As part of National Parks Traveler's Centennial Series, a collection of papers and essays commemorating the National Park Service Centennial, Dr. Harry Butowsky, a National Park Service historian who oversaw the agency's digital library, put together the following list of key events and legislation from the first century of the National Park Service.
Some stories, whether focused on travel or a specific issue, deserve a longer treatment.
Spring in Yosemite National Park following a wet winter is spectacular. Waterfalls roaring, thundering, pouring over granite cliffs, cascading down boulder-strewn canyons. Rainbows in waterfalls. Merced River at flood stage. Lush green meadows. Trees bursting with new spring growth. Lovely white blossoms on graceful branches of dogwood trees reaching out over the Merced River. Snow-capped peaks in the backcountry.
Imagine a 2.5-mile-long lake in Zion Canyon, one nearly 400 feet deep that shimmered in the canyon for roughly 700 years. It's hard to grasp, but even harder to envision is a mountainside peeling off the face of what is known today as the Sentinel in Zion National Park and filling the valley floor in seconds with 286 million cubic meters of rock and dirt.
The rich cobalt blue waters of Crater Lake are the centerpiece for this national park in southern Oregon. Its geologic birth has left an enormous volcanic caldera, in which the lake rests today. The story of the lake’s birth is as fascinating and striking as the park itself.
I met the bison calf who took a ride in an SUV early one evening as I drove west in Lamar Valley, past the pullout known as “Picnic.” The late afternoon sun on a stormy day landscape was the light that photographers dream of shooting, with wild animals on a horizon and Yellowstone National Park's gorgeous mountains off in the distance.
The National Park Service Centennial in 2016 presents an important opportunity to reflect on the system’s enormous growth and change since its inception. From a mere handful of national parks scattered across the West in 1916, the system now exceeds 410 units stretching across all 50 states and covering roughly 84 million acres.
We stand on the cusp of the National Park Service’s second century, at an intersection of retrospection and promise. It’s the perfect point from which to look back on the first 100 years of the management of the world’s greatest park system, and to examine how it can be improved moving forward into the future.
Despite a few lingering snow squalls, spring has settled over the National Park System, and summer isn't too far off. Road trips, hikes, and exploring the parks are on your to-do list. To help you out with that, turn to our Essential Park Guide Summer 2016.
As Vanessa McDonough scanned the ocean floor off the South Florida coast, she spotted an empty beer bottle among the fish, corals, and sponges protected by Biscayne National Park. Only the bottle wasn’t empty. Upon closer examination, a small fish had swam inside, and pebbles and shells had blocked the exit. “The poor fish was a prisoner in this Corona bottle,” she said.
Abraham Lincoln saw in the name renewal—the Union Pacific. Chartered by Congress in 1862, it was a railroad forged out of the depths of civil war. Lincoln then fervently hoped to heal the Union by stretching its tracks across the West. Finally, with Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, the great undertaking could begin. By then, Lincoln had been assassinated, but the Union would indeed endure.
There was a large grizzly bear that roamed Yellowstone National Park, purposeful in his long stride. His profile distinct, due to the indentation of the collar he normally wore, his thin neck and long nose, and a mangled right ear and scars on his face from a battle.
The Ivory Burn is about to happen and for days the internet has been full of pictures of the pyres being built, conservationists having their pictures taken with tusks, and heart-felt video pleas.
Matt Holly is a lifelong parks and maps enthusiast. He put his interests together and created the website National Park Maps, which now has more than 1,000 free maps.
Our only previous visit to Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska occurred nearly four decades ago while headed east to Indiana from Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. Driving on U.S. 36 that spans northern Kansas, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to take a short detour north into southern Nebraska and visit Homestead National Monument, a NPS area that would be a new park unit for us.
Enos Mills learned at a young age how beneficial the outdoors could be. The “father of Rocky Mountain National Park” was just 15 years old in 1885 when he made his first climb to the top of Longs Peak in what later would become the national park.
Amid all the hoopla, celebration, and excitement surrounding the National Park Service's 100th birthday this year, one fact is inescapable: Lodging in the parks this summer will be hard to find. But...it won't be impossible to find.
For the sake of argument, let us agree with the Obama Administration that the Earth is warming up. Should we respond by being scared or cautious and, if scared, exactly what should we be frightened of?
National parks are phenomenal vacation destinations and a great place to bring your home on wheels. But when you do, some challenges are inevitable. Navigating a park’s curvy interior roads can be tricky, and campsites are astonishingly narrow for modern RVs. In Southern California, two neighboring parks perfectly illustrate the range of accommodations for RVers: Death Valley and Joshua Tree. One is more RV-friendly than the other, but both offer an unforgettable camping experience.
There’s a new “Monkey Wrench Gang” MOVIE rumor circulating on the internet. A web site called “New WorldOdor.com” reports that Leonardo DiCaprio is secretly producing the film version of Edward Abbey’s 1975 masterpiece, somewhere in Arizona. Leo himself is reportedly playing the role of ‘Seldom Seen’ Smith.