It's Time to Book Your Summer National Park Vacation

It's only January, the Super Bowl has yet to be played, and the Rocky Mountain states are up to their necks in snow. Sooooooo, it must be time to book your summer national park vacation.

Winter Visits to the National Parks

Planning a national park visit during the winter months is not as easy as it might seem. Do you pack your long johns, or your swimsuit?

How Good is the Cross-Country Skiing at Acadia National Park?

Want in on a secret? Acadia National Park is not merely a three-season park. Indeed, winter can be quite wonderful in this maritime setting, as storms can coat Mount Desert Island with a layer of snow thick enough for cross-country skiing.

A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch

Grand Canyon; Owen Hoffman photo.
From the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, the first view of Phantom Ranch reveals that the trees, Fremont cottonwoods, do not know that it's winter.

Park History: Wind Cave National Park

Nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Wind Cave National Park preserves not only its namesake cave, but one of the last remnants of the mixed-grass prairie that once covered the majority of the Northern Plains.

Will Spring Bring Gorgeous Wildflowers to Death Valley National Park?

Spring 2005 in Death Valley National Park gained venerated status among flower lovers for its incredible wildflower blooms. Those blooms --dubbed the "bloom of the century" -- were trigged by heavy fall and winter rains that dumped nearly 6.5 inches of moisture on Death Valley. So, with 2008 starting out stormy in the West, how will Death Valley's blooms be this spring?

Park History: Capitol Reef National Park

Walking out of the visitor center at Capitol Reef National Park will be one of the most surreal experiences of your life, as you pass through a portal not only into a red-rock cathedral but also back into the past. The park is a pure slice of heaven in the desert, seemingly waiting for Irma to open up a pie stand.

Park Trips: Canyonlands National Park's Horseshoe Canyon

Off to the west of Canyonlands National Park proper, Horseshoe Canyon offers a fascinating trip back into prehistory, a time when nomadic tribes would follow the washes through the Southwest's canyon country from camp to camp.

Acadia National Park Offers Half-Price Deal For Annual Pass

If you live relatively near to Acadia National Park, you just might want to make a notation for Dec. 6 on your calendar. That's the day the park kicks off a 50-percent-off sale for its annual pass.

Park Trips: Paddling Into Yellowstone National Park

Slipping away from the Lewis Lake boat dock in Yellowstone National Park opens the door to a backcountry adventure few parks can match. Paddling, hiking, and hot springs are just part of the package.

Online Geothermal Inventory to Yellowstone National Park

I have yet to find someone not fascinated, if not mesmerized, by the geothermal features to be found in Yellowstone National Park. And now there's a great on-line resource to help "geyser gazers" track the park's geothermal resources without living the comforts of home.

Watching Wolves in Yellowstone National Park

Wolves seem to have a magnetic attraction on humans, at least the wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Wolf-related tourism has soared in the park since the wolf recovery program was launched in 1995, and it continues throughout the year.

A Springtime Visit to Denali National Park and Preserve: Is It For You?

Denali National Park and Preserve, with its soaring mountains, rushing rivers, and wildlife menagerie of moose, wolves, caribou, wolves, bears and more, is one of those tantalizing destinations within the national park system. Rooted in Alaska only 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle, it can seem almost mythical to those in the Lower 48 who don't normally roam far afield.

Quiet Time is Just Around the Corner at Acadia National Park

Most folks view Acadia National Park as a summertime destination, a place to head to to flee the Northeast's high heat and humidity in July and August to go in search of fresh lobster and popovers. It's a destination where you can relax in the pines listening to the crash of the surf. Clearly, that high season in the park has passed. But that doesn't mean Acadia is any less appealing during the winter.

Trekking to Dick Proenneke's Cabin in Lake Clark National Park

Self-reliance in the wilderness can be an intoxicating goal. Shucking society's masses, plights, and foibles for a perceived 'simpler' life in the backcountry can be a heady ambition. Dick Proenneke did it nearly 40 years ago, finding self-reliant comfort in the backwoods of Alaska in a place now known as Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

Jumping Off Bridge an Annual Tradition in New River Gorge

New River Gorge Bridge Day BASE Jumper; 'goldmember' photo via Flickr
Annually, on the third weekend of October, thousands of spectators watch over the course of the day as hundreds of BASE jumpers leap from the top of New River Gorge Bridge with the hope their parachutes take them safely to the river's shore, 876 feet below.

