Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea Season 1 Episodes

Season 1 Episode Guide

Season 1

8 Episodes 2009 - 2009

Episode 1

The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890)

Sun, Sep 27, 2009 117 mins

The sumptuously filmed history of America's national parks begins in 1851, when California's beautiful Yosemite Valley started to attract people who wished to exploit the land, and others, like John Muir, who believed it should be preserved. In 1864, the US Congress passed legislation to protect the land from commercial interests, but ceded control to California. In 1872, Congress protected Yellowstone, in the Wyoming Territory's northwest corner, by creating the first national park.

Where to Watch

Episode 2

The Last Refuge (1890-1915)

Mon, Sep 28, 2009 147 mins

The years 1890 to 1915, when many Americans feared industrialisation would negatively impact the country's pristine lands, are recalled. With Congress yet to establish authority or appropriations for park protection, a conservation movement begins, led by the Sierra Club's John Muir, the Audubon Society's George Bird Grinnell and the Boone and Crockett Club's Theodore Roosevelt.

Where to Watch

Episode 3

The Empire of Grandeur (1915-1919)

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 117 mins

The years 1915-19, when the conservation movement successfully pressured the federal government to create the National Park Service to oversee the nation's national parks, are recalled. Included: the work of the first National Park Service director, Stephen Mather, to expand the park system and attract more visitors, and to transform the Grand Canyon from a national monument to a national park.

Where to Watch

Episode 4

Going Home (1920-1933)

Wed, Sep 30, 2009 117 mins

The years 1920-33, when the automobile enabled more people to visit the national parks, are recalled. Included: National Park Service director Stephen Mather pushes to build more roads in the parks; park enthusiasts Margaret and Edward Gehrke of Nebraska visit as many parks as they can; writer Horace Kephart and Japanese immigrant George Masa campaign for a Smoky Mountains national park; philanthropist John D Rockefeller Jr buys land in Wyoming with plans to donate it to the government.

Where to Watch

Episode 5

Great Nature (1933-1945)

Thu, Oct 1, 2009 117 mins

The years 1933-45 are recalled. Included: the Civilian Conservation Corps are created during the Depression to undertake renovation projects in the national parks; NPS biologist George Melendez Wright pushes to reform the NPS's wildlife policies; Florida's Everglades become a national park; FDR is pressured to allow mining, grazing and lumber work in the national parks during World War II and is also criticised for expanding the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Where to Watch
The National Parks: America's Best Idea, Season 1 Episode 5 image

Episode 6

The Morning of Creation (1946-1980)

Fri, Oct 2, 2009 117 mins

The series finale covers the years 1946-80. Following World War II, the parks see a dramatic increase in visitors, resulting in a billion-dollar campaign to improve facilities and infrastructure. Also: Lancelot Jones, the grandson of a slave, sells his family's property on unspoiled islands in Biscayne Bay, to the federal government; President Carter sets aside 56 million acres of land in Alaska for preservation.

Where to Watch
The National Parks: America's Best Idea, Season 1 Episode 6 image

Episode 7

The Windows of Heaven

Fri, Nov 1, 2019 117 mins

Where to Watch

Episode 8

The Dance of Life

Fri, Nov 15, 2019 117 mins

Where to Watch