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Boating opportunities in the National Parks

February 24th, 2014 No comments

There are several national parks that offer great boating opportunities. A lot of them you don’t even need to own a boat as you can rent them. Whether your preference is for sailing, kayaking, canoeing, motor boating, or rafting, we’ve got you covered with our list of parks and what’s available.  www.Adventure-crew.com

Big Bend national Park Photo www.nationalparktravel.com

Big Bend national Park Photo www.nationalparktravel.com


Acadia National Park, ME- A number of lakes and ponds on Mount Desert Island permit boating. It is a great location for ocean kayaking, but only for experienced people. Beginners can take guided tours. Canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and motorboats can be rented in surrounding communities.


Alagnak Wild River, AK-This wild river offers superb rafting, kayaking and boating opportunities for a great wilderness experience.


Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, AK- Whitewater rafting and kayaking are the big boating opportunities in this park. It will not be an easy trip however as it is pricey and difficult to fly into this park, but it offers some of the most exciting river runs you can find.


Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, AK- This park offers costal boating with spectacular scenery.


Big Bend National Park, TX- The Rio Grande River offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, motor boating or rafting in this giant park.


Big Cypress National Preserve, FL- This park offers a chance to canoe a couple of marked trails that take anywhere from four to seven hours to traverse.


Big Thicket National Preserve, TX- The Neches River offers canoeing, kayaking and boating opportunities where you can get some wild river action.


Biscayne National Park, FL- This park is part of the Florida Keys and offers beautiful coral reefs with canoeing, kayaking and sailing opportunities.

Be sure to watch for the next installment of great boating parks.

Birding In The National Parks: Are You Planning Your Park Birding Trips For The Year?

January 28th, 2014 No comments

Submitted by Kirby Adams
National Parks Traveler.com


Western Meadowlark, Photo Wikipedia.org

Western Meadowlark, Photo Wikipedia.org


Sometimes it’s cold enough that birding just isn’t that much fun. Sure, when it’s -10°F the birds are still around (as I talked about here a couple weeks ago), but I’m not 20 anymore and freezing isn’t my cup of tea. Before long I’ll be a snowbird.


In the meantime, it’s time to sit at home and plan my year. I’ve noticed quite a few national parks popping up on my destination list for the year. Here’s a preview of what you may be hearing about in 2014:


March will find me heading south, because I expect to be utterly done with winter by then. Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park are on the agenda. I’ve birded those parks before and I know where the good spots are. The first trip to a new place is always a thrill, but I have to classify those as scouting missions.


On my first excursion in a place like Everglades, I’ll try to get a quick look at everything. Obviously that means I don’t get a good look at anything, but that’s ok with me. My scouting of Everglades revealed a few places that warrant some extra attention this time around. Paurotis Pond is legendary as the place to see the charismatic Roseate Spoonbill, and the legends don’t lie.


The pond is awesome for those big pink birds and a variety of other waterfowl. But I noticed something else while sitting at the picnic tables near the Paurotis Pond parking area. The trees around the lot were filled with songbirds. I didn’t have time to properly explore the woods there, but I made a mental note of that for my return trip.


Looking at a satellite image, I see that the area surrounding the parking and picnic area at Paurotis is the only densely wooded patch for miles in any direction. That explains the concentration of songbirds.


I’ve never birded Biscayne National Park, but it really shouldn’t need much scouting. The vast majority of the park is underwater, which isn’t premium birding territory. I’ve heard that the mainland sliver of the park is a good spot for the elusive Mangrove Cuckoo, however. That’s my target for Biscayne in March – a relative of the roadrunner that hides out in mangrove trees.


