Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Exploring The Parks: General Washington's Headquarters At Morristown

In central New Jersey, just a short distance from New York City, the Continental Army hunkered down in a place called Jockey Hollow for a long, cold, harsh winter of monitoring the British troops across the Hudson River in New York City. Today you can get a feel for this setting -- though it's heavily urbanized these days -- with a visit to Morristown National Historical Park where General George Washington and 10,000-12,000 troops spent what's believed to be the coldest winter on record.

Made In America: National Park Concessionaires Offering More Items Made In America

Next time you find yourself in a gift shop at a national park, check out where the items were made. You just might be surprised that a majority of the items are made in America, with fewer and fewer bearing an oval gold-and-black 'Made in China' sticker on them.

Traveler's View: Packrafting Deserves Consideration In Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks

At Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, the National Park Service should welcome a discussion into a form of backcountry travel that, if properly managed, need not alter the decades-long experience of visiting these two magnificent parks, but rather enhance it for a small number of wilderness travelers.

Exploring The Parks: Fossil Butte National Monument In Windswept Wyoming

Many national parks preserve aspects of the past, and in the case of Fossil Butte National Monument, that past goes back 55 million years ago, a time when the landscape of western Wyoming was very different from the windswept plains we see today.

"Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park

Threading through the backcountry, and frontcountry, of Yellowstone National Park are creeks and streams fueled by springs and snowmelt, some only several feet across, some dozens of feet wide. More than 300 topple over waterfalls at least 15 feet high, while others meander placidly through the Lamar and Hayden valleys.

Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands

Legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives would, if enacted as drafted, require the National Park Service to determine "a nationally consistent entrance fee policy and corresponding rate structure" for the 401 units of the National Park System, a potentially sweeping requirement that seemingly could generate tens of millions of additional dollars for the parks.

Essential Summer Guide '14: Spanish Galleons, Elephant Seals, And Great Birding At Point Reyes National Seashore

It's the stuff of legends, of treasure seekers. Somewhere, not far from land, lies buried treasure in the seabed of Drakes Bay. Within the remains of the 16th century Spanish galleon San Agustin there could be priceless heirlooms, or merely shards of porcelain dishes that the ship was carrying from the Philippines to Mexico. What is known is that the wreck of the San Agustin in 1595 in waters now within Point Reyes National Seashore is the first recorded shipwreck on the West Coast.

Exploring The Parks: Oregon National Historic Trail In Wyoming

Plant yourself -- leaning into the wind, of course -- on the open prairie near South Pass City, Wyoming, and you can quickly envision the setting that faced Conestoga-riding emigrants more than a century ago in their exodus to the West Coast. Endless miles of sagebrush, the Wind River Range looming ever-present to the north, a boundless sky dotted here and there with distant rainstorms.

National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines

Once considered largely to be worthless, national parks today are economic engines that generate $26.5 billion for the nation's economy.

Essential Summer Guide '14: Turtles, Birds, And Surf-Kissed Beaches At Padre Island National Seashore

Turtles and birds are some of the higher profile visitors to the stretch of Texas along the Gulf Coast that's home to Padre Island National Seashore.

Essential Summer Guide '14: Mix Military History And Beach Time At Gulf Islands National Seashore

The warm Gulf waters are the main attraction at Gulf Islands National Seashore, but anyone with an interest in American history – from the Colonial days up through World War II – will find a reason to visit as well.

Birding In The National Parks: Canada's Point Pelee National Park Is For The Birds

Canada’s Point Pelee National Park is for the birds, literally. Established in 1918, the park was created to protect some of the last remaining wild marsh and forest habitat along the north shore of Lake Erie. Bird fanciers, both those who watched them and those who hunted them, spearheaded the drive to protect the land. Duck hunting is no more at Point Pelee, but the bird watching remains, and this curious spit of land continues to enjoy the guarantee of preservation from Parks Canada.

Exploring The Parks: Chatham Manor At Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

"Chatham." That one word captures a rich and poignant chapter of American history spanning nearly 250 years.

Preserving Natural Soundscapes In The National Parks

The National Park Service (NPS) Management Policy defines natural soundscapes as “the unimpaired sounds of nature”, something to be preserved, and cherished by those visiting the parks. Think of serene, trickling creeks, cheeping robins, chirping marmots and the lullaby of crickets when dusk sweeps over your favorite park. The NPS protects these natural and cultural sounds that affect the emotions, attitudes and memories of park visitors.

Exploring the Parks: New River Gorge National River

Deep in West Virginia, the New River has cut a 1,000-foot gorge that, in places, froths with whitewater. Its V-shaped mountainsides are covered in trees. Outcrops of Nuttall sandstone packed with quartz, the gorge’s bones, show near the tops of the cliffs.

