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Essential Park Guide / Summer 2017


Day to Night to Day By Dr. Tyler Nordgren A total solar eclipse on August 21 will drive a momentary shaft of darkness across the country, passing through many national parks along the way.


Crowning Glory By Rebecca Latson Three days in Glacier National Park are not enough, but they can be a good start as Rebecca Latson points out after a visit to her home park atop the Crown of the Continent.


Dry Tortugas Trivia Those who think they know national park trivia can test themselves on this Dry Tortugas sampler.


Don’t Fear The Park Side By Scott Johnson A graphic designer unleashed by the National Park Service’s Midwest Region has tapped into modern movie lore with creative imagery to generate buzz for national parks.


Take A Hike Rather than standing in place watching the waterfalls at Yosemite National Park this summer, take a hike. Or three.



A Massive Rehab Project By Kim O’Connell A long-term plan is coming together to rehabilitate the National Mall, from its emerald lawn and dome of the Jefferson Memorial to an historic lockhouse with stories to tell. A Good Day Fishing… By Patrick Cone Whether you desire trout or bass, striper or bluefish, or perhaps even a permit, you can find them lurking in national park waters.







Summer Friends Cooler hikes, great partners, and working to preserve today’s parks for tomorrow’s visitors are among the work these friends of the parks are accomplishing. Good Reads Global approaches to national parks, underground rangers, yesterday’s Yellowstone, and a century of Rocky Mountain writings are worthy subject matter for your personal park library.

Editor: Kurt Repanshek Art Director: Courtney Cooper Special Projects Editor: Patrick Cone Senior Editor: Scott Johnson Contributors: Rebecca Latson Dr. Tyler Nordgren Kim O’Connell Published by

Essential Park Guides are published by National Parks Traveler to showcase how best to enjoy and explore the National Park System. National Parks Traveler, P.O. Box 980452, Park City, Utah, 84098. ©2017 Essential Park Guide, Summer 2017. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.


•••• from the publisher

National Parks Traveler Attains Nonprofit Status To Ensure Its Mission National parks are important to us all. They keep us healthy, tell stories of our country’s history, and provide an incredible backdrop for family gatherings and outdoor recreation. They’ve served those purposes for more than a century, and will hopefully meet those needs for at least another one hundred years.


hat’s why we’ve transitioned National Parks Traveler into a nonprofit media organization; a 501(c)(3). The stories that need to be told, which should be told, about the parks won’t disappear once the Traveler’s current editorial team retires. Indeed, as the world becomes a more crowded place, it will become even more vital for the Traveler to cover our national parks. Are they healthy? Are they being properly managed? And, how can you make the most out of your national park visits? As a nonprofit organization, we’re inviting you to help us continue to grow our free, daily editorial coverage of the National Park System and the National Park Service. With your support we’ll be able to increase our staff, visit more parks, create more


Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

Kurt Repanshek

multimedia stories, expand worldwide, and regularly report on issues that affect our national parks. We’ll bring you even more news about issues key to the parks, help keep Congress informed, and work to keep the National Park Service accountable for their management.

We at National Parks Traveler want our national parks to be successful. We want them to continue to inspire, amaze, and delight visitors forever. And we believe you share that goal. And, in this issue of our Essential Guide, we’re excited about summer in the National Park System. This summer will be particularly memorable for folks who are able to visit a park on August 21, when a total solar eclipse will darken a swath of the country, from John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, through Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and eastward into Congaree National Park in South Carolina. Dr. Tyler Nordgren, who has greatly popularized night sky events in the park system with his books and programs, sets

out on page 4 to explain this summer’s eclipse and what you can expect to see. Glacier National Park is a spectacular destination any time of the year. Rebecca Latson (who grew up outside of the park) returns to Glacier, and tells us how to spend three days there. You’ll find her story beginning on page 9. The creative side of the National Park Service is revealed on page 17. Senior Editor Scott Johnson writes of the enticing, and occasionally whimsical, graphics created by the agency’s Midwest Region staff. “Some of the graphics bring a lot of people in that maybe normally wouldn’t connect with the National Park Service in certain regards, but through these graphics or images, they

on the cover Glacier National Park holds fond memories for Rebecca Latson, who grew up not far outside the park boundaries and spent many days roaming Glacier with her parents. Photo by Rebecca Latson

kind of pull them in to learn more,” graphic designer Matt Turner told Johnson. “It’s really allowed us to broaden our horizon with different people we interact with.” Kim O’Connell brings us up to date on efforts to rehabilitate the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from the roof of the Jefferson Memorial to the turf of the Mall itself. It’s a years-long project that has received great support from the Trust for the National Mall. Elsewhere in our summer issue you’ll find articles on places to spend a few hours, or a few days, fishing, and where to go hiking in Yosemite National Park. And there’s even an article on interesting facts on Dry Tortugas National Park that could aid you in a national park trivia contest.

We’ve also reviewed another handful of books that should make great additions to your private national park library. As this summer’s guide illustrates, and the past dozen years have demonstrated, we at National Parks Traveler are passionate about the parks, and we believe you are, too. Going forward in our new organizational structure, and with your help, we can greatly build on our coverage and ensure that future generations have a daily resource they can turn to for the latest information on national parks. Please help us in our mission, to inform, educate, and advocate for our national parks. ~ Kurt Repanshek

GET SOCIAL Connect with National Parks Traveler on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Share how you experience our national parks by posting your favorite vacation story or sharing a photo. Join in the conversation and keep up-to-date on park news around the country.

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A Solar Eclipse Cuts A Swath Through National Parks By Dr. Tyler Nordgren

SIDE Come August 21, the entire National Park System is going to experience the most-viewed event in human history.

Milky Way over Death Valley National Park / Nelson Decker


On that date, a total solar eclipse will be visible in some part across the entire length and breadth of the United States of America. Unlike other astronomical phenomena that happen at night when some parks are closed, or are only visible in remote parks far from the glare of city lights, this moment will happen during the middle of the day, visible from every park, and during summer vacation, for great swaths of the country. And it will be unlike anything virtually anyone has seen before.


Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017


solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun. A total solar eclipse is when the alignment is so perfect that the Sun completely disappears and eventually, as the last of its light disappears behind the Moon, the sky grows dark, the temperature drops, the planets and brighter stars become visible. At that moment, the corona, the ghostly outer atmosphere of the Sun, stretches outwards from a coal-black Sun. It is the most unnatural event anyone will ever observe in the sky. It is a multi-sensory experience that no photograph can capture and for which no words can do justice. It is the embodiment of the word “awe.” An eclipse happens somewhere on Earth every year, but by chance it has been 38 years since totality has touched the continental United States. But on August 21, the band of totality, the region where the Moon’s shadow falls and turns mid-day to night, will stretch from the coast of Oregon on the Pacific Ocean to the sands of South Carolina on the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone else in the United States gets to see at least a partial eclipse where the alignment is close but, when viewed through special eclipse glasses, the Sun appears to be missing a bite. This kind of coast-to-coast eclipse hasn’t happened since 1918.

To purchase these and other national park posters commemorating the eclipse, visit Dr. Nordgren’s Space Art Travel Bureau.

