Archive List

Biodiversity Studies in the Parks Reveal Previously Unknown Species

New Moth Species at Great Smoky Mountains National Park; NPS Photo.
Imagine taking the time to go into your backyard, or the nearby woods, or even a pond close to your home, to catalog all the life you found in it. Not just the deer or snakes or fish, but the birds and insects, reptiles, plants and fungi and everything else biological or botanic. Imagine how fascinating that would be. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park they've been working on just that, and what they've found has been incredible.

Amusing Looking Sign on Blue Ridge Parkway

"MLF_0412cropped"; '_MIMI_' photo via Flickr
I'm sure we all get the message this sign is trying to convey, it's just that it looks pretty silly! Can't you just imagine that rider saying "weeeeee"?

Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds

Padre Island touch table; 'qnr' photo via Flickr
Interpretive programs, when done well, can provide an important aspect of resource protection. The guided beach walk at Padre Island National Seashore is one such example. By the end of the program, this newspaper reporter had a different outlook on his environment.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalized

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalism; NPS photo by Terry Adams.
Earlier this month, on September 7th, someone walked along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with some type of oil, squirting it secretly on the Wall as they walked by. The unknown oil has done real damage to the polished granite surface.

How Would YOU Fix the Statue of Liberty?

Liberty's Spiral Staircase; 'Blondie5000' photo via Flickr
We are fortunate to have a creative bunch of folks that provide comments to the National Parks Traveler. Using our combined brain power, what do you think would be the best way to restore access to the crown of the Statue of Liberty? New stairs? An elevator? Provide very limited access? Provide no access? What is your opinion?

Arches and Canyonlands In the Fall: Rock Architecture and Dwindling Crowds

Arches is one of the world's, not just one of the United States', most incredible national parks. Its rock architecture -- windows cut from stone, spindly arches longer than a football field, balancing rocks -- and desertscape are otherworldly. And fall is perhaps the best time to visit.

St Louis Wants to Develop Land under Gateway Arch

The park next under the Gateway Arch; 'stepha1202' photo via Flickr
St. Louis wants to revitalize its waterfront area. A former senator has a plan, but the development of new attractions would have to be done on land currently managed by the National Park Service. The city wants the land back, but there isn't a lot of support for that idea outside of Missouri.
Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite Death is the final appointment we can't avoid, the one we most regret. And yet we're fascinated with tragic deaths such as those that occur in the parks. Indeed, posts on this site about deaths in the parks draw large readership. For those fascinated by such stories, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite is a must-read.

Management of Lady Liberty Discussed in Congress

Statue of Liberty; 'Dutchnatasja' photo via Flickr.
UPDATED: The United States Congress is mad at the National Park Service. Congress cannot figure out why the parks are not listening them, after they've been asked more than once by the House to open up the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Congress has given unsolicited money to Liberty to get it open, and there had been a campaign which raised millions from across the nation for the same purpose, but still, 6 years after it was closed, there remains no public access to the crown.

This Just In : Fort Hancock STILL a Mess

Officers Club at Ft Hancock Needs Some Work; NPS Photo
The saga at Fort Hancock continues. A judge has ruled the 60 year lease given to a developer by the NPS, to manage the dilapidated old public buildings commercially, has not broken any rules. The developer still hasn't come up with the money yet, but he's got 90 more days to prove that he can get it (or else, perhaps, get another extension).

Centennial Projects: Mountain Biking in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend's Lone Mountain; photo by Jeff Blaylock, used with permission.
Among the 201 projects "certified" to meet the criteria for celebrating the National Park Service's centennial in 2016 is one to establish a dual-use, hiking and mountain biking trail in Big Bend National Park in Texas. What seems odd, though, is that this project made the list at a time when the Park Service is in the middle of a five-year study examining mountain bike use in the park system.

If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach

Earlier this summer we ran a list of the Top 10 Lodges in the park system. Admittedly it's a "soft" list, one that definitely is not objective. But what some might find objectionable are the nightly costs for staying in some of these places.

Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?

Gray Wolf; USFS Photo, Gary Kramer
Wolves in Olympic National Park? I thought that issue was played out in the late 90s. I was glad to learn that the spark of idea had not died, and during a recent meeting on the Olympic peninsula the general attitude of the public surprised me. Instead of fear, there was excitement for the idea. "Bring them back," they said.

Successful Search in Rocky Mountain National Park

For the second time in less than two weeks another search in Rocky Mountain National Park for a missing hiker has turned out successful. The search for 61-year-old Brandt Everhart, who failed to return from a hike last night, wrapped up this afternoon when he was spotted with two other hikers.

