Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Essential Paddling Guide: Row Your Boat, Deep In The Canyon With O.A.R.S.

I've often said that if you've seen one Grand Canyon you've seen them all. Well, that does make some sense because, after all, there's really just only one in the world. And deep in the bottom of this desert chasm lays the main culprit of erosion, the granddaddy of all American waterways: the Colorado River. It's the big ticket, the plum, the one that challenges all paddlers and rowers.

Traveler's Essential Paddling Guide To The National Parks

Paddling down a river or across a lake in a national park setting is truly a wonderful, memorable experience, one that carries thrills and life-long memories. You can retrace the historic 19th-century journey of John Wesley Powell, or land on a lodgepole pine-studded shore where camp is set under swaying trees and the evening brings a vivid sunset.

Traces Of The Prehistoric Past: Fossilized Tracks At White Sands National Monument

In the shifting sands of White Sands National Monument, traces of the prehistoric past are slowly being erased. Though they might soon be gone, these markers left behind by mammoths and camel-like animals have been preserved through remote imaging technology.

Traveler's View: Don't Let The Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act Undermine National Parks

The U.S. Senate should strip from the Sportmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act an amendment that would bar the National Park Service from better managing motorboat access in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Photo History From National Park Lookouts Shows Landscape Changes Over 70+ Years

There's an intriguing page within the vast nps.gov domain that opens a wonderful portal of history, one that allows us to compare today with yesteryear. The site, within the National Park Service Fire and Aviation Management section, compares historic photos taken from fire lookouts in the National Park System with today's landscapes.

A View From the Overlook: “How Do You Get A Permanent Job With The NPS?”

“How Do You Get A Permanent Job With The NPS?” This is a frequently asked question, Neighbors! No doubt about it, the NPS is a feel-good agency that many people would like to join, and they are not easily dissuaded. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is complicated, ambiguous and fluid.

Can The Tourism Industry Help Save Africa's Wild Elephants?

Tourism is big business in Africa, and one of the major draws is the wildlife in the continent's national parks. By almost any measure, however, the future of wild elephants in Africa is bleak unless major strides can be made against poaching fueled by the demand for ivory. Now a new campaign called S.A.F.E, (Safeguarding a Future for Africa’s Elephants) hopes to mobilize the tourism industry to help save the elephants.

What Is National Parks Traveler's Role?

What is the role of National Parks Traveler? For long-time readers, that might be easy to answer, but it has evolved and continues to evolve.

A View From The Overlook: The First National Park (We Think)

After doing a bit of volunteer time last summer at Yellowstone National Park, I decided to do a column on dear old Yellowstone, established way back in 1872, “The World’s First National Park." Or so I thought.

Plowshares Into Swords – The Story Behind A Cannon At Saratoga National Historical Park

The National Park Service manages dozens of sites of famous battles, and although every area has a unique story, many of them have something in common: cannons. You may find them perched on redoubts, still facing a long-vanquished enemy, or resting sedately inside a museum, and perhaps you've wondered how all that ordnance managed to survive for all these years.

Darwin At The End Of The World: Patagonia More Than The Galapagos Shaped Darwin’s New View Of Life

It turns out that scrambling out of a bouncing Zodiac and climbing 160 sodden, wooden stairs are the easiest challenges of the day. At the crest of the cliff, the trail stretches across the grassy, rolling hilltop of the southernmost inhabited island on the planet.

Convulsion In National Park Concessions

Concession operations in the national parks underwent some important changes during the last couple of years. Long-time concessionaires in two major parks failed in attempts to win contract renewals with winning bidders being companies with extensive National Park Service concession experience.

Reactions To Yellowstone Supervolcano Study Ranged From Hysteria To Ho-Hum

News from the parks in 2013 offered some fine opportunities for reporters, but for those inclined toward dramatic headlines, few stories could match the release of an updated study on the "Yellowstone Super-Volcano." Depending upon the source, readers might conclude that the end is near...or it's no big deal.

Inspiration For 2014: My Top 10 Family Adventures

If you’re looking for some ideas and inspiration for 2014, here are my 10 favorite family adventures at The Big Outside (another list that will keep growing and evolving), as well as a bonus 11th trip that made this list last year but saw its spot usurped this year.

What Were The Top National Park Stories Of 2013?

