Ozone Overlook

Looking for a breath of fresh, backcountry air? Good luck finding it in these national parks...

July 31, 2015

Photo: NPS

The National Parks Service tweeted out an air advisory for Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this morning, warning of dangerous ozone levels for certain groups of people. The groups included children, the elderly, asthmatics, and "people who are active outdoors”—so just about everyone who hikes, bikes, swims, camps, and clicks selfies in the park.

Such advisories are not uncommon, especially during the summer. While the haze blurring our country's most scenic overlooks has lifted somewhat over the past decades (thanks Clean Air Act!), the air-quality report card (below) released this week by the National Parks Conservation Organization was not one to proudly hang on the fridge.

Below are the twelve parks with the worst air, four of which—Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Joshua Tree (shown above)—are chronic flunkies in regard to ozone, visibility, and climate change (assessed by precipitation and temperature patterns in the parks over the last century). Grades for the other 36 parks ranked can be found here. The report lists climate change as the reason why not one park got straight A’s. Clearly, we Americans are not applying ourselves to our fullest potential. 

Illustrated by: National Parks Conservation Association

Illustrated by: National Parks Conservation Association

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