Recent comments

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 19 weeks ago

    What's missing from the summit of Half Dome is the view of Half Dome itself! My favorite overlook in Yosemite National Park is Glacier Point. In fact, I believe the best view of Half Dome is obtained from this vantage point. For a view of Half Dome without crowds, try signing out for a scramble/climb up the old Glacier Point Ledge Trail above Camp Curry. The views are terrific along this steep hike, but watch out for falling rock. This hike most definitely is not for everyone, which is why it is now classified as a registered climb.

    At Zion, Angel's Landing offers a fantastic view of the mouth of Zion Canyon. I would also rate as outstanding the view from the top of the geological formation known as the Rockville Bench south of the Virgin River above the towns of Springdale and Rockville, below and just to the west of the Eagle Crags, looking north into the mouth of Zion Canyon at early sunrise or just prior to sunset. This viewpoint is accessible by car, but requires driving on dirt roads once crossing the Virgin River at Rockville. Another viewpoint worth mentioning is the Canyon Overlook. A one-mile trail ends at the top of the Great Arch of Zion with a view into Oak Creek Canyon, the Temples and Towers of the Virgin, the Alter of Sacrifice, the Beehives, and the Great West Temple. This walk is well worth the effort. It's best taken early in the morning to observe the change of color on the red and whilte cliffs with sunrise.

    At Crater Lake, my favorite is the view over the lake prior to sunset from the top of the Watchman, watching the shadow of Wizard Island extend across the lake. As the sun sets in the west, the full moon rises over the eastern horizon near Cloud Cap and Mt. Scott. The overview from the summits of Mt. Scott, Garfield Peak, and Dutton Cliff are also worth mentioning. The hike to the top of Dutton Cliff requires cross-country hiking through pumice. The summit of Dutton Cliff is an abrupt drop off with a view directly upon the sails of the Phantom Ship. After hours at Crater Lake, any place along the rim offers an unforgettable view of the great caldera and the brilliant starry night sky, with the Milky Way seen in its full glory at this time of the year.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Sierra Club Caught Standing Atop Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    The ultimate goal of the sierra club is to make all lands off limits to the public why else are the supporting radical plans like the WILDLANDS project i mean its founder JOHN MUIR was a biased extremists if they get their way the land will be off limits to hikers,campers,equestrians,mountian bikers,nature enthusists,birdwatchers, and everyone who enjoys the great outdoors

  • Jon Jarvis Questioned During His Confirmation Hearing On Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    "The National park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations."
    Thus while part of the mission of the Park Service is to allow "enjoyment and benefit" to the people, the trick is to provide that identical "enjoyment and benefit to "future generations". Someone one hundred, or two hundred years from now must be able to enjoy the park "unimpaired". This is a very difficult task considering the multitudes of people who "enjoy" our parks every year. Most concerned only with their own "enjoyment".
    Once any road goes in or building goes up, can we truly say that that part of the park is "unimpaired"? When vistas are blocked by air pollution or by hundreds of people munching icecream cones in front of a general store and huge parking lot, where once elk grazed in a meadow, can we say that it is "unimpaired"?
    Seems like, if you look at how much we have already changed most parks in the name of "enjoyment and benefit" in just the last hundred years, there is little hope for the visitor two hundred years from now. What our parks need is a shift toward more of the "preserves" part of that statement. Maybe Mr. Jarvis could lean us in that direction.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Pinnacles NM is developing a new management plan right now. The time for comments from the public was one year ago. They offered three alternative management principles as can be seen in the public newsletter from August 3 2008: http://www.nps.gov/pinn/parkmgmt/upload/PINNGMPnewsletter3_alternatives_webversion.pdf

    There the three alternatives were: Research and Learning, Backcountry Experience, and Disneyl^WEnhanced Visitor Experience. The fourth option is is to continue the park management as is. In the newsletter you can find maps that visualize how those guidelines would affect the use of park land.

  • Jon Jarvis Questioned During His Confirmation Hearing On Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Jon is a pragmatist. He is politically astute and knows that falling on one's sword in a hopeless cause accomplishes little. I expect him to be an effective director.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Right now, access to much of Pinnacles is limited - not even by foot - to minimize impacts to condor breeding and foraging areas and the whole monument is closed to overnight backpacking. And this I feel is a good thing, but if it is given "Park" status, I'm not certain but I thought there are some requirements to provide more public accessibility. This might be one instance where "Monument" status may actually provide more protection than "Park" status.

  • Jon Jarvis Questioned During His Confirmation Hearing On Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Jon Jarvis pointed out to the committee that he refused to close the support offices in Pacific Region. As Director of the National Park Service, I believe Jon Jarvis will order that the Boston Support office remain open.

