Recent comments

  • Having Suffered Severe Storm Damage, a Witness Tree at Gettysburg National Military Park is Unlikely to Survive   6 years 7 weeks ago

    A "before" photo of the intact tree can be seen at this site. I'm not sure I can find an after photo.

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I agree with Jeff but would add that stupidity of the people in the parking lot is mind boggling! The only sane comment was someone yelling out that someone should beep there horn but these poor excuses for adults would rather have a photo op,put themselves(with children) at risk and unfortunately contribute to the eventual killing of the animal. I wonder if they saw a bunch of people trashing the car would they have done anything? It's a wonder the world is such a mess when people can't think about right and wrong. The guy who Filmed this should be fined as aiding the bear in the cars destruction!

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    This arch has been sitting around for half a million years or so without falling. Of course the long term cause is gradual erosion, but I suspect the immediate cause was weather and tide related: drier than normal, coupled with shear stresses caused by a temperature gradient. Problem is, August 1 had a 40 degree differential compared to a 25 degree drop Monday night, and the new moon occurred 2 days earlier as well. The winds were stronger Friday than Monday night. Did it fall two days after it cracked? I doubt it, but there must have been some reason it fell when it did. We're a month past aphelion, with its weaker tides, but the arch has gone through the worst of a summer full of expansion and contraction. Winter freezing and thawing does the long term damage, but summer probably provides more triggering mechanisms. Ice ages may set the arches up to tumble during interstadials. I think natural global warming could be the culprit. --AGF

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I don't know that these folks are all that wrong. Far be it from me to get in between a large, hungry bear and it's food. Sure, they should've contacted SOMEbody, but chase it away? Not me! What's to stop him from charging you? Some of these folks really took their life in their hands being so close in the first place.

  • National Parks in the News: Did You Say that Park Police Officer Mary Jane Hempfield is a Turtle?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    It's a shame this information was made public - now these growers will be out looking for box turtles to destroy, in case they're the "informant". I'm sure whatever they're tagged with is obvious, thus ruling out the non-"officers", but still, criminals do tend to have a cruel streak and may be nondiscriminating.
    Nice name, though, for your helper!

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    The people that stood around and watched this bear break into the car were totally irresponsible. Why didn’t they chase the bear off and call the Park Service? Not only was this car damaged, but that bear may have caused trouble for other cars, campers or, possibly even acted aggressively towards some hikers. It would not surprise me if the bear had to be destroyed because it was, or became, a problem bear.

    No doubt the car owner made a huge mistake by keeping food in a car with its windows partially open. However, those people that stood around and watched the bear taught it not to fear humans. There in lies the problem.


  • Having Suffered Severe Storm Damage, a Witness Tree at Gettysburg National Military Park is Unlikely to Survive   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Regarding this quote:
    "When a witness tree is lost, its passing is mourned, as when a storm toppled a witness tree at Antietam National Battlefield last June. "

    When I followed the link, I read that all the witness trees were spared in the June storm at Antietam; while a number of trees were lost, none were witness trees.

    Also, I would like to see a photo of the Gettysburg witness tree after the storm. We were drenched by a sudden downpour while at the Cemetery in July and I may have stood under or near that very tree.

    [Nice catch, Donna. I've edited out the flawed statement and inappropriate link. Damn that CRS! BJ]

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Stephen C: Your comment that "trolleys have been tried by the NPS on other seashore parks and didn't work". Can you tell us what seashore parks the trolley's were tried and when. Like to know more of facts why the trolley system failed...was it the lack of money or not a feasible plan due to logistics?

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Anon---this website is a clearing house for information and opinions which gives us, the contributors, an opportunity to share information like the recent "drawnings" you mentioned in Indiana Dunes. We cannot expect the editors of this website to have the ability or time to be up to the minute with all of the things that are happening in a 391 unit system. Instead it behooves us to share what we know so as to better inform the readership of this website. It takes a village dude!

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Anon, it's interesting that you should mention drownings. This morning I've been working on an article about drownings and other water accidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It's one example of the numerous articles in Traveler that focus on the 333 national parks that don't happen to be among the 58 National Park-designated "elite." The nature of your comment leads me to believe that you are a new reader, so let me invite you to explore several months worth of Traveler articles (you don't have to read them; just scan through the listings) so you can get a better feel for what we do here at Traveler. Be sure to read our "About the Traveler" statement, which can be reached via the link in the Visitor Center menu at the upper right on Traveler's home page. We always like to hear from readers, Anon, so don't hesitate to give us the benefit of your suggestions and constructive criticism. I've made a mental note to write an article about Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore the first chance I get.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago


    Thanks for correcting me. This is particularly useful information for me to have since I volunteer and sometimes give interpretive programs at BISO.

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I notice you have posted stories on visitor deaths at Tetons and Grand Canyon but no mention of the two recent drawnings at Indiana Dunes. Is this part of your campaing that only national "parks" are worthy of discussion on this site?

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I am so glad I got to see this arch this year!! It was well at the others being just as wonderful. On some one could tell that it won't be long before the succumb to gravity....see them while you can.

