Relief Presentation on US National Park Service Maps
This paper examines the evolution of relief presentations on maps developed by Harpers Ferry Center, the media service center of the US National Park Service (NPS). Harpers Ferry Center produces the maps used by park visitors. I will discuss five park maps, each with a distinctive relief style and mode of production. They appear in rough chronological order of their development. Recent relief presentations are generally more detailed, colorful, and realistic than those from earlier years. Changing technology is largely responsible for the different relief styles found on park maps. Some relief treatments today were not possible, or imaginable, in 1977 when the NPS established the brochure program in its modern phase. Landscape heterogeneity is another factor behind the development of different relief styles. With over 400 park sites ranging from the glacial mountains of Alaska to the rolling piedmont of Virginia, a one-style-fits-all approach cannot adequately depict all landscapes. NPS maps serve some 300 million park visitors each year. Our ongoing effort to make understandable maps for this diverse audience has further spurred experiments in relief presentation.