Archive List

New Movie for World Ranger Day Today (Jul 31)

Poster art for movie, The Thin Green Line
Today (Jul 31) is World Ranger Day, an international day of recognition for park rangers around the world. In honor of the day, a new movie called "The Thin Green Line" will premiere around the nation and world to celebrate the work of rangers everywhere.

Hidden Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore

Entrance to the Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore
Hidden out of public view, behind the heads of Mount Rushmore is a room called the Hall of Records. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, envisioned a room to store America's most important documents. Time and money ran out before it could be completed, but part of his vision remains. Read on for more details and photos of the room.

Art Allen's Parkland Watch

Parkland Watch logo
Looking for more news about the National Parks? Art Allen has created a new email list / discussion group / news service which brings park related news from around the country into one easily accessible format. Art had provided the same service as a private list, but has just reconfigured the settings to make this list available to everyone.

Website Administrative Note about Comment Spam

Spam, the food.
Over the weekend, our website was swamped with something called 'comment spam'. Like the unwanted stuff you get in your email, this spam is just as annoying and difficult to get rid of. The best solution so far has been to run comments from unregistered visitors through an approval queue. These 'anonymous' comments will be filtered for spam, then released onto the web a short time later.

Statue of Liberty May Once Again Open to Top

Statue of Liberty; Brian Auer Photo
After almost 6 years, is it time to open up the crown of the Statue of Liberty to visitors again? The House of Representatives says yes, but the National Park Service is expressing concerns for visitor safety. Also, a new concessionaire to run the ferry operation to the statue.

And, Speaking of Volcanoes ... Audio Story at Lassen Volcanic

Lassen Peak as seen from Eagle Peak; NPS Photo, Russel Virgillo.
Ever hike to the top of a volcano? Typically, this is a pretty tough activity, but at Lassen Volcanic National Park, this goal can be accomplished through a 2.5 mile strenuous hike. It's a pretty popular activity, but, if you'd like to avoid the crowds, listen to this story about backcountry hiking opportunities within Lassen Park.

Mt St Helens as National Park?

Mt St Helens Explodes on May 18, 1980; USGS Photo
A recent article suggests that four representatives for Washington State would like to see the Mt St Helens Volcanic Monument moved from management under the US Forest Service to the National Park Service. The objectives of the Parks make more sense for the monument, but will moving the mountain from one cash starved agency to another cash starved agency make a difference?

Blue Angels Fly By Grand Tetons

Blue Angles promotional shot; US Navy Photo
The Blue Angles buzzed past the Grand Tetons on Wednesday for a photo opportunity. Park regulations ask that no plane fly closer than 2000 feet above the ground.

NPT: Blog or Webzine?

The recent stories about the special uses of Alcatraz and the Charlestown Navy Yard have raised some questions not only about how the National Park Service manages its properties, but how we at National Park Traveler go about our work.

Judge Tosses Surprise Canyon Lawsuit

Surprise Canyon
A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit aimed at turning a unique canyon on the western edge of Death Valley National Park into a road for four-wheelers. Judge Lawrence O'Neill ruled that the parties that brought the lawsuit had no standing on the issue.
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Adventure Seeking in Yosemite with YouTube

Hang glider soaring through Yosemite National Park, with video on YouTube
Camera in hand, adventure seekers are sharing their experiences in Yosemite National Park with the world via YouTube. Three videos here, hang gliding over the valley, a 3000 foot slackline attempt (like a tight rope walk), and a hike up Half Dome with hundreds of other folks. Of the three, the crowds at Half Dome give me the most chills.

Just Another Snake Story

A python by the tail.
Non-native pythons, once thought to be someone's pets, are running amuck in Everglades National Park and other parts of south Florida. In the latest story on this dilemma, from the New York Times, park biologists express amazement over the reptile's diet.

Friends of Dick Proenneke

One of the more popular posts on the original National Parks Traveler was about Dick Proenneke, a modern-day mountain man if ever there was one who headed off to Alaska in 1967 to live in the wilderness. I often learned that folks discovered the Traveler site by Googling for Dick. Well, now there's a Yahoo! Groups page dedicated to him.

Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?

Is it appropriate for the National Park Service to transform portions of the prison on Alcatraz Island into a cabaret with scantily clad dancers, all in the name of luring younger generations to the parks? Should corporations be allowed to rent out portions of parks for lavish parties? These are hot-button topics to some, but elicit a shrug of the shoulder from others.

Time Running Out to Comment on Everglades Management Plan

Less than two weeks remain for you to comment on the proposed changes to the management plan for Everglades National Park. This document, which addresses everything from managing wilderness to boat use in the park, will guide on-the-ground decisions in Everglades for the next 15 to 20 years.

