Across the National Park System, the National Park Service has an estimated half-a-billion-dollars of obligations owed concessionaires who run lodges, restaurants, and even some activities. It's a sum that, while agency officials say it's manageable, has seemingly stifled concessions competition in some parks and diverted tens of millions of dollars from others to reduce debts.
Some stories, whether focused on travel or a specific issue, deserve a longer treatment.
The vastness of the fjord seemed to stretch on forever, a land untouched by man, full of natural wonder and life. After the afternoon rain, hundreds of waterfalls cascaded from the sheer cliffs. The misty skies above were home to exotic looking birds, the likes of which I’d never seen.
All signs point to spring: warm winds, green budding trees, flowering bulbs, and... skiing? Sure enough! Spring’s a great time to spend some time sliding around on those broad bowls, snow-covered roads, and long ridges. The weather is mild, the skies are blue, and the days are long: it’s just a lot more comfortable spring-skiing than going on a mid-winter slog in a blizzard through deep snow.
Some wildlife species long forgotten at Cape Cod are returning to the national seashore in numbers both attracting fascination as well as consternation.
Not all rivers, streams, and lakes in the National Park System require well-honed paddling skills. Here’s a look at a few places, on generally placid water, where you can take a few strokes.
Mud season is here. In most national parks above the Mason-Dixon Line, and quite a few south of that line, it can be a messy time. Choosing a destination can be problematic due to the weather in general and the snow line specifically.
We started paddling from the south end of Ross Lake just as a breeze began to riffle the blue-green water. By the time we were ready to stop for lunch an hour later, the north wind straight out of Canada had whipped the calm waters into a froth of whitecaps. So instead of picnicking on the beach, we gobbled down some energy bars and fought our way north through the chop.
Springtime is a bit of an “in-between” season. It’s somewhere between the longer, warmer days of summer, and the cooler and muddier days of a late winter. Hopefully you’ll find your place farther from winter’s cold and closer to summer’s breezes.
There are a lot of whitewater runs in the National Park System just waiting for you out there. Some for experts, others intermediates, and a few that will help a novice gain confidence.
If you’re trying to find your way off of the Los Angeles freeways, away from the urban crowds, just offshore is an island wilderness waiting for you. Channel Islands National Park is close, wild, and beautiful. These five islands, just 18 miles from Ventura, beckon to those with a need for quiet and solitude.
"Is anybody alive out there?!?" If you’ve had the good fortune to attend a Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band concert, you know the feeling when you shout out your answer. Want to experience that for two to three weeks every day on the water? Join in on a Colorado River float trip through the Grand Canyon.
What path should the National Park Service take as it enters its second century? How can the National Park Service continue to nurture landscapes, cultures, and American history without compromising the world's best collection of parks? In this unique collection of papers, National Parks Traveler will recapture Stephen Mather’s ambition of preserving “the most inspiring playgrounds and the best equipped nature schools in the world.”
It’s a 200-mile paddle along Minnesota’s Border Route, from Crane Lake on the eastern side of Voyageurs National Park to Grand Portage National Monument on Lake Superior. There are twists and turns as it follows a series of pristine, remote lakes linked by portages along the Minnesota and Ontario border.
Had we been ashore, our feet might have been badly scalded, or worse, if we had absent-mindedly stumbled into a hot spring. But here, in a sea kayak just off the West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, the bubbling waters popped to the surface of Yellowstone Lake, merely a harmless marvel to watch.
We knew we were being watched. We skimmed across the water, with our paddle blades rising and falling in a quick cadence. From its tall perch atop a pine, a bald eagle slowly rotated its white-feathered head and kept its eyes on us as we paddled further across Menokin Bay towards Cat Point Creek.
The nation of Greenland only has one national park...but when a park has this many superlatives, one is probably enough. The world's largest national park covers more territory than all but 30 entire countries, and features dramatic scenery and abundant wildlife. However, due to its relative inaccessibility, it is not a national park in the traditional sense, and a visit to Greenland National Park requires plenty of advance planning.
Flat water. Whitewater. Tranquil pools and rising tides. All this and more abounds in the National Park System’s water world. Though often described as “more than 84 million acres” of landscape, the system also embraces endless miles of streams, lakeshore, and ocean front. It’s a watery landscape you can explore for half-a-day, or for the rest of your life.
Efforts by concessionaires to capitalize on the names of such iconic lodges as The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park and the El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon National Park might prove to be pointless under a section of the U.S. Code.
A winter cross-country ski trip into the Towers and Lamar areas of Yellowstone National Park is a spectacular way to see both wildlife and scenery.
“…A country without wolves isn’t really good country, it's incomplete - it doesn’t have its full spirit,” said Yellowstone National Park biologist Doug Smith during an interview last year with NPR’s Snap Judgement, about wolves, specifically about the life and death of a famous Yellowstone wolf, 832F, or 06.