Recent comments

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Kirby is right on. I've visited most of the national parks of the eastern part of the US, but never thought of "collecting" them. What a super idea. You don't have to be wealthy either. You go, Roxanne! I can't think of a better use for your time. Mr. Goetzman needs to get out more.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Would it be OK to put quotas on the trade routes, but not on the more challenging routes?

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Who cares what the environazis at Utne think. They always think they know what the rest of us should be doing. I've been to about 15 or so NPs and NMs and will continue to visit as I see fit.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I'm up to 19 although it would have been 20 if a certain tropical storm didn't mess with my plans to visit Key West and then Dry Tortugas NP. I rescheduled the trip to Key West but didn't have enough time to take the ferry to Fort Jeffeson in Dry Tortugas NP.

    There are places where the economy is heavily based on people visiting from far distances. The visitor economy in Hawaii or Florida is heavily dependent on visitors from all over the US and the world. I have no pangs of guilt about visiting Hawai'i Volcanoes NP or venturing to Everglades NP. These were wonderful experiences that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Visiting Alaska one of these days is a distinct goal, although I have the feeling I'll never visit Kobuk Valley NP or Gates of the Arctic NP. I've seen visitors in Yosemite from all over the world. I'd hate there to be some sort of limit (perhaps a lottery) on visitors that depends on how far they've traveled.

    The sentiment about "carbon footprint" may be a valid one but the reality is that people live in the modern world. I don't know if it's more "elitist" to actually make a goal of visiting all these units or if it's more "elitist" to decry that other people choose to visit places that they consider wonderful.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The ONLY reason that so many climbers are on the big mountain is because they can be flown halfway up it and be dropped off at 7,200 feet on the kahiltna glacier. Take away that one hour flight, and you have to walk for a week up the Granite, Pika, And Kahiltna get to that part of the park. Take away the commercial landing strip up there, and you'd see the number of climbing parties plummet to less than 1/3 of what it is today. Sure, more parties would go up the muldrow....but, after climbing up there over the last 20 years, I'd say that only 1/3 of the parties I see up on the west buttress would even have the small amount of gumption required to walk the "whopping" 20 miles in to get to the Muldrow glacier...carrying those 100+ lb packs.
    This is the only solution to separating the wheat from the chaff on that mountain, and reducing the alleged "overuse" of the mountain resources.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Brad - looks like others have already answered you, but since I had been having the same problem, I thought that I would post the website I'd found that lists the different units in the system, actually grouped per type:

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I'm up to 23 NPs, with 6 of the new ones being added this year. I've had the time - I've been unemployed, living on unemployment pay, with no jobs available to even apply for, since mid-January. I have a small SUV (Ford Escape) that gets decent gas mileage (gas that would normally be spent on getting me to & from work) that I've been primitive tent camping out of across the west (live in Colorado), taking a week or so per trip, one trip per month. I've also done return visits to 3 parks, all of which I've been to a number of times before. And I have 2 more new ones I plan to mark off my list of all 58 in the next couple months (assuming continued unemployment). I'm not driving around the parks or hanging out at the lodges (or campground) either - I've hiked literally hundreds of miles in the parks this year (& taken thousands of pictures :-). I've tried to get to know each park as much as possible in the time I've had. I've also been to a lot of the other units of the National Park system over the years - I grew up in northern Indiana, lived in the northeast, Florida, & Alaska, before moving to Colorado, & I've taken advantage of proximity to these great places. And always on a low budget (for instance, went to college in AK, giving me low budget access to its wonders). And I have had an amazingly fortunate life - one that I've worked to make just that, nothing given to me, & by no means rich or elitist. Just very determined to find (creative when necessary) means to accomplish my goals, one of which is to make it to all 58 unique NPs, no matter how that sounds to someone else. :-) So while I do understand the point that (I think) Mr. Goetzman was making & agree to some extent, it was far too narrow a sentiment, & once again, I think Kurt's hit it right...

