Recent comments

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Just what we need: a bunch of violence-predisposed people carrying guns in our national parks, which historically are among the safest places in the entire country. Facts clearly indicate there is no need for this. As the previous person wrote, I will feel much less safe if this becomes law. I have no problem with responsible gun owners. But the reality is I am far, far more likely to encounter an IRRESPONSIBLE gun owner (of whom there are legion, based on the daily stories of previously "law-abiding citizens" who decided to shoot someone for no reason) than I am to encounter a bear or other danger requiring a firearm. There simply aren't many cases where you'd need a gun in a national park, and I'd much rather take my chances with the wildlife than shoot-first-ask-questions-later gun lovers. If the good Senator Coburn is so eager to have the entire nation armed at all times, when is he going to push a law that allows tourists to carry guns into the Senate?

  • Mountain Life To be Celebrated In Festival at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Dang, this is exactly the kind of fun loving atmosphere that I love. Beautiful country, good people and music to stomp to.

  • National Park Quiz 54: Authors   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Yahoo!! I am "pretty darn good" this week. I missed 2,3,6.9. You are a tough quiz master, Bob. Have you done one on feature films that use parks as part of the scenes?

    Rick Smith

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Well, I certainly WON'T feel as safe on hikes now............I will face the dangers of nature over the dangers of man anytime !

    I hate the fact that a congressman can slip a totally unrelated item into a bill that is going to almost surely pass. It is time this was changed.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    It's about time the legislaters passed this. As a retired Law Enforcement officer of 27 years I know how much safer your family will be. You cannot always count on a Ranger or Park official being around when needed. Especially with todays economy and budget cuts. Carrying a rifle on a ranger led hike or campfire is ridiculous. It's about carrying a handgun the same as many people do in a responsible way in just about every state in America now.

  • Some Sure Signs of Spring at Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I was hiking past Teklanika last week. It was very beautiful and peaceful--not another person seen the whole three hours out. It is nice to get into the park before the buses start running. Lots of signs of moose and wolves in the Igloo forest area. The ptarmigan are staking territories and calling mates and the hares and getting gray. Spring is a great awakening time in the park. Thanks for the updates.

  • Roads and Facilities Opening at Mount Rainier National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    It's obvious you were not there today May 12th, bathrooms in the new Paradise VC are having issues. Large amount of moisture adds more snow. Mountain did not come out.

  • National Park Quiz 40: Mission 66   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Great quiz on Mission 66! If anyone out there would like to see more photographs of the buildings from this period, you can visit my website at, which I started in 1996 and still maintain today. I also maintain a page on Gettysburg at

  • National Park Superintendents Have Authority To Allow Bear Spray   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The official word from the GSMNP is that the superintendent can not no change the rule:

    "The Superintendent does not have the discretion to authorize the possession or use of a weapon for this particular purpose."

    The full written official statement on the subject released by the park can be seen here:

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    This is the latest word as of about an hour ago: Bear Spray is illegal BUT it's up to each ranger if they want to change you with having it or not.

    The official park statement in writing is here:

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The whole place is nothing more than a centrally-planned big government ecological nightmare. Whatever they do to it at this point is just poking sticks in the cadaver.

    The Colorado River will ultimately win the contest against this flimsy display of human arrogance. I think many of us will live to see some of this prediction come to fruition. That it is a unit of the NPS at all only serves to illustrate the political powerlessness of an agency compromised on every front of its supposed mission.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I climbed AL 2 weeks ago. Me and my girlfreid walked up to Scout's Lookout, where she decided to join me up to Angel's Landing. About 100 yards up the climb she got really scared and wanted te go back, and so she did. I felt OK and decided to go on and reached Angels Landing, where a fantastic view was to be seen.

    The climb is potentially dangerous: a serious stumble or slip up there is very probably your last. Although there is a sign that warns you of danger and tells you it's at your own risk, in my opinion the Park guide and hiking trail explanations should emphasize the danger a bit more. Looking back, I still would have taken on the challenge if I was warned about the risk, but I know my girlfriend wouldn't have. And that's the problem: people who get scared and shaky up there are in a wrong place. It's dangerous for them and for others who pass them. It's unfair to them not to tell them about the risks: the experience for them is frightening and the risk is enlarged (try getting down with shaky legs and sweaty hands while scared already, not safe)

    If you do want to go up there: be aware of the risk of falling down and show respct to nature. Do NOT underestimate the climb, be careful en calm. If you're not able to stay calm up there, don't do it. If you don't like heights , don't do it. If you're not physically fit enough to do it, don't. Keep in mind that accidents can happen and ask yourself if the experience of climbing up there is worth it to you. If it is (in my case: for me it was), have fun and don't rush it!

