Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Traveler's Checklist: Shenandoah National Park

Boasting the Skyline Drive parkway, gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife, over 500 miles of trails, and many other attractions, Virginia's Shenandoah National Park is one of America's most popular national parks. Here are some suggestions for maximizing the pleasure of your visit.

Would Year-Round Access To Old Faithful Compromise Yellowstone National Park's "Frontier"?

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, copyright Kurt Repanshek
In Dances With Wolves, Lt. John Dunbar requests a posting on "the frontier" because he "wants to see the frontier before it's gone." It's not too difficult to put Yellowstone National Park, between the months of December and April, as being on the last frontier of the Lower 48.While it would be relatively easy to maintain wheeled-access to Old Faithful year-round, with apparently few environmental consequences, should we shrink what little "frontier" we have left in the National Park System?
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Wouldn't It Be Nice If the National Park Service Resumed the Distribution of Park Window Stickers?

Once upon a time, when you entered a national park you collected a distinctive window sticker that you could attach to your windshield. While you can buy versions of these stickers today, wouldn't it be great if the National Park Service handed them out when you entered a park?

Creature Feature: A Lightning Whelk Knows What to Do With a Clam

The lightning whelk, a sea snail with a lovely southpaw shell, is very proficient at finding, opening, and eating clams.

Your Own Eastern National Park Road Trip

Several years ago we wrote “The Best National Park Trip,” an article that described the wonders of visiting Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon during a tour of the West. This is indeed a great trip that can be extended with visits to Lake Powell, Cedar Breaks, and other nearby units administered by the National Park Service.

Touring Hawaii And Its National Parks Without Leaving Home

With underwriting from the National Parks Conservation Association's National Parks magazine, the folks at Wild Collective filmed and produced the following 4:26-minute travelogue of Hawaii and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The Last Night in Shenandoah National Park

We were on our second-floor balcony reading when we noticed someone below walk to the wooden railing separating the lodge grounds from the surrounding countryside. He pointed west toward the woods. Coming through the trees and into the small meadow were two bear cubs that commenced frolicking in the grass. They ran back and forth and one suddenly jumped and caught the side of a tree.

Bogus Lawsuit Info Involving Environmental Cases Delights the Gullible

Last fall, Cheyenne, Wyoming, attorney Karen Budd-Falen made an astonishing claim that has reverberated all the way to Washington, D.C. Writing a guest editorial for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, she said environmental law firms had collected billions in public tax dollars by filing and winning frivolous lawsuits against federal natural resource agencies.

ReserveAmerica Can't Find a National Park Campground It Likes

ReserveAmerica, the company that manages camping reservations for the National Park System and other federal agencies, can't seem to find a national park campground it likes. In listing its "Top 100 Family Campgrounds," the company doesn't cite a single national park campground.

Photo Collage of Florida's Coastal Seabirds Reminds Us of What's At Stake With Deepwater Horizon

Passage of time can, on occasion, be an insidious eraser of events. As we near the two-month "anniversary" of the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, are we becoming numbed to its impacts, realized and potential?

A Former President, His Retreat, and Shenandoah National Park

On Monday we checked out of the Skyland Resort, drove ten miles south on Skyline Drive through the gorgeous countryside of Shenandoah National Park, and checked into Big Meadows Lodge. Talk about a hard day on the road.

Get to Know What Search and Rescue On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park Is All About

With the climbing season on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve winding down, the park's climbing rangers soon will get a well-deserved break from their search-and-rescue missions. The following video lets you better understand the dedication, demands, and talents of a group of rangers who put their lives on the line daily for others in need.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail Weaves Through North Carolina's National Parks

Every state wants to have a long-distance hiking trail to show off the best of its natural features. The Long Trail in Vermont that meanders from the Massachusetts border to Canada is the oldest, having been created in 1910. Farther south, the Mountains-to Sea Trail runs from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Atlantic.

Overnight in Shenandoah National Park's Skyland Resort

Unlike the Blue Ridge Parkway with three concessionaires operating four lodging facilities, Shenandoah National Park has a single concessionaire, Aramark Parks and Destinations, that operates all three of the park’s lodges. And while the four lodges on the Blue Ridge are spaced fairly evenly along the parkway, the three lodges in Shenandoah are clustered within 16 miles of one another.

