Recent comments

  • Would You Love Zion National Park As Much If It Were Called Mukuntuweap National Park?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    A fascinating story and some interesting comments.

    I can't resist a tongue in cheek observation on this subject. Perhaps the name change to "Zion" has helped reduce costs for taxpayers and the tourism industry. Just think of the extra expensive for all these years for larger signs to accommodate the name "Mukuntuweap" instead of the much shorter word "Zion."

  • Would You Love Zion National Park As Much If It Were Called Mukuntuweap National Park?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Interesting and useful additional info from Beamis ....

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 38 weeks ago

    JD - you are so wrong! Read the 2nd amendment again. Nowhere does it give you the "right" to CCW or open carry a fire arm, anywhere! The 2nd was established when we were at war and the need to arm citizens against an aggressor was vital to our new nation. The 2nd amendment was not established to allow individuals to protect themselves from wildlife that might choose to eat them while they wander through the woods. The 2nd amendment was not established to allow you to protect yourself from an individual with felonious intent on the streets of New York. The 2nd amendment was established to protect this new nation from aggressors looking to destroy our new democracy.

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 38 weeks ago

    When we were out there last summer we usually used the ferries to get places. I was stunned at how smoothly and efficiently (and inexpensively!) the whole procedure was conducted every time. If that was the East Coast it would be anarchy.

    As for the Hoh, August is supposed to be comparatively dry, but it was raining buckets when we were there. Unlike the woman in your story, most of the guests at the VC were complaining that their trip was ruined because it was raining. My wife and I spent three hours strolling around the nearly-deserted (on a Saturday in August!) nature trail. There's just something right about walking through old growth in the summer rain.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Mr. Smith,

    I appreciate your perspective. I might be underplaying this. I can only go on what I see happening now. The individuals carrying weapons in parks who are getting arrested do not have concealed weapons permits.

  • Accessibility in the National Park System   5 years 38 weeks ago

    In terms of "least accessible" I would nominate Gates of the Arctic Nat. Park & Preserve. It is a vast wilderness park in the central Brooks Range in northern Alaska. Most of it is only accessible by small bush aircraft. It offers some truly rewarding personal or guided float trips that can be combined with short day hikes. I haven't checked lately, but it may be possible to travel into the park in the spring via dog team out of Bettles. Kinda makes me homesick to write about it.

  • Accessibility in the National Park System   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Preston,

    Some quick thoughts:

    Canyonlands National Park just might be the most rugged in the Lower 48 (though I'm sure there are other candidates for this distinction). Hiking down to the Great Gallery isn't quite as difficult as the drive out to the trailhead, yet the payoff is incredible. Another great hike in Canyonlands is the Joint Trail in the Chesler Park area.

    If you make it to Canyonlands, then you should hike out to Landscape and Double O arches in Arches National Park, and return to your car via the "Primitive Trail." Walking along the top of fins and through sandy washes is a great way to insert yourself into the landscape. It's not a long hike, but it is spectacular.

    The Kolob Canyon area of Zion National Park also is worth a look and, if the road ever reopens, the hike to the Carbon Glacier in northwestern Mount Rainier National Park is worthy.

    I also love the Avalanche Creek Trail in Glacier.

    There's a start for your list, and that's all it is, just a start.

  • Accessibility in the National Park System   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I'd like to know what you travelers consider the LEAST accessible parks. I have polio, which is only getting worse as I get older, so I'd like to see some of the more challenging parks before it's too late.

    I figure I can see the grand ones -- Yellowstone, Yosemite -- anytime, because I assume they are fairly accessible. But while I can still hike an unpaved, ungraveled trail, climb a (small) moutain, etc., I'd like to see some of the less-user-friendly parks. For example, hiking out to see the lava flow at Hawaii Volcanoes; exploring the fort at Dry Tortugas...

    Any ideas?

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I didn't run across any information on Henry Riggs Rathbone in my research for this article.

    Perhaps some of our readers are familiar with this story.

