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Interesting National Park Stories That Appealed to Us

The plight of wolves at Isle Royale National Park was one of the stories we enjoyed researching and writing this past year, and we hope you enjoyed reading it! NPS photo.

Not all stories have to have a hard edge to them to be considered nicely done. What follows are some 2011 stories from, or revolving around, the National Park System that we liked for what they had to say, or how they had to say it, or what we learned from them. We hope you enjoyed them, too.


As a Federal Agent, Carter Niemeyer Killed Wolves For a Living

Carter Niemeyer has had a hand in killing more American wolves in the Lower 48 states than any wildlife manager in modern history. In the following interview, he discusses his book, "Wolfer," and offers his thoughts on the current state of wolves and wolf management in the RockyMountains.

Read more for the details.


Hiking the Appalachian National Scenic Trail: It Takes More Heart Than Heel

Do you have the right stuff to hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail next year? It's not about the right gear but as Grandma Gatewood said, "it takes more heart than heel."

Read more for the details.


Birding in the National Parks: Where Are All The Kittlitz's Murrelets Going?

Data being gathered to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decide whether the Kittlitz's murrelet should have Endangered Species Act protection shows an alarming direction in the species' population trend.

Read more for the details.


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The Grand Register! NPS photo.

National Park History: The Register of Yo-Semite Valley

Now a prized possession of the Yosemite Museum, the guest register of the Cosmopolitan Bathhouse & Saloon is a treasure trove of information about early Yosemite tourism.

Read more for the details.


Taking the Long Way Home, Through Yellowstone National Park

Being able to drive through Yellowstone National Park on your way home isn't something many of us are fortunate enough to be able to do. But Contributing Writer Todd Wilkinson is one who is, and what he saw on his ride home the other day is something to evoke some jealousy.

Read more for the details.


Is The Time Right For A "Maine Woods" National Park?

Inspired in no small measure by others who gave so much to the National Park System, Roxanne Quimby is offering 70,000 acres for a national park embracing Maine's North Woods.

Read more for the details.


Bear Watching Mayhem In Yellowstone And Grand Teton National Parks

Bears in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks have been in the news a bit this summer, both because of their behavior and the behavior of tourists watching the bears. The following column by Todd Wilkinson will have you scratching your head over how there haven't been more bear-human incidents this summer.

Read more for the details.


Persistent Pedestrians: Bears In Big Bend National Park

Black bears, once thought to be long gone from Big Bend National Park, have been on the comeback, though the recent drought could create problems for the small population, as Meghan Hicks has learned.

Read more for the details.


Musings From Cape Lookout National Seashore

Younger, and rougher, than its older neighbor, Cape Lookout National Seashore offers the quintessential seashore experience, one set amid waving sea oats, crashing surf, and the cries of shorebirds.

Read more for the details.


Savor The Gifts That Are Grizzly No. 399 & Clan In Grand Teton National Park

What’s the value of a grizzly bear? For far more people than not, few things in this age of avatars surpass the thrill of seeing a grizzly bear family in its native element. The story of Jackson Hole grizzly No.399, who emerged from the den this year with her second troop of triplet cubs in half a decade, speaks to another kind of worth. It says something about us.

Read more for the details.

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The Friendship. NPS photo.

Preserving History At Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Creaking on the tides under the weight of its three masts and 55 miles of rigging, the Friendship is a floating reminder of a time when the upstart United States laid a commercial claim to the high seas.

Read more for the details.

A Weekend Well-Lived: Trail Running In Death Valley National Park

You can find trail runners in more than a few national parks these days, and Death Valley National Park, with its wide-open spaces and roads running through tight canyons, is a spectacular draw for those looking for great scenery and solitude on their runs, as Meghan Hicks and her friends discovered earlier this year.

Read more for the details.


Study Points To Value Of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem For Wolverines

A four-year search for wolverines in Yellowstone National Park and the ecosystem neighboring the eastern half of the park detected surprisingly few of the carnivores, but concluded that the park has increasingly valuable habitat that could help the species avoid extinction in the contiguous United States.

Read more for the details.

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Avalanche chutes tower over Yellowstone's Sylvan Pass. NPS graphic.

Ruminating on Unexploded Ordnance, Climate Change, and Maintaining Winter Access To Yellowstone National Park

One doesn't typically worry about coming across an unexploded howitzer round when visiting a national park. But it could happen at Yellowstone National Park.

Read more for the details.


Reflecting on the "State Of the National Parks" In the Wake of National Park Week

Handling endangered and threatened species and off-road vehicles, scalping campsite reservations, and the interpreting of parks by smartphone are among the things to wonder about in the wake of National Park Week.

Read more for the details.


How Stable Is The Future Of Island Royale National Park's Wolf Population?

Inbreeding, gender woes, and even climate change could be conspiring to doom the future of Isle Royale National Park's wolf population.

Read more for the details.