There are more than a half-dozen national parks and monuments along the path of this year’s total eclipse. From the West where the Moon’s shadow first falls they are John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, part of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho (just the northern part, not the visitor center), Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, plus Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska. In Missouri, the path of totality cuts the city of St. Louis in half; the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch will be just barely outside the northern limit of the path. East of the Mississippi River, the path crosses Manhattan Project National Historical Site and Obed Wild and Scenic River in Tennessee, the southern half of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (including Cades Cove, the most popular spot in the park), and travels across the Carolinas, shading Congaree National Park and Fort Sumter National Monument in South Carolina. In the 90 minutes it takes totality to travel from coast to coast, the Moon’s shadow will darken major parks and small, as well as bustling tourist cities like Jackson, Wyoming, outside Grand Teton, and tiny gateway towns like Mitchell, Oregon, outside the Painted

Hills of John Day, population 130 people with exactly one hotel. But, though the path of the Moon’s shadow stretches for 2,000 miles from west to east, it will be no more than 70 miles wide north or south. To be outside this band is to see none of the phenomena that make totality so unforgettable: 99 percent totality is not 99 percent of the show. Being inside and outside the path is literally the difference between night and day. The National Park Service realizes this is going to be a major event; lodging in and around the parks started filling up three years ago. Several unscrupulous hotels in Oregon cancelled reservations made years in advance and relisted the rooms for almost $1,000 a night. For extremely rural and sparsely traveled countryside such as eastern Oregon, officials have been told to expect up to 50,000 people to descend upon towns with populations of only a few hundred. John Day Fossil Beds is expecting more than a quarter of its annual visitation (100,000 people) in one weekend. Rangers and resources from nearby parks outside the path have been designated to help them deal with the crowds. But for the millions of people who will see totality (12 million people alone live within the band), vastly more will see this eclipse outside that

path, and this goes for the parks as well. While the visitors to Yellowstone National Park could all, theoretically, attempt to drive down into Grand Teton to get within the path (this serves as a warning to those rangers working the entry booths between the parks) no one expects Yosemite, Grand Canyon, or Zion national parks to empty out that day. In fact, a survey of Colorado River Rafting Concessionaries reveals there will be more than 500 people rafting the river through multiple parks that day. Every single visitor to any national park and monument in the United States on August 21—barring cloudy weather—will see at least a partial eclipse. As a result, in our social media age, this will become the most viewed, photographed, shared and tweeted event in human history. And for the first time since 1918, just two years after the founding of the National Park Service, every national park in America will be a part of it.

Tyler Nordgren is an astronomer and artist and author of the justreleased book, Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets.


Written and Photographed by Rebecca Latson

Dreaming Of Beargrass And The Sun Road In Glacier National Park



nown as the “Crown of the Continent,” I prefer to think of Glacier National Park as the Crown Jewel of the National Park System. I was born 24 miles away from this setting of pine-, cedar-, and fir-fragrant forests, rugged mountains, glacial U-shaped valleys, abundant wildlife, flower-filled fields, pristine lakes and trail choices suitable for all walks of life. When I was 9, I rode in the backseat of my father’s Datsun Roadster, my parents having wrapped a quilt around me, as we drove—top down—into the park and over Going-to-the-Sun Road one last time before we moved out of Montana. Of all the memories I have of the Treasure State, this single memory of Glacier is the one I recall with the most clarity. Such is the pull of this national park. Let’s say you have three days to spend in Glacier. While this park is stunning no matter what season of the year, it’s most popular with visitors during the summer. By late-June or early July the Going-tothe-Sun Road is open in its entirety— barring any snowstorm—most trails are snow-free, wildflowers are blooming, and the wildlife is plentiful. There are all sorts of lodging options for this national park. Wherever you wish to spend your nights, be it in one or more of the park’s rustic, historic lodges such as Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier Park Lodge, or the Many Glacier Hotel, a smaller brick-and-mortar option such as Rising Sun Motor Inn or Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, or one of the lodges just outside the park’s boundaries, make sure you reserve a room far ahead (as in, months ahead) of your trip. A year ahead wouldn’t necessarily be too soon. Of the 13 park campgrounds, most are first come-, first-served, but a few, such as Apgar, St. Mary and Many Glacier campgrounds, have spaces that can be reserved in advance. If you’re planning to camp, familiarize yourself with the camping page on Glacier’s website. On it you’ll find a “campground status” page that keeps daily track of when campgrounds fill. Know that cell phone service is spotty, although you might get a signal at East Glacier, St. Mary, or Apgar. Prepare for the weather. Summer in Glacier does not necessarily guarantee constant sunny warmth and gentle breezes. Temperatures can change on an hourly basis in the alpine elevations, and you can quickly go from sun to rain to even snow and sleet. Remember to pack a fleece jacket, raincoat, and warm hat next to your T-shirt, shorts, and sunscreen. Ok. Three days. What should you do? 10

Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

Above left: Rising along the Continental Divide, the rocky ramparts of Glacier National Park define the “Crown of the Continent.”

Day 1  This is a no-brainer: traverse the entire length of Going-to-the-Sun Road, approximately 50 miles end-toend. Pack water, a lunch or plenty of snacks, and leave early in the morning, preferably from the west end of this east-west road, to give yourself plenty of time to savor the journey. Why start at the west end? Because after you’ve driven this amazing road you’ll continue your excursion to Many Glacier, some 20 miles further north and then west. It will take you approximately two hours just to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road, with a speed limit of 45 mph in the lower elevations and 25 mph in the higher altitudes, and another 30 minutes to reach Many Glacier. Stop at the pullouts and parking areas to take in the views,

Above: Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road is not for those who suffer vertigo.

inhale the fresh mountain air, and listen to the birdsong and burbling water flowing in nearby creeks and streams. While in Many Glacier, enjoy a refreshment on the Many Glacier Hotel’s back deck as you marvel at the wide-angle views of the mountains looming over Swiftcurrent Lake before continuing your journey to road’s end for a chance to stretch your legs on one of the many trails beginning just beyond the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. If you are photographically inclined, this drive is a great reconnaissance trip from which to choose areas for return visits. Two fantastic locations for sunrise shots are the Wild Goose Island view area on St. Mary Lake just west of Rising Sun Motor Inn, and the view of Mounts Gould and Grinnell

Tranquility, and sublime surroundings, make St. Mary Lake popular with photographers as well as those looking to escape crowds.


along the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier. Use your graduated neutral density (grad ND) filter to keep the brightening horizon from being blown out (overexposed) while you meter for the darker areas not yet lit by the sun.

Day 2 

The Trail of the Cedars passes by Avalanche Gorge. Follow the stream uphill and you’ll find yourself at Avalanche Lake.


Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

Take a hike. What’s your fitness level and how much energy do you want to expend? Glacier National Park has so many trails of varying lengths and activity levels that a choice might be a little difficult. Decide on one long hike or maybe a couple of shorter ones. To help prepare for your adventure, consider buying either Day Hikes of Glacier National Park Map Guide by Jake Bramante, who has hiked every trail mile in the park, or the Trails Illustrated map to Glacier produced by the folks at National Geographic. Note: The following hikes are listed in round-trip miles. Three of the most popular longer hikes are the Highline Trail (15.2 miles), the Grinnell Glacier Trail (11 miles), and the Iceberg Lake Trail (9.7 miles). You can’t go wrong with any of these choices and will be rewarded with views of glacial valleys, mountains, steep drop-offs, turquoisehued lakes, wildlife from marmots to mountain goats, and meadows filled with wildflowers such as beargrass, Indian paintbrush, and fireweed. If you don’t feel up for a long hike, then consider something shorter, such as the Avalanche Lake Trail (4.5 miles), the Hidden Lake Nature Trail to the observation platform (3 miles and the most popular hike in the park), the trail to St. Mary Falls (1.7 miles), the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail (2.9 miles), or the Red Rock Falls Trail (4.2 miles). You’ll hike through deep, cool forests and sunlit fields of wildflowers and alongside rushing glacier-fed creeks and waterfalls and possibly spot some wildlife. All of these hikes include magnificent mountain views. If you choose the Hidden Lake Trail, head out very early in the morning when there are fewer people and to capture sunrise photos of Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain at the overlook. A curious mountain goat might even greet you along the way. If you walk the short St. Mary Falls Trail, make sure you carry your circular polarizer or neutral density (ND) filter with you to achieve the “silky water” effect. You might even opt to continue along this

trail another mile to Virginia Falls. No matter which hikes you choose, please obey park rules, don’t feed the wildlife, and stay on the trail. Hiking off trail damages delicate ecosystems of which Glacier National Park is comprised. Also, remember to take plenty of water, a couple of snacks or a sack lunch, a hiking staff and, of course, your camera. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen. Higher elevations mean an increased opportunity for sunburn; even on overcast days (trust me). Don’t forget to make plenty of noise as you hike to alert grizzly bears and other large wildlife of your presence; you also should consider carrying bear spray with you.

The stately Many Glacier Hotel, overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake, is a perfect place to call it a night after a day in the park.