On the way to Florida, I hope to return to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, a spot I haven’t “birded” in seven years. That’s a different situation than a return trip to somewhere like Everglades. In the case of Congaree, I wasn’t really a serious birder on my first visit. I was looking for birds, but truth be told, I didn’t know what I was doing. Dense mixed forests aren’t necessarily the most productive habitat for birds, and it’s certainly not the easiest birding. That could explain why my South Carolina list for 2007 is so meager. I hope to rectify that with at least one morning of dedicated canvassing of the cypress, tupelo, and loblolly pine canopy.


Once spring finally arrives, I’ll be spending a lot of time around my “home” parks, particularly the national lakeshores. Indiana Dunes and Sleeping Bear Dunes national lakeshores will get at least one visit each. Checking out the Piping Plovers at Sleeping Bear is a late-spring tradition. Indiana Dunes is a pleasant April getaway with spring arriving there a full week or two before it does at home just a couple hours to the east.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will likely get to see my binoculars before summer gets rolling. I need to get to the Upper Peninsula to see a Connecticut Warbler and I can’t go up there without visiting a park known to host 23 species of nesting warblers.


Spring should also find me crossing the northern border to check out the spring birding festival at Canada’s Point Pelee National Park, which is oddly southeast of my home. Point Pelee is a triangular peninsula jutting into Lake Erie directly across from the holy birding grounds of Magee Marsh in Ohio.


Warblers and migratory songbirds pass through in the millions every May, and I’ll likely be at festivals celebrating that event on both sides of Lake Erie.


The height of summer isn’t a great time for birding around these parts. Nesting behavior is done, so no one’s singing, but migration is still a ways off. That makes heading up in elevation a good strategy for the birder, except that Michigan doesn’t provide a whole lot of vertical relief. So, I’ve got Rocky Mountain National Park on the agenda for July. I’ve never been there, so this will be one of those scouting trips.


Hopefully, my quick stops at high elevation will produce a ptarmigan or two. Cassin’s Finch and American Dipper are two other birds I really should have seen by now, but are sadly missing from my life list. After that, it will be fall, which is followed by winter. I’m not much in the mood for winter right now, so I’m cutting off the 2014 planning with August.

Tips to avoid cold related isuues

December 7th, 2013 No comments

There are several health related conditions that can occur while you are out trekking around the country participating in your favorite outdoor activity. Being aware of them is the first step in prevention and if necessary, timely treatment. Knowing the causes and prevention can help make your vacation time safe and enjoyable. Here are some related to cold.



This is a life-threatening emergency that can occur in any season. The body cannot keep itself warm, due to exhaustion and exposure to cold, wet, windy weather so the core temperature of the body drops to 95 degrees or lower. This is the most common environmental illness. There is an increased risk of acute hypothermia when the sum of the air and water temperature adds up to less than 100 degrees F (43 degrees C). Symptoms are uncontrolled shivering (this will stop when the person becomes exhausted or their muscle temp cools to 86 degrees F or 30 degrees C), poor muscle control, and careless attitude. Watch out for each other and believe the symptoms, not the patient. To treat, put on dry clothing, drink warm liquids, warm victim by body contact with another person, protect from wind, rain, and cold. Evacuate anyone who is incapable of rewarming. If that is not possible, have two people in two sleeping bags zipped together with patient and keep everyone’s head within the bag system to allow the patient to re-breath the others’ expired air. This will not add much heat, but places a small amount in an important core location. Avoid hypothermia by checking at ranger or visitor centers for latest weather and trail conditions, taking layered clothing for protection against cold and wet weather by wearing clothing that maintains it’s insulation properties when wet or wicks moisture away from the body, covering the areas of the body that are particularly sensitive to heat loss like head, neck and hands, placing an insulation layer between the body and cold objects (sleeping mat and sit pad), covering the mouth and nose with wool or other insulation material to reduce heat loss and warm the air that enters the lungs, eating frequently, replacing fluids and electrolytes by drinking before feeling thirsty, avoiding alcohol which only gives the sensation of heat, but actually loses body heat by it’s dilating effect on the blood vessels (caffeine also dilates blood vessels in the skin and may add to heat loss), keeping continually active to ensure adequate heat production, and avoiding exposure to wet weather.



