Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

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

Staying Active In Congaree National Park

Ask most camping families to name national parks in the Southeast, you'll likely hear about Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, Shenandoah National Parks in Virginia, and the Everglades in Florida. Most people have never heard of Congaree National Park in South Carolina. And that's not too surprising when you consider that little more than 122,000 folks visited the park last year.

Ask A Ranger. Violence Is Nothing New To The Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wayward bears addicted to Kentucky Fried Chicken are the least of a park ranger’s worries. Just ask Bruce Bytnar, who worked at the Blue Ridge Parkway for 27 years before he retired in 2008. In his book, A Park Ranger’s Life: Thirty-Two Years of Protecting Our National Parks, Bytnar tells the real story behind what it is like to patrol a 469-mile long park through some of the best scenery the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina have to offer.

Monitors Ringing Dry Tortugas, Everglades, and Biscayne National Parks Ready to Detect Deepwater Horizon Impacts

A series of paint-can-sized pails are bobbing in the Straits of Florida where the Gulf of Mexico mingles with the Atlantic Ocean, ready to chronicle what impacts, if any, will descend on Dry Tortugas, Everglades, or Biscayne national parks from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

90 Years On, Dr. Michael Frome Continues To Lament The State of the National Parks

Nine decades of life understandably will slow a person down, if they're fortunate to count that many. And while Michael Frome, who reaches 90 on Tuesday, has understandably slowed down a bit, he hasn't lost an ounce of his passion for the national parks.

Luxury Lodging in Our National Parks

Lodging in America’s national parks ranges from barebones tent cabins to fashionable lodges with upscale amenities. Choose the former and you may well end up with an evening meal of grilled hot dogs, pork and beans, a bag of Fritos, and a six-pack of Bud Light. Splurge on the latter and you could enjoy an evening with a gourmet meal accompanied by fine wine.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Dispute Places Birds, Turtles, and Humans on Small Strip of Sand

A diminutive shorebird and a string of villages both dependent on the same necklace of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina are being pinched in a precarious setting that demonstrates the folly of trying to control nature.

Traveler's Checklist: Mesa Verde National Park

Situated on the Colorado Plateau in southwestern Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park offers a wonderful opportunity to experience a unique cultural and physical landscape. The park's numerous archeological sites, including renowned Cliff Palace, are some of the most significant and best-preserved in the U.S.

An Idea in Trouble: Thoughts about the Future of Traditional National Parks in the United States

Historians point out that ideas, and the organizations associated with them, sometimes age and lose their relevance. Today, as the National Park Service (NPS) approaches the centennial of its establishment, the agency faces huge potential problems with its founding mission and subsequent land management policies.

Healthy U.S. Ecosystems Draw International Nature Pilgrims

Meet a pilgrim — a nature pilgrim — a woman who traveled to the backyard of America to set eyes on a species that long ago was extinguished from her homeland archipelago. Julie Askew could have selected hundreds of other pretty destinations in the U.S. She could have also gone to Disneyland, but she selected Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks—and their stunning surrounding environs—because the wildlife predators are HERE.

Is There A Need to Have the Government Promote National Parks?

Is there a need to promote places that "our woven into our American culture," that require room reservations to be made months, if not a year, ahead of schedule, and which not too long ago gained national exposure through a 12-hour Ken Burns mini-series?

Is There Good News, Or Bad News, To Relate Concerning the Florida Panther?

Among the pine forests and palmetto thickets of south Florida something of a miracle in wildlife biology has played out during the course of three decades. A creature once thought destined to endure a fate similar to that of the Passenger Pigeon has rebounded and seems poised to move towards a sustainable population.
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Florida Panther Recovery Plan.pdf1.74 MB

Isle Royale National Park's Wolf Population Loses Two Packs, Moose Population Steady

A decline in the moose population at Isle Royale National Park, along with inbreeding, are being blamed for the loss of two of the island's four wolf packs. Where once the island's wolf population had numbered more than 50 individuals, by the close of 2009 there were fewer than 20, researchers say.
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ISRO-2009 Wolf Report.pdf1.59 MB

Blind Hiker Trevor Thomas Tackles Pacific Crest Trail One Step At A Time

Next time you head out for a hike, either close your eyes tightly or wrap a bandana around your head and see how far you can make it down the trail without straying or falling down. Then imagine doing that for 2,650 miles. Trevor Thomas, a blind hiker, hopes to cover that distance on the Pacific Crest Trail before the autumn snows pike up.

