Recent comments

  • Hidden Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I would like to point out a typo above... although many would probably claim the typo to be true:

    The document referenced to is NOT the "DECELERATION of Independence", but the "DECLARATION of Independence". I'm wondering how long this typo has been around with out anyone noticing??

    Probably as long as our liberties have been undermined and no one seems to notice... hm... [Eds. note: Thanks for the headsup. We've fixed the typographigial booboo. You're the first to spot it -- at least, you're the first readster to tell us about it. The veery next time we see Jeremy we'll be sure to tell him about his mistaken and make him promise never to do it agin.]

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    The 2008 summer map and guide for Zion National Park says on Angels's Landing: "Strenuous, 5 miles/4 hours round trip,
    climbs 1,488 feet. Warning! Steep Cliffs. Not for anyone fearful of heights."

    I think that sums it up quite well. After you've read this description, it is your responsibility to decide if this is a trip for you and your family. I've seen kids age 5 that were able to do things like that. And there are people in their 20s, who haven't seen mountains, not to mention sheer rock, before and should not even think about it. The NPS is not your nanny. Think for yourself.

    Congratulation to all four of you. Your husband gave your kids a tremendous experience, they can cherish for a lifetime. And if you decided not to go beyond Scott's Landing, that was probably the right decision for you. But please don't expect the government to make that decision for you or any other visitor.

    Disclosure: Been there, done that. I climbed Angel's Landing many years ago, age 22, when I was an experienced hiker and climber for a number of years.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    With only 5 official Angel's Landing deaths in the parks 100 years, I think there is a little bit of overreacting when this topic is discussed. Don't get me wrong, I have hiked Angel's Landing numerous times, and this is a serious hike, but the scariest part for me, an experienced canyoneer, is always the other hikers you encounter once you pass Scout's Landing, which make maneuvering around the trail almost impossible since they are "white knuckled" to the chain and scared to death to move. I'm heading back to Zion next week, and I think Angel's Landing will be on the agenda for this trip as well.

  • Day Hike Turns Fatal at Mount Rainier National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    And this rescue cost the American taxpayers how much? Also (unless things have changed since I was responsible for calculating annual SAR costs) it you want to get a more accurate figure when calculating the total annual SAR costs for all NPS areas, why don't you start including such things as the salaries for the climbing rangers (who have SAR as one of their primary functions) who are stationed in areas such as Yosemite, Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, and Denali; the cost of specialized SAR training for NPS personnel; the cost of "donated services" such as the use of Military aircraft (both fixed wing and rotary wing) and personnel; and the use of volunteer SAR groups such as Rocky Mtn. Rescue, Alpine Rescue, all of whom have more than their share of expenses relating to SAR missions. Once these "additional expenses" have been figured in, this new "Total SAR Costs" figure might just lead to a more open discussion on the need for requiring "recreational insurance" for NPS visitors who are enaged in "high risk" acitivities such as technical climbing, whitewater kayaking/rafting, winter mountaineering, etc.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Spawns Vandalism   5 years 44 weeks ago

    To "Me",

    I do agree with you that the vandals should be dealt with severely, just not quite in the vigilante-style that you suggest. There our agreement ends.

    Please, DO get your facts straight before you take up this issue. The Consent Decree in place also prohibits PEDESTRIAN access to many of these areas as well. Even the people who would like to get a look at these birds CANNOT, unless you are an employee of the NPS. Better get a really powerful zoom lens if you want a picture of a Plover!

    The local business owners are protesting losing the RIGHT TO OPEN ACCESS to the beaches, NOT resource protection. Resource protection has been in place for many years now, and is nothing new to locals/those who frequent these areas. What IS new is the radical approach to the issue. Good faith negotiations amongst all opposing special interest groups were abandoned by the environmentalists in favor of court injunctions, without public comment. These are NATIONAL and PUBLIC lands that belong to the citizens of this country, and we have a place at the bargaining table also.

    This is what angers most people, especially locals who depend greatly on the surf fishing public’s dollars for their income. These folks are FAR from “throwing nature under the bus”, as you so wrongly suggest. The most highly prized surf-fishing area on the East Coast is now effectively closed to all humans, and it is having an economic impact! Have you no empathy, even in this economy? Put yourself in their shoes for a bit.

    The NPS is also “relocating” predator species from the area in the name of the birds. Foxes, raccoons, opossum, minks, otters, nutria, etc. are either being trapped or SHOT to drive down predation. Now just who is “throwing what under where”, here? When we as humans believe we have the right to play God and decide what creatures deserve to live AND where, we have truly failed as a species. Natural selection is being compromised!