Essential Summer Guide '14: Rocks And Roll Through Canyon Country

For mind-blowing scenery, vast vistas of eroded stone, and rugged topography, Utah is the place. The Beehive State is home to five national parks (Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion) and five national monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante (managed by the BLM), Rainbow Bridge, Natural Bridges, and Hovenweep) for good reason. It’s the greatest earth on show.

Essential Summer Guide: Maritime Forest, Wilderness, And History At Fire Island National Seashore

You may not think that you could lose yourself in the embrace of a forest at a national seashore, but that’s something you’ll encounter when you head to Fire Island National Seashore just off the south shore of Long Island, New York.

Discriminating Explorer: Lake Hotel, Yellowstone National Park's Elegant Lady, Renovated And Invigorated

When Robert Reamer approached the task of remodeling a simple lodge in the still fledgling Yellowstone National Park, he had a backdrop of a sweeping lake rimmed by mountains that remained jacketed in snow well into summer. And yet, to draw Eastern society out to this wilderness, he realized he would need more to lure them than a stunningly beautiful setting.

Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: Who Gets The Fees?

As fees for recreating on public lands continue to increase, who gets the money? Contributor Lee Dalton came away with some answers to that question from his recent visit to Timpanogos Cave National Monument in Utah.

Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question

User fees are becoming more and more prevalent on public lands used for recreation. Are they worth it? Occasional contributor Lee Dalton, retired from a National Park Service career, muses on that matter after visiting Timpanogos Cave National Monument in central Utah.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec has nothing to do with the Aztecs of Mexico and Central America. But it does have everything to do with Ancestral Puebloans. It may be one of many places people from Chaco moved to when Chaco was abandoned. Occupation here began in about the late 1000's and flourished until around 1130. By the late 1200's, this settlement was abandoned as so many others had been. As is the case elsewhere, no one knows why.

Essential Summer Guide '14: Mix History And Wilderness At Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cast across more than 36,000 acres, Cumberland Island National Seashore is, as its name implies, on an island, the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Make the ferry boat crossing from St. Marys and you’ll discover history of those long ago enslaved here, blueblood manses, about 18 miles of waveswept beaches, and nearly 9,000 acres of official Wilderness.

150 Years Of Preservation: Yosemite And The Constitutionality Of National Parks

With the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant here, we should accept that Yosemite, not Yellowstone, was the birthplace of the national park idea.

Cape Hatteras, Where The 'National Seashore' Concept Was Born

Sun, salt spray, and sand are the main ingredients for a traditional Outer Banks vacation. Here on the North Carolina coast, where barrier islands bare the brunt of the Atlantic Ocean, families have been coming for decades to enjoy not only those aspects of summer but some of the best fishing along the Atlantic coast.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From Island In The Sky At Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers into three distinct districts. Needles, Island in the Sky, and the Maze. There are no roads connecting them because the rivers and some very deep ditches are in the way. Island in the Sky is about a two-hour drive north of the Needles. The Maze is another matter. It can be reached only via a very long and circuitous route.

Biological Diversity, Refreshing Lake Michigan Waters, And Great Beaches Await At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore shares Lake Michigan with Sleeping Bear Dunes, which is 275 miles to the north. Indiana Dunes is a quilted landscape of sorts, interspersed as it is with industrial sites and a state park. Yet this lakeshore provides an escape to the beach and offers a cultural window into the past.

Exploring The Parks: Musings From The Needles District In Canyonlands National Park

It’s hot here. Welcome to the beginning of summer in the Southwest. Two days ago it was raining and near freezing and I was complaining about it at Mesa Verde and now it’s sweat time. But those rains have turned the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park into a veritable flower garden. Everywhere I look there are blooms.

Wilderness, Legends, And A Refreshing Escape From Summer's Heat Can Be Found At Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Bears, water, and sand are the main themes that run through this lakeshore that hugs the main arm of Lake Michigan; bears that drew life in Anishinaabek legend, water that flows both rhythmically and tempestuously, and the sand that towers over the landscape.

The Strange Case Of The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

The following is the second of a two-part article on the significance of religious symbolism at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana, symbolism that the National Park Service has largely overlooked. The author, Richard Sellars, was a historian for the National Park Service for three decades.

Traveler's View: National Parks Are Boring, Outside Magazine? Really???

Did you hear the news? National parks, those wondrous and scenic expanses of Nature's eye candy, those wild and rumpled landscapes that test your skills and will kill you if you're not careful and prepared, or maybe just in the wrong place at the wrong time, are boring. They've been transformed -- or, perhaps, kept since their creation -- as "drive-through museums."