Day 3  Make a choice and spend your last day at either Two Medicine or Waterton Lakes (the Canadian portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park). Once the prime destination of the park during its early days, Two Medicine is now quieter, with fewer sightseers. You might find time to hike the Appistoki Falls Trail (1.2 miles), the Aster Falls Trail (2.4 miles), the Paradise Point Trail (1.4 miles), the Running Eagle Falls Trail (.6 mile) or the Aster Park Overlook (4.0 miles). On the other hand, you may just wish to wander along the shore of Two Medicine Lake, purchasing a snack or the makings for a light lunch at the camp store to eat while enjoying the stunning scenery. Waterton Lakes National Park is accessed across the Canadian border in the province of Alberta, about 40 minutes north from Glacier’s St. Mary. If you choose to drive here, make certain you have your passport handy. As you drive north through vast prairieland, stop at the Chief Mountain overlook to gaze and reflect upon this

geographic feature considered sacred by the Indigenous Tribes. Continue on to your end destination of a hill overlooking the panoramic scene of Upper Waterton Lake and Waterton Townsite. Enjoy a meal or a night at the majestic and historic Prince of Wales Hotel. Stretch your legs on the short (0.9 mile one-way) but rather strenuous Bear’s Hump Trail up to an even higher-elevation view of the lake, the town site, and the hotel. You might also wish to take a scenic boat ride to Goat Haunt, at the south end of the lake. It’s a limited port of entry into the U.S., so make sure you’re carrying your passport if you wish to hike further south into Glacier. While three days in Glacier National Park doesn’t seem like much time to explore the trails and photograph the landscapes, you’ll still be amazed at how much you experience. Three days is a great introduction that will whet your appetite for new areas to explore as well as encourage return visits to favorite places the next time you come back to this “crown jewel.”


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interesting facts You Didn’t Know

About Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most remote national parks in the United States. Visitors can only access the park via boat, seaplane, or aboard the official Dry Tortugas National Park ferry, the Yankee Freedom III.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Open year-round, the national park is a unique combination of exotic habitats and historic artifacts that attract more than 80,000 people annually. In addition to scuba diving and snorkeling, visitors can swim, bird watch, saltwater fish and picnic.

1. Known for its spectacular reefs and marine life, Dry Tortugas National Park encompasses a seven-island archipelago. The explorer Ponce de Leon was the first European on the islands, situated in the Gulf of Mexico, during his fabled quest for the elusive fountain of youth. The abundant sea turtle population inspired the name Las Tortugas, and the scarcity of fresh water prompted the Dry Tortugas designation. In 1822 the area was annexed by the United States and, 24 years later, the Navy began building a fort to protect the Florida coastline. Although the garrison was never finished, it remains an iconic symbol of the national park.

3. The area possesses one of the richest concentrations of shipwrecks in North America. Nearly 200 ships sank in the surrounding waters before and shortly after the construction of the Garden Key Lighthouse in 1825. These include several vessels from the famed Spanish gold convoy of 1622, such as the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario. Submerged artifacts include anchors, cannons, pottery, and other maritime items.

2. President Franklin Roosevelt created Fort Jefferson National Monument in 1935, which was expanded 48 years later to protect the islands and their surrounding marine habitats. In 1992, the conservation area was renamed Dry Tortugas National Park. It is renowned for its shipwrecks, sunken treasure, and Civil Warera fort, as well as its pristine water, abundant sea life, and tropical bird breeding grounds.

4. Because of the long history of shipwrecks, the Dry Tortugas is home to two of the most historic lighthouses in Florida. Built in 1826, the Garden Key Lighthouse was the first in the Dry Tortugas and stands 65 feet tall. After continued shipwrecks, a second, larger lighthouse was illuminated in 1858. It stands 150 feet tall and is located 3 miles to the west on Loggerhead Key.

5. Covering 67,400 acres,

the national park is 99 percent water. Totaling approximately 100 acres, the seven main islands comprise just 1 percent of the park. The islands are Loggerhead, Garden, Bush, Long and Hospital keys, as well as the East and Middle keys. While the shape of the remaining islands perpetually changes, tidal erosion has submerged four islets, including Southwest, Bird, North and Northeast keys. The park is part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program that also includes the Everglades. 6. For three decades, marauding bandits used turtle eggs and adult turtle meat as currency. One of these buccaneers was Jean Lafitte, the pirate who aided General Jackson in the defense of New Orleans. The American naval base was the last stop before the ill-fated USS Maine sailed to Havana Harbor in 1898.

Above: Seemingly afloat in the Gulf of Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park is hard to reach but well worth the effort / Yankee Freedom III


Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

Fort Jefferson

1. Situated on Garden Key, the fort is one of the largest masonry structures in the Western Hemisphere. Named after Thomas Jefferson, the bastion housed 25-ton Rodman cannons, rifled Parrott guns, and several hundred other pieces of heavy artillery. The fort, which remained in Union hands during the Civil War, never fired a shot during combat. It was constructed of 16 million bricks over three decades. During its peak occupancy in the early 1860s Fort Jefferson housed almost 2,000 soldiers and civilians. 2. Captain Montgomery Meigs drew up

They say 16 million bricks went into construction of Fort Jefferson, which never was fully constructed / Yankee Freedom III

Eco-System 1. The Dry Tortugas feature a borderline

subtropical/tropical ecosystem that hosts numerous rare, endangered, and endemic species that do not normally breed anywhere else in the United States.

2. The park’s colorful coral reefs are home

to barracudas, sharks and wahoos, as well as lobsters, sponges, and sea anemones. The regal coral of this majestic marine sanctuary is easily accessible from the white sand beach near Fort Jefferson.

4. During peak nesting, there can be

100,000 sooty terns on Bush Key all at once. In addition to the sooty tern, some other commonly observed birds at the Dry Tortugas include the brown noddy, black noddy, magnificent frigatebird, and masked booby.

5. Dry Tortugas National Park is the most productive nesting region for the green and loggerhead turtles in the entire Florida Keys. Five different species of sea turtles in the Florida Keys are listed on the Endangered Species Act.

3. Over 200 avian species migrate through the park each year and it’s not uncommon to see 70 species in one day during peak migration. Flamingos, warblers, nighthawks, owls, terns, falcons, pelicans, and cuckoos are some of the families of birds you might see.

the plans for Fort Jefferson that included the existing Garden Key Lighthouse and keeper’s quarters. Rising through the ranks, General Meigs was instrumental in creating Arlington National Cemetery during the Civil War. In addition to civilian carpenters, masons, and other skilled laborers, the fort also used African-American slaves from Key West during construction. The black workers on the island were freed after the Emancipation Proclamation.

3. Dr. Samuel Mudd was the most famous prisoner at Fort Jefferson and was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in helping John Wilkes Booth during the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd was granted a pardon from the prison in 1869 after only serving about four years because he was instrumental in helping the Fort recover from a yellow fever epidemic in 1867. 4. During a tropical storm, Ernest

Hemingway and a group of friends were stranded at Fort Jefferson for 17 days with only a short supply of canned goods, liquor, coffee, and the fish they caught from the ocean.

To learn more interesting facts about Dry Tortugas National Park or find information about booking a day trip from Key West aboard the Yankee Freedom III, please visit We hope to see you soon! A stopping point for many migratory species, Dry Tortugas is a bird lover’s destination / Yankee Freedom III


And Other Witty Graphics From The ervice National Park S n

By Scott Johnso


he map could have been scrawled for a J.R.R. Tolkien saga. The landscape—dotted by cities but more notable for its varied terrain—features vast forests in the north and highlands to the south, with massive rivers carving travel routes through the sweeping plains in between. Home to giant, prehistoric beasts and playful, furry critters, the land is adorned by monuments of both nature and man. Taken together, they tell the geological, cultural, and historical stories of the region. In large type, the area is deemed, simply, “The Middle.” Only this isn’t Middle-earth; it’s middle America. There’s the mighty Mississippi River, rushing past the Gateway Arch. “The Windy City” and “Land of Cleve” sit on the southern shores of the Great Lakes. The Badlands and Mount Rushmore frame the top, while the Ozarks rise from the bottom. Almost smack-dab in the center is Omaha, Nebraska, home of the headquarters for the Midwest Region of the National Park Service. This is the domain of Matt Turner, who creates graphics like the “Lord of the Rings”-inspired map, mashing up park system icons with popular culture to stir interest in the 61 national parks, preserves, monuments, and historic sites in America’s heartland. From here, Turner feeds his artistic achievements to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers around the world. The goal is to entertain and inform people about national parks, particularly the diverse collection in the 13 states that make up

“Middle America,” influenced by Tolkien’s Middle-earth, contains a rich, diverse assembly of national parks / NPS


“Some of the graphics bring a lot of people in that maybe normally wouldn’t connect with the National Park Service in certain regards, but through these graphics or images, they kind of pull them in to learn more,” Turner says. “It’s really allowed us to broaden our horizon with different people we interact with.”

