Recent comments

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I am growing weary of hearing that the things I do for fun are things that only wealthy people can do, considering my wife and I have an income that would barely be considered middle-class. Traveling can be very expensive, if that's how you choose to do it. We drove from Michigan to Olympic National Park, camping along the way, eating food we packed, refueling our rented hybrid infrequently. You'd be surprised how cheaply you can rent a Prius. It was a pretty cheap trip. Working long weeks and overtime all winter banked up some extra time off from work, and there we were - two weeks of road-trip bliss.

    I've come to understand that "elitist" is a term usually slung toward any endeavor that the slinger lacks the determination or will-power to pull off...or bitterness that some people have managed to accrue wealth that allows crazy adventures. Maybe sailing a 230ft. yacht around the world is elitist - but even then, I say more power to you if you can afford that boat! Visiting 58 National Parks? Sounds more like sour-grapes envy than objective observation.

    I have traditionally been offended at being called elitist for my travels and desire for solitude in areas protected from modern intrusion. But I've come to realize that the insult is so ridiculous as to be laughable, thus I laugh.

    Regarding the ability to "know" the parks after a windshield visit: Of course you can't. Does that mean visiting all 58 is a waste? Hardly. On the way back to Michigan last summer we windshield-toured Badlands National Park. I certainly don't claim to have explored Badlands or to have a feel for the soul of the park, but we sure did see some awesome sites in an afternoon - with pictures and memories to prove it! One benefit of bagging a bunch of parks with quick visits is to view it as a scouting mission. A day in a park can give you an idea of which might be most suited to further exploration some day. See the sites from the road, check out the information at the visitor center, chat up a ranger or two, talk to some backpackers at trailheads. You can do all that in a leisurely day and come away with an idea of not only whether you want to come back to this park, but also what specific things you might want to do on your return.

    Ignore the unenlightened and get out there!

  • Jon Jarvis Supports More Official Wilderness in National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago


    You cite Olympic National Park as an example of good access. Olympic is 95% designated wilderness. It's probably one of the most wilderness-heavy parks out there, yet you can still drive right into the middle of the Hoh rainforest. I agree Olympic is a wonderful example of vast areas protected from any artificial intrusion while still offering easy to access to areas representing everything Olympic is about. That's why I'd like to see more designated wilderness in the other parks.

    Being poor (my backpacking gear is second hand and generally laughed at by the "in" crowd), overweight (live next to a Wendy's), and holding a full time job, I was not aware wilderness areas weren't intended for me. I spend a lot of time hiking and camping in wilderness. It's a very inexpensive hobby, doesn't need to tax the body more than you want it to, and can be done for anywhere from an afternoon to a three-week trek. The argument that wilderness designation protects land for the enjoyment only of a privileged class is baseless. It certainly won't be accessible to every single citizen of the country, but if a vast majority of people think they can't enjoy the wilderness they are simply ignorant of the means to do so rather than lacking of the resources or ability.

    If you want to stop development, fine -- don't do that at the expense of access.

    But access often is development. Roads are development. I may agree with the specific point of that article that the wilderness area could be nudged in the North Cascades case, considering there has historically been a road through that area, but in general, laying an access road into the wilderness eliminates the wilderness and renders it front-country. Every park needs vehicle-accessible front-country. I say they also need roadless wilderness.

    If you need to control usage levels, great -- do that without cutting things off completely.

    I don't know of any park that cuts off areas completely except in patently unsafe areas or seasonally in ecologically sensitive areas. Nor do I believe this is proposed anywhere. Wilderness designation does not say "humans stay out." It implores us to come and enjoy nature as some people prefer it - free from artificial intrusion. Those people own the parks too, and it seems obvious to me that wilderness and developed areas can coexist in harmony in National Parks. When a park such as Glacier has zero designated wilderness, I'd say it's patently unfair to complain about "more" area being designated. The parks are for everyone - even us kooks who enjoy wilderness.

