Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler
National Park Week officially kicks off tomorrow, April 18, and if you're wondering how to celebrate, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation have some ideas.
We splash downstream in The Narrows of the North Fork of the Virgin River, deep in the backcountry of Utah’s Zion National Park, mostly craning our necks up like turkeys hypnotized by falling rain. But our fascination is not with rain, but red walls on both sides that rise hundreds of feet overhead. The sun does not find us in this deep canyon, where the air temperature approximates the inside of a refrigerator, and the ankle- to calf-deep water feels about the same.
As a longtime resident of northern Virginia, I feel like I know Shenandoah National Park fairly well. I’ve driven the 105-mile length of Skyline Drive several times, stayed in and near the park, and spent many weekends hiking there. And yet I’ve never experienced the park from the back of a horse...until now.
Arizona is rich in history -- from the 1800s all the way back to the Late Triassic Period. Stitch together this trip that winds out of Flagstaff to Montezuma Castle National Monument, to Petrified Forest National Park, and ends at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. You’ll experience fascinating chapters of geologic and cultural history.
“...One Of The Sweetest, Brightest, Grandest, And Loneliest Of Primitive Regions Still Remaining In Our America...”
Roller-coaster wave trains. Holes that could swallow Volkswagens. Scenery that takes your breath away.
The National Park System offers countless paddling opportunities...as well as impediments to paddling. There are free-flowing, gin-clear streams, and pollution threats in the form of fracking operations, agriculture, and population growth. And there are experiences that will pull you into wilderness settings that seemingly turn the calendar back a century or more.
Take a walk to the Bloody Angle at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, stand before the Kirkland Memorial just below the Sunken Road, or gaze at the bed where General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died and the gravity of this nation’s greatest internal conflict washes over you.
A much publicized conference, Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century, opens today at the University of California, Berkeley. Led by the National Park Service and National Geographic Society, conference sponsors propose “to launch a Second Century of stewardship for the parks, 100 years after the historic meetings at UC Berkeley that helped launch the National Park Service.” A specialist on those meetings, Dr. Alfred Runte reports on why the story does not end there.
Western authenticity: you’ll see it in the towering ponderosa pine trees, the deeply eroded canyons that showcase the sunrises and sunsets, the horseback riders wending their way below the canyon rims.
Whether you canoe, kayak, raft, or use a Stand Up Paddleboard to explore the National Park System’s waters, pair safety with your enthusiasm.
It’s easy to find Mount Rainier National Park from Seattle or Tacoma. Just point your vehicle toward the large, snow-cloaked mountain that stands against the eastern horizon and drive.
There still remains, in this heavily developed country, a place where a river runs free, unfettered by a dam and surrounded by wilderness. Look towards northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah. That’s Dinosaur National Monument, with the Green and Yampa rivers.
Across the National Park System, the National Park Service has an estimated half-a-billion-dollars of obligations owed concessionaires who run lodges, restaurants, and even some activities. It's a sum that, while agency officials say it's manageable, has seemingly stifled concessions competition in some parks and diverted tens of millions of dollars from others to reduce debts.
The vastness of the fjord seemed to stretch on forever, a land untouched by man, full of natural wonder and life. After the afternoon rain, hundreds of waterfalls cascaded from the sheer cliffs. The misty skies above were home to exotic looking birds, the likes of which I’d never seen.
All signs point to spring: warm winds, green budding trees, flowering bulbs, and... skiing? Sure enough! Spring’s a great time to spend some time sliding around on those broad bowls, snow-covered roads, and long ridges. The weather is mild, the skies are blue, and the days are long: it’s just a lot more comfortable spring-skiing than going on a mid-winter slog in a blizzard through deep snow.
Some wildlife species long forgotten at Cape Cod are returning to the national seashore in numbers both attracting fascination as well as consternation.
Not all rivers, streams, and lakes in the National Park System require well-honed paddling skills. Here’s a look at a few places, on generally placid water, where you can take a few strokes.
Mud season is here. In most national parks above the Mason-Dixon Line, and quite a few south of that line, it can be a messy time. Choosing a destination can be problematic due to the weather in general and the snow line specifically.
We started paddling from the south end of Ross Lake just as a breeze began to riffle the blue-green water. By the time we were ready to stop for lunch an hour later, the north wind straight out of Canada had whipped the calm waters into a froth of whitecaps. So instead of picnicking on the beach, we gobbled down some energy bars and fought our way north through the chop.
Springtime is a bit of an “in-between” season. It’s somewhere between the longer, warmer days of summer, and the cooler and muddier days of a late winter. Hopefully you’ll find your place farther from winter’s cold and closer to summer’s breezes.
There are a lot of whitewater runs in the National Park System just waiting for you out there. Some for experts, others intermediates, and a few that will help a novice gain confidence.
If you’re trying to find your way off of the Los Angeles freeways, away from the urban crowds, just offshore is an island wilderness waiting for you. Channel Islands National Park is close, wild, and beautiful. These five islands, just 18 miles from Ventura, beckon to those with a need for quiet and solitude.
"Is anybody alive out there?!?" If you’ve had the good fortune to attend a Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band concert, you know the feeling when you shout out your answer. Want to experience that for two to three weeks every day on the water? Join in on a Colorado River float trip through the Grand Canyon.
What path should the National Park Service take as it enters its second century? How can the National Park Service continue to nurture landscapes, cultures, and American history without compromising the world's best collection of parks? In this unique collection of papers, National Parks Traveler will recapture Stephen Mather’s ambition of preserving “the most inspiring playgrounds and the best equipped nature schools in the world.”
It’s a 200-mile paddle along Minnesota’s Border Route, from Crane Lake on the eastern side of Voyageurs National Park to Grand Portage National Monument on Lake Superior. There are twists and turns as it follows a series of pristine, remote lakes linked by portages along the Minnesota and Ontario border.
Had we been ashore, our feet might have been badly scalded, or worse, if we had absent-mindedly stumbled into a hot spring. But here, in a sea kayak just off the West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, the bubbling waters popped to the surface of Yellowstone Lake, merely a harmless marvel to watch.
We knew we were being watched. We skimmed across the water, with our paddle blades rising and falling in a quick cadence. From its tall perch atop a pine, a bald eagle slowly rotated its white-feathered head and kept its eyes on us as we paddled further across Menokin Bay towards Cat Point Creek.
Flat water. Whitewater. Tranquil pools and rising tides. All this and more abounds in the National Park System’s water world. Though often described as “more than 84 million acres” of landscape, the system also embraces endless miles of streams, lakeshore, and ocean front. It’s a watery landscape you can explore for half-a-day, or for the rest of your life.