In embracing the future of our national parks, we must also continue to improve our parks and expand the ways we experience them. The National Park Foundation (NPF)’s work to help transform park facilities supports the enhancement of existing or construction of new facilities that enable visitors to further enjoy, explore, and discover our national parks. By planning for the future needs of parks and their visitors, the Transforming Park Facilities program helps to ensure that our parks fit the needs of present and future generations of visitors.

From refurbishing the elevator system in the Washington Monument to collaborating with partners to expand the storytelling at parks such as Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, this work is helping parks imagine and embrace the future of the ways visitors experience our parks.

Highlights & Projects

Dusk shot of the Jefferson Memorial from across the Tidal Basin

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thanks to a generous contribution from philanthropist David Rubenstein, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial will introduce new state-of-the-art exhibits, which incorporate new designs with tactile and auditory elements designed with universal accessibility in mind. Updates to the memorial will ensure visitors gain a better understanding of Jefferson’s multi-faceted story and legacy.

Sky over the grassy prairie and colorful geological formations at Badlands National Park

New Visitor Center at Badlands

Thanks to a 2021 partnership between NPF, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Badlands Natural History Association, and the Badlands National Park Conservancy, Badlands National Park will get a new visitor center within the Cedar Pass area. The project will help visitors learn about the park’s many resources, including its unique paleontological and geological resources, and connect to the past and present history, culture, and heritage of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Lakota People. 

Sunset over cannon

Increasing Access to Military History

In 2020, NPF supported the planned installation of new interpretive displays at Vicksburg National Military Park that will help visitors understand significant moments in the Vicksburg campaign during the Civil War, as well as the future creation of new trails that provide wildlife viewing opportunities. Additionally, the creation of new facilities, parking lots, and designated pull-off areas for large vehicles will improve visitor safety when touring the park. 

Cherry blossom trees flowers frame the Washington Monument across the water in the Tidal Basin

Restoring & Refurbishing the Washington Monument

In 1996, NPF and our partner Target raised $5 million to repair and preserve the Washington Monument. In 2016, philanthropist David Rubenstein donated to NPF to support the modernization of the Monument's elevator, and in 2019, thanks to contributions to NPF from Rubenstein and Musco Lighting, the Washington Monument reopened to visitors with updated lighting and a refurbished elevator system. 

A dry, grassy plain slopes downwards toward the visitor center

Modernized Visitor Center at Little Bighorn

A 2020 partnership between NPF, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, NPS, and Friends of Little Bighorn Battlefield will support the building of a new, modernized visitor center at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The updated visitor center will improve interpretative and educational programming, as well as honor the longstanding relationship among NPS and tribes historically associated with the site. 

The red, orange, yellow, and green fall foliage surrounding the river

The Park Next Door: Big South Fork

NPF funded a project at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area to convert a group campsite into an overnight educational facility to be used by students from seven counties surrounding the park. Students were given the opportunity to visit and learn about the park, creating a powerful and lasting connection to their local park.

A cannon in a field near mountains

Park Trails for Running Clubs

The trails at Fort Davis National Historic Site have been made available to local school running clubs, giving students a safe and scenic place to practice. The Fort Davis local high school has no funding for a track team or coach, so the park has stepped up as a valuable partner to their community. To kick off the partnership, the park hosted two 5K runs – one for the students, and the other for the general public, inviting all to experience the park in a new way.

An aerial view of the marble Lincoln Memorial. Several visitors walk up its stairs

Lincoln Memorial 

Businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein made a $18.5 million gift to NPF’s 2016 Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks to support the restoration of the Lincoln Memorial. The project will create nearly 15,000 square feet of public space for new exhibits and ranger-led tours, as well as upgrade exhibit and restroom areas and open up the underground vault of the monument to the public for the first time. 

Two bicyclists on a paved trail through a grove

Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove

In 1976, NPF funded the enhancement of the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove along the Potomac River. The park was a place President Johnson often visited when he needed to escape from the stresses of his Presidency. These enhancements made it possible for visitors to the park to reflect on the historical and cultural landscape of President Johnson’s life and legacy.

Site-seeing barge on C&O canal

C&O Canal Barge

In 1982, thanks to a grant from the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, NPF helped construct a new C&O canal barge within Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The C&O canal operated for nearly 100 years as a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River, and today the park provides a pathway for discovering the historical, natural, and recreational treasures available in the area. 

US Marine Corps War Memorial at sunset

Iwo Jima Memorial 

NPF supported the restoration to the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, which made physical improvements to the statue, based on Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, the plaza, and the surrounding infrastructure in the park. The project also installed new outdoor educational exhibits and signage.