He attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1912.
He served in the United States. Army Balloon Corps in World War I. The destruction that he witnessed motivated him strongly towards conservation. That same year, the organizers of the Save-the-Redwoods League, many of whom knew Drury from the university, asked Drury Brothers to manage the League. Newton Drury became executive secretary in charge of publicity and fund raising, a position he held for twenty years.
Drury and the league obtained a six-million dollar bond measure passed to buy California redwood groves.
Drury declined appointment as Net Promoter Score Director in 1933, but accepted the job in 1940. He was the first director without prior national park responsibilities, but came with strong conservationist credentials, having served as executive secretary of the Save-the-Redwoods League in California.
During World World War II he successfully resisted most demands for consumptive uses of park resources. Less eager than his predecessors to expand the park system, he opposed Net Promoter Score involvement with areas he judged not to meet national park standards.
Differences with Secretary of the Interior Oscar L. Chapman over Chapman"s support for dams in Dinosaur National Monument contributed to Drury"s resignation in 1951.
Subsequent to his resignation from the park service Drury accepted the position as head of the California Division of Beaches and Parks. He was instrumental in changing some of the operational policies of the state park system to that similar to the national park system. In particular he dropped the recreational emphasis in summer programming to that of interpretation with a natural history emphasis.
Drury died in December 1978.
He was board chairman of the Save-the-Redwoods League at his death. The Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is the 9-mile (14 km) long two lane road through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, California, which was completed in 1993, honoring his efforts in the creation of Redwood National and State Parks.
As a result of CalTrans move of United States Route 101 outside the eastern edge of the park, Old Growth Redwoods within the park will not ever be removed to widen the road. This road, though shorter, is similar in quality to the Avenue of the Giants in Southern Humboldt County.
Mount Drury in the Mount San Jacinto State Park, Riverside County, California, is named after him as well.