Archive List

Thanks to the California Desert Protection Act, Death Valley National Park is the Biggest Park in the Coterminous U.S.

On October 31, 1994, the California Desert Protection Act redesignated Death Valley from National Monument to National Park and added 1.3 million acres to the new National Park’s holdings. In one fell swoop, Congress had transferred bragging rights for “biggest park in the 48-state U.S.” from Yellowstone to Death Valley.

Take the Interstate to One of the Largest Units in the National Park System

Red Spires of Castle Peaks, Mojave National Preserve. NPS photo
Most people making the drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles are in a hurry to just get across the desert. As a result, they miss an easy opportunity to visit the third largest unit in our national park system outside of Alaska. Even more surprising, given the size and rugged nature of this park, is the fact that it's bordered by not one, but two Interstate highways: I-15 and I-40.

Plenty of National Park Issues for Next Administration, But Will They Get Tackled?

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. Kurt Repanshek photo.
With the days of the Bush administration vanishing more quickly than the fall colors, what's in store for the next administration in terms of national park issues? Quite a bit, actually. The real question is whether they'll get tackled.

Updated: Bush Administration: "A Legacy of Failure for Our Public Lands," Claims Congressman Grijalva

During the past eight years the Bush administration has "pushed a concerted strategy of reducing the protections for our public lands, parks, and forests, and opening up these lands for every type of private, commercial and extractive industry possible." So says Congressman Raul Grijalva.
Grijalva_Public_Lands_Report.pdf340.24 KB

Updated: Body Of Overdue Hiker Found in Glacier National Park; Suicide Suspected

Glacier National Park officials say the overdue hiker whose body was found Wednesday evening in a rugged section of the park apparently committed suicide.

It Breathes

The first white man to see Wind Cave was a cowboy who found the entrance when a puff of air from the cave blew off his hat. Scientists have measured gusts in excess of 70 mph coming out of the cave’s mouth. Wind Cave is a barometric cave. It blows in or out depending on the atmospheric pressure. In other words, it breathes.

How About Some Economic Stimulus for the National Park System?

With the Bush administration and Congress looking to one-up each other with economic stimuli, perhaps a little love could be shown to the National Park System. Lord knows it could use some.

Nation’s First Park Ranger Hears Crying Ghost

The Yosemite Valley Pioneer Cemetery is a small graveyard. Only 36 of the 45 souls buried there have headstones. In the northwest corner, underneath the shade of five evergreens, a large but otherwise unpretentious hunk of granite marks the grave of the man some consider to be the first park ranger, Galen Clark, who became the park’s first civilian guardian in 1867.

National Park Quiz 26: Frightful Places and Scary Stuff

Halloween is the day after tomorrow, so let’s turn to the scarier side of national park visitation for this week’s quiz. Answers are at the end, but please don’t peek. Cheaters never prosper – unless, of course, they work on Wall Street.

What Ghostly Encounters Might You Have in Harpers Ferry or Great Smoky Mountains?

No doubt there are more than a few national park settings where the ghouls and ghosts might come out this Hallows' Eve. As we previously mentioned, the folks at Voyageurs National Park are planning a flashlight tour with story-telling, and more scary stories are to unfold in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Friday evening at the Mountain Farm Museum.

A Popular Overlook in Yosemite Gets a Makeover

View from Tunnel View overlook.
For the past 75 years, one of the most popular scenic overlooks in Yosemite National Park has lured visitors with its memory-making views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome. During the height of the visitor season, an estimated 5,000-7,000 people stop at Tunnel View Overlook each day. The view hasn't changed, but the overlook itself has received a makeover.

Skyline Drive Designated as a National Historic Landmark

Skyline Drive.
A perennial favorite with generations of travelers is the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Earlier this month, the scenic drive was one of 16 sites in 11 states designated by the Secretary of the Interior as new National Historic Landmarks.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial - War and Peace and Two Memorable Phrases

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial. NPS photo.
On a clear day, you can't see forever from the top of Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial …but you can spot Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland, and enjoy learning about a key event in our nation's history. Do you know which oft-quoted phrases are associated with this park's story?

Bringing Zebra Mussels to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Could Cost You $2,500

Bringing non-native zebra mussels into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area can be a costly proposition. One individual who failed to decontaminate their boat of the mussels recently was ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution costs.