Flooding pummeled a handful of units in the National Park System this past fall, budget cuts hamstrung the National Park Service, and a 16-day closure of the national parks drew the public's ire. Those were just some of the top stories of 2013 across the National Park System. Here's a look at some of the year's top stories.

National Parks We Explored During 2013

So many parks, so few months in a year. Still, the National Parks Traveler staff and contributors managed to reach a fair number of parks in 2013 and returned home with the following stories.

Yosemite, For What And For Whom?

The path-breaking beginning of America’s national parks in Yosemite is the subject of these two anniversary-related books. For Dayton Duncan, in Seed of the Future, the Yosemite Grant remains the story of a national triumph. For Jen Huntley, in The Making of Yosemite, the act of June 30, 1864, bears irrefutable evidence of a national theft.

Exploring The Parks: Big Bend National Park In December

Happy Holidays, everybody! It’s almost the end of the year and after digging up some extra vacation days from beneath the couch cushions, I decided to take a mid-December road trip to Big Bend National Park

First State National Monument Shines A Light On The Nation's Origins

Whether due to oversight, a lack of political expediency, or inadvertent shunning, the country's first state was last in landing a unit of the National Park System within its borders. And now, though First State National Monument is open for business and shining a light on the country's origins, it continues to struggle.

The National Parks Are Now Open. How Can We Try To Keep Them Open?

turtles in the Everglades
What can we do to show Congress that national parks are important? Writing to your legislators is important, but not the only way to raise the visibility of our parks to Washington.

Exploring the Parks: Up And In The Mounds In Ocmulgee National Monument

OCMU - funeral mound
Ocmulgee National Monument, in Macon, Georgia, protects earth mounds from the Mississippian Period. The Earth Lodge Mound still has the original floor from more than a thousand years ago. The surrounding grounds offer a relaxing, easy, place to walk while you're exploring the monument.

Appreciating Space In National Parks

There are worries that a majority of today's younger generations are not interested in spending much time outdoors in natural areas. The Student Conservation Association exists to help nurture and immerse these generations in places such as national parks and national forests. Jane Wong discovered that working in the field with the SCA gave her a great appreciation for the outdoors. This is her story.

Draft Ozark National Scenic Riverways Plan Draws Charges NPS Is Trying To Limit Access

A pitched battle is under way over the future of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, one that goes to the heart of whether national parks are to be managed for the country's best interests, or for unrestricted local interests.

Essential Park Guide: Winter Doesn’t Have To Mean Cold, Snow And Ice During Your National Park Adventure

Cold, snow, and ice aren’t the only backdrops to a winter’s visit to the National Park System. There’s a flip side to the Glaciers, Yellowstones, and Mount Rainiers of winter park vacations. They’re found in the Caribbean, south Florida, and even Nevada and Arizona.

"Conscience Letters" From Petrified Forest National Park Thieves Tie Bad Luck To "Hot Rocks"

Think twice during your visit to Petrified Forest National Park about walking away with a colorful shard of petrified wood, for that "hot rock" just might bring you a world of hurt.

Essential Park Guide, Winter: Painting The Parks, Driven By Nature's Beauty

Outdoors, in the majesty of the national parks, masterpieces are created by artists drawn to nature's beauty.

Exploring The Parks: Andersonville National Historic Site--A Sad History

ANDE commemorative wall
Andersonville National Historic Site is a sad reminder of the Civil War. It's so well interpreted, it's been called the South's Holocaust Museum.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide Winter 2013-14

It was a (hopefully not) one of those once-in-a-lifetime visits to a far off national park, and I was flat on my back. That, however, was not all bad at Virgin Islands National Park on the Caribbean island of St. John, where basking under the February sun on the sugar-sand beaches in between snorkeling adventures is de rigueur. Preferably with a cool drink in hand and a rattan mat beneath you.

After 125 Years, Pinnacles National Monument Becomes The Nation’s Newest 'National Park'

Pinnacles National Park took 125 years to become the nation’s newest designated parkland. But it took immensely longer for the mountains to arrive at the present location 40 miles southeast of Salinas, California.

Suzanne Ditmanson Discusses Life As A National Park Superintendent's Wife

Suzanne Ditmanson on the trail
Suzanne Ditmanson, wife of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, talks about her National Park Service life. How did her husband's career affect her and their children?