The National Park System offers countless paddling opportunities...as well as impediments to paddling. There are free-flowing, gin-clear streams, and pollution threats in the form of fracking operations, agriculture, and population growth. And there are experiences that will pull you into wilderness settings that seemingly turn the calendar back a century or more.
Some stories, whether focused on travel or a specific issue, deserve a longer treatment.
Take a walk to the Bloody Angle at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, stand before the Kirkland Memorial just below the Sunken Road, or gaze at the bed where General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died and the gravity of this nation’s greatest internal conflict washes over you.
The two replica locomotives at Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory, Utah, are being refurbished. Jupiter and No. 119 will be fully rebuilt in time for the May 10, 2015, anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike in 1869.
A much publicized conference, Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century, opens today at the University of California, Berkeley. Led by the National Park Service and National Geographic Society, conference sponsors propose “to launch a Second Century of stewardship for the parks, 100 years after the historic meetings at UC Berkeley that helped launch the National Park Service.” A specialist on those meetings, Dr. Alfred Runte reports on why the story does not end there.
Western authenticity: you’ll see it in the towering ponderosa pine trees, the deeply eroded canyons that showcase the sunrises and sunsets, the horseback riders wending their way below the canyon rims.
It’s easy to find Mount Rainier National Park from Seattle or Tacoma. Just point your vehicle toward the large, snow-cloaked mountain that stands against the eastern horizon and drive.
There still remains, in this heavily developed country, a place where a river runs free, unfettered by a dam and surrounded by wilderness. Look towards northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah. That’s Dinosaur National Monument, with the Green and Yampa rivers.
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.
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.