Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Smokies Seeks Public Input to Improve Visitor Experiences and Congestion

During the week of October 19, Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to provide input on how the park can improve visitor experiences and alleviate congestion at some of its busiest destinations. The public can participate through virtual interactive workshops, online forms, or direct mail.

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our local communities and visitors from across the country to thoughtfully address growing challenges associated with extremely high visitation,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Congestion at the most visited park in the nation is complex, but we believe by working together, we can find solutions that help us continue to protect the park and provide better experiences for millions of visitors.”

Providing a high-quality visitor experience has grown more challenging due to recent, increased visitation. Since 2009, annual visitation to the Smokies has increased by 32%, resulting in congested roadways, overflowing parking lots, roadside soil erosion, vegetation trampling, and long lines at restrooms and visitor center facilities. The park received a record 12.5 million visits in 2019 and has set monthly visitation records in June, July, and August in 2020.

The public is invited to attend facilitator-led, two-hour workshops online with park managers on the following dates: Monday, October 19 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.; Tuesday, October 20 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.; Thursday, October 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; or Thursday, October 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Through the workshops, participants will learn about the current state of park visitation and be introduced to congestion management strategies used on public lands across the world. Participants will be asked to provide input on the following places in the park: Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Laurel Falls. In small online groups, participants will be asked to provide input on how the park might improve visitor experiences and alleviate congestion at these busy destinations.

Participants must register for the virtual workshop by filling out an online form here by October 14. Once registered, participants will receive instructions and a link to join the online workshop.

The public may also submit input without participating in the workshops by sending comments through October 31 to the following:

• On the web (preferred method) at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsmves-survey.

• By mail:

Visitor Experience and Stewardship Great Smoky Mountains National Park 107 Park Headquarters Rd Gatlinburg, TN 37738

For more information about visitation in the Smokies, please visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/management/VES.htm.

The Great Smoky Mountains isn't the only park to see a sharp increase in visitor traffic over the last several years. Nearly all of our parks are being crushed by visitors. A large section in the final chapter of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, offers several solutions on how we can handle the problem of crowds in our national parks.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The "Air Ambulance Jet Suit"

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Twitter about an "air ambulance jet suit" being tested in the Lake District of northern England. If this invention is proven to be viable, it could mean that a paramedic could "fly" to an injured hiker or climber in difficult terrain (think Grand Canyon) in a matter of minutes, rather than taking hours or more on foot. If this is the case, it could mean the difference between life and death for some accident victims.

Here's a clip from CBS News showing footage from the test:










Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Friday, October 9, 2020

Shenandoah National Park Issues Travel Tips for October

October is a popular time to visit Shenandoah National Park, typically garnering nearly a quarter of the Park’s annual visitation of 1.4 million. The Park is experiencing higher than usual visitation with numbers up for the year about 10% despite a closure in the spring due to the COVID pandemic. Park officials are expecting high visitation in October as visitors come to Shenandoah for the fall leaf display. The first weekend in October saw 14,000 cars enter the park, doubling 2019’s 7,000. According to Superintendent Patrick Kenney, “We know fall is an amazing time to visit the Park; we highly encourage visitors to recognize that is also our most popular time to visit and to anticipate higher levels of visitation and come prepared.

To help visitors plan their trips to the Park during this popular time, Park officials have issued some tips to help make your experience better:

* Purchasing passes or paying entrance fees online ahead of time at www.recreation.gov. This will reduce wait times at entrance stations. Special lanes for visitors who have pre-paid have been established at the most popular entrances at Front Royal and Thornton Gap.

* Utilizing the less popular entrances off Route 33 and Interstate 64 can also significantly reduce wait times to access Skyline Drive.

* Pre-planning. Shenandoah has over 65 overlooks and 500 miles of trails so pre-planning can help visitors have an enjoyable trip to the Park. The Park’s website (www.nps.gov/shen) and its official app (https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/photosmultimedia/app.htm) offer suggestions for how to enjoy your visit. If you want a less crowded experience, arrive early or stay late and avoid main trails, such as Old Rag, Whiteoak Canyon, Dark Hollow Falls, Stony Man, and Hawksbill Trails.

* If you see someone whose behavior might hurt them, others, or the Park, please tell a ranger or call 1-800-732-0911. The boost in visitation has also brought about some resource-protection challenges as Park staff work to stay ahead of more intense cleaning protocols due to COVID. Park officials urge visitors to be sure to secure food and trash in bear-resistant containers. “We know people enjoy the wildlife they see in the Park; managing your trash is a simple thing we all can do to ensure their protection” said Kenney.”

Shenandoah National Park is one of a few national parks that allow pets. Visitors with pets are urged to comply with regulations. Pets must be restrained on a 6-foot leash at all times and owners must bag their pets’ waste and dispose of it in a trash receptacle. Pets are prohibited on the following trails: Fox Hollow, Stony Man, Limberlost, Dark Hollow Falls, Story of the Forest, Bearfence Mountain, Frazier Discovery Trails, and Post Office Junction to Old Rag Shelter, Old Rag Ridge, Saddle, Access and Ridge Access Trails.

Additional tips and COVID-related information can be found on the Park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/know-before-you-go.htm.








Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Grizzly Kills Bull Elk in the Yellowstone River

Earlier this week I returned from a two week trip out to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. On Sunday, September 20th, we drove from the North Entrance to begin our second leg of the trip in Grand Teton. Along the way we ran into our first "bear jam" of the trip, just south of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley. Across the river a grizzly bear was lying on top of a bull elk, and had been there since Friday morning protecting its quarry. Remarkably, the kill was captured on video. I should warn here that some people might find this video a little disturbing, due to seeing a wild animal lose its life. The bull elk appears to have made a critical error by running into the Yellowstone River:



Here's another video of the bear as he works to partially bury its quarry over the next 24 hours. To wildlife officials this bear is known as "grizzly 791":



Here's another video showing a lone wolf trying to grab a bite of meat for himself five days after the kill. The bear is quite passive in allowing the wolf to get within inches of the kill, but that's as close as it will get:



Finally, here's one last video showing two bears fighting over the same carcass on the morning of September 26th. It appears that another bear has taken possesion of the carcass (note the collar on the bear standing on the bank). Perhaps the challenger in the river is the original owner?










Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Driving Through The Thick Of It

This isn't a storm:
From a far-off distance my wife and I both thought we were approaching another storm as we traveled across southeastern Wyoming this past Saturday. Earlier that morning we had left Grand Teton National Park for our long drive home. We knew a few storms were passing across the state. The night before winds from an approaching front howled over our condo near Teton Village. The next morning saw thick fog and rain throughout the mountains.
After seeing several warnings along the highway regarding high winds in the area, I began to suspect that maybe we were witnessing a major dust storm. However, as we approached Laramie, it became clear that what we were actually seeing was thick smoke pouring out of the Medicine Bow Mountains just east of town. This was confirmed as we got to the outskirts of town when we could smell the smoke, a result of the Mullen Fire, now listed as being 78,000 acres in size.
Due to extreme winds that day, thick smoke was blowing directly eastward, which meant it followed along the I-80 corridor from Laramie to well-past Cheyenne. As a result, we drove through smoke for more than 75 miles. We later learned that the wind-driven fire forced authorities to issue evacuation orders for both residents and recreationists in the mountains.

Although driving in the smoke for that long was pretty bad, the favorable winds throughout most of the day resulted in almost 4 more miles per gallon to our gas mileage!



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park