Recent comments

  • An Analytical Look At The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I'll let someone else speak to the matter of Hot Springs, but I would like to point out these Mesa Verde facts. Mesa Verde's claim to national park status dates back over a century (Congress designated Mesa Verde a national park in 1906). The park is not only a World Heritage Site with some of the most important cultural artifacts in the Western Hemisphere, it is also huge (nearly 82 square miles) and includes 8,500 acres of federally protected wilderness (there is actually lots more wilderness than that, too). This is not to mention that the scenery is gorgeous. Just what in the heck more would we want a National Park to be?

  • An Analytical Look At The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Well, to turn it around, instead of asking why the film doesn't emphasize non-"national parks" you might ask why Mesa Verde and Hot Springs are national parks instead of national historical parks or sites.

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 29 weeks ago

    The bad luck here is the road construction closing the road between Madison and Norris; this is a nightmare for travelers. The only saving grace was that this happened at the end of September and not the middle of August.

    We have had an unseasonably warm September, and so a quiet fire season suddenly erupted late, but weather later this week should help immensely.

    As for the fires, they are beautiful things - those old lodgepole pines are old; they look sick. They need fire to rejuvenate. If you see the smaller 21-year-old forests, those trees look MUCH healthier than those strange, scarred old pines. Fire is such a necessary part of the process, and the dead trees do look gorgeous to me mixed as mosaics with the living ones, with undergrowth and vegetation. Look from a mountain at dead forest mixed with living forest, and it's an artist's palette.

    So, Kurt is absolutely right on this, both from an ecological but also from an aesthetic standpoint. When a forest catches on fire like this, it likely needed to burn. The only problem is the bad luck of road construction with a well placed fire on the other side of the loop. That wasn't likely to happen, but it did, and I feel for those stuck in it confused about having to drive many hundreds of miles to get to where you are going.

    (By the way, I was at Tower Fall this weekend; I noticed the campground there was allowing people with vehicles to fill up the hiker / biker area; I imagine that there are extra spots even in the closed campgrounds, if you get trapped.)

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Actually, it's quite healthy for the forest to burn when the flames are ignited by lightning. It's simply nature's way of cleaning things up, so to speak, of sparking a new generation of lodgepole pines, of opening up meadows for ungulates and even bears.

    Plus, mixed generations of trees make a healthier, more resilient forest, as bark beetles are known to prefer trees with trunks that are larger than 6 inches in diameter. Get a forest of one generation of trees and bark beetles can rip through it more quickly than forests with more diversity, age-wise.

    Without these cleansing fires, the forests become too cluttered with downed trees and other forest litter that can lead to unhealthy forests that, when they do burn, can feed truly catastrophic fires due to the large amount of fuel.

    I covered the fires of '88, and was amazed at how quickly the forests came back to life with wildflowers, forbs, and other vegetation. Sure, a fire-charred landscape seems devastating, but the aftermath of the fire is rebirth, which truly is impressive to see.

  • Traveler's Checklist – Colonial National Historical Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    For NPS Passport Stamp enthusiasts, there is a third component to this Park. The Park Service is actually responsible for a portion of the Cape Henry historical area located in the Ft. Story military base in Virginia Beach. Although the Park Service does not operate the Cape Henry lighthouses Museum Store, there is a NPS Stamp available in the store that says "Cape Henry" on it. I believe the Park Service has ownership over the park portion of the historic site that includes a Memorial Cross and statue of Admiral Comte deGrasse.

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I was in Yellowstone in after the fires in 88 & it is sad to see that such a wonderful place is on fire again. Hopefully they get some rain or snow up there to help put out the fire.

  • Accessibility in the National Park System   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I saw a good article about wheelchair access at the north rim of the Grand Canyon at

  • Would Free "Loaner" Personal Locator Beacons Save Lives and Money in Parks?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Great to see that people are interested in the scheme from other parts of the world, our scheme has been well promoted in the Blue Mountains and is proving to be very successful with around 400 being loaned out since last October when the scheme started. We have had 3 rescues from very remote locations as a result and importantly we have had no inappropriate activations of beacons and we have had no beacons damaged, lost or stolen.
    It is of course very important to stress that beacons are only a small part of an overall strategy and are no substitute for proper trip preparation and planning (please see the "Think before you trek" scheme) of which the beacons are a small part.
    I think the key to success is accessability (24hr pick up and drop off is important), affordability (free is a good idea), simplicity (keep the process simple with no red tape) and of course publicity (the scheme will fail if people do not know about it).