    Have you ever actually been to Hatteras Island? By your uninformed statements, my guess would be you have not. Take a look at the geography of the islands on “Google Earth”, learn a bit about this rugged and mostly desolate area, and how remote many of the affected beaches truly are. Look at the lack of public parking for beachgoers. Go down there and do your own independent study of the area and relate your findings back to this forum. Oh! Please employ the scientific method in your studies versus knee-jerk reactions to your predisposed notions, just for clarity!

    As far as you personally not spending you money down there, keep it. Spouting uninformed rhetoric to your friends to keep them away, so be it. You won’t be missed.


  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 44 weeks ago

    No one has forgotten that our Parks are for the people of this country, the regulations put in place are because historically there are jerks who have no respect for our park property or the wildlife that lives there, to save them it is necessary to restrict some usage so other generations to come may enjoy them also.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    My husband, two sons ages 16 and 13, and I just returned from Zion. We hiked the Narrows one day, it was our favorite part of the trip, and hiked up to (my husband and sons, not I) Angel's Landing. I stayed at Scout's Landing. I started to hike up Angel's Landing and came back down before I made it to "Chicken Out" point. My husband has ankle and feet problems so I knew it would be a while before he made the trek there and back. We were not fully aware of the strenuousness of this hike or the very narrow parts and gaps in the rock. As I sat at Scout's Landing I saw several people returning from what I assume was a full hike up to Angel's Landing. I saw everyone from older (60's possibly) heavy set women to children who looked to be 5 or 6 holding their parent's hand coming down the first set of chains after Scout's Landing. One little girl looked like a mountain goat as she hopped down holding her dad's hand. I was terrified for her the whole time. When my husband and son's made it back approx. one and a half hours later he commented "That was the most irresponsible thing I have ever done as a parent." He couldn't believe that he allowed his two children to make that hike. He said there were several times that he sat down and contemplated turning back but the boys talked him into pressing on. I was so happy to see them return that I gave them a standing ovation. I'm sure everyone else on Scout's Landing thought I was crazy but I was just so glad that hadn't fallen over the edge.
    Maybe there should be an age limit for this hike and the suggestion of making it a permit only hike might also be appropriate. I wouldn't want anyone to miss the opportunity to make their own decision about this hike but they should be more strenuously forwarned of the possible dangers.

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I am very happy that everything turned out for the best. The same thing almost happened to my wife and I last October. We took a month long trip from Florida to many places out west, especially Utah. Microsoft Streets and Trips did the same thing to us. I always use Streets and Trips to lay out a trip because it allows you to program overnights, time for sightseeing, eating, etc. It wanted us to travel from Escalante to Big Water by the same Smokey Mountain Road. When I put the route into Mapsource, Garmin's mapping program, to program my GPS, it showed the same route. However, I got suspicious when Mapsource showed it as a broken line, which means unpaved. Since we are from Florida and not used to mountain driving, I then checked out all of the roads in our route that were not Interstates, US Highways, or state highways to make sure that we could traverse them. What I found was that this road ran mainly through the middle of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Mounment, a BLM property. This is a relativley new monument with mainly very rugged roads and almost no development. In fact the BLM map shows this road as an ATV road. I even looked at the road on Google Maps satellite view and I could see that it was very rugged. I found this to be true all over the southwest, especially BLM properties. BTW, the BLM calls it Smokey Mountain Road where the mapping programs and Google Maps calls part of it Missing Canyon Road. By either name, it goes from Big Water to Escalante. If they were 45 miles from Bigwater, they were definitely in BLM territory and only about 21 miles from Escalante. I am amazed they got that far in a sedan.

    The problem seems to be with Navteq, the company that supplies the mapping for Garmin and Streets and Trips among others. They seem to consider these unpaved roads as viable routes regardless of condition. Also, the newer and cheaper GPS units only allow you to put in your destination and it picks the route. My old Streetpilot and my new Nuvi 750 allow me to make up the route.

    The lesson here is to research where you are going and to check with the Ranger stations about current conditions. Had they done their research, they could have used the route avoidance procedures available in most GPS units.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   5 years 44 weeks ago

    It is my belief that if the Park Service is willing to protect all the visitors that enter the Park and are capable of doing so then a Licensed, Trained, Concelled Carry Permit guest to the park does not need to carry a gun. If the Park Service fails to protect a guest then the Park Service should be liable for any and all claims for failur to protect a guest. If the park service is not will to accept responsibility or is unable to protect all the guests, I believe a Licensed, trained concelled carry permit guest should be allowed to carry a gun.

