Odds and Ends From Around the National Parks To Kickoff The Summer Travel Season

Welcome to the summer travel season in the national parks! NPT file photo, Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park.

With spring still on its way to the Rockies and parts of the High Sierra, and summer well under way in some oher parts of the country, this seems a perfect time to honor all 2010 Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, consider ways to support national parks, and look at ways to enjoy the parks.

* Keep On Truckin'!

Bravo and congrats to the 593 thru-hikers (and section hikers) who made it end-to-end on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in 2010. The list in the latest issue of A.T. Journeys starts with Andrew "Squeeze Cheese" Adair and ends with Mathew "Mouse" Zion.

* Lend A Friendly Hand

Join a friends group, as they provide an invaluable service to the national parks. For instance, Friends of the Smokies is spending $65,000 this year to ready some historic buildings in Elkmont at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for weddings, corporate meetings, and other rental events.

* Golden Gardening Anniversary

Speakings of friends groups, at Acadia National Park in Maine a golden anniversary is being celebrated. It revolves around Wild Gardens of Acadia, a non-profit garden established in 1961 to propogate wildflowers native to Mount Desert Island and the park. Thanks to then-Superintendent Harold Hubler, a three-quarter-acre plot near Sieur de Monts Spring was set aside for the organization to raise and maintain native plants. Last year Friends of Acadia came into the picture when it signed an agreement to support Wild Gardens of Acadia. Under that agreement, the friends group hired a supervisory gardener for the operation and continues to help with fund-raising, volunteers, and administration.

* Meet Traveler's lodging experts, David and Kay Scott!

The Scotts, currently negotiating the National Park System to update their book, The Complete Guide To the National Park Lodges, are scheduled to be at Mount Rainier National Park on June 11. The two will offer a presentation on national park lodging -- From the Ahwahnee to Zion Lodge, Rooms With a View -- at 9 p.m. that evening in the Paradise Inn.

* Twitterdom

Ongoing through February 11, 2012, the staff at Thomas Edison Historical Park in New Jersey will be tweeting Thomas Edison's daily activities from 100 years ago. The project is intended to give you insights into how the inventor approached his life. The tweets, according to NPCA's Northeast Regional Office, were pulled from archival documents and photos. You can follow the tweets at www.twitter.com/thomasedisonnhp.

* Pedaling Around Grand Teton

Phase II of Grand Teton National Park's Pathways system is scheduled to break ground this summer, as crews forge a trail from South Jenny Lake Junction to the park's U.S. 89/91 south boundary.

* Bearable Warnings

With Memorial Day Weekend here, the annual bear warnings are being issued by national parks with bears. Here's what the folks at Yellowstone National Park have to say about you and bears:

There has not been a bear-inflicted human injury in the park in more than two years. Recent media reports that global warming has caused park bears to become more aggressive in attacking visitors are unsubstantiated. In fact, the rate of bear-inflicted human injuries in the park has declined significantly from 175 injuries per million visitors in the 1930’s to less than one injury per million visitors in each of the last three decades.

All visitors to Yellowstone National Park should keep food and garbage stored in a bear-proof manner. Also, visitors should use roadside pullouts and stay in their cars while viewing roadside bears.

When hiking, stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more people, be alert for bears and make noise in blind spots. If you have a surprise encounter with a bear, slowly back away. If the bear charges, stand your ground and use your bear pepper spray.

Bear pepper spray has been highly successful at stopping aggressive behavior in bears. If a charging bear reacting defensively from a surprise encounter makes contact with you, fall to the ground on your stomach and “play dead.” If you are approached by a curious or predatory bear, as evidenced by a silent approach where the bear’s ears are erect, be aggressive and fight back if the bear attacks.


* It Floats, and It's Sustainable!

At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, a celebration is scheduled for June 6 at 1 p.m. to celebrate what's being called "the first floating building project in the world to be registered for LEED® certification," possibly a Gold rating. The building in question, which serves as the marina’s operations office for concessionaire Forever Resorts, features "sustainable modular construction and state-of-the-art energy-efficient and environmentally responsible materials and fixtures. Decking is made of a composite of rice hulls and recycled plastic and the exterior stucco is made of recycled tires. Use of low or no volatile organic compound materials, paints and adhesives will rid the building of the typical “new building” smell improving the overall indoor air quality."

“It was a visionary team made up of private industry and government led by our partner Forever Resorts that transformed this idea into action,” said Lake Mead Superintendent Bill Dickinson. “We’re setting the standard for eco-friendly floating buildings. There is no better place than in a national park to do that.”

* Gazing Overhead

The 21st annual Grand Canyon Star Party will be held from Saturday, June 18 through Saturday, June 25, on the South and North Rims of Grand Canyon National Park. This event is sponsored by the National Park Service, the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (South Rim), and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix (North Rim), with funding from Grand Canyon Association. Amateur astronomers from across the country will volunteer their expertise. Free slide programs will be offered; and numerous telescopes will be set up to view planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies at night and to view the sun by day. For more details, head over to this page.

* High Water And Campground Closures

Waters are running high at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where flooding along the Little Missouri River has closed the park's North and South unit campgrounds.

“The park is always open,” says Superintendent Valerie Naylor. “Even during our current flood events, the park scenic drives are open and visitors are enjoying the park.”

Both the Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit and Juniper Campground in the North Unit are closed due to significant flooding. The park’s website will have updated information as soon as the campgrounds are open.

“The campgrounds will reopen as soon as they can be cleaned up,” the superintendent said. “We won’t know the exact date until the waters have receded.”