    We think that we have saved many times the cost of the beacons in reduced search and rescue time (in fact it has changed the operation into a simple recovery) and have maybe saved a life or two. And thats just the first year.

  • The National Park to Park Highway   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This documentary ran again yesterday afternoon and I was facinated by how so many wonderful things can happen with the insight of just a few people. The fun part of this program was trying to determine which of the roads I traveled to see the parks were part of the ones they were paving anew. If you have not had the opportunity to go west and see the wonders of our national parks it should be placed at the top of your to do list, they are Magnificent!!

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Headed there Friday-Sunday. Hoping for the best. Dress warm.

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Just got back from the park today. We made it through to Madison Jct. to get out via Old Faithful to West, however, my parents had gone to West Thumb to watch the fire and in the afternoon, it jumped the road and started burning on the lake side. They had to drive out of the park and get back up to Mammoth through Bozeman. I suggest calling the park and find out about road closures for anyone travelling there in the next few days. It was amazing to see though! Good luck and enjoy your trip! The number to call is: (307) 344-2117

  • An Analytical Look At The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Just finished watching the first episode which I considered excellent. Ken Burns only has 12 hours to deal with the units designated as a "National Park". To deal with all the other types of units with the same level of quality could easily take another 50 hours. Covering all aspects of the National Park System in the limited amount of time would have, in my opinion, led to a lower quality program. I hope Ken Burns does eventually get around to the other units.


  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The road between West Thumb and Bridge Bay was closed around noon today, Sunday, 27 September, 2009, as the fire jumped the road to the lake side of the road. Several trucks and additional resources of men and equipment were observed entering the park via the north entrance as we left the park for Gardiner around 4 PM.

  • Another Entrance-Fee-Free Weekend in the National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Well let me say this $25 may be a bargain to some people but it isn't for everyone. Every park has a donation box so those who think the entrance fee should be more can donate that extra money. The parks are for everyone to enjoy and the entrance fees are actually a paltry sum compared to the whole park budget (a little over 1%). No park is going to go "broke" without the entrance fees. If more funding is needed that can be added to the overall budget. The parks should not be priced out of reach of average people just so wealthy tourists can enjoy them with less congestion. There is a park within an hour of me that I've never been to because of the high entrance fee. Who does that benefit? The mission of the park is to serve the public, if the public can't afford to go there then the mission fails. Finally it is not the entrance fee that keeps parks clean, the reason the National parks are cleaner than other federal and state parks is because they have more workers that go around and pick up trash etc, not because the visitors don't litter.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I feel proud to be an american after seeing the first episode of Ken Burns "National Parks"an american idea..I saw the sacred beauty of America in it,I dont need to go to church to pray to god ,my church is a national park where I can contact the beauty of god s creation,the spirit world,and my ancestral nature as a human being.Congratulation! this documentary is a force of intense beauty,art,and spirituality.I highly recomend it.Our country has the best of nature in each national park. Moreover,Ifelt the struggle of the people involved in the preservation of our natural resources.I love it!."National parks"an american idea is a masterpiece !I cant wait to see more and feed my spirity with our nature beauty.Our country USA is a wondering jewl..

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I wouldn't bet that it'd put the fire out, but it more than likely will knock it down substantially. Back in '88 it was an early season snow storm in September that doused those blazes.

  • Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park Blows Up to More than 8,000 Acres   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I'm going to Yellowstone for a few days, and wondering if the predicted rain/snow can put a fire of this size out?

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Mr. Stephen O'Day safety first the cell phone towers are a great idea I was reading were they are blending them into the environment and not ruining the view great concept

