Reader Participation Day: What Aspect(s) of the National Park System Do You Want to Read More About?

For 364 days a year, the brain trust here at the Traveler tries to come up with thoughtful, occasionally thought-provoking, entertaining, and informative posts on the National Park System. Today we turn the editorial keys over to you.

Tell us what you want to read about, which units of the National Park System need a shout out or two. Do you want more wildlife copy, more "things to do," more of Professor Bob's quizzes or Ranger Jim's anecdotes, or more travel-planning posts? More hard news, more advocacy items, more Mystery Photos?

Give us a list and we'll post it on our monitors and see how many items we can check off in the weeks and months to come.


More articles on things to do, please. In a forum like this, they are especially enjoyable and helpful, because the community rounds out and adds to the story. Based on information obtained here, I would like to re-do certain trips where out of ignorance, I did not hike the best trails.
That being said, the variety of articles makes this something to at least check in on daily.
Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the encouragement, Kevin. Your comment about the valuable contributions of the Traveler community is spot-on. The breadth of experience and expertise that this community represents is amazing, and being able to draw on it is certainly a main reason to make Traveler part of your daily routine.

Often times I will read a great article ie Condor release. However, the date is always 3-4 days away (too soon to try to plan a trip for the event) It would be great if there were some avenue in which to learn about events that are a norm for a park such as annual events etc (even if specific dates aren't included but maybe general time frames) so that we can plan on attending those events. One year I read about the Padre Island Turtle release but only after all the releases were finished. We did go the following year (and it was wonderful) but it would be great to know about events sooner. I,too, want to thank you for a great forum. It is a part of my daily reading and I always look forward to all the interesting information.

First let me say that I really enjoy reading your forum. I especially enjoy reading about the current happenings at the National Parks that I am familar with. I also like subjects where you get comments from your readers. So, I would like to see more subjects that ask for reader feedback. I thought of a weekly list of five things. Like your five favorite hikes in Glacier or your 5 favorite spots to take photographs or the five trips you would love to take but you know you never will. It could be as broad or narrow as you like.

Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more.

I just discovered this site recently, and I am thrilled that you guys are doing this. In other words, thanks! What I'd like to see somewhere -- and have thought about doing myself, but lack a forum for it -- is an occasional in-depth analysis of some individual parks. Is the park staffed properly, what are its strengths and weaknesses, what would you change if put in charge and given enough money, what would your priorities be if the money weren't there, how is the concessionaire doing, what should a visitor do on a short visit, what should they do on a long visit, etc., what do the park employees feel about the place, etc., etc., etc. This doesn't fit your format, but it's the kind of "white paper for the public" that I'd love to see done by an independent group, followed up by an NPS response.

Otherwise, I hope you find the opportunity to expand and do more to-do articles, off-the-beaten-path features, and wildlife and ranger anecdotes. The mystery photos do nothing for me, but others may like them.

As a regular reader, I appreciate all the hard work that goes into this website. Thank you! Wht I would like to see are more articles on the lighter side. These are the kind of articles that make you feel good about our national parks or make you want to visit or learn more about a particular park. There is no doubt that our parks are being threatened from many fronts, and there is a lot of politics involved. And there is no doubt that this is important and this is the appropriate place to talk about these issues. But sometimes, I just like to feel good after I read an article and not feel like I have to go out and change the world. So, what I would like to see is a little shift in the balance to articles on the lighter side.

The history behind some of the great American (and European) artists and there paintings which made the national parks such a grandeur to Albert Bierstadt, Horance Kephart and others. Poets and writers would suffice as well.

This is a great site, even for those of us who comment only every once in awhile. The feedback, such as in this article, is one of the reasons its worthwhile reading. It gives perspectives not mentioned, or personally, not thought of. I do like the interactive spots, like the Mystery Quiz - always fun. You are a very considerate person to request of your readers what they would like to see appear here. Thanks for a wonderful website.

Anon, here at Traveler we just don''t have the resources to track a lot of different events for our readers. But you can track the events schedule for particular parks yourself without too much difficulty. Grand Canyon National Park is an example of a park with readily accessible information about events scheduled weeks of months from now. To see for yourself, go to click on Plan Your Visit, then click on Things to Do, then click on Schedule of Events ("Calendar of Events" is yet another listing). Note that you can specify inclusive dates well in the future. Smaller parks with less sophisticated websites can still provide the info you want; you just have to dig a little harder for it -- generally by beginning with Things to Do. If you phone your "local" (closest) national parks, you may find that you can receive, via snailmail or e-mail, newsletters or other publications that provide schedules of coming events. Good luck, and have fun.