    My 2 cents

  • Creature Feature: Texas Banded Gecko   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Thank you Chance! You help me relive my childhood.. memories of looking for all kinds of critters. I loved them all! Thanks.

  • Creature Feature: The American Marten   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Another good one Chance! He looks so loveable. It sure would be nice to see one... but I guess the Smokey Mtn's don't have these guys.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   5 years 44 weeks ago

    We've got a Traveler article on park designation in preparation. I think you'll find it very interesting. Meanwhile, I stand by my statement that park designations should matter. It should be obvious that I'm not saying that we should apply different standards of protection. I'm only saying that the labels we give things should matter for grouping purposes. As far as the NRAs go, it's misleading to imply that NRAs don't have mass recreation facilities.

  • Protest Against American Revolution Center at Valley Forge National Historical Park Planned for May 15   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I am a professional historian with a personal research interest/ focus in the American Revolution era, and I believe the American Revolution Center is a needed resource. It will enhance the public's understanding of what it took to become a free and independent nation. It will enhance the visitors' experience and appreciation for, and will not harm or encroach upon, the priceless cultural resource that is Valley Forge National Historical Park. In fact, it will put the events of the Valley Forge winter into proper context. Children in school get precious little about the history of our great nation in class these days, and even less about our War for Independence. History education often falls victim to "self-esteem" raising activities and other social concerns, or gets hijacked by the "blame America first" factions in popular culture and media all too often enough. A better and deeper appreciation of our national heritage would of itself raise the self-esteem of every American, young and old alike. If we are going to leave the job of instructing our next generation of citizens that freedom isn't free, or patriotism isn't a passé concept, to the parents of America, then we must give them the resources to do so. SUPPORT - DON'T PROTEST - THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION CENTER!

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Eek. Indiana Dunes sounds like a terrible place. "...additional boating, ORV's mostly of the ATV and dirt bike nature, jet skis and other personal watercraft, and you might as well bulldoze the dunes and make the park into a perfectly level beach, destitute of native vegetation and wildlife."

    Let's be accurate here. jest skis are banned at Indiana Dunes. The primary boating in the lakeshore is kayaks. ATVs and ORVs are prohibited and rarely a problem. The park has the 7th highest diversity of plant life of any park in the system. It includes 4 national natural landmarks. It has 28 native species or orchids. The bogs, fens, and marshes are incredibly beautiful and the park canno keep up with the demand for places to go fishing from the lake shore or riversides.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   5 years 44 weeks ago

    ???????????? Bob - Have you been to a National Recreation Area? I defy you to find any difference in protection of the resource at Santa Monica Mountains versus Mount Rainier or Deleware Water Gap versus Everglades. This idea that NRAs are some sort of lesser protected areas is nonsense. It is Yosemite that has a golf course, not Glen Canyon. Sequoia had a ski lift until recently. You really need to help your readers understand that the title designations of units in the National Park System DENOTE NOTHING. It is the individual legislation for each park that sets its management guidelines as well as the univeral NPS laws and policies.

  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Please note that most of the "Civil Disobedience" is being committed by pedestrians, and not ORV's, at a ratio of~ 26:2. Unpopular regualtions are many times met with way more disobedience that has occured on Hatteras Island. I personally think that this speaks of the ongoing commitment of the majority of Hatteras and Ocracoke beachgoers to obey the NPS/Consent Decree rules, even though they disagree with them. You should point out these positive facts when you write about this area, and not just the perceived negative ones. Make a visit to the area and see for yourself!

    Here's a link to an article in a Hatteras Island local newspaper. The article describes an Oystercatcher nest within feet of a 55 MPH highway, and the vehicles don't seem to bother the birds a bit. However, pedestrians DO seem to bother the birds, as they fly away at every approach.

    Photographic proof included!

    It just goes to show that these bird species ARE adaptable, and that ORV's are not the scourge of the beach, as many would have everyone believe.

  • Geotourism Map Shows You Around the Crown of the Continent   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Very cool !! Check this out.

  • Ribbon-Cutting Planned for $70,000 "Bio Toilet" at Mount Rainier National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I realize that the toilet was donated, still I'm surprised nobody's raised a "big stink" (pun intended) about spending $70k on a toilet.

