A new way to travel across the United States

The Great American Rail-Trail is the most ambitious biking initiative the country has ever seen. Stretching an extraordinary 3,700 miles from the nation’s capital across 12 states to the Pacific Ocean, west of Seattle, it’s an idea that’s been ruminating for 50 years. The Rail-Trail will connect more than 125 existing multi-use paths, greenways, trails and towpaths. An...

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‘A sisterhood’ | Group of women hike through life’s ups and downs together

For the past few years, Amy Eversole and the ‘Trailblazers’ have been hiking all over the Great Smoky Mountains. Some of them have earned their 500-mile pins from the park service. Others are following closely behind. All of them have been supporting each other through life’s ups and downs. “They’re the best women ever,” Amy Eversole...

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New access proposed for Graveyard Fields

Major changes may be coming to to Graveyard Fields. A project is now open for public comment. The National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service are partnering on this effort to improve access at the often-crowded trail system on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County. Under the proposal, the nearby John Rock Overlook would be used as an additional access point for...

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As pandemic worsens, NPS faces growing load of infections

At the National Mall in Washington, at least four National Park Service employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days as the pandemic hit its highest level yet in the nation’s capital. At Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, officials said they’ve had 28 confirmed cases within the park. And in California, parks this week once again started...

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New park coming to Henderson County, NC

Frank “Chief” Bell, Sr. was the founder of Camp Mondamin in Tuexedo, NC, one of the very first summer camps in Western North Carolina. Still managed by the Bell family, the camp is entering its 100th anniversary year in 2021. Not only did Camp Mondamin help four generations of children find their place in the natural world, it opened the way for the numerous summer camps...

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Best easy day hikes in Phoenix: 5 fun, scenic trails for beginners or advanced hikers

It’s the season where in Arizona we all want to be outdoors. The desert, so cruel for so long, welcomes us again with open arms. If the blast-furnace heat of summer kept you off the trails for months, you’ll want to ease into things. To work yourself back into hiking shape, start with some easy trails. Just don’t let the rating undersell their attractions. Even trails...

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‘It’s everywhere’: Graffiti vandals at Zion National Park harm protected land

As visitation at Zion National Park reaches record highs, park officials are asking for the public’s help as they grapple with a rising challenge: unprecedented levels of graffiti along the protected sanctuary’s most popular trails. “We take this very seriously, and it’s becoming a huge problem for us,” chief ranger Daniel Fagergren says. “It’s everywhere.” He says...

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Interior denies all of New Mexico’s proposed LWCF projects

After cheering the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), New Mexico wildlife and conservation advocates were shocked to learn every single project proposed to the Department of Interior for LWCF funds was rejected. The LWCF, created by Congress in 1965 to support public land management...

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Central Virginia is planning a 41-mile trail from Ashland to Petersburg

When the Virginia Capital Trail was first proposed back in 1999, critics derided the idea of the 51.7-mile multi-use path as overly-ambitious and too expensive. Today, the east-west trail connecting Virginia’s first capital of Jamestown with the modern seat of government, Richmond, faces concerns about overcrowding, and there’s now a sister trail in the pipeline. Far...

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Hiking in Maine: Explore the Schoodic Peninsula, for the Acadia less traveled

The Schoodic Peninsula is home to a remarkable landscape of dense spruce forests, jack pine woodlands, shrubby heaths, cobble beaches, granite headlands, deep harbors and rugged islands. Bounded by Frenchman Bay to the west, Gouldsboro Bay to the east and the Gulf of Maine along its southern margin, the peninsula is a true natural gem of Maine’s bold Downeast coastline....

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Iowa’s Effigy Mounds park offers hikes of ancient history

  If a love of hiking is the only thing that takes you to northeast Iowa’s Effigy Mounds National Monument — where 14 miles of trails wind through the elegant 2,526-acre monument — you won’t come away disappointed. The immaculately groomed trails, 4 feet wide, of fine gravel or wood chips, hairpin up and along 400-foot-high river bluffs, providing views of the...

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Hikers share tips for staying warm on winter walks

Frigid temperatures and even a flurry don’t have to send people scurrying indoors as a little preparation can go a long way toward enjoying the great outdoors all year long. “I used to hibernate all winter because I was so convinced that there was no way I could ever really enjoy winter adventure,” Kristy Matheson said. “I joined the Dayton Hikers in the winter, so one...

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‘Worst work in the world’: US park rangers grapple with tide of human waste

At national parks across the US, from the peaks of Denali in Alaska to desert backpacking destinations in Utah and Arizona, managers have struggled to deal with this inevitable byproduct of people eager to get outdoors, a desire that continues amid the pandemic. Unlike a discarded Clif Bar wrapper, human waste carries a slew of bacteria and pathogens when left unbagged...

