Recent comments

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    As a former employee of the National Geographic Society, I feel i should point out a few issues that may or may not be at work here:

    1) This was a National Geographic book, and while everything NGS puts their name/brand on should really be treated the same, I can tell you they are not. The Book division hurts for money more than any other division at NGS, and I'm guessing that their editorial standards might not be as strict or go through as many levels as it would on the magazine.

    2) These days NGS, especially the book division since it's hurting for cash, has a high need to make money. (Most of NGS is considered a non-profit organization, and the magazines and books fall under the non-profit area. Their for-profit divisions include things like the NG Channel and their web site. There's a joke at NGS that the only the non-profit part of the company makes money, and I'm sure it's still true.) As someone said above, I'm guessing that they chose the "parks" they did for this article because they wanted to appeal to as wide of a range as possible. If they picked all parks in Alaska, the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, then they would feel that 75% of the country's population wouldn't be interested because they aren't in their backyard.

    3) How they could put a list together of 10 Best National Parks and NOT include Yellowstone is beyond me. Yes, everyone says it's the best. Yes, it's ridiculously crowded on the roads in the Summer. Yes, Old Faithful is a been there, done that phenomenon that is getting old. But I just described less than 1% of the park. Yellowstone is easily one of the most amazing place's on the earth, and its exclusion here shows that the writers/editors were just trying to throw some stuff on a page and get a book published as quick as possible with as little thought as possible.

    Sounds like they did a bang up job.

  • Park History: Would There Have Been a Mesa Verde National Park Without Virginia McClurg?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    The initial version of this article contained a serious mistake, which has been corrected. I stated that Mesa Verde National Park was proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt using powers granted by the Antiquities Act, whereas the park was actually created via Congressional legislation signed into law by President Roosevelt. That's a VERY important distinction. My thanks to Ranger Callagan for bringing this to my attention. Let me add that he was actually polite enough to convey this information to Traveler via private e-mail rather than posting a blistering comment. That's better than I deserved. It's not comfortable to have your feet held to the fire, but it sure does keep you on your toes. Please excuse the Archy Bunker-style mixing of metaphors.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker: You forgot to mention that your "noble" natives tortured and killed their own in mass slaughter, buried the dead in mass graves.
    They now defile the land with casinos, spray paint "native pride" on the rocks on the rez, destroy the brand new, government housing we pay taxes for.
    Noble people? I don't think so.

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Thanks Cindy K for telling it like it is to Mr MacDonald. The bison attacked the kid because it stepped past the boundaries of its comfort zone. Though I've never been in the mind of a bison, but I'm pretty certain that it didn't feel all the pent up frustration from the past winter and the subsequent hardships that followed ultimately resulting in an exposive outburst of rage against the unfortunate victim. It seems to me that we have another east-coast transplant that "found" the west and is now going to tell the world his philosophical views through his big city eyes how things "really are" back here in the rugged west. Please Jim, if you could...go back to DC and tell the tourists there not to walk too close to the wildlife in the ghettos because they've had a rough winter and they feel stressed out. By the way, I grew up in Montana, spent alot of time in the back country in close proximity to wild animals, etc. Now I live on the east coast and I'm constantly amazed by the warped views and misconceptions that people in the city have about so many aspects of life in the west in general. I can't wait to get back home to Montana were people have a bit more common sense. Can't wait to here more of your posts Jim!

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Bob Janiskee --

    It's probably fair to call it either one, or perhaps more accurately than either, Lee's Strategic Error. Longstreet argued against it but faithfully followed orders, however reluctantly. Pickett was the guy on the front line but it surely wasn't his idea.

    I may have borrowed the General's name but I don't profess to be an authority on all things Civil War. I admire the General, though, for his integrity and courage in respectfully challenging his superior when he had deep concerns about his orders. He remained loyal despite his misgivings, and executed those orders to the best of his ability. He paid a profound price for doing so the rest of his life and in history. It's only in recent years that a more complete picture of the General has emerged. (For the record, I also think he was on the wrong side but the South had a number of leaders worth learning from, even admiring, despite everything.)

    Ah, but this is WAY off the pertinent NPT topic!

    J Longstreet, not the Civil War General but a National Park Superintendent

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I just read the article posted by the PEER. They sound like gun-grabbers to me. I just can't understand how I will impact the Park environment by carrying my CONCEALED handgun with me. Is it the extra weight causing me to make deeper footprints? C'mon, it only weighs 31 ounces! You've got to be kidding me.

    They actually make a good point to justify how important it is for me to carry my pistol: “Rangers are few, and the miles of roads and acres in the park system are many."

    And please explain to me again how this affects poaching. Any Ranger will be able to tell that I didn't fire my gun. Especially when he sees that the first four rounds are rat shot. If the Ranger is trying to apprehend a poacher, I'm going to offer to help him/her find them!

