Recent comments

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 46 weeks ago

    My heart goes out to their families. No matter how much you train and prepare accidents can still happen. Both John and Andrew seemed like very responsible and seasoned individuals.

    Winter adventure, Northeast USA

  • Historical Graffiti   5 years 46 weeks ago

    There is a rock in Idaho, Register Rock, where travelers of the Oregon Trail left their signatures. It is near Massacre Rock State Park, on the Snake River. Beautiful spot to camp and learn some great history.

  • Toddler Dies After Drinking Citronella Oil at Chickasaw National Recreation Area Campsite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I have visited over 150 np’s and i have never seen a caution sign about deadly chemicals. Maybe a paper list of poisonous chemical at the ranger entrance station or a sign at rest rooms and entrances or at the camping sites would be good. I feel for the Chickasaw couple's child who died. A good search of the area might have helped. I realize this is an extra expense to an already strained budget

    Maybe the np assoc should spend money providing signs and paper list of chemical poisons instead of promoting gun laws that favor the crooks. You know people who have passed fbi checks and weapon training are the bad guys and the crooks who carry concealed weapons receive a lot of tv and radio attention. Think about this opinion. I mean really think about it.

    Sorry i had to add this opinion. Bears, wolfs, and other potentially dangerous animals carry their concealed weapons in their mouth. It's only when they smile that you are aware they are about to use their weapon. Think about this when one is headed your way. Sorry for the soap box presentation, just had to do it,

    Bill Woodard, Dallas, Texas

  • National Park Mystery Photo 7: Who Was This Maiden?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Hint, NPS'er Jon Jarvis will know the answer to this one!

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Lauren, for many, pushing the edge a little bit heightens the intensity and beauty of life. From all accounts, these two gentlemen were highly skilled climbers and very analytical in their approach. Accidents can happen anywhere, from crossing the street to climbing a mountain. While their deaths were truly tragic and unfortunate, they were doing what they loved.

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 46 weeks ago

    That is so sad! Why do good people put themselves into dangerous situations when they have wonderful lives & wonderful loved ones??

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I was on Half Dome when Hirofumi Nohara slipped to his death on June 16, 2007. In fact, I was behind him about 2 people when he fell and could have been taken down with him. This was an experience that one cannot forget, yet I am reliving this in your tale of what happened last weekend. Seeing him slide.... and fall..... and slide... was horrific to say the least and I still think about it every now and then. You will too I'm afraid. It was a Sunday and very crowded on the cables, people going up and down and outside the cables. It was about 3:00 PM in the afternoon. I too remember thinking "don't panic now" "keep yourself together" right after it happened..... because I knew I had to get off that mountain! People were crying and several children visibly terrified. It was also horrifying to see the helicopter land and pick up his body, before we could descend. I am all for each person taking responsibility for their own actions in the wilderness but this hike is extremely difficult! I honestly don't think most of the hikers up there have any idea of the skills and equipment needed for this climb. To most of them, it's the satisfaction of just saying, "I did it". It is a beautiful hike for sure, but can turn precarious very quickly with so many people up there. Climb Safe!

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The cable itself is bouncing from all the people using it. As far as spacing goes, has anyone here seen how crowded it gets on a weekend? The problem is that if it were somehow restricted to only one person between each pair of poles, the wait would be several hours rather than maybe 30-40 minutes during peak season. If you've seen it when it's crowded, that's maybe 2-3 people in each segment. There are often gaps because one or more climbers gets terrified and slows down or take time to get recomposed at each plank.

    I don't recall exactly how many pairs of stanchions there are, but a quick look at photos and I'd guess maybe 36-40. That's a lot of clipping and unclipping.

  • Star Party Set for June 27 at Great Basin National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    National Parks are ideal places to enjoy a pristine view of a dark and starry night. All of the parks listed above offer virtually pristine views the night, but elsewhere, it becomes increasingly difficult to escape the distant effects of artifical light pollution.

    Light pollution is a major problem for urban parks. However, distant domes of light pollution from growing urban and suburban development has become more than evident along the western horizon from the top of Glacier Point in Yosemite, from Horse Pasture Plateau in Zion, from Panorama Point in Arches, and looking to the north from Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains. Digital cameras used at night in Death Valley can pick up domes of light pollution from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

    A view of a pristine night sky has been an experience that extended across all human cultures prior to the past century. Fortunately, through intelligent light planning and effective community lighting ordinances, light pollution can be substantially reduced and the pristine beauty of the night sky restored.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Should the Jackson Hole Airport Lease Extension Wait for Safety Audit?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    While not intending to take a stance pro or con on the question of the appropriateness of the airport's location, if somehow the NPS decided it should go, where might a new airport be based in the Jackson area? There's not an awful lot of flat ground around, and that which is flat is likely privately owned.

    While there might be some space on the Driggs, Idaho, side of the range, the need to traverse Teton Pass makes that location untenable. And down near Alpine, Wyoming, doesn't make sense due to the need to negotiate the Snake River Canyon to reach Jackson.

    Any suggestions?

  • Philatelists Rejoice: New Stamps Honoring Zion and Grand Teton National Parks On The Way   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Information on Zion First Day of Sale and cachets can be found on the Zion Natural History Association (park non-profit) website,


  • Should the Jackson Hole Airport Lease Extension Wait for Safety Audit?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The Nature Conservancy has proposed that the airport start the long overdue process of "repaying" Grand Teton NP for the land it has "taken". Since 533 acres has been taken out of service, those acres should be replaced by purchasing private land. Among other things, they propose a $5 per ticket fee to go to these private land purchases to expand the real park. Sounds good to me !

