Recent comments

  • Visitation to National Parks Is On the Upswing, Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Partly to Blame   5 years 40 weeks ago


    I've heard anecdotally that passengers on river trips on the Snake in Grand Teton are down this summer.

    As for tracking visitation, my guess is that it's not a pretty science at all. Are all entrance gates staffed 24/7? Do those at the stations count all heads in vehicles? How do parks without entrance fees -- such as Great Smoky and Mammoth Cave -- tally heads?

    That's not necessarily a criticism of the NPS, but perhaps further evidence that all the concern over visitation is much ado about nothing. As many others have pointed out, visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, Mount Rainier, the Grand Canyon, or many, many other parks in the summer months and there certainly doesn't seem to be a lack of visitors.

    Could all the time, effort and expense that goes into tallying and crunching those numbers be better spent? Perhaps.

  • Visitation to National Parks Is On the Upswing, Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Partly to Blame   5 years 40 weeks ago

    "But the beauty, wonder and incredible value -- educationally, historically, and recreationally -- of the national parks shouldn't be squandered. Throw open those doors, Mr. Secretary! Permanently do away with the entrance fees! Stare the Congress, which loves to create new units of the National Park System but doesn't always love to provide the necessary funding for their operation, directly in its collective eyes and dare 'em to blink! And if they refuse to blink, shut down the parks and see where the chips fall. It wouldn't be the first time."

    Go get 'em, Kurt! Couldn't have said it any better myself.

  • Visitation to National Parks Is On the Upswing, Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Partly to Blame   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I don't really understand the visitation numbers in Greater Yellowstone. At the same time Yellowstone was showing record numbers and increases at all gates, including the South Entrance, Grand Teton was experiencing decline. Furthermore, despite record revenues, hotel reservations were down or steady, and overall spending in the region was down significantly - I saw an interview with a person from Delaware North saying spending was down in the park.

    Now, the concessions totals could be explained by more people, spending less - perhaps, higher numbers of locals visiting the parks in part on free weekends. However, the disparity of Grand Teton to Yellowstone makes no sense at all to me, especially given the South Entrance totals.

    The parks have seemed very crowded to me on the roads, not so much in backcountry. People are blogging more than ever about their travels. Yet, the raw number totals are puzzling to me, at least in this instance.

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

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park, and Why?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    There are 58 National Parks and I hope someday to visit all of them. So far I've visited 29, so I'm half way.

    I obviously cannot speak to the 29 that I haven't been to, but of the ones I've visited, my favorite is Isle Royale. It is wilderness personified and I am deeply moved when I am there. I love bacpacking from one end to the other. Each of you should try it. Thank you.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Betty: I can't answer that question myself. Maybe another Traveler reader can? I take it that you have already checked out the park's Auto Touring site You may have to contact the park directly to ask your specific question.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    We have a motorhome 13' tall and need to know if there is any problem traveling the park highways.

  • Ancient Mammal Footprints Excite Paleontologists at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Thanks for writing, azborn2001. It's always nice to get positive feedback and interesting comments/questions. I don't know about any claw marks that might be visible in the footprint impressions at this particular trackway. Maybe somebody in the know will chime in on this one. While I have your attention, let me point out something that you may not have noticed in the footprint photo accompanying this article. The ridge of sand at the base of the paw print shows that the animal that left this print was headed up the dune, not down it.

  • Ancient Mammal Footprints Excite Paleontologists at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Thanks Bob for all the interesting things you guys put out for us to see. what a find! looks liked a little 4 fingered hand print. i was wondering if there might have been claw marks that wore away. so many amazing things in this world of ours , that have never been seen. keep up the good work. i enjoy this site a ton.

  • What are the New Seven Wonders of Nature? The Polls Are Now Open   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing this info, good news. I am glad to hear than Mount Kilimanjaro is finally on the list. It is long over due.

  • Search Continues for Missing Backpacker in Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    You can listen to live scanner traffic from Grand Canyon National Park Service:
    (law enforcement, search and rescue, fire, medical, etc) at this link:

    Hearing lots of search & rescue traffic looking for the young man today.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Wasn't the original intention of the formation of national parks so that these wild places could remain undamaged by human intervention? These places used to be open and anyone could venture in to destroy whatever they wanted. This behavior needed to be stopped, so the NPS was founded.
    There needs to be a balance between conservation and pleasure. I noticed that most people in this discussion seem to be frequenting the parks on the western half of the US. So, maybe I just have a different perspective because I have grown up next to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I have been told that the eastern parks are much more lax and where you can go and what you can do in the park. Anyway, I have seen many people acting stupidly in the GSMNP. People leave food out around camp sites and are upset when the black bears forage through camp! If someone is injured by a bear, it has to be tracked and euthanized. Wouldn't a better solution be to educate people about the park before they enter?
    I know this seems a bit strenous, but what if everyone had to get a pass to enter the park? The reguirements for getting this pass would be passing a day long course on the delicate ecosystems in the park and how human involvement can be minimized. Surely the problem is not that people just do not care.
    This page has had a lot of bashing on the younger generations. It is true that most people in my age group (I am 23) only venture into the park when family members require them to or when they want to perform illegal activities in the park. If a requirement to get in the park is a course on ecosystem management and conservation of our natural resources, it would cut down on the number of people in the park (which needs to be done), would educate people, and would decrease the wear and tear on the park.
    Unfortunatly, it has gotten to the point where the parks need to closed for a time to allow the land to heal. It is sad that drastic actions need to be taken, but our national parks are falling apart at an exponential rate.
    The GSMNP used to be know for the smoking mountains, but they are starting to produce less of their own haze and are now only smoky because of all the cars driving around the park.
    If people can't learn to appreciate the park for what it is, they should not be allowed to enjoy it at all.

  • Survey Results Label the French as the World’s Worst Tourists   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I'm sorry, RangerLady, but that "we didn't know you're supposed to tip" excuse was already wearing thin half a century ago. There isn't a French tourist alive who doesn't know that you're supposed to tip the waitstaff in America.

  • Wolverine Photographed in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Allan, I always respect sightings made by experienced individuals like your neighbor, even when there are no photographs or other hard evidence. These and other sightings strongly imply that more than one wolverine may be moving though the park. As to whether any are remaining in the area, well, I guess that remains to be proven.

  • Interior Secretary Scales Back Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park, Calls for More Public Comment   5 years 40 weeks ago

    J.D., your snowmobile-car comparison is very inappropriate. Cars travel the park roads in summer when food is abundant, temperatures are tolerable, and the living is good for park wildlife. Snowmobiles, on the other hand, converge on the park at the worst possible time, the cruel winter when many animals are brought to the very limits of their endurance. Just at that time, when the wintering-over animals need every tiny shred of energy they can muster, and when stress of any kind is quite literally life threatening, is when the snowmobile jockeys converge on the park. Whoeeeee! Kinda selfish, don't you think?

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Umm, no videos at that site, MikeD. Got another link?

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 40 weeks ago


    I find Matthew's response to be pretty incoherent. I am not sure what he's getting at to be honest. To be fair, I'll admit that the type of people who would like to allow very high impact activities on the parks are probably people I might prefer to have out of the parks all together. But I can't recall any lawsuit either aimed at preventing access per se.

    There is a guy on Youtube whose videos I enjoy. He currently lives in a remote canyon in New Mexico, if I understand correctly. Check out his Going Ferral series of videos for advice on a "loophole" on how to live on federal lands indefinitely. In any case, he has an interesting take on national parks, which may or may not be his version of extreme sarcasm (he appears to be pretty far left politically, just to clarify):

  • Camping In The Parks: Don't Overlook the Greenbelt Park Campground In Washington, D.C.   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I agree I have stayed at this campground several times and it is a nice one. I was amazed the first time I found it 16 years ago, I could not believe I could camp this close to the Capitol and feel safe. I took my niece way back then and she and I have both been back. I would highly recoomend this park to anyone who wants to visit DC and save money by camping. Back then it was the only way for me to afford the trip now days it I would stay because it is a good place to stay.

  • Update: Search Under Way For One Overdue Hiker at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    The guy's an Eagle Scout. If anyone can climb out of there, he can.

  • To Make “Glory,” Hollywood Moved the Atlantic Ocean   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Sorry, Bruce. I recommend that you do like I do -- just smile and enjoy the movie, inside joke and all. It's a pretty darn good flick, actually. Any time you get Morgan Freeman and Danzell Washington together, you've got the makings of a great movie. OK, OK; I'll throw in Mathew Broderick too.

  • To Make “Glory,” Hollywood Moved the Atlantic Ocean   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Ha! Bob, this is one of my all-time favorite movies and you are NOT going to ruin it for me by telling me the regiment was charging in the wrong direction and happened to assault the next fort down by mistake! Although, that will be my thought each time I see this movie from now on. "WRONG WAY, guys! Oh, OK, go ahead and take that fort instead!" ;-)

  • Interior Secretary Scales Back Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park, Calls for More Public Comment   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Jeez, I know I'm sounding like a broken record about the Bush administration, but here it is again:

    While the Clinton administration at the very end of its term in office moved to ban recreational snowmobile use in the park, the incoming Bush administration quickly blocked that ban and sent the issue down a prickly, and expensive, legal course. More than $10 million in environmental studies were conducted on the issue during the past decade, and all pointed to the phase-out of snowmobiles as the best environmental alternative for Yellowstone. Despite those studies and former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's pledge that science would rule the day in the National Park System, strings pulled from not just the Interior Department but as high up as former Vice President Cheney's office handcuffed the Park Service.

