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Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?


Don't you think both the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area should be part of the National Park System? Top photo via USGS, bottom photo via

While we at the Traveler have in the past raised the issue of what units of the National Park System should be jettisoned, today's survey is just the opposite. Tell us what you would like to see added to the system.

For instance, the Clinton administration botched things back in 1996 when it created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and gave it to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to manage. That gorgeous, nearly 2-million-acre swath of southern Utah redrock, rightly belongs within the National Park System.

Ditto with the San Rafael Swell in central Utah, a landscape that as long ago as the 1930s was being recommended for national park stature.

What other landscapes might be worthy of national park designation? How 'bout shifting the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service? Should we get behind the effort to "Restore the North Woods" of Maine and slap an NPS sticker on it?

And why isn't the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness part of the park system?

What other places do you think should be added to the National Park System?


I'd note that there are historical reports of an effort to turn the Lake Tahoe Basin (California and Nevada) into a national park between 1915 and 1925. Several California legislators tried to push that through. That was long before there was any large scale development. There were a few scattered private resorts in the area. It would have been relatively easy and most of the area was (still is) federal land.

Right now it would next to impossible to turn the area into a national park. There are just way too many people living there now. Any move to turn over the Forest Service lands to the NPS would be shot down by the locals.

Hi I saw your recommendations for national parks online. I would hope that the Hiawatha National Forest (both segments) in the Upper Penisula of Michigan be made into the "Three Great Lakes National Park." All the land is Federal land, and it would connect by a park the shores of three of the Great lakes--Michigan, Huron and Superior. What a great mid west park that would be. Since it is all on Federal lands, the presidsent with the stroke of the pen could create it all as a National Monument, as a prelude to national park Status. Gabe Sheridan

I would love to see both segments of the Hiawatha National Forest made into the "The Three Great Lakes National Park". By designating these Federal lands as a huge National Park, we could connect three of the shores of the Great Lakes--Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior by a continuous forest. Imagine a National Park at the doorstep of the Midwest--accessable to Chicago, Detroit,Milwaukee, Minneapolis etc. All this could be made into a National Monument by the stoke of the President's pen. What a great addition to our nation, and gift to the people of the MidWest and the nation. Gabe Sheridan

Actually there are visitors centers for Grand Staircase. A friend and I hiked Cottonwood Canyon last autumn and stopped in at the BLM's Cannonville Visitor Center to check on road and canyon conditions (there had been a drowning a few days before due to flash flooding). The VC had a small museum, maps, a gift shop, etc. very like a national park center.

If you check out the BLM's website for Grand Staircase, other VCs are listed as well.

Some wonderful ideas have been posted here.

-- re: transfers from the US Forest System: Admiralty Island

-- re: Rangertoo's point on american composer-musicians: John Coltrane's house, already qualified as a National Historic Landmark, in Philadelphia

-- re: Cultural impact: Harriet Tubman's complex in Auburn New York, of house, hospital, church and social services. Not only was Tubman a spy during the Civil War, and a major force and inspiration on the Underground Railroad, but she then continued her tremendous work in Auburn. These sites also already are and/or qualify as National Historic Landmarks. A bill is pending before Congress for a park for Tubman in Auburn (where she received an invitation to settle from Secretary of State William Seward), but also a park in Maryland. The problem with the Maryland designation is an absence of qualifying historic structures, or specifically identifiable sites. But we need the Tubman site in New York if this key story about America is to be told properly.

-- I really want to second Michael Kellett's recommendation for a multi-state national park encompassing the Chesapeake Bay. It needs to be constructed through partnership with multiple landowners, similar to such landscapes as national parks in the United Kingdom.

-- With the same partnership model as the Chesapeake, the Blackstone River Valley in Rhode Island and Mass., with its many hilltop colonial villages and valley early industrial villages, also needs to be designated as a national park. Distinctive ways American's live on distinctive landscapes is as important to America as to other nations in the world, and should be so recognized here as well. Instead of being frozen in time, such places can demonstrate continual environmental improvement and the cultural emphasis on what makes a region special over time.

How about a thread for suggested historical or cultural additions?

The NPS manages Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument with the BLM and doesn't do much in the way of development.

Giant Sequoia National Monument would be almost a no-go from the start. There are already several wilderness areas there, so it's not as if they would avoid development. In addition, there are already several business interests there (Montecito-Sequoia Lodge, Stony Creek Lodge, Kings Canyon Lodge, Hume Lake Christian Camp) that would put up a huge fuss over it. The run their enterprises in ways that wouldn't be possible under NPS jurisdiction. The NPS eliminated all the public gas stations in SEKI years ago, and the only nearby options for gas now are in Giant Sequoia NM. I'm not sure what would be done in that case. For the most part there's excellent cooperation between the NPS and Forest Service there. I remember going to the information booth at Grant Village, where there were volunteers from the Sequoia Natural History Association, as well as NPS and Forest Service rangers. The only way I could see it working if there were sections that weren't put under NPS control (perhaps Hume Lake) - although that would get tricky with their current Forest Service use permits. There are some private communities completely within NPS boundaries, including Wawona and Foresta in Yosemite, or Wilsonia in SEKI.

Mt. St. Helens has been mentioned above, and I most certainly add my own support to include this significant landscape in the National Park System.

Another place of astounding natural beauty and cultural significance is Monument Valley. Since this special location is owned and managed by the Navajo Nation, perhaps some sort of NPS/Navajo partnership can be arranged to designate this fantastic area as a Native American National Park or Monument Valley National Park of the Navajo Nation.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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