Recent comments

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    We all need to learn to live with development. It is a driver of our economy. However, this project is a travesty that would irreversibly destroy a significant part of the heritage that makes our country what it is. This would be an insult to the people who gave their lives on this ground fighting for what they believed in.

    This impact goes well beyond the specific ground where the Wal Mart will be built. The views from the existing parts of the preserved battlefield will also be impaired. No longer will visitors be able to come here and get a true feel for what the terrain and ground looked like during the battle of the Wilderness. Of all major battles of the Civil War, the Wilderness is where terrain and vegetation were perhaps the most significant factors. Light pollution will forever change the night sky emitting a glow from the parking lots and signs for the commercial development. Increased traffic will produce noise, lower air quality, and further damage any opportunity for a positive visitor experience to a valuable cultural resource. Views and what they invoke in our souls are often the number one reason people give for visiting National Park areas.

    The local economy of tourism will also suffer from this type of development at this location. Thousands of people come to view the ground where the battle of the Wilderness took place. Much of this battlefield has already been lost to private development. This final step would be another nail in the coffin for this valuable cultural resource.

    I urge the government of Orange County, Virginia to take the destructive impacts of this development and not just the quick financial fix of local tax revenues into consideration. I urge Wal Mart to choose another less sensitive location closer to areas already developed to place their new store.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Although I have never been there and cannot picture the area, my advice to those concerned is if you can't stop it from coming, dictate the building code within proximity to the historic site. Require a certain percentage of green space per square foot of parking, require some unique facade to the building, require smaller signage restrictions including height, etc... These code restrictions have to be passed by the Planning commission. If you wait until after they give the go ahead, it will be too late. Some times the restrictions are to costly for even Wal-mart to want to continue because they like to make a cookie cutter store just like their last one. Worst case its slightly less an eye sore than no restrictions. Maybe this has already been done...just my thought.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    In early August I drove with a friend along the southern shore of Lake Superior, hitting three NPS sites: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, Keweenaw National Historical Site and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. We also dropped down and spent a few hours at St. Croix National Scenic River in Wisconsin.

    Surprisingly, because I usually favor natural spots, Keweenaw was my favorite of the stops. The ranger in Calumet was enthusiastic and informed, willing to talk about copper mining culture and architecture, which was of particular interest to my friend. A trip into one of the mines was an eye-opener -- both literally and figuratively.

    Also surprisingly, the rangers at the information desk in Apostle Islands were clueless when I asked about the formation of the Great Lakes and their geologic history. They said no one had ever asked them that before. Hard to believe. Thankfully they directed me to the one ranger who seemed to know something about it.

    The Lake Superior trip, from Duluth, MN, to Munising, MI, is worth a week of your time. See for more personal essays.

  • National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Thanks very much for expanding on that answer, d-2. I was sorely temped to include all of the Manhattan sites in the stem of question 1, but I wasn't 100% certain. It still boggles my mind that parks honoring presidents are closed on President's Day. I'll bet that a goodly number of Traveler readers who worked on this quiz thought "can't be true!" when they checked on the answer for question number one.

  • Fall From Tokopah Falls Kills Visitor to Sequoia National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I also witnessed the accident, and observed from the trail across from the fall (for a time with Andrea) the extreme urgency everyone felt to get help to Kevin. From the people who ran down the trail to get help, to the the people such as my and Andrea's husband who immediately ran down the rocks to Kevin's aide, to the trail maintenance guys who ran up and radioed for help, to the nurse on the trail who nervously got herself down the rocks to Kevin, to the medics and rangers who hiked up the almost 2 mile trail in just under an hour , and to the helicopter who had trouble finding a place to land due to the difficult terrain . I impart this information so that the family may hopefully find some peace that everyone did their best to help. But in the end, I also agree with Andrea, the fall was so severe I'm not certain a quicker response could have changed the tragic results. I am so, so sorry.

