Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

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.

Where In the National Park System Will You Venture in 2010?

Winter is a great time for planning national park vacations. These suggestions will help you get started in the right direction, whether your interests are mainstream or nontraditional.

What We'd Like To See Across The National Park System in 2010

A fresh new year is upon us, one still brimming with hope, confidence, and high expectations. So, what better time to sort through our list of things we'd like to see happen across the National Park System in 2010?

2009 Brought the National Park System a Mixed Bag of Goods

Guns in the parks. Budget boosts. New units. The past year brought a mixed bag of goods to the National Park System. Some good, some not so good. Here, in no particular order, are some of the top stories we saw.

"Core Ops" Budgeting in the National Park System Goes Silently Into the Night

A succinct, four-paragraph memo from National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis two weeks ago spurred an outpouring of comments from Park Service employees and marked, potentially, a sea change in how park superintendents go about budgeting for their parks. But is it something the general public should take note of?

Winter, A Season of Discontent When It Comes to Travel in Yellowstone National Park

Lone Star Geyser and skiers.
There are times during the hardest of Rocky Mountain winters, when the mercury slides far below zero, that Yellowstone Lake’s heavy mantle of ice grinds and groans under the pressure of shifting flows. Snow can fall so deeply on Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming’s northwestern corner that workers at times must clamber onto the rooftops of lodges and cabins to shuck off the fluff so it doesn’t collapse the roofs.

National Park Lodging Rates, On Average, Stay Ahead of Inflation

Regular guests of national park lodges have undoubtedly noticed persistent increases in room rates. Although we no longer have the receipt, it seems that we paid $225 per night during our 1996 stay in Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee for a room that now goes for approximately $500 per night. It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that during the past decade lodging rates in national parks have risen faster than the Consumer Price Index.

A Hike To LeConte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Is Just Part of the Adventure

I am a social hiker. For me, one of the highlights of hiking is meeting friendly and energetic people on the trail. That’s why I love the camaraderie at LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The lodge, which can only be reached by foot, is luxurious considering it’s located on top of Mt. LeConte at 6,593 ft. Groups come here for family reunions and some people train for weeks before attempting the trip because it’s the only hiking they do all year.

Winter: The Perfect Time To Plan Your Long-Distance Trek Along National Scenic Trails

Winter is a season for planning. How better to pass some of those long, cold, snowy nights than before the fire or a the kitchen table with guidebooks and maps, calculators and checklists? And if you’re thinking of tackling one of the country’s long-distance hiking trails, planning is definitely not over-rated. Here’s a look at some of the trails that pass through parts of the National Park System, and what planning assistance is out there.

Firefighter's Death Underscores Need For Promise Of Swift Evacuation From Fire Lines

Homer. The writings of Sun Tzu, a 6th-century Chinese military strategist. Midnight walks through Rome after a night at the opera. These are hints of who Andrew "Andy" Palmer was at just 18, an age of transition in life, a point where youth transforms to adult and begins to chart a path through life.

A Firefighter's Death Leads to Internal Analysis Of Protocols By National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service

It would appear from reading the investigative report into the death of an 18-year-old Olympic National Park firefighter could have been prevented on a number of fronts. What lessons did the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service take from this incident?

Report Details Errors That Led to The Death of A Young National Park Firefighter

Fighting forest fires is one of the most dangerous occupations to partake in. And yet, many of those who fight these blazes are energized by the danger they encounter. You might say they get an adrenalin high battling the flames. And some firefighters die, more often than not because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That appears to have been the case when a young firefighter from Olympic National Park died on the fire lines in 2008.

What Would Teddy Think?

Tetons with Jackson Lake. Kurt Repanshek photo.
What should we think of a congressman on a national parks subcommittee who endorses a resolution “recognizing that country music has made a tremendous contribution to American life and culture,” and yet opposes legislation that would create hundreds of thousands of acres of official wilderness across the National Park System?

Curing Society's Disconnect With Nature Could Be As Easy As A Walk In the Woods

For the past four years, since Last Child in the Woods hit bookstores, there has been a greatly heightened concern over how society connects with nature. Across the United States there has been hew and cry from many corners that society is losing not just its comfort in the outdoors, but also its concern for it. A new study indicates that while there should be reason for concern, perhaps the solution is as simple as a walk in the woods.
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Outdoor_Foundation-Survey_Trends.pdf131.92 KB