Archive List

Poets, Ports and Politics – The Long Battle for a New Kind of Park

NPS Director Steven Mather and others tour Indiana Dunes in 1916.
According to this park's administrative history, it was the first area considered for addition to the newly-established national park system by the agency's first director, Stephen T. Mather. Mather visited the area in October 1916, but fifty years would elapse before a bill authorizing the park was finally passed.

National Park Quiz 27: The Border Parks

This week’s quiz focuses on border parks-- that is, the parks that border on Canada or Mexico. Answers are at the end. If we catch you peeking, we’ll make you take a TSA training course. Aaaaaaargh!!

Yosemite National Park Officials Considering Improvements to Tioga Road Trails

Tenaya Lake, copyright Kurt Repanshek
Finally, a non-controversial topic. Or is it? Yosemite National Park officials are launching a study into how they can improve eight of 12 trails that have trailheads along the Tioga Road.

Wetlands Restoration Project at Golden Gate National Recreation Area is Well Worth the Cost

It cost $12 million to create the newly flooded Giacomini Wetlands at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is not just an exercise in “feel good” environmental action. Because wetlands provide many valuable benefits, this project will more than pay for itself.

New River Gorge Bridge Hosted 1,062 BASE Jumps on Bridge Day, and Jumpers Say that is Not Nearly Enough

The 29th annual Bridge Day Festival that was held October 18 on New River Gorge Bridge attracted 155,000 people, including 383 BASE-jumpers. During the course of the day the jumpers collected 1,062 jumps, two fractures, and one impromptu trip (sans raft) through class IV whitewater. Will jumpers get more access to the bridge in the future?

Yellowstone National Park Releases Winter-Use Proposal

Yellowstone National Park officials, having had their initially preferred winter-use plan shot down by a federal judge, are back with another proposal. This one would allow up to 318 commercially guided snowmobiles, and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches, into the park each day.

Update: Land Acquisition Moves Flight 93 National Memorial Closer to Completion Target

A key land acquisition has moved the National Park Service and the Flight 93 Advisory Commission and Task Force closer to their goal of completing the Flight 93 National Memorial in time for the tenth anniversary of the fatal flight.

NPS Entrance Fees Waived on November 11th for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In honor of Veterans Day, U.S. military veterans, members of the U.S. armed forces and their families will be admitted without charge on November 11th to public recreation lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Forest Service.

Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws

Fearing that Democrats may win the White House as well as strengthen their control of Congress, President Bush is rushing to eviscerate as many environmental protection laws as he can before the moving trucks arrive. Though undemocratic and unethical, the methods he is using are quite legal.

Climate Change Doomed the Historic Settlements at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

The ruins at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument do more than just remind us of Spain’s shattered dreams of empire in the American Southwest. They also remind us that climate change is an old phenomenon that has powerfully influenced human well-being through the centuries.

Olympic National Park Announces New Requirements for Winter Travel to Hurricane Ridge

Winter at Hurricane Ridge.
A favorite year-round destination in Olympic National Park for locals and tourists alike is Hurricane Ridge. The park has just announced the area's winter schedule, and a new safety requirement been added this year for travel on the Hurricane Ridge Road.

Pruning the Parks: Millerton Lake Recreation Area, 1945-1957

Millerton Lake near Fresno, California is a 1940s era impoundment that the NPS administered as a (National) Recreation Area from May 22, 1945, to November 1, 1957. The recreation resources of the property are now administered by the state of California as Millerton Lake State Recreation Area.

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.
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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.