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Sorry, MRC, but saying "if you go by the codes" is a non-starter. The codes are dismayingly unreliable indicators of national park status. There are at least eight instances in which the Park Service has given the same code to two different National Park System units. You've mentioned SEKI, and to that we can add DENA, CRMO, GRSA, LACL, NATR, WRST, and GLBA. Like SEKI, each of those codes is shared by two units of the National Park System, which is to say two different national parks. (I might have missed some examples, in which case we'll probably be hearing from Sabattis.) The Park Service has also given NPS codes to some entities that are not even national parks. The Santa Fe Historic Trail, for example, is not a unit of the National Park System, but has been given the NPS code SAFE. (It is therefore unsafe to assume that SAFE is a national park. How ironic is that?!) The main lesson to take away is this: you can't count national parks by counting codes.

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Possibly the bison, seeing the decline of the human species, was doing his best to cull the herd and allow only the less common sensically challenged to survive.

    When will people realize that this area is not a petting zoo, but is populated by wild animals? Cute and fuzzy. Right.

    In the National Military Parks in the East, relic hunters will have their vehicles confiscated. Possibly the Western parks should consider something similar for those intrusive on an animal's space. A couple of hefty bills for emergency personnel, transportation and services, well publicized, may discourage this type of foolish activity.

  • Former NPS Director George Hartzog Passes   6 years 7 weeks ago


    HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN ANY MESSAGE FROM DIRECTOR BOMAR, no matter what the topic, that she does not manage to turn into something about HERSELF?

    That’s right Mary, what we want to hear about right now is how George Hartzog “welcomed” Mary Bomar – how did you know? Anyone who really knew and worked with Director Harzog can imagine what short work he would have made of a self-absorbed show-piece such as Bomar, whether you can imagine George being described as “a gentleman from the old school” or not. One thing about George, he always made sure all of us put the name of the National Park Service and National Park System FIRST, and NEVER gave prominence to our own names.\\

    * * *

    Message from the Director of the National Park Service
    Mary A. Bomar
    Saturday 28th June, 2008

    It was with heartfelt sadness that I learned of George B. Hartzog's passing upon my return to Washington from Golden Gate, California on Friday night.

    "Friends, family, and parks everywhere have lost a good friend. George Hartzog led the National Park Service for nine years. The people and the parks remained important to him more than 30 years after he left the job.

    He offered his help to not only me but every Director who came after him and always shared both wisdom and candor. He will be missed. He was a great manager and leader. More importantly, he was a lovely man--a good man--a gentleman from the old school."

    Keep in mind, I'm prejudiced. I honestly believe George Hartzog was one of the smartest persons I ever knew -- and I've known a lot of bright people.

    I recall him welcoming me to his home after I became Director. And while his ailments had slowed him a bit, he retained all the intellect and keen interest in the parks that were, in addition to his wife Helen, the love of his life. This past year he participated in one of our National Leadership Council meetings, and continued to advocate for the parks, especially urban parks, throughout his remaining days..

    Mr. Hartzog was 87 years old. He is survived by Helen, his wife of 60 years, and three children, Nancy, George Jr. and Edward. Funeral plans are incomplete, but expected to take place the middle or end of next week.
    * * *

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Bob, if you go by the codes, then SEKI is just one unit - back to the issue at hand: I don't know many of the recommended parks, but my guess is, they put diversity on their list over excellence. They spread their 10 parks of choice all over the country, they put in the traditional well known parks into it, mixed in a few historical issues, stirred and let it fry. But in the end the result is ridiculous and not up to the standard we are used by the National Geographic, which is sad.

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Dear Anonymous:

    what is it about a certain strain of opinionators who seem to say THEIR opinion is simply about freedom, and everyone who disagrees should just leave the country?

    Is it the SIMPLICITY of it, and the inability to recognize the complexity of the situation? Or is it the inability to tolerate any opinion but their own, and to seek a country with people exactly like them? Will these people remain wracked in anxiety as long as they can identify the possibility of any other point of view? And when they achieve such beautiful uniformity in the USA, will they be content to stop here, or find causes of anxiety and instability throughout the world??

    Now, tell me again, what is your idea of freedom? You can use the little words, it will be ok.

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Gen'l Longstreet performs brilliantly again. In a very few words, it seems to me he nails the essential situation.

    It seems to me the issue of firearms in HOMES is enormous, Scalia going so far as to describing the owner drawing a bead with a handgun while dialing a phone. The issue of the home is also enormous throughout common law, and in the Supremes establishing other consitutional rights, such as the CT case, where the state law on birth control was seen by the Court as compromising the rights of a person within her/his home.