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Unfortunately Fred I believe every bit of your experience, as I've encountered much the same, especially over the past 5 or so years. The frequency as of late isn't just alarming, is scary to someone who knows that they possess the training and experience to survive in the wilderness, and would NEVER be so bold as to attempt even a day hike without the required "essential" gear; food, water (or something similar), first aid kit, maps, etc. I'd sooner leave the cell phone and other electronic gear behind than get stuck without nutrients if things were to go unexpectedly wrong. Can't live on off a cell phone battery very long!

    Don't get me wrong. Some of those roads throught the BLM lands in that area offer spectacular scenery and wilderness opportunities, especially those running from US 89 up to Tropic. One of them, Cottonwood Canyon Road is an awesome experience, for camping, hiking and photography. Another road who's name escapes me at the moment, that's basically a SW-NE through the southwestern tip of Escalante from near Kanab to Tropic along the Pink Cliffs might be even better, but with more cattle ranches. But if you're dumb enough to attempt traversing these paths on a summer's day in the late morning / early afternoon, without stocking up the cooler, using your Camero or BMW or Taurus, you'll be thinking radiator fluid is a gourmet drink come sundown. Granted the ethylene glycol won't kill you, in small quantities. So be sure you share!

    And buy the Indian Country Road Maps, available almost everywhere in the area, BEFORE you plan your route. Provided you can actually read a map, these publications far outshine ANY maps for these areas that I've ever tried. Rand McNally? Sure to get you lost. Garman GPS (or RouteFinder or any of the others)? I wouldn't stake my life on them, which is exactly what you're doing in that area. BLM maps? Not bad, but not worth the money. This was not a paid endorsement...........

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I wonder the same thing Lone Hiker. You wouldn't believe the number of people I've met on the trail, miles from the trailhead, who are wearing sneakers and carrying a cellphone in one hand and bottle of water in the other and nothing else. No pack, no compass, no chart, nothing. Amazing.

  • Bryce Canyon's Navajo Loop Trail, Closed by a Rock Slide in 2006, Is Reopened   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I was one of the persons that was standing at the point of impactof the slide. It was horrifying- I remember a few pebbles hitting the ground and then the hairs on the back of my neckwent up and i scremed at my boyfriend- RUN- it was a earthquake, the worst thunder noice one has ever heard and dust as in 9-11. I remember thinking it is a beautiful day to die- but I wantedto hold my boyfriends hand when i died. We only made it out by the grace of GOD. I was in complete shock for2 days after that.

  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 44 weeks ago

    But you forget parks are for people to enjoy. The closures restrict anyone from using that portion of the park that historically has been open to park visitors to enjoy.

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    My opinion is that the Bass combo is far easier, from a trail-finding perspective, navigating from South-North. Losing the exit trail, the lower South Bass heading up to the rim, isn't all that difficult to do when approaching from the river. They made a great decision to head back to the river, as even if rescuers hadn't promptly found them they most likely would have run into one of the many sympathetic river parties who often make camp in the general area, and at the very least would have been able to obtain a limited amount of suppliers from them, and again most likely, would have been able to avail themselves of the tour's radio gear and put out a may-day. They failed to make the biggest blunder that most "lost" hikers do, that is, losing one's capacity for rational thought. As far as what we can learn from their errors, KEEP THINKING and don't get overly emotional. That alone increases your chances for success exponentially over the lost, frightened, irrational wanderer.

    Again, nothing like a happy ending!

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 44 weeks ago

    There's nothing quite like a happy ending. But this is exactly the type of incident that is going to propagate as technology savvy rookies venture into the real world guided by electronics instead of preparing with advance research. The more techy gadgets we give people, the less they tend to actually think for themselves, somehow figuring that the gadget knows more about conditions that the local sinage, info / tourist centers, and local patrons. Lucky only begins to describe this couple. Those washboard roads are difficult enough at 20 MPH when dry and the path is somewhat visible, let alone after they wash out in a storm, or when the temps climb into the 100's and your engine overheats. Makes you wonder why they had water and nothing else.........

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago


    The call for a SAR went out when the couple failed to show up in Prescott on a previously agreed upon date. I'm not exactly sure where they lost the trail. Park officials said simply that they "overshot" their exit route and went into the wrong side canyon. Hydration didn't seem to be a major problem, as they supposedly found a water source that they remained close to. They were found when they decided, due to dwindling food, to head down to the river with hopes of finding help and ran into searchers.