Not all stories have to have a hard edge to them to be considered nicely done. What follows are some 2011 stories from, or revolving around, the National Park System that we liked for what they had to say, or how they had to say it, or what we learned from them. We hope you enjoyed them, too.
As a Federal Agent, Carter Niemeyer Killed Wolves For a Living
Carter Niemeyer has had a hand in killing more American wolves in the Lower 48 states than any wildlife manager in modern history. In the following interview, he discusses his book, "Wolfer," and offers his thoughts on the current state of wolves and wolf management in the RockyMountains.
Hiking the Appalachian National Scenic Trail: It Takes More Heart Than Heel
Do you have the right stuff to hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail next year? It's not about the right gear but as Grandma Gatewood said, "it takes more heart than heel."
Birding in the National Parks: Where Are All The Kittlitz's Murrelets Going?
Data being gathered to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decide whether the Kittlitz's murrelet should have Endangered Species Act protection shows an alarming direction in the species' population trend.
National Park History: The Register of Yo-Semite Valley
Now a prized possession of the Yosemite Museum, the guest register of the Cosmopolitan Bathhouse & Saloon is a treasure trove of information about early Yosemite tourism.
Taking the Long Way Home, Through Yellowstone National Park
Being able to drive through Yellowstone National Park on your way home isn't something many of us are fortunate enough to be able to do. But Contributing Writer Todd Wilkinson is one who is, and what he saw on his ride home the other day is something to evoke some jealousy.
Is The Time Right For A "Maine Woods" National Park?
Inspired in no small measure by others who gave so much to the National Park System, Roxanne Quimby is offering 70,000 acres for a national park embracing Maine's North Woods.
Bear Watching Mayhem In Yellowstone And Grand Teton National Parks
Bears in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks have been in the news a bit this summer, both because of their behavior and the behavior of tourists watching the bears. The following column by Todd Wilkinson will have you scratching your head over how there haven't been more bear-human incidents this summer.
Persistent Pedestrians: Bears In Big Bend National Park
Black bears, once thought to be long gone from Big Bend National Park, have been on the comeback, though the recent drought could create problems for the small population, as Meghan Hicks has learned.
Musings From Cape Lookout National Seashore
Younger, and rougher, than its older neighbor, Cape Lookout National Seashore offers the quintessential seashore experience, one set amid waving sea oats, crashing surf, and the cries of shorebirds.
Savor The Gifts That Are Grizzly No. 399 & Clan In Grand Teton National Park
What’s the value of a grizzly bear? For far more people than not, few things in this age of avatars surpass the thrill of seeing a grizzly bear family in its native element. The story of Jackson Hole grizzly No.399, who emerged from the den this year with her second troop of triplet cubs in half a decade, speaks to another kind of worth. It says something about us.
Preserving History At Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Creaking on the tides under the weight of its three masts and 55 miles of rigging, the Friendship is a floating reminder of a time when the upstart United States laid a commercial claim to the high seas.
A Weekend Well-Lived: Trail Running In Death Valley National Park
You can find trail runners in more than a few national parks these days, and Death Valley National Park, with its wide-open spaces and roads running through tight canyons, is a spectacular draw for those looking for great scenery and solitude on their runs, as Meghan Hicks and her friends discovered earlier this year.
Study Points To Value Of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem For Wolverines
A four-year search for wolverines in Yellowstone National Park and the ecosystem neighboring the eastern half of the park detected surprisingly few of the carnivores, but concluded that the park has increasingly valuable habitat that could help the species avoid extinction in the contiguous United States.
Ruminating on Unexploded Ordnance, Climate Change, and Maintaining Winter Access To Yellowstone National Park
One doesn't typically worry about coming across an unexploded howitzer round when visiting a national park. But it could happen at Yellowstone National Park.