  • Sailing in Place   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The Phantom Ship is a little blown out (overexposed), but, the water is very much how it appears on clear sunny days. People often can't believe how blue it is...chuckle. Using a polarizer on your lens at mid-day (on sunny days) will often give very dark (almost black) colored water, as the camera can not handle such extremes in exposure latitude, as our eyes have adapted to do. Thanks for posting Kurt.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography,

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Barky, pine beetles evolved alongside lodgepole pines. They are very native. I'm pretty sure the same can be said of spruce bark beetles.

    Now, white pine blister rust, a disease, is non-native and very lethal. So if you wiped out the bark beetles but left the rust in town, the trees would still end up dead.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Is the bark beetle a "naturally occurring insect" in those parts, Ray? I thought they were "immigrants", i.e. non-native?

    Ecosystems, by their nature, are dynamic. Trying to freeze one in place rarely succeeds and is ultimately counterproductive.

    This is a brilliant statement, thanks! Plus you can use those changes to teach. In Shenandoah there used to be roadside signs pointing out the healing scars from an old, huge wildfire. Certain parks in the west include marking showing how fault lines have slipped or avalanches have changed the landslide.

    Good reminder!


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I went up with my wife 4 years ago. We got to the cables saw the lines and turned and went down the trail. I wasn't going to take the risk especially after watching morons passing people by going way outside the cables. This year I am going back. We are going to glacier point hiking way around to washburn lake and at last staying just up past the half dome trail. We'll get up early 5 or so and take the 1-2 mile hike up before the morons are even at the falls. I suggest that to all of my friends who are going up.

  • Looking For Lodging: the Blue Ridge Parkway   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Actually, we've had a few stories mentioning the tough times at BLRI. Hopefully they'll get a little money out of the stimulus funding, cuz they can certainly use it.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    If bear spray is illegal ... I need to know. I'm planning a visit with my son in June and was planning on having some spray with me. Whatz the official word ??

  • Looking For Lodging: the Blue Ridge Parkway   5 years 46 weeks ago

    How 'bout an article on "looking for a decent ONPS budget for the Blue Ridge Parkway." Cutbacks there have been severe, and infrastructure to support the above lodging options are in doubt.

  • Looking For Lodging: the Blue Ridge Parkway   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Was just at Pisgah Inn, had a great meal and comfortable stay but rates are now a little higher at $120.00 but breakfast comes with that.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 46 weeks ago

    R Stefancik-

    You don’t have to hike in to the ranch; you can drive right up to the front yard. The cupboard you refer to was a cabinet under the sink in the bathroom. While they herded the family members into the yard and stood guard with shotguns, one of the officers had to take a leak so, flashlight in hand, he returned to the house. As he was standing in the bathroom relieving himself, he glanced down and noticed a lock of hair protruding from the closed cabinet door. He ordered the person to, “come on out of there,” and out crawled Charles Manson with a sheepish grin on his face. Of course, the lawmen had no idea of the significance of their catch at that time.

    I have seen the cabinet and it was very small. The space inside was even more confined because it housed the plumbing for the sink. Manson himself is a small person physically but still, it’s a wonder to me how he managed to squeeze into such a tiny space. As I remember, the cabinet disappeared sometime during the mid to late 80s.

    LynnBerk: “Good riddance to Barker Ranch. Now they should salt the earth. It will forever be tainted with pure evil.”

    Should we render similar treatment as well to Columbine High School, the Twin Towers and the Nazi death camps? We need to keep and maintain these monuments to human cruelty in order to preserve historic accuracy, to commemorate the victims and to remind ourselves that, should circumstances permit, monsters can and will rise among us.

  • Don't Feed the Bears! New Regs for Backcountry Campers at Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    If people are too lazy to hang their food properly, what makes the Park Service think they will use the cannisters properly. People spend hundreds of dollars to get light weight gear and cut the handles off their toothbrushes but now they will be forced to carry two pounds + of needless plastic. Ugh.

  • Predictions for the 2009 Wildfire Season   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The spring of '88 was quite wet, and then around June 1 somebody turned off the spigot. The rest, as they say, is history.

  • Predictions for the 2009 Wildfire Season   5 years 46 weeks ago

    We've had a really wet spring in Greater Yellowstone, just as we had last spring (in a fire season that was mostly calm, except in the Shoshone area, where a fire was badly needed). However, last summer, we had a fairly wet summer as well. There's a lot of green everywhere; it will be interesting to see if that serves as the fuel for a big fire season here. But, that's no doubt why we are in the normal range.

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

  • Poaching Trees from Redwood National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I am a commuter in santa cruz and have, over the last 6 months watched the disappearance of the largest redwood trees along the entire length length on each side, on bear creek road.. Simply vanishing... one day there, next day LOG BE GONE! Quite amazing and very allowed by our county officials, they don't appear to have heard anything before about it! At last glance, since i can totally see through the trees that remain and can for the first time view the opposing mountain side, its very sunny, and over 75% non-redwood, likely tan oak. This is our backyard redwood park that we should be interested in protecting from timber theft that has already happened.