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Anon: I live just outside the north gate of Yellowstone and am very familiar with Yellowstone in the winter. When I suggest "hop on, hop off" I mean, of course by individuals prepared for the winter cold such as someone going for a snowshoe/ski. They already have a coach that takes skiers to Indian Creek Campground and drops them off so they can ski back to Mammoth. What if I want to ski around Norris or some other area at my own pace? The coach to Norris is a tour.....everybody stay together, we leave in x number of minutes. With hop on, hop off, you could choose to wait for the next coach which would run every hour or so, with an extra empty coach before dark. Of course no one would be allowed to "hop off" in a blizzard or dressed in flip flops and a tank top! If people can be "trusted" to dress properly for hours on a snowmobile, I think they could be trusted to dress properly for a couple of hour snowshoe up to Virginia Cascade!

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 19 weeks ago

    There are several warnings on the trail to the top of half dome which inform hikers not to attempt to summit if there are any clouds on the horizon. The mountains have their own weather system, anyone who works in Yosemite Valley or lives there (such as professional rock climbers who scale the face of El Capitan and Half Dome routinely) knows how quickly the weather changes up there. A lot of the people who are attempting to hike to the top aren't completely prepared or aware of the dangers, that is why the signs are there. If you start at sunrise (which is recommended), you eliminate the bottle-neck on the cables - especially if you arrive before LUNCH TIME. There are a lot of people who have NO BUSINESS on those cables, endangering the lives of others - because they are AFRAID OF HEIGHTS and scared to MOVE UP OR DOWN. This weekend one guy was laying across the cables & wood plancks near the top, which stopped all movement on the cables for over 15 minutes. On the way down, a young girl who was "scared of heights" was attempting to slide down on her butt while her mom encouraged her. RIDICULOUS

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    If it does not hamper the environment, it's great. The environment friendly measures are surely the right choices to be implemented.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The "....great potential for tourism revenue” is most likely the primary driving force behind the movement to make a National Park of Pinnacles National Monument. That is sad, reprehensible, and despicable. It would be a giant step toward commercialization. JF

  • World's Wildlife Populations Are Struggling Despite Global Pledges to Protect Biodiversity   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Corporate America and Wall Street needs to take away the side eye blinders and take a hard look at the huge environmental damage that they have created here at home and abroad. Who's hands are on the chain saw, who's shoveling away the pristine mountain tops to get more coal, who's drilling into are oceans and wanting more coastal shorelines for more oil rigs, who wants more utility lines and mining done next to are national parks? Of course, it's corporate America, which to satisfy Wall Streets huge appetite for more greed and profit. Rape, greed and profit is the long standing motto of corporate America. Let's see them put 25% of there profits towards world conservation projects and show a true commitment in wanting to save the world species from near extinction. Please, no more fancy bill board commitments, or phony T.V. advertisements that displays a sugar coated concerns about saving the environment. But, a hard and honest display of true conservation stewardship in saving are world resources from holistic exploitation. Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and E.O. Wilson have it right...not Wall Street!!

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I live in Wyoming and have been to Yellowstone in winter - both riding a snowmachine and taking the snowcoach and staying overnight at Old Faithfull.
    Snowmachines are not the same as cars - they are much noisier and have far more emissions - even the new ones. The sled-heads I know enjoy off-roading and high speeds - neither are allowed in the park. There are lots of places nearby in both Wyoming and Montana where sledheads can find all the untracked powder they want. Frankly, putting along on a snowmobile at 35 miles per hour along the road in Yellowstone for hours and hours is dull - and if travelling with friends, conversation and exchange is very limited unless you stop constantly. In a snowcoach you can converse and share the sights with each other, and if you want to stop the drivers are quite willing.
    At Old Faithful, there is incredible relief felt when the last noisy snowmachines head for home (by late afternoon in order to beat the dark and extreme cold) and quiet and clean air descend on the park.
    What people need to realize about Yellowstone in winter is that the place is so vast, and the climate so harsh, that visitors hopping on and off a snowcoach would be flirting with hypothermia before the next one came along. If you stay overnight, you can get out at anytime you want to and take all the photos you like at your own pace.
    Yellowstone in winter is incredible - the cold makes the thermal features even more exquisite - with each flying drop of expelled hot water trailing a thin line of steam that hangs even longer in the cold air. The quiet of the snow covered landscape makes every sound seem amplified - whether the huff of a bison or the angry whine of a snowmachine. I suspect that most visitors would prefer to hear the former.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Bat points out that the human population has increased over the last 2000 years and implies that population and/or population growth causes global warming. This is also another correlation, which does not imply causation. It's another oversimplification.

