Recent comments

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Fort Smith, Arkansas

  • National Park Mystery Photo 9: What Sort of Reviewing Stand Might This Be?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    It is at Fort Smith Historic Site.

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site, Home of the Buffalo Soldiers   5 years 47 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 47 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 47 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 47 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 47 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 47 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 47 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.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Today, most Park Service superintendents come out of Washington. They are relatives of former Park Service managers or friends of, or friends of politicians. Two simple rules exist for Park Service managers to succeed and move up: 1) Do not do anything to any Park Service family members, those that have or have had family in the service, no matter how incompetent. And 2.), Do not do anything without calling the region first! I should add a third. 3) Before any hiring at the GS-11 level or above, one must check to see if there are any "NPS Family Members" or "Friends" out there who would like the job first.

    Yours Truly,

    This comment was edited--ed.

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 47 weeks ago

    If there's a silver lining to the current economic misery, it's the resurgence of patriotic travel. After hauling my kids all over the planet in recent years, this year we're going to 4 national parks. It's a start.

  • Naked Hikers Let It All Hang Out On the Summer Solstice   5 years 47 weeks ago


    Nude trail-walkers are engaged in an activity that is offensive - suddenly 'inflicting' their exposure upon unaware, unprepared "victims". It is appropriate and accurate to compare this activity to that of flashers and other exposure-perverts. I personally enjoy nudist venues, but I don't kid myself that dropping my trousers in the midst of a clothed social setting would be Ok. Unless a trail is recognized as a nude trail, it is offensive - and perverted - to traipse down it naked. Yes, it is reasonable to be suspicious of the internal motives of such 'ambush-nudists': some of them are simply exercising poor judgement, are just being inconsiderate & rude, but others may very well be more worrisome individuals. This sort of thing is 'perfect' for the "real wackos".

    At a very low incidence, nude trail hikers are more a bizarre anomaly, but at higher rates I will predict a fairly stiff enforcement-policy against them. Like steakers & flashers, the context of trail-nudity shows that the intent is to shock (that's plainly what will happen), and that's what makes it an offense.

    The case of the topless female city-walker you mention did not set a precedent. The problem with her arrest, incarceration, psychiatric examination etc is not that nudity was legal in her jurisdiction, but that those who intervened overreacted to her offense. It's against the law to jay-walk, too, and though we may agree that it's pretty crazy to do so on many streets & highways, there is no need or call for us to get hysterical about it ('hysteria' is the word for the reaction we saw in the topless case). The authorities are lucky she only got $29,000 - but she got it not because it was Ok for her to be exposed, but due to the excesses of her apprehension.

    Yes, WAY most people support the nudity taboo 'as we know it'. A quick search does not uncover a definitive nudity-approval poll, but there are useful proxies we can look at (and perhaps more reliable than polls). There are nude beaches, hotsprings, and other free-access public settings where folks can register their disapproval of the nudity taboo and indulge their preference for exposure. These venues are an extremely minor component of the overall beach, hotspring and other public-access venues available. It is simply the case that way most people choose a clothed setting, over a nude alternative. If there was more demand, there would be more nude places.

    Socially, private citizens assemble casually in private settings (house-parties) for their mutual benefit & pleasure in many ways & styles. It happens occasionally that such private gatherings incorporate nudity ... but it is really quite unusual, overall. When we say that WAY most people support the nudity taboo, we are actually giving the nudist-faction the benefit of the doubt.

    These two proxy-indicators - low use of public nudity-venues, and the tiny incidence of private house-party nudity - are clear affirmations that WAY most people support the nudity taboo - not that they like it, or think nudity per se is inherently disagreeable - but that they accept the status quo as it exist. Yes, it's 'just' a taboo. Do we think that humans have evolved beyond taboos? Does the illusion that only 'primitive' cultures in the Darkest Heart of Hollywood Africa are subject to social taboos & fetishes still affect contemporary North Americans?

    The National Parks Traveler website is overwhelmingly about 20th & 21st C. Parks of the United States, the citizenship that owns them, and the governments that control them. The condition of pre-European tribes, especially-liberal sections of other continents, etc, is immaterial to this post & thread. We're talking 'here & now' - and the nudity taboo is overwhelmingly-dominant reality, here & now.