This is the freezing of tissues where the fluid outside the cells freezes and the fluid inside the cells shifts to the outside of the cells in response to a chemical imbalance. The outside air temperature needs to be below freezing for this to occur. The skin temperature will have dropped to 22 to 24 degrees F (-5.5 to -4.4 degrees C) before tissues freeze. The nose, ears, hands and feet are the most affected body parts. Hands have more skin area for their volume then any part of the body and therefore they cool rapidly.


Frostbite is divided into superficial frostbite and deep frostbite. Superficial frostbite is not as severe, but should be seen as a warning that deep frostbite is imminent if steps are not taken to prevent this. Signs and symptoms will vary in the degree of severity and extent. In superficial frostbite, only small patches of tissue are affected. The area appears pale, waxy looking and will be firm to touch, but with soft underlying tissues. They will indent when pressed upon. The patient will have pain and the tissues will feel very cold or numb. Treatment for this includes warming the body part by placing it next to a warm body part by applying firm steady pressure. If it involves the hands, they can be drawn up into the coat sleeves, but never open the coat as further exposure is almost certain. Never rub a body part that is frostbitten as this will cause further tissue damage. Be sure and protect the area from further freezing.


Deep frostbite involves deeper tissues and more extensive areas of the body. It is a serious problem that can result in loss of limbs. Recognize the symptoms so early intervention can be made. The affected part will be pale, waxy looking and firm to the touch as the underlying tissues are frozen solid. Joint movement may also be limited or absent. You will not be able to leave an indentation when pressing on the area. Pain is felt as the tissues freeze, but then there is numbness. Check for hypothermia and treat this first as it is the more serious of the two. If the patient is hypothermic, keep the frozen part frozen and do not rub the area. Prevent further parts from freezing. If the area has thawed, do not allow it to refreeze or allow the patient to bear weight on it if it is a foot. They will need to be evacuated out of the area if this is the case. If they are not hypothermic, then you can attempt to thaw the area by immersing it in warm water, 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) to 108 degrees F (42 degrees C) if the area will not become refrozen. This can take up to 30 minutes and the water temperature should remain constant. A thermometer is essential for this. The area should have a red or pink undertone and appear normal to the tips of the toes or fingers. Any part that is severely damaged may not regain complete circulation. Stop the thawing process after a reasonable amount of time. This will be a very painful process for the patient and pain medication may be needed. Once thawed, protect the tissues from refreezing or damage. Do not rub the tissues or touch blisters as this could lead to infection. If you have sterile dressings, apply them to the area to prevent infection or further injury.


Prevention of frostbite is your best bet. Your skin is your body’s first line of defense, so protect it! Wear sufficient clothing to prevent this injury. Mittens tend to be better than gloves for warm and face masks may be needed in strong, cold winds. Clothing and boots should not restrict circulation and should be checked on a regular basis. An extra layer of socks should not be added to the feet if it will restrict the circulation. Rigid boots need special care to make sure the swelling of the feet does not impair circulation. Touching cold metals with bare skin robs the area of heat quickly. Gasoline evaporates quickly and also should not be touched with bare skin. Exercising the fingers and toes will aid circulation. Always monitor each other for signs and symptoms of frostbite. Avoid smoking and caffeine before and during exposure to cold as these can constrict blood vessels.



