Recent comments

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    When Grand Canyon's current superintendent, Steve Martin, was a young river ranger there, the NPS patrolled the river in oar-powered rafts. At one time, I believe they even had a dory. Too bad those days are gone. The management of the Colorado does not REQUIRE motorized boats, but it is easier that way.

    Rick Smith

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Steven M. Bumgardner
    Videographer/Producer

    Thanks, Kurt, for the tip of the hat.

    To answer your questions about how many, that's a set answer. Rafting the Colorado in the Grand Canyon is heavily regulated (http://www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/crmp.htm). My impression is that the largest impact of motor rafts is sound disturbance from the motors. All camps are below the high water line, and I must say that Wilderness River Adventures runs a tight ship, and we always left a spotless camp behind us.

    The idea of building trams to Half Dome or Grand Teton have actually been suggested in the past (of course, wilderness designation precludes such developments today), but of course, what you're talking about is development, creating new infrastructure that will persist 24/7. That's very different than a motor boat interrupting your serentity for the 5 to 10 minutes it takes for it to pass you.

    One final thought: The management of the Colorado requires the use of motorized boats, and on our trip, we passed 3 different NPS boats (all motorized), 2 USGS science trips (motorized) and an Arizona Fish & Game crew at the Little Colorado (about 6 motorized boats.)

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Tahoma -

    Thanks for the update. A week ahead of schedule for a project of this magnitude is pretty impressive!

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    First off, I was remiss in not identifying Steve as the videographer of the HD version. His works in Yosemite have shown up elsewhere on the Traveler and his eye has opened up much of the national parks to folks who otherwise might not have seen them.

    As for the "industrialization" comment, let me recount a short story. In college back in West Virginia I spent weekends guiding white-water trips on the Cheat and New rivers. Early on in that "career" our trips would have the rivers to ourselves. There were few other raft companies, and those that did exist were spaced out nicely so you could sense some solitude. By the end of my college days, these river trips had turned into what I've called Rubbermaid convoys, with one trip backing up behind another at the head of a rapid. The experience of being in a river canyon with a small group of people, the feeling of being out in nature, had been greatly diminished not only by the other trips in front and behind you, but by the associated pressure of having to race through the rapid so the next trip could do the same.

    Should Colorado River trips turn into that? How many engine-powered rafts carrying a dozen or more passengers charging down the river should there be? How does that impact the experience, let alone the resources (any idea how many groovers are needed for these commercial runs?)? How "easy" should these sorts of experiences be made for visitors?

    Should there be a tram to the top of Half Dome or the Grand Teton in the cause of allowing more folks to experience the view from atop those wonderful places? Or should they remain as they are, making your ascent that much more of an achievement?

    Those are tricky questions the Park Service has to balance in coming up with answers. But I fear that if we focus on perfecting the "ease" of enjoying these experiences that we'll lose something much, much more valuable.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I'm kind of with Scofield on this one IF the woman strayed off the marked trails deliberately. There are always accidents--animals fall, ground gives way, etc. But I too have no sympathy if someone steps over the safety area as if the warniing signs weren't even there. That's death, or injury, by stupid. "Deaths in Yellowstone" is a great book with some hair-raising stories of incredibly stupid people who think they're in Disneyland instead of a natioal park. But the story doesn't say why the woman fell, so let's give her the benefit of the doubt until we know more. If it was accident by stupid, then hell yeah she ought to reimburse the park service. If it wasn't, then thank God she lived.

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Steven M. Bumgardner
    Videographer/Producer

    As the person who shot and edited the footage of the motor powered raft, I'd like to share my thoughts. Floating down the Grand Canyon has always been a life goal of mine, and I was thrilled to have the chance last month when I picked up this freelance gig. I'd always assumed that I'd run the Colorado with my friends, in human powered rafts and kayaks, and I'm not the type to book a trip with one of the big river companies. Of course, to run 200 miles of river takes a big chunk of time, usually at least 3 weeks, and of course, most people (except retirees and the unemployed) don't have that much vacation time. A 7 day power raft trip does allow a lot of people to have this amazing experience. It probably isn't as powerful of an experience that a longer, human powered trip would be, but let's compare that with the South Rim. We seem to accept that it's okay for 3-4 million people to drive there and peek over the edge. Perhaps they should all walk there? The South Rim is far more industrialized (Railroads, buses, old power plants, uranium mines, etc.) than the river corridor.

    Personally, I think Powell would have preferred a nice, big S-Rig w/ a 60 horse Honda outboard motor, but instead, he used the tools he had.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Steven M. Bumgardner
    Videographer/Producer

    Maybe everyone should just stay home. They might fall in the canyon, or get in a car wreck, and then cost taxpayers money. It's just not worth it! Let's sell the land to developers, or build dams to generate power, or dig up the minerals and start getting a return on investment from these "National Parks" instead of just providing places where generations of people can connect with their natural and cultural heritage. After all, even though millions of people visit the South Rim each year, it's just not worth the cost of rescuing the one or two who were moved by the power of the place to get a little closer than they should have.

