Recent comments

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Thank you for your comments and insight into this tragic accident.

    Please extend our condolences to other members of the family.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This woman was my sister. She was an experienced hiker and she and her family had hiked this trail numerous times in the past. I am told it was one of their favorites. By all accounts she simply stumbled and fell. She was a very grounded person so I am sure there would have been no horseplay up there. I also believe that she would not want this place closed because of this.

  • Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Let's see continued integration of science/research into park management. This is key, as the NPS has lagged in this area when compared with other land management agencies. Jon Jarvis will be a great step in this direction. The idea of a more integrated system for all of our "protected" areas is a great one. Great write-up Kurt. Thanks for all the work.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • The First NPS Area to be Officially Tsunami-Ready? Redwood National and State Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Interesting. I always hear tsunami preparedness in association with the Oregon coast, but, not with the Redwood parks. This is a good thing.

    Thanks Jim.

    Robert Mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute

  • Scuttlebutt Has It That A Hold Has Been Placed On the Nomination of Jon Jarvis as National Park Service Director   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Read more about Dr. No and his (in)famous use of the hold:

  • Traveler's Checklist: Canyonlands National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thank you -- this article was so helpful. We are planning a trip to Canyonlands in a few weeks. The area is so vast, with so much distance between park entrances, it's hard to plan if you don't have time to visit them all. This kind of information is exactly what I've been looking for. Thanks!

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt, got the complete NPCA pdf report on climate change in the national parks. A real wake call...awesome work ahead! Many thanks for the article report.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I hiked Angels Landing back in the late 80's when I was in my 20's. I was and still am pretty fit and a reacreational hiker. I had no idea exactly how dangerous this hike was. I made it to the top. I was not proud or filled with wonder at the view. I sort of felt how you do after you almost get into a car accident, once the adrenaline stops. I think many hikers do not know what this hike is all about. I watched in astonishment as a man hiking before us had a baby in a backpack on his back during this hike. Talk about irresponsible. Anyway, I hope my son chooses not to hike this trail and I will not do it again. The payoff is simply not good enough to risk your life. My view from my deck is more majestic than that.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Angel's Landing is a beautiful and exhilerating trail, but like any hike in any location, safety responsibility should rest on the shoulders of the hiker. The national parks can't be responsible for every fatality that happens in the park. I see irresponsible hikers all the time who think they can defy Mother Nature. Despite national park warnings, many people choose hikes beyond their skill level and cause accidents.

    That said, not knowing whether this woman was skilled for this hike or not, I would say the only reason to reopen the debate over whether to close the Angel's Landing trail is to ensure that the NPS can more closely control the number and skill level of people on the path in the face of shrinking budgets and resources. If closer attention on the part of NPS becomes essential, then those who enjoy the parks will need to be squeezed onto fewer, less "dangerous" trails just so rangers can keep a tighter grip on people in the park and hopefully minimize the number of accidents. As a true lover of our country's natural spaces, I hope this doesn't happen.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    There have been 4 fatalities in the 6 years I've been associated with the Park. One teenage boy and 3 middle-aged people, 2 women and one man. I wonder about the "about 5" mentioned in the website.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I've done A.L. many times, and I want to add to some of the above comments. The texture of the hike changes drastically depending on conditions. I've been there in February when glaze ice made the trail technical and dangerous and I didn't dare go past Scout's landing. I've been there alone on blustery days when it felt intimidating and the knife edge was frightening. I've been there on sunny beautiful days when there was a picnic-like stream of hikers of all shape (including the proverbial tofu-shaped person in flip-flops) and it seemed like a walk in the park. Folks who have done it once or twice should consider the weather and "mood" of the day they were there, as it does color their memories quite a bit.

    I agree that there is risk here, but there is risk anyplace that a trail approaches an exposed cliff. A.L. merely has the distinction that there is a continuous run of exposure on both sides. The few deaths over the many years it has been open attest to the fact that it really isn't that dangerous -- certainly far less dangerous than the drive to Zion. The chain is probably a good thing to have -- but it is definitely overused by the "white-knuckled" hikers. For smaller hikers (kids), it is considerably more support than for adults, and the presence of the chain made me much happier when I took my son up in his early teens. Adults who feel that they absolutely cannot do the hike without the chain probably shouldn't be on it at all.

    I hold with the group that thinks that nothing "should be done" about A.L. The park service already has pretty serious warnings, and the view from Scout's landing is sufficient to turn many others away before they get into trouble.

  • Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for all the information on the pdf files. Opens good dialogue and recommendations for the NPS commission. Tremendous amount of work ahead for the Second Century. Global warming will dictate the quality of are natural resources and abundance in the national parks...along with it's future policies for the second century.