  • Pruning the Parks: Castle Pinckney National Monument (1933-1956)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Trying to put enough money together for such a project is a sobering thought, Anon, and any proposed use of the site would have to deal with the fact that it's a National Register listed property. I'm not at all surprised that Castle Pinckney is languishing out there in the harbor. It just doesn't get any love.

  • French Flyover is Prelude to the Upcoming Yorktown Victory Celebration   5 years 32 weeks ago

    As far as I can determine, the earliest celebrations were very small and very low key. The first formal Yorktown victory celebration, with thousands participating, was in 1824. Yorktown Day has been celebrated for over a century now, and the Yorktown Day Association has been in charge of organizing the event for the past 60 years. I have no idea what became of the victory celebration during the Civil War. Maybe a Civil War buff could help us there.

  • Maine North Woods National Park: Has The Time Arrived?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Hi Joan-If you followed Ken Burns on his television series on National Parks and how they came about--it is not too late to stop what LURC has allowed to happen with Plum Creek and its destruction of Lilly Bay and the rest of the lower end of Moosehead Lake---RESTORE and The Forest Ecology Network are pursuing a plan for a Maine North Woods National Park--I think that it should have its nexus Moosehead as well-I am not giving up and we are trying to awake others to help in the cause--I liked your note and as a former park ranger I know the care we need to take of them-Thanks John Oser

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    the author of this article needs to correct his facts before writing a column of this importance.

    1) Kurt Repanshek says the shacks were 'Built more than a century ago to house members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service'.

    Wrong Mr Repanshek. None of the existing shacks are 100 years old. And of the 18 remaining dune shacks there are perhaps 2 that can be linked to housing members of the Life-Saving Service. And even that is unlikely.

    2) Kurt Repanshek says 'these board structures hidden amid the dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore have taken on a second, or third, life as artists' roosts.'

    This again is not the truth. There are only 3 dune shacks which have current connections to non-profits who offer 'their' shacks to artists. And even these three shacks are not exclusively used by artists. The traditional use of these shacks was not in any way limited to artists. Yes there are many artists who were and are inspired by time in the dunes. However there were - and currently are - many electricians, plumbers, insurance agents, carpenters, teachers, fisherman, families, and scientists who love and need the 'way of life' the Seashore was intended to protect in its 1961 creation.

    3) Kurt Repanshek asks, 'what should the National Seashore do with them?'

    We are now the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District. The Seashore and the NPS fought against that designation for years. They were determined to bulldoze all but one of the shacks and in fact did destroy at least four and as many as ten. Those were among the most historic of the dune shacks. I want to point out that one of the the remaining dune shacks is not the property of the Seashore. It is that shack that should be the model for how the Seashore deals with future use of these properties.
    If the past 50 years is any indication of how the Seashore treats these structures there is little reason to be optimistic about the future. Owners protected and maintained these dune shacks. Most of the shacks are still standing because owners spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to keep the Seashore from destroying these traditional dwellings which are now considered national treasures. Our current CCNS Superintendent has even said that he is not interested in the history of the dune shacks. That isn't a promising indication of how the Seashore will treat these shacks in the future.

  • Creature Feature: Yellowstone National Park, Home to Wolves, Grizzlies, Elk, Moose, and ... Crystal Salamanders   5 years 32 weeks ago

    "But what about Crystal salamanders?

    Nope. For those you have to visit Yellowstone."

    To Kurt Repanshek: Please do not make a statement like this without at least looking into the topic. There is nothing novel about this "discovery."

    Look at the range of Ambystoma tigrinum (not just A. t. melanostictum, but the rest of the subspecies as well) on a range map. Either get a permit or contact someone that has a permit within the range. Go into the field and net up a few larval Ambystoma in cattle ponds that appear to be very murky. Voila! Crystal. Salamanders.

