Legends of the National Parks: New Poster Art!

Legends of the National Parks: New Poster Art!

For those who love the spooky and mysterious side of America's National Parks, we have good news! 

Anderson Design Group artists have been so excited about our new Legends of the National Parks poster art collection, that we've already created six more spooky illustrations! 

Read on to learn about the inspiration behind our latest National Park art mini-series. 

Pesky Goblins Haunting Mammoth Cave National Park?

The Kentucky Goblins are a mischievous bunch, only about 3ft tall, green in color, with large eyes and sometimes frightening facial expressions. The goblins are said to have large ears and wide mouths. The arms and legs are long, and their torsos are quite small.

There are differing beliefs on where the creatures came from. Some say they are extraterrestrial visitors, aliens that have come down to Kentucky on numerous occasions throughout the 20th and 21st centuries to hassle local farmers. Others believe that the goblins' large eyes and ears could only have evolved from thousands of years spent living in subterranean dwellings like Mammoth Cave National Park.

No matter the origin of Kentucky'"little green men" the witnesses who have come forward over the years have all shared one thing in common, they were terrified of the creatures. Though the creatures were small, they seemed highly intelligent and intent on mischief!  

The Fierce Shunka Warakin of Glacier National Park

Many mythical creatures of the National Parks began as stories told by the Indigenous tribes who once called these parks home. To the best of our abilities, we've attempted to accurately portray these mythical creatures in our art and writings. We hope our art will inspire others to learn more about the Indigenous stories of these creatures, and to keep those stories alive.

And speaking of one such creature, the legend of the Shunka Warakin is a story often told by the Indigenous Ioway tribe. Throughout the centuries, this tribe has told the tale of a particularly intelligent, wolf-like beast that would sneak into Indigenous communities and carry off dogs into the night. "Shunka Warakin" means "carries off dogs" in the Ioway language.

According to the Ioway peoples, the Shunka Warakin looks like a cross between a wolf and a hyena, with a longer muzzle and head than a wolf, but a larger body than a hyena. The animal is particularly cunning and clever, able to walk into human habitations, steal animals, and get out without ever being spotted.

The most notable case of a Shunka Warakin sighting was in 1886 when rancher Israel Hutchins shot an animal on his ranch that looked similar to a wolf but was distinctly different. Though that beast was never properly identified by Ioway tribal members, Israel and his friends were convinced it was no ordinary wolf.

Slumbering Cave Dragons of Yellowstone National Park

There be dragons! The high levels of thermal activity in Yellowstone National Park make it easy to believe there may be dragons lurking underneath the park. And just like the stories of the Lake Monster who some say lives near the thermal vents at the bottom of Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, Indigenous legends from centuries ago tell a story of formidable reptilian beasts who, fleeing the arrival of humans to the region, burrowed down into the thermal caves of what is now Yellowstone National Park. 

Sulfuric gasses, volcanic events, seismic activity, geysers, thermal sites, boiling hot mud pits… it wouldn’t take much to consider that a land as wild and unpredictable as Yellowstone may also be the home of dragons! Particularly in regions of the park with extreme thermal activity (like Dragon’s Mouth and Black Dragon Cauldron), the regular feature of deep rumbling roars and the occasional burst of steam, mud, and water do lead some to believe that ancient beasts are slumbering below.

While the sounds, smells, and vibrations of Cave Dragons seem to permeate thermal areas in and around Yellowstone National Park, no one has seen a Cave Dragon in centuries. Is it possible these creatures went back underground permanently? To evade detection as the population around Yellowstone grew? Or were these beasts just a mystery of nature all along? 

Aliens in Great Sand Dunes National Park?

Though UFO sightings tend to be random, unpredictable, and scattered across the U.S. and the world, there are some places that seem to attract numerous sightings. These also tend to be places where strange happenings occur, curious events that don’t seem to have a natural, Earth-bound explanation.


Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park is one such place, a protected natural wonder of huge dunes located under the watchful eye of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. And while recreational opportunities abound in this park, the most exciting (and mysterious) park events are the numerous UFO sightings that have come out of the Great Sand Dunes.

UFO sightings in this region date back to the early-1600s, when Spanish Conquistadors traversed the dunes and claimed to see mysterious objects in the night sky. Sightings have been reported ever since, with so many UFO sightings occurring in this National Park and the surrounding San Luis Valley that a UFO watchtower was constructed to help locals keep an eye out for visitors from another world. Since the year 2000, this part of Colorado has recorded over 70 UFO sightings. 

Yucca Man of Joshua Tree National Park

An unbearable stench exuding from its hairy body, standing 8ft tall, spooky-eyed, growling, prowling, and circling campers and hikers, this is Yucca Man, Joshua Tree National Park's resident monster! Reports of Yucca Man first came out of military bases across the Southwest, usually involving lone sentries and gate guards being confronted at night by the foul beast. And while no human has ever been seriously injured or killed by Yucca Man, there have been reports of the beast bending rifles in half and destroying military property.

More recently, the majority of Yucca Man sightings have occurred in Joshua Tree National Park. Tents have been ripped open at night, tourists harassed, and an occasional footprint or blurry photograph has been submitted as evidence.

But the legend of Yucca Man goes back much further than 20th century encounters with Americans of European descent. The Tongva Indigenous Americans have been telling stories of desert creatures they called "Tahquitz," or "hairy devils." These creatures are said to originate from the San Bernardino Mountains.

Hikers and wilderness explorers be warned, Joshua Tree National Park may contain more excitement than just the curious Yucca trees! 

Lizard Man of Congaree National Park

Ah yes, the elusive Lizard Man! It all started on June 29th, 1988, when a teenage boy was driving home from work. He blew a tire along the edge of Scape Ore Swamp in Bishopville, South Carolina. As he was changing the tire, a fearsome reptilian creature leaped from the swamp and began attacking the boy's car! This was the first appearance of Lizard Man, but it would not be the last.

The creature stands nearly 7ft tall, is humanoid in shape, but with green scaly skin, red eyes, three fingers on each hand, and three toes on each foot. Lizard Man has a reptilian head with sharp fangs, and each finger and toe has a long, sharp claw.

Throughout the summer of 1988, Lizard Man haunted the people of Bishopville. He never attacked any of the residents, but he vandalized cars, often tearing off bumpers, denting hoods and roofs, and smashing glass. But as abruptly as the creature appeared, he then disappeared. Some say he went into hiding in Congaree National Park, while others say he is lying in wait for the right time to reappear!

More Art on the Way!

Our team is already hard at work on the next set of illustrations, so check back in soon for more spooky stories and creative works of the legends and mysteries behind our National Parks!

And in the meantime, always keep an eye out when you're walking the trails and paths of our natural lands. You never know what might be walking alongside you!

-Ren Brabenec
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer

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