Recent comments

  • The Unusual Story Behind Death Valley National Park's Popular Zabriskie Point   1 day 1 hour ago

    Great article! I'm going to have to put this place on my bucket list.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 1 hour ago

    An excellent discussion. Thanks for all to take time to contribute.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 8 hours ago

    The NPS has the copyright to "The" Arrowhead. Do they hold the copyright to the new logo(s)?


  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 8 hours ago

    Hi Lee Dalton -- my information is second hand. I joined right after the fight happened, and worked with a famous interpreter/trainer who once had been favored by Hartzog, but then as happened often with Hartzog he was dropped flat. Anyway, this colleague was still gloating over what he said was beating Hartzog over the logo issue. And, he seemed to have lots of buds from all around the System who all were plotting and fighting for the Arrowhead. I suppose it is possible bias distored his view, he had a reason to blame Hartzog it actually it was Stewart Udall alone. But his belief in the role of Hartzog still has me convinced, but i did not experience it personally.

    All this happened before the Nixon election i believe.

    The same guy who designed the NBC peacock logo designed the two for Udall and Hartzog. It was so typical of both men, who really thought just like so much of the Kennedy-Johnson era, that they were moving into a new age. Part of it was the idea that Interior would also take over the Forest Service, and become the Department of Natural Resources. That idea did last through the Nixon Admn, and was promoted by Secretary Morton in the 1970s. But Hartzog went too far, after Udall left, to direct rangers to remove the arrowhead from the uniform. The outrage was so great the decision was reversed before it was implemented, and Nixon's Sec Hickel did the same thing with the DOI symbol. But they made some spectacular park designs; I still have a copy of the poster for what is now Little Bighorn, showing a very artful freehanded sketch of a confused Custer and in the corner is the modern, now abandoned, logo.

    As far as technology is concerned, ever since Freeman Tilden the NPS has believed in meeting the visitor on her/his own terms, or 'where the visitor is.' I don't believe Tilden would object to any communications, as long as it did not interfer with the park experience of others. The other thing, of course is: parks are about PLACE. The experience of PLACE. The line is when the technology helps the experience of place, and the line is crossed when the technology replaces or obscures authentic places.

    Young advocates of technology understand all this, and make fun of geeks unable to emerge from their screens. Lee, just as your generation could laugh about the visitor who experienced the park through the lense of an SLR camera. But you didn't tell the person they could not bring in their camera. You trusted the power of the place to eventually bring many or even most people around. As long as it does not obstruct the experience of the place by other visitors, you let people grow at their own pace. Most learn. Some never do.

    I think Mundsy is largely right about the logo not being the main thing with a lot of the new media. And graphics on highway signs become less important as more people rely on GPS. But on the other hand even on the new media, corporations are extremely concerned about a strong consistent "look" to their site with high quality design. And, many tourists today, much more than even in the past, like to buy things from the places they visit. And, there are multiple audiences, with different needs and communications expectations. Smokiesbackpacker takes it to such an unlikely extreme it ignores the fact that a such an event WILL require materials and messages, and those messages WILL have some kind of design concept. Donors and funding sources NEED to receive proposal packages, and those packages NEED to have disciplined consistent design with a clear identity. Any large awareness campaign NEEDS to connect a visual identity with the awareness campaign. Ask Apple. Even if they had figured out a way to use the Arrowhead with no design mods, they STILL would need something, anything, distinctive TO THE CENTENNIAL to Americans and other visitors get a heightened awareness of the opportunity of the Centennial and the meaning of the Centennial (in the sense that Dr. Runte spoke of collective achievement).

    Thinking or saying that a campaign is motivated by personal benefit, by money from lobbying jobs is so vacuous and naive it makes me want to ask this question: "how would you spell 'oblivious'?"

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 10 hours ago

    d-2, a question.

    I was in Yosemite and later in Greenbelt Park, Maryland when the arrowhead / praying hands controversy was raging. My recollection from then was that it was Nixon who was pushing for the changes. Could it have been that Hartzog's public position (whatever it was), was forced by political pressure from the White House? Remember, it was not too long after this and a few other conflicts between Nixon's administration and George B. that Hartzog was dismissed.

    I'm not trying to argue here -- just asking.

    And I'm curious. You sound as if you really know what you're writing about. Can you clue us in to what your background is and where your knowledge comes from? Is it firsthand?