    Again, the system is highly complex, and there are multiple variables, of which humans are one. The sun is another large variable, and NASA is now saying that a Dalton Minimum repeat is possible: "'Still, something like the Dalton Minimum — two solar cycles in the early 1800s that peaked at about an average of 50 sunspots — lies in the realm of the possible,' Dr. Hathaway [a NASA solar physicist] said." Hat tip to Watts Up With That?

    And this is just one of many significant variables.

    The future, and Earth's climate, are very tricky things.

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    This same issue has occurred everytime the NPS has attempted to move people from their personal vehicles to mass transit. The business community around the parks screams that no will come to the parks if they can't drive into parks in their own cars/ snow machines. This happened in Zion, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Denali when they first proposed mass transit systems to handle the massive congestion. It each case the businesses have been able to adjust and prosper. Having experienced both Zion and the Grand Canyon at their summertime peak travel via automobile and via the mass transit systems I'll take the efficiency of mass transit any time over being stuck in a traffic jam and waiting over 30 minutes for a parking space to open as happened to me in Zion one summer. For years I personally refused to visit the Grand Canyon or Zion during peak season UNTIL they instituted their bus systems.

  • World's Wildlife Populations Are Struggling Despite Global Pledges to Protect Biodiversity   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The loss of global biodiversity is truly tragic and extremely concerning. The rate species are going extinction is phenomenal - and frightening. Indeed, it is being termed "The Seventh Great Extinction" ranking alongside other periods of enormous loss of life on earth. This goes far beyond the so-called "background extinction rate" that is within the envelop of normal specie loss by a factor of thousands. What must be kept in mind that humans do not exist apart from nature. We are part of the web of life. As strands break and disappear the entire web becomes more precarious.

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The "public" is already "shut out" of the interior of Yellowstone in the winter (the northern road between Cooke City Mt. and Gardiner Mt. is plowed and open to all). The interior is open only to those rich enough to afford the several hundred dollars that it costs per person to rent a snowmobile and a professional guide. Even a snowcoach ride into Old Faithful and back runs several hundred dollars for a family of four. In other words, for the vast majority of every day folks......Forgeta 'bout it!
    What they should do is eliminate snowmobiles altogether (which polls have indicted the vast majority of people would like to see happen); and increase snowcoaches with fares that the average person could afford. By getting rid of snowmobiles and funneling the additional volume into coaches, it should be possible to bring prices down dramatically. Coaches could then become "kangaroo" (hop on, hop off) rather than just tours (or you could offer both, such as they do with summer busses in Denali).

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Snowmobile use in Yellowstone should be completely banned for the following reasons. Despite being told to stay on the existing roads, snowmobilers can and do go off-road into the backcountry. This does two things. It stresses out the wildlife that are trying to survive the brutal Yellowstone winter and it creates an unbelievable amount of noise and pollution that should not be tolerated in a National Park whether on or off-road. There are plenty of Yellowstone visitors in winter who agree with me. When the National Park service asked for public input on this matter, the overwhelming response was ban or greatly limit snowmobile use in Yellowstone. The National Parks in this country deserve the highest level of preservation, which means eliminating activities such as snowmobiling.

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    What are we to think when a U.S. senator brands Jon Jarvis, a highly respected regional director of the National Park Service, as representing "the extreme policies of the Obama administration"?

    The answer, of course, is that the political pendulum has swung, and those who enjoyed the Bush years are already lamenting the Obama years.


    Kurt, no sooner do I pledge to cool my political grandiloquence on this web site, then do you throw this temptation before me. It's Sunday morning, I want to relax and not be aggravated, so I refuse to read any further of this post than these two sentences.

    All I will do is thank God once again that those lamenting the Obama years have occasion to do so. Imagine the heads of the EPA, the Department of the Interior, and, yes, the regional director of the National Park Service, actually caring about the missions for which their agencies were created. It's wonderful.

    ;-)

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Permit me to add one I just visited: the Visitor's Center in Utah's Cedar Breaks National Monument. An absolutely stunning vista overlooking The Amphitheater, one of the truly great viewpoints that isn't well known among the average tourist. For my money, it rivals anything the Grand Canyon offers.

  • Comment Period Reopens on Whether National Park Visitors Can Arm Themselves   5 years 20 weeks ago

    It is not my desire to debate the sensitive second amendment, but it is important for me personally to communicate how much I would appreciate the choice to carry a weapon in a Federal or National State Park.

