Recent comments

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    The idea that fair market competition would lower prices in Yosemite or any other park is absolutely absurd. Where in the rest of the world does that happen? Resort industries have a monopoly by their very presence in the valued place so prices only go up up up. Competition would increase prices, increase pressure on the resource and also increase the pressures on an already over-pressured NPS to submit to the "will of the market."

    Stephen Mather set up the (yes, very imperfect) concession system so that the NPS could regulate the costs and quality of the visitor ammenities in the park. It is certainly a system that needs repaired. But the repair is not to allow more competition to start crying out for more ammenities, more recreational use, more conferences, more day-use buses. The repair is for the NPS to get some friggin' teeth and clamp down on the concessions.

    The prices in the parks are obscene. Middle class families can't afford $100/night rooms. And lower class families are shut out entirely. What are we saying about the park experience when we shut the greater portion of our populace out of that experience? If the parks become only for the wealthy, they become private, elite parks and not parks for the people.

    Owen has done us a great service to send us this shameful review of the "best" places to stay. The Park Service should be embarrased.

  • Centennial Projects: Mountain Biking in Big Bend National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Here, here, Anonomous (not verified) 2... well put.

    I have to say I've hiked on trails in Yosemite Valley when illegal mountain bikers came through and I almost got beaned good. And after they were gone, the ruts and damage done to the trail really surprised me. Mountain biking is not the same as the family pedalling their Schwins from view to view. It is a recreational sport that does great damage to the resource and does not belong in our national parks.

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I agree with competition. If one company operated the Yosemite Lodge and another operated Curry Village, the competition would likely spark improvements to both properties as each vied to be the better facility with the better rates. As for whether the concessionaires are reaping a windfall, I'd need more information on how profitable the properties are, who pays for maintenance, who pays insurance, etc. etc.

  • Centennial Projects: Mountain Biking in Big Bend National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    mountain bike trails do nothing for transportation, especially when you follow the mountain bike centric IMBA trail building standards, (http://www.imba.com/resources/trail_building/) they exist primarily for the thrill of biking on a trail, so let's be sure to minimize any expectation that the parks will somehow work to "reduce their carbon footprint" by building these trails. paved bike trails are a different thing altogether, but that's not what we're talking about here.

    the mission of the park service is not compatible with mountain biking... if you allow mountain biking, what is next? tubing with a cooler of beer on the madison in yellowstone? (although, you'd have to drink a lot to stay warm!) downhill bike trails with jumps and sky bridges from the rim of bryce to the bottom? this site argues constantly about the merits of nps management in preserving a landscape, i'm surprised no one has piped up here against the idea.

    i ride a mountain bike a lot (i love it, it's a great workout and very very fun) and biking causes far more erosion on trails in mountainous terrain from what i have experienced. i live in an area with much usfs wilderness (which does NOT allow mtn. biking) and in areas with similar (emphasis on similar) the erosion where bikes are allowed is much much more. also, in a day and age with declining budgets and increased spread of invasive species, why are we adding more to the parks plate? mountain bike trails take more resources (man hours and bugetary input) to maintain and have far more user conflicts given the speeds involved, to say nothing of the liability assumed. as such, they do not belong in parks in my strong opinion.

    they do, however, belong on national forests and bureau of land management areas, state parks, etc. just not the parks.

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I see the free market side of the argument: supply (lodging in parks) is limited, and demand is high, so prices are high.

    What I find to be unfair is the non-competitive advantage companies are granted by the government. Why should one company in Yellowstone operate every room, every campground, every store? With a little competition, some prices might fall, benefiting the consumer.

    But leaving price and monopolies aside, I wonder how anyone opposed to non-governmental management of national parks can patronize any concession or stay in any lodge and maintain a clear conscience?

    Thank you, Beamis, for expanding on my point and making the connection. If some don't think almost $1000 a night at the Ahwahnee is a "fair" price, then how can it be fair that the concession gives maybe $20 of that $1000 to the NPS? Why should taxpayers foot the bill while wealthy corporations reap the reward?

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Truth be known the prices quoted are not really all that out of line and are relative bargains compared to the price of lodgings in much less attractive locales.

