Every now and then there's a story that pops out and elicits an unusual reaction of one kind or another. During the course of the past 12 months across the National Park System, there were quite a few of those that deserve a second look.
Some stories, whether focused on travel or a specific issue, deserve a longer treatment.
With more than 400 units in the National Park System, trying to zoom in on any one particular park for a visit can be a challenge. Over the past 12 months the Traveler has "explored" quite a few parks, and we list those stories here to help you plan your next national park adventure.
While the Park Service drew widespread acclaim — and record visitation — as it marked its centennial in 2016, the agency was forced to confront myriad challenges, some of its own making.
As you shovel your walks, chip ice from your windshield, and brace against the winter wind, think some warm thoughts, because down south, the Dry Tortugas are calling your name. Stow the snow shovel for a few days to snorkel clear waters dancing with tropical fish, walk the sandy beaches for some relaxation, and watch our feathered-friends as they pass through. It’s beyond wonderful.
Daytime temperatures at Isle Royale National Park were forecast to reach no warmer than 6 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, a biting cold that, if it got no warmer at the national park for a month or so, just might solve the National Park Service's quandry over what to do about an apex predator, the wolf, that is about to blink out on the island.
It was just for a day, but the late- September snowstorm that closed Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park sent a clear message: winter can come quickly, hard, and heavy in the park, turning it into a winter wonderland with endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.
With the sun waning and the wind rising, I left my 7,500-foot perch on Cowlitz Rock with its marvelous view of the east side of Mount Rainier. The first dozen ski turns were great, but my favorite part was the mellow, miles-long schuss back to Mazama Ridge.
Unseasonably dry weather, apparent carelessness with fire, and hurricane-force winds turned a 1.5-acre fire along the roof of Great Smoky Mountains National Park into a killer conflagration that will long leave a mark on Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the park. Contributor Danny Bernstein examines the damage that's been done.
“Perhaps I most fully realized that this was primeval, untamed, and forever untamable Nature, or whatever else men call it, while coming down this part of the mountain.” — Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau’s impression of the Maine North Woods, penned during one of his three trips to the region in the 1840s and 1850s, more than likely would have been different had he visited in winter today.
There’s one sure-fire way for avoiding the crowds at Yosemite National Park: visit during the winter. Gone until May are the crowds that fill the Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove. You’ll love the freedom from take-a-number tourism, and be mesmerized by the pure, clean, quiet whiteness. It just might seem like you have the place all to yourself.
In the early 1800s, following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, a host of scouts, soldiers, trappers and traders began venturing from St. Louis, eager to explore and exploit the natural riches to be found in the wilderness of the West. It was America’s new economic frontier. The expansion of the fur trade would introduce new cultures and trading partners to farsighted business entrepreneurs.
Cell Phone Tower Issue At Theodore Roosevelt National Park Raises Questions Of Connectivity In National Parks
If you carry a cell phone into a national park, should you expect connectivity? Many people would answer "yes." But what if you hiked into a wilderness area, which is supposed to be free of today's human technologies?
Okay, let’s get the most important thing out of the way right off the bat. If you are thinking of camping using a big RV or even a small camp trailer at Caves Creek Campground not far from Oregon Caves, I have some very important advice: DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!
We are on the verge of moving from one of the most vibrant, exciting, and positive years for the National Park System and the National Park Service to the prospect of one of the darker chapters for the parks and their overseeing agency.
Quiet spreads across Big Bend National Park during the winter months, both in the lack of visitors to this grand rumpled slice of parkland in southwestern Texas as well as audibly. Silence pervades the Chihuahuan Desert, both day and night. The wind blows, but it’s felt more than heard. The Chisos Mountains are quiet as well. The cactus and Ocotillo plants look drab and thornier than usual without their brilliant spring blooms to grace and hide the sharp spikes. Cooler temperatures prevail, and occasional snow- or hail-storms punctuate the season.
As I traveled this fall, people I met would ask where I was heading. Whenever I mentioned Lassen in my list, I heard the same refrain from people who had already been there: “You’ll absolutely love it. It’s such a neat and wonderful place.” They were right. I do and it is.
An oddly familiar music greeted me as we pulled up to our reserved site in Gallo Campground, located in a side wing of Chaco Canyon’s buff-colored sandstone cliffs. That sounds like a white-crowned sparrow, I thought as I carried our tent to the 12-foot-square sandbox that would be our sleeping spot for the next four nights. I got out binoculars and, sure enough, there were the telltale white-and-black head stripes that identified it as my favorite mountain songster. But here in the desert? In mid-October? Already this national historical park in New Mexico, which my wife and I and a friend from Albuquerque were visiting for the first time, was surprising me.
In Part 1 of this story, Tom Nichols presented a brief history of the National Park Service’s fire management program, with reference to an article by Kyle Dickman, Fighting Fire with Fire. Dickman stated that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ wildland fire management program is: “America’s most progressive forest management program,” and then asked: “why isn’t it being replicated elsewhere?” Part 2 serves to answer Dickman’s question.
They are both breathtaking and fearful, an economic boon and an apex predator, and so it's not surprising that there's controversy around a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service effort to remove Endangered Species Act protections from grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.