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CabinAfter
senior member (67)senior membersenior member
 
04/06/2021 09:27PM  
Staying awake at night thinking about the BWCA crowds? Here is a recent article about National Parks Management called "The Business of Scenery".

Harpers Magazine
Article
 
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Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13702)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
04/06/2021 09:49PM  
What do they want us to do? Just stay in our basements all summer? I will be going to at least 4 National parks this summer and the BWCA. It was packed at Yellowstone National Park in 1972 when I went there with my family. Now fast forward 50 years. It’s still will be packed when I see it again this year.
 
04/07/2021 10:38AM  
And I thought the big western national parks were over crowded in September/October 2006 the year I retired and took a 6 week driving trip to a number of them.
 
04/07/2021 10:52AM  
"If you love a place,” a retired ranger who worked at the Grand Canyon once told me, “don’t make it a national park.”

This quote in the first sentence of the article is often what I used to say, I spent 4 years working for the National Park Service and used to say. If you want to ruin an area, make it a National Park.
I'm all for preserving these areas, just be careful what you call them.
 
sedges
distinguished member(696)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 11:37AM  
On the other hand, if Grand Canyon was not a National Park it would now be a reservoir.
 
thegildedgopher
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04/07/2021 11:38AM  
LindenTree: ""If you love a place,” a retired ranger who worked at the Grand Canyon once told me, “don’t make it a national park.”


This quote in the first sentence of the article is often what I used to say, I spent 4 years working for the National Park Service and used to say. If you want to ruin an area, make it a National Park.
I'm all for preserving these areas, just be careful what you call them."


Some of the best NPS sites, in my opinion, are those that lack the actual "national park" designation. My favorite place to run, hike, mountain bike, and fish is a park within a "national recreation area," maintained by NPS and local partners. Until the pandemic it was a ghost town.
 
Minnesotian
distinguished member(1931)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 12:31PM  

Good article, thanks for posting.
I have noticed more and more dirt patches over the years at popular sites, not just in National Parks, but all along the Superior Hiking Trail, overlooks in our State Parks, and 5-star campsites in the BWCA and Quetico. I think this quote from the article sums up the NPS mindset: "Yard warned that the NPS was headed into 'the business of scenery.'" And where the NPS leads, so goes the mindset of other outdoor recreation leadership.

That same mentality of "the business of scenery" can be witnessed at Tettegouche State Park's newest gigantic headquarters on Highway 61 or Split Rock Lighthouse's plan to include a RV campground or the increase of camping options such as yurts, cabins and the such. All of this progress is great for getting more people out there to appreciate their natural resources, especially handicapped and disadvantaged people which I applaud, but the balance between overuse and preservation has not been reached. The NPS, like many other organizations, is greedy. Or to be more charitable, doesn't want to be make the outdoors exclusive to wealthier people so therefore doesn't want to limit visitors.

That limitation is something that will need to be figured out though. I liked the author's solution at the end of the article, to eliminate the NPS entirely and replace it with an organization focused on the conservation of the lands, but I just don't see that practically happening. We see how much reaction there is on this board to increasing fees or limiting people to the BWCA just on this forum. I just don't see that going over well on a national level. But some sort of action that places the land itself as a priority over who gets to see it needs to happen or there will eventually be nothing for anyone to enjoy.

Finally, I don't think this decision needs to be a blanket decision over every park. When the author talks about overusage, he should really have highlighted that this overusage happens in very concentrated locations in each park: Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, the main valley in Yosemite, the overlook from the article at the Grand Canyon just to name a couple spots. All these spots are within 1.5 miles, on average, of parking the car. Get two miles off the beaten path and the concentration of humanity greatly diminishes and so does the harm on the land. Address these hard hit locations in each park, like precision surgery, as a first step. Make people walk more, as Edward Abbey is quoted saying in the article, and the problem will start to fix itself.
 
04/07/2021 02:13PM  
There is something to do with timing and of the visits as well. Ever visit Yellowstone in late October, after the lodge has closed? The first time I watched Old Faithful erupt it was with my wife, that's it. The second time, the next day, there was a man and his 2 sons. This was 2010. We had the park to ourselves. If we saw another couple on a hike it was rare.
A different visit in August visit involved an uncountable crowd.
When I take my daughter it will not be in the Summer.
Interestingly we contended with snow on the August trip not the October one...

 
DanCooke
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04/07/2021 05:17PM  
Get away from the roads/ parking lots of the most famous part of the parks and you will be able to enjoy it in mostly solitude. Yellowstone has some awesome backcountry. Shoshone lake after going up the Lewis river a bit is a great paddle destination with it's own geyser basin. If you are into hiking the Thorofare trail , South Boundry trail- Heart lake and the list goes on. Hiking in Glacier and you will leave the crowds behind. Go in the off peak seasons, Yellowstone is a treat the first week they open the roads up, and like has been said October is awesome as well. Paddle the San Juan river in Utah in September, The Rio Grande in February. Catch the Upper Missouri in North Dakota in it's small window of paddling. We all get to choose when and where we go; expand your choices to consider if you value less of a crowded Disney land experience. Enjoy all your adventures!
 
