Free "National Park" typeface that looks like the wood signs on the trails

Originally published at:




It doesn’t really exist as a typeface unless a sign is made.

This is the weirdest Zen koan I’ve seen yet. “What is the letterform of an unwritten letter?”


Reminds me of the font from the text bubbles of old EC Comics.


It is Sans Everything.


I love that. Transmutation.


I really appreciate how this story answered my question almost before I’d thought to ask it, aka isn’t this already a font. Thanks little story about this font! That’s the right way to treat your readers.


Turns out it isn’t a typeface at all but a system of paths, points and curves that a router follows.

Of course it’s a typeface. Otherwise, where do the “points and curves” directing the router toolpath come from? You could use a router bit to trace any sort of typeface, or font, if you like. It would be equally accurate to say that Helvetica is not a typeface at all but a system of paths, points and curves that an inkjet, or other printing output follows. If there were no typeface guiding the form of letters in making the signs, then they would all look different depending on who was controlling the router.


Now I want to read that story.


In this case, the paths do not trace out a typeface, they are simple center splines that the router carves along. You want the bold version, put in a bigger router bit. So, a typeface defines the edges of a glyph and this defines a center line. (Still a type design? I think it is.)

If you used a router bit to trace the paths of Helvetica, you wouldn’t get Helvetica lettering. It’s a different process. Other than my pedantic nit-picking, I do agree with you.

1 Like


Type-foundry professionals who get their knickers in a twist over vernacular uses of the terms “font” “font face” and “type face” as synonyms crack me up.

(Of course, in the professional world, I applaud them getting persnicketty-precise in their language use :slight_smile: )


Thanks for clarifying something that I am not well-versed or articulate enough to express.

I think that the routed signs use stroke paths derived from one of the Hershey simplex sets, but I’m not positive. You can see the capitals as thin-stroke letters at - they look better when drawn heavier.

The painted NPS signage uses Rawlinson Roadway as a serif font and Adobe Frutiger as sans-serif.

If anyone is enough of a typography geek to care.


Web search

Keuffel Esser Leroy lettering

for clues as to origin.

Ok this explains a weird sign in Rock Mountain National Park that had two inconsistent Qs on it (first was curly, second one was a little stick on bottom).

Yeah, I had a Leroy lettering set in the days before CAD. (Unless I was preparing the most formal drawings, I more commonly lettered freehand. And I am that old.)

I’m far from certain that’s what’s in play on the NPS trail signs. It’s more likely a template kit from an outfit like Milescraft or Rockler, or else CNC routed. If the latter, it’s almost certainly Hershey, because that’s free (and NIST-produced, so there are several government standards that incorporate it).


I shall henceforth always type in this!

same here; aaaand there you go:

scroll down a little, complete comic follows.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.