Recent comments

  • Missed Portage Leads to Death At Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I was paddling the exact same route this weekend. I had no prior knowledge of this incident. The portage is completely ambiguous to first time travelers. We had a map, we knew the portage was to come up soon. We tried to paddle to the right bank as soon as we saw it ahead, but the current was too strong and drug two of our canoes directly into the rapids.

    We were lucky enough to have survived. We also hiked the rugged climb up to the Leatherwood trail and back to the camp after one of our boats was destroyed by the rocks.

    Whether the portage take out sign has to be replaced monthly, weekly or hourly, the effort would be worth it. The rapids come up quickly and without any notice to first time travelers.

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I don't think oars vs. motors is the real conflict, both means of transport have an impact. The conflict is love vs. stewardship. The point is to get people out there enjoying our parks and still minimize the impact, regardless of their preferred method of travel or use of the parks facilities. The NPS needs to set responsible limits. I think overall they've done good job at most of the parks I've visited. There will always be conflict over what is considered reasonable/responsible use.

    By the way, I was on an oar-powered raft trip in 1993 in the canyon. When a motorized raft went by us, I knew everyone on that raft would've switched places with me in a heartbeat.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I don't want to beat this point into the ground, RAH and Anon, but please indulge me. Travel-related leisure activity ceased being a luxury in America many decades ago. Today, Americans consider leisure travel to be necessary for "a reasonable standard of well-being" in pretty much the same way that automobiles, dishwashers, cable TV, and cell phones -- all once considered luxuries -- are now viewed as ordinary elements of the American lifestyle. That's why it's wrong to say that you spend a luxury dollar when you spend a dollar on travel-related leisure. As Anon has aptly pointed out, you spend a discretionary dollar. That is a hugely important distinction. To acknowledge this is not to deny the existence of a luxury component of visitor industry. It is represented by higher-end goods and services, including such things as costly lodging in some national park-based hotels.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    The issue (reality) of oil production limitations and its impacts on our industrialized world has obvious implications to national parks. Oil production in the U.S., once the world's leader in petroleum, peaked out around 1970, and has been in decline since. Until recently, Mexico was the third largest supplier of oil to the U.S.. Now, however, it is experiencing dramatic production declines and will soon be a net importer of oil. The same is true for a host of oil producing nations, including those of western Europe. Total world oil production has been essentially flat since 2005, despite historic record prices. We now use about 3 barrels of oil for every new barrel that is being discovered. Virtually all major oil producers acknowledge that the days of cheap oil are over. The oil that remains in the ground is largely more difficult and expensive to produce and often is of a lower grade. It is not politics that will force us to make changes in the way we live; it is geological reality.

    Park visitation is a child of the era of cheap and abundant energy, particularly liquid fuels. People thought nothing of jumping in the family car and driving hundreds or even thousands of miles for recreational sightseeing. Accommodations for visitors in and around the parks were designed around the use of private cars and, in some cases, the need to control their impacts. We now are entering a new era of transportation and life in general. Circumstances will force park visitors, commercial operations and management to make substantial adjustments. Instead of the large numbers of private vehicles entering a park, greater numbers of people will almost certainly arrive via bus or, hopefully, a resurrected national and local rail system. Chances are that there will be fewer visitors arriving from longer distances. Camping will probably become more popular. The RV is likely to disappear. The list goes on, but the basic message is clear. We have passed a national and global inflection point in regard to energy and our economy, and there is no going back to the "good ole days" of carefree motoring.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    "The visitor industry will have to adapt as people are forced to move to more efficient and less expensive means of travel."

    "Forced"? As in through government coercion? It certainly won't be economics doing the forcing; driving is cheaper per passenger mile--even when factoring in externalities--than other options. For most trips, cars are still less expensive and more convenient than the alternatives, so they are likely to remain the dominant form of American transportation for a long time.

    I would agree that cars are incompatible with the Organic Act's preservation mandate and that cars and roads should be eliminated from national parks. Not sure if Ray is one of the many who decry automobile use everywhere except in national parks.

    "Tourism is a free enterprise industry..."

    Tourism in national parks is not a free enterprise industry; it's a government-granted monopoly, "a form of coercive monopoly by which a government grants exclusive privilege to a private individual or firm to be the sole provider of a good or service; potential competitors are excluded from the market by law, regulation, or other mechanisms of government enforcement."