Reflecting on the "State Of the National Parks" In the Wake of National Park Week
Handling endangered and threatened species and off-road vehicles, scalping campsite reservations, and the interpreting of parks by smartphone are among the things to wonder about in the wake of National Park Week.
How Stable Is The Future Of Island Royale National Park's Wolf Population?
Inbreeding, gender woes, and even climate change could be conspiring to doom the future of Isle Royale National Park's wolf population.
Voices From A Drowned Treasure: The Music Temple Register
In the early 1960s, the rising waters of Lake Powell permanently submerged Music Temple, one of Glen Canyon's most spectacular side canyons. Fortunately, the remarkable site's visitor register was moved to safety.
Inn Step With Asheville, The Blue Ridge Parkway's Premier Place to Pause
Even if you don’t explore the Blue Ridge Parkway’s miles of easy “leg-stretcher” trails, this meandering, 45-mph-motor-trail delivers the explosive bloom of Appalachian spring right through the windshield.
Kicking Off National Park Week By Getting Dirty At Joshua Tree National Park National Park
Week arrived in Southern California with hot, dry, sunny weather, and a volunteer effort indicative of the good that can be done for national parks when the need is demonstrated.
Finding Proper Museum And Curatorial Space in the National Park System
Across its sprawling system, the National Park Service is noticeably short of adequate museum display space and curatorial facilities. But the agency has a plan to address that.
Musings From Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has taken on a somewhat dark connotation since park Ranger Kris Eggle was killed by drug runners in August 2002. While some parts of the park remain off-limits to casual tourists, and researchers are suggested to go into the field accompanied by security, guest writer Lee Dalton found the park fascinating during a February visit.
A Walk Around Alaska, the Andrew Skurka Story
What could possibly inspire someone to circumnavigate Alaska, traveling 4,678.8 miles by foot, ski, and inflatable raft? For Andrew Skurka, the challenge was both physical and mental and an underlying desire to "take advantage of the 70, 80 years that I've got on this planet."
Grand Canyon "State Park"? A Look Back at the 1995 Government Shut Down and the Battle Over the Grand Canyon
Back in 1995, the last time the federal government shut down over a budget impasse, then-Arizona Gov. Fife Symington showed incredible moxie by trying to engineer a state takeover of Grand Canyon National Park.
"Lost" Petroglyphs Rediscovered At Virgin Islands National Park
Armed with photos from an old roll of film and the location of some of Virgin Islands National Park's best-known petroglyphs, park archaeologist Ken Wild set out with volunteers to solve a mystery.
The Gate Lodges of Acadia National Park
The natural scenery of Acadia National Park is well-complemented by the architectural amendments built by those who laid the path for the national park's being. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who gave so much to the National Park System, gave Acadia 45 miles of "carriage roads" so he could enjoy touring the interior of Mount Desert Island without competing with autos. Along with the carriage roads, he instructed his workers to build two "gate lodges" at entry points to the roads.
The National Park System's Cultural-History Wing
The National Park System units that were established to preserve and interpret nationally significant cultural-historical resources act in concert to "tell America's story." One might argue, in fact, that this is their mission boiled down to its essence. If it can be said that the nature-based parks exist to preserve hallmark features of this country's physical inheritance, the cultural-historical parks exist to help us understand, appreciate, and remember what American culture is and how it got to be that way.
Bison, Pine Nuts, Trout And Grizzlies: Perfect Storm For Yellowstone's Wildlife Managers?
Yellowstone National Park's northern range at times has been labeled "America's Serengeti" for the rich and diverse wildlife that inhabits it. But today, with native trout imperiled by non-native predators, whitebark pine trees falling to climate change, and bison being cut off from valuable winter habitat and at times slaughtered, is the ecosystem unraveling?
Visions of Civil War Flying Machines At Petersburg National Battlefield
If nothing else, Roderick Davidson stirred the hopes of at least some of the Confederate troops defending Richmond in late 1864 and early 1865 with his "Artis Avis," a flying machine he believed could save the South.