Today the National Park Service and MapBox announced the launch of Park Tiles. These are some absolutely beautiful tiles built with TileMill, hosted by MapBox and designed by the NPS. From the NPMap Blog:
Park Tiles is not meant to be a total replacement for any of the basemaps we currently use. It is, rather, meant to give us an alternative basemap we can use in custom projects where we’d like to see our National Parks highlighted. We’d also like to incorporate more detailed park information (such as campsites, visitor centers, trails, etc.) at larger scales that can serve both NPS employees and visitors.
Basically they want more control over their base layers than they do with basemaps from Bing, Esri and Google (probably even MapBox too). So they decided to use TileMill to author and MapBox to host these gorgeous maps. I encourage everyone to read that blog post by Mamata Akella because it goes into detail about the design, data and technology that make up these maps.
Long time Esri users may recognize Mamata because she was key in the development of the Esri world topographic map and the canvas maps. Well it seems she’s moved on to the NPS and is creating amazing maps using TileMill.
MapBox has some more information on the project including a really cool features available to MapBox users. I like how the map is layered so you can turn off parks, road shields and other features as you need to for your applications.
I can’t wait to see the detail get rendered for the whole country. You can view the maps online right now and if you click on the “Switch to Mt. Rainier” button, you’ll see the large scale prototype of Mt. Rainier National Park that uses all OSM data. Simply beautiful!