    Not only do way-most people support the nudity taboo, but most of those people are not religious, and what's driving our position is not shame, neurosis, etc. I have some sympathy for nudity-activists, and as mentioned I'm happy to join in appropriate nude venues when & where they arise, but the nudism-community (rather like the vegetarian/PETA-community) has a rather-dramatically skewed impression of their own status & significance in the greater community-web, and a baseless optimism in the ascendancy of their preferred outlook. Nudism & vegetarianism both represent noticeably-deluded, small, single-digit portions of the population with little prospect for growth in the foreseeable future.

  • National Park Mystery Plant 3 Revealed: It’s Lupine, and It’s Complicated   5 years 47 weeks ago

    This is the true promise of the internet--a collaborative discussion of a fascinating topic sparked by a well-written article, regardless of where you are located, how knowledgeable you are, or who you are. The only requirement....that you be interested and thoughtful. Thanks Bob.

    By the way, Bob was set up, albeit unintentionally (as Terry said). And, I do like the name dad was a Bob (and, I, a Rob).

    “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Mark Twain

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

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

    We took our dream national park vacation last year. Starting out from our home in Mt. Pleasant, SC, we drove to Carlsbad, NM for a day in Carlsbad Caverns. A truly out of this world experience. Then on to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. From Santa Fe to Flagstaff, AZ passing through Gallup, NM (the City of Murals) and the Painted Desert. We stayed in Flagstaff for several days using it as a base for trips to Sunset Crater, Canyon de Chelly, Walnut Canyon, Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Wupatki National Forest, and the Grand Canyon.

    From Flagstaff we set off for the California portion of our trip which included visits to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Forest, the Monterey Aquarium, cannery row, Big Sur, and Napa Valley. From San Fransisco we made the long drive to Jackson Hole, WY where we spent a week in the Grand Tetons, toured Yellowstone, went white water rafting and enjoyed the abundant wild life up close and personal. Although difficult to move on, we made the drive down to Moab, Utah, a true Mecca for "gear heads". Using Moab for a base we visited Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands.

    By the time we arrived home at the end of our six week journey, we had driven 9,000 miles in our van, shot over 1,500 digital photos and used our "Senior" national park pass to enter 16 national parks--some several times. Ain't good health and retirement great!!

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

    I already had a number "dream vacations" in National Parks. Be it three weeks on the Colorado Plateau with all the diversity from hiking down to the Colorado in Grand Canyon and to the more remote spectacular arches in Arches NP to Native American culture from Basketmaker and Anasazi to Navajo and Hopi. Another memorable region was the Rocky Mountains, from the Wasatch Range to Yellowstone, from Glacier to the Canadian parks Banff and Jasper with a multi day hike on the tree line in Jasper. I've seen almost all landscapes of California (and most of Oregon) and spent some time in the Pacific northwest (including the Vancouver/Vancouver island area).

    I'd love to explore the prairies, maybe three days on horseback in Badlands or Theodore Roosevelt NP plus canoeing on the Missouri River in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (BLM, not NPS)? Alternatives are Alaska or the Everglades.

    The total opposition to a nature oriented trip would be a vacation to learn about the prehistoric Native American cultures of the eastern US: From Poverty Point NM over the American bottom and Cahokia to "Hopewell land" in Ohio to the Effigy Mounds of Wisconsin and adjacent areas.

    Or - just to get away from it all - five to ten days in the backcountry. Maybe in a Wilderness Area in Colorado.

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

    To the "Anonymous" who commented today on how to be aggressive yourself against an aggresive bear, he might rethink his solution if he ever encounters a bear that close to his body. Sounds like a real winner, Anon - for the bear.

  • Interior Department Agrees To Conduct EIS on Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 47 weeks ago

    In the same vein, has an EIS been done regarding the impact of people and automobiles, etc on the environment in national parks? If not, I think the Interior Department should shut off all access to our national parks until these are also completed.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Yes, mule use should continue. It's a unique historical aspect of Grand Canyon NP. And, sustainable use is sensible. The problem lies in a definition of sustainable. Rafting through the canyon seems to be an appropriate analogy for sustainable use. Some kind of lottery system may be needed.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

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

    I'm on it right now. Sketching in 6 national parks in 2 weeks through Utah. Colorado, and Arizoma. Posting along the way via iPhone so friends can travel virtually with me.