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A Look At Some Unusual Stories From The National Park System In 2013


As broad and diverse as the National Park System is, it should come as no surprise that there are, well, some surprising or simply interesting stories from time to time. Here's a look at some unusual stories from the past year.

Glacier National Park's 17-Year-Old Harlequin Duck

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This male Harlequin duck in Glacier National Park is 17 years old. NPS photo.

There are young Harlequin ducks, middle-aged Harlequin ducks, old Harlequin ducks, and then the real old Harlequin duck that calls Glacier National Park home. According to the folks at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, this breed of waterfowl can live to 15 years, which is old for most ducks. And Glacier officials say the oldest known banded Harlequin duck lived to 18 years and 10 months. Which makes a male Harlequin duck living in Glacier in rare company, as it's at least 17 years old, according to its band.

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Firefighter Revived After Backcountry Cardiac Arrest At Rocky Mountain National Park

The call for help from the backcountry at Rocky Mountain National Park early on Father's Day morning could have been a worst-case scenario: a firefighter on the Big Meadows Fire had collapsed due to a sudden cardiac arrest. The outcome is a testimony to excellent planning, training, communications and equipment.

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Isle Royale National Park Gets Help From Coast Guard Icebreaker For Summer Opening

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Isle Royale National Park's LCM (landing craft, mechanized) following the Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay through ice in the Keweenaw Waterway on its voyage to Isle Royale. NPS photo by Rob Numerick.

It's been a very long winter for parts of the country, and some national parks are facing some extra challenges in getting ready for the upcoming summer season. Few parks, however, have had to call on the Coast Guard for help from an icebreaker as part of their summer reopening.

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Duo At Buffalo National River Now Knows How Not To Test Drive An SUV

Anyone considering the purchase of a used vehicle should certainly take a test drive before closing the deal, but a recent incident at the Buffalo National River confirmed that "prudence is a virtue" only if prudence has a vote in the way that test drive is to be conducted.

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15-Year-Old Survives Fall Into Steam Vent At Hawaii Volcanos National Park

A California teenager luckily avoided serious injury when he fell 25 feet down into a steam vent at Hawai'˜i Volcanoes National Park. The unidentified boy apparently was trying to leap over railings surrounding the vent between KÄ«lauea Visitor Center and Volcano House when he fell into the crack Wednesday evening, park officials reported.

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First Confirmed Sighting Of Rare Whooping Cranes At Natchez Trace Parkway

National Park System sites are great places to enjoy watching wildlife, so it pays to be alert for unusual birds and animals during any park visit. Even the most avid bird-watcher would have been surprised, however, by sightings last month of three adult whooping cranes at the Natchez Trace Parkway.

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Yosemite National Park's Largest Glacier Goes Stagnant

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The Lyell Glacier has come to a halt in its downward slide. NPS photo.

Glaciers are not known for their speed, hence the phrase "glacial pace." That said, the largest glacier in Yosemite National Park has come to a halt, though a neighboring river of ice continues to flow downhill at about an inch a day, its historical rate.

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Sen. Murkowski Wants Mount McKinley Renamed "Denali"

Saying the tallest mountain in North America deserves a Native American name, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced legislation to rename Mount McKinley in Denali National Park as "Denali."

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Joshua Tree National Park Boasts Three Previously Unknown Species Of Trapdoor Spiders, One Named After Bono

Three previously unknown species of trapdoor spiders have been discovered in Joshua Tree National Park, and scientists have named one after Bono of the rock band U2 in honor or their Joshua Tree album. 

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USS Arizona Continues To Serve As Final Resting Place For World War II Sailors

Even today, more than seven decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the number of sailors interred in the USS Arizona continues to grow as veterans of the battle have asked in their final wishes to be returned to the ship to spend eternity with their shipmates.

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Removal Of Wayward Japanese Dock From Olympic National Park Coast To Cost More Than $600,000

Remember that Japanese dock, cast adrift by a tsunami back in 2011, that came ashore at Olympic National Park? It's going to cost more than $600,000 to remove it.

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A Walk In The Woods - Talk About A Movie Again?

A Walk in the Woods was the most popular book about the Appalachian Trail. Now talks are reviving again that Robert Redford will star in the movie. Will it happen this time?

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A Whimsical Video Primer On Mountain Goats And Bighorn Sheep From Parks Canada

Do people really have a problem telling the difference between mountain goats and bighorn sheep? Perhaps. The folks at Parks Canada thought it was a big enough issue to produce the following witty and whimsical skit on the two creatures, with Banff National Park as a backdrop.

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