Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Trial Over What Constitutes a "Road" In Canyonlands National Park: Vestiges of Sagebrush Rebels

There long have been pockets of disgust over federal land ownership in the West, and perhaps nowhere are those sentiments stronger than in Utah, where roughly two-thirds of the landscape is federally managed. While the "Sagebrush Rebellion" mightily reared its head some three decades ago, its waning vestiges are on trial this week over whether a creek bed constitutes a road in Canyonlands National Park.
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On Canyoneering, Politics, and Teens Studying Climate Change in the National Parks

Slipping from the top of the arch into the abyss below was a difficult move that rattled my psyche. Even though the sandstone band I was perched on was not much more than 4 feet wide, it was stable. Putting my faith into the rope cinched to my climbing harness and dropping into the 100-foot void went completely against my desire for self-preservation.

Proposed Power Lines at Everglades National Park Highlight Several National Issues

What would you think of a utility building a lengthy power-line transmission corridor through Everglades National Park on land that's highly valuable for restoring the "River of Grass"? And what would you think if such a project set a precedent that could jeopardize other National Park System lands across the nation?

On Politics, Bureaucracy, and "Glamping" In the National Park System

The National Park Service's National Leadership Council met in Ohio last week. The meeting of the agency's top management was supposed to be the first under the direction of Jon Jarvis as Park Service director. Political gamesmanship, and apparently a dose of bureaucracy, unfortunately left Mr. Jarvis wearing his Pacific West Region director's hat.

Just Down the Hallway: Saving Money at a National Park Lodge by Choosing a Room without a Private Bathroom

Even experienced travelers often are surprised to learn that some national park lodges still offer rooms without a private bathroom. In fact, in making a reservation at one of the lodges you might discover there is no choice other than a room that requires use of a community bathroom. While European visitors are not surprised and might even expect rooms without a private bathroom, many U.S. travelers don’t look kindly on the need to use a bathroom that is just down the hallway.

Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century

What do you expect from the National Park System? How would you like to see the National Park Service manage the 391 parks? Those are at the same time simple and complex questions. Perhaps the obvious answer is that we want parks managed for people to enjoy. But from there the obvious quickly fades away. Do we want them managed for preservation, for the betterment of species that inhabit the parks, for their landscapes to persist immemorially?
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Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration

What are we to think when a U.S. senator brands Jon Jarvis, a highly respected regional director of the National Park Service, as representing "the extreme policies of the Obama administration"?

Visitation to National Parks Is On the Upswing, Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Partly to Blame

There's a growing problem with national park visitation. In short, too many people are returning to the parks, creating problems for staffing and people management.

Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?

Chesler Park, Canyonlands National Park, Kurt Repanshek photo.
Are national parks no longer for the people? Have environmental groups succeeded in legally creating roadblocks to prevent their enjoyment? An Ohio man believes so. But what do you think?

History and Scenery in One Great Package – and Getting There is Part of the Fun

Sitka National Historical Park
What do Russian bishops, totem poles and rain forests have in common? They're all part of the story at a park in southeastern Alaska that shares its name with a terrific small town, and Sitka National Historical Park provides a fine combination of history and natural history in a setting that's hard to beat.

Senator From North Dakota Trying to Legislate Elk Management in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

A U.S. senator, unhappy with progress Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials are making on reducing the park's elk herd, is trying to legislate a hunt in the park to get the job done.

Dinosaur National Monument: More Than You Can Imagine

Are many months as fickle as April? Bogged down in gooey mud that once had been the campground at Deer Lodge in Dinosaur National Monument while grilling brauts over an open fire in the rain didn't seem to portend a good river trip. At least it wasn't snowing. No, that would come the next night.

Field Notes From Yosemite: Yosemite's High Country, A Tradition in Educational Excellence

Nestled peacefully in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, at roughly 8,600 feet above sea-level, sits Parsons Memorial Lodge, a modest fieldstone structure built in 1915 to celebrate the life and good works of Edward Taylor Parsons. It’s surrounded by some of the most recognized topographical icons in the Sierra Nevada, such as Cathedral Peak, Unicorn Crest, Mountains Dana and Gibbs.

