About The National Parks Traveler

“National Parks Traveler, an excellent website dedicated to everything and anything that has to do with America’s national parks”….Gadling.com, January 28, 2009

2014 George Wright Society Communications Award Winner

Founder, Editor-in-Chief: Kurt Repanshek

Special Projects Editor: Patrick Cone

Contributing Writers: Dr. Robert Janiskee, Jim Burnett, Rick Smith, David and Kay Scott (lodging), Kirby Adams (birding), Deby Dixon (photography), Danny Bernstein, Michael A. Lanza, Rebecca Latson (photography), Alfred Runte, Jane Schneider

Contributing Photographers: QT Luong, Ian Shive

Editorial interns: Jameson Clifton, Miri Gubler

Podcast Producer: Aaron Deschane

National Parks Traveler is published by National Park Advocates, LLC, P.O. Box 980452, Park City, UT 84098

When it was launched in August 2005, National Parks Traveler became the Internet’s very first site dedicated to covering America’s National Park System and the National Park Service on a daily basis.

The Traveler is not a static site built around park statistics and trail descriptions and is not strictly a travelogue. Rather, it offers readers a unique multimedia blend of news, feature content, debate, and discussion all tied to America's national parks.

The Traveler has drawn attention around the Internet:

* The Traveler has been mentioned on the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, smartmoney.com, and backpacker.com.

* The U.S. State Department referenced the Traveler in its National Parks, National Legacy publication.

* The Wall Street Journal Online noted that the Traveler offers “plenty of news and opinion on political developments affecting parks, and a good regional balance of parks in the Western and Eastern U.S.

* finding Dulcinea, the “Librarian of the Internet,” pointed to the Traveler as “an ongoing blog of current events and issues in the national parks. ... National Parks Traveler often features stories written from an historical perspective in addition to discussion of the latest controversy.”

National Parks Traveler is not affiliated with the National Park Service. Our mission is clear: National Parks Traveler works to educate the general public about the National Park System, increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting the national parks and the National Park Service, and build a stronger advocacy for protection and sound stewardship of the parks.

The Traveler endorses and actively supports the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 that mandated a high standard of protection for the parks, as well as the Redwoods Act of 1978 that reemphasized the Organic Act’s stewardship provisions and affirmed that they are to be applied on a system-wide basis.

Traveler seeks to work in ways that are consistent with the National Park Service’s fundamental purpose for managing the parks, which is “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Editorial Policy

National Parks Traveler staff, using commonly accepted journalistic practices, each day sifts through developing news events, press releases, and information provided us for content that ends up on the Traveler. The articles that appear on the Traveler are intended to educate, inform, and entertain readers, as well as to stimulate discussion and debate about how the National Park System is managed.

Additionally, we accept guest columns that touch on any and all aspects of the national parks. As long as submissions are worded constructively they will be considered for publication on the Traveler. If a subject of an article feels they have been wronged or simply wishes to respond in a subsequent article as opposed to a comment, that request will be reviewed by the editorial staff.

Our intent is that all content on the Traveler is as accurate and as clear as possible. To that end, the staff reviews all comments from readers about the articles on this site, including suggestions for possible improvements and corrections. Changes that improve accuracy and/or clarity are made as promptly as possible.

Code of Conduct

The blogosphere is a pretty free-wheeling place. As a result, it has developed a persona, right or wrong, of playing fast and loose with facts, with running roughshod over some posters, with allowing anonymity to serve as a shield for attackers. Some bloggers have called for a code of conduct for the blogosphere, and we at the Traveler support that movement.

As I mentioned recently, we view the Traveler as more of a web magazine than a blog. But that doesn't lessen the need for a code of conduct, both to guide the Traveler's writers and to let those who desire to comment on our articles to know there are limits as to what is appropriate.

For those who might immediately jump to the conclusion that we're implementing a measure of censorship, that's not the case at all. Rather, just as there are accepted norms for what can be broadcast and printed in mainstream media, there are accepted norms for the interchange of ideas on the Traveler. All we expect from you is a measure of civility. Here's how Colin Rule, director of the Center for Internet and Society, addresses the expectation of civil discourse:

So is it true that civility and politeness should go out the window when confronted with deep and intense feelings? Well, not to sound too much like "Mr. Manners," but I think it's at that point that civility and politeness come to matter more. When emotions get the better of someone, and that person uses language intended to incite and shock rather than reason, it creates an easy target for the other side; the most likely response becomes a similar provocative statement, and then the exchange becomes focused on the excesses of each statement rather than the issues at hand.

