Recent comments

  • Know When to Say When – Stranded Visitor Rescued from Tiny Ledge at Yosemite National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Thanks for your comment about climbing in Yosemite. You raised some interesting questions, so I made a call to the park and got a few more details on this specific situation. I'll amend the story slightly for clarification, as described below.

    The man is making a long-distance hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, so he's in good condition and has some outdoor skills. He's done a little climbing in the eastern U.S. - but apparently nothing of the caliber of Yosemite. I'd note that the definition of a "climber" is a very subjective one!

    This particular situation sounds like an "impulse" activity. The man left his pack for his long-distance hike at the base of a nearly vertical wall that is about 1,000 feet high, and was free climbing with no protection; he was wearing hiking boots.

    The good news? After he was rescued, the man was described as being very subdued and grateful; the reality of his close call had apparently sunk it by the time he was safely on the ground.

    Given the tricky winds described in the story, I'm very thankful this situation ended safely for everyone, including the pilot and the rescuers. Those flying conditions made this rescue even riskier than usual, and was another testimony to the skills of those involved.

    All of us learn by experience, so I trust this was a lesson learned by this individual. Perhaps at least a few people who heard about this incident will also think twice before attempting something similar.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I always try to get to Shenandoah in May or June when it's rainy. After dark heavy fog settles on the mountains, and the owls come out to hunt. Lots of wildlife come out to take advantage of foggy camouflage. It's spooky and super special. I don't even mind when the cabin leaks. When the sun does come out, the wildflowers pop up! It's my comfort and my refuge.

    A second choice would be Prince William Forest; quiet, green, never crowded, and entirely trash-free!

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park is my favorite. Spring wildflowers, fall color, waterfalls, wildlife - a wonderfully relaxing beautiful place. And less than 8 hours from DC so I'm able to get here several times a year.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Dang, Kirby, I hate when I screw up. But I gotta admit, Gros Morne sure looks pretty. If it wasn't so far from Utah, I'd put my canoe atop my rig and head there!

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This is too much like asking a mother which child is her favorite, but I'll play. Links are just shameless plugs for my vacation photos. :-)

    Kurt slipped up and didn't say "U.S." National Parks, so I'm going vote for Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. Just got back from a couple weeks there, and I'm almost at a loss for words to describe it. Imagine a look-alike to Yosemite Valley, 2,000 foot vertical rock walls, only a quarter mile across, waterfalls plunging off the cliffs everywhere....but the bottom of the valley is a 600 foot deep freshwater former fjord....and no crowds. And that's just one corner of the park. It's full of whales, caribou, and other odd critters. And despite the lack of crowds, you might hike a few miles back into the woods and run into two guys, first people you've seen in hours, and after chatting a while, realize they are friends and colleagues of Traveler's own Bob Janiskee. That's a true story.

    My favorite in the U.S. has to be Olympic National Park. Sea-stack studded beaches, some of the world's best temperate rainforest, and glacier filled mountain valleys....all of which you can see in one day. And despite its popularity, it's very easy to get away from the crowds.

    Honorable mentions:

    Congaree National Park. A unique and truly hidden gem. I'm a sucker for old growth forest, and there isn't much old growth cypress left.

    Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Yellowstone without the crowds. No, it doesn't have the vast grandeur of Yellowstone, but the wildlife there is underrated and it's easy to feel a sense of complete isolation and remoteness just a couple miles from I-94. The scenery is unique. More subtle and mysterious than the South Dakota Badlands.

    Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. Another Canadian gem. Moss gardens that rival Olympic, and tides that can approach 50 feet! Wading amongst some rocks and watching the tide rise at over an inch a minute is fascinating, and a bit frightening when you quit paying attention for more than a few minutes.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. My "home" park. Canoeing, kayaking, island wilderness camping, 400ft. dunes...

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Although I live within the boundaries of V.I. National Park on St. John, I have to say that Canyonlands is my favorite. A few years back, DH and I did a canoe trip down the Green River through Canyonlands. It was my all time, number one, five-star vacation. That said, DH said Yellowstone was his favorite. But then, the back country car camping trip we did in March in Death Valley was spectacular. The appeal for me is the ability to get off the beaten path without backpacking. We've been to quite a number of national park sites and they all were wonderful. Even the one where I live.

