Recent comments

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I was there too he was wearing right gloves and was not playing with his life. Please dont comment on something that you dont know.

  • Does the Federal Government Really Want to Seize Six California State Parks?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    From the sound of it, the Fed could be open to court action if it does not enforce the conditions of the deed transfers to California. Who would see it as in their interest to file the lawsuit(s), I don't know.

    Certainly, California's behavior is giving 'drunken sailors' a good name. It not only behooves, but is incumbant upon anyone with any kind of stake in the State to speak up loud & clear, reaffirming any claim they have, on the public record. Failure to do so can be construed as giving tacit approval to a process or condition that clearly endangers their claim. That might make the Fed's statements relatively pro forma.

    [Only one bank has announced they will cash California State IOUs - and they have agreed to do so only through July 10. When banks refuse to cash the IOUs, a cascading series of additional fiscal & business crises will likely ensue.]

    Then again, while the Obama Admin clearly wants to appear sympathetic & 'nominally' helpful to California, there are other states also ... essentially in a race to the bottom with them. It is in the interest of the Fed to squelch any notion of Uncle Sam solving these State problems ... to such an extent that they may be glad to have an excuse to appear stern & assertive, while also seeming to protect the interests of the national public.

    Is it really going to happen? Depends totally on California. How far are they willing to push the brinkmanship? If the State really unravels, yes, the Fed will grab the properties.

    It looks to me like the Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento may be engaged in a true death match (they fake it all the time ... WWF has nothing on these guys). They have each other by the throat ... and the media is not even covering the story for what it is (a test-case for national politics).

    Obama is using a very similar fiscal model, in trying to address the economic collapse, as got California in trouble in the first place: Throw money at anything & everything. Events in California are a glaring preview of what could happen to the country as a whole. ("A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.")

    In terms of the National Parks Traveler, failure of the stimulus to effect recovery could (would be expected to) result not only in the absence of the desired economic activity, but a need to return to the budget (as California has) looking for places to slash & prune.

    The punchline is, of course, that just as California looks to its parks as a discretionary outlay that is easily deleted, so also the Fed would look at the National Parks budget as a good place to whittle.

  • Two Children Have a Very Close Call at Grand Teton National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    And, outside the park in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the son of the mayor of Jackson, Wyo. just died in a rock climbing accident. See for more details.

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

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I won't give it short shrift off-hand, but won't be assuming that its bald conclusions are the simple truth, either. Not until we have better transparency.

    Without access to the "guts" of the survey, statements & interpretations derived from the questionaire could mean a wide range of things ... almost anything, or darn near nothing.

    Do we have other surveys on the shelf, showing the same ranking for Parks as a vacation-destination? I can't say I've heard of them, but that doesn't mean a whole lot.

    I can say, I'm surprised to see this assertion. I would have guessed that Parks would rank 'respectably' high, but if ask do I think they'd rank #1, I'd have comfortably shaken my head no: Too many other more-commanding choices for most of the public, would be my hunch.

    If after proper access is obtained and a common-sense review of how the questions were put together (oh! the very devil!) shows it's all on the up & up, then it will be time to get excited about the implications ... which if true are certainly news to me, and will indeed be of potent interest to Congress and other offical bodies.

    "There's lies, damn lies, sordid statistics ... and surveys". Caveat emptor. ;-)

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 46 weeks ago

    For those of us who prefer natural wonders and wildness to theme and water parks, the National Park system is a blessing ! There is nowhere I would rather be and I visit them as often as I can.

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Great news! Let's hope the Ken Burns series does even more to spur interest in our great national treasures.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I think segways are neat and look like a lot of fun.
    Its rediculus to say restrict it only for handicap citizens.

    Cudos too for its "greenness" as an alternative mode of short distance travel.

    But having said that, the Segway unfortunately further entrenches our society into our increasing obesity problem because it is a passive mode of transportation unlike a walk or a bicycle ride.

    So, still our two feet and a bicycle are best. It gets you there and it gets you fit.
    Yes you will sweat on a bicycle. You have to shower anyway at the end of the day.
    Yes you will get tired, its called exercise. Nothing a proper diet and rest can't take care of.

    To imagine where compact PT or PUMA segways are taking us just watch the pixar movie wall-e. Notice what became of the occupants on the Axiom space ship? Do those compact transportation devices look familiar?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Should put this to good use again to deter Wall Street crooks and crooked politicians. Especially those that ruined this country for the last past eight years.

  • Land Swap Moves American Revolution Center Out of Valley Forge National Historical Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    After all the acrimony over this project, it sounds like someone pulled off a major negotiation coup.