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I think all things considered the Park Service made the right call on this one. I'm not a big fan of cell phones in the parks, but this tower location has a few special considerations. I'm very familiar with this area and have been at this cell site many times, and I have climbed the old fire look-out tower there (which is a fairly large truss-steel structure with a small enclosed room at the top.) First, Grant Grove, where this tower is located, is an isolated island of park within an area that is mostly Forest Service administered with a scattering of private ownership land. The main body of King's Canyon N.P. sits several miles away. The location is about as good as it gets for a tower, and that is witnessed by the fact that there are already several of them at this location. As Bruce said above, it is that rare combination of a great site technically for the tower, that is also not very visible, and creates a minimal environmental impact. That is a rare combination, most of the times these towers are in very obvious locations. There is also a need beyond just serving the park area. Grant Grove Village is in the park, just below this tower, right next to it is the larger Wilsonia community of private homes on private land. A couple miles away is Hume Lake, a large forest service community of private vacation homes and one of the largest camp/conference centers in the State. The other direction are several private communities, Dunlap, Squaw Valley, etc., these are all permanent homes. The tower is to serve these areas, the park coverage is just bonus, the argument Verizon used to sell the tower location. Verizon isn't interested in building an expensive tower just for the few people in the King's Canyon back country! There are other options in this area for a tower, but they are much more conspicuous, even though some of them would be outside the park. In fact this whole area has numerous antennas, there is one just about every high ridge in the front-country.

    But I agree with the disturbance issue, I would love it if the folks in Grant Grove would turn off their phones unless they are in their motel room or it is an emergency. Unfortunately I know this won't happen... and furthermore I confess that I'm guilty of forgetting to turn my own phone off when in the parks.

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Bruce, I'd say there are at least two sides to every issue. And really, one of our goals here at the Traveler is to coax out as many differing views as possible, as most usually have merit.

  • An Analytical Look At The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Concentrating on only the national "parks" is a huge disservice to the National Park System and Mr. Burns. As we all know, designations are often political whim. Presumably, if this show was made 10 years ago he would have omitted Cuyahoga Vally and Congaree. Yet those parks did not change when their names did! So Dinosaur National Monument, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Pinnacles National Monument, and other outstanding natural areas are not included - not to mention the historical and cultural places. What's worse, the companion book shows a map of the "national parks" and all these other areas are missing. This show could have been a great opportunity to remind people of the national parks in their full representation of America. Instead, it reinforces a misconception about the National Park System, could lead to even more overcrowding in the parks that do get mentioned, further neglect to the parks that do not get noticed, and worst of all, less support for the national parks because they are "not in my state" or "too far away" to visit.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Great Smoky Mtn. National Park is close to high population areas. Went this summer very crowded. If you dont leave early in the day you will be in a traffic jam on the Cades Cove road, this is only one way traffic. People were stopping to view and photograph wildlife. The only thing you can do is wait for everyone to move. Also the more popular hiking trails the eaiser ones also crowded before noon. Laurel Falls trail went about 1 in the afternoon passed about 150 people on their way back down. This is a free National Park; an entrance fee is never charged. This is probably another reason for the high attendance. I am sure they have a lot of school field trips from Tenn. and N. Carolina. It is a beautiful park. I believe it has more hiking trails than any other park (but not positive) This is a big draw for people who love to hike. Both days I went to the park I gave a $20 donation. It was worth so much more. All you cares seem to fade away while your here.

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hey Chris,
    I agree with you 100%. On my terms, I love to excape from my business world, and disconnect. I deal with the public daily and love gettting into the romote areas of the Sierra mountains and exploring what it has to offer in a friendly enviromental way. You know, picking up the trash of others who don't care, while you enjoy the fruit of the park's beauty. This time does belong to me. I turn off the cell phone, and I don't log on to my company's computers. But, If I need help because my wife broke her leg! You better believe I would like to make that cell phone call. Wouldn't you!
    Kurt, I apprecieate you posting both sides of the story. The popularity of your polls will surely grow. There is always two sides of the story.


  • Mammoth Cave National Park Follows Ken Burns' Documentary With Its Own Film   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I agree with this....wouldn't that awesome.

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago


    I agree with you that people need time to unconnect from the busy world and take time to relax and enjoy the simpler things in life such as nature, my wife and I both like to do just that. My solution to that is simply turn off the blackberry, cell phone and pager. I do this quite often and it works great! If someone tries to reach me, I let them leave a message on my answering machine or cell service and I will call them back at MY conveinience. I owe them no excuse as to why they could not get in tough with me immediately. If they push the issue, simply tell them that YOUR time belongs to YOU and not them. I think this should be the standard answer for everyone to use. If enough people said that, then maybe the rest of the world would stop calling us on our day off.

    Folks, go absoluty stealth for a few days, the world will not have destroyed itself nor could you have changed much of anything in a week by yourself. The world can and will go on without you, just as they will do after you have passed away.