  • Did You Hear the One About President Obama's Trip To Yellowstone National Park?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    FYI, his trip was not announced way ahead of time ... (it just seems like it in today's ever shorter news cycle)

    DC does not shut down for presidential motorcades or visits (though there can be some really bizarre perimeters for the right sort of hairtrigger event -- you can get close to a hotel when the Pres speaks at it, but when the World Bank and IMF are in town, you can't get within 500 yards sometimes); I've gotten close to several in my times ... even was able to protest W's motorcade multiple times and Cheney another time ...

    On a lot of the posts about people complaining, it was clear that they were right wing; nevertheless, I can't imagine being too happy about it (no matter how far I swing the opposite direction).

    My own political preferences (or perhaps lack thereof) are well known; I'm not terribly impressed by anyone in power - left or right or dead center. I was much more interested reading the account of the chef in the Old Faithful Inn, the accounts of travelers, of a cyclist who was outside the park and saw something go by, and of the general reaction to it. In our upstairs/downstairs world, I guess I'm a downstairs kind of guy.

    There's a lot of important Yellowstone news in recent days, a lot of interesting accounts by travelers, a lot of people sharing the well of ideas. In the small matter of Obama's visit, I think it could have been mitigated and that at least in the couple days of warning on the itinerary, that people could have been better alerted as to road closings and such. That kind of information would have been far more useful than what we got out of media reports. And, it couldn't have really been a security issue--one newspaper even reported the plane departure time from West Yellowstone.

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

  • National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Regarding question # 1:

    It always broke my heart that Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS, as well as Federal Hall National Memorial , as well as General Grant National Memorial, all in Manhattan & ALL dedicated to extremely significant historical figures and Presidents (T. Roosevelt; G. Washington's inaugural site; Grant's Tomb) are ALL closed on President's Day.

    That is how tight the budget is for the national parks in Manhattan, or how unimaginative the leadership. At one point, an NPS Deputy Director had secured assurances that all these sites would be opened the following President's Day. Unfortunately, he and the Regional Director and the park manager all changed the next year. So, once again the sites were again closed on the very day they would most likely draw special attention.

    Weekends and holidays are not the right days to close historic sites, anyway.

  • Kids Advocacy Site Recognizes National Parks Traveler For Its Content and Approach   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Great news! I know as a writer or blogger you often wonder if you're putting all this work into it and it's just drifting off into space unappreciated. Here's one more confirmation that NPT is worth the effort!

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Went to Yosemite in July. The weather was perfect and the Tuolumne Meadows area was beautiful as usual. But crowded. Wish there were a way to keep large groups of motorcyclists off the Tioga Road. They run through with their noisy engines disturbing the peace.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    We also just came back from Glacier National Park, and had a wonderful time. We took the Glacier Lodge Tour and stayed at four great lodges. The food and rooms were wonderful (but the showers were a little snug). All of the people we met at the lodges, in the tour company, on the trails, etc. were wonderful. We'd go back in a heartbeat if there weren't so many other places on our list of places to go.

  • Eradicating Everglades Pythons Will be a Formidable Task   5 years 35 weeks ago

    All I can say is I hope Florida gets this under control.I live in South Carolina and the idea of seeing something like this in my back yard makes me HORRIFIED!!! These snakes should be banned.There is no excuse for anyone to have a pet like this.And what you are seeing in the everglades now is the proof.I also have seen stories that show Florida has every kind of venomous snake in the world running loose because of all the snakes nuts who let them get out, or release them on purpose.It is so ridiculous! Cobras,gaboon vipers,pythons.It makes no sense to me why this has been allowed to go on unchecked for so long.Now it may be too late to stop the snake's progress to other states.Thanks alot,Florida.

  • Kids Advocacy Site Recognizes National Parks Traveler For Its Content and Approach   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Congrats, Kurt -- well-deserved . . .

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 35 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 35 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 35 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 35 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 35 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 35 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 35 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.


    National Parks photos

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 35 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 35 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 35 weeks ago


    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.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 35 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 35 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 35 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...