Recent comments

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 1 week ago

    Beamis, I am all ears. What do you suggest ?

  • Zion National Park is a Magnet for Canyoneers   6 years 1 week ago

    I love exploring the canyons in Zion, but having witnessed a flash flood in Zion I could never be a true canyoneer. To say the flash flood left a vivid impression on me would be an understatement. I could not believe the force of the flash flood, how fast it came out of no where, how long it lasted, the roar of noise it created, and the debries that it left behind. I was in a awe of the power of mother nature, and because of that there is no risk of me taking someone's canyoneering permit spot next summer!!

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 1 week ago

    Well, Bob, it would be nice if you could see your last wish to fruition through the same tenacity that got the park established. Unfortunately, I think only prayers and sacrifices to the Avian gods are going to help at this point. The realist in me knows it can't happen, but the romantic still wants to believe they're out there - a couple dozen pairs waiting for a comeback. I think there's room in ecology for the occasional romantic notion.

    As for Congaree, one of my favorite things was the attitude of the rangers at the VC. They reminded me of the folks at Sleeping Bear, but even more proud of their park and genuinely excited to interact with visitors. One of them started talking about the park's establishment like he was discussing his newborn baby. Then, when he heard we were headed to Carolina Sandhills NWR next, he told me about his history there and we talked about longleaf pines and red-cockaded woodpeckers for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, my wife mentioned to another ranger we would be canoeing Cedar Creek the next morning, and instantly there were maps spread all over the counter while the ranger talked about the route and where she'd heard there were new portages. Now, I'm sure the lack of visitors had something to do with it, but I've never been taken care of to that degree in Acadia, Everglades, or any of the western parks. It seems like I often run into rangers that view me as a necessary evil. I think that's completely forgivable, having seen what the rangers at Yosemite and Acadia and Grand Canyon have to deal with from many of the visitors. But it certainly makes experiences like Sleeping Bear and Congaree more than memorable.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 1 week ago

    Kirby, I'm not surprised that you enjoyed Congaree National Park. It's one of the best kept secrets east of the Mississippi. I'm a bit biased, I must admit. It's my home park, and I was part of the small (but tenacious) grassroots campaign that saved that magnificent river bottom hardwood forest from being turned into coffee tables and pallets. My one remaining big wish for that place is that a viable population of ivory-billed woodpeckers will be reestablished there some day.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 1 week ago

    Ticking a few off my lifelist during a colossal car-camping trip this August. We're hitting Theodore Roosevelt, North Cascades, Olympic, Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, and Badlands. (I notice everyone here uses codes, so I suppose I should say "THRO, NOCA, OLYM, MORA, YELL, and BADL") Being the odd chap I am, I think I'm looking forward to Roosevelt the most. And I'll have to find time at some point for my home park, and one of my favorites, Sleeping Bear Dunes.

    Next year it's either Big Bend or Acadia. I'm an ecology geek and I've never been to a desert, so BIBE is looking good. Last year it was Congaree, a pleasant surprise and one of the best NPS experiences I've ever had. Sigh...so many parks, so few years - and dollars!

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 1 week ago

    Yes, Bob, you've been fooled! The dunetop vantages you speak of are generally between SSW and SSE of a typical camp on the east shore of North Manitou. (Everyone else camps on the west side, so this is only relevant to me, I suppose.) So in the first shot linked below from Pyramid Point, you're seeing North Manitou's south shore about 7 or 8 miles almost due north of you. Looking due east from a typical camp on NMI, you'll be seeing 15 miles of water until you hit the Lelanau Peninsula which is both trending away from you to the east and losing the hundreds of feet of relief it has in the dune area. So the land is barely visible. I don't know where the sun rises on the 45th parallel in mid-July, but just a little bit north of due east from this camp and you've actually got about 80 miles of open water! See the sunrise pictures.

    South Manitou is more for the fanny-pack-wearing crowd with kids in tow, but with some redeeming ecological features - an old-growth cedar grove, for example. North Manitou is wilderness and far more enjoyable. The rangers have generally informed me that I'm one of about 30 or 40 people on an island 20 miles in circumference on the trips I've made there. I suppose some times and seasons are busier, but it's definitely the choice for nature. I think it's the garter snake capital of the world. And two years ago, I managed to see a piping plover about 15 feet away from me, just before I turned around to see a huge adult bald eagle swoop over my head on it's way out to pick something out of the surf. Good stuff.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10962249@N06/2676080862/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10962249@N06/2675263051/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10962249@N06/2675262921/

  • Brown Bears Fishing at Katmai National Park and Preserve   6 years 1 week ago

    That is an incredible image. The beauty reminds me of the Great Bear Rainforest which I visited last year. Nice to see nature at play in a safe place!

