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Odds and Ends From Around the National Park System


Items, some interesting, some perhaps not, from around the National Park System for a Monday morning's consideration.

Transparency at the Department of Interior

Back in February we passed on the Interior Department's pledge for transparency, one built around a website designed around "Open Government."

In that post, we noted that the Traveler filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Interior officials last November with hopes of getting a glimpse of the department's report on an investigation into alleged embezzlement at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.

Well, we're still looking for that transparency, for DOI has yet to provide us with one page of that report. Fortunately, the folks at Public Employees for Environmental Ethics, which filed a lawsuit to see the same report, have been willing to share some of the documents they received from Interior.

Another Fee Increase in the Offing?

That train ride at Steamtown National Historic Site just might be getting a bit more expensive in light of fee increases under consideration. Site managers are proposing to boost both entrance fees and fees charged for train rides.

They also want to redefine adults. Currently, it costs $6 for adults "17 years and older" to enter Steamtown. The proposed $8 fee would apply to "adults 13 years and older." Some might interpret this as a double-whammy, one that jumps entrance fees by $8, not $2, for under the current rate structure kids up to 16 years old have been able to enter Steamtown for free.

The fee increase proposal also would boost excursion ride fees by $2 (to $5) for a 30-minute ride on a train pulled by a steam locomotive, and a $5 bump (to $35) for longer excursions.

Discounted Lodging at Yellowstone National Park

Earlier this year we mentioned a way to save 20 percent on lodging in Yellowstone -- simply join the Yellowstone Association.

Well, that deal has been extended, and enhanced, by Xanterra Parks & Resoerts. Not only will they offer that deal to association members for lodging this October, but they'll bump the savings to 25 percent for rooms booked from January 2-March 5 next year.

A membership in the Yellowstone Association can be had for as little as $35 for a year. With lodging rates running $96 a night at the Old Faithful Inn running up to $145 a night in October, a two-nights' stay will earn you back your Yellowstone Association membership fee, which, of course, is tax deductible.

Traveler caveat: The Yellowstone Association is one of our sponsors, but we'd like them even if they weren't!

Finding Your Way in the Wilderness of North Cascades National Park

Have you wanted to head off into the rugged backcountry of a national park, but felt you didn't have the necessary skills? Well, the folks at the North Cascades Institute are offering a two-day "wilderness navigation" course.

Join us for a weekend of honing the craft of map and compass reading, topography and GPS navigation. With seasoned Institute naturalists as our teachers and guides, we'll learn essential concepts such as declination, true north, triangulation and how latitude and longitude differ from a UTM grid. From our home base at the Learning Center, we'll venture forth and spend our days exploring the incredible wilderness areas of North Cascades National Park. At the end of the class, you'll get a chance to test your new found skills by working in teams to navigate a specially designed course that will introduce you to our wild neighborhood.

Rates range from $215/person to $455/person, depending on lodging.


great tip about joining the Yellowstone Association - you help give back and save money!

How can anyone say that an adult is 13 years. There are certain norms of when one is an adult it it certainly isn't 13. Why not make a certain fee for children up to 16 and you would still gain some needed revenue. I am still concerned that National Park Service areas are pricing themselves higher than the public can afford. Another site comes to mind - Gettysburg - $10.95 without even a substantial introductory exhibit to the battlefield for free. This is what you get for turning the park to the Gettysburg Foundation. I thought the parks were supposed to be affordable.

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