Is There Any Better Time to Visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton Than Fall?

Fall is one of my favorite times to head to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The aspen glades are igniting in gold, maples add a splash of rouge, the conifers a dense green background, and the sky overhead often is clear and blue. Animals are on the move as well, with the elk moving into their rut, bison heading to river bottoms, bears foraging to bulk up, and wolves following the bison and elk.

Dry Conditions Blamed For Bear Problems in Grand Teton, Yosemite

Unseasonably dry conditions are believed to be behind bear problems in both Grand Teton and Yosemite national parks this year, according to officials in those parks.

NPS Remembers 9-11 with Website

9-11 Remembrance
The National Park Service has set up an online web exhibit that remembers the human response to Sept. 11, 2001. The exhibit is a few years old (probably created in 2002), but the content is still meaningful and relevant today.

Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear

It's beginning to sound like open season for black bears in Grand Teton National Park. For the third time in less than a month rangers have killed a black bear that had grown too accustomed to tying humans to food. This time the bear was a 60-pound male.

The New NPCA Podcast

NPCA Podcast
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has just jumped into podcasting, a welcome addition for those of us who love to listen to an insiders perspective on parks. The first program is with an interpreter in Yosemite National Park. It is a quality program, the likes of which we are sure to hear more of, in the months to come.

Two Drown on Yellowstone's Shoshone Lake

Two elderly Idaho men who planned a three-day fishing trip on Yellowstone National Park's Shoshone Lake have drowned, apparently victims of waves kicked up by gusting winds.

Around the System: Yellowstone's Snowmobiles, Everglades' Restoration, Glacier's Party, Valley Forge's Developers

There's plenty of news around the national park system, if you take a look. Newspapers are questioning Yellowstone planners on their snowmobile decision, politicians are making hey with the Everglades, Glacier is celebrating its Peace Park status, and Valley Forge is facing development on its doorstep.

Judge Orders Cross Removed from Mojave National Preserve

Brace yourself, I'm about to delve into one of those public conversation taboos. You know, you don't talk sex, politics, or religion in public. But at times I find the debates spurred by symbols fascinating. And, of course, religious symbols seem to spur the most debates. The one I want to focus on involves Mojave National Preserve, where a federal judge has ruled that a cross can no longer stand atop Sunrise Rock.

Olympic National Park Releases Environmental Assessment on Fisher Recovery

A cat-sized carnivore long missing from the forests of Olympic National Park could soon be roaming the park under a plan drawn up to return the animal to one of its native haunts.

GAO: Interior Failed to Provide Park Service With Tools To Cope With Climate Change

Folks for some time have realized that there's something going on with the climate, and whether you believe it's human-caused or cyclical is besides the point. What's key is how we react to it. And the federal government's Government Accountability Office says the Interior Department has failed to adequately help the National Park Service react to those changes.

Another Black Bear in Grand Teton Put Down

Grand Teton National Park officials have had to kill another black bear that had become accustomed to linking humans with food. This is the second bear in less than a week that park officials killed because it had become habituated to human food.
Bridge over Frijoles Creek in Bandelier National MonumentRelax next to the cascading waters of Frijoles Creek in Bandelier National Monument, under the shade of the trees along the picnic road. You'll be able to hear some birds chirping along, as well as a child's call about half-way through.

The Secret Life of Drugs in Parks

Moss in Olympic National Park; "sometimes drywall" photo via Flickr
I was inspired recently to write an article about the problems drugs bring to the parks when I visited Olympic National Park earlier this summer. As recreational visitors to the national parks, we may not be aware of the battle behind the scenes to keep drugs out of the parks. I was told a story by a long-time law enforcement ranger that surprised me, and made me realize the burden to the resource they represent.

Plan to Expand Civil War Museum Could Bring Artifacts to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP

There's an effort being launched to create a network of Civil War museums across the state of Virginia, and one might be located in Fredericksburg, home to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Marketing Alaska's National Parks; Why Not All National Parks?

I hate jumping to conclusions. But that apparently is exactly what I did when I surmised that the proposed $1.5 million centennial project involving the Alaska Travel Industry Association would benefit the cruise-ship industry more than the parks.

Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit

Michael Chertoff, DHS portrait
It is hard to imagine at this point, but in just over a year, under a plan developed by Homeland Security, you may be asked to show a special federal identification to enter a national park. I can understand the security need behind having a passport to enter the country, and I can understand the need for important background checks before entering a nuclear facility, but needing the same federal security check to drive through a park? Absurd! -- Note: important update added to original story