  • Backcountry Volunteer Survives 100 Foot Fall While Canyoneering at Zion National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    When you say "lower 48", that is an antiquated phrase and inaccurate. It should be "middle 48" unless you neither consider Hawaii a state or south of the Florida Keys.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Half Dome is dangerous. It's like walking on a very steep roof on top of a skyscraper with the aid of cables.

    I believe it is poor ethics to discourage the use of safety equipment in such a hazardous situation. The hazard should be respected as well as each individual's physical and mental challenges. Many of the young men ascending wont notice the hazard, but it is there.

    The cables are not merely a backup in case your feet slip. They are part of the primary method of ascent. My observation is that feet slipping was the norm, and people relied on their forearms to pull themselves up the slope rather than try to rely on their feet.

    Rather than requiring permits, I'd support hefty citations for those who create hazards for others. Proper equipment could be a form of permit, although some may heighten their disrespect for the situation simply because they have a harness and create a danger for others.

    I witnessed the 3 instances of dropped equipment: a bottle, a metal thermos, and a camera cap from climbers ahead of me. I saw one of the resting boards get suddenly torqued away from its resting position, most likely because someone was climbing outside the cables. I saw fear on the face of one young man who slipped while he was descending outside the cables. He seemed grateful for the advice I gave him which should have been common sense. I saw a man with a cramp while on the cables.

    The mountaineering shops in the valley seemed amazingly inexperienced with the cable system with a mixture of arrogance. Don't be surprised if they downplay your safety in (false) fear of inconveniencing other tourists. The cable posts are about eleven feet apart, not fifty, so a harness system would be useful in keeping you on the mountain. Also, I witnessed the use of a Via Ferrata style harness on this route which didn't seem to increase inconvenience to anybody. That person and I passed in opposite directions--she was going up on one cable, and I was going down on the other cable. Unfortunately, I also witnessed the use of a homemade false-security "harness" which used a plastic buckle! This was a good article:

    It isn't Disneyland. I noticed that the maps along the trail seemed to not show Half Dome, which is probably a good filter of average tourists.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    "The NGO model raises concerns; look at what The Presidio Trust has become. Formed, in theory, to help the Presidio become self-sufficient, the trust has turned the Presidio into a business commons and threatens to dilute the history of the place."

    I confess to not knowing the details of the Presidio Trust, but for the Presidio itself, which has a long history of use and occupation and located in America's third largest urban area, it seems appropriate to redevelop this city park with commerce in mind.

    I believe the "NGO model", or conservation trust model, is essentially sound. There are numerous examples of successful conservation trusts in America and in the world, the largest of which is the Nature Conservancy. Some comparisons to the national park system:

    Area protected
    NC: More than 117 million acres
    NPS: 84.4 million acres

    Annual Funds
    NC: $1 billion
    NPS: $2.4 billion

    The Nature Conservancy has more than a million members and 84% overall program efficiency. The NPS doesn't really have "members", but instead has taxpayers, and I'm not sure anyone could tell you the efficiency rating (a percentage of funds that goes directly toward conservation rather than organizational maintenance--bureaucracy) for the NPS, but I'd be willing to wager it's much, much lower. I would love being able to "buy in" to the parks and being able to be a supporting member. I'd readily pay at least $100 a year for such a membership, especially if the managing organization could be as efficient as the Nature Conservancy.

    One of the most attractive features of conservation trusts is the insulation of park management from politics, distant bureaucrats, and corporatism.

    I'm glad to see this thread and suggestions to repair the system. I believe that at the very least, as some have suggested, cutting loose from NPS management all but the 58 "national park" units is warranted.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    National parks are considered playgrounds by those who recognize them as lands to be used solely for recreation (snowmobilers in Yellowstone, for example) without regard for the greater purpose of the parks' creation. Thus, (hopefully) as a marker of a paradigm shift in parkland management and a symbol of America's commitment to preserve the natural wonders of our parklands unimpaired for future generations, we must cease calling them and treating them as "parks" per se, instead redefining these lands as great ecological preserves, and treating them as such. Hence, we'll have Yellowstone National Preserve with private motorized vehicles of all kinds required to be left outside the front gate. Of course, the current definition of "preserve" will have to be changed. Maybe then taxpayers will recognize parklands as places not for thrillseeking, but for celebrating, studying, and exploring our most spectacular wildlands, which are allowed to exist without the threat of motorized vehicles and thrillseekers hell-bent on conquering nature rather than experiencing it on its own terms. Perhaps this is an overly idealistic view, but weren't the dreamers of the national park system and the Wilderness Act equally idealistic?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Some points that are illuding those that don't know about beach sand, trollys, and mother nature.

    1. Just making a point with this analogy. The Air force could bomb that sand with 10,000 pound bombs and next week you would not see where the craters were. Army trucks could ride for a month on the same sand and overnight you would never know the army trucks were there. What I am trying to say is that heavy trucks are not a problem heavy trucks on the beach are no problem. In fact, heavy trucks with heavy duty transmissions usually pull the subarus, small SUV's, and crossovers out of the sand when they venture out on the beach. Those small vehicles that do make it off the beach usually stop by the transmission shop on the way home for a rebuild.

