Ken Burns Cooks Up a New Documentary on the National Parks


You've probably seen a Ken Burns documentary or two -- he's famous for productions like "The Civil War," "Baseball" and "Jazz." In September, PBS will broadcast his latest project, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," a work that took six years to film and involved a lot of trekking across the country's most pristine locales.

"Sierra," the Sierra Club's magazine, recently included an article by Dayton Duncan, a writer and producer who collaborates with Burns. Duncan pitched the project to the filmmaker as a result of a lifelong interest in the National Park Service -- an interest that eventually led him to visit all 58 parks in the system.

The project helped fund (or at least justify) Duncan's trips to some of the more outlying national park locations (like Hawaii Volcanoes or Paka O Amerika Samoa), as well as sponsoring returns to old favorites (like Joshua Tree). And just like any true park enthusiast, Duncan had his park passport stamped at every site he visited.

It got me scanning the list 58 parks for familiar states, trying to figure out how many I've been to. But take a look at the system's 385 total areas and you'll start to appreciate the breadth of what the service aims to protect. There's everything from National Seashore Cumberland Island's wild horses to National Historic Park New Orleans' jazz.

It makes me want to take a road trip -- or at least watch some TV. The documentary premiers Sept. 27.

More: How National Parks Work How the Sierra Club Works How the Audubon Society Works Can piranhas really strip a cow to the bone in under a minute? (Teddy Roosevelt, y'all) Ken Burns Does His Own September Glossy