Recent comments

  • Kids Advocacy Site Recognizes National Parks Traveler For Its Content and Approach   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Congrats, Kurt -- well-deserved . . .

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I went to a few parks in late June in the Maryland region. I spent a couple of days at Assateague Island National Seashore. I visited both the Virginia area as well as the Maryland portion. The restrooms in Maryland were open and as clean as possible with the volume of use. The restrooms in the Virginia section were actually in a visitor's center that seemed to be part of the National Wildlife Refuge system - but tidy and open. The entrance booth in both areas were occupied and offered maps. The bugs were bad - but I can't blame the NPS for that. Trails seemed maintained.

    On the same trip, I visited Ft. McHenry in Baltimore and loved it. Rangers all around - bathrooms open. We also hit the Hampton Historic Site -- great tour from a volunteer (I believe) ranger.

    Same trip I visited a few battlefields - Monocaccy, Bull Run and Antietam. All seemed to have rangers and resources available.

    I ended this trip in Washington DC -- too many Park Service sites to list. I have to comment that I was surprised at the limited hours the last week in June. I never made it to the White House Visitor Center when it was open (closed at 4:00 pm on a Sunday). The restrooms near there (separate outbuilding closer to the White House) also were closed. I get it -- it's a Sunday -- but the number of people that I saw trying to find an open bathoom leads me to believe that they could stand some later hours. Many of the memorials can be greatly enjoyed at night (after official open hours) but I was concerned with 'open hours' so that I could hit a bathroom and get my passport stamped. In DC, I didn't see many rangers and those I did were surrounded by visitors wanting attention. I'm not sure you could actually ever hire enough rangers for DC in the summer.

  • Kids Advocacy Site Recognizes National Parks Traveler For Its Content and Approach   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This recognition is indeed an honor for National Parks Traveler. It is also an indication that this informative site is attracting a very wide and diverse readership.

    Thank you Kurt for a job very well done. Thank you too for your continued commitment to strive for the highest standards of coverage and reporting.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III   5 years 28 weeks ago

    After Grand Canyon National Park was established in 1919, incorporating the Forest Service-administered Grand Canyon National Monument, a second Grand Canyon National Monument was created (on December 22, 1932). It was this second Grand Canyon National Monument that existed until 1975. On January 3, 1975, Grand Canyon National Park was greatly expanded in size by the addition of this second Grand Canyon National Monument, Marble Canyon National Monument, portions of Glen Canyon and Lake Mead national recreation areas and additional lands.

    Here's another thing to ponder. If you visit the National Park Service History website and go to the section on National Park System Birthdays, this is what the entry for Grand Canyon National Park looks like:

    January 11, 1908 — Grand Canyon National Monument, Arizona. (Later Grand Canyon National Park, 1919)

    Since Grand Canyon National Monument belonged to the U.S. Forest Service in 1908, and could in no way be considered a national park at that time, the users of this listing can be forgiven if they are a little confused about what anniversary date should be celebrated at Grand Canyon National Park.

  • National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I think #7 was a fairly simple question about when a place achieved a full National Park designation.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    My most recent visit was to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument and Lake Meredith NRA, both just outside of Amarillo, TX. I got the quarry tour at Alibates, which was fantastic and interesting. The biggest plus was that I hiked around that morning in my fleece jackets, which is really unusual for a Texas summer.

  • National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Your answer on Grand Canyon for #7 is correct, but the history is even more complicated. Grand Canyon was established as a forest reserve in 1893, administered by the Government Land Office, part of DOI. From 1905 - 1908 it was a Forest Reserve administered by Forest Service; 1908-1919 it was a National Monument administered by Forest Service. In 1919 it became a National Park, administered by NPS. The trail since then actually becomes murkier: separate NPS lands data for Marble Canyon NM (1969-1975) from establishment until merger with Grand Canyon NP makes sense, but why are there separate NPS lands data for Grand Canyon NM versus Grand Canyon NP until 1975: was there a _second_ Grand Canyon National Monument designated and then merged with the National Park in 1975? Now that would be a real stumper in a quiz!