    2. Trollys have been tried by the NPS on other seashore parks. It did not work. Already proven.

    3. Mother Nature will prevail no matter what any group does to change her. She will take and she will give on her terms not ours.

    More later,

    Stephen C

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Global warming is what created most of our NP's anyway...Love the warming,,,

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    While political groups and state and federal protection agencies have played games over the last 22 years - the population of piping plovers has declined by half.

    [That's not true.] Plovers weren't observed in Cape Hatteras until the 80s. Cape Hatteras isn't part of their natural range. Storms and predators make it extremely hostile to plovers as they account for the lions share of plover deaths. There are also only 21 documented cases of a piping plover being run over by a vehicle. 20 were by government officials (AKA Park Services).

    You guys are trying to play God and establish a migratory bird in a region outside it's natural range. Stop ruining our beaches.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    While the National Park Service & System is often treated as a political football (to its detriment) by actors & agents external to the system, officials within the Service are themselves highly politicized agents, acting from within. This part of the reality can seem glossed over, but is really a large element of the politicking.

    The politics-issue is not just an outsiders-meddling problem, but is also an insiders-agenda problem. The problem of politics and the NPS can be neither accurately described without acknowledging the role of Parks people themselves, nor effectively addressed without doing the same.

    I expect to see further diversification of the components of the NPS, in accordance with regional and State realities, and ongoing incremental movement away from a monolithic central-Federal model. This trend could be strong enough that the Fed will take steps to secure its role & turf, by 'creating' contexts to emphasize a need for its centralized functions.

    Alaska's distinctive arrangements have now proven themselves solidly successful across a meaningful span of time. The examples available for study in the newest components of the Park contain a foment of suggestions applicable to the older components. Pay special attention to the eventual resolution of the State's conflict with the Federal government, over the implementation of ANCSA and ANILCA requirements to support subsistence.

    The recent ruling to let Park firearms regulations follow those of the jurisdictions different Parks are located within, is itself an important step toward a local-driven model.

    There is the potential for substantial differentiation and local-adaptation of our Park-resources, and in some cases the preparations appear to have been deliberately cultivated over considerable time.

    I would not expect this to look like a planned overhaul, but to occur as part of the process of evolution & adaptation that has been a hallmark of the NPS throughout its history.

    The beloved paths of the very conservative Grand Canyon National Park, for example, were dynamited from the cliffs ... and they were quite proud of themselves, at the time. History reminds that in living memory Yellowstone had bleachers at the garbage dump, seating for tourists to watch as the Park systematically feed garbage to several hundred bears often brawling in the refuse...

    Although there has been an ebb & flow to periods of change in our Parks, my sense is that the system has been malleable all along ... right down to the present. There are needs & improvements aplenty to address, but whether this amounts to a crisis is less clear.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago


    Allocation of funds for any individual park unit, if you're comments are directed to the manifesto outlined above, wouldn't go directly to a specific unit manager to be misappropriated or mismanaged. Park managers report to regional managers, who have the responsibility of coordinating project requests from their entire sector and presenting these requests to a higher level board, who in conjunction with the regionals, the Director and the CFO triage, based on immediacy of need, available budget, and many other factors, prior to cutting loose any monies to any specific unit. The managers of any particular unit, be they Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Badlands, Petrified Forest, Arches, or any "lesser" unit, are charged solely with making proposals which are placed in the hands of the regional managers. The relative import of each proposal would be determined by a series of "higher ups", from the unit manager level, those who hold responsibility for the health of the system as a whole, not the health of any individual park. This fail safe mechanism is one of the keys to maintaining the function of all the park units equally, rather than having the "popular" units manipulating the lion's share of the funding based, as currently done, largely visitation numbers (i.e. public pressure), political pandering, and private special interests. While virtually no system can place the immediate influx of capital required to eliminate the total maintenance backlog in one fell swoop, at least with this system of prioritizing, done solely from within and free of the external meddling that currently clogs the wheels of progress, those issues that are wrought from conditions that are "dangerous, require immediate attention due to safety concerns and updates that are long overdue" can receive the attention they have deserved for decades and which have been ignored by having people in charge of allocating funding who truly are oblivious or just plain don't give a damn.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Actually, the largest concentration of natural arches in the United States outside of Arches National Park are the Rattlesnake Arches in Colorado's McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, not far from Arches NP. Find more info here:

    Rattlesnake Canyon is truly a sight to behold, and quite a hike from nearby Fruita, Colorado -- 16 miles roundtrip if you choose the low trailhead. The high trailhead is only accessible via 4wd vehicle.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Check out the Natural Arch and Bridge Society, which names Landscape Arch as the longest natural rock span on earth. Now that's "iconic."

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    except for the fact that cinder cone has only been in existance since the mid 1800's! I witnessed the vast changes since I last visited in the 1980's. It had eroded more in the last 20 years than in the previous 130. What has happened to reading comprehension inis younger generation?