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I do believe Bob misunderstood the definition of "luxury" dollar. Discretionary dollar is more appropriate. The "people of ordinary means" have fewer discretionary dollars to spend and tourism is a discretionary pursuit.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    RAH, your comments typically provide a lot to agree with, but once in a while you drop in a real zinger. Like this one:

    Tourism is a free enterprise industry and it depends on the luxury dollar.

    The tourism industry depends on the luxury dollar? I think you might want to put a sector qualifier or two in there. As an industry, tourism in America (and in developed countries around the world) thrives on money spent by people of ordinary means.

  • With 391 Units In the National Park System, You'd Think TripAdvisor Could Find 10 It Liked   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I agree with Dottie. Despite the fact you're not going to be snippy about the TripAdvisor article, you instead get snippy about Kurt's comments. At the risk of further annoying Anonymous, I would have to say further that the TripAdvisor list is actually an incompetent one, and calls into question the overall credibility of TripAdvisor itself. A list of the Top 10 National Parks where two of the ten are not even National Parks? That's like calling Lake Champlain one of the Great Lakes.

    I haven't even been to that many National Parks, and could still come up with a better list. The TripAdviser list is probably compiled from the only 10 locations that author had been to himself/herself.

    Anonymous, good thing you're anonymous. You're probably either with TripAdvisor or have a weird chip on your shoulder.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Tourism is a free enterprise industry and it depends on the luxury dollar. The luxury dollar is disappearing due to unemployment.

    NPS lodge rates are very expensive. I never could afford them and tent camped instead.

    Deals that combine lodging and food are a good idea. I always heard that Las Vegas is cheap because the food is cheap to allow the gambling dollar.

    If the NPS wants to survive they have to accommodate the tourist and sport enthusiast. Cheap lodging and tours are a good idea for tourist. Allowing sport enthusiast to use the NPS is another.

    The last 20 years of so have been the domain of the tourist who has tried to limit the use of parks by tourists and sport enthusiast, they rarely succeeded but the arguments illustrated on this site show that many want the use restricted to only a few rather than the many like the mountain bikers. The mountain bikers if their numbers will increase will get greater demand power and the NPS will accommodate them.

    I hope the NPS does succeed in maintaining enough tourists to survive and maintain the funding for maintenance. The NPS should be aware that the more development increases maintenance costs.

    With the debt getting to be so high for each person and new child there is little ability to continue high funding the next 20 years since the feds are spending the future dollars now.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    The days of two or three people encased in three-to-four thousand pounds of metal and plastic cruising carefree around the country are fading. It is simply an unsustainable system.

    Then why is Government Motors proposing to force the manufacture of "green" cars for everyone's future? I agree with Frank that the free market will dictate the future, as it does in all things. The days of believing what the government says are fading. That debt laden monstrosity on the Potomac already represents an unsustainable system. Just ask world currency traders and the Chinese. The time has come for a new paradigm and y'all better be ready because it's coming to a former superpower near you.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Frank C, the following is a link to a study commissioned by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. It does a good job of presenting the energy challenges facing the nation and describes the urgency of taking immediate mitigative actions to avert a crippling energy shortage in the near future. There are many other authoritative studies produced by respected energy experts that reach the same basic conclusions.

    http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf

    The end of cheap oil has important implications for national parks, as well as virtually every other aspect of modern life. The days of two or three people encased in three-to-four thousand pounds of metal and plastic cruising carefree around the country are fading. It is simply an unsustainable system. The visitor industry will have to adapt as people are forced to move to more efficient and less expensive means of travel.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I climbed AL about six years ago. I was at a conference in Las Vegas and made a trip out of it. I arrived alone and randomly selected this hike without knowledge of what it entails. Wow what a shock!!! I got to scouts lookout and nearly chickened out but then I saw older and fatter people decsending safely I got my courage to go up. I am so glad I did. What a spectacular experience!!! Now I discover that I randomly conquered one of the most beautiful and challenging climbs in the national parks. I am very satisfied with myself and my choice of hike. Just be cautious and courteous and you should be fine.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    "The era of the private automobile is in decline."

    True. GM now stands for Government Motors.

    "Oil supplies are tightening..."

    Not true. June 3 headline on CNNMoney: Oil sinks after surprise supply jump.

    "...and the cost of driving will once again increase."

    Rising oil prices correlate to the decline in the US Dollar, and since oil is traded in USD, a weaker dollar (due to debt load and inflation of the monetary supply) equates to higher oil prices.

    "If park tourism is to survive it must adjust to the transportation reality unfolding."

    You mean a politicized version of reality?

    "That means a shift back to mass transit, such as busses and passenger trains and adapting visitor accommodations accordingly."