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I was at the canyon that day. It was 6:15 am and I had just dropped my husband and son at the Bright Angel trailhead and was walking east toward the El Tovar. There were rangers everywhere and they were stringing up the crime scene tape.

    There was no possible way for this to have been an accident. The area where the car came through between the lodge buildings was narrow and there was a good amount of landscaping, rocks, curbs, posts, etc. to prevent someone accidently driving through there. The tire tracks in the grass and on the path clearly showed no hesitation, wavering or braking in traveling to the rim. He also must have planned this carefully as there are few places where there are no walls to have crashed through.

    What I don't understand is why he chose an area with so many people around where he could have caused so much damage to others. There are m-i-l-e-s of road near the edge where he could have easily taken his own life without endangering the lives of others.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 36 weeks ago

    They are also in those states because it takes 1 or 2 votes to pass that healthcare bill- The senators in these states need to vote against that bill.

  • Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "What do you expect from the National Park System? How would you like to see the National Park Service manage the 391 parks?"

    To answer this question it is important to first visualize how the world may change over the coming century. The future is always uncertain, but some reasonable assumptions have to be made. One of the most important questions is the likely state of energy over the next nine decades. National parks were born just as the nation and the world began to really tap into the enormous potential of oil. More material progress was achieved in following years than took place throughout the entire history of mankind. We have been living in the midst of a virtual explosion of wealth and power largely fueled by a finite supply of carbon based energy stored in the earth for billions of years. National parks would have been much different, or perhaps they would not have existed, without the changes wrought by the Carbon Century. We became a nation of travelers because of the wonders of abundant and inexpensive liquid energy. The great majority of energy analysts tell us that the era of "easy" and cheap oil is over. Based on the findings of government reports, transitioning into alternative forms of energy would be enormously difficult and expensive and require at least two decades to achieve. If indeed that is the case, how will national parks adjust?

    The most obvious change for the parks is the possibility of the shrinking of travel by the American public. Those parks distant from urban concentrations and without cheap alternatives to the private car, such as rail, would likely see a significant drop in visitation. A tightening national budget would translate into staff reductions, particularly in less visited parks. Concession operations in such parks would likely have to cut back on services or even close their doors. Protecting park resources would likely be more difficult in the short run, but possibly easier in the long term as fuel costs climbed to new records. Some parks would exist in name only relying on their remoteness and the cooperation of residents to maintain some semblance of protection. That is already the case in some of the more remote parklands in Alaska.

    If the parks can stay intact during a difficult transition period to a new energy regime, they could serve as repositories of natural regeneration and historic continuity. In this regard they would would be what NPS historian, Bill Brown termed "Islands of Hope."

  • Studies Show Summer Traffic in Yellowstone National Park Not As Polluting As Snowmobiles in Winter   5 years 36 weeks ago

    From the University of California, Santa Barbara website:
    "Carbon monoxide concentrations are typically highest in California from November to March, when climatological patterns inhibit its dispersal. (Just as Bob says.)
    Ozone concentrations are typically highest during summertime (the smog that we can see), when more sunlight is available to power ozone creating chemical reactions. The summer increase of ozone is in contrast to the winter increase in carbon monoxide.
    In 1991, CARB adopted the WINTER OXYGEN PRORAM in an effort to reduce carbon monoxide levels. This program established an oxygen requirement for gasoline sold during the winter months.
    Largely because of the California Winter Oxygen Program, California has greatly reduced the number of areas in violation of the NAAAQS for carbon monoxide."
    Obviously its not just the pollution you can see!
    " should be noted that I don't think most of those snowmobiles are going into the park these days." Thank God for that at least!!

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Enjoyed thinking of these posted here.

    I have an interesting Paleo-Indian overlook in a national park site to add, but don't want to post it yet until I know that these don't have to be mountain-related.

    Thanks for the list.

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Bogator -

    Thanks for the very informative cautions about relying soley on GPS navigation in remote areas.

    Anonymous asks

    "why didn't she start to walk out using that very high tech device?" and notes, in 5 days i think i would have ben able to save my son!!!!

    I understand the intent of that statement, and realize the above story didn't provide a lot of details about how far this location was off the main road. However, a little more information confirms she made the best decision she could under the circumstances by staying with the vehicle.

    According to a story in today'sLas Vegas Review-Journal, the woman in this incident had driven down a "30-mile stretch of deserted dirt road."

    Given the brutal heat that's common in the area during the summer, it seems impossible that the woman could have survived that walk without a LOT of water, if she had gone for help.

    The Review-Journal story notes,

    "Sanchez did at least one thing exactly right according to the advice given out by the Park Service; when her Jeep Grand Cherokee got stuck in a collapsed animal burrow, she and her son stayed put."

    "If she had wandered off, we might have found the vehicle but not her," at least not in time to save her, Baldino said.