  • Sound Advice For Backcountry Travelers in the National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I couldn't agree more with Kristof. If you think that's a "joke" from a NY guy, you may want to check Ray Jardine's "Beyond Backpacking". You can think what you want about Jardine, but not that he is an outdoor lightweight.

    Tuan.

    National Parks photos

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I have to give a shout out to our historical parks. My most recent visit was to Harpers Ferry. The facilities were clean and well kept. The shuttle bus had a great audio program that provided interesting information on our ride to the downtown area. I went on a two hour ranger-led hike that not only featured a ton of information but beautiful scenery as well. As always, the rangers were super-friendly and helpful. The park always has interesting events going on--when I was there they had re-enactors camping out and wandering the town--truly making for a "time travel" atmosphere. Every time I've visited there I've had a great experience--and I will go back again.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I spent a week at Acadia in July - I think it was one of the only sunny weeks they had all summer! It was wonderful! This was my 1st solo RV trip and Acadia was an excellent destination. The Island Explorer bus made things very easy! I camped out at Blackwoods and would take the bus into Bar Harbor daily and go from there. I took advantage of a number of ranger programs and learned a lot about the island. There was plenty of parking at the visitor center for my RV, in fact a few days I drove my RV out to the VC to charge it's batteries, it was much easier than parking in Bar Harbor and I could get back to Blackwoods via the Park Loop Road!

    The ranger at the information station off the Village Green in Bar Harbor was especially helpful! I went in with questions one day and he chatted with me and gave me some suggestions for other activities. A few days later I had more questions and when I went back to ask them the ranger remembered me and asked how the other days had gone! :-)

    I enjoyed both the "wilderness" aspect and the "civilized" aspect! One day I hiked to Penobscot and Sargent Mts and saw vistas that many Acadia visitors never see, but after my hike I was able to check my email and get in touch with friends on my phone in Bar Harbor!

    Acadia is truly the best of all worlds! Looking forward to returning someday!

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Rangers?

    I still can't say enough about Shelton Johnson at Yosemite NP. I know he's currently on tour with Ken Burns promoting the new National Parks series on PBS, but I can't think of a better ambassador for the National Park Service.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADoZHEszdY0

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Since my visits have been of varied duration, I'll give my last three - most recent first. All were within the last month.

    Point Reyes National Seashore. Stopped for a place to sit down and eat lunch (bought at a deli) and use the "facilities". I would say their new ones at the Bear Valley visitor center picnic area are extremely well maintained, they've got the new waterless urinals, and the Xcelerator driers are a nice touch. I'll walk across from the visitor center (which has its own older bathrooms) if I need to go.

    I went to Muir Woods National Monument with relatives. I'm all for "sustainable agriculture" but the new snack bar concession only has that and the prices to reflect it. All I got was coffee for $2 which allowed me to get as many refills as I wanted. It was $7 for a hot dog (about double what the previous snack bar used to charge), which is more than I'd pay at a baseball game. If this is all that's ever going to be available, then I think the NPS might be in trouble with shouts of "elitism".