Thanks, Steve. We're always glad to get suggestions for Reader Participation topics. If you've got more ideas, be sure to send 'em along and we'll see what we can do with them.

DG, you need to dig back through "back issues" of Traveler (of which there are several years worth -- see Browse Content by Date). If you do that you'll see that we're already doing many of the things you've suggested. Reader comments provide much of the "inside view" you'd like to see, so don't ignore the comments following articles. Some of the more in-depth reporting you'd like to see is simply not feasible at the present time, given our limited resources, but is out there on the horizon.

Tom, are you sure you didn't mean more lightweight material? Because if that's what you want, we can sure provide it! In a more serious vein, we here at Traveler do try to balance the serious stuff with lighter fair. At least, Jim and I do. As you may have noticed, Kurt is as serious as a heart attack.

Tomp, I will admit this much: If there are no lagers available, it's OK to drink ale. Newcastle Brown Ale, if they have it. As for the final design of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Hwy 601 bridge/causeway project on the Congaree River floodplain, well, your guess is as good as mine. SCDOT seems bent on doing the job on the cheap (surprise, surprise!), which essentially means replacing the river bridge and rebuilding the existing floodplain causeway (which in many ways acts like a dam). Congaree National Park wants a project that has nice scenic turnouts, park access spurs, and a design that will permit water (and wildlife) to flow under the lengthy structure with a minimum of interference.

Anon, we can only include articles and thought pieces about poets, artists, and writers once in a while because, quite frankly, reader interest in these themes is very limited. Personally, I wish that weren't so, but there it is.

More of all of the above, please!

I love the traveler's checklists. Like the one for Acadia, where I could add a few things I'd done there that Kurt hadn't mentioned. By the time the article's been up for a week, the readers have expanded it by hundreds of percent and you have a pretty thorough treatment of the stuff to do at a given place.

I think more travelogue-type articles on specific places and activities would be cool. Rafting the Rio Grande in Big Bend, bird watching on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic, kayaking around Cumberland Island...

You could get some in-depth articles on somewhat obscure activities that reveal the spirit of some of these places.

I'd like to hear from readers about Fourth of July memories in the national parks. One year at the Grand Canyon, North Rim Lodge, the staff organized a parade and water gun fight, since fireworks were not allowed. We tourists could participate in the wet zone or stay in the dry zone. Our son had a blast, as did we, watching him!

Or perhaps it could be framed as "extras" that staffs at the parks have done. In addition to the above example, during a visit to Many Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park, we once discovered a delightful musical of "golden oldies" put on by the young summer staff members. It was enthusiastic, well-done, and enjoyed by all generations.

Maybe a section on "little known facts" about our great parks.
Also discussions/infomration on great places for retired travelers to set down for a few months and volunteer. I think DG hit a good spot in looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the various parks. There are those of us out here who are retired or, like me, soon to retire, who would gladly give our right arm to work in our beloved parks and have a positive impact. JKP

Digging out little known facts about our national parks is a Traveler specialty, Jolene. I think you'll find a lot to like along those lines if you browse through "back issues." Do that and let us know what you think.

I live in metro NY and this is my favorite blog. It is the one cyber-stop I make each day that lifts my spirits and reminds me about all that is wonderous in the United States.

I love hearing about the wildlife. And maybe I'm part sadist but that story about the European visitor on the payphone in Yellowstone getting some air thanks to a Bison was hilarious. I'm sure the Rangers out there have some funny stories to share.

Why not do stories about the unusual Parks (i.e. I bet most people don't know there's a NPS facility on Wall St where Obama spoke from last week).

I especially like hearing about the parks in the Rockies. And I am always interested in stories about people having accidents or getting lost (and hopefully found). But I think that comes from having lived in the Colorado wildnerness for years and I know how easy it is for something to go wrong in the backcountry. There's valuable lessons in each of these stories.

But I also want to stay current on the NPS and Dept of the Interior politics. How is Salazar doing so far?

Most of all thank you for doing such a great job! I look forward to seeing your daily headline feed on myYahoo each morning.