    Adapting visitor accommodations accordingly? What does that even mean?

    "Trying to resuscitate the automobile based model is ultimately a waste of time and resources."

    Says central economic planners. The free market might suggest otherwise and is the true measure of efficiency of time and resources, not government bureaucrats lacking the proper tools or knowledge.

  • These Big Bird Sightings at Grand Canyon Are the Real Deal   5 years 19 weeks ago

    This evening around 5 to 5:30 pm,As my daughter in law and I were driving in West Jordan ,Utah I Looked up in the sky at the dark clouds forming and saw a massive pure black bird.It was flying at a high elevation and slowly descending.As it glided down slowly it would flap and then glide more.I was shocked at the size and looked around at the traffic but I seemed to be the only one that noticed it.I was not close enough to see it but it was huge and we wondered if there were condors in the area.It had to have had a wingspan of nearly 10 feet or so.It was the size of a small aircraft,I was just wondering if anyone else in this area has seen the same thing,My daughter in law says nearly 10 years ago she was outside at night and saw something very similar

  • With 391 Units In the National Park System, You'd Think TripAdvisor Could Find 10 It Liked   5 years 19 weeks ago

    To Anonymous of June 6, why did you bother commenting? Your Comment is more irritating than the original article, and quit blasting Kurt for blasting that article. And if anyone is insolent about all this, it is definitely you. I agree with Kurt. If TripAdvisor can't get it right, then they shouldn't be advising.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I live in Hawaii and can testify that our tourist-based economy is indeed in dire straits. Visitor numbers are down about 23% from a year ago. Tourism is an industry that reflects general consumer confidence, and that is not a pleasant picture right now. The sudden price spike in the price of oil last year followed by the real estate and financial meltdown was a one-two punch to tourism. For those involved in providing commercial services to visitors to the national parks and for the communities that depend on tourist spending the downturn in the economy is proving to be disaster. Here in Hawaii property prices are falling, unemployment is increasing, tax revenues are declining, and airline service has been reduced. Scenes such as these are playing out in other tourist dependent regions across the country.

    The era of the private automobile is in decline. Oil supplies are tightening, and the cost of driving will once again increase. If park tourism is to survive it must adjust to the transportation reality unfolding. That means a shift back to mass transit, such as busses and passenger trains and adapting visitor accommodations accordingly. Trying to resuscitate the automobile based model is ultimately a waste of time and resources.

  • SUV Goes Over The Rim Near Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Don't worry. We'll all pay for it through our insurance. That's the way it works; an income transfer to the stupid and neglectful.

  • With 391 Units In the National Park System, You'd Think TripAdvisor Could Find 10 It Liked   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Yes, I also read that article and I didn't agree with them but I'm not going to be snippy about it. If you already called and spoke with them, why continue the battle? This article has irritated me even more than the original. Stop being so insolent, instead of trying to highlighter their faults take the higher path and create your own list. I know, I know you already have multiple lists of national parks you adore, so move on and give me some real information on the parks.

  • Should the National Park Service Rescue the National D-Day Memorial?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I agree with Dan P. The monument can go as far as I'm concerned. There is a memorial to ALL WWII Vets in Washington DC. All soldiers, all battles. $2M for an insignificant memorial? Ridiculous. Looks like a great place for a PARK.

  • Should the National Park Service Rescue the National D-Day Memorial?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I'm sorry to say, on the anniversary of the battle itself, that the so-called National D-Day Memorial, should not have been chartered as a national-level memorial in the first place. A memorial with a $5 entry fee?

    One of my particular pet peeves is the elevation of D-Day, and the battle for Normandy, over every other campaign of the war. What of North Africa? Sicily? Anzio? Operation Dragoon, the other invasion of France? Market Garden? The Bulge? The Allied strategic bombing mission? The US cryptanalysis effort at Arlington Hall? The absolutely amazing resolve of the merchant fleet, which sailed off into a deadly U-Boat gauntlet to supply our allies? And that's all without mentioning the Pacific theater!

    This is not to say that D-Day was not hugely significant. Of course it was. And the courage of those men is no less than that of many others. But it is no greater than that of many others as well. Compared to any other campaign of the war, D-Day has already been amply covered in public history.

    We need to take WWII history seriously, and we need to integrate the best historical parks we can get while we still have the chance. Certainly we need one, and could easily create one, for the Manhattan Project--whether in New Mexico or at Wendover Field in Utah. Well-preserved training sites could be valuable additions, following the example of Tuskegee Airmen NHP which is important, not just for its civil rights history, but also because the airmen trained there went on to active service in the European air campaign. (Perhaps someday the NPS could lay claim to Arlington Hall, and create the world's first National Historical Park and Mathematical Shrine!)