Voices From A Drowned Treasure: The Music Temple Register

In the early 1960s, the rising waters of Lake Powell permanently submerged Music Temple, one of Glen Canyon's most spectacular side canyons. Fortunately, the remarkable site's visitor register was moved to safety.

Read more for the details.


Inn Step With Asheville, The Blue Ridge Parkway's Premier Place to Pause

Even if you don’t explore the Blue Ridge Parkway’s miles of easy “leg-stretcher” trails, this meandering, 45-mph-motor-trail delivers the explosive bloom of Appalachian spring right through the windshield.

Read more for the details.


Kicking Off National Park Week By Getting Dirty At Joshua Tree National Park National Park

Week arrived in Southern California with hot, dry, sunny weather, and a volunteer effort indicative of the good that can be done for national parks when the need is demonstrated.

Read more for the details.


Finding Proper Museum And Curatorial Space in the National Park System

Across its sprawling system, the National Park Service is noticeably short of adequate museum display space and curatorial facilities. But the agency has a plan to address that.

Read more for the details.


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Sunset at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Lee Dalton photo.

Musings From Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has taken on a somewhat dark connotation since park Ranger Kris Eggle was killed by drug runners in August 2002. While some parts of the park remain off-limits to casual tourists, and researchers are suggested to go into the field accompanied by security, guest writer Lee Dalton found the park fascinating during a February visit.

Read more for the details.


A Walk Around Alaska, the Andrew Skurka Story

What could possibly inspire someone to circumnavigate Alaska, traveling 4,678.8 miles by foot, ski, and inflatable raft? For Andrew Skurka, the challenge was both physical and mental and an underlying desire to "take advantage of the 70, 80 years that I've got on this planet."

Read more for the details.


Grand Canyon "State Park"? A Look Back at the 1995 Government Shut Down and the Battle Over the Grand Canyon

Back in 1995, the last time the federal government shut down over a budget impasse, then-Arizona Gov. Fife Symington showed incredible moxie by trying to engineer a state takeover of Grand Canyon National Park.

Read more for the details.


"Lost" Petroglyphs Rediscovered At Virgin Islands National Park

Armed with photos from an old roll of film and the location of some of Virgin Islands National Park's best-known petroglyphs, park archaeologist Ken Wild set out with volunteers to solve a mystery.

Read more for the details.

The Gate Lodges of Acadia National Park

The natural scenery of Acadia National Park is well-complemented by the architectural amendments built by those who laid the path for the national park's being. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who gave so much to the National Park System, gave Acadia 45 miles of "carriage roads" so he could enjoy touring the interior of Mount Desert Island without competing with autos. Along with the carriage roads, he instructed his workers to build two "gate lodges" at entry points to the roads.

Read more for the details.

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial. NPS photo.

The National Park System's Cultural-History Wing

 The National Park System units that were established to preserve and interpret nationally significant cultural-historical resources act in concert to "tell America's story." One might argue, in fact, that this is their mission boiled down to its essence. If it can be said that the nature-based parks exist to preserve hallmark features of this country's physical inheritance, the cultural-historical parks exist to help us understand, appreciate, and remember what American culture is and how it got to be that way.

Read more for the details.


Bison, Pine Nuts, Trout And Grizzlies: Perfect Storm For Yellowstone's Wildlife Managers?

Yellowstone National Park's northern range at times has been labeled "America's Serengeti" for the rich and diverse wildlife that inhabits it. But today, with native trout imperiled by non-native predators, whitebark pine trees falling to climate change, and bison being cut off from valuable winter habitat and at times slaughtered, is the ecosystem unraveling?

Read more for the details.


Visions of Civil War Flying Machines At Petersburg National Battlefield

If nothing else, Roderick Davidson stirred the hopes of at least some of the Confederate troops defending Richmond in late 1864 and early 1865 with his "Artis Avis," a flying machine he believed could save the South.

Read more for the details.


From a purely hiking achievement point of view, there were a couple of significant stories from the national parks this year:

* Jake Bramante became the first person to ever hike every mile of every trail within Glacier National Park (a total of 734 miles) in only one year.

* Great Smoky Mountains interpretive ranger, David Worth, set a new record on May 19th for the fastest trek across the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies. He ran/walked 72 miles from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap in only 14 hours and 50 minutes.

* Perhaps the most significant story is when Jennifer Pharr Davis broke the speed record in July for the fastest completion of the Appalachian Trail. She hiked the entire 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes. She was recently nominated as a finalist for National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year.


I enjoyed all the stories you mention and many more. I love reading about places I've been, places I'd like to go, and places I may never see. I would like to see more photos, and maps of trails that may pertain to the story so I do not have to go looking for those after I read your stories. Keep u[p the great work!

Some good suggestions, David. We're trying to insert more photos into our stories, though maps might be a little trickier. In the back of our minds we're thinking of a redesign that might allow that, so perhaps in 2012 we can make it happen.



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