Ken Burns & the National Parks
"You and I own some of the most spectacular landscape on Earth, and we are obligated as co-owners to every once and awhile go out and make sure our property is being taken care of – and most importantly, introduce the next generation to it."
– Filmmaker Ken Burns
Exclusive to Tauck –
Ken Burns American Journeys to America’s National Parks
In 2010, we approached award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan about joining together to develop special travel experiences around the themes of their documentary films. Together, five years later, we’ve enhanced 13 journeys and created over 100 original film vignettes ("Stories by Ken Burns"), created six tours ("Crafted by Tauck and Ken Burns") and developed special events ("Ken Burns Events") with Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan; they connect guests with destinations in deep and lasting ways. In 2016, our partnership continues to flourish.
Their acclaimed film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea took them over 10 years to create. Tapping into this, with Ken Burns American Journeys they share their unique perspectives, behind-the-scenes insights and their extensive network of local experts to maximize your travel experience in the National Parks in ways that add layers of meaning and appreciation. The resulting experiences can change the way you view the world – and maybe even yourself.
Ken Burns American Journeys include National Park Service sites such as national parks, national monuments, national memorials, national military parks and battlefield sites, national seashores, national scenic trails and more; there are three different components of our partnership:
Tauck, Ken Burns and America's National Parks
Ken and Dayton recently shared some of their thoughts on why the national parks are so special and why guests travel on Ken Burns American Journeys:
Ken: We made a film called “The National Parks,” and its subtitle is “America’s Best Idea.” We were following the writer Wallace Stegner, who said that these parks were the best idea we ever had – and it was immediately contradicted in the introduction to the film by someone saying, “No, it’s Thomas Jefferson articulating freedoms…” That’s true, but once we created a democracy you’d be hard pressed to find a better idea that we’ve had since.
Dayton: People who go to a National Park see us reflected at our best, so there is a sense of patriotism…
it brings us together in ways that very few things left in our society can.
Ken: We’re drawn to the National Parks because they essentially capture something human. There’s something both active and dramatic, contemplative and interior, expansive and spectacular, intimate and spiritual. We feel really privileged as filmmakers, and as Americans, to be able to tell the stories of our complicated history. I think Ken Burns American Journeys permit us to share some of the knowledge that we’ve accumulated by providing travel experiences that aren’t the same as a travel log or just a map detailing how to get there. We’re drawn to the National Parks because they essentially capture something human. There’s something both active and dramatic, contemplative and interior, expansive and spectacular, intimate and spiritual.
Dayton: What we try to create with Ken Burns American Journeys is an opportunity for travel experiences that are not just memorable but are life-changing for people, experiences that affect you in a way you don’t necessarily expect. People who go to a National Park see us reflected at our best, so there is a sense of patriotism… it brings us together in ways that very few things left in our society can.
Ken: The idea that we could design something that may alter the way someone sees the National Parks, to have them see the parks in the way that Dayton and I are able to, is thrilling. I don’t think that you can get the kind of in-depth tour that we create anywhere else. We’ve seen these places in the middle of the night and at dawn and at sunset, and we’ve had to negotiate aspects that I think make the experience richer and more complete. We think that with these tours, with the subjects we introduce to you, you’ll get an idea of what is so exceptional about this country. I want someone who goes on these tours to have a profound appreciation for our country, its history and its beauty.
Dayton: When Tauck first approached us about working with them to create tours relating to the films that we’ve made, Ken was reluctant – we have our own brand. So I went on a Tauck tour to check them out – and when I came back, I told Ken “These folks do what we do,” in terms of what Tauck tries to accomplish – to tell the stories of American places and to show their guests these places. We do it on a screen and they do it by physically taking you there – which both of us believe is much better than any film we could make.
Ken: We recognize in the folks at Tauck the same level of excellence that we’ve tried to achieve. We work in public television, and we do so quite consciously for a number of reasons – the least of which being no commercial interruptions. It permits us to spend the time it takes to do it right. We found in Tauck the same commitment to do it right – to not just be good, but to be excellent.