Matt Turner, below, pulls from film iconography and geography to build captivating images to promote the National Park System / NPS

the Midwest Region—sometimes by literally putting them on a map. One graphic contains Hot Springs, the smallest of the 59 national parks; Wind Cave, with natural wonders above and below ground; Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, the birthplace of aviation; and Buffalo River, America’s first national river. But it’s not just the places. The region has moose in the woods of Michigan and alligators in the swamps of Arkansas. It hosts the launching point for Western expansion and the ancestral territory of a multitude of Native American tribes. In other words, there’s a lot to see, do, and learn about. “We’re trying to change it from the flyover states to the ‘fly-to’ states,” says Alexandra Picavet, chief of communications for the Midwest Region and Turner’s partner running the social media accounts. That movement started as part of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday celebration last year, when Turner was brought to the regional office for a two-year detail that allows him to focus on creating graphics and building up a following via social media. Picavet, who arrived in Omaha in the middle of last year after spending more than two decades mostly at parks in the West, said the centennial “gave us an opportunity to branch out in ways we haven’t done before.” And with Turner, she knew she had the talent on board to take the Midwest to the next level. “I’ve been following him for years,” she says. Turner’s work can range from designing a graphic completely from scratch to finding the perfect, witty text to accompany a photo of a prairie dog or otter


Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

– plus everything and anything in between. For National Park Week, a park ranger steps in for Marty McFly, looking down at his watch with a message that it’s time to get “Back to the Parks,” in a font that’s pays homage to the movie “Back to the Future.” For John Muir’s birthday, a silhouette of the conservation pioneer is filled with an inspiring scene featuring bison, birds, and trees, and a quote: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” A “Star Wars”-themed image reimagines three bison as imposing AT-AT walkers, which drew heaping praise from Instagram followers: • “Seriously, you guys have the best posts!!” • “This is AMAZING! Most creative National Parks acct!” • “Can this be a legit shirt please? Or tank top?? Want!!” “It’s definitely encouraging to get that feedback. They don’t see this kind of thing on other sites,” Turner says. This original content, easily shared and appealing to all generations, tends to reach a broader audience and encourage more interaction, Turner says.

John Muir was even an inspiration for Turner as he worked to promote the Midwest Region’s parks / NPS


“He’s been able to really grow the program for the Midwest Region,” Picavet says. “We have one of the best social media accounts for the National Park Service.” Midwest Region on Social Media: MidwestNationalParks @MidwestNPS midwest.nps

Marty McFly surely would approve of this poster promoting the National Park System / NPS

The numbers back up the claim and show that the region’s efforts are paying off. Over the past yearand-a-half, Facebook followers have grown by 600 percent, and Instagram followers are approaching 20,000. As a graphic artist (technically, a visual information specialist), Turner is a rarity among Park Service employees—even design work for signage and informational panels at park waysides and museums often is contracted out. “There are not too many people with his level of training and skill that are doing this, especially for social media,” Picavet says. Turner started college interested in graphic design before switching his focus to history and anthropology. He joined the Park Service in 2005, for the first 10 years as a front-line interpreter. Giving tours and working the information desk were his priorities; social media and graphics were “collateral duty, something to squeeze in between tours.” Although he now focuses on graphics for social media, Turner also helps parks with their websites and develops rack cards, brochures, and event materials. But the social media graphics are what garner attention. 20

“Matt’s renowned in the Park Service now. He’s got a reputation. He’s very humble. He doesn’t realize just how much people enjoy how he depicts the National Park Service,” Picavet says. “We’re a proud agency, and it’s fun to look at ourselves in a lighter way sometimes.” Turner has built up a library of photos, images, designs, and templates that help him put together fresh graphics without having to spend hours on each one. Every week, he pushes to come up with new ideas. He uses a lot of pop culture references (check out the Harry Potter-style poster, with Theodore Roosevelt in the spot of the bespectacled hero), gets creative with typography (see a photo of six prairie dogs on a rock with “MIDWEST” added above them in the font from the TV show “Friends”), admires vintage, Works Progress Administration-era styles posters (find a bison looking straight ahead, framed by text that reads: “Join the Park Side”), and uses collages and silhouettes to bring together the disparate aspects of parks (for instance, in the shape of a Christmas tree during the holidays). As in most cases, humor and wit build a bridge with the audience. “But almost always there’s some sort

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of a nexus or some sort of connection to a deeper message if someone wants to dive a little deeper,” Picavet says. “They want to know more about how a prairie dog is different than a groundhog during Groundhog Day.” Turner and Picavet are already drumming up ideas for the solar eclipse that will make it’s way across the United States on August 21 (See story on page 4). Three Midwest parks—Agate Fossil Beds and Scotts Bluff national monuments, and Homestead National Monument of America—will be in the path of totality, and representatives from NASA will be on hand for the event at Homestead. “We really work with what’s going on in the world around us and latch on to whatever we can in a positive way,” Turner says. The graphics are in the public domain, so Turner encourages people to share them. And as the Midwest continues to gain a following, surely other units of the Park Service are jealous of the region’s social media prowess. “Absolutely,” Picavet says, “and we want to keep them that way.”

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On Your Feet in Yosemite


ust like John Muir, be sure your vacation sets aside some time to tramp around the spectacular mountains of Yosemite National Park and enjoy this incredible scenery. Just steps from your car you’ll leave the crowds, traffic, and bustle behind, and enter a wilderness unlike any other. Granite domes soar above you, waterfalls thunder next to you, birds’ shrill calls fill the otherwise still forests. Take a casual stroll around the Yosemite Valley, or break a sweat and head up, up, up into the canyons. Or head to the high country for an easier romp in the high alpine meadows and towering peaks above timberline. While some hikes require a permit because of their popularity, most are open and ready for your best hiking shoes. Make sure you take some water, map, a raincoat, and a snack; you’ll probably need all three. Keep an eye on the skies for gathering storms and lightning, and stay away from the high peaks. For a base camp during a multi-day stay in the park, Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals offers more than 100 vacation properties at Yosemite, Wawona, and the Oakhurst/Bass Lake area. They make a perfect place to clean up after your day on the trail, relax into the evening, and rest up for your next day’s hike. Here’s a short list of some memorable Yosemite hikes, in and out of the valley:

YOSEMITE VALLEY: Yosemite Valley Loop Trail

You can hike the full loop (11.5 miles round trip), or the half loop (7.2 miles round trip), and experience the Yosemite wilderness on a fairly easy trail. You’ll pass through verdant meadows and along the base of towering granite cliffs as the Merced River flows peacefully nearby. You can pick up this trail in a number of areas, including the Lower Yosemite Falls or Yosemite Village.

Mirror Lake Trail

This easy hike takes you to Mirror Lake and Tenaya Creek, right at the base of Half Dome. It’s only a 2-mile round trip, with


only 100 feet in elevation gain. It’s a great way to get away for a brisk stroll. The trail begins at shuttle stop #17.

Above: The Merced River crashes down into the Yosemite Valley over Nevada and then Vernal falls / Patrick Cone

Half Dome

This daylong trek has to be on your bucket list. It’s a strenuous 16-mile round-trip hike, with a 4,800-foot elevation gain: but it’s worth every step. Like a sentinel, Half Dome oversees the valley, and the view from the top of Clouds Rest, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Valley is nothing short of stupendous. It’s 2.7 miles to the top of Nevada Falls (the Mist Trail is a great, cooling hike all by itself), and another 4.4 miles to the summit. You’ll need to concentrate at the top though, as the final 400 feet is a

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Along the Tioga Road you’ll find plenty of granite domes studded with trees to ramble on / Kurt Repanshek

heart-pounding climb (with handholds and cables) up very steep, very slick, granite. Save some energy for the trip down, and don’t go anywhere near the top when thunderstorms threaten. There is a permit required, so plan ahead.

