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Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?


Don't you think both the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area should be part of the National Park System? Top photo via USGS, bottom photo via

While we at the Traveler have in the past raised the issue of what units of the National Park System should be jettisoned, today's survey is just the opposite. Tell us what you would like to see added to the system.

For instance, the Clinton administration botched things back in 1996 when it created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and gave it to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to manage. That gorgeous, nearly 2-million-acre swath of southern Utah redrock, rightly belongs within the National Park System.

Ditto with the San Rafael Swell in central Utah, a landscape that as long ago as the 1930s was being recommended for national park stature.

What other landscapes might be worthy of national park designation? How 'bout shifting the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service? Should we get behind the effort to "Restore the North Woods" of Maine and slap an NPS sticker on it?

And why isn't the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness part of the park system?

What other places do you think should be added to the National Park System?


There are no national park units dedicated to an American composer. There are sites connected to writers, such as Carl Sandburg and Eugene O'Neil, but nothing to music (New Orleans Jazz not withstanding). There are a lot of possibilities: Irving Berlin, Aaron Copland, William Rogers, and others. American music is uniquely American and it would be a fitting theme addition to national parks preserving the culture of the U.S.

I think Both Boundary Waters and Maine North Woods should be National Parks. Those are 2 valuable resources that are just not being protected.

I don't know the politics behind it all, but as a user of both National Parks and BLM-managed land, I find the no-infrastructure and free camping approach of BLM-managed land in the southwest to be far preferable to the zoo of RV parking lots in our National Parks. I have found that the National Parks over-promote front country access, to the detriment of backcountry access. The user quotas go to RVers, not people getting further in. Camps get over-used, and low-impact use is not effectively managed.

So I disagree with your contention that "the Clinton administration botched things back in 1996 when it created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and gave it to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to manage."

From what I've seen, development is what the Park Service does. In my opinion, the goal of making more space accessible to more people is not the best management approach to these special places.

I recently did my yahoo home page over and added "National Parks Traveler" to it I think its great and I love reading it. When I was a kid my Dad was in the US Army and I lived all over this country and was blessed to have seen many of our National treasurers. I took your Quiz and it looks like I need to do an awful lot of reading and visiting to get up to speed. I think it would be great if we move forward and create "Maine North Woods National Park". Thanks and I will continue to read, travel, take your tests and participate.

Mike - Maynard, MA


You make some good points. Specifically regarding the Staircase, I would hate to see it become more developed, say with a lodging footprint placed somewhere along the Cottonwood Road.

However, I see no reason why the NPS couldn't manage it as a wilderness preserve with lodgings and campgrounds in the towns surrounding the Staircase. I tend to think the NPS is better at people and recreation management than the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which has more of a multiple-use mandate and so is more likely to authorize mineral development, logging, grazing, or other uses on its lands that could adversely impact natural resources.

Indeed, in Utah the BLM has a miserable track record with managing ORVs on public lands. Already there have been numerous examples of ORV travel in parts of the Staircase that are supposedly off-limits to such travel. One area is Hackberry Canyon.

And then, of course, there's the issue of energy leases on BLM lands.

Is it time for a reordering of management priorities? Do we need to take a close look at what the BLM, NPS and Forest Service manage and for what results and reshuffle the deck as well as the management missions and nuances of each of those agencies? Sounds like fodder for another post.

I think Sequoia National Park should be expanded to include Sequoia National Monument.

My family traveled through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument a couple of years ago. I was amazed at its beauty. I would love to see a Visitor center, lodge, campground, and a little development. We were on our way from Capitol Reef to Bryce and Zion. I absolutely would recommend the drive to any one. We stayed in a hotel in Escalante. Not great. Some trails or view points may have been missed because we happened on to it. A national park entrance with a map would have been a great help. I will know more next time through.

Currently the Tillamook Air Museum is based in a World War II Blimp Hangar tht is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world. From a historical architectural view, I believe this should qualify as a national historical site. I wouldn't suggest it as a park, but the historical building should be preserved.

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