This occurs when the extremity is exposed to cold, wet weather from 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) down to freezing. The tissues do not freeze, but damage to the circulatory and nervous systems takes place. In the initial stage of this disorder, the foot is cold, swollen, waxy feeling, and mottled with dark red to blue patches. The foot is spongy as opposed to hard as in frostbite. Skin tissue is sodden and friable. There may be numbness and pain, making it difficult to walk. The second stage can last from days to weeks. The feet remain swollen, red, and hot. Blisters form and infection and gangrene are common. The pain caused by this can be life-long and massive tissue injury can easily develop. Treatment includes, ending the exposure, drying the feet, adequate food and liquids, and evacuating to medical care. Prevention entails keeping the feet dry, avoiding non-breathing footwear (rubber), changing wool or polypro socks when feet become wet or sweaty, periodic elevation and air drying of feet, massaging feet to promote circulation and avoiding tight, restrictive clothing. Make sure you take your boots off a night and change into clean, dry socks before climbing into your sleeping bag.

National Parks Open Just in Time for Snow

November 12th, 2013 No comments

by Emily Brennan


Good news for travelers to national parks this winter: Although the federal government shutdown, from Oct. 1 to 16, forced the National Park Service to close 401 parks and lose $450,000 a day in revenue, it did little to slow preparations for winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.


That the shutdown occurred during the shoulder season eased the pain for national parks like Yellowstone, which was already winding down its services from the peak summer season when its employees were furloughed. Yellowstone, which lost $191,000 in entrance fees and licenses during the closure, reopened in time to start grooming roads for activities like guided snowmobile and snow coach tours, which begin in December.


Even Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Parks, which both suffered damage from natural disasters this summer, have bounced back from the shutdown.


In August, Yosemite lost 77,000 acres of forest to the Rim Fire, which started in the neighboring Stanislaus National Forest and burned about 400 square miles. The damage, though, was limited to the remote northwestern corner of the park near Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, leaving main tourist areas like Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point untouched and a majority of the park’s infrastructure intact.


Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite, said that while the government shutdown caused the park to lose thousands of dollars in revenue, it did little to slow the park’s rehabilitation because the scorched area is mostly designated wilderness.


That means, he said, that “as the National Park Service, we don’t go in and replant trees.”


“Fire is basically a natural process,” he added. “It actually had some good ecological aspects.”


Rocky Mountain National Park, which was inundated by floods and landslides that began on Sept. 11, is also fortunate that damage was confined mostly to its designated wilderness area.


Kyle Patterson, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain, said that the shutdown caused minor delays in park rangers’ assessment of the damage, and that some trails and footbridges, particularly around Endovalley, still needed to be repaired.


The park, however, is on schedule for its winter season of skiing and snowshoeing. And because Route 36, which suffered severe damage from flooding, opened on Nov. 4, travelers will have easier access to the park.


Updates on trails in Rocky Mountain are available from the information line at 970-586-1206 or at nps.gov/romo.

Grand Canyon And Other National Parks Reopen, On States’ Dime

October 14th, 2013 No comments

By Bill Chappell


Thanks to agreements between the Department of the Interior and several states, a dozen popular national parks are open again, at least temporarily. The parks range from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon; the states are paying to keep them open for up to 10 days.


State officials say it’s particularly important to have the parks open during the Columbus Day holiday weekend. National Park Service employees began opening some facilities Friday; others will reopen today or Monday.


Here’s the list of parks, along with the number of days they’ll be open, and the dollar figure attached to each deal:

The Statue of Liberty – $369,300 for six days from Oct. 12-17 (New York)

Mount Rushmore National Memorial – $152,000 for 10 days from Oct. 14-23 (South Dakota)

Grand Canyon – $651,000 for seven days from Oct. 12-18 (Arizona)

Rocky Mountain National Park – $362,700 for 10 days from Oct. 11-20 (Colorado)

In addition, Utah officials reached a deal to reopen eight parks for 10 days from Oct. 11-20, thanks to a donation of $1,665,720.80:


Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Zion National Park.


“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities” in areas affected by the shutdown, said Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of the Interior. She added that the agency wants to open all of the parks, calling on Congress to approve a funding deal.


The deal is “a godsend,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said, according to NPR’s Howard Berkes, who first reported on the developments earlier this week. Since then, other states have also agreed to terms.


“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies, and hardworking Utahans are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Herbert said.