Yosemite Falls Trail

Though nearly 150 years old, this trail is a popular, and strenuous, hike to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, at 2,425 feet. And this spring and summer, with the deep winter snows melting, it will be roaring. You’ll gain 2,700 feet as you wind your way up a number of switchbacks to reach Columbia Rock at a mile, and can end your upward hike there. Or, head another 2.6 miles up to the top of the falls. Overall, it’s a 7.2-mile jaunt, with another mile if you venture out to Yosemite Point. Since this trail faces south, take plenty of water on those hot summer days. For a quick peek of the falls, take the easy, mile-long trail to the base of the falls and feel the spray in your face.

TUOLUMNE MEADOWS: Cathedral Lakes Trail

Take this 7-mile round-trip hike and see one of the most picturesque, and peaceful, scenes in Yosemite, as the 10,940-foot Cathedral Peak reflects into these backcountry lakes.

You’ll see glacially scoured granite, mountain streams, and wildflower-filled meadows. This popular hike begins a half-mile west of the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center

Lyell Canyon via the John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail ties together Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. Commit to the full two or three weeks to hike the entire 211-mile trail, or spend an afternoon from Tuolumne Meadows to Lyell Canyon. Hike south from the Backcountry Wilderness Center a short distance to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. You can soak your feet in this peaceful stream, and watch trout lurking in the pools. You’ll cross the creek on two bridges, with views of Mammoth and Cathedral peaks. Walk out as far as you wish, but save some energy, and daylight, for the return.

Dana Peak Summit Trail

Dana Peak, at 13,061, is the second-highest peak in the park, and a moderately strenuous 5-mile hike with rewarding views. There are no trail markers, but you will walk through the meadows and then hit a series of switchbacks. The final summit is a scramble in the boulders, but once on top it’s a 360-degree panorama, with saline Mono Lake and the vast Sierra all around.

GLACIER POINT: McGurk Meadow, Bridalveil Creek, and Dewey Point

Start at the McGurk Meadow trailhead, and head a mile down to McGurk Meadow, and an historic cabin. Another mile and you’ll have a choice between the trail west to Dewey Point (8.2 miles round trip), or east to Bridalveil Creek (4 miles round trip). The wildflowers are great along these trails.

Sentinel Dome and Taft Point

This moderate, 2.2-mile round trip hike begins at the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point trailhead (6 miles east of Bridalveil Creek Campground turnoff). You can head to the left toward Taft Point, but watch your step at The Fissures; it’s a long way down to the Yosemite Valley. Or you can turn right at the trailhead and hike towards Sentinel Dome, and scramble to its top for a panoramic view.

Ostrander Lake

At the Ostrander Lake trailhead (1.3 miles east of Bridalveil Creek Campground turnoff) this strenuous, day-long, hike takes you deep into the Yosemite wilderness. It’s an 11.4-mile round trip, with a steep 1,500foot elevation gain, which will give you views of Mount Starr King, the Clark Range, and Half Dome. Take your lunch at the pristine Ostrander Lake before heading back.

Yosemite’s high country offers countless miles of hikes, some of which lead to Dana Peak (left), or up the Lyell Fork of Tuolumne River along the John Muir Trail / Patrick Cone and Kurt Repanshek


America’s “front yard” faces massive maintenance and upgrade needs and some high-profile problems. By Kim O’Connell

Over the past decade, the once-gleaming white marble dome of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial has taken on a decidedly undignified appearance. Creeping over the dome’s surface (as well as the monument’s signature columns and Greek-revival pediment) is a black substance known as biofilm, giving a grimy look to this monument to the third president.

Cherry trees in bloom attract thousands of visitors to the National Mall in spring, and improvements to Constitution Gardens are expected to make it a more popular destination within the Mall / Trust for the National Mall

Dealing with the biofilm is just one of the many pressing issues facing the National Mall, which is under the purview of the National Park Service. Often called “America’s Front Yard,” the Mall welcomes well over 30 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited areas of the National Park System (as urban parks

Recent replacement of the turf on the National Mall restored the health of the lawn that endures strollers, Frisbee games, and other impromptu sports / Ron Cogswell

go, its popularity is matched only by New York City’s Central Park). More than two dozen buildings, monuments, and memorials line its nearly two-mile length, which begins west of the Capitol and extends to the Lincoln Memorial and south to include the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial. As a site of peace and protest, the Mall regularly hosts massive gatherings, such as Independence Day celebrations, presidential inaugurations, and, more recently, January’s Women’s March on Washington. All this activity, in addition to the aging infrastructure, has led to major problems, from unaddressed maintenance to acute preservation needs. Collectively, the NPS has an estimated $12 billion maintenance backlog across its 417-unit system; a full $850 million of that is needed


for the National Mall. For starters, the roofs of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials need repairs. The seawall at the Jefferson Memorial has been collapsing for some time. The Washington Monument has been closed since last fall while its elevator system undergoes repairs (a closure that came only a few years after its last closure, to repair damage caused by a 2011 earthquake). The beloved Tidal Basin cherry trees need care and occasional replacement, with countless feet trampling their roots every spring. Last summer, an August heat wave led to the death of hundreds of fish in the shallow, poorly circulating pond in Constitution Gardens, creating an unsightly (and smelly) problem for NPS. The list goes on. The Mall is vulnerable in part because of the capital’s underlying geography. Although the conventional wisdom is that the District of Columbia is built on a swamp, in fact only certain portions of the city were swampy. When Pierre L’Enfant made his famous layout for the capital, he found an area of surprising geographic diversity, with hills and forests, tidal flats and low-lying plains. Tiber Creek once ran along what is now the National Mall, before it was converted into a canal and later enclosed. As a city that is nearly surrounded by rivers (the Potomac and the Anacostia), it was, and still is, prone to flooding. Often, the solutions to the Mall’s problems are tricky and expensive. Biofilm, for example, is notoriously hard to deal with, composed of opportunistic bacteria, fungi, and algae that proliferate in weathered, pitted marble and stone. The Park

Problems with the sea wall along the Tidal Basin occasionally lead to flooding of the area / Jarrett Hendrix


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Restoring the Lockkeeper’s House


he oldest structure on the National Mall is about to get a brandnew treatment. Dating to 1835, the Lockkeeper’s House has anchored a prominent corner of the National Mall (17th Street N.W. and Constitution Avenue), but most passersby are unaware of its history. This modest stone structure was once the home and workplace for the keeper of the lock that connected the Washington City Canal, which once ran along the current location of the National Mall, with an extension of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which begins in Georgetown. Al-

Service has now employed a team of conservators to test different treatment plans for the Jefferson Memorial, but it’s difficult to clean and remove the film, and some experts say that it can even have a protective quality. The outcome remains to be seen. Adding to the Mall’s concerns is an uncertain budget environment, with the Trump administration calling for a $1.5 billion cut to the Interior Department budget, which funds the Park Service. Although it is up

to Congress to determine what the actual appropriation will be, it is likely that the agency will have to do more with less and continue to rely on private partnerships for support and fundraising. “While the National Mall has a disproportionate share of the backlog,” says Park Service spokesman Michael Litterst, “we also have some resources and private partners.” The Trust for the National Mall, as one of those key partners, has raised funds and awareness about many of the Mall’s problem areas, including

A major restoration project will not only move the Lockkeeper’s House back a bit, but create a more visitor-friendly setting and repair the historic house / Trust for the National Mall

though the little house has witnessed the growth of the National Mall and the national capital all around it, it offers very little interpretation of this development for visitors. Barred and boarded-up windows further detract from its appearance. But that is all about to change. With funding raised by the Trust for the National Mall in partnership with the National Park Service, construction began this spring on a project to move the Lockkeeper’s House about 20 feet back from the street and create a visitor plaza to interpret its role in the evolution of the capital. New digital exhibits inside the house will further examine this history, as well as efforts to protect the nearby Constitution Gardens. The first phase of this effort should be complete by early next year. “The exhibit would give people a grounding in this important history,” says Kate Greenberg, the Trust’s director of marketing and partnerships. “It will be a gateway for the rest of the National Mall.”