Beyond an expectation of civility there are times when, quite frankly, just as radio and television moderators feel a need to redirect their guests back to the subject at hand, it might be appropriate for us to steer the flurry of comments back to the topic at hand. And we won't hesitate to do that, as we have a very well specified mission statement that guides this patch of cyberspace.

With that said, here are some general guidelines that will guide the code of conduct for the Traveler (with the understanding that they could continue to evolve):

* The authors of posts take responsibility for their words.

* Abusive comments and personal attacks will not be tolerated and will be deleted.

* Those behind abusive comments and personal attacks will be contacted privately and asked to be more constructive in their comments. If the comments and attacks persist, the author will be blocked from the site.

* Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

* If a subject of a post feels they have been wronged or simply wishes to respond in a post as opposed to a comment, that will be allowed.

In general, we at the Traveler have been pretty tolerant of comments. That's been evidenced most recently by some made this past weekend that were allowed to stand. We do not want to sanitize this forum, nor do we want to create the impression that it tilts one way or the other politically or philosophically. Yet there is a line, one that should not be crossed, in the common decency of civil discourse. If all you can do is throw stones and slurs, take it elsewhere.

Anonymous comments will continue to be allowed because there obviously are times when whistleblowers want to shield their identity, when the topic is political dissent, and when the individual doesn't want his/her comments attached to the organization they work for. That said, we encourage those who do not fall under those situations to be up front with who they are and not rely on what's been termed "drive by anonymity" to attack someone.

Regardless of how you decide to identify yourself, you are expected to adhere to the points above.


Very nice new look and the content remains solid. This is gonna be fun!

Kurt - great new design, thanks for the update. I've updated the URL on travel.latimes.com.

In sustainable adventure,
~ Andrew
Sr. Editor/Producer, travel.latimes.com
Los Angeles Times Interactive/Tribune Co.

This is my first time visiting National Parks Traveler and I must say Kurt and Jeremy I am impressed,I really like it,keep up the good work, Phil Craggs, Bradenton,Florida

Great site packed with good info. Keep moving the site to greatness. I will become a advid reader.

Great website. Good to see you guys expanding.
Good Luck

I run a on-line travel site for anyone looking to go on vacations so i have been serching the web to find other sites that give informatioin about thier place of vacation and this site has excellent informatioin on Nationial Parks Iam using my Yahoo group to put links so people can see all the beautiful places they can go before they book on my site. My yahoo group page is called Next Stop Vacations and it is new and my vacations site is www.nextstopvacations.com Iam still learning how to make it more fun for everyone to come to my site. Its a work in progress :)

Hi, I just stumbled onto your site by accident. Great site!!! Since I've been a road tripper for the past several years, I've logged miles on my truck visiting many different National Parks, Monuments, etc. From the little I've seen so far, great going guys. I've bookmarked you so I'll be sure to be back. Good information, I love it. thanks.....

I would recommend a national park vacation for old people of families for camping but a real vacation means exploring new countries and cultures

mexico adventure wrote:

a real vacation means exploring new countries and cultures

I'll grant that this definition supports your business model well.

But I think a more accepted definition is simply: ...a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.

Notice that it says "in travel -or- recreation."

Most Americans are at this point are predominantly urban and suburban dwellers. I argue that an escape to a natural, undeveloped setting, such as a wilderness area of a national park, would be a sufficiently foreign experience as to profoundly broaden their understanding of the world around them. In contrast, most financially successful commercial tours to "foreign" countries wind up providing the traveler with the same kinds of civilized comforts that they've come to expect at home, which makes their "cultural experience" in that foreign country pointlessly superficial. To be fair, most tourist trips which stick to the developed areas of U.S. national parks could also be seen as pointlessly superficial.

(Editors: I realize that my and mexico adventure's comments are way off topic for this thread, and I would not object to the deletion of both.)
The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.