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Would there happen to be any information about Henry Riggs Rathbone and the (supposed, yet unverified as far I can tell) Bill he presented before Congress on behalf of a museum in Lincoln's honor at Ford's?

    I am currently working on a research paper and I am tring to tie Henry Riggs involvement back to the theatre.

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Chief--

    The spread of weapons in parks makes what you describe--While I appreciate the "what if's" I can tell you from being a ranger in one of the crown jewels the only time I responded to "shots fired", both in camping areas, resulted in off duty police officers shooting through tent walls because they thought they heard a bear all the more likely. That is what I am worried about. Shooting at night through tent walls in a campground is not responsible gun use, and these officers were far more hiighly trained than the average concealed weapons permit holder.

    Rick Smith

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 38 weeks ago

    "If Guns Kill People, Do Pencils Write Mistakes"? This was in the back window of a car in front of me the other day. The point of all of this is people right? Those of us who are charged with day to day operations in parks were ready for the gun law. It's our job. It's also our job to understand intent of the law. While I appreciate the "what if's" I can tell you from being a ranger in one of the crown jewels the only time I responded to "shots fired", both in camping areas, resulted in off duty police officers shooting through tent walls because they thought they heard a bear. I’m far more worried about our “visitors” who carry guns in parks who don’t have concealed weapons permits (felons in possession). I’m also far more worried about the “visitors” who consume large quantities of alcohol and careens down the road. I’m far more worried about the “visitor” who takes advantage of the unsuspecting tourist who left their possessions in the car at the trail head….

    You want to really see people get upset look at the ATV laws for park units in multiple states. There’s a fun one to deal with….

  • Condors To Be Released into the Wild at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument   5 years 38 weeks ago

    In Pinnacles National Monument, California, a number of condors were released in January and February and more are scheduled for this year. You can follow the program there on http://www.nps.gov/pinn/naturescience/updates.htm - the Pinnacles condors formed a joint population with those released at Big Sur, where the further release is halted because their holding pen was destroyed by a forest fire last year. All condors in the pen at the time of the fire could be moved to safety on time. You can find more about the Big Sur condors at this slightly outdated website: http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/condors.html

    The third population - beyond Arizona and Central California - is situated on the Californian/Mexican border. Unfortunatly I can't find a comprehensive website on the program there.

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Just make it like old west and let everyone open carry! Ok everyone who is legally entitled to carry. This concealed is crap! Makes me look like I got a hip tumor!!!

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for stimulating us with your thoughts on the funding realities the NPS faces. You are correct that the American people hold the future of the NPS and its mission in their hands. Many may say that's an obvious answer with an easy solution, but it presents a huge dilemma for the Service. I am reminded of the Legendary Service training video Bill Wade appeared in while he was superintendent at Shenandoah NP several years ago. In it, he reveals an important finding regarding visitor perceptions of the quality of NPS services. Basically, Wade reported that the key to raising visitor ratings of services - and programs - was to make sure all the bathrooms stalls had toilet paper. A good supply of TP translated into "better" resource education/interpretation, resource management, law enforcement, etc., etc. During my 36 years of service as a volunteer and employee in the NPS, I can assure you that the last thing to go was facility and grounds maintenance. In other words, the Service oversold the visiting public that everything was fine. The last thing to go was the well-stocked bathroom, until the really tough years set in. SO we are left with a public that thinks things are fine. Even today, the Visitor Survey Program, part of the Government Performance and Results Act from the early '90s, constantly reinforces that the vast majority of visitors are quite satisfied with the "quality" of their National Park Service -the only consistent weakness revealed in those surveys has been in concessions operations. Somewhere, there is a huge disconnect between what the NPS is and how it is perceived by most visitors. Part of the problem lies in the fact that most visitors only see developed or "public" areas and not the rest of the "iceberg." A better analogy is Disney World and the underground city that supports it. I could go on about the dependence on volunteers, cooperating associations, and external groups for interpretive services and resource management activities. In addition, resource education/interpretation itself seems to have lost much of its power of advocacy and direction and become a buffet where the visitor chooses his conclusion. I could go on, but this is not the time or place. I'll close by saying that the NPS somehow needs to develop a visitor interface in the park setting that gives them a realistic picture of conditions and needs without alarming them. If the Service can't do it, the NPCA, NPF or other groups need to do so. Adding about 20 positions to NPS's Legislative Branch would be a good start.