    I am not a hunter, a NRA member nor ex-military or law enforcement. I am however, one who was raised to respect and use guns for target practice, etc. Respecting the taboo position of much of the country, my family and friends I repressed my desire to own any guns. This changed quickly after being attacked by a bear while camping with my unarmed family and being taunted by a large animal for hours. I have since made it a priority to always be armed while camping or hiking remotely and while at home my weapon is securely locked away. It confuses me however, that in New Mexico, I can legally carry a weapon on my hip - without a permit (aside from within a school or facility selling alcohol) but if I were to go hiking in the surrounding mountains that are known for mountain lion attacks and heavy black bear activity - it is illegal.

    Yes, this should be open for debate and while laws should remain in place concerning hunting and or poaching I see little reason why Americans shouldn't have right to bear arms responsibly in this environment.

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    In response to Leland22: I've been to Yellowstone a few times, full week couple of them, Spring through Fall. I've also used the bus system in both Zion & Denali (lived in Fairbanks, AK couple years, now Colorado). I say this just so you know I've experienced some of the same things you have. I agree a bus system wouldn't work so well in Yellowstone (& that Denali's is pretty good), but I think you might be making some assumptions that should be clarified before any conclusions are made. I have not been into Yellowstone during the winter either (also on my list), but I do know that pollution - noise & otherwise - is different in winter than summer. Noise tends to carry farther, combustion pollution can hang closer to the ground & accumulate. I do not know if this plays into the test results, but it is a question to ask/consider. Additionally, do the snowmobiles have to stay on the road? I ask because the only time I have ever seen snowmobiles on the road was in Fairbanks. All other snowmobiles I've seen have been off-road. Again, just asking for clarification. As to limiting "human interaction" by "certain groups" - seems to me they're limiting use of certain machines, but not saying certain groups of people are banned - just how they enter/move around. I'm not saying I'm for or against - but I am in favor of keeping a balance between our use, & keeping the parks healthy enough for us to want to 'use'. If they say I can't drive my car in, but provide another means of access, then I'm willing to make the 'sacrifice'. But then again, I'm also willing to get out & walk, to really appreciate the nature. All-in-all, from what I've seen in the couple dozen or so National Parks I've been to, the goal has not been to keep people out, it has been to try to find the balance between the 'nature' they're charged to protect, & letting us experience it, as the people they are charged to protect it for... I guess I agree with Kurt's final paragraph - would it be the end of the world to put the limits on, communities will evolve to make money on whatever the change is (we seem to be very good at that), & there are better ways to spend all the money going to lawyers, etc. But then again, I also lean toward less rhetoric, & more science, so...

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Pinnacles National Monument is gorgeous and the talus caves make it a fun place as well. It would already be a National Park if it were in, say, Ohio. But it raises that same debate; what makes a site "national park worthy"? I'm not sure I would consider "great potential for tourism revenue" a qualification. At this time this monument is not easlily accessible by California standards (near a freeway), even though it is not that far outside of a couple of major population areas. Increasing tourism revenue would absolutely require the need for a new highway to the site and probably a new road between the two halves of the monument. (No roads cross from one side to the other, requiring a considerable drive to get from the easier to reach west half to the more remote east side.) I guess the first decision to be made is which we want, preservation or tourism revenue? Due to the narrow canyons and difficult terrain I don't think you can easily have both at this site. I believe that the goal of obtaining more tourism revenue would require a considerable expansion of the infrastructure, both in and outside of the park.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I've been there, and it is an incredibly cool place (a volcano on a fault line? Wow!). But I have to say, I don't think it's worthy of National Park status. It's current status as a National Monument is adequate in my opinion.

    If you abuse the crown jewel label of the National Park Service, you reduce the value of the moniker.

    I would say I wish the eastern rim of the volcano, which is in Lancaster, was part of the NPS. I hadn't visited that site, so I'm not sure what it's like, but it would be cool to have both sections of the volcano as part of one unit, separated by 100 miles or so of continental drift.

    ===========================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I have been to Yellowstone 3 times and spent at least a week there each time-always in absolute amazement. I see this whole issue as a way to truly limit human interaction in national parks by certain groups. While I have never been there in the Winter, but it is on my bucket list, I see no problem with using snowmobiles. Their use requires them to stay on roads, just as cars and bikes do in the summer. Are these these next? I will be willing to bet so. I consider myself a decent amateur photographer, and one of my concerns with the snow coaches are the severe limitation that is put on my hobby and the main reason I go to the parks. Not many run at sunrise and sunsets or allow me the time to get the "perfect" shot at the perfect location. I have used the bus system in both Zion and Denali--Denali wins hands down for my style of use because they allow a person to get on and off at any location anywhere in the park. Not the best for getting the "perfect" picture since sometimes you have only seconds but bearable. It is still not my preference. This type of bus transportation would not work in Yellowstone in winter due to the harsh weather. I guess I am not smart enough to see the "damage" to the parks that these "few bad snowmobiles" do to an enviroment of 2.2 million acres.