Rehabilitation of Highway 62 West, Crater Lake National Park, Klamath County, Oregon
THE PURPOSE OF PARK ROADS
The purpose of a national park road is summarized in the “Park Road Design” memorandum dated 20 February 1986, from then National Park Service Director Mott:
“The purpose of park roads remains in sharp contrast to that of the Federal and State highway systems. Park roads are not intended to provide fast and convenient transportation; they are intended to enhance visitor experience while providing safe and efficient accommodation of park visitors and to serve essential management access needs.”
As stated in the 1984 National Park Service Park Roads Standards, among all public resources, those of the national park system are distinguished by their unique natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational qualities; values that are dedicated and set aside by public law to be preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future generations. Pragmatically, the protection, use, and enjoyment of park resources in a world of modern technology has necessitated the development of a system of public park roads; in most parks today, the basic means of providing for visitor and park administrative access is the park road system. For visitors, it is both a means and an end. It enables one visitor to reach a desired goal; for another, it is the goal. Thus, park roads are often an end unto themselves. Park roads also provide essential management access. Roads in national parks are unique in that park roads serve a distinctly different purpose from most other road and highway systems. Therefore, national park system road standards must also be unique.
The fundamental purpose of national parks—bringing humankind and the environment into closer harmony while balancing resource values and preservation—dictates that the quality of the park experience must be a primary consideration. Full use and enjoyment of a national park visit depends on its being a safe and leisurely experience. The distinctive character of park roads plays a basic role in setting this essential unhurried pace; generally, park roads are designed and planned for leisurely sightseeing. Additionally, park roads are designed with extreme care and sensitivity with respect to the natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational values through which they pass; unequivocally, sound planning and resource preservation practices dictate that park roads are laid lightly on the land and designed with extreme care. Where they exist, park roads are often narrow, winding, and hilly—but therein may lie their appeal.
Park roads are constructed only where necessary, and only as necessary, to provide access for the protection, use, and enjoyment of the natural, historical, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources, which constitute the national park system. Each segment of park roads relates to the resource traversed in a meaningful way and constitutes an enjoyable and informative experience in itself while providing the visitor with the utmost in visual quality, comfort, and safety. National park roads are fundamentally designed to maintain an overall continuing sense of intimacy blending with the countryside through which they pass. Where terrain and safety conditions permit and where such uses are advocated by the park’s approved Master Plan or General Management Plan, opportunities are also provided for random stopping to enable visitors to more completely experience park resources.