I'm a huge fan of the parks and I have learned so much from your articles. It's a selfless public service you do, please accept my thanks! I'm glad you welcome comments; sometimes I get the sense of being out of my depth, but have enjoyed participating when I have something relevant/intelligent to say. I check in with you guys at least every other day to read the latest & greatest, good and bad. I enjoy the quizzes, even though I've failed nearly all of them. (Shhh. Don't tell Prof. Bob) If I had a request, I'd like to hear more about what working in the parks is like. Is a job in the NPS worth pursuing? Bet that would generate some comments.

Bat, since I'm officially unemployed by the NPS at 3:30 today, I guess that means I can answer any questions about working for the NPS truthfully.


First let me say I love your site and browse and read almost every article. It makes me long for new parks to visit and repeat places I have been. I would be interested in more facilities for camping to be reviewed.You do a lot of articles for the great lodges but many of us RV. I am sure some of you think that is not camping. Call it what you want, but we all use our parks differently. Also the person that said they wanted a calender of events could be a side bar on your page with a combined events calender that you could try and update every so often. Maybe you just pick and choose what you think is important and readers may submit things they think you should include at your will. Also great tv shows about the parks could be on the calender like Ken Burns show this week end. I also gain insight from many comments from readers and really enjoy your format. I also am curious is this site all volunteer or do you get paid for your great effort? I also love the politics of the parks and enjoy your stories and insights of this.

I hear you RangerLady - I have no wish to visit bad karma on you or anyone. Enjoy the last day of your season!

I'd love a forum. Is there a forum for all concerned about the NPS that many of you visit? I'd love to have even more info, and have a place to ask off-topic questions. A forum being added to this site would be phenomenal, but I know that would perhaps take away from what you're trying to do here, Kurt. Do you have a public one that you visit? I have spent days and days browsing the forums, and love it, but I'd love to get that passion and excitement from all over the country, not just Y-net.

I reckon Marshall Dillon has the best suggestion of a forum.

Marshall and Dave,

We did offer forums not too long ago, and ran into two problems:

1. Few people interested in parks visited them.

2. Spammers visited them often and created havoc.

We are redoubling our efforts to see if there's a way to block these spammers, but as it was, it became too much effort for little if any return.

I definitely understand that. I can see that there's really probably only a good dozen people here that would regularly post. And yes, wonderful spam. Are there any forums y'all currently use that I could join up with?

Are there any forums y'all currently use that I could join up with?

Yosemite National Park
Glacier National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

"...adventure without regard to prudence, profit, self-improvement,
learning or any other serious thing" -Aldo Leopold-

I like the mix of hard news and entertainment information, and I agree with the postings about the need for more advance information about upcoming special events; if I had more notice, I might be able to witness some of these special park events. Also I like to read articles that just tell me what to do and what to expect when I visit a park; sometimes they offer tips I am not aware of.

About hard news, however, I have to admit that I get tired of all the "vacationer croaks in national park" articles (usually because someone fell off something high). These lead to a long thread of blamethrowing and, frankly, they're a little tedious. I guess you can keep offering them; I've just stopped reading them.

Garvin, with regard to all those croaking vacationers, I say that it's all a matter of perception. In my view, such sad stories are both an acknowledgment of victims and a warning. Not all the news coming out of the parks will be entertaining; some of it can be downright grim. I have high respect for the willingness of the editors to give us a dose of reality now and then, and I hope they will continue to do so.

Some of you may have read Off the Wall, which is a summary of all the deaths in Yosemite since its creation. There is even a chapter on the deaths involved in building the dam at Hetch Hetchy. In the foreward to the book, Mike Finley, former superintendent of Everglades, Yosemite and Yellowstone, writes that the book is not about death, but about life, giving us the chance to learn from the experiences of others. Bat (above) echoes this idea saying that these kinds of stories are warnings to subsequent visitors. I join him in encouraging Kurt and the other authors to continue posting these articles. If one reader is more careful the next time he/'she climbs the cables on Half Dome or walks up to Angels Landing or crosses a swollen stream, NPT has performed a real public service. That doesn't mean that we don't mourn the losses; of course we do. But in almost every tragedy in a park area, there is something to be learned.

Rick Smith

I would like more stories about adventures the NPT writers take into our National Parks.

(I forgot to include the Yellowstone National Park Forum in my last post)

"...adventure without regard to prudence, profit, self-improvement,
learning or any other serious thing" -Aldo Leopold-