the Jefferson Memorial, the Tidal Basin, and so on. “Part of what we do is true restoration and preservation of the structures that are already there, making sure they are in good order,” says Kate Greenberg, the Trust’s director of marketing and partnerships. “The other part is we look at the rest of the Mall and develop plans to make it work better as an urban park.” The Trust’s current projects include a renovation of the open-air Sylvan

Theater on the Washington Monument grounds, landscape rehabilitation of Constitution Gardens, and a new plaza and exhibits for a historic Lockkeeper’s House (see sidebar). Work is also under way to rehabilitate and expand visitor services at the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the aforementioned elevator repairs for the Washington Monument, thanks in large measure to an ongoing partnership between the National Park Foundation and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who has given tens of millions for

Constitution Gardens in the Mall will undergo a revitalization that, while retaining the area’s pastoral setting, will add interpretive and visitor-friendly elements / Trust for the National Mall

various projects on the Mall. “Rubenstein’s $18.5 million gift will provide the lion’s share of the support for the Lincoln Memorial and expansion of visitor services there, which will add 15,000 square feet of functional space,” says Will Shafroth, president of the Foundation, which works with the Trust for the National Mall and other “friends” groups at parks across the country. “That’s the benefit of private philanthropy.” Yet, these groups acknowledge that congressional dollars are still needed to address the Mall’s heavy needs. Back in 2009, the American Society of Landscape Architects convened a panel of design professionals to make recommendations for the Mall, urging that future preservation efforts incorporate sustainable materials, among other things. Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s executive vice president and CEO, praises a recent turf rehabilitation effort on the Mall that included specially grown sod, drainage systems, and engineered soils. Along with other park partners, ASLA is now advocating for the passage of the National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017, a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) that would allocate oil and natural gas royalties towards addressing the Park Service’s maintenance backlog, including the Mall’s long list. “In any annual budget, there simply has not been enough to address all of the needs of the National Mall,” says Ms. Greenberg. “There has always been a need for private dollars…There is a need today and there will continue to be a need in the future.”


cast a line in the parks By Patrick Cone


hen I was seven my father bought me a kit to tie my own flies, not so much as a hobby but more that he didn’t want to buy them. But, we spent a many hours tying the right patterns, and making up wild and outlandish concoctions that might still attract the wily trout. Fortunately, one of Utah’s wild rivers was just a few steps out the back door for some “product testing.” Flowing waters have always been a background in my life of adventure and exploration. Since that time, I’ve always had a fishing pole handy, usually something small, collapsible, and portable. It didn’t take up much room in my gear when I travelled, and you never know when the deep pool, perfect ripple, or fish-dimpled lake will beckon. It’s a great way to get outside. If you haul in a lunker, that’s just a bonus. And, if not, that’s why it’s called fishing, not catching. Our memory is seared with the ones we almost landed. Photographs show that ones we actually did. These are moments frozen in time of you, a pole, and the waters. There are plenty of fish stories in our national parks, from the Denali salmon to Grand Canyon rainbows to the bonefish of the Everglades flats. To ensure a sustainable environment, rangers find a balance between fishermen and fish in the parks, and regulations vary from park to park, though in most parks a state license is required in order to fish within the park. There are some exceptions. Yellowstone National park only requires a park fishing permit, and no permit is necessary in Glacier to fish. There are restrictions, of course, in limits, locations, and seasons, and regulations are enforced and fines are levied. It’s best to check local park regulations before casting that line.

Here’s a quick look at some of the many fishing opportunities in the National Park System: Acadia National Park Acadia National Park has freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. You can catch brook and brown trout, salmon, perch, and bass (small and largemouth) in freshwater lakes, and will need a license. Mt. Desert Island’s ponds and lakes are a good place to get lucky. Saltwater species such as bluefish, mackerel, and striped bass can be taken along the rugged coastline, and no license is needed. You’ll enjoy the solitude, trails, scenery, and landscapes while you try to fool our finned friends.

Biscayne National Park Downtown Miami is the backdrop when you fish on Biscayne Bay. Anglers catch permit, bonefish, snook, and tarpon. Don

Yellowstone’s Gibbon River is a reliable draw for fly fishermen / Patrick Cone


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a snorkel and try your hand at spearfishing, or go after lobster, shrimp, and blue and stone crabs. The mangrove forests create a great nursery for hundreds of species of fish. You’ll need to have, or rent, a boat to get on the water, but there are plenty of outfitters to help you with gear.

Everglades National Park Water covers a full third of the Everglades, which means great fishing. You’ll need separate licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing, but there are backwaters, marshes, and tidal flats waiting for a line. You might hook a fighting largemouth bass, snook, redfish, or tarpon. It’s a watery wilderness just a dozen miles from Florida’s bustling cities.

Glacier National Park For angles, Glacier is heaven. The streams, lakes, and rivers are loaded with trout, including the colorful bull and Dolly Varden varieties. The mountain peaks, glaciers, and forests are a big part of the experience too. You may be lucky enough to see an eagle snatch a fish, or watch a bear amble along a beach. All waters are closed to mo-

torized watercraft and boats brought in by trailer. There are strict limits on some species, while others are catch-and-release.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park If you’re a fly fisherman, then Great Smoky Mountains is for you. There are hundreds of miles of streams, creeks, and rivers to fish, teeming with trout and smallmouth bass. It’s one of the last places to catch a wild brook trout. There are many tucked-away waters amidst the fog-shrouded valleys, so find a local guide to show you perfect places to dip a line. Make sure you have a state fishing license along with you as well.

Isle Royale National Park Lake Superior and the inland lakes make Isle Royale a popular fishing spot. You’ll need a Michigan fishing license, though those 17-years-old and younger do not need one. There are some huge lake trout lurking in the depths waiting for you.

The removal of the Glines Canyon and Elwha dams has made Olympic National Park even more attractive to fly casters / NPS, Josh Geffre

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

This Alaskan park is for the adventurous fishermen. With a season from May through October, head to Lake Clark for the salmon runs during July and August. You might hook chinook, Coho, humpback, or sockeye, along with the arctic char and grayling. Trout species include Lake, rainbows, and Dolly Varden. And, keep an eye behind you for hungry bears.

Head to Padre Island for deep sea and inshore fishing. Head into the Gulf by boat for marlin, sailfish, and tuna. Inshore options include fishing for redfish, flounder, and trout near this barrier island.

Olympic National Park Olympic is well-known as a salmon fishery, with thousands of miles of waterways, and 73 miles of Pacific coastline. You might also hook steelhead trout, saltwater perch, and Pacific cod, as well as rainbow and cutthroat trout in freshwater.

Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain is a mountain paradise, with high country lakes, rushing rivers, and meandering meadow streams. Look for the native greenback cutthroat and Colorado River trout, as well as brown and brook trout. You’ll need a valid Colorado fishing license, only artificial lures and flies may be used, and many areas are catch-andrelease.

Shenandoah National Park Brook trout attract fishermen to the 70 streams in Shenandoah, headwaters of the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James rivers. It’s artificial lures or flies only, and many areas are catchand-release, so check the park regulations.

Tranquility and a catch landed in Quartz Lake, Glacier National Park / NPS, Jacob W. Frank


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From fresh catch to a fresh dinner is possible in park waters where catchand-release isn’t required / Patrick Cone

Voyageurs National Park Voyageurs in northern Minnesota is an obvious destination for fishermen seeking northern pike, walleyes, muskies, small and largemouth bass, as well as perch and bluegills. There are also some monster brook trout, if you can find them. The area is covered by big, and small, lakes, and you’ll need a non-motorized boat such as a canoe to get out on these waters.

Yellowstone National Park Anglers in Yellowstone can land the wily cutthroat trout here, among the nation’s premiere environmental areas. You can fish large rivers, small streams, alpine lakes, or even the outflow from geothermal areas. It’s a unique experience. Take a walk down the Firehole River with your pole, as bison, elk, and bears wander around. Fly fishing is the predominant sport in Yellowstone, and while a state license isn’t required, a park permit is.