  • "River Runners for Wilderness" Lose Bid to See Motorized Rafts, Helicopters Banned from Colorado River Corridor in Grand Canyon   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Dottie--
    No inexperienced people can enjoy the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon except via commercial river trips, where the experienced river guide does the rowing (steering). Its just too dangerous. Private parties must meet experience requirements, and now win a lottery (the previous wait list was over a decade). My understanding of the motorized boat issue isn't that river guides are lazy or not strong enough, but that not everyone can take 2 weeks to put in at Lees Ferry and take out at Diamond Creek by Lake Mead. GC River Guide can help me out here, but I believe that most motorized trips are substantially quicker: 7-8 days through the canyon, or 1 to a couple of days at the western downstream end. Motorized rafts can also be larger, and thus work for some visitors who could not make the trip in a non-motorized raft. The issue for NPS was how to allow the maximum number of people experience the river, given the very few put in and take out points, and finite set of possible camping locations. I prefer less noise, but given the background noise of the river in the inner gorge and the efforts of the commercial outfits to reduce engine noise (for their own customers, too), the management plan that came out of the long process is a pretty good shot at maximizing visitors with no significant impairment of the resources for future generations.

    As for overflights, at GRCA the vast majority of helicopter flights (let alone fixed-wing) are commercial sightseeing: NPS and research flights are a small fraction (possibly less than SAR). [Inventory & monitoring can't afford helicopter time.] I don't know what fraction are return flights from commercial river trips. In Everglades NP, the opposite is true: the wilderness areas prohibit airboats even for research & management (and airboats don't work in the dry season anyway), so helicopters with floats are the only access to places in the center, miles from canals, and there often are 2 or 3 helicopters hopping around during peak times of the year. I don't think that there are any commercial air tours in the Everglades.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I've worked in a few parks where my experience was soured by my co-workers and based on that I have to say Zion is my current favorite, right up there with Assateague Island. I'm a little biased since I"m currently working in Zion but I feel like this is the park that is really taking the mission seriously. The visitor center and the EOC (emergency operations) are both 'green' buildings and will be 100% sustainable when the solar panels are put on. The shuttle system is also a great idea and has really helped the park without ruining the exerience for the visitors. On top of all that, it is one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen and the beauty still takes my breath away. I really feel like this place is a sanctuary.

    And I just really love Assateague because I grew up near the Chesepeake reading Misty of Chincoteague so that place makes me think of home and steamed blue crabs...yummmm....

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yellowstone is an incredible destination and we hope to visit often over the years to come.

    Living in Seattle, though, I have to second Mt. Rainier as a local treasure. For me, driving onto the mountain, visiting the Grove of the Patriarchs, just driving about the natural beauty, is my version of visiting a cathedral.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Most of the National Parks Iv seen was when I was a kid and each one I visited became my new favorite. Now that Im all grown up, ah, well, at least a lot older, and live in New England, Acadia is my pick. I live in MA, but the entire coast of Maine is spectacular. If you havent been to Acadia give it a shot, you will be glad you did. Here is hoping they go forward and create the Maine North Woods National Park.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I haven't been to Yellowstone in a while, but I think right now I'd have to say Big Bend. It was a rather magical experience being able to look (walk, if you care to violate federal law) across the river to another country, I thought. When we first arrived we'd driven basically 25 hours straight, and as we came up, I thought, "this is it?" But it grew on me very quickly with all there is to see, do and experience there. I hear there is some even neater stuff on the other side of the river!

  • Update: Sylvatic Plague and Tularemia Afflict Prairie Dogs in Badlands National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Betty

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Acadia is by far my favorite national park: http://www.npca.org/parks/acadia-national-park.html
    I visit every year, hike the Dorr Mtn. trail, enjoy a bar-b-que at Seawall, and a beer at McKay's Public House. Ah, heaven.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Glacier National Park is pretty amazing, it has all the right features (at least in high-summer). The Blue Ridge Parkway too is special. This place is an endless adventure, Moses Cone, Peaks of Otter, Linville Falls (filmed last of the Mohicans there), and my favorite campground Otter Creek(it has a restaurant in the campground). The upper stretches of the C and O Canal near Paw Paw is also very special, oh yes, Wolf Trap National Park for the performing arts at the cedar-paneled Filene Center with a picnic dinner is hard to beat, Oh wait, Olympic National Park during a rainstorm with rain pounding on the roof of a hideaway lodge. Shenandoah during the Fall, with a black bear roaming across the yellow and crimson trail is special, or the traveling on the Alaska Railroad in an open vestibule over Hurrican Gulch, less than twenty miles from Mount Mckinley(Denali), on a clear day on the periphery of Denali....so many good choices...so many yet to see (I have not seen the Grand Canyon or Yosemite!)