  • How Familiar Are You With Yosemite National Park?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Years ago -- too many to remember -- Sandy and I were on a flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco. I had gotten myself a fine window seat on the port side of the plane, and there I sat with camera poised, ready to get some great photos of the Sierras. As I was about to take the first photo, the pilot came on the intercom to tell those of us on the port side of the plane that we should keep a sharp eye out for the space shuttle. By coincidence, it happened to be headed for a landing at whatchamacallit airbase in southern California at that exact moment. (I can't remember if it was landing there because of bad weather in Florida or what.) We didn't spot the space shuttle, darn it, so I had to settle for some pretty good photos of the Sierras.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I might have gone with a different title for this article. Tourists are already a little too comfortable near the edge of the Canyon.

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    This article title appears at first glance to indicate a volcanic eruption in the canyon... Perhaps Rafting Lava Falls, would convey the point better?

  • Body Recovered in Grand Canyon National Park; Thought to Be That Of Missing Hiker   5 years 16 weeks ago

    He should not have been alone.

  • How Familiar Are You With Yosemite National Park?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Yay Yosemite!!
    Yay SEKI!!!
    Have a good weekend :)

  • SUV Goes Over The Rim Near Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 16 weeks ago

    [The last sentence should read] "They reported that the vehicle had been left in neutral."

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Wow. I am just glad she is ok! Sure, she should have been more careful toward the edge, but how many taxpayer dollars that were spent and/or if a ticket was issued should be the least of anyone's concerns. Maybe R Scofield needs to think about his priorities.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 16 weeks ago

    How much did that cost the taxpayers? When someone has to use the rescue personnel do they get a ticket or a fine? The Park Service goes to great lengths to provide safe and attractive overlooks. Sure the view is more spectacular closer to the edge, but it is not so pretty on the way down.

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I say we put the wooden canoes back on the river and let Humphrey Bogart captain one. That would make a great movie. Wait that's already been done. Never mind.

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Oh, for heaven's sake. Industrialized? I am hard pressed to believe that an outboard motor in the muddy Colorado threatens to impair Grand Canyon. For that matter, it's an act of wild projection to suppose that Powell would somehow be offended at the thought of an easier trip down the Colorado.

    If motors offend, take a paddle tour. If rafts offend, take a dory. But let's not get our knickers in a twist just because more customers prefer the safety and relative ease of a motorized trip.

  • How Familiar Are You With Yosemite National Park?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Many years ago Delta had an early AM flight from Fresno to Reno using an old beat-up 727. I flew on it many times when I lived in Fresno and was working on a project in the Reno area. The flight passed over Yosemite just above the minimum allowed altitude, so the view was spectacular. Each time the pilot would make a brief announcement about it, then he would dip the right wing way down as he flew over to allow a better view from the windows. It was almost like a sight seeing flight!

    Most south to north flights from the LA area to Sacramento, Reno, and Oregon allow excellent views (assuming clear weather) of Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. Get a window seat on the right side of the plane.

  • How Familiar Are You With Yosemite National Park?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Southwest often flies right over the park on the ONT to SMF route. Be sure to get a window seat on the mountain side and you can also get some good views of SEKI!

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Yes, industrialization is a good term to discribe the concessions services that have the lions share of summer access to the river today. Powell, who was the only person on his first trip with a lifejacket floating in a very tippy boat and who was traveling down the "great unknown" missing a hand, just might be aghast. The Colorado river in Grand Canyon has become commercialized and motorized. Powell might just tell us that in order to make sure we manage our National Parks "...in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations." we need to re-visit how the river is managed today. Yours, Tom

  • Interior Secretary Plans Free Weekend Entry to National Parks to Boost Tourism   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Here are the NPS units where fees are prohibited. I believe that Great Smoky Mountains NP was created at least partially with donated land that came with deed restrictions against entrance fees.
    16 USC 6802(d)(3)
    (C) The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Independence National Historical Park, any unit of the National Park System within the District of Columbia, or Arlington House-Robert E. Lee National Memorial.
    (D) The Flight 93 National Memorial.
    (E) Entrance on other routes into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or any part thereof unless fees are charged for entrance into that park on main highways and thoroughfares.
    (F) Entrance on units of the National Park System containing deed restrictions on charging fees.

    Note that all of the legislatively free Parks are in the eastern part of the country. I've never understood why everything in Washington DC is free but I have to pay $25 to see the Grand Canyon.
    In the news coverage on this issue, the NPS spin is that since fees never have been a deterrent, they don't expect much change in visitation on the free days. I think they are wrong, but how to find out for sure? I plan to go to a Park near me on two consecutive Saturdays, one free and one not, and count how many private vehicles enter between 9 and 11 am. If anyone out there is interested in joining this little informal experiment, please contact me at

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 16 weeks ago

    The Hood Canal bridge re-opened June 5, a week ahead of schedule.

  • House Approves Measure to Direct North Cascades National Park to Stock Barren Lakes. What Do You Think?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    What part of "non-native" do some people not understand ? If Mother Nature didn't put it there, man shouldn't. Can't we humans learn from our past mistakes ?

    I always heard that one main thing that made man superior to all other mammals (and I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement, by the way) was his ability to take facts and reason with them. Look at all our past mistakes with non-native plants, animals, fish and reptiles. Learn from these mistakes !

  • Updated: Coal Mine Proposed North Of Glacier National Park Strains US-Canadian Relations   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Hmm....maybe now we are starting to be treated by Canada how we treat Mexico. What happens upriver does have a huge impact on those down the river.

  • SUV Goes Over The Rim Near Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 17 weeks ago

    [The last sentence should read] " had failed to be applied" Who is kidding who?