    I'm with Merryland and much prefer the backcountry over lodges but do enjoy having breakfast and then hoisting a few cold ones later in the afternoon at the North Rim Lodge of the Grand Canyon. The Yellowstone lodges and hotels are fun to hang out in and people watch after coming back from a few days out in the wilds.

    The questions Frank raises about the mere pittance that is generated for the parks by all of this lodging business is germane to the issue because the money isn't going back into the parks but into corporate coffers after the consummation of sweetheart concession contracts.

    No one likes the idea of privatization but then don't seem to mind the current pillaging that goes on by private multi-nationals operating with impunity while giving back next to nothing.

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Places like the Ahwahnee were built specifically to cater to the super-rich. Stephen Mather, first NPS superintendent, thought that in order for the National Parks to get the funding and approvals needed in Washington, they had to be places where the wealthy movers and shakers in the East Coast elite wanted to vacation. So the parks needed hotels that would attract that sort. Like it or not, that's just the way it was and it may have been a good politically savvy move.

  • Soundscape : Frijoles Creek in Bandelier National Monument   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Thanks Jeremy, I needed that this morning! Brings music to my ears, especially after reading about Bush's desire to continue the war in Iraq.

  • Centennial Projects: Mountain Biking in Big Bend National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    In July I spent a week at Far View in Mesa Verde nat. park, where bikes of any kind are apparently not allowed, at least I never saw any. That surprised me. I just assumed bikes and specific bike trails or paved bike paths would be a natural benefit to such a location by reducing auto traffic and its air pollution. Mesa Verde is such a large park that it is otherwise impossible to see without an automobile. The beauty and mystery of the surroundings would have been much more enjoyable by being allowed to travel at my leisure from location to location on a bike instead of a car and the attendant traffic.

  • Soundscape : Frijoles Creek in Bandelier National Monument   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Hi Jeremy,

    Lovely ambiance!

    Can I convince you to share a favorite recording for the one-minute vacation project? :)

    aaron

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I'm pretty much not interested in these sorts of accomodations so long as I can still carry my tent and sleeping bag. I did, however, get the steak dinner at Phantom Ranch once when hiking through the canyon and boy oh boy was that a good investment regardless of the price, which I no longer recall. After eating astronaut food for a day or two or three, that was one awesome meal.

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    If Xanterra was taken out of the picture, with its many very low paid employees that often turn out to be thieves, sex offenders and petty drug dealers, the park service would never be able to justify their huge law enforcement budgets in these mostly remote and generally crime free areas. In many parks Xanterra employees make up the bulk of felony arrests for the mostly bored and underutilized law enforcement wing of the green and gray. The concessionaires provide an essential ingredient to justify guns, door kicking glory and gobs of Homeland Security gravy.

    At one park that I worked in the Xanterra housing area was staked out every evening (in season) with night vision goggles and full complement of rangers. I went on a ride along one night with an LE friend to the Lodge area and it was just like being in an episode of COPS. We just can't take that away from them, market economics be damned!

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Gotcha Frank! Excellent points made!!

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Concessions are government-sponsored monopolies, and these prices reflect that.

    It's a abhorrent that Xanterra was awarded a 5-year contract worth $250 million to operate a monopoly in Yellowstone and returns a minuscule 2% franchise fee to the NPS.

    Imagine if a public trust managed Yellowstone and a large portion of the $250 million collected in Yellowstone went toward park operation and management. There would be no need to fund the park with ill-gotten, politically tainted, hard-earned taxpayer money.

    ----------------------------------------
    Reform the National Park Service!
    http://NPS-reform.blogspot.com

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Kath, if your a well heeled silicon valley boy, the Ahawahee Hotel is no subject of high prices. Why can't we All have a taste of the good life at the Ahawahee. The hotel systems in the National Parks should bear in mind that the super rich shouldn't alway's get that carte blanche treatment. There's plenty of hard working Americans that deserve just as much equal treatment...if not better (since they carry the bulk of the taxes and the blood shed of the sicking (wasteful) Iraq war). When it comes to the use of the National Parks, I believe all Americans should be on equal footing (price wise) for hotel acommodations and treatment as the rich. Something looks awfully awkward when the jaded Hollywood rich type roll into Ahawahee Hotel, slick to the gills, just to have a few gin tonics. Of couse, life is never fair, but I love my little pup tent just the same and besides I see the REAL World better.

