Happy National Park Week!! (April 16 to 24)


This is our country’s biggest celebration of its National Parks–a time to reflect on our incredible public lands heritage.


It’s also a great time to discover sights and scenery you’ve never experienced before–since ALL 411 park sites are FREE to enter this week. To find parks near you, or to simply review America’s staggering list of riches, go to: https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm


Like many administrations before him, President Barack Obama formally dedicated a week this spring to be National Park Week. In his proclamation, which waives entry fees to all the parks, he reminds Americans of the value of being outdoors, which can “stimulate thought and inspiration.” (The Obama administration–I was surprised to recently learn–has acted to protect more public lands and waters than any other President in history: more than 265 million acres!! That’s over 120 Yellowstones!)


Please join in this public parks party, which is partly made possible by the National Parks Foundation.


P.S. If you or your family is thinking this summer of visiting one of my most beloved places on Earth, Yellowstone, hopefully you’ve started planning! Check out this helpful article on where to sleep and snack in the park. Covering logistics early on saves you many hassles, especially when planning trips to our biggest parks. 

What Should Happen to Yellowstone’s Free-Roaming Bison? YOU Can Help Decide

The public can still comment on 3 proposed plans for managing Yellowstone’s iconic herds of bison. Park officials in Yellowstone have extended the period of time–you now have until February 29–to comment on the Environmental Assessment that will determine the wild animals’ fate when they exit Park boundaries.


Because of concerns over a disease called brucellosis (which, in theory, can be transmitted from bison to cattle) any bison that ventures outside Yellowstone National Park is carefully monitored and, in many cases, shuttled off to slaughter.


The burly creature that early Yellowstone park stewards and American Indians saved from the brink of extinction in the early 1900s finds itself again in a thorny predicament. The bison aren’t being mercilessly hunted as they were a century-and-a-half-ago, and we have the benefit of science to enlighten decision-making, but still the familiar tug-of-war goes on between wilderness and wild processes, and the demands of modern society.


The latest proposal, which establishes a quarantine space on public lands outside the park and invites more Indian tribes to participate, seems worthy. But we must still demand that more public lands–new and existing–be designated as wildlife migratory corridors, which would benefit a whole assortment of wild animals.


For more details, check out this great informational video produced by the National Park Service:




Other information is found here: http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bisonmgnt.htm


And PLEASE go here: http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/16008.htm  to weigh in on the current debate.



Plop, Gurgle, Growl… Sounds of Wild Yellowstone Now At Your Fingertips

There’s a lot to see in Yellowstone. Pastel canyons and jagged charcoal peaks. Vast elk and bison herds that speckle the sprawling green of the park’s valleys. A lone wolf dashing into deep conifer cover.


But there’s also a lot to HEAR in America’s first national park–a plethora of fascinating, haunting, even comical sounds. And as any nature writer knows, trying to do justice to such rich and nuanced audibles is almost impossible.


Yes, some parts of Yellowstone’s extensive soundtrack are familiar and can be easily conjured up in the human mind. Take, for instance, the screech of a hawk, the taunting cackle of a raven, the yipping, crescendo-building chorus of a coyote collective at twilight. But trying to characterize less-known, more mysterious phenomenon is a real struggle. Take leaping mud, for instance, or the blustery, blowhard steamers called fumaroles? And we can well imagine what a napping grizzly sounds like, or what one chomping on a meal of elk bones might … But still we wonder, what do such wild, unscripted moments REALLY sound like???


Fortunately, these incredible sounds, and many others, are now available for instant listening on Yellowstone’s official website. Yellowstone’s Audio Collection was laboriously created and curated by science journalist Jennifer Jarrett, who, spends many of her work days on “stake out” in her car in the valleys, flats and geyser basins across Yellowstone, waiting for just the right moment to probe her high-tech gear out the side window and capture a bit of magic. 


So now you don’t have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to hear bugling elk (or sparring ones), Yellowstone’s dawn chorus, a “singing” lake, or a geyser by the name of Puff ‘n Stuff…They’re all a click or two away.


Thanks, National Park Service, and Jennifer, for the amazing music!!!


Click to hear wolves howling

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Book on Yellowstone Launches


I’m so excited to be kicking off the official release of A WEIRD AND WILD BEAUTY! And the timing couldn’t be better. 



144 years ago this month, U.S. geologist Ferdinand Hayden posed a bold question to Americans. He and his team of scientists and artists had just lifted the curtain on Yellowstone, a magical mountain-high region in the Rocky Mountain West full of sparkling pools and bubbling hot pots. Americans were entranced. ‘Wonderland’ became a source of national pride, a land thought not to have a parallel anywhere else on Earth.



But Hayden’s glowing introduction came with a caveat. Yellowstone was in peril, he warned, swarming with treasure hunters eager to claim their prize.



Fearing the region’s wonders could be irreparably lost, Hayden, in an 1872 Scribner’s Monthly article, urgently asked readers:



“Why will not Congress at once pass a law setting [Yellowstone] apart as a great public park for all time…?”



It was a revolutionary idea, one that had been percolating for some time in the United States. It contained two elements: One was that natural beauty should be saved for its own sake. And the second, that its care should be entrusted to ALL people, not just the powerful, wealthy or elite.



We celebrate 100 years of our National Parks this year. It’s cause for both celebration and reflection. I hope my book can engage young people on the topic, and encourage a greater conversation about the future of these amazing spaces in our care.



Feel free to share your thoughts, comments…