Observant readers of the Traveler no doubt noticed some new sponsors and advertisers who believe in our mission to nurture advocates and stewards for the National Park System while exploring how best to get the most out of the park experience.
National Parks Traveler is wholly reliant on both our modest membership fees and the support of groups and businesses such as Washington's National Park Fund, Friends of Saguaro National Park, and Treks West Tours. There's definitely a bit of symbiosis going on here. Friends groups are increasingly important to support the mission of the National Park Service, while outfitters can help you get the most out of exploring a park landscape you're unfamiliar with.
Friends of Saguaro, which was founded in 1996, earns top marks for how it spends its donations. In 2013, for instance, 85 percent of its income went back into Saguaro National Park programs, not into overhead or additional fund-raising. That work might include mountain lion or desert tortoise research, cultural resources preservation, or paying for microchips that are embedded into saguaro cacti with hopes of discouraging theft of these magnificent plants. As for future park stewards, the friends group allocates funds to help bring Tuscon school children into the park.
In the Pacific Northwest, Washington's National Park Fund works for the good of not just one, but three national parks in Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades. This organization, which has drawn kudos for its transparency, has helped underwrite a marmot monitoring program at Olympic, support the volunteer program at Mount Rainier, and rebuild trails and campsites in North Cascades. In just five years -- from 2007 to 2012 -- the Fund donated $1.4 million for projects and programs in the three parks.
"Big Bend is like visiting three parks in one, it combines the Chihuahuan Desert, the Chisos Mountains, and the Rio Grande into an experience like no other!" says owner Brian Wrabley. "We partake of all three environs, as we hike, and horseback ride in the desert and the mountains, and raft in the deep canyons of the Rio Grande!
"Moab, Utah, is the No. 1 place in America for outdoor recreation, sandwiched between Arches and Canyonlands national parks, and with the Colorado River flowing right through town! We explore both parks in depth, and see first-hand some of the finest natural sculpturing mother nature ever created."
We encourage you to check out these organizations as well as the others that help make it possible for you to read the Traveler. You can spot them in the right-hand column.