  • Pruning the Parks: Castle Pinckney National Monument (1933-1956)   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Sad that piece of real estate would receive such sorry treatment over the years, it's only crime being the most conspicuous piece of real estate in the city. Odd that they would think of such awful uses for it over the years, instead of the natural one that comes to mind: a scenic little park, or bird refuge.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Wow. This is one beautiful place. I have heard so much about Biscayne. It sounds expensive too. Am I right?

    Thanks for the heads up.


  • Jon Jarvis Supports More Official Wilderness in National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Great, let's make more of our parks inaccessible to those who are not physically fit enough to venture out for days at a time, who are not fortunate enough to get time off work and who are not wealthy enough to purchase equipment for long slogs through the outdoors.

    Preservation makes sense. Creating a caste system, where the elites have swathes of land to themselves and the poor, the busy and the unfit are crammed to visitors centers and short loop roads.

    There are common sense answers to overcrowding. Zion Canyon's management plan is a great example of some of those answers. More parks still won't be "loved to death" no matter how easy you make it to access them -- look at Capitol Reef, Great Basin, Olympic... all have good access and still manage to stay protected.

    It's frustrating to me to know that if the powers that be were in charge today, I would never have seen many of the places in the park system that are dearest to me -- Zion Canyon, the Kolob Terrace, the Wheeler Peak sky island at Great Basin, Dante's View at Death Valley, the Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic.

    There was a great column in the Seattle PI not long ago about this. I wholeheartedly agree with it. If you want to stop development, fine -- don't do that at the expense of access. If you need to control usage levels, great -- do that without cutting things off completely.

  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We sure are products of our consumerist time. Columbus may have been ignorant about the effects of his actions, but we're not. He might have had some excuse, but we don't. God knows what judgment will come from the archaeologist a thousand years from now who will find our putrid piles of polymer trash. I've been an active naturalist for most of my life. No lip service here - I use public transport and recycled before it was cool. I've pulled more crap out of streams, oil off of ducks, and garbage off of trails than I can shake a wicked stick at. The beauty of Yosemite? Bollux! I can't afford to go there. Yosemite exists on websites and in picture books. My natural world is ugly, polluted, and degraded. Since I've been in the muck and not opining from an executive's desk, do any of my efforts matter? Hard to tell. Sanctimonious? Maybe. Disgusted? Definitely.

    Columbus and his contemporaries knew they were on top of the food chain and acted like predators. There's nothing to celebrate about Columbus. Forget about our latter-day Columbuses! I can either lament the predators of our time, or I can do something about it. And there are lots of people just like me, without advanced degrees or proven credentials. Get your angst-ridden enjoyment of the crown jewel parks while you still can. I'm not going to waste my time wondering about what future historians will say - next Saturday I'll be working in the muck. History will take care of itself.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Pinnacles is a dramatic and inspiring place to me. I've hiked almost every mile of trail in the park, including the north and south wilderness trails. I've climbed dozens of the craggy spires, seen huge California Condors sail gracefully past (within 50 ft!), and watched the awesome peaks glow other-wordly orange and red in color with the last rays of sun light, then hiked back to the car in the darkness to view a clear starry sky from the parking lot before leaving.

    The "Monument" seems reasonably well managed to me as is. I very much like the idea that it is often not very busy, except during the spring bloom when it is extremely busy on weekends. It doesn't much matter to me whether it is designated as a National Park or Monument, so long as it continues to receive the funding necessary to preserve and protect it.

    It will be interesting to see what becomes of the National Park idea. I recall that Death Valley used to be designated a National Monument. In that case it seemed a no-brainer to make it a National Park. It also got expanded substantially as part of the deal, which was clearly a good thing (some people think that pristine sand dunes and dry lake beds are best used for ripping apart in ATVs!)


