Archive List

The Wild Side of Yellowstone National Park

Bigger than a saucier pan, the paw print held in the wet sand of a beach deep in the South Arm of Yellowstone Lake was unmistakable: here was the home of Ursus arctos horribilis, aka grizzly bear.

Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush

A trigger-happy camper, possibly fueled by alcohol, shot another man in an Oregon campground after hearing rustling in the brush. The incident, while not occurring in a national park setting, could fuel arguments of those opposed to the legalization of carrying concealed weapons in national parks.

"Hidden Fire" Continues To Burn In Sequoia National Park

A lightning-sparked fire continues to burn in Sequoia National Park. Covering more than 800 acres and forcing the closure of Crystal Cave, the fire is only about 30 percent contained.

A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont

A wheelchair accessible 900-foot section of the Appalachian Trail recently opened along the Ottauquechee River near Killington, Vermont. That makes the fourth section of the AT designed for accessibility. A fifth is under construction near West Point.

Pruning the Parks: Shoshone Cavern National Monument (1909-1954) Would Have Cost Too Much to Develop

Wyoming’s Shoshone Cavern National Monument was established by presidential proclamation on September 21, 1909. Because it would have cost too much to develop and operate this minor park, it was abolished in 1954 after nearly half a century of benign neglect.

Mount Rainier National Park Proposing to Reroute Section of Wonderland Trail

One of the must-do national park backcountry treks in the West is the circumnavigation of Mount Rainier via the Wonderland Trail. Storm damage in recent years has officials at Mount Rainier National Park proposing to reroute part of that trail, and are interested in your thoughts.

Federal Government to Back Off on Wolf Delisting In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Federal wildlife authorities who once were so confident the gray wolf could survive without Endangered Species Act protections now say they didn't do all their homework as completely as they should have.

National Park Quiz 20: The Last Frontier

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination has put Alaska in the national spotlight, so let’s orient this week’s quiz to the national parks of The Last Frontier. Answers are at the end. If we catch you peeking, we’ll make you write “Alaska’s state fish is the Oncorhynchus tshawytscha” 100 times on the whiteboard.

How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?

How did the National Park Service err so badly in developing a winter-use plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks? According to a federal judge who blocked the plan from taking effect, the agency overlooked its own science and its own mission.

Park History: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

The scenic, recreational Big South Fork River in eastern Tennessee/Kentucky might well have been dammed and flooded. But a national park was created instead, and now Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area offers high quality recreation opportunities of many types.

At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers

In the predawn darkness of September 9, a 25-year old Ohio man leaped to his death from the New River Gorge Bridge at New River Gorge National River. In his car, investigators found a Mapquest map with directions from his home to the bridge. Like many before him, this victim had carefully planned to end his life at an architectural icon far from his home.

Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park

A federal judge, ruling that Yellowstone National Park's decision to continue recreational snowmobile use in the park runs counter to science and the National Park Service's conservation mission, has tossed out the park's winter-use plan.
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Minnesota’s Grand Portage National Monument Commemorates the Historic Fur Trade Era

Located on an Indian reservation in northeastern Minnesota, Grand Portage National Monument was established September 15, 1951, to commemorate the historic North American fur trade. A British fur trading company operated a summer headquarters and western supply depot at Grand Portage from 1778 until 1802.

Parade of Raptors at Hawk Hill Delights Birders in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

With the fall migration underway, birders are beating a path to Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It’s one of the world’s best places for watching hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, and other raptors.

Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity

Nurturing broadly-based advocacy for the national parks has never been more critical, and promoting greater youth interest and visitation is a key consideration. Some progress is being made, but much more can be done.

Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization

Visitation has plunged at Pennsylvania’s Steamtown National Historic Site, primarily because budget problems have prevented the park from meeting visitor expectations. Critics insist that only privatization can provide critical operational improvements and resuscitate Steamtown visitation.

