Pictograms and parks

Pictograms (also: pictographs), with their ancestral roots in hieroglyphics, can be beautiful in their utilitarian simplicity. For example, here is a sample set used by the National Park Service (click image below for larger view). Simple, purposeful, efficient, and clear.


Resource: These pictograms, along with other cartographic symbols and patterns used on National Park Service maps and signs, are available as PDF files, Adobe Illustrator (CS2) format, and as True Type fonts here, along with a useful swatch library of map patterns (sand, wetlands, trees, etc.) for Adobe Illustrator (CS2).

Wonderful on screen or paper, but even better in-situ…because some things just can’t be downloaded : ) See you on the trails!

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.Wallace Stegner, 1983

Never underestimate the power of a planted seed:



luis caracinha


I’m trying to find the designer who done the national park service’s pictograms but, until now, i can’t find any information about that. Can you help me?

Rob Gough

Luis –

Unfortunately I do not know the designer to whom these pictograms should be credited. However, the National Park Service’s website offers a possible lead at http://www.nps.gov/hfc/carto/map-symbols.htm# , where it provides a contact for inquires and requests regarding these symbols:

“To request adding new symbols to the set, please contact HFC cartographer Tom Patterson (phone: 304-535-6020; email: Tom_Patterson@nps.gov). This symbol set will periodically be updated.”

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