Shuttles Make Visiting Cades Cove In Great Smoky Mountains National Park A Bit Easier

If you've ever driven through Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you know how slow that can be due to all the vehicles trying to negotiate the 11-mile loop road. Well, things are going to be a bit easier now thanks to a shuttle service that debuted today.

Upon Further Review – The Whirlwind Tourist

Most national parks offer enough things to see and do to fill a vacation, and one solution to higher gas prices is to spend more time enjoying a single destination. Many of us like to visit new places, however, and the siren song of "just one more stop" can be hard to resist.

The Underground Ansel Adams – Famous Photographer's Cave Photos Now Available for Public Viewing

Ansel Adams photos of Carlsbad Caverns, photos courtesy of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
The work of photographer Ansel Adams is recognized and admired throughout the world, but the place most commonly associated with Adams is Yosemite National Park. A new exhibit opening at Carlsbad Caverns National Park this weekend will give the public its first look at a different part of the natural world through the eyes of this master of photographic art.

Trails Forever Program Facilitates High-Priority Trail Improvements at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Friends of the Smokies created their Trails Forever program to help with high-priority trails projects at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Trails Forever endowment goal is a hefty $4 million. Trails Forever is currently seeking volunteers to help with two major trail projects in the park.

Capturing Fall's Splendor in the National Park System

A few years ago we decided to brave the throngs of visitors and see Virginia’s fall display in Shenandoah National Park (where, ironically, the highest visitation month is October!) and drive the famed Skyline Drive. With the colors at their peak around our home in Pennsylvania, we figured that Shenandoah's forests would be nearing their peak as well.

National Park Quiz 25: Threatened and Endangered

This week’s quiz focuses on troubled species. Answers are at the end. If we catch you peeking, we’ll make you write “Encountering a four-meter Crocodylus acutus can cause severe de-puckering of the anal sphincter” 100 times on the whiteboard.

Natchez Trace Parkway – Colorful Choice for a Southern Fall Trip

Fall scene, Natchez Trace Parkway.
George Washington may not have slept here, but Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson and plenty of other notables passed this way. A fall trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway provides a leisurely drive through a colorful landscape.

Pruning the Parks: Mar-a-Lago National Historic Site (1972-1980) Was a Gift the National Park Service Couldn’t Afford to Keep

Established October 21, 1972, and abolished in 1980, the Mar-A-Lago National Historic Site is an interesting story. Marjorie Merriweather Post’s opulent Palm Beach estate first became a magnet for socialites, then a national park the NPS couldn't afford, then a Donald Trump estate, and finally the lavish Mar-a-Lago Club.

The Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Invites You to Climb, Run, Jump, Slide, Roll, Whoop, and Holler

Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which celebrates its 38th birthday October 21, has a dune system to marvel at. One of its major attractions, the Dune Climb, is loads of fun for the young and young at heart. Wear comfortable clothes and get ready to climb, run, jump, and roll. Yahoo!!!

How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?

After eight years of highly questionable management of public lands by the Bush administration, the next administration will face myriad environmental issues when it takes office in January. But how will it respond?

Voyageurs National Park Not Overlooking Halloween

Looking for a way to mark Halloween in the National Park System? Consider a visit to Voyageurs National Park this Friday for a holiday-theme naturalist hike.

Moton Field Ceremony Highlights Grand Opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, the park that commemorates the first all-black American fighter squadron, is finally up and running at historic Moton Field. Unfortunately, relatively few of the Tuskeegee Airmen have lived long enough to see their story told in the national park established to honor them.

Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Celebration Begins

As the country careened toward what is beginning to look like a second Great Depression, citizens in North Carolina and Virginia paused on October 9 and 10 to consider the history of one of the great public accomplishments of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal 75 years ago: the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.

IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas

Spend time poking around the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s website and you might start to wonder about the group’s thoughts regarding pedaling in proposed wilderness and officially designated wilderness. After all, head over to their “frequently asked questions’ and you’ll find the following position regarding “Wild Places.”

Park History: Fort Scott National Historic Site Tells Many Interesting Stories

Fort Scott National Historic Site in eastern Kansas celebrates its 30th birthday today, October 19. The frontier fort this park commemorates was a crossroads of American history from 1842 to 1873, being associated with the opening of the West, the “Permanent Indian Frontier,” the Mexican-American War, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, and the expansion of railroads.

Colorado Man Falls to His Death in Zion National Park

A 34-year-old Colorado climber working on one of Zion National Park's more popular climbing routes has fallen an estimated 300 feet to his death.