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National Parks

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Maine’s North Woods National Monument Is Now a Reality

Today marks the official 100th anniversary of the national park system. To coincide with the centennial, President Obama announced yesterday that Roxanne Quimby’s 87,654 acres located just east of Baxter State Park will make the list as the North Woods National Monument. On Tuesday, Quimby’s nonprofit, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., transferred her ownership to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Long a proponent of creating a national park in Maine’s North Woods, Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees skin care products, has been a contentious figure in the region ever since I’ve been reporting on Maine. In a Boston Globe Magazine story on the AMC entering the Maine woods in 2004, Quimby’s name came up time and time again. Locals were worried that the AMC would restrict land use for snowmobiling, logging, and hunting. That never happened. Instead, the AMC introduced Maine’s glorious interior of vast forest, mile-high mountains, secluded lakes, and long rambling rivers to thousands of people who never heard of it. This summer I had the privilege of joining forces with Northern Outdoors and Maine Huts & Trails to help promote the Maine woods. If creating a national monument helps to promote the region to the world and finally gives the largest chunk of wilderness in the northeast the recognition it deserves, then I’ll happily celebrate with a pint of Baxter Stowaway IPA. 

 
 
 
  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/25/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Visit Yellowstone Without the Crowds in Winter

Yellowstone National Park has already attracted over 3.8 million visitors in 2015 and that number will surely increase in 2016, when the National Park Service celebrates its centennial. Indeed, Yellowstone in summer feels more like “forever congested” than “forever wild.” Come winter, these same parks are virtually uninhabited, almost returning to their original state. Who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to cross-country ski or snowshoe with more bison and elk than homo sapiens? The Yellowstone National Park Lodges has just announced six Lodging and Learning packages that will help entice you. They include “Yellowstone on Skis” and a “Winter Wildlife Expedition.” All trips are guided and transfers are available from the nearby Bozeman airport. Austin Adventures, now owned by the same company that runs the National Park Lodges, Xanterra, also offers a 6-day winter adventure in Yellowstone. The trip features a snowshoe hike above Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and a snowmobile ride over Lake Yellowstone on your way to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Austin Adventures also just announced that all 4th graders will travel free on their trips in 2016 to the national parks. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/22/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Explore Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

No Canada wish list would be complete without mentioning Torngat Mountains National Park on the northern tip of Labrador. One of the most remote parts of Canada, the park is only accessible from mid-July to late August, primarily on a package tour created by Parks Canada and the Torngat Mountains Base Camp. Don’t expect roads, signage, and camping outside of the base camp. Inuit elders from Nunatsiavut and Nunavik come together with visitors to bring you on adventures and tell stories about their homeland. You’ll hike in the spectacular mountain landscape, boat to the majestic Saglek Fjord, take helicopter charters above the jagged peaks, and fish for arctic char, then cook it the traditional way on hot stones. Polar bear, caribou, and seals are all common sightings. Thankfully, you’ll be hiking with a trained Inuit polar bear guard. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/06/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 27, 2015

President Obama Announces Every Kid in a Park Initiative

In case you missed it, President Obama announced last week that all fourth graders and their families will receive free admission to national parks and other federal lands for a full year. The Every Kid in a Park initiative is part of an effort to get kids away from their screens and be active outdoors. Hallelujah! It will start in the fall of 2015 and run through next year to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service in 2016. An annual pass to National Parks currently costs $80 for family. So now you can hit the beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore for free and use the $80 to get lobster rolls at Arnold’s

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/27/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hike Blue Mesa, Petrified Forest National Park

Driving east of Flagstaff, the dry arid Arizona terrain gives way to colorful bands of rock, as if some Impressionist painter laid down his brushstroke on the badlands. Welcome to the glorious Painted Desert. Continue a wee bit south and prehistoric rock gives way to 200 million year old petrified wood, also colored in rainbow hues, the home of Petrified Forest National Park. Once a playground for dinosaurs, Petrified Forest also was a settlement for a long line of Native Americans as evidenced by the Agate House, an ancient pueblo built of petrified wood. By all means, get out of the car with camera in tow and take several of the short hikes. A one-mile loop called Blue Mesa brings you to the multi-hued sandstone, while the half-mile Giant Logs Loop leads to the biggest trees in the park, some with trunks close to ten feet in diameter. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/14 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hiking The Narrows, Zion National Park

This week I’m celebrating the upcoming National Park Week, April 19-27, with some of my favorite hikes in America's National Parks. Remember that all National Parks are free this weekend, April 19 and 20.

Zion’s most impressive hike is in the Narrows, where you walk in the Virgin River through a 1,000-foot-deep-chasm that’s a mere 20-feet wide. Check with a ranger on water levels, but usually a minimum age of 8 is advisable. You’ll need a wet suit and booties because of the cool water temperatures, but that’s a small price to pay to have this monster slot to yourself. With each step, the walls become narrower and narrower, and you quickly became lost in this paradigm of sandstone. Sun peeks through the notch of blue sky above, illuminating the walls in various shades of caramel, rouge, and tan. Water pours down sides of the curved walls to enhance the slick appeal. Amble through as much of the river as you want before turning back.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/16/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Favorite Fall Outings in New England, Visiting Weir Farm, Connecticut

Sort of ironic that the only time I’ve ever been published in National Parks Magazine, the National Parks are closed due to a government shutdown. When congress gets their act together, be sure to visit the 60-acre Weir Farm National Historic Site. This serene pastoral setting in southeastern Connecticut, an hour’s drive from Manhattan, is home to the only national park unit devoted to American painting. Century-old barns and a homestead still stand, stone walls are built around fields of swaying grass, and a large pond is lost in a canopy of tall maples and birches. They would become the fodder for J. Alden Weir’s ambitious body of work. Weir’s early paintings reflect an appreciation for the scenery of rural life—dogs sleeping in the tall grass, his wife Anna sitting on the steps that lead to the house. By the latter half of the 1880s, he began to show an interest in painting landscapes, possibly due to the influence of his friends and fellow painters, Childe Hassam and John Twachtman, who often visited the farm to fish and paint the grounds. These weren’t the grand theatrical landscapes of his American predecessors, Thomas Cole and Frederick Church, but intimate portrayals of pasture, thickets of trees, barns, and meandering stone walls. Have a look and don’t forget the sketchbook. 

 
Photo by Tim Washer/FLICKR

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/10/13 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Favorite Adventures in National Parks, Rock Climbing Joshua Tree

Three hours east of Los Angeles, huge boulder outcroppings tan in the Mojave Desert sun at Joshua Tree National Park. More than 100 million years ago, these jumbled piles of bedrock cooled and hardened into fantastic shapes. Today, there’s over 4,000 rock climbs to choose from, appropriate for any level of expertise. Reserve a site at one of two favorite climbing campsites, Hidden Valley or Ryan (no fee; first come/first serve), get your gear together, and hit that rock face.   
          
Climbing in Joshua Tree requires more balance than strength so trust your feet. That low-angle slab, Echo Rock, boasts a high concentration of quality routes at every level. Most of these routes are bolted or can be top-roped. New bolting is prohibited in the park. At the Wonderland of Rocks, you’ll find the largest collection of domes and walls within the park. Wander through the formations eyeing the cracks and then make your line up. You most likely will catch sight of bighorn sheep below.
 
Next week, I’ll be describing the special moments of my hut-to-hut hike in the White Mountains. I spent the past week trekking with my wife, Lisa, to four of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s lodges atop the 4,000 and 5,000-foot peaks, including a night at the spectacular Lake of the Clouds Hut. So stay tuned! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/28/13 at 11:00 AM
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Five Favorite Adventures in National Parks, Paddling the Boundary Waters

Home to a mind-boggling 1,100 lakes and 1,300 miles of canoe routes, solitude in the Boundary Waters is only a half-day’s paddle from the town of Ely, Minnesota. Expect to hear the yodel of the loon echoing across the early morning mist and to see moose wading chest deep in the clear waters. Local folk save their paddling for September, when famished mosquitoes, biting flies, and babbling homo sapiens are long gone.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/27/13 at 11:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Five Favorite Adventures in National Parks, Hiking the Narrows in Zion

Zion’s most impressive hike is the Narrows, where you walk in the Virgin River through a 1,000-foot-deep-chasm that’s a mere 20-feet wide. Check with a ranger on water levels, but usually a minimum age of 8 is advisable. You’ll need a wet suit and booties, which you can rent in town, because of the cool water temperatures. That’s a small price to pay to have this magnificent slot to yourself. With each step, the walls become narrower and narrower, and you quickly became lost in this paradigm of sandstone. Sun peeks through the notch of blue sky above, illuminating the walls in various shades of caramel, rouge, and tan. Water pours down sides of the curved walls to enhance the slick appeal. Amble through as much of the river as you want before turning back. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/26/13 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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