Hiking Grand Tetons ‘a trip of a lifetime’

Beyond the crystal clear lakes, past the pastel blooms, up the rock-strewn trails and over the snow-blanketed hillsides lie the canyons and campsites of the Grand Tetons National Park. With each step up the mountain while sporting a 40-pound backpack, a new vista of rushing waters and plunging waterfalls dashes into view. Run-ins with deer, elk, moose and marmots are not...

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Creating new beaten paths

The first time Jessica Johnson explored the Mushroom Caves in Solana Beach she was trespassing. It was 2013, a few years after the 35-year-old elementary school art teacher first started documenting her passion for adventurous, sometimes dangerous hikes on her increasingly popular website Hidden San Diego. Walking along the path recently, Johnson recalled that initial...

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Arctic Temperatures Are Rising So Fast Computers Don’t Believe They’re Real

320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a weather station in America’s northernmost city of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, has been quietly collecting temperature data since the 1920s. Early this month, while preparing a report on U.S. climate, experts at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) noticed something odd: They were missing data from...

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Here’s a $17 billion blueprint for how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid

Called “Build Back Better,” the plan focuses on providing immediate relief while also making the island’s energy infrastructure more resilient to future storms. That means fortifying the electric transmission system and bulking up defenses at power plants and substations. The plan also envisions a Puerto Rico dotted with solar farms and wind turbines, linked by more than...

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The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

What if we lose tree species we know, love, and need? It has happened before. “Look at what happened to the American chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Thomas Holmes. “Look at what’s happening right now to hemlock, redbay, and ash trees.” All three species, as well as many more, are threatened by non-native insects or pathogens. Non-native insects,...

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The Best Microadventure In Every State

“A microadventure,” says Alastair Humphreys, a former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and founder of a global movement, “is an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.” Sounds good, right? More importantly, it sounds do-able. Microadventures, Humphreys argues, should fit in the 5:00 pm to...

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Everything You Know About Hiking in Colombia is Wrong

For decades, Colombia’s wild areas were a no-go zone because of guerilla fighters and narcos, who occupied and fortified rural areas across the country. To venture beyond the city limits was to risk being kidnapped and held for ransom, a lucrative scheme the outlaws called miracle fishing. Beginning around 2000, the government started negotiating peace deals with...

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Major financial institutions rebuke the Trump agenda, announce big steps away from fossil fuels

Two major financial institutions — one public, one private — announced that they would be significantly paring down their investment in fossil fuel projects, signaling a shift in the way financial institutions assess the risks associated with fossil fuels and climate change. During the One Planet Summit taking place in Paris, France this week, the World Bank announced...

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U.S. national parks are drastically reducing free days in 2018

Visitors to the America’s national parks will have far fewer free admission days to choose from in 2018. National parks in the U.S. will sharply drop the number of days they allow visitors to get in for free, a move that was criticized by opponents of the parks’ plan to raise entrance costs at other times of the year. After waiving fees 16 days in 2016 and 10...

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8 things to know about the winter solstice

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night,” quipped Steve Martin — and indeed, even a day with less sunshine can feel a bit dark. Our world depends on the light radiating from that big star we traipse around, and when it’s in short supply, we feel it. But if you count yourself among those who don’t love waking up before the sun rises and getting off work...

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Make Sure You Are Drinking Clean Water

Cases such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, demonstrate how tenuous our access to safe, clean drinking water can actually be—no matter where we live. In fact, thousands of potential contaminants can make their way into our drinking water, and the infrastructure across the U.S. can’t always keep up with water purification needs. That’s a tough pill to swallow,...

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Playing in the Snow at Roan – A Photo Essay

There was a major snowstorm over the Great Smoky Mountains on December 8-9, 2017, particularly on the Western North Carolina side. Seeing Roan Highlands covered in a blanket of snow has always been a goal of mine ever since the first time I walked the Appalachian Trail across Round, Jane, and Grassy Ridge balds. With that in mind, I set out for the Highlands on the...

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A Trail Runner’s Paean to Bears Ears

Ultrarunner Bryon Powell spends nine days exploring the monument under siege The sun is still hidden below Owl Canyon’s south rim, and the cool October-night air lingers in the canyon bottom. I exit a hairpin bend and find myself facing a canyon wall. Dead ahead of me is a bright speck in the midst of broad shadow, the telltale sign of a rock window. “Nevills Arch?” I...

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A Captivating Look at the “Big Four” North American Deserts

Ah, the desert: the “land of little rain”, the house of haboob and flash flood, the thirsty wilderness, the barren void wandered by nomads, exiles, spiritual seekers, bandits, prospectors, and UFO hunters—plus sidewinders, scorpions, tarantulas, and vultures, of course. Taken collectively, the deserts of North America are still overshadowed sizewise by the Sahara—at 3.6...

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Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Patrick Scott walks 380 miles for work. It’s not every day, but that’s how many miles curve, dip and roll through the Pisgah National Forest. If laid end to end, those trails would stretch from Asheville, NC to Montgomery, Alabama, and Scott, the forest’s Pisgah District trail program manager, must oversee them all. The undertaking is daunting not just for the miles, but...

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It’s Fast Approaching Time for First Day Hikes

What better way to kick off the New Year than by getting a jump start burning off those extra holiday calories in the great outdoors? On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with...

