Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Don't Take National Park Landscapes for Granted

How comfortable have we become with national park settings? With the big sweep of granite that frames the Yosemite Valley, with Old Faithful's not-quite-so-faithful demonstrations of steam and hot water, with the fall's colorful deciduous forests of Great Smoky and Shenandoah?

Is There A New Dawn For the National Park Service?

A massive influx of dollars is heading towards the National Park System, part due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, some proposed within the Obama administration's Fiscal 2010 budget proposal. It certainly is a change from the past eight years.

Change is in the Wind for Offshore Energy Leases. How Might Parks Be Impacted?

Offshore wind farm.
Major changes are in the wind—literally and figuratively—concerning leasing of sites for offshore energy production. How might parks be affected by the current national plan being developed for offshore energy?

Staying Safe and How Not to Become A SAR Statistic in the National Park System

If you subconsciously want to become a search-and-rescue statistic in the National Park System, your best chance would be in either Grand Canyon National Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, or Yosemite National Park.

Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?

Everglades National Park, Rodney Cammauf photo.
Different administrations in Washington have different sets of priorities. While the Bush administration talked about helping restore the massive Everglades ecosystem, the Obama administration is sending signals it will work harder to push the project forward.
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National Parks: Valuable Assets In Efforts To Conserve Birdlife

Xantus's Murrelet, copyright Glen Tepke.
Peregrine Falcons, once teetering on extinction, are regulars at Acadia National Park. Bald Eagles, also once feared to be ready to blink out, have rebounded incredibly and are highly visible in many national parks. During a week-long canoe trip in Yellowstone National Park last fall I was blown away by the birdlife. But how is the overall "state of birds" in America these days? Unfortunately, things aren't entirely as they appear.

Musings From Virgin Islands National Park

Salt Pond Bay, Virgin Islands NP, Kurt Repanshek photo
Floating face down in the Caribbean, with snorkel clenched in your mouth, lacks the structure, the regimentation, of observing the natural world in the way we’ve grown up to accept while walking through a forest, strolling through a meadow, or hiking up a mountain. Clouds of neon blue tangs drift by while black-and-yellow striped sergeant majors flit about, lacking the tangs’ regimented approach to life in the ocean.

Tracing The Postage Stamp-Sized History of the National Park System

You could call it a postage stamp-sized history of the National Park System, but the history of park scenes on U.S. postage is really quite colorful and carries a few stories with it.

Spring Blooms Not Too Far Away in Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, And Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sunflowers, violets, trillium and other wildflowers are just around the proverbial corner in the Appalachian Mountains. You can spot these and dozens of others in Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks, as well as along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?

How much have the national parks changed since you were a kid? Have they changed? When you return to a park that you haven't been to in decades, is it like returning to an old friend, or visiting someplace totally alien?

Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?

Over the coming months there will be a flurry of construction work across the National Park System thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But then what?
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A National Park Service Regional Director Shares His Priority List for 2009

Earlier this year the Traveler offered up a post on what priorities we hoped the National Park Service would address in the coming year. Mike Snyder, director of the agency's Intermountain Region, has his own list of issues his region has in its sights this year.

With or Without a Stimulus Package, National Parks Can Be Economical Vacation Destinations

With all the economic doom and gloom of late, it'll be a miracle if anyone goes away for a vacation this year. At the very least, folks will be looking for bargains, and that's where the National Park System comes into play.

Are We Properly Caring for Our Ocean-Based National Parks?

There was an essay recently that brought to my attention a startling figure: Even though there are nearly 1,700 marine protected areas in U.S. territorial waters, 99.9 percent of all our territorial waters were open to fishing in 2008.

On Stimulus Packages, Lobbyists, and Congressfolk

If you've been paying any attention to how Congress is treating the National Park System in terms of the economic stimulus package, you'd have to agree there are a few interesting, and possibly even amusing, side stories.

Yellowstone Geologist Worries About What Goes "Bump" At Night

Who hasn't been jarred awake at night wondering what went "bump!"? Hank Heasler doesn't worry too much about it...unless his cellphone starts chirping.

Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing

Bighorn sheep
Most areas of the National Park System are closed to hunting, a long-standing policy which is the subject of ongoing debate. A recently released study offers compelling reasons to continue that policy—and it includes some startling information about the impacts of humans as the "Super-Predators" in today's world.

What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?

Kurt Repanshek photo.
Yellowstone snowmobiles. Guns in the parks. Climate change. Infrastructure in shambles. These are just some of the issues the next director of the National Park Service will inherit. But how should he or she prioritize their approach to managing the National Park System and addressing its problems?

How Many National Park Rangers Does It Take to Cut Down a Tree?

How many national park rangers does it take to cut down a tree? Well, before you can answer that question, you need to prepare a 100+ page document that not only identifies which trees need to be cut down, but explains how to go about cutting them down.

What Were YOUR Favorite National Park Stories of 2008?

Back on December 21 we told you what we thought were the top national park stories of 2008. Now, here's a look at which stories YOU thought were the most intriguing.