    Sarah, I'm sure you know about this but I have to mention it so that people don't get the wrong idea. Did you try putting them in ponds with clearer water? Or maybe in containers with clearer water for just a day or two? Drab. Salamanders. It's magic!

    You see the same thing in other species of Ambystoma.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I believe there's only a fee for Biscayne NP if you go on a boat ride from a licensed concessionaire. It's not particularly expensive although it costs to take tours. I don't recall the price to be out of line. I think the glass bottomed boat tour was maybe $12?

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Everyone should enjoy the Parks, and as many of them, as THEY see fit; it is no one else's business, let alone Goetzman's.

  • Exploring Yosemite National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Yosemite Valley is less than one percent of Yosemite National Park. There is so much more to see. The valley is best from about mid-May until the end of June because that's when the waterfalls are at their best. Yosemite Falls usually dries up in August. My favorite place in the park is Tuolumne Meadows, which is nearly 9,000 feet elevation (about 5,000 feet higher than the valley), so it usually still has snow until July. Tuolumne Meadows is at its best from mid-July until late-September (when the temperature can drop below freezing). My wife and I spent six wonderful days of camping at the Tuolumne Meadows campground mid-August. Some of the best stargazing anywhere can be enjoyed out on the meadow on moonless nights.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    @ Dave Harmon: Robin Winks was not only the first person to visit every unit of the NPS, he was also an extraordinarily gifted scholar, author, and friend of the national parks. For a sample of Winks' writing (commentary on the evolution and meaning Organic Act) , see this Traveler article. Winks died on April 7, 2003.

  • Yosemite National Park Officials Looking For Suggestions on Preserving Badger Pass Ski Lodge   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The ski area at Hurricane Ridge is not a resort. We are a small non-profit club, operating the ski and snowboard lifts for our community under permit from the National Park. Our group is mostly volunteer, with only a small number of paid employees to keep overhead low. The ski and snowboard area is a great place for local children to learn a healthy winter sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. We are not a pathetic joke, we are a passionate, committed group of people who work very hard every winter. By keeping the overhead and prices low we allow many people in our community the opportunity to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. We are not a cash cow for the Park, they do not share any responsibility, liability or revenue from our operation, and most locals buy the annual pass for entrance to the Park. The local skiers and snowboarders do help the concessionaire at the Lodge, they have food and ski rentals. But the non-profit winter ski operation is not the only reason the Park plows the road in the winter; it allows access for snowshoers, x-country skiers and visitors who want to take in the winter scenery. We operate in the red every year, depending on fundraisers to make up the shortfall. They have been "skiing in the Olympics" for over 50 years, who knows how long we can continue, but for now, it is one of the best little community ski hills I have ever been to!

  • Exploring Yosemite National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I always come yearly to capture the diference and change of the seasons. I will return in the srping. I just came back from camping on oct 6th-9th, it was cold 40degrees at night and 76 in the day. WOW what a difference!

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Thanks Anonymous. Totally overlooked Redwoods. That, along with splitting Sequoia and Kings Canyon, adds up to 58.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I agree with Dave. To only focus on seeing the Parks, one will miss many wonderful experiences. So many of the smaller lesser known National Park sites have been absolutely wonderful and should not be overlooked. Each and every site has something special to offer.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Brad - based on the list I have, it seems you are missing Redwood National Park.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago


    A quick glance at your list shows Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks listed as one, so if you separate those that gets you to 57.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Kirby, you said it all! I so love the national parks that I pursued a profession that would require me to see more of them. To do this, I've given up far more lucrative projects in favor of a career as a fairly low-paid travel writer, with the national parks as my beat. To date, we've visited 254 since beginning our park visits in November 2000. If that's elitist or "lucky"—a category Goetzman does not define, so who knows if I qualify—then I am the poorest and most indebted member of the elite I can ever imagine! While I admit to occasionally "Griswolding" a small historic site in the 391-unit NPS system, I look for whatever ways my husband and I can spend several days, a week or longer in any of the 58 natural parks. Most recently, we spent a week at Big Bend, one of the least visited parks in the country. How bloody insulting to be categorized by someone who, frankly, sounds envious of those of us who have made seeing our nation's natural riches a lifelong priority. As Stephen Sondheim once wrote, "There's a lot I'll have missed, but I'll not have been dead when I die."

