Western National Parks Association’s story starts in 1938 to help visitors learn about and appreciate ancient Hohokam ruins in the Arizona desert.
What is now Western National Parks Association started in 1938 as a funding source to help the National Park Service (NPS) better serve visitors to Casa Grande Ruins and 17 other national monuments.
It first provided publications funded by donors. In subsequent decades, WNPA additionally raised funds through retail sales, partnerships, memberships, and events.
Today, its efforts support many programs and initiatives that enhance visitor understanding and experiences at 70+ national parks: scientific research, aid for partner park projects, community outreach, and educational programs.
Dale King, WNPA’s first executive secretary, clearly stated the importance of WNPA.
A word concerning the value of the association may not be amiss. When the organization was started the Executive Secretary understood but vaguely the real, active demand by the public for accurate informational material. He, and his colleagues, wished to satisfy that demand. But they did not realize…each good publication which is sold to a visitor constitutes a permanent “contact” which…is repeated and renewed with an unpredictable number of unknown persons in addition to the original buyer. We have received numerous mail requests from…persons who have never visited a park or monument. They wanted information because they became aware of it in another person’s library. Their interest was stimulated and aroused. Such lasting effects must be valuable. Surely this is interpretation, and good interpretation.
Through different names and locations, WNPA has focused on enhancing the national park experience for visitors today and tomorrow.
Dig Deeper Into WNPA History
- Read a detailed history by Arizona author Sue Lamb.
- Examine the archival record of early documents and photos kept at the University of Arizona.
- Learn more about one of our founders, researcher, and scholar Emil W. Haury.