    I don't have first-hand knowledge about either location, but this sounds like a real plus for Valley Forge, and there's certainly logic in the choice of the site in Philadelphia.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Yes, indeedy. As Anon has pointed out, you'll find this particular historic structure at Fort Smith National Historic Site in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (We'll give Rangertoo credit for honoring the point.) Be sure to read Kurt's posting on this topic in tomorrow's Traveler. There's an interesting (if somewhat gruesome) story behind this structure and its use.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Fort Smith, Arkansas

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    It is at Fort Smith Historic Site.

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site, Home of the Buffalo Soldiers   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Have been to the site about 4 times and am really impressed with it. Well worth a repeated visit. I came all the way from England to see it

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Good job, Anon. This strange looking structure was indeed used for public hangings, and it is no longer in use today (at least, not that we know of!). Now then, can you pin down the location?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The structure was used for hangings and it is not used today ...not sure exactly where it is

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Frank C, Beamis - c'mon, now!

    The invitation is to dream-up your "dream" vacation.

    Here's a brief example to set the tone.

    Fly to the last airport. Drive to the end of the road. Put in at the furthest river and float for 3 days past the last sign of Man. Pick a nice medium-bank meadow by the river and build a 3-sided shelter. Line a pole bunk with balsam fir boughs.

    Put a fish-trap in the river, and lash-up a drying rack. Erect a cache, and dig a cooler/cellar. Take medium game and cure the hides.

    Once secure & comfy, begin taking radial outings to find other sojourners. Maybe a village. Mark the far corners of your homestead with rock cairns. Make them artistic/whimsical. Find out where the spring rendevous takes place.

    When feeling at-ease and pacing at your natural rythm, but before boredom and nostalgia for the techno-world sets in, activate the Holodeck exit routine. Put on a fresh suit and return to your appointed place in mass-civilization.

    See? That's not so hard, is it? We're talking "dream", right?

    Well, my advice is, don't dream little. :-)

    P.S. No, I didn't overlook the "Park" part. Are today's parks the same as yesteryears'? Are 'living' Parks inconceivable, or even unknown? In the great trans-Europe Park of tomorrow, will whole generations not live & pass in naturalistic lifestyles? Are Europeans that much smarter than we are? Is Nunavut a Province, or a Park?

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Frank's comments reminded me of the passage in my park service novelette where the environmental education outreach ranger tells her group of elementary school students that “the national parks are for all of us to avoid, so that they can be preserved for future generations of the hopefully unborn.”

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 46 weeks ago

    But what about all the CO2 these RVs and cars produce?

    I am going green and staying home this summer. I wouldn't want to kill any wildlife on my drive through a national park, not even a squirrel.

    These dream vacations lead to global warming (according to the "consensus") and wildlife destruction.

    You should stay home too.

    That should be a law. To protect the planet. And wildlife.

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I visited the new website with images turned off in the browser, which is my normal web-mode. Although my status as an endangered dial-up surfer is now (finally!) about to go the way of the dinosaurs, bandwidth usage will continue to be important for those who want to use the Internet heavily ... by downloading out-of-copyright Google books, maps & GIS data, share photo collections, etc. Ballooning websites with automatic slide-shows and animated Flash files (I didn't like Punch the Monkey, and I still want the page to stay still until I choose to watch it 'perform') exacerbate this old issue that hasn't gone away and isn't going to (on the contrary!), fiber optics or no.

    Without graphics and on an older browser, the new homepage is structurally intact and functionally clear & inviting. That's a kudo, and it didn't happen by accident.

    I understand that there are some who would reduce rather than increase the role & influence of local communities adjoining our Parks. However, this is a trend (making nice with communities) that has been visible and gaining momentum for quite a few years now. By putting the "Working With Communities" link in the center of the main menu-bar (the most noticeable 'real estate' on the whole page), NPS is plainly signaling an historic commitment; that local people matter and they will have growing rather than lesser roles.

    Incidentally, I had turned images back on in order to see the Captcha for this comment, and then re-visited the Communities page ... and it has only a small header-image and no other gratuitous page-graphics: it loaded quickly. This is good news, and plays to the fact that when I saw this article about their new website, I immediately thought to myself, "I've probably never actually visited the NPS homepage, have I?". Instead, I search the web for my subject of interest - whether in Gates of the Arctic or at Cape Hatteras - and then use the returned link to go directly to the NPS site page (or other) that appears to contain the desired information. I have never searched for Parks etc, within the NPS site (if you want only to see pages from within the NPS site, include the term "", with the quotes, in your search-phrase).

    The variability that is so evident among different parts of the NPS site - between the different Park units - is a reflection of the use of different local-unit individuals to do the web-work for each unit, independently. For example, I know the guy who does much, most or all of the web-work for Olympic. He does a nice job, and probably enjoys at least some parts of it ... but his "dream job" was not to stand behind the counter in the trailer that is the WIC (Wilderness Information Center) office playing with the computer and re-answering the same questions endlessly (all of which he has posted on the website...). His status as a web-worker or IT professional is strictly incidental. Not that one needs to be pro/trained to do good work, but in no way did he chose an NPS career-path, to end up doing this work: he's a wilderness aficionado, a trail-bum, not an office-ape & keyboard-monkey.