  • National Park Quiz 59: Only   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Craters of the Moon National Preserve is indeed a National Park System unit, MRC, even though it is jointly administered with the Bureau of Land Management. To state this in another way, Craters of the Moon National Preserve is included in the 391-count of National Park System units, even though managerial responsibility for the unit is shared with another federal agency. BTW, the Park Service uses the same four-letter code (CROM) for the monument and the preserve, and both units have the same Superintendent (Douglas Neighbor).

  • National Park Quiz 59: Only   5 years 46 weeks ago

    On No 6: The preserve land is owned and administrated by the BLM.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    All I can say is I guess most people don't have a clue what they are in for on this hike. I plan to go this upcoming Friday and will DEFINITELY be taking a harness with me......It seams like there will be a lot of other people there without harnesses and I don't want any of them falling onto me and taking me out!...I got babies to attend to. Respect the elements!

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    We've had quite a bit of comment traffic about this on my blog too.

    One thing about the harness/carabiner setup that worries me: if you fall and tug hard on the cable, wouldn't the cable bounce equally hard and perhaps cause others to lose their grip?

    As for taking others out -- it could happen but you'd never go farther than the next vertical pole with its T connector. I too have wondered about the domino effect, but it could be that the people are spaced far enough apart that the risk is not as great as it seems.

  • The National Park to Park Highway   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I watched this documentary recently on PBS and it was very interesting to learn about how few roads existed especially in National Parks. It was also interesting how the idea for this "highway" took shape and the people who made it a reality. If you are interested in the western National Parks at all this is a must see!

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Hi Rick,
    I just returned from Yosemite today, I climbed Half Dome for the first time Monday 6/15/09. I purchase your book about a year ago, and I've been training for this hike very seriously. I knew starting out on this hike I would be turning back if the weather didn't cooperate. Thanks for writing this most helpful guide. Hiking is my passion, thanks for getting me started. Julie
    P.S. Five years ago I was in a car accident and broke my wrist,hip and a compound break to my left femor.
    Hiking is great rehab. THANKS AGAIN .....Oh by the way the hike took me 12 hours, an hour and a half longer than your book says. Did you take into consideration age???? I'm 55 .

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   5 years 46 weeks ago

    [Climbing is allowed in only a few areas of Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is not one of them. It's too dangerous to climb in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone because the volcanic rock is too brittle.]

  • 8-Mile-Long Multi-use Path Opens in Grand Teton National Park On Saturday   5 years 46 weeks ago

    As an avid bicyclist and long time visitor to the park, I heartily welcome this addition. The park and environs offers plenty of additional options for hard core road and mountain bike fans. To me, a 16 mile round trip through the most beautiful spot on the planet sounds divine. I plan to be there as soon as possible.

    To those that planned and built this: Thank You!!!

  • Another Marina Fire At Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The ruined economy claims another victim through an insurance fraud fire sale...

    just saying.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    This latest death on Half Dome is a tragedy, as they all have been. However, it makes me crazy when folks blame the Park Service when something like this happens. If it was hailing and raining, why the HELL were people up there to begin with, despite MANY signs warning you not to get on the cables if there's a possibility of inclement weather? I understand that sometimes you get caught out, despite doing everything right, but from what I can tell from the first-hand accounts, it sounds like people were on their way UP when the rock was already wet -- that's just plain foolish. But this doesn't surprise me. I have been up Half Dome twice, and both times I saw what I can only characterize as completely inappropriate attire and behaviour out there. I saw people doing the hike in flip flops and Birkenstocks and even leather loafers. I saw a woman who was 6 months pregnant attempting the climb, with her friend who had just had major knee surgery 3 weeks prior. They had 1 sixteen oz. bottle of water between the two of them for the whole hike, and no food at all -- we shared ours with them because we were worried they wouldn't make it back down, otherwise. We saw kids as young as 7 up there. And yet, if you are paying any attention at all, it's perfectly clear from signs everywhere, as well as what any ranger will tell you if you talk to them, that this hike is VERY strenuous and that you need to be properly prepared and not be up there if the conditions are poor. The Park Service has a responsibility to make people aware of the dangers of such a hike, and instruct them on how to prepare, but they can't legislate stupidity with quotas or anything else. People who don't properly prepare are making a very stupid decision, but it is one for which we can't hold anyone else responsible.

    Also, to the people who are clipping onto the cables with ropes and harnesses, that's all well and good for YOU, but what about the other people who are on the cables at the same time? Seems to me that you're making your own life more secure while potentially endangering them, if your gear inhibits their ability to grab onto the cables where they need to, etc.

  • Pruning the Parks: It Took the Park Service Over 20 Years to Get Out from Under the Kennedy Center (1972-1994)   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I certainly did not mean to imply that Cuyahoga's Blossom Music Center, the theater and amphitheater at Chamizal National Memorial, and other performing arts venues in the National Park System are not worthy of discussion. But on this, the 37th anniversary of the Kennedy Center's addition to the NPS, the spotlight is on the Kennedy Center. The references to Wolf Trap and Ford's Theatre belong in the story because they are contemporaneous (Hartzog era) NPS forays directly into the performing arts (and, in the case of Wolf Trap, a precedent setting foray into that realm).

  • Pruning the Parks: It Took the Park Service Over 20 Years to Get Out from Under the Kennedy Center (1972-1994)   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Don't forget the Blossom Music Center within Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Akron and Cleveland. It's another major venue of performing arts in the national park system.

  • Tourist Traffic At Hawaiian National Parks Way Down This Year   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Airfares are up? Really? It seems to me like flights have been very affordable & lower than in recent years. Admittedly, I haven't researched costs to fly to Hawaii. That's not to say people aren't going...but I'd imagine it's due to cutting back rather than increased airfares.