    The American Battle Monuments Commission recently opened its first interpretive museum at the Normandy American Cemetery. The NPS should seriously consider a partnership with the ABMC to place interpreters at overseas battlefields and military cemeteries, perhaps following the example of the Canadians at Vimy Ridge in France.

  • Should the National Park Service Rescue the National D-Day Memorial?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    $2 million a year to operate it? I say cut those costs drastically by bringing in free labor to help maintain the grounds. Such as prison/jail work crews, and community service workers, to handle grounds keeping, and maintenance of structures and grounds keeping equipment. Gather volunteers in the community who are willing to donate their time as educators in job training programs (in grounds maintenance) for ex-cons or the physically/mentally disadvantaged. Bring in school kids to help pick up litter, plant flowers, or other light duties. Using the experience to educate the students on WW II history, as well as developing their sense of pride in our country, and respect for our Veterans. Inlist the help of local garden clubs, senior citizen programs, or churches to help with light landscaping duties. Help is out there....

  • Running Lava Falls In Grand Canyon National Park: What Would Major Powell Think?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Interesting comments! As a "guest" to the Canyon who was on the Wilderness River motorized trip (Steve's video), and as a person from Oregon who is environmentally conscious, I'm disappointed to hear cristicism of what was a marvelous, and environmentally responsible trip. Yes, we've paddled ourselves, (and kayaked) down the DeShutes, the Snake, the Rogue, etc., but we chose a motorized trip down the Colorado. Time was the biggest factor in that decision, and the thrill of experiencing more of the Canyon, and to have the opportunity to enjoy more back trails...in the time we had.
    What would John Wesley Powell think? I believe he would have used the latest and safest means available to see and experience as much of the Canyon as humanly possible. I think he would have felt as we did; humbled and privileged to be within this great place for a short time. Perhaps he would have resisted the regulations, but thousands of people today appreciate the necessity of those.
    I was in awe of the high standards and precedents set, and the respect our guides and group had for the land, and for every other person on the river. How often did I hear our "captain" holler out to other rafters (motorized or otherwise), "Need anything?" ... "Doing OK?" ... "Ice? Sure."
    Yes, the motors were a quiet churning, but I hardly call that industrialized. More like "industrious," as was one guest on our trip who was 76. Her spirit longed to see and do what oar rafters and kayakers do, and the motorized trip allowed her to do so. I live in Eugene, the "green" capital of Oregon. I'm tired of people who condemn those who respectfully choose other options. That makes us no less committed to doing our part in keeping the Canyon pristine. Broaden your thinking...there is more than one right way! And Steve, Mark and I send thanks for all your good work...and friendship! Kudos to Wilderness River Adventures, too!
    Judy Dippel

  • Should the National Park Service Rescue the National D-Day Memorial?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I visited the D-Day memorial several years ago and, I'm really very sorry to say, I thought it was weak. It's an uninspired design, and does nothing to expand on the story of WWII beyond what any other existing monument, including the monstrosity on the Mall, is already telling. It also doesn't connect the place to the monument. There's nothing at the site that connects the memorial to the community, it looks like it was just "put there" because some congressman or rich man decided to put it there.

    I feel bad saying this because, apparently, many people committed their dollars and time to erect and run this memorial, but it simply doesn't do the job.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • How Familiar Are You With Yosemite National Park?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I just got back from hiking Yosemite but my flight back east flew right over both Zion and Arches. Many iconic features are clearly visible from 30,000 feet. Angel's Landing looks especially spectacular and it confirmed that the new Canaan Mnt wilderness on the park's south border was well deserved. I've seen the Grand Canyon quite clearly before but this time it was clouded over. On another trip west, I got a wonderful view of the Great Sand Dunes. That view made me move up that park on my near term itinerary (May 2010?). Flying is sure great for geography buffs.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 19 weeks ago

    My wife I we stayed three nights over Memorial Day weekend at Volcano House, the park lodge inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We didn't get any deals (but didn't ask for one either, shame on me) but I was surprised how empty was the lodge. Our ground floor volcano view room was the only one of five occupied the whole time. The upstairs room was occupied one night out of three. I expected a full house like many prominent park lodges are during prime times. Must be the overall drop in tourism to Hawaiii. I wish I'd called direct instead of booking online and asked for a better deal (shame on me). By the way, the lodge is dated, in need of new mattresses, better food services, but the view can't be beat!