National Park Movies of the 1980s

The beauty, grandeur, charismatic wildlife, historic significance, and other qualities of our national parks make them attractive filming locations for motion pictures. These are the "national park movies" that we like for the 1980s.

Off the Blue Ridge Parkway and into Shenandoah National Park

Following a Thursday stay at Peaks of Otter Lodge, we drove north under blue skies to the terminus of the parkway at Waynesboro, Virginia. We decided to drive down the mountain into town for a few groceries, gasoline ($2.42 compared to $2.78 that we would find in Shenandoah NP), and a stop at the public library to email Kurt the Peaks of Otter story.

Productive Nesting for Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles At Padre Island National Seashore, But Oil Awaits

Through a gift of nature that guides them the seas, dozens of highly endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles have made their way to the sandy beaches of Padre Island National Seashore to lay thousands of eggs. And many showed up on the same day.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Peaks of Otter Lodge Really Has An Otter

Friday's weather was much improved with mostly sunny skies on the drive from Rocky Knob Cabins to Peaks of Otter Lodge, a distance of about 90 miles. Before heading north, we stopped for breakfast at Mabry Mill, where Kay went through a combination pancake platter consisting of one sweet potato pancake, one buckwheat pancake, and one corn meal pancake, before waddling back to the car. I demonstrated restraint by consuming two biscuits topped with black cherry preserves.

By the Numbers: Dry Tortugas National Park

Nearly all of Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park is underwater, but there is a lot more to this amazing place than meets the eye.

America's Smallest National Park Lodge

Wednesday entailed a short drive of 75 miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway on a day of clouds, mist, and fog. Even in this weather the parkway is an enjoyable drive, especially compared to interstates with speeding vehicles and pesky 18-wheelers.

Bluffs Lodge and the Best Coffee Shop in a National Park

As our lodging experts, David and Kay Scott, continue on their 2010 odyssey across the National Park System, they get to sample some of the best lodging, food, and coffee there is to be had. This dispatch came from the Bluffs Lodge along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Circumstances Force National Park Service to Actively Manage Wildlife

Florida panther kittens dosed with dewormers. Black-footed ferrets inoculated against plague. Sterilizing horses at Cape Lookout National Seashore and elk at Rocky Mountain National Park. And now Yellowstone National Park bison that could be vaccinated against brucellosis via air gun.

Road Trip 2010: Report from the Pisgah Inn Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Pisgah Inn is the southernmost of the four national park lodging facilities on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Situated at 5,000 feet elevation, it enjoys mild summer temperatures and leafy views.

"There's Something I Forgot to Tell You"

Memory lapses add spice to life.

Traveler's Checklist: Yosemite National Park

Stick your head into Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park and you'll quickly come to appreciate why they say that 95 percent of the park's visitors can be found in the spectacularly scenic valley. And while it's good they've come to explore the valley, they'll head home greatly shortchanged if they don't explore the rest of the park.
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YOSE-Mariposa Grove Map.pdf255.26 KB

Interpreting National Park Settings Is a Skill, Not Something You Wing

In National Park Service lingo, interpretation is the process of providing each visitor an opportunity to personally connect with a place. We interpret for the visitor informally when we talk to them in the visitor center or on the trail and formally when we give a program.

Creature Feature: The Common Raven is an Uncommonly Intelligent Bird

The common raven is one of the brainiest birds you'll encounter in the national parks, but the same keen intellect that makes this species interesting and amusing also makes it troublesome.

Opposition Mounts to Tourism Promotion of National Parks

What is the role of national parks? Are they created and designed to preserve nature, or to serve as playgrounds for the public? In Australia, one group it's the former, and they're rising in opposition to a move to promote tourism in their parks.

By the Numbers: Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Memorial Day will see thousands of people converging on the National Mall. Many will visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and its iconic deep-vee black marble wall bearing the names of more than 58,000 American casualties.

Tracking Crime in National Parks Is Not An Exact Science By Any Means

Trying to assess the amount of crime that occurs across the National Park System seemingly is difficult at best because of inconsistent accounting and the spillover of crime from neighboring communities.
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OIG Crime Report.pdf320.8 KB
NPS&USPP LEOKA 09 by Region.pdf60.24 KB