    Over and over again, no matter where you look, the same theme throughout. I hope even my conservative brethren are taking note as stuff like this continually surfaces (regarding this venue - forget about other social issues). If you're on this web site, you must care about the environment, correct?

    On the other hand, I'm really starting to like this Ken Salazar. Maybe eight years of him (or his similarly-minded successor) will get me to finally shut up about the Bush disaster!

    [Seriously, I will tone down the political comments from now on, I promise.]

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    "Or are they just too remote and have so few visitors that any stats from those parks don't correlate to the parks in the other 49 states."

    This is close to the truth. Only six of the sixteen nps units in Alaska are accessible by road. They are extremely remote, and anyone visiting them from the lower states is not intested in rape/murder. At our particular park, Wrangell-St. Elias, guns are allowed because we have aproximately eighty-one hundred people who live inside the park year-round, winter months and all. ANILCA (legislation that established Alaska NPS units) allows "costumary and traditional subsistence" to continue inside the park, meaning that hunting/fishing/trapping/gathering is still allowed for all residents. WRST is also the largest park in the US, just a little over 13.2 million acres. Managing every acre of this land is impossible; aproximately 75% is wilderness, and there are only two roads.

    Here are a few facts...
    All homocides in our park have been the result of disputes/murder by the residents in the winter, when there are no visitors.
    There has never been a fatal bear-mauling in our park; our bears are not food-conditioned or habituated to humans, and they do not attack visitors. In Glacier Bay, however, there have been three or four bear-maulings. If a bear IS a problem, the rangers try to scare it off the area w/out shooting it; the problem with bears is that they are highly territorial and will comes back to the same place unless moved more than two-hundred miles away.
    In Denalie NP, most deaths are McKinley-climbing related.

    But, you are very correct in your final assumption. Most of what goes on in Alaska National Parks doesn't apply to the rest of the US Parks. Our high rate of residency inside the park and more dedicated travellers means that we almost never have problems with visitors. I myself was born and raised right outside Wrangell-St. Elias, and bear-spray makes more sense than guns.

  • Camping In The Parks: Don't Overlook the Greenbelt Park Campground In Washington, D.C.   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Considering its proximity to the city, this is an impressive park. Consequently (or perhaps because of), Greenbelt has a number of dedicated stewardship groups including Friends of Still Creek and the Invasive Plant Removal group. REI College Park also works extensively with the park.

  • Camping In The Parks: Don't Overlook the Greenbelt Park Campground In Washington, D.C.   5 years 41 weeks ago

    And if you are in town visiting Greenbelt Park, don't miss the Greenbelt Museum, located on 10-B Crescent Road. The Museum is open Sundays 1-5 and is filled with household artifacts from the 1930's, and is set up to look like 1938, when the first families moved into Greenbelt. The Museum also offers walking tours of the historic area.

  • Interior Secretary Scales Back Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park, Calls for More Public Comment   5 years 41 weeks ago

    J.D., it's hard to believe, but I've seen data that indicate snowmobiles are more polluting during the winter season than the greater volume of cars, trucks, and motorcycles during the summer. Hard to believe, but that's what they say.

    And the soundscape problems from snowmobiles have been well-documented. For instance, the groups that sued the Park Service over their last winter-use plan noted that the Park Service itself disclosed in a study accompanying its decision that allowing 540 snowmobiles into Yellowstone each day would dramatically expand-to 63 square miles-the portion of the park where visitors can expect to hear snowmobile noise during more than half of the visiting day. That would be a three-fold increase from the current portion of the park where noise intrudes on the visitor’s experience during at least half the day.

    And there also have been instances where supposedly "guided" snowmobile trips ran into problems. Such was the case a couple of years ago when one group of snowmobilers became so split up traveling from Norris Junction to Canyon that no one noticed when one snowmobile crashed, killing a woman. And then, of course, there are the annual stories of some snowmobilers racing off into the backcountry near West Yellowstone.

    All that said, there's no denying there are problems with vehicles during the rest of the year, ranging from speeding and accidents to fluid spills and wildlife issues. One solution would be public transportation, but with the park's five entrances it's not as easy to devise or operate a public transit option as the shuttle systems at Zion or Acadia or Bryce Canyon.