Zion Fire Complex Nearing 10,000 Acres, Yellowstone Fire Grows

Continued dry, windy conditions have allowed the Dakota Complex of fires in Zion National Park to grow to nearly 10,000 acres in the park's backcountry. Fire bosses say they've contained just 10 percent of the fires, and the current weather conditions, the rugged terrain the fires are located within, and the possibility of thunderstorms are compounding efforts to get better control over the blazes.

240 People Trapped in Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch at Night; jaymce Photo.
A cable snapped, power went out, and 240 people were trapped in the Gateway Arch for up to 2 1/2 hours last night. Everyone stuck in the Arch was able to get out safely. Service to the top of the Arch will continue today with just one tram while the other one is fixed up.

Top 10 Most Visited National Parks

Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance sign; Jimmy Wayne photo.
Ever wonder what the most visited parks in the system are? How about least visited? The NPS office of statistics answers this question once a year with an ordered, ranked table cataloging recreation visits to each of the NPS managed units across the USA. So, what is the most visited park? Read on for the answer.
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Fishing Restrictions Going Into Place in Yellowstone

This hot and dry summer is taking a toll on fisheries around the West, and in Yellowstone things are getting so dire that officials are implementing restrictions on when you can fish the park's streams. Beginning tomorrow, July 21, a number of streams will be closed to fishing between 2 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the foreseeable future.
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Rocky Mountain Trying to Give Wetlands A Chance Against Elk

With a fence officials in Rocky Mountain National Park are hoping to restore a wetlands that voracious elk have prevented from sprouting in Horseshoe Park.

House Leaders Propose $1 Billion Parks Centennial Funding Plan

Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
In a move that can be expected to generate some attention from the White House, two prominent members of the House of Representatives have introduced a billion-dollar centennial funding bill for the national park system. Two big differences from President Bush's initiative: no private matching funds are required, and this package has an identified funding source.
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Fires in Zion Force Backcountry Closure

If you're heading to Zion National Park, I hope you're not planning to head into the backcountry. Beginning today park officials have shut down backcountry travel, including canyoneering, because of fires burning there.

Judge Says ORV Traffic at Cape Hatteras is Illegal, But It Continues

A federal judge has said the National Park Service can't legally allow off-road vehicle traffic at Cape Hatteras National Seashore because it doesn't have an ORV management plan in place. And yet, Cape Hatteras officials say they have to consult with the Interior Department before prohibiting the traffic. What sort of message is the Park Service trying to send?

The Essential Bryce Canyon

Surrounded by southern Utah’s rugged wilderness, I’m confronted by, of all things, butterscotch. In a landscape of warm kaleidoscopic colors that change with the swinging of the sun, butterscotch currently is the color of the limestone ramparts that brought fame to Bryce Canyon National Park. And, I find as I plant my nose against the rough and rumpled bark of a 100-foot-tall Ponderosa pine, butterscotch is the unmistakable scent wafting from the tree.
Sol Duc Hot Springs, Jeremy Sullivan PhotoWondering what you'd see in the Sol Duc Valley of Olympic National Park? Have a look at this 4 minute video for my perspective taken earlier this summer.

Mammoth Cave Testing New Route to "Snowball Room"

In a bid to make the "Snowball Room" more accessible to park visitors, Mammoth Cave officials are testing a new route to the room located 267 feet underground. Instead of having to endure a 4-mile walk via the Grand Avenue Tour, this route involves a mile-long walk along mostly level ground.

Visitation Trends Up In Yosemite, Glacier and Yellowstone

It's only a snapshot, but I'm told that visitation in Yosemite, Glacier, and Yellowstone national parks is on the upswing this year. Exactly why, as usual, is a good question.

Electric Map Going Away at Gettysburg National Military Park

Electric Map in Gettysburg National Military Park
'The Electric Map', among the most popular exhibits at the Gettysburg National Military Park, will soon be cut up and put into long term storage to make way for a new exhibit. This has some folks upset.

Rare Orchid in Yosemite Identified As New Species

The Yosemite bog-orchid is a newly identified orchid species. NPS photo.
Slender as a reed with dainty yellow flowers, the plant was first spied in Yosemite back in 1923. It then seemingly vanished, as its habitat wasn't rediscovered until 1993. However, it wasn't until just recently that botanists knew exactly what they had.

Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape

Well-familiar is the cry that our parks are in danger of losing mass appeal because visitation is flagging (this year seems to be bucking that trend, but that's fodder for another post). More serious, in my opinion, is that the diversity among park visitors seems to be lagging.