Subpar Parks, created by illustrator and designer Amber Share, takes an artistic and innovative — and yes, snarky—approach to spreading the social media love for U.S. national parks.

By Bryce Jones
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There are literally millions of Instagram posts dedicated to appreciating the wonders of the great outdoors. (Because who doesn’t enjoy the beauty of the natural world? Well, you’ll see.) The account Subpar Parks falls into that category – with a satirical twist. 

Graphic designer and hand-lettering artist Amber Share created the account as a "snarky love letter to the National Parks System," with illustrations of national parks and quotes from real one-star reviews. "When I discovered that there were 1-star reviews for every single one of the 62 national parks, I set out to illustrate each park along with a hand lettered 1-star review as a way to put a positive, fun spin on such a negative mindset," she writes on her website.

Some of the reviews are clever (“The only thing bad about these lands is the entire experience”), others harsh (“Ugliest place I’ve ever seen”) and most just make you wonder (“There are bugs, and they will bite on your face”). Amber's illustrations and captions tell a different story.

Amber started Subpar Parks as a way to hone her craft and attract freelance work as well as promote the national parks. Since the account's creation in December 2019, her content has attracted over 137,000 followers excited to see her complete illustrations of all 62 national parks. That’s no small task – each design takes Amber about five hours to finish. In addition to posting about once a week, she sells postcards, prints and stickers (with the likely possibility of calendars and coffee mugs on the way) of the reviews.

To quote Subpar Parks’s bio: “Apparently America’s best idea wasn’t all that great.”

Here are four Midwest national parks featured on the page so far:

Badlands National Park | South Dakota