04/07/2021 05:38PM  
Agree, Dan get off the road in Yellowstone and you will see few, if any, people. I have had days, once off the road a little ways, that I see no one. Also, the best cutthroat fishing in the world. I have one place that 24-26 inch cutthroat are very common and abundant. Yes, bring at least one can of bear spray.
 
billconner
distinguished member(7700)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
04/07/2021 06:34PM  
LindenTree: ""If you love a place,” a retired ranger who worked at the Grand Canyon once told me, “don’t make it a national park.”


This quote in the first sentence of the article is often what I used to say, I spent 4 years working for the National Park Service and used to say. If you want to ruin an area, make it a National Park.
I'm all for preserving these areas, just be careful what you call them."


Just read an article on the effort to make the Adirondacks a national park and the opposition, who obviously prevailed. But even it has gotten crowded.
 
CabinAfter
senior member (67)senior membersenior member
 
04/07/2021 07:41PM  
Good advice on how we...as experienced wilderness lovers you could say...can avoid crowds. I think what this article calls to is what to do for the land, wildlife, and ecosystems that are being trampled.

It's related to what the MN North Shore is experiencing. We can avoid the crowds at Gooseberry by visiting other locations off the beaten path, but what about the land that is overly, well, beaten.

More land? Less people? Disperse people and moderately trample more land? Sacrifice targeted nature areas to keep people concentrated?
 
bottomtothetap
distinguished member(832)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 08:01PM  
In '08 I took a late-August horseback trail ride in Yellowstone with my boys. Very low key, just a couple hours. Our guide stated that just by doing that we had now spent more time off-road there than about 85% of the park's visitors ever do.
 
04/08/2021 07:40AM  
It seems sad to see the crowds, the mess and the... did I mention the crowds? Lately I’ve got to see some sites both crowded and not so much. Timing and like mentioned, getting off the main road has many gems to see and get away to. The article made some great observations which I’m not inclined to comment here on. But it was an interesting read with some of my new adventures lying ahead.
 
04/08/2021 08:04AM  
CabinAfter: "Good advice on how we...as experienced wilderness lovers you could say...can avoid crowds. I think what this article calls to is what to do for the land, wildlife, and ecosystems that are being trampled.


It's related to what the MN North Shore is experiencing. We can avoid the crowds at Gooseberry by visiting other locations off the beaten path, but what about the land that is overly, well, beaten.


More land? Less people? Disperse people and moderately trample more land? Sacrifice targeted nature areas to keep people concentrated? "


I think you just have to let the crowds pack into the designated areas with the most iconic vistas and views. For most that's all they want & need. These parks are for everyone to enjoy in their own way. May not be mine or your way, but we all get to decide that for ourselves. Let those wanting more to do the work of finding and exploring it on their own. If things are getting out of hand perhaps closing the park for parts of the year or extended periods where rejuvenation is most likely is appropriate?
 
yellowcanoe
distinguished member(4848)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
04/08/2021 08:48AM  
Coming to a park near you where applicable. Reservations. No walk ins. Planning matters
 
Zulu
distinguished member(1835)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/08/2021 10:00AM  
They just announced Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is reservation only now along with Entering Rocky Mountain National Park.



 
Banksiana
distinguished member(2337)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/08/2021 11:38AM  
Solution: Curtail use of private automobiles in parks.
 
04/08/2021 02:20PM  
Most of this was predictable:

I was 15 in 1976 when America's population reached 200 million.

Today it just topped 331 million, with no end in sight to the growth.

Reservations and rationing are, unfortunately, the primary tools to reduce crowding and destructive impacts.
 
04/08/2021 02:28PM  
Zulu: "They just announced Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is reservation only now along with Entering Rocky Mountain National Park. "

Yup. No choice. Colorado is the new California, and the Sun Road isn't designed to hold the teaming masses.
 
thistlekicker
distinguished member (429)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/08/2021 05:31PM  
Banksiana: "Solution: Curtail use of private automobiles in parks."

 
smoke
member (30)member
 
04/08/2021 07:49PM  
Zulu: "They just announced Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is reservation only now along with Entering Rocky Mountain National Park.

Glacier NP begins to start plowing the Sun Road open during the first week in April and continues on until they open it in late June or early July. It is often dangerous and very expensive due to the high equipment cost. Instead of limiting the number of cars, wouldn't it make more sense to close it down completely and move the tax money elsewhere?


"
 
R1verrunner
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
 
04/09/2021 06:16AM  
I avoid NPs I go to wilderness areas.

Lot less people.
 
Northland
distinguished member (210)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/11/2021 06:39PM  
R1verrunner: "I avoid NPs I go to wilderness areas.


Lot less people."


Or National Forests, Wildlife Refuges, etc. Anywhere you find a vehicle-accessible road, you'll find other people. That's even more true during COVID, where so many people who would normally be at the movies, clubs, sporting events, and other entertainment venues are now busy exploring public lands.
 
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