    Because an (ideal) NPS website deals with lots of material that is non-standardized, unpredictable, poorly classifiable, subject to changing public & government expectation (whim), etc, etc, the attempt (and it will always remain just that) to make one unified website for all of it stands as an excellent example of the most challenging - and interesting/valuable - kind of website. is a rather easy design project, compared to what NPS is up against. The nature & content of Bill's (former) site are fully define & controlled. All the activities & goals under that domain are specified & directed. Not so at NPS ... nor on the website that you & I would like to someday design & create. 'Real life', 'organic' websites are the highest challenge on the Web, and that's why can look a bit ragged at times. If the messiness & irregularity are suppressed, the value of the site overall will diminish. Balladeers have written songs about this ... Hollywood has made movies.

    Janet ... if you ever get a yen for Wrangell-St Elias, there is a tucked-away set of pages & guidance-files for sensational backcountry hikes & routes (not always a trail..) that is the stuff of dreams. And the flight-plan for a visit is so simple you will guess it without checking any sources. ;-)

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Bob - You'll be sorry you encouraged me! Ok, look at the Directions for Assateague Island. The website says the closest airports are Ocean City Municipal Airport and Salisbury-Wicomico County Regional Airport. Come on! OK, some commerical airlines probably go to these airports but I went into BWI, went to Assateague for a couple of days, saw a few battlefields near Baltimore, toured Clara Barton's house and rode the carousel at Glen Echo. I highly enjoyed my trip and did use the NPS website but it was a challenge. I think the website is a reflection of the conflict of the park service (what I perceive as a frequent user). "We acknowledge that we have to have users/visitors but hate that they might ask silly questions, want to go to the bathroom or not want to camp out for a week. We need the visitors to pay fees, buy maps/books, drop money in the collection boxes, and be fans to convince their Congressperson to give us money but we hate idea that they actually might visit."

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Janet: I agree that the regional maps the NPS provides for individual parks often leave much to be desired. (This is a polite way of saying that many of the regional are nearly useless.) But if you just need to identify the nearest commercial airport to use for a fly-drive visit to a particular park, there's a way to get around the inadequate map problem. If you visit the home page of the park you are interested in, then click on "Directions," you will usually get directions that include airport information. For example, if you visit the Arches national Park and click on directions, you will get this:


    The entrance to Arches is located 5 miles north of Moab, UT along Highway 191.

    Commercial airlines serve Grand Junction, CO and Salt Lake City, UT. By car, these cities are roughly 2 and 4 hours (respectively) away from the park entrance. Commercial air service is also available between Denver and Moab.

    Greyhound travels along Interstate 70, making stops at Grand Junction, CO and Green River, UT. Commercial van services operate between Moab and Salt Lake City as well as Grand Junction.

    Amtrak stops at Grand Junction, CO and Green River, UT. Commercial van services operate between Grand Junction and Moab."

    And if you visit the corresponding site for Grand Teton National Park, you will get this:

    By Car

    From Salt Lake City, Utah
    (approximately 275 miles/5-6 hours):

    1) I-15 to Idaho Falls. 2) Highway 26 to Swan Valley. 3) Highway 31 over Pine Creek Pass to Victor. 4) Highway 22 over Teton Pass, through Wilson to Jackson. You will see a sign in Swan Valley directing you to Jackson via Highway 26 to Alpine Junction, ignore the sign and follow the signs to Victor/Driggs, Idaho.

    If you would like to avoid the 10% grade of Teton Pass: 1) Highway 26 from Idaho Falls to Swan Valley. 2) Continue on Highway 26 to Alpine Junction. 3) Highway 26/89 to Hoback Junction. Highway 26/89/191 to Jackson.


    1) I-80 to Evanston. 2) Highway 89/16 to Woodruff, Randolph, and Sage Creek Junction. 3) Highway 30/89 to Cokeville and then Border. 4) Continue on Highway 89 to Afton, and then to Alpine Junction. 5) Highway 26/89 to Hoback Junction. 6) Highway 26/89/191 to Jackson.

    From Denver, Colorado
    (approximately 550 miles/9-10 hours):

    1) I-25N to Cheyenne. 2) I-80W through Laramie to Rock Springs. 3) Highway 191 North through Pinedale. 4) Highway 191/189 to Hoback Junction. 5) Highway 191 to Jackson.