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 10 hours ago

    Agreed, Lee. It felt really good just to read insightful and constructive commentary.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 10 hours ago

    Hmmm. Mundsy and d-2, you have certainly given us (or me, at least) some real food for thought. Thank you.

    While reading d-2's comments, I thought of my youngest grand-daughters. 2, 5, and 8 who are bonded to electronic technology. Even the youngest simply blows me away when she gets busy with one of her parents' machines.

    Maybe one solution might be to make cell phones that smell like pine cones . . . .

    But thanks, both of you, for taking the time and effort to provide some comments that really add some new and thoughtful input into a place where perhaps too many of the comments come from a few entrenched old coots and young rebels who tend to think that our ways are the only ways -- SO THERE!

  • The Unusual Story Behind Death Valley National Park's Popular Zabriskie Point   1 day 13 hours ago

    Good question, and I didn't say :-) Sources I found didn't say either, but since the viewpoint predates the park, it seems likely the name was assigned by the company that built the viewpoint: Pacific Coast Borax, and the park just continued to use that previously established name. No real reason that I can see for the NPS to assign that name to the site after the area became a park.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 13 hours ago

    Here's the problem in a nutshell. I worked for the NPS for 10 years until I gave up and moved on. In those ten years, myself and other "youthful folk" would continuessly bring forth ideas to upper management to engage our younger audiences. They were always shot down by the old coots in charge. Now, I know you old school, crusty green and grayers out there don't want to hear this, but most of our ideas that were shot down, involved using technology. Because guess what??? Kids and young adults USE TECHNOLOGY. I know, I know, I know, that you don't want to hear that and you think they should turn off their cell phones and smell the pine cones, but they won't. Cell phones and tablets and what ever other gadget comes along is here to stay, and it doesn't matter how much you stomp and shout, it's not going away. The best way to get young people to smell the pine cones is to engage them on their own turf. That's through inovative uses of the latest technology and smart devices. Until the old crusty coots in charge stop wasting millions of dollars on redesigning logos as a way to reach younger audiences (really??) and start spending that money in a way that's actually useful, my beloved national parks will continue to slide into an oblivian of irrelavancy. I think the old saying, adapt or die is appropriate to use for this issue.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 13 hours ago

    Nothing is more thankless than dealing with opinions about logos, and new logo design.

    I have been involved in the development of several, and often the overwhelming onslaught of opinion is absurd in the extreme. I worked with one brilliant graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, who about 20 years ago was trying to guide some partners and NPS people through a logo review process, and i swear she was inches away from turning her back on any further dealings with park sentimentalists. Everyone was trying to cram all these literal doodles to mean different aspects of what they thought made the parks or preservation important. AND, of course, nobody agreed with anybody else's opinions, but you can be sure, all the opinions were deeply felt and banal. Our brilliant colleague from Harvard made all of us swear that we would NEVER put her through discussions about logos with non-designers AGAIN.

    1. It was George Hartzog, Lee, not Richard Nixon, who tried to change the NPS logo before. The arrowhead officially had not been around for much more than 10 years when he tried to find something simple and modern and strong to replace what looked to him and Secretary Udall as a design hodge podge, a collection of trinkets all encased within, inexplicably, an arrowhead. Hartzog and Udall went through the same storm of passion. At least at the end of that process the NPS ended up with the famous "grid" design for the park brochures, a design that has lasted for years and which by the way has many of the distinctive qualities of quality design missing in most of the NPS logo discussions.

    2. Gary Wilson and Dr. Runte are right. The most successful logos are not collections of trinkets, are not charm bradelets, are not billboards. The most successful, most recognizable logo in the World is the Coca-Cola "wave." There is nothing explicit on it. It is simple. It is distinctive. There are no trees on it, or people making or drinking coke, or nothing about Coke original ingredients or magic formula. Just the three-color Wave. This Coke logo enjoys vast world wild subliminal recognition. So, people in the NPS who think a successful logo must be chock full of literal statements of philosophy or identity Are. Plain. Wrong.

    3. Dr. Runte is also right that the real issue for the Centennial is the greatness of our collective achievement that is the park system. I would add, though, that the Centennial also should be about the greatness of the next exciting 100 years.

