Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

A Hike To LeConte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Is Just Part of the Adventure

I am a social hiker. For me, one of the highlights of hiking is meeting friendly and energetic people on the trail. That’s why I love the camaraderie at LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The lodge, which can only be reached by foot, is luxurious considering it’s located on top of Mt. LeConte at 6,593 ft. Groups come here for family reunions and some people train for weeks before attempting the trip because it’s the only hiking they do all year.

Winter: The Perfect Time To Plan Your Long-Distance Trek Along National Scenic Trails

Winter is a season for planning. How better to pass some of those long, cold, snowy nights than before the fire or a the kitchen table with guidebooks and maps, calculators and checklists? And if you’re thinking of tackling one of the country’s long-distance hiking trails, planning is definitely not over-rated. Here’s a look at some of the trails that pass through parts of the National Park System, and what planning assistance is out there.

Firefighter's Death Underscores Need For Promise Of Swift Evacuation From Fire Lines

Homer. The writings of Sun Tzu, a 6th-century Chinese military strategist. Midnight walks through Rome after a night at the opera. These are hints of who Andrew "Andy" Palmer was at just 18, an age of transition in life, a point where youth transforms to adult and begins to chart a path through life.

A Firefighter's Death Leads to Internal Analysis Of Protocols By National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service

It would appear from reading the investigative report into the death of an 18-year-old Olympic National Park firefighter could have been prevented on a number of fronts. What lessons did the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service take from this incident?

Report Details Errors That Led to The Death of A Young National Park Firefighter

Fighting forest fires is one of the most dangerous occupations to partake in. And yet, many of those who fight these blazes are energized by the danger they encounter. You might say they get an adrenalin high battling the flames. And some firefighters die, more often than not because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That appears to have been the case when a young firefighter from Olympic National Park died on the fire lines in 2008.

What Would Teddy Think?

Tetons with Jackson Lake. Kurt Repanshek photo.
What should we think of a congressman on a national parks subcommittee who endorses a resolution “recognizing that country music has made a tremendous contribution to American life and culture,” and yet opposes legislation that would create hundreds of thousands of acres of official wilderness across the National Park System?

Curing Society's Disconnect With Nature Could Be As Easy As A Walk In the Woods

For the past four years, since Last Child in the Woods hit bookstores, there has been a greatly heightened concern over how society connects with nature. Across the United States there has been hew and cry from many corners that society is losing not just its comfort in the outdoors, but also its concern for it. A new study indicates that while there should be reason for concern, perhaps the solution is as simple as a walk in the woods.
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A Conversation With Jon Jarvis, the New Director of the National Park Service

Jon Jarvis is swapping emergency sirens outside his West Coast office for emergency sirens outside the Interior Department building in downtown Washington, D.C. And no doubt he'll be picking up the sounds of quite a few figurative sirens from a National Park System struggling with wildlife issues, climate change, morale woes, and competing user demands.
Gloryland: A Novel In his first novel, Gloryland, Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson comes full circle.

The Desert Queen: Death Valley National Park's Furnace Creek Inn

Perched on a rise in the middle of one of the world’s driest and hottest deserts sits what is surely a mirage. At least, it must seem that to first-time Death Valley visitors who are unfamiliar with elegant Furnace Creek Inn. The inn, an AAA Four-Diamond resort, endures and continues to welcome visitors with luxurious accommodations in what can only be described as an unusual setting where summer temperatures average over 100 degrees and frequently soar above 120 degrees.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

National parks represent a spectacular legacy handed down to today’s generations, but it is one that also carries a hefty responsibility of stewardship. That becomes quickly obvious in Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This notion of responsible stewardship is not new at all. In many ways it’s trite.

Trial Over What Constitutes a "Road" In Canyonlands National Park: Vestiges of Sagebrush Rebels

There long have been pockets of disgust over federal land ownership in the West, and perhaps nowhere are those sentiments stronger than in Utah, where roughly two-thirds of the landscape is federally managed. While the "Sagebrush Rebellion" mightily reared its head some three decades ago, its waning vestiges are on trial this week over whether a creek bed constitutes a road in Canyonlands National Park.
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On Canyoneering, Politics, and Teens Studying Climate Change in the National Parks

Slipping from the top of the arch into the abyss below was a difficult move that rattled my psyche. Even though the sandstone band I was perched on was not much more than 4 feet wide, it was stable. Putting my faith into the rope cinched to my climbing harness and dropping into the 100-foot void went completely against my desire for self-preservation.

Proposed Power Lines at Everglades National Park Highlight Several National Issues

What would you think of a utility building a lengthy power-line transmission corridor through Everglades National Park on land that's highly valuable for restoring the "River of Grass"? And what would you think if such a project set a precedent that could jeopardize other National Park System lands across the nation?

On Politics, Bureaucracy, and "Glamping" In the National Park System

The National Park Service's National Leadership Council met in Ohio last week. The meeting of the agency's top management was supposed to be the first under the direction of Jon Jarvis as Park Service director. Political gamesmanship, and apparently a dose of bureaucracy, unfortunately left Mr. Jarvis wearing his Pacific West Region director's hat.

Just Down the Hallway: Saving Money at a National Park Lodge by Choosing a Room without a Private Bathroom

Even experienced travelers often are surprised to learn that some national park lodges still offer rooms without a private bathroom. In fact, in making a reservation at one of the lodges you might discover there is no choice other than a room that requires use of a community bathroom. While European visitors are not surprised and might even expect rooms without a private bathroom, many U.S. travelers don’t look kindly on the need to use a bathroom that is just down the hallway.

Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century

What do you expect from the National Park System? How would you like to see the National Park Service manage the 391 parks? Those are at the same time simple and complex questions. Perhaps the obvious answer is that we want parks managed for people to enjoy. But from there the obvious quickly fades away. Do we want them managed for preservation, for the betterment of species that inhabit the parks, for their landscapes to persist immemorially?
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Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration

What are we to think when a U.S. senator brands Jon Jarvis, a highly respected regional director of the National Park Service, as representing "the extreme policies of the Obama administration"?

Visitation to National Parks Is On the Upswing, Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Partly to Blame

There's a growing problem with national park visitation. In short, too many people are returning to the parks, creating problems for staffing and people management.

Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?

Chesler Park, Canyonlands National Park, Kurt Repanshek photo.
Are national parks no longer for the people? Have environmental groups succeeded in legally creating roadblocks to prevent their enjoyment? An Ohio man believes so. But what do you think?