Unresolved Search-and-Rescue Cases Are Scattered Throughout the National Parks

Each year there are thousands of search-and-rescue incidents logged across the National Park System. They typically involve missing hikers, visitors who get injured in falls, boating accidents, or climbing accidents. Far and away the bulk of the incidents quickly are resolved, usually in less than 24 hours.

National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans

In this summer of economic discontent, businesses that operate lodgings in the National Park System are coming up with their own strategies for luring visitors.

Tips for Staying Safe During Your Visit to the National Parks

A spate of fatalities in the national parks this spring sends a sobering message: parks can be dangerous places. But they don't have to be if you remember some simple rules when visiting the parks.

Don't Take National Park Landscapes for Granted

How comfortable have we become with national park settings? With the big sweep of granite that frames the Yosemite Valley, with Old Faithful's not-quite-so-faithful demonstrations of steam and hot water, with the fall's colorful deciduous forests of Great Smoky and Shenandoah?

Is There A New Dawn For the National Park Service?

A massive influx of dollars is heading towards the National Park System, part due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, some proposed within the Obama administration's Fiscal 2010 budget proposal. It certainly is a change from the past eight years.

Change is in the Wind for Offshore Energy Leases. How Might Parks Be Impacted?

Offshore wind farm.
Major changes are in the wind—literally and figuratively—concerning leasing of sites for offshore energy production. How might parks be affected by the current national plan being developed for offshore energy?

Staying Safe and How Not to Become A SAR Statistic in the National Park System

If you subconsciously want to become a search-and-rescue statistic in the National Park System, your best chance would be in either Grand Canyon National Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, or Yosemite National Park.

Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?

Everglades National Park, Rodney Cammauf photo.
Different administrations in Washington have different sets of priorities. While the Bush administration talked about helping restore the massive Everglades ecosystem, the Obama administration is sending signals it will work harder to push the project forward.
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National Parks: Valuable Assets In Efforts To Conserve Birdlife

Xantus's Murrelet, copyright Glen Tepke.
Peregrine Falcons, once teetering on extinction, are regulars at Acadia National Park. Bald Eagles, also once feared to be ready to blink out, have rebounded incredibly and are highly visible in many national parks. During a week-long canoe trip in Yellowstone National Park last fall I was blown away by the birdlife. But how is the overall "state of birds" in America these days? Unfortunately, things aren't entirely as they appear.

Musings From Virgin Islands National Park

Salt Pond Bay, Virgin Islands NP, Kurt Repanshek photo
Floating face down in the Caribbean, with snorkel clenched in your mouth, lacks the structure, the regimentation, of observing the natural world in the way we’ve grown up to accept while walking through a forest, strolling through a meadow, or hiking up a mountain. Clouds of neon blue tangs drift by while black-and-yellow striped sergeant majors flit about, lacking the tangs’ regimented approach to life in the ocean.

Tracing The Postage Stamp-Sized History of the National Park System

You could call it a postage stamp-sized history of the National Park System, but the history of park scenes on U.S. postage is really quite colorful and carries a few stories with it.

Spring Blooms Not Too Far Away in Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, And Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sunflowers, violets, trillium and other wildflowers are just around the proverbial corner in the Appalachian Mountains. You can spot these and dozens of others in Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks, as well as along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?

How much have the national parks changed since you were a kid? Have they changed? When you return to a park that you haven't been to in decades, is it like returning to an old friend, or visiting someplace totally alien?

Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?

Over the coming months there will be a flurry of construction work across the National Park System thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But then what?
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A National Park Service Regional Director Shares His Priority List for 2009

Earlier this year the Traveler offered up a post on what priorities we hoped the National Park Service would address in the coming year. Mike Snyder, director of the agency's Intermountain Region, has his own list of issues his region has in its sights this year.

With or Without a Stimulus Package, National Parks Can Be Economical Vacation Destinations

With all the economic doom and gloom of late, it'll be a miracle if anyone goes away for a vacation this year. At the very least, folks will be looking for bargains, and that's where the National Park System comes into play.

Are We Properly Caring for Our Ocean-Based National Parks?

There was an essay recently that brought to my attention a startling figure: Even though there are nearly 1,700 marine protected areas in U.S. territorial waters, 99.9 percent of all our territorial waters were open to fishing in 2008.