    4. The disaster of the Centennial under Director Mary Bomar was that it had no higher or collective purpose. It was a hodge podge of projects with no unifying theme. You would never know when it was 'achieved' and you knew it would never bring the parks to the next level. The greatness about Mission 66 was that everybody knew what the objective was. That is why it achieved its objective (even if you don't think park facilities even then should be the focus of the meaning of national parks, you must admit Connie Wirth and company had the necessary discipline and focus.

    5. Director Jarvis and his leadership group at the National Park Foundation have the same dilemma Bomar had: no big shot of federal money available if you don't lobby hard for it (and perhaps both good soldiers who feel they could not demand federal money at the level it would make a visible difference the way Connie Wirth did, or maybe they or their financial people lack the political imagination).

    What that means is they must depend on projects funded by, or at least partly funded by, partners. This does not necessarily mean what Dr. Runte fears, that "interest groups" will run away with the Centennial, and by extension with the promise of the next 100 years. Partners throughout the history of parks can be even more zealous than NPS professionals. Many of the parks were established only because of park partners. And today, from the repair of the Washington Monument to the preservation of great swaths of land around Acadia NP, partners often understand parks and put their own blood and money into parks at least as well as professionals.

    But, some 'special interests' of course are interested only in their own profit or exploitation of parks, so we all should understand Dr. Runte's fear. And the other, in some ways more realistic fear, that the National Park Foundation, on whom both Bomar and Jarvis lean, may lack the sort of magnificent vision, leadership and energy needed to captivate the whole Nation behind the National Parks and preservation programs. Or, the simple understanding that disciplined focus on one common theme for the next hundred years is essential to get past Bomar's unfocused hodge-podge.

    6. But, as a strategy we would all do better to be as positive as possible. If the parks belong to the whole Nation, then the whole nation has a right to join in. Everybody who supports parks, and many others who are not yet dazzled at the greatness of the park idea. It makes sense, in these times of "Think Globally, Act Locally" for Mr. Jarvis and the Foundation to identify 100 compelling projects that capture the promise of the next hundred years, even if each project is locally driven by local partners and park people.

    Provided, that is, that together they raise the parks and programs to the next level and with the strongest possible UNIFIED IDENTITY, point the way to a great future.

    We will all love the logos if the Centennial is the brilliant initiation of the future that the parks deserve. We will be thrilled. Lets pull together.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 15 hours ago

    Rick and Dr. Runte, your posts just made me realize that I've heard almost nothing about plans for the Centennial. Yeah, just what is planned?

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 15 hours ago

    Dr; Runte--I have been worried for a long time that the centennial will end up as nothing more than a brief celebration and little else. It should be a time when the NPS reflects upon its park areas and programs and establishes a clear vision for the future. I don't see much push in that direction in the centennial planning to date.

    As for the logo, count me in as one who dumps on it, also.


  • The Unusual Story Behind Death Valley National Park's Popular Zabriskie Point   1 day 20 hours ago

    Did I miss it or did you actually state by who and when the site was given the name of Zabriskie Point?

  • Lassen Volcanic National Park Considering Changes To Bumpass Hell Access   1 day 21 hours ago

    Well the preferred proposal would certainly lessen the visitor experience. It would create a longer hike to capture the whole area and would keep viewers far away from what I believe is the most interesting feature, the pyrite pool. Once again comes down to vistior experience vs resource protection.

  • Tracing The History Of National Park Service Emblems   1 day 21 hours ago

    Right, Jim. That emblem was emblazoned on our badges for a short time.

  • Tracing The History Of National Park Service Emblems   1 day 22 hours ago

    It's interesting to note that in 1968-69, the seal for the Dept. of the Interior also had a brief change to a "modern" design that is somewhat similar to the interlocking triangles shown above for the NPS. According to this history of the Department, that revised design represented "a stylized pair of hands framing symbols of the sun, mountains, and water was adopted to represent the department's diverse responsibilities.....[but] the modern abstraction (by a New York design firm) assaulted sentiment and tradition."