Climate Change Continues To Melt Glacier National Park's Icons

Glacier National Park is suffering from heat stroke, a malady that could melt all of its rivers of ice within a decade and send impacts not only through the park's landscape and wildlife but also through Montana's economy.

On Bison Science, Bison Politics, and the Rebisoning of the West

A new IUCN publication reports on the status of wild and conservation-herd bison, makes bison conservation recommendations, and stirs controversy over emotion-charged issues such as the possible "rebisoning" of large areas of former bison range.

Stewart Udall: A Model of a Conservationist

If you've ever walked through a national park, hiked down a trail, backpacked into wilderness, or paddled a wild and scenic stream, pause and give a minute of thanks for Stewart Udall.

Is There Economic Value to That National Monument in Your Backyard?

Muley Point sunset, copyright QT Luong, www.terragalleria.com/parks
While some politicians have rushed to condemn preliminary talks within the Interior Department over whether President Obama should designate any national monuments, past performance shows these establishments can bolster the surrounding economy.

Is The American Pika Really On The Road To Extinction Due to Climate Change?

Less than a month after a conservation group expressed its displeasure with the Obama administration for not providing Endangered Species Act protection to the American pika due to the plight it might face due to climate change, a new study suggests the tiny mammals are more widespread than thought and seem to thrive in a temperature range greater than long thought possible.
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Millar&Westfall-pikas.pdf1.33 MB
Beever-Low-Elevation Pikas.pdf113.78 KB
Beever-Climate-Mediated Extirpations.pdf246.28 KB
Pikas-National Monuments.pdf1002.52 KB

Some Biologists Envision Wolves Controlling Elk in More National Parks, Others Say That's Impractical

There was a paper that zoomed around cyberspace a couple weeks ago, one that roamed far and wide, not unlike a young wolf seeking a territory of its own. It gathered speed as it was flicked around the Twittersphere because it focused on two subjects that captivate more than a few people -- national parks, and wolves.
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Wolves-National Parks.pdf192.89 KB

Will The Long-Desired "Completion" Of Canyonlands National Park Ever Arrive?

View from Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park
From the lip of Grand View Point, an immense ruddy sweep of a landscape in a constant state of decay runs before your eyes. And yet, though you're in the heart of Canyonlands National Park, not all you see is within the park. And for many, that's a problem that should have been corrected long ago.
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Completing Canyonlands NPCA.pdf1.64 MB

15 Years Into Yellowstone National Park's Wolf Recovery Program

Deep in Yellowstone National Park's backcountry, our sleep and the predawn darkness was startled by a sound that long had been alien to the park. But on that mid-September day in 2008 the sound was unmistakable. A lone wolf had raised its muzzle to the sky and released a rich, baritone howl that pierced the inky stillness. A long-missing aspect of the park's wildness had very much returned.

Regulatory Landscape For Guns to Change in National Parks on February 22

Marble Hall in Sequoia National Park's Crystal Cave. NPS photo.
A controversial rule change concerning firearms in national parks takes effect February 22, a change likely to cause confusion and raise concerns over personal safety, but one also that could go largely unnoticed and give some a measure of personal security.
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Maine-Proposed_Gun_Law.pdf8.28 KB

Reducing The Federal Deficit Is Essential, But Are the National Parks A Logical Place to Cut Spending?

Logan Pass, Glacier National Park. Kurt Repanshek photo
Did you feel the wind in the sails go slack? Barely three months beyond the euphoria raised by Ken Burns’ documentary on the national parks, and just four weeks after 2009 delivered the strongest visitation to parks in a decade, President Obama wants to freeze funding levels of the National Park Service.

Looking To Gain A Little Structured Education On Your National Park Trip?

Can you tell by looking at a wildflower in Yellowstone National Park what the underlying geology is? Or, while hiking through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, can you identify a bird simply by its song? Do you want to get relatively up close to the elephant seals at Point Reyes National Seashore? Here's how you can do all those things and more.

Stepping Into the Icebox: A January Visit To Yellowstone National Park

Rocky Mountain air starts out dry, and then the sub-zero cold of its winters pulls out just about all of whatever atmospheric moisture remains. The result is not just a crystal clear sky, but one that seemingly is magnified. Looking at the constellations above Craig Pass in Yellowstone National Park, it sure seemed possible to reach up and pluck a star out of the night.