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Kurt and all,

    Leaving aside the "elitist" argument for a moment, I have to point out that even if you bag all 58 units designated "national park" -- and if you left it at that -- you would not be getting anything close to a full picture of what the national park system is all about.

    Also, just for fun, I want to point out a couple of people who are in a far different category: folks who have been to ALL the units of the system, and not just breezing through. There are two whom I know about; perhaps there are others. My understanding is that the late historian Robin Winks had not only visited every unit of the system, but was in every visitor center AND read every display in those centers. If this sounds impossibly hubristic, all I can say is that Winks was a remarkable man (and scholar) and I do not doubt the story.

    But even more amazingly, at my point of last knowledge (this was back in the 1990s) a fellow named Alan Hogenauer had visited every unit of the system ... and every delisted unit of the system, such as Castle Pinckney (written about elsewhere today), Shoshone Caverns, Holy Cross, and a couple dozen even more obscure. That is a feat that I doubt anyone will replicate.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Does someone have a definitive list of the 58 parks? I downloaded a file of all the sites from the NPS with their types. Of the 391 or so in that list, only 56 had National Park as its type, and that includes American Samoa. Which 2 am I missing? My wife and I are one of the couples that have a goal to see and visit all the national parks but are having a hard time finding an accurate list of them. We've been to 16 thus far and loved everyone of them! Here is the list I got from the NPS site:

    2 Acadia National Park ME
    24 Arches National Park UT
    29 Badlands National Park SD
    35 Big Bend National Park TX
    41 Biscayne National Park FL
    42 Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park CO
    52 Bryce Canyon National Park UT
    61 Canyonlands National Park UT
    68 Capitol Reef National Park UT
    71 Carlsbad Caverns National Park NM
    82 Channel Islands National Park CA
    97 Congaree National Park SC
    101 Crater Lake National Park OR
    106 Cuyahoga Valley National Park OH
    110 Death Valley National Park CA, NV
    114 Denali National Park & Preserve AK
    119 Dry Tortugas National Park FL
    134 Everglades National Park FL
    174 Gates Of The Arctic National Park & Preserve AK
    186 Glacier National Park MT
    187 Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve AK
    194 Grand Canyon National Park AZ
    196 Grand Teton National Park WY
    198 Great Basin National Park NV
    201 Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve CO
    202 Great Smoky Mountains National Park NC, TN
    205 Guadalupe Mountains National Park TX
    209 Haleakala National Park HI
    215 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park HI
    223 Hot Springs National Park AR
    231 Isle Royale National Park MI
    244 Joshua Tree National Park CA
    248 Katmai National Park & Preserve AK
    249 Kenai Fjords National Park AK
    257 Kobuk Valley National Park AK
    260 Lake Clark National Park & Preserve AK
    264 Lassen Volcanic National Park CA
    280 Mammoth Cave National Park KY
    289 Mesa Verde National Park CO
    301 Mount Rainier National Park WA
    310 National Park of American Samoa AS
    326 North Cascades National Park WA
    333 Olympic National Park WA
    349 Petrified Forest National Park AZ
    373 Rocky Mountain National Park CO
    380 Saguaro National Park AZ
    399 Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks CA
    401 Shenandoah National Park VA
    416 Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND
    440 Virgin Islands National Park VI
    442 Voyageurs National Park MN
    454 Wind Cave National Park SD
    457 Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve AK
    460 Yellowstone National Park ID, MT, WY
    463 Yosemite National Park CA
    466 Zion National Park UT