    As a result, there was a return to the more "traditional" seal that's in use today.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 22 hours ago

    I agree with Gary. A logo is not a billboard and certainly not a mural. What is pretty up big is rarely usable small. My concern about the centennial is not the logo but rather the events. Will they be predictable, bland, and PC or meaningful, stirring, and memorable? I suspect that the grousing about the logo has more to do with our suspicions there. We already see those insisting that we subdivide our great idea by interest groups. A centennial celebrating our collective wisdom and achievement is the last thing those folks have in mind. And so we dump on the logo. Well, let us have the courage to dump on the rest of it, too.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   1 day 22 hours ago

    No offense Kurt, I realize you probably haven't worked in the graphics and media world, but the acadia and rocky mountain logos wouldn't work very well in the print world where a logo has to be scaled out for usage on multiple different media materials, and then applied to countless souveniers. The logos are too busy and have too many colors. Try crushing those logos into a small space like what you see in the logo above that shows "National Park Foundation" and "National Park Service" where the logo is to the side and in a square less than 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch. Try crushing those onto a lapel pin that is only 1 inch by a 1/2 inch, or onto a mug that will only handle 4 colors on their printers. It would be completely unlegible in those formats and look like a blur.

    And Quillen, even if they spent 2 million on it, and turn around and sell 100 million worth of souviniers sold at 400 different sites, the parks will still reap benefits off of the initial investment.

    I'm not a fan of the blank arrowhead, but i'm sure they tried putting things in that space, and realized it would be better off blank, and they are trying to make the arrowhead the "icon". The arrowhead is an iconic symbol that does represent the parks. What's the alternatives? At best they may have fit "NPS" in the arrowhead, if you display it next to the words, as seen in the picture above. But then again what is more reconginzable to most people that have visited our parks, the arrowhead seen at most gate areas when you enter the park, or the words "NPS".

    They state in this very article that this doesn't replace the current traditional arrowhead with the buffalo, sequoia treeI and mountain backdrop. It's just a simplified version that is used when that logo doesn't work. And yes, when you scale that logo down, it doesn't look good since that logo itself is busy. If you are going to snipe, you better have some workable alternatives that make more sense.

  • Lassen Volcanic National Park Considering Changes To Bumpass Hell Access   1 day 23 hours ago

    I would enjoy knowing what kind of bird is singing at 2:07 to the end of video.

  • Tracing The History Of National Park Service Emblems   2 days 28 min ago

    Bob, are you sure George Hartzog wanted the triangles and cannon balls. As I remember it, it was Richard Nixon who wanted to "modernize" the entire government. Part of that campaign was to redesign the emblems of virtually all Federal agencies. I was under the impression that Hartzog tried hard to kill the triangles. In any event, down in the ranks, there was almost open rebellion. This emblem and the accompanying redesign of the Interior Department's emblem died a painful death not too long afterward.

    I was really amused about fifteen years ago when I visited Navajo National Monument and noticed the cannon balls and triangles pasted on their recycling cans. I asked at the VC and learned that someone had found the emblem in some old files and thought they were an old version of the current recycle image found today on those blue garbage cans. Those young puppies had never heard of Nixon's follies and thought the whole story was a real hoot.

    At the same time, Nixon tried to "modernize" the unforms of the guards at the White House. They looked like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. There was nearly an explosion at the White House. That didn't last very long either.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   2 days 34 min ago

    Spot on, Kurt. Those comments about the logo are eerily similar to the balderdash heard back in 1969 when Nixon tried to modernize the Arrowhead.

  • Traveler's View: National Park Service Logos Lack Creativity, Fail To Celebrate "America's Best Idea"   2 days 1 hour ago

    It is bland and empty. I want to know how much of our taxpaying money was spent with this ad firm. This is a classic example of why folks should not hand over money to the NPS. They are striving to entice Millenials into the parks and at the same time are raising fees to enter parks and dropping visitation in the process. But they are using fee monies on stupid, empty designs? This is Jarvis NPS and a perfect example of bureacratic logic. Perhaps his brother is now a lobbyist for the ad agency, who knows.

  • Sand Replenishment Work Coming To Golden Gate National Recreation Area   2 days 11 hours ago

    Geez Beachdumb give it a rest. There is nothing in any legislation other than the new ORV rule that sanctions ORV use in CHNS. Have all the recreation you want the old fashion way by Shank's mare.

  • Tri-Park Pass Lets You Enjoy Three Hawaiian National Park Gems   2 days 13 hours ago

    EC, check out the stuff in the Kipahulu rainforest area.

  • The Unusual Story Behind Death Valley National Park's Popular Zabriskie Point   2 days 14 hours ago

    Yeah, Jim. But isn't that true about almost any subject? I want to try to get back to DEVA perhaps in February or so. It's an incredible place.