I’ve talked at length about the best parks for birds and the parks where all the birders go. Everglades National Park usually tops that list. Big Bend and Acadia are also extremely popular birding parks. But which of the 59 national parks gets the least birding attention? That’s tough to quantify, but I’ve made an educated guess from perusing eBird data.
North Cascades National Park
The motorboat pulls away and disappears across Ross Lake, leaving us in a silence as expansive as the wilderness surrounding us. We shoulder our backpacks and hike up the Big Beaver Trail through a forest drunk on photosynthesis. Ancient cedar and Douglas fir trees rise taller than it seems our necks can tilt backward to view them. We pass red cedars as thick as 15 feet at their base—trees that germinated a millennium ago, around the time that Leif Erikson sailed the East Coast of North America. True to the trail’s name, we pass sprawling beaver ponds.
Long-distance trail hikers soon will have a new checkbox on their to-do list: The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, a 1,200-mile-long footpath stretching from the peaks of Glacier National Park and through North Cascades National Park to the Pacific Ocean shoreline of Olympic National Park.
A wildfire has closed Washington Route 20 across North Cascades National Park Complex, where evacuations have been orderd for the town Diablo, the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, and the Ross Lake Resort. A number of campgrounds and trails in the complex also ahve been closed.
A wildfire burning near Newhalem, Washington, in the North Cascades National Park Complex has prompted park officials to close the Upper and Lower Goodell group camps and Newhalem Creek Campground due to the close proximity of the Goodell Fire.
A Washington man out hiking in North Cascades National Park with friends was killed when a boulder fell from above and hit him in the head.
Hot, dry conditions are feeding wildlfires in Alaska and in some National Park System units in the western half of the Lower 48.
Scheduled maintenance by Seattle City Light will require the lowering of Diablo Lake by 10 feet, down to 1,192 feet above sea level, for periods this spring and again in the fall. As a result, boat ramps will be inaccessible to power boats and some paddlers might have trouble launching, as well, according to North Cascades National Park officials.
You want to get out on the water, preferably for a few days at least. Scenery, wildlife, and solitude are on your checklist. Here’s where to go in the National Park System.
In one of the largest expansions of the National Park System in decades, a nearly 1,700-page bill to fund the Defense Department carries amendments to add roughly a half-dozen units to the park system and add acres to others. But the measure also raises concerns over whether Congress is micro-managing National Park Service decisions when it comes to wildlife management under the Endangered Species Act, and how donors to the system should be recognized.