Fun with Maps 59&60

Map 59 shows the United States National Park Service Regions. I recently visited the Midwest Regional Headquarters in Omaha. You can read about it here. That visit inspired me to look up their Region Map.Map TBD

This map is great if you love maps and National Parks, like I do. I enjoy seeing how governmental agencies and companies divide the country and states into regions. This is an excellent version. Here is a description of each region:

  1. Alaska Region: 23 Parks, 1 State (HQ – Anchorage, AK)
  2. Pacific-West Region: 61 Parks, 6 States + 3 Territories (HQ – Oakland, CA; Support Offices – Seattle, WA and Honolulu, HI)
  3. Intermountain Region: 82 Parks, 8 States (HQ – Denver, CO; Support Office – Santa Fe, NM)
  4. Midwest Region: 57 Parks, 13 States (HQ – Omaha, NE)
  5. Southeast Region: 60 Parks, 9 States + 2 Territories (HQ – Atlanta, GA)
  6. Northeast Region: 73 Parks, 13 States (HQ – Philadelphia, PA; Support Office – Boston, MA)
  7. National Capitol Region: 26 Parks, 1 District (HQ – Washington, D.C)


If you’re interested, there is a brief description on Wikipedia of how some of these regions were formed from previous iterations following many restructuring efforts, the most recent of which was in 2000. I will, however, grant you my explanation for why I think they formed the regions the way they did. The Alaska Region was split from Pacific-West to let them manage their 23 parks/sites on their own. Geographically and ecologically, that decision makes sense, but it is surprising that Hawaii wasn’t split as well. Hawaii has seven parks itself and a “Pacific” Region consisting of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa would have provided better balance in the number of parks per region with 32. The rest of the Pacific-West Region would have formed “West” and still had a respectable 52 parks/sites.

The Intermountain Region is quite intriguing to me. It stretches from Montana to Texas and contains the most parks, including some of the most well known, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, and Big Bend. It’s intriguing to me because normally governments and companies will split up their best locations into more equal regions. For example, the Northwest States containing Yellowstone would be separated from the Southwest States containing the Grand Canyon. That way each region has a big name attraction, is more centrally structured, and thus, is easier to manage. The National Parks aren’t exactly like a nation-wide corporation, of course. They might not worry about operating costs or signature locations as much as a business, might, but management parallels exist.

I also found it interesting that the National Capitol has its own region. There are so many sites in that small area that they were put into their own management zone. It reminds me of the corporate structure of my former employer, Radio Shack. The then-doomed, now barely living company (now only existing in part due to a buy out by Sprint) divided all their corporate stores into 25 Regions. An equitable split would have resulted in roughly two-state regions but that’s not how the population nor the stores are split. There are far more people and stores in denser areas like New York City and Los Angeles. Both cities had their own Radio Shack Region while much of Western half of the country was one, very spread out region. That Regional Manager must have been on the road a ton. For the Department of the Interior, the densest area is definitely the District of Columbia. Most of the locations are historic sites, not parks, but there is a lot of places to manage in a small area.

Find a park and start your own adventure! Here’s a couple more detailed maps of the regions that I found online. I didn’t find one for every region but, believe me, I’m still looking.

Pacific-West Region

Midwest Region

Southeast Region


* * * * *

Map 60 shows a proposed high-speed rail line between Minneapolis and Duluth, MN. It would be the first high-speed line in the state and hopefully one step closer to connecting the entire Midwest by rail.

Map 60

This map arrived on my radar in an article posted on a friend’s wall on Facebook. Apparently, the cost estimates to build this line were recently reduced from $1 Billion to $500-600 Million. The costs were reduced from the original proposal by decreasing the maximum speed of the trains from 110mph to 90mph and going from eight daily trains to four. That might seem like a major decrease in service but the Minnesota Department of Transportation has determined having half as many trains wouldn’t see a major decrease in ridership. They’ll schedule the trains during peak travel times and expect about 700,000 passengers per year after construction completion (as early as 2020). The train trip between Minneapolis and Duluth would be about two and a half hours, barely faster than a car, but imagine how productive riders could be during that commute. They could read a book, watch a movie, do homework, or cure cancer! Okay, that last one isn’t terribly realistic in only two and a half hours but maybe the scientist that does cure cancer will have an epiphany while enjoying an episode of Daredevil while traveling 90mph, heading to Duluth for the weekend. I hope this proposed train becomes a reality and leads to a connected Midwest and, eventually, a high-speed network throughout the entire country.

For more information on this train line, check out the MPR article.


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