    Personally, I do find it an enormous leap to go from the stated purpose of the 2nd Amend. being a militia, to Scalia's argument of self defense in one's home, but I think Gen. Longstreet is right to emphasize the way the decision aggregated constitutional and common law. and frankly, it seems to me at the time of the Framing there were still powerful risidual feelings throughout the land of stories of British soldiers being stationed in private homes and of British soldiers carting away weapons and powder whenever they could (or so the inflamed opinion went, with enough real examples to make it stick). But all this rationale is a far cry from guns in parks.

    For the long term, of course, the NRA and its advocates will point to the simplicity of the term 'right to bear arms shall not be abridged' as the essence of the thing, therefore ultimately permitting every sort of access to arms, without any abridgement. It is interesting to note that on the similar argument for a "pure" reading of the First Amendment, the Minority [can I call them 'left-wing'?] Justices would say in their dissent "when the Constitution says 'no law' it means NO LAW." But in view of circumstances perceived by the Majority to make the law ridiculous if such an absolute interpretation were taken, found ways to apply common sense to the constitution in providing exceptions, or often redefinitions.

    And, in the case of the Second Amendment, even such an extreme fulminator as Scalia found ways to avoid making the Court appear as ridiculous as the NRA would want. For Scalia seems to be saying that there are circumstances in which the right to bear arms can be abridged.

  • Park History: Olympic National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Yes, I am afraid that the high cost of fuel will be a factor in how far RVers will travel. In 2007, we camp-hosted at Padre Island National Seashore for 4 months. In 2008, we camp-hosted at the same park for 2 of the same months. There were definitely fewer of the larger RV's. As expected, talking with the RVers, a major concern was fuel cost.

    We took another trip to the ONP in November 2007. But, due to the high cost of fuel, we went in a car and stayed at hotels. In 2005 it cost appox. 1000 dollars rt. in the RV, from San Antonio to Port Angeles. At this time, the same trip would have been appox. 2000 dollars.

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Yes, bear spray works. I live in Wyoming and know this. What you need to understand is that this is not about bears. This is a right of the people and if you are afraid of the honest man who carries a gun [then] you are afraid of freedom and should think about moving to Europe.

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Dear Lone Hiker. I live in Cody wyoming and something that big city folks do not understand because they have been brainwashed for years now is that the honest concealed weapons permit holders are not your enemy! These folks have been through complete background checks and are found to be quality citizens and are the most decent patriotic folks I have ever known. Do you really believe that criminals don't travel into National Parks? Do you really believe that while camping in one of these parks no one in the very same campground is already carrying weapons, and that a percentage of these folks aren't of a criminal mind set? One more thing, you either believe in all of the constitution or you believe in none of it! You cannot pick and choose which rights you wish to believe in. You may not agree with all of them but as a true American you must stand up to protect them. I do not believe that the 1st amendment was written to protect Hollywood scum bags from bad mouthing our country and putting porn on cable T.V. but I have to stand up for the 1st amendment as an American and you and others need to do the same for the 2nd. What you do not seem to realize is that if we loose one of our amendments others will follow and the it will be to late. You and your children are completely safe being around concealed weapons permit holders. In fact, if something were to happen these same folks may save your life and the lives of your family. not the other way around.

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 7 weeks ago

    J Longstreet might be the right guy to ask a question that has bugged me for a long time. Which should it be: Pickett's Charge, or Longstreet's Assault? The NPS can't seem to make up its mind. :-)

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Sabattis, this is what I said in the original version of the article:

    My criteria say that Santa Fe National Historic Trail shouldn’t even have been made a national park, for crying out loud, much less given a place among the ten best.

    So you see, I did originally give SAFE credit for being a national park in that go-around.

    As to whether it's OK to call SAFE an "entity," well, I just used the term to denote something having a "distinct and separate existence." You might prefer something else, and that's fine by me. Not the hill I want to die on.

  • Park History: Olympic National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback. Olympic is a truly special place that deserves all the praise it gets. I'm curious; have high fuel prices caused you to cut back on your RV travel lately? Do you think there will be lots fewer RVers in the national parks this summer?

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Interesting.... I could swear that you had also pointed out that Santa Fe NHT is not a "Park" in the original post - you just put it further down your list of critiques. Oh well, not a big deal. If we want to quibble, though, I think that I might give the Santa Fe NHT - and the other Long-Distance Trails that are not "Units" of the National Park System - a little more credit than being just an "entity." Once completd, I think that the National Park Service will establish a continuous "route" for each Trail, which is saying something, even if most of the sites along the route will be administered by "partners", rather than the National Park Service itself.

  • Park History: Olympic National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    We are retired and do some travel in our RV. The summer of 2005, we did volunteer campground hosting at Sol Duc. Being from south Texas, we were truly amazed and fell in love with Olympic National Park. While there, we visited the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Quinault, Hurricane Ridge, and other areas including, the coastline with its seastacks. One side trip we made more than once was to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay. We try to return to Olympic National Park, as often as we can. It is truly a beautiful and remarkable place.