Commercial Tours Being Lined Up to Mark Civil War Anniversary

Alexander Gardner photo.
With the 150th anniversary of the launch of the Civil War in the offing, tour operators are lining up to explain the conflict to visitors of such parks as Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg National Military Park.

Fall's Brightest Colors Descending on National Parks

Cataloochee Creek against Fall's vibrant colors.
With Fall officially under way, it won't be too long before the season's most spectacular colors are daubed, stroked, and splashed across the national park system. The good news is that you haven't missed the peak yet. The bad news is that if you don't already have a room reservation, you probably won't find a vacancy in any of the well-known fall foliage parks.

Arches and Canyonlands In the Fall: Rock Architecture and Dwindling Crowds

Arches is one of the world's, not just one of the United States', most incredible national parks. Its rock architecture -- windows cut from stone, spindly arches longer than a football field, balancing rocks -- and desertscape are otherworldly. And fall is perhaps the best time to visit.

Is There Any Better Time to Visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton Than Fall?

Fall is one of my favorite times to head to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The aspen glades are igniting in gold, maples add a splash of rouge, the conifers a dense green background, and the sky overhead often is clear and blue. Animals are on the move as well, with the elk moving into their rut, bison heading to river bottoms, bears foraging to bulk up, and wolves following the bison and elk.

Interpretation on the Tallgrass Prairie

Blue Flower on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Owen Hoffman has just returned from a trip across Kansas. He has provided us with a detailed trip report from his visit to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The wide open skies and history of the area piqued his interest, but the interpretive program on-site left something to be desired.

10 Best Lodges in the National Parks

The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park; Jim Brekke photo.
It would seem to be an impossible task, to compile a list of all the lodges across the park system and figure out the 10 best. Well, someone has done it, although I'm not sure I agree with the results. Is your favorite on this list?

Mammoth Cave Offering Free Tour on August 25

If your schedule allows you to be in the vicinity of Mammoth Cave National Park on August 25th, you'll be able to go on one of the cave tour's for free in celebration of the 91st birthday of the National Park Service.

How Much is that Campsite--Update

As a follow-up to my post a month ago about Yosemite campsites winding up on Ebay, I've discovered that the folks in Sequoia don't allow the sale or transfer of backcountry permits.

Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail Ready for Hikers

Here's a sign things are getting back to normal at Mount Rainier: Repairs to the Wonderland Trail have made it possible for hikers to take to the 93-mile-long Wonderland Trail that wraps Rainier.

Hidden Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore

Entrance to the Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore
Hidden out of public view, behind the heads of Mount Rushmore is a room called the Hall of Records. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, envisioned a room to store America's most important documents. Time and money ran out before it could be completed, but part of his vision remains. Read on for more details and photos of the room.

Friends of Dick Proenneke

One of the more popular posts on the original National Parks Traveler was about Dick Proenneke, a modern-day mountain man if ever there was one who headed off to Alaska in 1967 to live in the wilderness. I often learned that folks discovered the Traveler site by Googling for Dick. Well, now there's a Yahoo! Groups page dedicated to him.

The Essential Bryce Canyon

Surrounded by southern Utah’s rugged wilderness, I’m confronted by, of all things, butterscotch. In a landscape of warm kaleidoscopic colors that change with the swinging of the sun, butterscotch currently is the color of the limestone ramparts that brought fame to Bryce Canyon National Park. And, I find as I plant my nose against the rough and rumpled bark of a 100-foot-tall Ponderosa pine, butterscotch is the unmistakable scent wafting from the tree.

Mammoth Cave Testing New Route to "Snowball Room"

In a bid to make the "Snowball Room" more accessible to park visitors, Mammoth Cave officials are testing a new route to the room located 267 feet underground. Instead of having to endure a 4-mile walk via the Grand Avenue Tour, this route involves a mile-long walk along mostly level ground.

Glacier's Shuttle System Rolling Along the Sun Road

Folks heading to Glacier can now let someone else do the driving once they reach the park. The park's Going-to-the-Sun shuttle system is now up and running and can drop you at a number of campgrounds and trailheads along the Sun Road.