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National Park Service scientists record and analyze sounds in national parks to inform and improve management of national parks across the country. The data is collected through recording systems installed by the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division in selected parks for about a month at a time. The systems record audio as mp3 files and sound pressure levels in decibels, and are designed to replicate the hearing experience of a person on the ground.
Sounds gathered are analyzed at the Listening Lab, a research collaborative between the NPS and the Sound and Light Ecology team at Colorado State University.
Technicians study these sounds using spectrograms — images that display the sounds according to brightness and color, frequency, and time of occurrence (see graphic, right).The audio recordings provide information about their source of origin, such as wildlife, weather, park visitors, and park operations, and how these variables interact. Visit Measuring Sound to learn more about how the NPS measures and analyzes sounds. This list of available reports summarizes sound measurements taken in national parks.
The following sound clips are selections of wilderness and human-made sounds recorded in national parks.The files are in the public domain and may be downloaded. Enjoy, and please give the appropriate credit.
Enjoy perusing these additional sound libraries:
  • Sounds of the Parks by the Colorado State University Listening Lab.
  • Yellowstone National Park Sound Library and Yellowstone Audio postcards — short stories about soundscapes unique to Yellowstone's ecology.

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