    Dagny
    www.onnotextiles.com
    bamboo and organic clothing

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 1 week ago

    If y'all think a new administration is going to solve the systemic problems that face the national parks, starting with needless and wasteful layers of entrenched bureaucracy combined with brazenly shameless politicking I've got news for you: it ain't gonna happen!

    This is, after all, the federal government we're talking about.

    I worked for the NPS through three different administrations and the song has always remained the same regardless of what party was in the White House: namely that the agency was an underfunded, top heavy bureaucracy that was deftly manipulated by petty vote grubbing Washington politicians on the make.

    My friends, these circumstances are not about to change any time soon. A corrupt, war-drained, insolvent and bankrupt government is nothing to pin your hopes on; yet that is precisely what most of you continue to do year after year, hoping against hope that things will somehow get better under the stewardship of the self-perpetuating mandarins in DC.

    Isn't it time to look elsewhere for salvation?

  • Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try Not To Breath the Air   6 years 1 week ago

    Hey folks, take a good hard look from Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, the pollution is even worse. With all the fires in California and the daily auto emissions, you can kiss this once majestic view good bye. Sad but true and getting worse!

  • Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try Not To Breath the Air   6 years 1 week ago

    Marylander, I live near GSMNP and you are so right except that the air is getting worse in the fall too ! What a crying shame !

  • Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try Not To Breath the Air   6 years 1 week ago

    I have pictures of the Smokies from 25 years ago that clearly show how the air is getting progressively worse... it makes me very sad. My family and I have a strict policy, however, of only visiting GSMNP during the spring time or the late fall when the crowds are much more managable. Now we can tack better air quaility to our list of reasons to avoid the summer there.

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 1 week ago

    Such a farce and waste of money. We need new administration from the top down....new President, new Secretary of Interior, new National Park Director.

    Wasting time and money on a political PR event is a crying shame and pure BS when we have so many dire needs !

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 1 week ago

    All of them are on my "Must Visit" list, well those from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean anyway.
    Will be in ONP for a week to ten days here soon, then it will be MRNP the following week then
    NCNP for a while.
    That is about as far into the future I dare go :-]

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 1 week ago


    Gates of the Arctic National Park, on the banks of the Noatak River in summer.

    The sun never really rises or sets. It swings around you at night to the north, skimming the horizon around this beautiful, wide glacier-carved valley. Everywhere else you get this magical 15-minute twilight.

    Here, right across the north rim of the park that magical twilight goes on all night long.

    Perhaps as wonderful as the Noatak Valley in the park, but in an altogether different way, is morning on Itkillik Lake all the way to the far northeast, actually within the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. The Itkillik is a mysterous, primal landscape of open tundra, ancient artifacts, with mountains of the Brooks Range in the distance. In that twilight in that place you feel you are back thousands of years. In those mornings you feel you are in the newest, and the oldest landscape in America.

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 1 week ago

    Kurt, you always do try to give the benefit of the doubt, something that makes this such an up-beat site.

    But the bottom line here at this "conference" is that it is no conference at all. For the first day, the political leadership of the National Park Service -- Secretary Kempthorne and Director Mary Bomar -- organized the whole day just to talk "at" the park professionals. There was no conferring of substance that day.

    There was only one day to confer in an organized way among professionals. It might work as a smoke screen for any newspapers or TV, and that was the spin in the NPS PR, but this even was never structured as a conference.

    Sure, there are brief opportunities for old colleagues to reconnect, but in fact, compared to 3 previous superintendent conferences I attended, you don't even have time to even see a fraction of the people you know, much less have a meaningful discussion about building a positive agenda for the Service. A lot of NPS people actually are just talking about how soon before they retire. What a dispirited bunch.

    Mary Bomar conducted exactly the same sort of "conference" when she was Regional Director in the northeast, also as a PR event. Again, no real time for professional consultation among colleagues, no identification of issues, examination of issues and impediments, development of alternative strategies for moving forward. Just like this Utah conference, it was mostly talking heads, as a way for then-Regional Director Bomar to show off to Washington officials with lots of photo opportunities. The report on that regional conference was mostly a series of photos of Mary Bomar -- you can look it up. Nothing came out of it but a call for uniformity and "accountability" which is a euphemism for blaming the parks for the failure of the NPS leaders to fight for necessary funding, and a way to avoid any real initiatives. At this previous conference the Washington office gave regional director Bomar a big award for a project begun and conceived by her predecessor, and the whole 'conference' was declared a victory, with no forward movement at all.