    Ben Lord

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    My family and I love going to Mt Rainier. Not just because it is fairly close to us but because when it is 100+ degrees here in the Columbia Basin, we can drive to Mt Rainier and find a small patch of snow to cool off. We take in the breath taking views, enjoy the wild flowers, feel the mist from one of the many waterfalls and relax in the peacefulness among the tall trees. It is a real stress reducer and you leave the park feeling better than you did when you arrived.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I'll third Kurt's opinion. Definitely Yellowstone. I didn't know much about it before I worked there during the summer of 2006, but I fell in love with the area for all the reasons mentioned thus far.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    My all-time favorites would have to be Zion, Olympic, and Yosemite. Although not quite as grand, several Washington DC area national parks are also on that list including Rock Creek Park; Fort Washington Park; and last but not least, Shenandoah. Oh, and the National Mall can be kinda cool, too :)

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I'll second Kurt's opinion. Yellowstone is just awesome. A park that you could visit over and over without seeing all of the beauty and hidden spots.
    As a runner up I'll choose Death Valley. Huge, varied and hot!

  • Should the Trains Keep Rolling into Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The ticket price can't be made affordable to everyone unless there is some sort of subsidy. The system -- tracks, rolling stock, etc. -- is privately owned and very expensive to maintain.

  • The Oldest Presidential Residence in the U.S. Reopens to the Public. Where it is?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Is the Deshler-Morris house said to be haunted?

  • Know When to Say When – Stranded Visitor Rescued from Tiny Ledge at Yosemite National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    When you use tax dollars to fund rescue operations you have to rescue the idiots and the others without favor. "Can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".

  • No Fishing with Hand Grenades in Afghanistan’s New National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thanks for your comprehensive summary of the park at Band-e-Amir. Just a note to clarify - right now it is NOT recommended for anyone to drive to Band-e-Amir. There have been attacks recently on that road. The main option is to fly to Bamyan or Yakolan and drive a couple hours from there. However, driving is a better option as far as seeing the gorgeous country and experiencing driving in Afghanistan. We will be posting pictures shortly showing some of the fun http://www.about-afghanistan.com/band-e-amir.html

  • Know When to Say When – Stranded Visitor Rescued from Tiny Ledge at Yosemite National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    How many of the critics crying "idiot" are climbers? Yosemite is the cradle of American rock climbing. There is a long tradition of the sport in Yosemite. Like some other sports, confidence is everything in rock climbing. When you are confident in your abilities, you can make amazing moves. Once that confidence is shaken, such as by sustaining the two "minor" falls mentioned in the article, you're paralyzed. That he survived those falls indicates he had protection in place. That he reached a location 800 feet above the valley floor also indicates that he was an experienced climber.

    Obviously, this climber erred in climbing beyond his abilities, hence his need to request rescue. Maybe he was an idiot. But I don't think anyone can make that call based on just what is in the article on this site.

  • Free Digital Photo Workshops at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Grand canyon is truly captivating.Many people would really want to capture and take pictures so that they will have memories of the visit.Learning how to take pictures properly will help them a lot. I guess it's truly a nice experience!

  • "River Runners for Wilderness" Lose Bid to See Motorized Rafts, Helicopters Banned from Colorado River Corridor in Grand Canyon   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I have had the privilage of running motorboats in Grand Canyon for 6 years. Over the years I have had the opportunity to take so many different people into the bottom of Grand Canyon, including people with disabilities and elderly. My 80 year old grandpa was able to join me on a trip recently and it was a huge moment in his life. I work for a company that is currently pouring money into battery powered outboard engines , along with several other outfitters, resulting in a sucessful test run this spring. In the meantime we are using super low emission 4 stroke outboards. We truely keep Grand Canyon open to the public in a way that oars alone couldn't. I am proud of our efforts towards better technologies and educating our clients about how to enjoy the place with the least impact. The commercial guides work harder than anyone else at keeping the river corridor free from trash, multiple trails, and invasive species. We are not the problem, and the outboards are not the problem. I would like to see a real environmental impact statement regarding the river corridor post dam.