Solitude and perseverance become one along the Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park / Patrick Cone


Friends Of the parks Head To The Roof Of Saguaro National Park This Summer Summer in the Sonoran Desert is HOT— as daytime temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees from May through September—but visitors still have a lot to enjoy at Saguaro National Park, just outside Tucson, Arizona. Desert hiking in extreme heat can be hazardous, but savvy visitors know they can hike early, pace themselves, rest often, and drink at least one gallon of water per person per day—while using sunscreen and wearing a hat with a full brim. Experienced hikers can opt for cooler temperatures in the higher elevations of the Rincon Mountains, trekking 9 miles up to Manning Camp (elevation 8,000 feet) in the heart of the Saguaro Wilderness (and bounded on three sides by the 38,590-acre Rincon Mountain Wilderness Area within the Coronado

National Forest). Manning Camp has a ranger station, a designated campground, and a permanent spring set in a fine stand of old-growth ponderosa pine. During the summer months, both fire and trail crews use Manning Camp as their base of operations. This year, the nonprofit Friends of Saguaro National Park provided more than $16,000 to fund important high-elevation research at Manning Camp. The National Park Service sent up crews to do systematic surveys of: 1) water resources, including springs; 2) invasive plants; 3) forest health, including tree mortality and diseases; 4) cultural resources; and 5) other Wilderness values, such as night sky Manning Camp is a popular overnight destination for backpackers who head into the Rincon Mountains of Saguaro National Park / Friends of Saguaro National Park

darkness and soundscapes. The higher elevations of Saguaro National Park are rapidly undergoing multiple climate change impacts, including altered precipitation regimes, increased temperatures, spring draw down, and a rise in forest diseases. Native plant communities are also changing—including declines in native diversity, range shifts, loss of species, and increases in non-native plants. The apparent local extirpation of several high elevation wetland plants has been a growing concern to park management. While none of the species is currently listed as threatened or endangered, they can nonetheless be used as indicators of a continuing drying trend. With nearly $12,000 in funding from Friends of Saguaro, park researchers will be working this summer to help determine if, in fact, some of these plants have already been extirpated from the park.

Summering Along the Blue Ridge Parkway For so many people, summer means trips to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway. Kids are out of school, the mountain air is cool and refreshing, and a thrilling range of activities await. Here are just a few updates for any trip this year: v In 2016, overnight camping stays on the Blue Ridge Parkway increased 25 percent over the previous year, so be sure to reserve or arrive at your favorite spot early. Thanks to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, a new shower facility is under construction at Price Park Campground,

The Blue Ridge Music Center in the Blue Ridge Parkway brings top musical acts to the mountains and provides opportunities for you to perfect your footwork / Mike Duncan


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milepost 297. It will be only the second campground on the Parkway to feature showers. Campsite fees have increased from $16 per night to $20 per night. A new rule requires that firewood brought for use at campsites must be heat-treated to reduce the introduction of pests that harm forests. v Hikers can once again enjoy the Rock Castle Gorge Trail, milepost 169, which was heavily damaged during a rainstorm in the fall of 2015 and reopened last September. The moderate to strenuous 10.8-mile loop features opportunities for backcountry camping, fly-fishing, and waterfall and wildlife viewing. v The Blue Ridge Music Center, milepost 213, kicks off its summer concert series on Saturday, May 27, with The Steel Wheels. This season of Saturday concerts will welcome The Quebe Sisters, Steep Canyon Rangers, Mipso, Phil Wiggins & the Chesapeake Sheiks, The Harris Brothers, New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, April Verche Band, Amythst Kiah, The Snyder Family Band, and many more. For the complete schedule, visit v Be sure to stop by Eastern National’s new traveler info station and gift shop at the Bluffs at Doughton Park, milepost 241. The venture is a first step in the longerrange plan to reopen the stone buildings, formerly home to a camp store and Bluffs Restaurant, which closed in 2010. Restrooms will also be open. There is still work to be done to revitalize this popular

stop, and you can help. v The recent rehab work is complete at the amphitheater at Mount Pisgah Campground, milepost 408. The newly paved outdoor education space is handicap accessible and features new bench seating and electricity. Be sure to ask at the campground gate about scheduled ranger-led programs.

Twenty Great Years With The Grand Teton National Park Foundation Grand Teton National Park Foundation this year celebrates 20 successful years of partnership with Grand Teton National Park. From the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center—our flagship project— to the transformation underway at Jenny Lake and the recent protection of 640

acres of critical habitat on Antelope Flats, our collaboration has had a tremendous and long-lasting impact on Grand Teton and millions of people who visit. Some of the highlights: v Built a state-of-the-art visitor center designed by world-renowned architect Peter Bohlin and exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates. v Transformed the Jenny Lake area through safe and sustainable trails, new bridges, lake overlooks, and modern interpretive exhibits. v Protected a 640-acre inholding with migration routes and iconic vistas of the Teton Range and valley. v Advanced conservation and research for gray wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, pronghorn, bison, osprey, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, and more. v Preserved cultural treasures including Menor’s Ferry, Maud Noble Historic District, Brinkerhoff House, Mormon Row Historic

The restoration of the lands hugging Jenny Lake and the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center were two key projects in Grand Teton National Park made possible by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation / Ryan Sheets (top), Grand Teton National Park Foundation


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District, Lucas Fabian Homestead, and more. v Employed 220 high school students during 11 seasons of the Youth Conservation Program. Participants improve trails, learn about stewardship, and gain insight into park service careers. v Engaged more than 400 local Latino youth and family members in Pura Vida—a program that introduces this population to Grand Teton’s resources and recreation. v Introduced more than 418 diverse college students to NPS careers through NPS Academy. v Brought diverse Mountains to Main Street and Tribal Youth Corps students to the park for internships and leadership training. It has been an interesting, fun, and gratifying 20 years. Thank you to all of our partners, our supporters, and our community for believing in the work we do!

Preserving Acadia National Park For Future Generations Is there any doubt that summer is approaching for Acadia National Park? Peregrine falcons are perched in the cliffs, stars are sparkling overhead, and birds are flitting through the park’s forests. Preserving and protecting the natural side of the park is a key challenge for us all, and Friends of Acadia is actively working with the National Park Service to manage a “wild Acadia” in the 21st century. Thanks to help from Friends of Acadia, the park is ahead of the curve and well on the way to implementing a new approach to stewarding resources that is in sync with Director’s Order 100. Signed by former National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis late last year, that order directed the Park Service “to manage…resources in a context of continuous change that we do not fully understand, in order to: v Preserve and restore ecological, historical, and cultural integrity; v Contribute as an ecological and cultural core of national and international networks of protected lands, waters, and resources; and v Provide visitors and program participants with opportunities for transformative experiences that educate and inspire.” Friends of Acadia and the staff at Acadia National Park three years ago launched their Wild Acadia program, which is structured exactly in line with Director’s Order 100. You can learn more about how this initiative is playing out on the landscape of Acadia by reading the Spring

Summer months are the perfect time to explore Acadia National Park’s “wild side” and get to know some of the bird species that call the park home / Friends of Acadia

issue of Friends of Acadia Journal. While you can read this article online, by donating to Friends of Acadia the group will deliver three journals a year to your mailbox, and your donation will help underwrite programs such as Wild Acadia. If you’re planning to visit the park this summer, be sure to watch for the peregrine falcons at Jordan Cliffs, the Valley Cove, and the Precipice. If you visit in early June, sign up for some of the programs offered during the Acadia Birding Festival. Scheduled for June 1-4, this festival is a celebration of the

“ecological wonders of the birds of the Gulf of Maine.” The wide variety of programs offers chances to spot Atlantic puffins and Arctic terns, catch glimpses of Blackburnian and Black-throated Blue warblers, and improve your photographic skills for “shooting” birds. And if you’re planning a late summer visit to Acadia, put the 8th Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival on your calendar. It’s scheduled for September 21-24. Whenever you visit Acadia, be sure to explore the wild side of the park.