    That story cites a starkly similar case from July 1996, when four German tourists vanished after taking an abandoned dirt road into a remote valley in the southern part of the park and then vanished.

    Their rented minivan was found, with three flat tires, only about 20 miles from the spot where the latest incident occurred. No trace has ever been found of the four: a man, a woman and two young boys.

    I don't claim to be an expert in desert survival, but I worked for several years at Lake Mead, most of that in a area that has heat almost as extreme as that in Death Valley, and we did get some good training from those well-versed in hot weather emergencies. When the air temperature (measured in the shade!) is well above 100 and the relative humidity is extremely low, a person's chances of survival on an extended hike are slim to none, unless he has a lot of suitable liquids to drink—and even that's no guarantee until those conditions.

    Sadly, among the keys in this case was the fact that no one knew enough about this woman's plans to report her missing in a timely manner. If that had happened, it's quite possible both of them would have been found in time.

    The news story mentioned above includes the park's standard advice for summer visitors to Death Valley: stick to the most heavily traveled roads, where they are likely to get help quickly in the event of trouble.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I like your top ten list! I have not visited all of the National Parks, so I can't see that you left any off. We take our children to at least one of our nation's beautiful parks each year. We have actually stayed at the Ahwahnee, Big Meadows and Many Glacier and have reservations at Camp Denali for next summer. There is nothing like waking up and looking outside your window at God's creation. I encourage anyone planning a NP visit to make a reservation INSIDE the park that you plan to visit. Whether you spend the night in a tent camp or in a higher priced lodge, it will be worth it.

  • Flash Flood Leads to Rescue of 200+ Campers at Ozark National Scenic Riverways   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Why did your son not contact any of the rangers or emergency services from the pay phone that was about 50 feet away from his truck the minute he realized what was going on? I was there I saw your sons truck. At that pay phone were phone numbers posted to contact the rangers and different emergency services. My family talked to people who were actually camped by you and said that they heard you leaving and did not contact anyone and let any other campers know of the flood. Your first priority should not have been for your belongings, it should have been to alert the campers and call the rangers. There were people in our loop that drove around laying on their car horns, yelling for people to get up. When my family was awakened and realized what was going on, there were a lot of rangers in the campground, definitely more than 5 or 6. They were going around with their sirens on yelling for everyone to get it out immediately. And after they got everyone out that they could, they had 8 or 9 motor boats in the campground and on the river looking for people and helping them out of there. And for your question as to why no one was monitoring the water levels, the water levels are always monitored, there are sensors on the the bridges. This was not the rangers faults for not knowing about the flood right away. The first sensor is at the upper Jack's Fork, but there was no rain there, the rain was only in the middle Jack's Forks and the lower part. And there was only about an inch of rain in Emminence. All of the rain was isolated aroun the Alley Springs area and happened so fast that no one really knew what was happening. Usually they are contacted by the National Weather Service, but the rangers got absolutely no warning from them at all.

  • The First NPS Area to be Officially Tsunami-Ready? Redwood National and State Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Obviously this is one of those plans you hope you will never need.

  • Scuttlebutt Has It That A Hold Has Been Placed On the Nomination of Jon Jarvis as National Park Service Director   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Before the usual suspects jump me for being "negative" I'd like to point out that love of the parks has nothing to do with supporting the federal bureaucracy that oversees their operation. Yellowstone and Glacier are separate and sacrosanct entities with or without the consistent ineptitude regularly displayed by the officialdom of the Dept. of Interior or the ridiculous and power mad machinations of Congressmen from Oklahoma.

    I support the parks and believe that they need new ideas and new forms of self-sustaining governance. This is in no way a form of negativity but a reasoned position that is rooted in what I consider to be a sorry state of affairs concerning the current container these beautiful and important lands find themselves in.

    In much the same way you can dearly love your country and its people but not give one iota of support to the crooks who supposedly run it. In fact, a true love of country absolutely requires this.

    Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
    ----H.L. Mencken

  • Scuttlebutt Has It That A Hold Has Been Placed On the Nomination of Jon Jarvis as National Park Service Director   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thanks so much for the posting Beamis and for your insightful outlook, penetrating wit and tireless efforts to expose the cognitive dissonance many status quo defenders must feel.

    Federal bankruptcy is impending; hopefully readers will wake up and investigate non-political management systems, such as conservation land trusts.

  • Is Senator Feinstein Speaking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth on National Park Matters?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Cape Hatteras!??? I could never figure out why anyone would NEED to drive on the beach when a couple hundred yards away there's a beautiful black topped road that takes you to all the same places. Go figure?

  • Scuttlebutt Has It That A Hold Has Been Placed On the Nomination of Jon Jarvis as National Park Service Director   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Makes you want to move to OK just to vote against him!