  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago


    They definitely should unless we get our act together, especially as in Columbus's time and in our own time, there were and are people who find such behavior unacceptable. We aren't people of our times, perhaps, as those few voices speaking out in Columbus's time weren't, and that's too bad. I hope we can rid ourselves of this fallacious logic of domination (what you note is very similar to what some ecofeminists have noticed; that the fallacious logic that men used for superiority over women - or in this case, one sort of people over another - has been used by people in regards to their natural environment) so that we aren't looked at as voices crying out "in the wilderness" but that that wilderness is really the norm where in we all cry and sing and dance.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Free Republic has posted a thought-provoking, brief item on Columbus Day by James C. Bennett. Rather than go into his theme, I'll just say that the English explorer most of us know as John Cabot was actually Giovanni Caboto, an Italian, and he actually set foot on North America, whereas, Christopher Columbus did not. Bennett goes on to reveal some of the pitfalls awaiting us in our studies of the human diaspora, cultural diffusion, and reception history. Read his post here:

    I especially enjoyed his reference to "American Indians" as Siberian-Americans, as well as his mention of political correctness as an expression of the Calvinist Puritan roots of Progressivism. This would also be a good time to refresh ourselves with the work of Ed Linenthal, "professor or sacred ground and meaning" and good friend of the NPS, now at Indiana University.

  • Classic Road Bike Rides in the National Parks of the Intermountain West   5 years 28 weeks ago

    How nice of you to write this. I rode Arches today and Canyonlands yesterday............................What a dream.October 11 and 77 degrees....................

  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    For better or worse (definitely worse for Native Americans), Columbus was a product of his time. It was simply assumed that Christian Europeans, particularly those in power, were superior to indigenous people and had the right to exploit and even kill them if they resisted. That point of view reflects how we have treated the natural environment. Even today there are many who believe that the natural world exists for our pleasure and can be decimated in the pursuit of profit and power, even when it results in human hardship. We stand in judgement of Columbus, but we are willing to permit the virtual extermination of entire ecosystems, extinction of countless species of flora and fauna, the fouling of our air and water and even the alteration of the world's climate. Will future generations look back on us as critically as we now view Columbus?

  • On the Run: Racers See Four National Parks on Two Feet in One Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks so much for catching that, Robert.

    Hope you are having some good fall weather for your runs.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Both times we have tried to go snorkeling at Biscayne, the boats were canceled because there were not enough people. We were able to get on boats from John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo. The boat ride takes about an hour and then you have an hour of snorkel time on the water. Each time I went to a different reef. I've also taken the glass bottom boat tour from John Pennekamp State Park, which was a very cool thing, even got to see a shark! At the time, prices at John Pennekamp were a little bit cheaper than going from Biscayne.

  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Are you kidding? Don't you know about many, many thousands that Columbus was responsible for in his own lifetime? You could ask the Taina Indians about their plight under Columbus? Oh wait. You can't. He and his men killed them all.

    As for what came after, yes, Columbus does hold some responsibility; he started the process and was an unapologetic advocate with it. Unless you think history is simply made up of discrete moments and is unconnected, then you should hold Columbus up as an ingredient in the story.

    But, yes, Columbus was directly responsible for genocide in his own lifetime.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Jon Jarvis Supports More Official Wilderness in National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    There always will be some level of development including visitor facilities. I for one appreciate that there are bathrooms, boardwalks, visitor centers, food service, etc when I visit NPS areas.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We camped on Elliott Key some years ago, and I was glad we went in early April. The weather was perfect, and we enjoyed ourselves so much more since we were not plagued by bugs. The road trail was awesome, I will never forget the tropical flowers (or the birds!) in that paradise. There's never enough time to do it all, though - I would love to go back one day and take that glass-bottomed boat tour you spoke of. Thanks for bringing back a wonderful memory.

  • Jon Jarvis Supports More Official Wilderness in National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    All of our parks and monuments should be safe from development. What's wrong with congress that this has not happened?