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Natural Bridge and Raven Rock Trails, Keowee Toxaway State Park, South Carolina

Another of the fun and exciting South Carolina state parks that line the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, Keowee Toxaway offers two hiking trails that take visitors over a natural bridge and through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, land once traveled by Cherokee Indians. Much of the trail follows the shore of Lake Keowee through the healthy oak/hickory forest...

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Interior Department’s return to the ‘Robber Baron’ years

In 1921, President Warren G. Harding, R, at the behest of the oil barons who financed his election, appointed Albert Bacon Fall to be his secretary of the Interior. Fall had vowed not only to transfer all public lands to private interests, but also to abolish the Interior Department altogether. As a Cabinet member, he set out to dismantle the conservation ethos that...

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Utah Parks Set Attendance Records Once Again

With a month to spare, Zion National Park has set a new record for visitation this year, heightening concerns about overcrowding just as park managers consider a controversial fee hike and requiring visitors to go through an online reservation system. The park had counted 4,365,946 visitors through the end of November, representing nearly a 5 percent increase over last...

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In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek

Stretching over five miles from its furthest tributaries in the Staten Island Greenbelt to its mouth in Fresh Kills, Richmond Creek flows through many layers of hidden history. Its waters pass by toxic landfills and old mill remnants, a historic town museum, a manmade mountain of rubble, a vast Boy Scout camp, and an abandoned tuberculosis hospital. Along its entire...

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Keep an eye out for Salt River wild horses on this Mesa-area hike

The Sonoran Desert Trail System in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest has more than 20 miles of interconnected paths between Usery Pass Road and Bush Highway just south of the Salt River Recreation Area. The northernmost route in the system is the Wild Horse Trail, which is also part of the Valley-circumnavigating Maricopa Trail. As its name suggests, the trail passes...

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Learn more about this Asheville museum’s annual hiking series

Hikers can make a New Year’s resolution for adventure when the Swannanoa Valley Museum’s annual hiking series resumes in 2018. The museum offers two hiking programs, the challenging Swannanoa Rim Hike Series and the more moderate Valley History Explorer Series. The Rim Hike Series explores the peaks of the Swannanoa Valley, while the Valley History Explorer Series...

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Rockefeller and the secret land deals that created Grand Teton National Park

The audacious plan was hatched in secret. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. — son of the Standard Oil founder, ardent conservationist and one of America’s richest men — agreed to surreptitiously acquire thousands of acres of breathtaking scenery around Jackson Hole, Wyo., and donate them to the federal government for a national park. At the behest of Horace Albright,...

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Pilfered artifacts, three suicides and the struggle over federal land in Utah

For decades, the empty desert region at the junction of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico — known as the Four Corners — was a free-for-all for treasure hunters looking to pick the region clean of Native American artifacts. Then on the morning of June 10, 2009, federal agents arrived in force in Blanding, Utah. Just as the morning light was creeping in on the tiny...

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41st Annual Festival of Christmas Past Program in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 41st annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration scheduled on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public. The festival will include old-time mountain music,...

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Forest Service closes in on plan to protect Oregon wilderness areas from overuse

After eight months and more than 500 comments from Oregonians, the U.S. Forest Service is closing in on a proposal that could protect central Oregon’s most scenic areas from overuse. The Forest Service kicked off the project in the spring by holding public meetings to gauge interest in changing the way trails and campgrounds in five popular wilderness areas,...

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Trump scales back two huge national monuments in Utah, drawing praise and protests

President Trump announced that he is drastically scaling back two national monuments established in Utah by his Democratic predecessors, the largest reduction of public lands protection in U.S. history. Trump’s move to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments by more than 1.1 million acres and more than 800,000 acres, respectively,...

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Climate Change Is Increasing Regional Conflict and Creating Millions of Refugees Across the Globe

Those who are least to blame for climate change are those who are all too often affected first and worst. The world’s least developed countries produce only a fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions and have had far fewer of the benefits reaped by the developed world from their carbon-based economies, yet they are the most vulnerable and the least able to...

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Oakridge Trail, Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park, located in the heart of South Carolina, is a land of towering trees, of floods and fire, of woodland paths and water trails used by people for more than 10,000 years. This rare, old growth forest became a national park in 1976. These ancient trees have witnessed wars, slavery, freedom, and destruction. There are 25 miles of hiking trails in...

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10 best national parks for sunrises and sunsets

Have you ever spent several pre-dawn hours climbing to the summit of a mountain so that you can get the best angle to see the sunrise? Some people will go to great lengths to witness the daily dramas of sunrise and sunset. It’s not just about watching the big yellow ball appear or disappear over the horizon, but about the surrounding landscapes and clouds at the...

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Redwood grove being loved to death

Awhile back, it used to be that the grouping of eight old-growth redwood trees deep within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City, California could be reached only by following clues in a book about tree hunters. There were no direct hiking trails, and the nearest road was miles away. Then, in 2011, someone uploaded a geotag marking the trees’ location...

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Why Taking a Winter Hike May Be the Best Way to Enjoy the Trails

Many casual outdoor enthusiasts simply hang up their boots at the first sign of frost. “Many people think that when the cold comes, hiking season is over, but that’s definitely not the case,” says a backcountry guide. “In the winter, trails are less crowded, and there are views that you’ll never see during the summer.” Imagine trekking...

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