    1) I-25N to Fort Collins. 2) Highway 287 North to Laramie. 3) I-80W to Rawlins. 4) Highway 287 to Muddy Gap Junction. 5) Continue on Highway 287 to Jeffrey City, Lander, Fort Washakie, Crowheart, and Dubois. 6) Highway 287/26 over Togwotee Pass to Moran. 7) Highway 26/89/191 to Jackson.

    Shuttle Services
    Shuttle services to and from Jackson are available from Salt Lake City, Utah; Pocatello, Idaho; and Idaho Falls, Idaho.
    Visit for more information.

    By Air
    The closest airports to the park are: Jackson Hole Airport, Jackson, Wyoming (JAC), Idaho Falls Regional Airport, Idaho Falls, Idaho (IDA) and Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC).

    I hope this helps, Janet. And please, please, don't be reluctant to comment! Take it from me; you've got the right stuff.

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    I have to comment about this. I am a long time Parks enthusiast and plan vacations around visiting various parks. My biggest pet peeve with the NPS website is that their maps (like on the individual state maps) only list the various park locations and not actual cities. So someone like me who is willing to fly to a centrally located airport and then do some driving to see the sites, has to take the info from the NPS website and then put it into Google maps or Map-point.

    Side note: I am a fairly regular reader of this site and enjoy the discussions immensely. I have hesitated to post in the past because I am not a professional in any field even mildly associated with National Parks and sometimes feel the discussion is too technical for me to add any value. However, in THIS topic, I am the right kind of person to comment. Someone who uses the site on a regular basis to plan visits to parks.

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 47 weeks ago

    We just returned from our springtime road trip out west. We stayed at the North Rim, Zion, and Bryce. Visited Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase Escalante, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Arches. We were out 3 weeks and 5500 miles. Great hikes through amazing country. It was a great trip and the scenery was stunning and I would love to do it all over again, but I've got to tell you, we have reservations for a week at Cinnamon Bay campground for January in the Virgin Islands National Park (see above pic) and right now that is my 'dream' vacation. How can you beat having the beach as your front yard and the Carib as your swimming pool? I agree with Will. Ah, life is good.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    im 14 and my parents decided to chicken out at the last stop. i had never understood what don't look down meant until now. i also realized that life is to precious to waste and if you have even a slim thought of doubt, don't risk it. when i reached up to the point i turned back, it made me realize how much i have to live for.

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Obviously, one can carry both a firearm and bear spray, at the same time. There is nothing mutually exclusive about the two tools.

    Bear-spray is intended to perform like a chemical shot-gun - extra powerful and not aim-sensitive: To defend against sudden & close attack (human or animal), the weapon of choice has always been the shotgun - not a pistol or rifle. The power of bear spray (against any mammal species) continues to work in the immediate vicinity for a useful period of time following the initial discharge. That's a good thing, in any kind of attack.

    There has been an intentional liberal-progressive aspiration & effort over the last half-century to deprecate private firearm ownership in the United States. This issue is on par with religion, though contrary to Pres. Obama's indicated perception, they are largely separate matters. Still, it is useful to imagine trying to dissuade the religious of their conviction, as a proxy for persuading gun-owners that their attitude toward firearms is 'so 18th C.'.

    Terrorism is an excellent commentary on the notion that we have evolved beyond the need or importance of private (i.e., dispersed, optionally cloaked) armament. Although North America is not presently convulsed by terrorist actions ... neither was the Middle East, a couple generations ago.

    Likewise, the potential for malignant government (a major motive behind the 2nd Amendment), while not currently on display in North America, is more than amply exhibited on all scales, all around the planet.

    So yes ... bear spray may be the tool of choice in a close-quarters bear-attack, but that hardly has anything to do with why we have & continue to support the Second Amendment. Empowerment of the citizen is very American, in the Founding Era context, and will remain strongly appealing and profoundly useful in the 21st Century, and beyond.

    In fact, wild animal threats have absolutely nothing to do with American firearm ownership & Rights. Although there were dangerous animals and a need for meat on the early frontiers, those were not and are not the reasons for codifying private gun ownership into the Constitution. It's not Apple & Oranges - it's closer to Apples & Hickies.

    Liberal-progressive anti-gun sentiment, I think reached its zenith some little while in the past, and current invocations of the notion are largely the expression of a dissipating social momentum. Once it became clear to mainstream Americans that gun-opponents might actually succeed in depriving the nation of private firearms (rather than merely expressing their personal antipathy to guns, which can be safely ignored/allowed), I think what we have seen an ongoing case of "waking the sleeping giant". America as a whole has a strong pro-security, pro-military, pro-gun stance. Even many who choose not to own a gun themselves, do not join the military, and decline to educate themselves on security issues, nonetheless firmly support those who do so on all our behalf.

    Bear spray is a good thing ... as are firearms. I don't see a conflict ... or any relationship.