Many national parks preserve aspects of the past, and in the case of Fossil Butte National Monument, that past goes back 55 million years ago, a time when the landscape of western Wyoming was very different from the windswept plains we see today.
Yellowstone National Park
Bison madness is in full swing in Yellowstone National Park with snorting, groaning, spitting, bison bulls chasing the girls (cows) down the roads, much to the delight of many park visitors who gladly park their vehicles in the road and film the action. No family vacation is complete without getting caught in a Yellowstone bison jam.
As big as Yellowstone National Park is -- 63 miles north to south and 54 miles east to west -- perhaps it's not too surprising that someone not interested in driving to a trailhead in the park decided to make their own on the edge of the park. But by this fall, that trail should be erased as park crews finish the second of two years' work in removing signs of the illegal trail.
Threading through the backcountry, and frontcountry, of Yellowstone National Park are creeks and streams fueled by springs and snowmelt, some only several feet across, some dozens of feet wide. More than 300 topple over waterfalls at least 15 feet high, while others meander placidly through the Lamar and Hayden valleys.
Despite advances made into the 21st century, some of the most striking posters promoting the national parks are those produced shortly before World War II by the Works Progress Administration. The artistry that went into these silk-screened promotions remains as striking today as it was 75 years ago. And if you find yourself in Washington, D.C., in the coming months, you can understand why with a visit to the Interior Department to see a collection of the posters.
In a bid to reduce the number of park bison that are sent to slaughter, Yellowstone National Park officials are exploring the process of a quarantine program that could be developed to provide brucellosis-free animals to tribes and other entities looking to build bison herds.
In this age of informational instant gratification, how has your national park experience changed? For Millennials, who grew up with smartphones, texting, and Facebook, not so much. For Baby Boomers, who learned to read with actual newspapers, books, and magazines in their hands, whose phones were attached to the wall by a cord, a great deal. Is that change for the good, or the bad?
Legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives would, if enacted as drafted, require the National Park Service to determine "a nationally consistent entrance fee policy and corresponding rate structure" for the 401 units of the National Park System, a potentially sweeping requirement that seemingly could generate tens of millions of additional dollars for the parks.
Mountain goats are spectacular animals, even iconic in places such as Glacier National Park, but they can cause problems in parks where they don't belong. At Olympic National Park, where a 1920s era introduction project brought non-native goats into the landscape, officials are embarking on a management plan for how to deal with the animals. Adding weight to the need for such a plan was the fatal goring of a hiker in the park four years ago.
Once considered largely to be worthless, national parks today are economic engines that generate $26.5 billion for the nation's economy.