  • Jon Jarvis Supports More Official Wilderness in National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I'd like to see the current roadless areas in Great Smoky Mountains NP set aside as official wilderness areas. It amazes me this hasn't happened by now.

  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Why is Columbus so vilified? I understand the impact on the native populations brought by those who followed. But how many natives were killed by Columbus himself? Should we also blame him for the loss of the bison? He never found the mainland and didn’t hang around. He accidentally stumbled on the ‘New World’ while looking for the East Indies. The exploitation there was already underway.

    The Pilgrims and their descendants who stayed and expanded across the continent had much larger direct impact. Should we have a ‘Go home Pilgrims’ day?

    Don’t blame the scientists who conceived splitting the atom for the bombs dropped on Japan. Let’s clarify the issue. Columbus may be no saint but he also deserves no credit for the plight of the natives that followed his ‘discovery’. I think we can look much closer to home for that responsibility.

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Playwright Larry Myers wrote an expert drama called
    "Jack Kerouac in a Provincetown Dune Shack"
    his Jack Kerouac Society has events in NewYork

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Well - I wasn't sure and I was thinking Oahu was overlooked somehow. I think they also have some serious issues regarding recreational pressure in Hawaii. They get lots and lots of visitors who probably spend more time in the water. When I visited Hanuama Bay (which I think has qualities that would make it a good addition to the NPS system) there was a huge slick which was probably from the sunscreen used by several visitors (I'm guilt too). That oily residue supposedly isn't good for the health of the coral reefs although it wasn't banned.

    My Florida trip wasn't all bad. I finally got on the water on a boat tour of the Everglades Gulf Coast and the Ten Thousand Islands. Maybe not glass bottom with clear water and reefs, but we got to see dolphins hunting for food. Apparently they were thrashing around to kill their prey via blunt force trauma before consuming them. I did miss out on my (reserved) trip to Fort Jefferson too. Hurricanes (even ones that turn out to be relative duds) have that habit of ruining vacation plans.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I hate that you missed out on those aquatic adventures, ypw. My own sad story is that I visited Biscayne en route to Key West and had no time at all for boat rides or snorkeling. In fact, I didn't get beyond Convoy Point, which is to say that I never got off the mainland. (Sigh.......). You were right to take me to task on the metro statement. I changed that to read "major urban region (conurbation) with millions of residents." Miami-Dade County alone has roughly 2.5 million people (nearly three times the population of the entire island of Oahu), and Miami-Dade is just the core county of the South Florida conurbation. These big numbers make a big difference because they translate into more pollution, more recreational pressure, and more stress on the living reefs.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I'm disappointed that I missed out on a snorkeling and glass bottom boat tour when I visited the area. There was a tropical storm coming through the area and my reserved snorkel boat tour was canceled because of storm preparations. My glass bottom tour was reserved for later in the week, but they canceled because there were only 3 people with a required 6 (supposedly just enough to pay for the fuel). People were scared off by the storm and tourists didn't return although the weather did turn out to be perfect.

    As for living coral reefs in large metro areas - I would think the coral reefs in Oahu are pretty close to metro areas.

  • Columbus Day is also Native American Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    It's my understanding,native americans were on these lands(america). Therefore they discovered america.

  • What's the Best For Elk In Theodore Roosevelt National Park?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I feel sorry for you buddy. You seem to think that we are on a level above nature and that we should be able to alter natural habbitats at will. This is the precise state of mind that has driven hundreds of species into extinction already. I don't know if you are aware of this but natural habbitats have existed without the help of mankind for billions of years before our arrival. The bureau of land managment has passed legislation that gives authority to park management to deal with these types of problems at a scientific level. Now when i say a scientific level I am reffering to biological and ecological research and solutions, not those who want to shoot up the countryside and continue to drive endangered species into extinction. Next time why don't you try doing a little research before you put your foot in your mouth.

    This comment was edited. -- Ed.