    Yosemite is Yosemite - even with low water. My campground was visited daily by bears and one bear managed to score big when a neighbor's bear box didn't properly lock. Yosemite Falls is low on water, but Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall look pretty good. Personally I think Vernal Fall looks better when it's not peak flow - as a sheer curtain rather than as a raging waterfall. Tioga Road wasn't very crowded (parking at Olmstead point was easy enough). The Mist Trail was crowded, but worth facing all those people.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Northern Flying Squirrel and other Threatened Mammals   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I attended a countywide planning meeting yesterday where the county Planning Commission heard testimony from a number of experts in the fields of community planning, ocean sciences, economics, agriculture and commercial developments. Tourism is the primary economic driver for our county followed by agriculture, science and fishing. The ocean environment is particularly of critical importance to local residents. The meeting was open to the public, and the room was packed with people standing along the walls. We were treated to reports of deterioration of the surrounding coral reefs and loss of marine habitat. The updated countywide plan will include an expected three meter rise in sea level over the coming decades. Such a rise will have devastating impacts on the island coastal ecosystems and on communities and properties adjacent to beaches and within low areas that will be increasingly prone to storm surge flooding. There is also the concern that freshwater aquifers will be contaminated by rising salt water levels invading reserves. These concerns face virtually all coastal areas around the world.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We've visited a great number of parks within the last year and a half. They are all wonderful and we've done some amazing things! Our most recent trip was to Texas. The highlight of my parks there was watching a turtle release at Pade Islands National Seashore. It was very special to watch these turtles make their trek to the ocean. We also went on a canoe trip in Big Thicket while visiting the Texas area. Very fun. As for rangers who stand out in my mind... last year we were in Boston and went to Minute Man. The ranger there who lead the Wayside House tour was the most passionate about his job of any ranger I've met. He knows his stuff and he shares the knowlegde passionately with the people on his tours. The Superintendent at Fort Larned in Kansas also was excellent. We arrived later than we had planned and got there shortly before closing. The Superintendent kept the buildings open for us to tour and actually reopened the visitor center for us so we could watch the movie and go through the museum. Above and beyond, for sure. I will say that of the 55+ parks we've visited this last year, all the rangers were outstanding with the exception of one. Not bad...

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    WAY TOO SHORT!!!

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We had a similar experience as the previous Smokies report. Trails were maintained very well. Facilities were all at least adequate, although a pit toilet at Abram Falls would have been appreciated. Rangers on the trails were great. Rangers at the Sugarlands VC (near Gatlinburg) were not very knowledgeable about the trails. They (three of them) went to consult the same book I had in my hands for information. They did save me from making some long, inadvisable drives.
    The visitor center near Cherokee has very poor signage, at least from the north. We missed it, and had a bit of an adventure finding the Deep Creek/Indian Creek trail.
    The road to Cades Cove could have been better. It would be best if it were two lanes of one way traffic, so that there didn't end up being a train of 20 cars (no exaggeration) because the guy in front was real slow or had never seen a deer before. We would have loved a simple cafeteria at Cades Cove; we ended up making a meal out of various snacks in the trunk.
    I would love it if there were signs in the Visitor Centers advising of closed trails. I had to ask to find out that we needed to rearrange plans for a couple days to get a trail open for us.
    Having said all of this, it was a great trip, and we are very grateful for everyone at the park. This is entirely meant to be constructive.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Our most recent NP trip was to Great Basin in the spring -- it was a first-time visit, but hopefully not the last. I know better than to doubt the reason any NP visit is worth the drive, and this park was no exception. We toured the Lehman Caves, which was absolutely mind-blowing. The ranger who led us on the tour was great -- she was incredibly knowledgeable about the history and geology of the place and had a great sense of humor. Great trip!

  • Kids Advocacy Site Recognizes National Parks Traveler For Its Content and Approach   5 years 28 weeks ago

    "More shallow"? Are you implying.....;-)

    Thanks for the note. If anything, this will force us to ratchet up our standards and strive for more thorough coverage and thoughtful, as well as thought-provoking, content.

  • National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The original question #11 was problematic and has been replaced. As tomp has pointed out (nice catch!), Miami-Dade County is not the only U.S. County that borders on two or more National Park-designated NPS units. Rather than messing around with a fix, your humbled quizmeister has elected to throw out the question.

    Thanks to a heads up from Anon, a poorly chosen distractor has been replaced in question #7. Katmai National Monument was established (mainly to preserve the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes) in 1918, well in advance of Alaska statehood. Thus, while it is technically correct to say that Katmai National Park was created through a redesignation in 1980, it's much more accurate to say that Katmai was already an NPS unit in 1918. There is no mention of Katmai in the revised question #7.

    The quizmeister also expanded the answer for question #7 to include a more detailed explanation of why Grand Canyon National Park cannot be considered a correct answer to the question.

