Songs that Share A Love of National Parks

November 16, 2018Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Blue Ridge Parkway — National Park Service

When you visit a national park, you leave with a burst of energy, inspired, and buzzing from the power of these remarkable places. So it’s no surprise that artists, like poets and musicians, create masterpieces based on the beauty and history preserved in national parks.

Music and parks are intertwined – your favorite verses accompany you on your journey into a park; on a hike; up a cliff. They immortalize natural features like the sweeping Mississippi and stories like the fight for civil rights. Music can teach you about historical figures you never knew and describe a feeling you get from a view.

Songs can even inspire you to visit a place to see it for yourself.

As you pack up your Subaru for your next #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque adventure, prepare your music library with some of these tunes. Whether you’re headed to a nearby national park or one that’s hours away, these melodies will have you wanting to hit replay on your national park road trip playlist.

“Buffalo Soldier”

Buffalo soldiers at Yosemite National Park
National Park Service

Reggae not only helps your brain relax – it can also popularize lesser-known, yet powerful, stories. One of Bob Marley’s most popular songs explores the history of Black soldiers in America. Buffalo soldiers played an important role in national park history in particular, as many of them were stationed at Presidio of San Francisco during the Spanish American and Philippine American wars. These brave soldiers were also some of the first unofficial park rangers, serving at parks like Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park.

“Chattahoochee”

Inflatable rafts and canoes floating on a wide river surrounded by green trees at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Tom Wilson/NPS

Alan Jackson says it best in this country tune about the Chattahoochee River, where he “learned how to swim and learned how to live.” Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia is a perfect place to spend some time learning about yourself or getting active. Cycle along the river, float down its waters, or cast a line and see what you’re able to reel in.

“It’s Quiet Uptown”

The yellow house of Hamilton Grange National Monument with red autumn leaves
National Park Service

The hit musical “Hamilton: An American Musical” is based on American history, so it only makes sense that many of the scenes and songs can be traced to stories preserved in our national parks. In “It’s Quiet Uptown,” you’re transported to one of the most painful times in Alexander Hamilton’s life. During this period of loss, he was living at the house now preserved as Hamilton Grange National Memorial in New York City. Transferred from its original placement in Harlem, visitors to 131st street can now tour the home to learn about the major events in this founding father’s life. Want to explore the park from your phone? Check out this virtual tour here.

“Paul Revere”

Drummers and pipers reenacting the Revolutionary War at Boston National Historical Park
National Park Service

Johnny Cash gives a musical history lesson in this upbeat telling of Paul Revere’s story. Once his tune has you tapping your foot, learning about this historical figure and the Revolutionary War as recounted for visitors at the places that make up Boston National Historical Site. Visit the park and follow the Freedom trail to stand right where this revolutionary history took place almost 400 years ago.

“Sleeping Bear, Sault Ste. Marie”

A pinkish sunset behind the hills reflected in North Bar Lake at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
National Park Service

Sufjan Stevens’s connections to the Midwest run deep. Born in upper Michigan, it’s no surprise that Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Great Lakes were his inspiration for his 2003 album, “Michigan.” This indie-folk-electronica mix will calm you down and transport you to this stunning Midwest national park. Visit for yourself to take in miles of sandy beaches, thick forests, and historic farmsteads.

“Blue Ridge Mountains”

Colorful red and orange sunrise over the foggy hills of the Blue Ridge Parkways near Sheets Gap
Ranger Wes/NPS

Melodic and gentle, this song transports you to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. The song describes calling the singer’s brother and discussing travelling through the area with him, “in the quivering forest,” and to a wooden house from their grandfather. Travel the Blue Ridge Parkway for yourself with this tune turned up to unwind as you take in the iconic landscapes of Appalachia.

“Glory”

The exterior of the building of the Selma Interpretive Center
National Park Service

John Legend and Common team up to belt out this ballad that tells the story preserved at Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. The song is a call for freedom and justice and remembers the continued struggle for civil rights. Located in Alabama, the trail commemorates the 1965 non-violent protests that ultimately led to President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act that prohibited voting discrimination based on race or color. 

These songs are just a minuscule sampling of those inspired by our national parks. For a somewhat lengthier list, perfect for your next road trip or scenic drive through a park, check out our new national park playlist.

Jam out to this road trip playlist as you join the National Park Foundation and Subaru in celebrating the 11th year of the Subaru Share the Love Event. Anyone who leases or buys a new Subaru vehicle now through January 2 can share the love for the parks by selecting the National Park Foundation as their charity of choice. In return, Subaru will donate $250 to the National Park Foundation for each purchase or lease — and that means that we’ll be able to share our love of parks with future generations.

Looking for some fun road trip itineraries to pair with your park ballads? Download a free copy of our “Road Trippin’” guide to see the 15 getaway ideas we have for you.

Comments

Super cool! I wish I knew the playlist was on the bottom I wouldn't have googled all the songs first lol.
Mel
Y

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