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   6 years 44 weeks ago

    All the prices for lodging in Yosemite are very high compared to comparable lodgings elsewhere. Tent cabins in White Wolf are $93. per night for four cots and a Franklin stove. No electricity. The motel rooms at Curry Village are approx. $170. with tiny bathrooms. Yet, these accommodations are almost always full during the summer so using basic Economics 101, they are not overpriced. If people thought they were overpriced, there would be plenty of vacancies. But instead, lots of people are willing to pay the rates for the location.

  • Successful Search in Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I am glad that this turned out well. However, they should never have split up.

    In my training and experience it is the obligation of the stronger hiker to adjust their pace to their partner or slowest of the group.

    You DO NOT abandon people on the trail!

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Wyoming's plan doesn't just call for a hunting season; Wyoming's plan calls for wolves outside a certain area to be classified as vermin. There is a lot of question also whether the number of packs that Wyoming must maintain can be maintained with the policies in place.

    Anyhow, I'm not here to get into it about Wyoming's policy; my point was that wolf numbers don't necessarily grow infinitely. When one says that their numbers need to be kept in check, there's a presumed social value being expressed there (just as there is when someone says elk numbers need to be kept in check). Pointing out a stat was to get people to put their own cards on the table. Fido gets run over by cars all the time; livestock out West are also run over by cars; no one worries about that. Wolves are seen as a direct competitor in the way that cars aren't; it's interesting to cut through things to figure out why.

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

  • Private Party At Charlestown Navy Yard Doesn't Lack Alcohol   6 years 44 weeks ago

    The person who arrested the guy was a "Park law enforcment ranger" not a "Police Officer" although
    they call themselves police officers..

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    This is the best news I have heard since my return home to the PNW.
    Now to do something about those pesky Mountain Goats in the Olympic National Park ;-}
    "Real life ain't always like a Kevin Costner movie."
    Nor is it like Disney's "Never Cry Wolf."
    Thank the heavens...

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    It will take several years before anyone can go "hog wild" in any state. Actually there will never be anyone ever going "hog wild". The animals are far to protected to allow that to happen and hunting is actually the best way to control the species populations of game animals. Hunting isn't a free for all, it is a thoroughly managed and proven effective way to control species populations.

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    All it will take to change the tune for one of these pro-wolf anti-hunting people is to have one of their very expensively bred dogs to be savagely munched on by a very hungry and sly member of canis lupus. So they had better be careful where they let their little Fi-fi out of the Volvo, especially in the northern Rockies. Real life ain't always like a Kevin Costner movie.

    I've seen coyote lovers become overnight converts to bounty killing in the same way. The wilderness is really WILD people!

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    One note on booming wolf numbers, a report by Ed Bangs on Wyoming wolf numbers put out this summer suggests that Wyoming wolf totals this year may decrease slightly (this is before Wyoming plans to go hog wild in exterminating wolves).

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

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I think wolves are great. If kept in check they do good things for their environment. But it sounds like at least one of the people in that meeting have their heads in the clouds when it comes to how "wild", wild wolves really are. These are not the neighbor's chocolate lab down the street, they are amazing hunting and killing machines. All they want to do is eat meat, livestock or wildlife, and make little wolves and given the right habitat they can do both very well. Look at Idaho for example. Wolves have boomed there in the last few years and are still booming and now Idaho is trying to legally allow hunters to control the wolf population. I would venture to say that most if not all of the pro wolf people at that meeting are anti hunting, but the best way to control over-expanding wolf populations is to allow hunters to harvest them in carefully controlled numbers. I am all for wolves being reintroduced, but the people near Olympic Nat. Park need to understand what these animals are, wild beasts, and not a cuddly dog who plays fetch.

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I suppose you wouldn't want the wolves munching on the fishers... but nice to see the effort is still on track. I have started seeing more coyotes here in the Baltimore/DC area -- it's very exciting. Bring in your kitty cats for the evening folks!