Ken Burns’s National Parks: The Grand Canyon and the Empire of Grandeur

For as long as most of us can remember, the Grand Canyon has been a protected natural wonder we can traverse without worrying about some manmade intrusion blocking our view. But someone had to fight for the protection of the splendors that millions of people view every year. Last night’s edition of Ken Burns’s National Parks: America’s Best Idea was about the amazing Empire of Grandeur (1915-1919) and the people who did just that.

After the death of park pioneer John Muir, the idea to create national parks could have perished along with him. Someone needed to step up and fill the Grand Canyon sized shoes of this man, a feat thought nearly impossible. Tuesday night’s episode talked about the folks after Muir who continued his dream and passion of protecting America’s wilderness. These people, fueled by their love of a particular grandeur, fought for its security.

So go back in time with Burns and watch as majestic natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and Zion transform into the national parks we know today. See how these pioneers fought to keep tourism in America rather than Europe, using writers like Mark Twain, who called Italy’s Mount Vesuvius “a soup kettle” compared to Hawaii’s Kilauea. 

Plan your own adventure into the Grand Canyon and other great parks with ideas in America's Ultimate Parks.

—Michelle Faber

Map by Pietari Posti

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet