national parks Archives
Going into this episode of Fresh Air, I thought it was going to be about tourists doing stupid and dangerous things like taking selfies with dangerous wildlife, stowing bison calves in their cars, and walking too close to geysers, as all of these are headlines which have made the news in recent months.
Instead, I learned about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the migration of elk in and out of the ecosystem, and dangers presented to it by nature-lovers building on private lands and eventually cutting off these necessary migration paths. What was also interesting is the progress that the park has made since the 60’s and 70’s to improve the safety of visitors to the park and the wildlife.
I visited Yellowstone about twenty years ago, and have fond memories of riding my bike through the park with my Dad. We stayed in an RV during our visit, and I vividly remember watching a herd of bison as they passed through the campground and our campsite. I hope to return some day, but I also hope the park will be able to gauge the dangers that humans present to the park, and take any precautions needed to preserve this special place.
It turns out that McKinley had nothing to do with Denali at all:
The mountain was named for McKinley before he became president, by gold prospector William A. Dickey, who had just received word of McKinley’s nomination as a candidate in 1896. McKinley died without ever setting foot in Alaska, assassinated at the start of his second term in office.
Can’t we all agree that the preservation of the National Park should have been indicative that Alaska was in favor of the mountain’s original name?
The tallest mountain in North America has long been known to Alaskans as Denali, its Koyukon Athabascan name, but its official name was not changed with the creation of Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980, 6 million acres carved out for federal protection under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The state changed the name of the park’s tallest mountain to Denali at that time, but the federal government did not.
Speaker of the House John Boehner R-Ohio said he is “deeply disappointed in this decision” to remove Ohio-native McKinley’s name from the mountain.
According to this Huffington Post article, this battle has been going on for some time:
Alaskans had been blocked in Congress by Ohio politicians, who wanted to stick with McKinley as a lasting tribute to the 25th U.S. president, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.
Great move, Obama!
In the throwback Thursday spirit, here are some photos from my July ’08 drive up Haleakalā, the volcano on the East side of Maui, Hawaii, which makes up over 75% of the island.
Our drive up the volcano was a small but memorable part of my two week stay in Hawaii. I was there visiting my longtime friend, Eric, who was living on the island at the time and was a fantastic tour guide.
Growing up, my family did a lot of traveling, and visiting National Parks was always a highlight of our trips. Since our travels were mostly in the Western states, we had not been to Mammoth Cave National Park, so I drove to Kentucky for a tour one weekend in December.
Aside from a few unmonitored roadside caves, I have only taken tours of Glenwood Caverns (Glenwood Springs, Colorado) and Penn’s Cave (Pennsylvania). My sister and I also once did a self-guided “tour” of the ice caves in Rifle Mountain Park (Rifle, Colorado).
Like each of those three, the portion of Mammoth Cave I toured had a very specific look and feel to it. I did the historic tour, which mostly consisted of traveling down vast dry corridors, leading to massive rooms. Below are some photos from the tour.