    So, watch this space. You can count on a report of success from Director, with pictures of the Director, reiterating everything claimed in her opening speech about all her successes, while emphasizing the need of the parks to remain "accountable," just as if this was the universal conclusion of all in attendance. There will be nothing in this report any different than Bomar's message on day one, indicating that no 'conferring' went on at all with the unfortunate field professionals who were forced to pay the expenses out of the strapped budgets of the parks. Am I wrong? If I am wrong you will see emerging from this conference new ideas clearly stated, new strategies developed with full participation of the newly empowered parks, and specific actions and assignments laid out to move past the dreadful state parks toward SUBSTANTIAL SOLUTIONS.

    This is just a stage managed event. Nothing of substance, no serious strategic planning can happen, or is supposed to happen, at an event like this. Like her earlier conference, this is just a stage for Mary Bomar. Compare this to George Hartzog's event at the end of his career, the Second World Conference on National Parks at Yellowstone and Grand Teton's. Yes, you could say that conference was also a show piece, but Hartzog's conference had substance. It rallied parks around the world to use the strategic value of parks and the enormous diversity of thinking about the management and purpose of parks as a way to leverage the funding and political power needed to sustain and expand preservation. It was a call to arms, and concerted action to follow. Secretary Kempthorne and especially Mary Bomar are NOT trying to empower the parks to shake anything up.

  • National Park Quiz 11: Blue and Gray   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Anon: The decisive Union victory occurred in New Mexico, and that is what the quiz item states. There isn't room in a quiz item to deal with every nuance. I don't dispute your facts.

  • National Park Quiz 11: Blue and Gray   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the quiz, didn't do too bad, however question # 7 about Pecos National Historical Park is very misleading. The Battle of Glorietta Pass was fought there, but the battle field was only added to the park in the early 1990's, access to the battlefield has been limited ( the Park has been trying to get a highway realigned for safer visitor access (at least that's what I had heard several years ago). The battle ground was held by the Confederacy, it was the separate action when the Union destroyed the CSA supply lines that lead to the CSA withdrawing back to Texas. So the correct answer is at best misleading. The Pecos park also preserves the remains of an Indian pueblo and Spanish Mission. Well worth the visit when in the Santa Fe area.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 2 weeks ago

    That's true Rick...but under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Interior with Mr. Udall at the helm. I think that's more in line with Udall's command. Thanks for the insight!

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Anon--

    Remember that Udall wasn't at the helm of the NPS. He was the Secretary of Interior.

    Rick Smith

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    There are no mountains here, no canyons, no awe-inspiring arches, but I will put the sunrises in Everglades reflecting off the towering clouds right up there with any of the others mentioned.

    Rick Smith

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Q. How many days until a new administration?

    A. Too many!

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Not to worry, Dapster. Here at the Traveler we allow each commenter one mulligan....

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    You are correct. My bad. One of those "saw it a soon as I clicked send" kinda things.

    My apologies. It's a very passionate topic for me, as you can probably tell, and I was apparently temporarily blinded by said passion. Happens to all of us at some time, I guess.

    dapster

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    great point.
    it would probably cost that much to print warning signs that have been proofread by a lawyer.**

    (**no offense to lawyers. please see disclaimer for details and exceptions)

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    i do not think people should have to pay for search and rescue, unless it is obviously grossly negligent. first of all, i think it would discourage use of the parks, which would reduce their income from permits etc. secondly, it would most likely tend to make people put off calling help when they really do need it, which could actually make the situation worse. nature is unpredictable, and there will always be a part of it that is dangerous, but the parks are right in my opinion to do their best to encourage responsibility and try to keep lawyers off the hiking trail. otherwise we will have hiking trails with disclaimers a mile long.

    i would suggest that if someone really is found to be negligent and requires rescue, they be required to donate time to a local beach/park with cleanup/ trail help as a community service to help parks recoup costs. any nature lover, i think, would consider that a fair trade-off that both helps the park and is a reasonable fine for leaving their brain at home.

    finally, for the taxophobes, are many situations where people are rescued at taxpayer expense that do not involve the wilderness that the people here ignore. for instance, in a car accident, even if it is your fault, you may pay for an ambulance, but not necessarily for the police that come to the scene to keep you from being hurt and who then direct traffic. these people seem to be those who do not want to pay a cent of tax for anyone ...unless it works in their favor. i dont drive a car, but i pay taxes for police and emergency personnel. your risky behavior..ie moving at a speed faster than walking is covered, because most drivers are not trying to be unsafe, just as most people hiking/climbing do not WANT to fall off a cliff/ freeze.