  • March 1st was a Big Day for More Than One Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Great article about the Buffalo National River. Our family really enjoys going to this area often. Especially in the fall when the trees are changing. We like to find nice, isolated cabins to stay in and go hiking around the area. Hawksbill Crag is one hike that brings you to a rock cropping that sticks out from a bluff. The nice, slow pace and beautiful scenery makes the Buffalo National River a true gem!

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I have read the book and absolutely agree that "..it wasn't particularly important for the history that follows..", but that doesn't mean that some sort of BS session conversation didn't occur. "Hey, sure would be a shame to see a town sprout up right here. Should be some kind of park or something...." Move on to other topics and forget about it until years later. No one alive today can know for sure.

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I believe that Rockefeller was responsible for other NP and Banff in Canada, Acadia in Maine. He was a great lover of the beauties of America and since he was a very rich man( no income tax) was able to bestow much of the land that has become our NPS.

    We owe a lot to the rich robber barons that built lodges and loved the wild places and wanted to protect them for the future.

    Acadia has a similar story that they had to force the NP to take it on. The various landowners were worried about logging and wanted to preserve the area and felt that his best method was for it to become a NP.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Read the book; the case is pretty convincing. That doesn't mean that it didn't happen; what does seem evident is that it wasn't the way Langford describes it in the book. They did not immediately set on making the idea happen; Haines traces it to a message from Jay Cooke and Co. to Hayden (I think). The other really sketchy thing is that the actual journal entries for that period are missing, very odd for a guy who took meticulous notes. There's a lot more besides that makes the actual campfire story very sketchy at best - and even in the best case scenario, it wasn't particularly important for the history that follows.

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

  • Of Gray Whales, National Parks, and Climate Change   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Bob -

    A nice, and timely, piece. I've not had the chance to see whales from the California coast, but it sounds like a fun activity.

    Thanks for the update.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    At the last NRA convention. People were allowed to carry with a CCW. The only venue that disalllowed was when McCain spoke due to Secret Service rules for security. This convention was held in Lousville KY which allows open carry and conceal carry. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/may/18/blogging-gun-porn-nra-convention/

    Sorry to have to make this correction but this allegation was false at the last convention.

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 38 weeks ago

    It is a great and beautiful place. Thanks for the great history lesson about Jackson Hole. It is a very controversial thing that happens when lands are "closed off" and "protected". I too am glad that this place was handled the way it was and continues to be.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Who's to say whether such a conversation ever took place? I have sat around enough campfires to know that most of what is discussed is quickly forgotten. And how many fires did these gentlemen sit around on this trip? Even Mr. Hedges writes that he had the suggestion..." little dreaming that such a thing were possible." Likely, if it did occur, the other members of the party quickly dismissed the idea as little more than a fanciful daydream of no more importance than fantisizing about some saloon girl they had all met. Perhaps too, it was more of a private conversation between Langsford and Hedges. Perhaps it never took place at all. We will never know for sure.
    Who among us hasn't had some thought or idea that we figured was a good idea but impossible, so we dismissed it; only to have it come true later. Of course we are scoffed at when we say, "Hey I thought of that!" Years before microwave popcorn came out I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to pop popcorn in the microwave. I only mentioned it to a few close friends because I didn't want to be labeled a nut case. Later, when it came out, I remember saying that it was "my idea", to thunderous laughter of course.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 38 weeks ago

    MRC, Whittlesey and Schullery cited Huth's paper in their footnotes. Had time allowed, I would have delved into it and noted the annual "Madison Junction Pageant" that he objected to. Thanks for providing the link.

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 38 weeks ago

    All I can say is thank goodness this area was saved and the national park was created ! How can anyone who has ever seen this spectacular place not be thankfull to all who helped make it happen ? It is indeed a grand place !