Free: Download the Sublime Sights & Sounds of Yellowstone National Park

Moments before writ­ing these words I was feel­ing a lit­tle stressed—a not uncom­mon expe­ri­ence for most every­one these days. Then I watched the 25-sec­ond video of a bighorn sheep, above, and some­thing hap­pened. Not an epiphany or moment of Zen. Just a momen­tary sus­pen­sion of human woe as the ani­mal silent­ly munched, a crea­ture so unlike myself and yet so moti­vat­ed by the same basic needs.

How much bet­ter to observe the sheep first­hand, in its home at Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park? But per­haps we can, through our com­put­ers, touch into a lit­tle of the rem­e­dy Oliv­er Sacks sug­gest­ed for our mod­ern trau­mas. Nature gives us “sense of deep time,” the neu­rol­o­gist wrote, which “brings a deep peace with it, a detach­ment from the timescale, the urgen­cies of dai­ly life… a pro­found sense of being at home, a sort of com­pan­ion­ship with the earth.”

Research has found that watch­ing nature doc­u­men­taries can bring on real con­tent­ment, con­firm­ing what mil­lions of Nation­al Geo­graph­ic devo­tees already know. Now, at the Nation­al Park Service’s site, you can immerse your­self in vir­tu­al vis­its with not only our silent bighorn sheep friend, but the song of a moun­tain blue­bird, or cho­rus­es of howl­ing wolves. The audio library con­tains dozens more such melo­di­ous and haunt­ing sounds from Yellowstone’s bio­pho­ny.

The video library is replete with not only short clips of ani­mals doing what ani­mals do, but also video tours like that above, in which we learn how park rangers cap­ture and han­dle bison in their con­ser­va­tion efforts at the park. Then there are stun­ning land­scape videos like that below of Low­er Falls viewed from Look­out Point in the spring of 2017, with sooth­ing nat­ur­al white noise from the rush­ing water and blow­ing wind.

All of this con­tent is avail­able for down­load and free for any­one to use. Remix the sounds of falling snow, gey­sers, and moun­tain lions; make as many nature gifs as you desire. As you do, bear in mind that while humans might great­ly benefit—both psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly and culturally—from the dig­i­tal preser­va­tion of the nat­ur­al world, the true pur­pose may be to help us under­stand why we need to step back and pre­serve the real thing.

Just above see a (non­down­load­able) video from Yel­low­stone on the impor­tance of lis­ten­ing to and con­serv­ing the land’s nat­ur­al soundscapes—a fea­ture of the world that best thrives in the near absence of human involve­ment.

Enter the sound library here, and the video library here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Japan­ese Prac­tice of “For­est Bathing”—Or Just Hang­ing Out in the Woods—Can Low­er Stress Lev­els and Fight Dis­ease

Watch 50 Hours of Nature Sound­scapes from the BBC: Sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly Proven to Ease Stress and Pro­mote Hap­pi­ness & Awe

The British Library’s “Sounds” Archive Presents 80,000 Free Audio Record­ings: World & Clas­si­cal Music, Inter­views, Nature Sounds & More

10 Hours of Ambi­ent Arc­tic Sounds Will Help You Relax, Med­i­tate, Study & Sleep

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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