Kurt and Jeremy! Nice job on the website. Making a cool looking site like this is hard. I love your color scheme and graphics. Peace, and happy travels.

I have just recently found your site. I love it. I have had the oppertunity to visit Yellowstone NP seven times in the last 15 years. To be able to have information on the park in just a click is great. I think you are doing a great job. Thank you.

Great site. I bought a national parks pass last year and visited several, so stumbling upon your site brings back memories. I still haven't visited Yellowstone yet.

My wife and I are senior citizens and have visited many parks around the country over the years, are favorite vacations. Some years ago we took my ill mother-in-law in to live with us not wanting to put her in a "home" and it has altered our lives. Caring for her meant not being able to vacation, or spend anytime away from home. It has been difficult, however one of my favorite pastimes is visiting the parks through you. I get swept away by the photos, webcams, stories and places and though not quite like being there has given me much joy, so let me say thank you for letting me enjoy my "travels" until the real thing comes about.

Hi, I just stumbled onto your site by accident. Great site!!! Since I've been a road tripper for the past several years, I've logged miles on my truck visiting many different National Parks, Monuments, etc. From the little I've seen so far, great going guys. I've bookmarked you so I'll be sure to be back. Good information, I love it. thanks.....

I just found your site - great job and great cause. We're a full-timing RV family that is using the National Parks as a major part of our kids' road-school curriculum. We've studied everything from wildlife to the Indian Wars to civil rights to Jazz: and all at our National Parks.

Keep up the great site.

Tom Wahl
Wahls Across America

Wonderful work. I searched for links with vital relevance for travellers in the great Southwest Parks, finding helpful information in short supply for serious but somewhat limited visitors.
For many years my Family explored and hiked all over North America for the amazing scenery and the fresh air. I did live in Hawaii for nearly two decades, but cannot retire there. I mean to visit Family near my favorite Parks sometime this year to get back out into nature with kindred spirits. Your pages give me fresh hope for enjoying the rest of my retirement years. Thank you.

At the age of 52 I have become a hiker averaging 4-10 miles a day in Hot Springs National Park. I am currently creating Trail, Wildlife, Bird etc. information and photos for visitors to use during before and after their visits to the park. My next goal is to beginning to hike in a different national park each year beginning in 2011. Great resource for my many future adventures.
Thank You for this excellent website

Much Love and Peace to You
Lee Hiller

Thank you for writing about civility and enforcing some standards on your pages. I, for one, am entirely behind return civil behavior to public forems.

The Lorax
March 23, Day 14
Indio, CA –Joshua Tree National Park – Los Angeles, CA

Joshua Tree had been recommended to me by a couple of landscape designers. Not because one might want a really funky tree in one’s front yard, but in the hope that this angular, stark, weird “tree” and the desert beauty might inspire one to create lovely gardens. The eastern part of Joshua Tree looks exactly like the 600 miles of desert that we’d just driven through, and we were starting to wonder why we had backtracked (just 22 miles) in order to go there.

We started at the southern end at Cottonwood Spring with what was supposed to be a 4 mile hike in order to see the promised desert spring flowers. There were very few flowers, compared to Saguaro NP, but the rocks were awesome. And then we got lost. Well, Mark never admits that he’s lost. The map was bad. We both thought we were on a loop trail, and were going down a sandy/bouldered canyon dry streambed. At first there were footprints, then after awhile, there were no more footprints, but “we” were convinced that we had to be on the trail. When we got to a point where there was a 10 foot drop between two huge boulders and no other way around, one of us said, “This can not be a trail that they’d put us on.” One of us actually climbed to the top of the hill by the streambed to see if we could see the base (we had to be so close, I’ll bet it’s just around the next bend…) The other one of us did yoga. When one of us refused to jump down 10 feet to explore the rest of the “trail,” with no plausible way to get back up, and insisted on backtracking, the other kept saying, we should have gone on, “I’ll bet you the trailhead was just around the corner.” We managed to retrace our steps back to the trail and backtracked, never understanding fully where this supposed “loop” was that we were promised at the visitor center. So, instead of 4 miles, I think we did more like 7. My dogs were barkin’. The map was bad.