  • Kids Advocacy Site Recognizes National Parks Traveler For Its Content and Approach   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Congrats. Never heard of them, but i'm not their target audience obviously. Anyway, I hope this wonderful space for discussions will not become more shallow now in order to be "kid friendly". It should always be possible to call stupidity and idiocy in uncertain terms, while maintain civility towards everyone involved in discussions.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We're doing a few day trips this month. Last Saturday we spent the day driving up into North Cascades and found it as beautiful as ever. We had no [and sought no] interactions with rangers or lodging as we were just doing a wanderabout.

    Next Saturday we're driving up to Paradise on Mt Rainier for lunch and back [it's as good of an excuse as any to visit the mountain that I find to be a cathedral]. We last visited Mt Rainier in June, and other than the crowds it was marvelous. In a couple of weeks we'll be over to Olympic NP and in October we'll be visiting the Hoh Rainforest.

    Yes, living in the Pacific Northwest is a richness.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We visited Yellowstone last month. The Park RV sites were full and we had to stay outside at West Yellowstone. From what I heard this may have been a good compromise. We had access to great places to eat in West Yellowstone and we were right next to the Park entrance. We also had a breatheable camp space, not the ultra tight spaces people talk about in the Park. Why not expand the spaces in the Park???We stayed a week and could have stayed a month. Wildlife, geysers, rangers all in the awesome category. Stimulus money directed toward our National Parks would be well spent.

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 28 weeks ago

    A problem is something that prevents or frustrates what you want to do. A good security system is a problem to a burglar. A martial arts expert is a problem to a mugger. And a bear can be a problem to people who want to go camping without getting eaten. Likewise, the bear views the rangers as problems because they keep trying to prevent her from feasting on the banquet set out for her at the campground. It all depends on your perspective. You have Ed Abbey and the bears on one side, most casual park visitors on the other side, and the good rangers of Glacier National Park in the middle trying to keep everyone (bears, Abbeyites, and weekenders) happy. That's the toughest job, and I wouldn't think of second guessing their work.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Went to Acadia in June. Wonderful time. Rained almost every day, which was fine with us, because that always keeps the people away. Every interaction with an NPS employee was awesome. Found a great kayak guide, though he wasn't an NPS person. The Thursday that was our getaway day, the traffic and parking became pretty intense. We were happy to be out of there and on our way to New Brunswick before the weekend!

    Last summer we went to Theodore Roosevelt, Badlands, Yellowstone, Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic. All of those were wonderful except Yellowstone. The problem was that we did the drive-thru with only a day to spend there. We were driving home on I94 through Bozeman and decided to take the scenic route through Wyoming so I could show my wife the iconic sights in Yellowstone. We all know you can't appreciate Yellowstone from a car, and on a Saturday in August...let's just say I've been less stressed navigating New York City. But that certainly isn't fair, since I've spent two weeks there and know what you have to do to really see the place.

    Friendliest rangers were at the Hoh Rainforest station in Olympic. Got into a bird discussion with a ranger there, completely unrelated to rainforests. She was knowledgeable and engaging, but also genuinely interested in hearing some of my experiences that went beyond hers. I tried to get her to help me make fun of the people complaining about rain while standing under a big sign that said Hoh Rainforest, but just got a knowing smile. Then we went out into the rain and enjoyed the Hoh trail sans people on a weekend in August. We pray for rain every time we're in a park on a busy day!

    Best campground was the Cottonwood in Theodore Roosevelt. Waking up to strange sounds at sunrise and strolling down to the Little Missouri River 150 yards from our tent to find a herd of bison getting a morning drink is quite the experience. Nice, private tent spots, too.

    Yikes, I forgot we went canoeing in Sleeping Bear Dunes this past May...that was an awesome time too. The rangers in Sleeping Bear are some of the friendliest anywhere. That's our "home" park, so we go at least once every year.

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Stop being so critical. The rangers are doing a very difficult job under very difficult cirumstances. If they did nothing and somebody got mauled, then you would be complaining about that. Give them some credit. They really do care.