Finally. The long days of summer are upon us in Estes Park, the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s plenty of daylight to really put some miles under your boots, take a hike with your kids and listen to nature, or even take a multi-day backpack trip to the high lakes and solitude. There’s a hike for every skill level, and every length of stay, from the lazy amble to epic mountaineer routes.
Some stories, whether focused on travel or a specific issue, deserve a longer treatment.
Cody, Wyoming, is a legendary Western frontier town with the personality to match. Cody was founded by William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the famous Wild West showman and Army scout, and sitting adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, the town still sports his wild and adventurous nature.
A few months ago, when Mongolian national park director Tumursukh Jal was on an official visit to the Grand Canyon, one of his hosts asked a simple question: “How many national parks do you guys have there in your home country?” When Tumursukh mentioned there were 99 of them, his U.S. colleagues seemed a bit nonplussed. “That many, really?”
Crossing the powder-blue bridge spanning the Potomac River at Point of Rocks, Maryland, I feel like I’ve time-warped to another century. With my husband and two children in tow, we have left behind the bustling Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., to stay in a historic lockhouse along the C&O Canal. For one weekend at least we hope to experience what life was like for a 19th-century lock tender and his family, whose livelihood was tied to the daily rhythms of moving boats and goods. If history had gone in a different direction, however, our stay would have been impossible.
In this Father's Day tribute to her father, photographer Rebecca Latson writes about the man from whom she inherited her love of the camera, travel and the national parks.
We recently returned to Keweenaw National Historical Park in Michigan after an absence of nearly a decade following our first visit in 2007. The national historical park covers a substantial amount of real estate as it spans much of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This large expanse makes it likely a visitor will miss at least some of the park's important features, one of the reasons we chose to visit a second time.
I placed a mix of boneless breast meat, boneless thighs, and bone-in thighs into the bottom of the Dutch oven, and the meat began to sizzle in the hot olive oil. Diced onions, potatoes, sliced celery, and dried morels from the nearby mountains soon followed.
As part of National Parks Traveler's Centennial Series, a collection of papers and essays commemorating the National Park Service Centennial, Chelsea Skoject, a natural resources conservation student on track to graduate in 2017 from the University of Florida Natural Resources Conservation, explores the question of who will preserve national park landscapes in the future.
Everglades National Park is our only national wetland park, and one of the largest aquascapes in the world. Perhaps more than any other U.S. national park, Everglades' treasures are hard to defend. Lying at the southern end of an immense watershed the size of New Jersey, Everglades National Park is caught between the largest man-made water project in the world upstream and a rapidly rising ocean downstream.
Mexico's Islas Marietas National Park is a gem, with fascinating wildlife, and interesting caves and cliffs. But today, one of the most famous sites, Playa Escondida (Secret Beach) has been closed for rehabilitation.
A plan to crisscross 110 square miles of swampy landscape in a search for oil promises to test the National Park Service's ability to balance the unimpairment of resources with the "enjoyment of privately owned oil and gas interests" at Big Cypress National Preserve, a nearly three-quarters-of-a-million-acre wildland that nurtures endangered species and filters a good portion of the sheet of water that nourishes the "river of grass" on its way into neighboring Everglades National Park.
The majesty of Yosemite is all around. Just across from Glacier Point Lower and Upper Yosemite falls plummet thousands of feet. To the right the Merced River feeds Nevada Fall, then Vernal Fall, emptying into America’s grandest landscape. Cloud’s Rest and Half Dome, of course, anchor the horizon to the east, while deep in the valley the forests, meadows, and river murmur.
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.
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.