So, we drove over the divide, and the desert changed from Sonoran to Mojave. There are only 4 deserts in the US, and we have managed to see 3 on this trip: Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan. The Joshua Tree is an indicator of the Mojave. They are pretty ridiculous looking, but there were many presiding over this part of the desert. (Some were also flowering. There was one lying on the ground, and I got an up close shot of the still blooming flower.) We took one “short” hike through what was called “Hidden Valley”. It was quite hidden by the surrounding rock hills; you could sort of imagine people in there with their cows grazing. Some lovely vistas and great rocks. Great climbing and bouldering opportunities there; we ran into quite a few people with their ropes.
Yes, it was worth the backtrack.
I have lots of photos and stories of our National Plark visit at DesignGreen.posterous.com Feel free to take a peek.

Friends of De Soto National Memorial,

What will it take for Congress to authorize the National Parks Service and Ranger Jon Jarvis to allow a National Memorial in Bradenton, Florida the luxury of welcoming home the very reason for their own existence, the 1539 Landing, and the only archaeological evidences ever found in North America with this Spanish Explorer's name? As of today, the Museum of Florida History keeps De Soto's 1539 Landing Relic discovered on Anastasia Island in 1985 locked up in the FLBAR's archaeology lab in Tallahassee and nobody is permitted to even know offically or publicly it even exists. At the same time the EPA wants to spend another 34 million dollars to dump an eligible national historic site that's even portrayed in the Rotunda of our Nation's Capitol (De Soto's famous 1541 Discovery of the Mississippi River) down a superfund toxic waste dump here in Missouri without ever conducting the required Sect. 106 archaeological surveys (again) and everyone in authority knows this, but nobody has the courage to stand up for this tiny Memorial's history. In 2008, the EPA and their bulldozers already destroyed the main site of our discovery here in Potosi.
I've spent nine years trying to save this 16th Century Lost Trail. There must be an easier way to put a National Memorial's own past on the National Historic Register or finally establish a National Historic Trail dedicated to 16th Century America and the Early Contact Period. Respectfully, we are open to any suggestions. Mr. Loren Blalock Potosi, Missouri.

I just want to say thank you so much for such a wonderful site. I've been following this blog for at least a few years and am always so impressed with the depth of the content. Accurate information and stunning images make for a great resource on our national treasures. You've become my number one source for national park happenings and I refer my family and friends to this site on a regular basis. Keep up the great work!!!

Thanks so much for your kind words, Lana. We try, and some days it's a bigger struggle than others.

Fortunately, we've had great efforts from folks such as Bob Janiskee, Jim Burnett, Danny Bernstein, David and Kay Scott, Randy Johnson, Beth Pratt, Jane Schneider, Todd Wilkinson, and all the other guest writers who have taken the time to share their knowledge with the Traveler and its readers.

We're always looking for improvements in our coverage of the parks, and hope we continue to deliver stories that keep you and all the other readers coming back for more.

I just stumbled upon your post today and wanted to thank you for just making my day. I did the same thing in Joshua Tree!! Same identical loop path that ended 7 - 8 miles later after an excursion that took me who knows where? I even went back the next day to see what I did wrong and ended up in the same direction! I think it was the trail marker gone bad. The really funny end to the story is that after I got home, back to Virginia, my sort of significant other went out to Palm Springs for a conference, and he went to Joshua Tree. Came back with a bandanna for me - a bandanna printed with the park map in case I ever got lost out there again. That's been at least 10 years ago and to this day, the bandanna stays with me in my camera bag...just in case.
Thanks for your story!

I just found your site through yahoo news and I was excited. I'm an Australian, but my husband and I have been traveling to the US over the last 20 years on holiday and have visited many national and state parks. They are our favorite holiday spots. I'm annoyed that I didn't start getting passport stamps years ago. I'm a travel agent now and have even have my own National Park's (of the west) tour that I take Australians on. Last year I took an Australian park ranger on my tour and he learned a lot from the American parks and how they are run. I'm not sure how many parks I've been to but with your site listing I look forward to working it out and seeings some incredible pics and also stories about everyone's travels. Carol and Paul Convine, Bundaberg, Australia