Books Worth Considering National Parks Beyond The Nation The national park movement has been evolving for more than a century, and it is by no means complete. The movement grows as governments, scientists, and society seek ways to cope with climate change, protect endangered species, manage landscapes, and to simply set aside more space for recreation and preservation. And this varies from country to country. Around the world you’ll find parks that encompass working communities, such as the Lake District National Park in Great Britain. There are parks with little, if any, infrastructure, and which harbor great biodiversity, such as Chiquibul National Park in Belize. And there are parks that protect resources and give local communities and visitors access, such as Lampi Marine National Park in Myanmar. The national park movement has expanded globally from the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, and this book from the University of Oklahoma Press offers a collection of essays and papers that examine how different nations interpreted, and implemented, the parks movement on their own landscapes. National Parks Beyond the Nation, Global Perspectives on “America’s Best Idea” has case studies from New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Indonesia, and other countries. These show the different approaches to park creation and management. Argentina’s first park, for example, came from a donation of 23,000 acres from Francisco Pascasio Moreno, who had helped negotiate that country’s border with Chile. Moreno, who also guided


Theodore Roosevelt through Patagonia, made the donation with the caveat that the land be protected as Parque Nacional del Sur. Today it’s known as Perito Moreno National Park. And land donations continue to expand the national park movement, as seen in the last year’s establishment of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine and the recent commitment to create five parks in Chile. The book’s first chapter, Beyond the Best Idea, touches on one of the foundational reasons nations create parks: “National parks help bound the nation both physically and culturally. Physically, nation-states have used parks to define their territorial sovereignty. Culturally, parks supply powerful narratives that identify who is in and who is out with regard to imagined national communities. For these reasons people in many parts of the world have come to equate national parks with nations.” And yet, the authors tell us, “Mount Rainier, Antarctica, and the other regions this book explores, however, reveal the

Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

This book from the University of Oklahoma Press offers a collection of essays and papers that examine how different nations interpreted, and implemented, the parks movement on their own landscapes.

Released by the University of Utah Press, this book is a particularly rich and entertaining read that helps us understand how this rugged landscape was viewed, used, and appreciated before it became a national park in 1915.

myopia of framing national parks that way. Parks are at once much bigger and much smaller than the nation-states that house them. By refusing to stop at the borders, the essays productively and humanely draw our attention beyond the nation.” National Parks Beyond the Nation tracks the global national park movement, and reveals what parks mean to different cultures, and the roles they play nationally. — Kurt Repanshek

The Rocky Mountain National Park Reader This title will be a great addition to libraries of collectors of anthologies of stories and essays from around the National Park System. Through its nearly 280 pages James H. Pickering has masterfully assembled narratives crafted from those who homesteaded the land within today’s park, from naturalists such as Anne Zwinger, Stephen Trimble, SueEllen Campbell, and even from mountain climbers. There are other “readers” (on Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the Pacific Crest Trail, for example), but this title has a preponderance of late 19th century—not 20th century—articles. Released by the University of Utah Press, this book is a particularly rich and entertaining read that helps us understand how this rugged landscape was viewed, used, and appreciated before it became a national park in 1915. Pickering includes narratives from the likes of Lewis W. Klepinger, who was in

a party led by Major John Wesley Powell that was credited as the first to summit Longs Peak. There’s another by the Earl of Dunraven, who arrived in the 1870s and built an 8,000-acre estate in what is now Estes Park. There’s also a piece from Isabella Lucy Bird, an Englishwoman who summited Longs Peak in 1873. A travel writer of high regard, Ms. Bird published a collection of her letters from Estes Park and the surrounding mountains in 1879, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, which brought fame to the region. “As I intend to make Estes Park my headquarters until the winter sets in, I must make you acquainted with my surroundings and mode of living. The ’Queen Anne Mansion’ is represented by a log cabin made of big hewn logs. The chinks should be filled with mud and lime, but these are wanting,” reads part of the entry in this title. “The roof is formed of barked young spruce, then a layer of hay and an outer coating of mud, all nearly flat. The floors are rough boarded. The ‘living room’ is about sixteen feet square, and has a rough stone chimney in which pine-logs are always burning.” Not all the entries are so dated. A much more recent piece by Ms. Campbell explores the extraordinary biology of the White-tailed ptarmigans that eke out a living on the tundra near the roof of the park. “This bird knew just how to behave in winter. Along with the tundra’s other survivors, plants and animals both, she also had the right body. Like the weasel’s white fur, her winter feathers would work as both camouflage and heat collectors; on chilly days, she could find a patch of sunshine, fluff herself out, and let the rays of the sun penetrate the hollow shafts and reach her skin,” she tells us. “The feathers covering her body were double, too, each carrying a second downy branch called an aftershaft, for extra insulation. In short, she was feathered all over. Feathered nostrils

would keep the snow and ice from impeding her breathing. Feathered eyelids would do the same for her vision.” This reader is a must for park lovers, especially those attached to Rocky Mountain. It will give hours of entertainment. — Kurt Repanshek

Underground Ranger: Adventures in Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Other Remarkable Places In 1995, National Park Service Ranger Doug Thompson saw the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and thought they were clouds. Little did he know, but for the next six years he would work under those clouds, and beneath those mountains at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. He was looking for a challenge after


two decades as a ranger, and found one. In Underground Ranger (University of New Mexico Press), Thompson’s memoir of his life as a cave ranger rings true, as only someone who has “been there-done that” could describe. The 272 page paperback book is perfect to stow in your pack for some insightful reading on your travels. As an interpretive ranger, he would soon lead visitors deep underground into the wonderland of stalagmites, helictites, columns, and flowstone and explain how they were created. He also would overcome his fear of heights and confined spaces to explore many of the surrounding features, including the magnificent Lechuguilla Cave. In this book, Thompson takes you along as he explains the methods to his cave obsession, from free-hanging rappels and tight spaces (including one called the Poop Chute), that grew as he explored more and more of this underground wilderness. There was wonder as he went places no human had ventured, and drama as he helped rescue stranded visitors as part of the park’s technical rescue team, a task that at times required him to drop more than 500 feet into the darkness. This is a well-written book, with insights into the native culture’s connection to the underground, and the animals that lived above, and below, the surface: from the nightly flight of thousands of bats exiting Carlsbad Cave to a chance encounter (too close) with a cougar, and to salamanders that never saw the light. Thompson’s love for the natural world, and this particular desert, shine through in these pages. I do wish, however, that he would describe vertical drops in feet, rather than saying a 100foot pit was a ten-story drop. Perhaps for most visitors from urban areas that might be more relevant. This is a personal book written as only an interpretive ranger could, with humor, humanity, and a humble outlook as he shares his passion. This desolate border country where New Mexico meets Texas isn’t for everyone, but those who spend even a little time in this desert will grow to love it, just as Ranger Doug has done. — Patrick Cone

Yellowstone National Park: Through the Lens of Time In 1871, a government-sponsored expedition led by Ferdinand V. Hayden set out to explore and document the Yellowstone region, spurred by tales so outlandish that many considered them works of fiction. Hayden, a scientist, made certain to include a photographer in his party to provide visual evidence of the territory’s wonders and to silence any doubters. That photographer, William Henry Jackson, captured some of the first images of now-iconic locations such as Mammoth Hot Springs and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and these pictures were instrumental in the designation of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park. Nearly 150 years later, Bradly J. Boner, a photojournalist based in Jackson Hole, spent four summers (2011-2014) retracing the steps of the 1871 Hayden Survey. He set out on a personal “scavenger hunt” to find the exact location of every photo-


Essential Park Guide | Summer 2017

graph based on the images themselves and descriptions published by members of the party, then take his own photo, or “rephotograph,” each one to show how the park had (or hadn’t) changed. The result is Yellowstone National Park: Through the Lens of Time, a 300-page visual and historical showcase of Jackson’s work, complete with descriptions of the locations by those in the party. Each of the more than 100 photographs is given an entire page, with Mr. Boner’s excellent contemporary view on the facing page. The comparisons show a landscape largely unchanged, though at times the hand of man or nature has intruded. A collection of images from around Tower Fall show both how soft, volcanic rock has crumbled while granite boulders sit exactly as they were almost a century and a half ago. Each sideby-side encourages careful examination. Surely a fulfilling achievement on a personal level for Mr. Boner, his book is a magnificent tribute to all who helped protect Yellowstone and have continued to care for it. — Scott Johnson

Parting Shot

Trail of the Cedars near Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park offers a short, accessible walk into a forest of hemlock and cedars where some of the trees are said to date back to the 1500s. Photo by Rebecca Latson

Essential Park Guide, Summer 2017: Join The Park Side  

Summer is an incredible time in the national parks. Among the stories in National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide, Sumer 2017, is one...

Essential Park Guide, Summer 2017: Join The Park Side  

Summer is an incredible time in the national parks. Among the stories in National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide, Sumer 2017, is one...