I’m an illustrator and I have always had a personal goal to draw all 62 US National Parks, but I wanted to find a unique twist for the project. When I found that there are one-star reviews for every single park, the idea for Subpar Parks was born. For each park, I hand-letter a line from the one-star reviews alongside my illustration of each park as my way of putting a fun and beautiful twist on the negativity.
More info: Instagram
#1 Yosemite National Park
“Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.
First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.” – According to National Park Service.
I had been wanting to draw all of the national parks, but wanted to find a way to add a bit of a twist to make it different from the other park illustrations already out there. I stumbled upon the one star reviews online, and the idea just came to me! I came to illustration by way of hand lettering, so finding words I could incorporate into the park illustrations really helped the project come together.
#2 Sequoia National Park
When it comes to my favorite park to draw and it’s review so far I think it was Arches, which is why I did that one first! I don’t really know that I have a least favorite – they’ve all been so fun and different to draw so far and has really made me appreciate the diversity of geography in the US! Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring was definitely the most difficult, because it was so hard to capture (which makes that review even funnier!).
#3 Joshua Tree National Park
The National Park Service writes: “Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California.”
Sometimes I find the perfect review really quickly, and other times I have to dig through several different review sites before I find the right one. It all depends on the park. I try to avoid any reviews about the park management or upkeep, and stick solely to reviews that have to do with the actual nature, because I think the audacity of criticizing earth is what keeps the project light.
#4 Arches National Park
National Park Service write on their website: “Visit Arches to discover a landscape of contrasting colors, land forms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red-rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.”
Each illustration took about 5-6 hours of work depending on the park. So far Cuyahoga Valley took the longest because it was tough to get the waterfall just right!
#5 Grand Canyon National Park
“Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.” – that’s how the Grand Canyon National Park is described in the National Park Service Website.
#6 Isle Royale National Park
“Explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization. Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Here, amid stunning scenic beauty, you’ll find opportunities for reflection and discovery, and make memories that last a lifetime.” – National Park Service.
#7 Grand Teton National Park
Here is what the National Park Service had to say about Grand Teton National Park: “Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park where you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River, and enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.”
#8 Saguaro National Park
“Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation’s largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson.” – Says the National Park service on their website.
#9 Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness atop a volcanic hot spot. It features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers and beautiful, lush forests. Hundreds of animals species call this place home, like wolves, bears, elks.
#10 Olympic National Park
“With its incredible range of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline.” – National Park Service.
#11 Glacier National Park
Glacier’s National Park is know for it’s untouched forests, alpine meadows, huge mountains, and mesmerizing lakes.
“With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Relive the days of old through historic chalets, lodges, and the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road.” – National Park Service.
#12 Cuyahoga Valley National Park
#13 Great Smoky Mountains National Park
#14 Death Valley National Park
#15 Zion National Park