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Sabattis, thanks for the reminder about Santa Fe National Historic Trail. My weaselspeak excuse is that I was lulled by the fact that the trail has a code (SAFE) like a regular national park does. Thank goodness you were not similarly stupefied. If you will look at the article again, you'll note that I went back in and revised it to take care of that little problem with the trail. You'll also note that I gave you credit. As for that quick-and-easy gambit, my guess is that an NG higher up would direct one of the organization's spokesweasels to tell us that the list in the book is not an "official" NG list, and that we should aim our criticism at the book's authors. But, just for the record, I don't intend to play whack-a-mole with National Geographic. Your DENA comment is interesting. Counting national parks (or dealing with their names/designations) is like falling into quicksand; the harder you struggle, the deeper you sink and the more hopeless you feel.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Phil, with all due respect, yours is one of the most ridiculous statements that was ever posted on this site that wasn't attributed to me. The protection of the parks is in the capable hands of the NPS? The protection of the parks, sir, is directly related to whatever economic and graft-related engine drives the cesspool that resides in the houses of Congress. Period. The NPS can do little that they are not told, and NOTHING that is not funded by our ignorant politicians, who's goals are NOT preservation, but perpetration of individualistic agenda centered around which of their constituents requires some form of pay-off or pay-back, which are virtually the same thing. Additionally, how can you in one breath state that the park histories should be preserved as intended while at the same time completely ignoring those who have contributed more to those histories than has any other segment of civilization over the course of the past thousand or so years? The ONLY part of your statement that is mildly, and I'm certain quite inadvertently correct, is that Native Americans, throughout their history, never did actually claim "title" to their ancestral lands, as the concept of actual ownership of land was quite foreign, until the European land grab of the 17th century began eating up chunks of the eastern seaboard faster than rabbits can breed. The stewardship of the land was implied across ALL Native nations, never questioned, and was more of a duty to Mother Earth than a responsibility tied to "ownership". But by all means, if ANY group has the proper pedigree to claim ancient, ancestral ownership, is would most definitively be the various Native tribal cultures, who have ties to the lands that comprise this nation that precede the Anglo invasion by centuries. It can hardly be asserted that some Johnny-come-lately decided to stake a claim to something that was never theirs, as by the way, was so successfully accomplished by the Homesteaders approximately one hundred years ago, and by various other government sponsored land-grabs dating back to the early part of the 18th century. What you and most other ignorant Europeans conveniently forget, or choose to ignore, is that hundreds of years before the actual savages invaded these shores, this continent was indeed settled, with the population thriving in a much more civil manner than was ever exhibited by white men. The native inhabitants organized functional governmental bodies, established travel and trade routes, agriculture, constructed water management canals for irrigation in desert regions, answered to regional authorities, bartered in an inter-coastal and interNATIONAL trade system, practiced organized religion, were a model of population control, had a well-defined legal structure, and collectively spoke almost 500 dialects (which proved to be the biggest sole source of their undoing, militarily speaking), to name but a few accomplishments of the "savages". How DARE you be so pompous as to decide from your high and mighty perch that people have no right to do as they see best with their "property"?

  • Park Advocates Rallying Around Theodore Roosevelt National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I'll chime in as well that Theodore Roosevelt perhaps takes the prize as the "hidden jewel" of the National Park System. All in one place you can experience the bison of Yellowstone, the Badlands of South Dakota, a petrified forest and meandering rivers in a beautiful, empty, landscape...

  • Celebrating Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I'm interested to see (and quite pleased as well) the NPT Blog have this laudatory and interesting post on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. I wonder though - is it possible to imagine any place or any circumstances were a similar "top National Park experience" should be constructed today?

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Great post, Bob. Once upon a time, the National Geographic Society had a missions "to increase and diffuse geographical knowledge." Unfortunately, as almost any editor these days can tell you - making a "list" or a "rankings" is a quick-and-easy way to generate copy. And it looks like National Geographic has decided to go the quick-and-easy-route. Alagnak Wild River????? I am not even sure that Alagnak Wild River is one of the "10 Best National Parks in *Alaska*", let alone in the United States.

    And of course, I can't help but chuckle and note that they really did end up with 10 National Parks on their list. As you point out, they included both Sequoia and Kings Canyon, which are two Parks, but also the Santa Fe National Historic Trail (which is not.)

    So I'll close with one thought to ponder. If National Geographic had included Denali National Park & Preserve on their list of "10 Best Parks" - should National Geographic have been dinged for actually having 11 Parks? After all, the National Park Service inexplicably counts a remote corner of Denali National Park & Preserve as somehow being a separate Unit of the System.....