Extreme climber Conrad Anker makes an IMAX film fit for a centennial.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act, creating a new federal bureau called the National Park Service. Its ambitious role: to protect the 37 national parks and monuments then in existence “in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

A century of steady service and expansion later, the National Park Service now manages more than 400 units of national treasures spread across the United States and its territories. Is there a big enough gift to properly salute this bureau’s centennial?

National Parks Adventure appears to have the proportions right.

The new IMAX 3D documentary, produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films (makers of the 1998 IMAX documentary Everest) and narrated by (none other than) Robert Redford, follows a cast of adventurers led by elite mountaineer Conrad Anker up, down, and all around some of the country’s greatest parks and natural wonders. From mountain to canyon. Frozen waterfall to gator swamp.

The real stars of the show: more than 30 national parks and historic sites shot over a nine-month period. They include old faithfuls such as Yellowstone, Redwoods, Arches, and Everglades, plus underappreciated finds such as Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore that every bit as much need to be seen to be believed. Preferably in person. But otherwise on the next best thing: a really big screen.


From the April 2016 issue.

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