodes, 2009
Carolyn McCormick ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Tim Clark Tim Clark ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Derek Jacobi ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Josh Lucas ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Gene Jones ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Eli Wallach ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Edit

Storyline

The history of the U.S. National Parks system, including the initial ideas which led to the world's first national parks and the expansion of the system over 150 years.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 September 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The National Parks: America's Best Idea See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films,WETA See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Today: Episode dated 25 September 2009 (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Fascinating, intriguing, unexpected
3 October 2009 | by angelofvicSee all my reviews

I just finished watching Ken Burn's The National Parks: America's Best Idea, and it's fabulous -- it far far far exceeded any expectations I may have had.

The series is fascinating, surprising, intriguing, unexpected, and well narrated and voiced and commentated. The visuals are a combination of historical works (photos, footage, articles, etc.), lovely paintings and photos, and of course glorious beautiful high-definition cinematography. The narration (which is so interesting you don't even need to watch the images -- as I learned when I had to eat dinner during part of it -- but who can resist!) is done by Peter Coyote, and the voices of the historical letter-writers, authors, journalists, and so forth is by various luminaries from Eli Wallach, Derek Jacobi, John Lithgow, Adam Arkin, Tom Hanks, and dozens of others. And there are the occasional live comments from historians and other experts from various walks of life.

It's exquisitely put together and organized, never leaving the viewer bored; stories flow into and out of one another, or end only to be unexpectedly picked up again in a later hour or episode. The story of the parks is told not only through the stories of the politicians and naturalists involved, but also through the lives of everyday people and of artists and photographers (such as Ansel Adams) who loved the wilderness locales. There is a perfect mix of history, nature, beauty, drama, suspense, victories, defeats, and human interest. I was in tears at a few points.

Although a small handful of the names important to the natural park system are familiar (John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, etc.), the stories involving even those few are quite unexpected and fascinating. The vast majority of the true movers and shakers in the development of the natural parks are, however, gloriously unsung -- and thus doubly interesting because their outsized stories, which affected the country so greatly, are not nationally famous.

If you wish to purchase the DVD set, it's cheapest on Amazon, and the shipping is free.

If you watch the series on TV reruns if it ever returns, make sure you do it in order. It starts in 1851:

1851-1890: The Scripture of Nature

1890-1915: The Last Refuge

1915-1919: The Empire of Grandeur

1920-1933: Going Home

1933-1945: Great Nature

1946-1980: The Morning of Creation


13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed