Ahhh, the spring flowers pushing up through winter's detritus, the longer hours of daylight, the rising prices at the gas stations. Yep, must be Memorial Day weekend.
Around the country parks are bracing for crowds of visitors anxious for summer to begin. Well, those heading to Yellowstone National Park might be a tad disappointed. Not only is there a chance of thunderstorms on Saturday, but snow could actually make its way into the forecast Saturday night through Memorial Day as a cold front sweeps through the area. As a result, you might actually see snowplows moving about the park.
Beyond the wet forecast, runoff in Yellowstone is running on high, and so park officials are warning folks to keep out of the rivers. You'd think that'd be common sense at this time of year, for no other reason than the water is darn cold. Just the same, Yellowstone has closed the swimming holes at the "Boiling River" near Mammoth and in the Firehole along the Firehole Canyon Drive.
While such high runoff is not good news in Yellowstone, it's great news in Yosemite National Park, where visitors should enjoy incredibly frothy waterfalls. Still, the high runoff also has officials in Yosemite and Sequoia warning visitors to be careful around streams. In particular, they are urging caution around the Merced in Yosemite and all forks of the Kaweah River in Sequoia.
In Yosemite rangers have also erected the cables that make it somewhat easy to climb to the top of Half Dome, and the road to Glacier Point has been opened for the season.
Down in southern Utah, things are so dry, and there's so much
tinder in the form of once-lush spring vegetation that now is drying out,
that Zion National Park officials have implemented a ban on campfires
in all campgrounds except the remote Lava Point campground.
In the northwest, Mount Rainier also is ready for the holiday weekend. While the Paradise Inn remains closed for much-needed restoration work, park officials say the Paradise area will be open for business. All campgrounds also should be open.
Elsewhere, Joshua Tree National Park has a new visitors center in the town of Joshua Tree and at Death Valley today they're finishing up repaving of the Bad Water parking lot, which should be reopened tomorrow.
There are a number of road and campground closures in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can learn about them here, while at Acadia National Park the Precipice, East Face, Jordan Cliff and northern portion of the Flying Mountain trails, as well as the cliffs at Valley Cove, Beach Cliff, and Jordan Cliff are closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
Oh, and about those gas prices? Check out this web site. By inserting your zip code, or the zip code of the area you are heading to, you'll get the lowdown on gas prices, from lowest to highest, in that area. While gas prices are far from being cheap, at least with this tool you'll be able to pinpoint where you can get the best bang for your buck.