Greening the National Parks: Environmental Achievement Awards Highlight Sustainable Design, Energy-Efficiency, and Recycling

To encourage eco-friendly operations, the National Park Service presents Environmental Achievement Awards each year to parks and concession companies that have excelled in incorporating high environmental standards into their operations. The 2007 awards were presented to Blue Ridge Parkway, Yosemite National Park, Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, and Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove

Point Reyes National Seashore plays a vital role in maintaining healthy biodiversity. A prime location and key physical factors have combined to make the park, which marks its 46th anniversary September 13, one of the six most biologically significant areas of the U.S. The variety of life found there is astonishing.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps

On Saturday, September 27, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a day of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. At various times during 1933-1942, around 4,000 enrollees assigned to 22 CCC camps built roads, trails, fire towers, and other structures in the park.

Pilgrim Places: Civil War Battlefields, Historic Preservation, and America’s First National Military Parks, 1863-1900, Part VII

After Vicksburg’s establishment as a military park in 1899, it was not until 1917 that Congress authorized the next Civil War battlefield park at Kennesaw Mountain, northwest of Atlanta, where the Confederates stalled, if only for a while, the Union army’s southward march through Georgia. In the mid-1920s, other famous Civil War battlefields became military parks, including Petersburg and Fredericksburg, in Virginia.

Hurricane Ike Prompts FEMA to Task the National Park Service with a Search and Rescue Mission in Houston

With Hurricane Ike on the way and forecasters warning of potentially serious flooding in Houston-Galveston, FEMA requested National Park Service help. The NPS is supplying 21 two-person boat crews for the urban search and rescue task force. This is the fourth time this year that FEMA has tasked the NPS with a search and rescue mission.

Canyonlands National Park, Still A Work in Progress After All These Years

It is one of the most rugged and physically demanding parks of the continental United States. And it also is one of the most beautiful works of landscape architecture, one that continues to evolve. And yet, Canyonlands National Park is still not a completed work.

Progress To the North: Canada Has "Extraordinary Year" In Protecting Parks and Wilderness

Imagine if the National Parks Conservation Association, or the Sierra Club, or The Wilderness Society reported that the U.S. government deserved credit for an "extraordinary year" in protecting the National Park System. That would be some news, wouldn't it?

The 9/11 Anniversary Draws Attention to the Flight 93 National Memorial, an Extraordinary Work in Progress

The seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has propelled Pennsylvania’s Flight 93 National Memorial into the national spotlight. This park is a work in progress. The temporary memorial that visitors see there now will be replaced with a permanent one of exceptional quality.

House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Today the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands is scheduled to consider HR 6233, a bill that would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy for ORV beach use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. There are heated arguments on both sides of this issue, which has strong implications for wildlife management, beach access, and tourist spending.

Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers Cleaning Up After Climbers

So much for taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. Some climbers in Rocky Mountain National Park have been leaving behind crash pads so they don't have to haul them in and out of the park every time they want to go bouldering. Tsch, tsch.

National Park History: “The Spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps”

The year was 1932, and America was in the midst of the worst economic downturn in history. Unemployment stood at 25 percent; homelessness at two million people. When Americans went to the polls, they overwhelmingly elected Franklin D. Roosevelt president. FDR immediately sought 'relief, recovery, and reform' to rebuild America's tattered economy. FDR was not interested in merely handing out money to people. Instead, he wanted to put them to work.

At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser

At Big Thicket National Park, a man involved in a drug transaction started to resist arrest. He abruptly changed his mind when ranger Johnny Stafford drew his Taser and displayed the spark. Did the miscreant holler “Don’t taze me, bro!”?

A Historian's Take on the National Park Service

Once a decision is made, it's left to the historians to decide how sound it was. After all, history can speak volumes. It can point to incredibly great decisions, as well as point out some horrendous ones. With that understood, here are some thoughts from Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley, a former chief historian of the National Park Service.

National Park Quiz 19: Trails

You’ll have fun with this week’s quiz, even if you don’t stride or ride the national park trails. Answers are at the end. If we catch you peeking, we’ll make you remove the meadow muffins from our favorite hiking trail.