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Oil and gas vets want to clean up the industry’s mess, one well at a time

There were more than 50,000 wells on state cleanup lists across the country in 2018, and states estimated there were somewhere between 200,000 to 750,000 more abandoned wells that weren’t in their records. If you include wells that are “idle,” meaning they may still have an owner but haven’t produced any oil or gas in years — and are at risk of getting thrust into state...

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Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, 2020 about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to a Biennial Plan of...

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Wonders Of Sand And Stone: A History Of Utah’s National Parks And Monuments

The southern half of Utah is canyon country, a land of aridity, sparse vegetation, and unique and scenically spectacular topography and geology. It is a land rich in sites of archaeological importance and parts of it are sacred to indigenous people. It is also mostly public land, owned by the American people, part of their national legacy, and for a century it has been...

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The Story Behind the Growing Number of Tribal National Parks

This week brought with it the announcement of a new national park, one which will eventually encompass 444 acres on the border of Nebraska and Kansas. The governing body setting this new park up isn’t the National Park Service, however; instead, it’s being established by the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. The Ioway Tribal National Park “will overlook a historic...

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A needed detour: NM volunteers reroute portion of Continental Divide Trail

Outdoor enthusiasts can now hike a brand new section of the Continental Divide Trail in the Gila National Forest. The New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors partnered with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition earlier in October to reroute part of the trail in the forest’s Black Range west of Truth or Consequences. The chairperson for New Mexico Volunteers for the...

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20 signs that the climate crisis has come home to roost

Global warming isn’t the only reason the West is burning. The growing number of people in the woods has increased the likelihood of human-caused ignitions, while more than a century of aggressive fire suppression has contributed to the fires’ severity. In addition, unchecked development in fire-prone areas has resulted in greater loss of life and property. Yet, it’s...

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Federal money coming to WNC public lands

Public lands in Western North Carolina are set to get a chunk of the $9.5 billion approved for deferred maintenance projects with the ratification of the Great American Outdoors Act. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service both released project lists last week. Hailed as the largest single investment in public lands in the nation’s history, the bipartisan act...

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The UK will get more national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Some of the UK’s most breathtaking landscapes will be turned into national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to help protect the country’s rich biodiversity, the government has announced. As part of their 25-year Environment Plan, the project is expected to restore the equivalent of 30,000 football pitches into wildlife-rich habitats, clean...

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DPS Crew Discovers Mysterious Monolith From Air In Remote Utah Wilderness

The Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was assisting Utah Division of Wildlife Resource officers counting bighorn sheep when the crew spotted something mysterious from above. “One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” said pilot Bret Hutchings. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn...

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Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina

Announcing Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina, the only organization dedicated to the state’s resplendent falling water. Waterfalls are among the few natural wonders that excite all five of our senses at once. We feel the spray against our skin. We hear the calming sound of the falling water. We smell and taste the moisture in the air. And, of course, we see the sublime...

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Microplastics found at the highest point on Earth as the glaciers around Mount Everest’s death zone melt

Microplastics are one of the most harmful side effects of humans using the planet, and they’re increasingly being found in hard to reach planes. After being detected in the deepest point on the Earth, the Marina Tech, microplastics have now been found near the Earth’s highest point — the death zone of Mount Everest. It’s called the ‘death...

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Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail soon to open to the public

The long-anticipated opening of the Blue Ridge Tunnel trail will soon be a reality. The roughly 2.25-mile trail is scheduled to open to pedestrians and bicyclists Saturday November 21. A portion of the trail runs through a railroad tunnel that was constructed between 1850 to 1858, which was led by engineer Claudius Crozet. At a distance of nearly 1 mile, it was the...

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Popular hiking guide “100 Favorite Trails” updated for the first time in over two decades

100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge, an essential guide for avid hikers, has been updated for the first time in 25 years. The guide features a full-color map printed on waterproof paper for hikers to keep track of trails. 27 of the trails featured in the guide are found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Originally created in 1966 by...

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Conserving Carolina reaches deal to buy rail line for Ecusta Trail

Hendersonville, NC-based land conservancy Conserving Carolina has reached an agreement to buy the railroad line from Hendersonville to Brevard, marking a major leap forward in plans for the 19-mile Ecusta Trail. In a move that was crucial, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday authorized a $7 million bridge loan that will make the sale possible....

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What’s That Cloud? Your Guide to Cloudspotting

Clouds are grouped into 10 different genera, organized based on shape and the altitude where they’re found. The genera names are all formed from the same five latin terms — cirro, cumulo, strato, nimbo, alto — which are mixed and matched to create names like cumulonimbus, cirrostratus, cirrocumuus…. you get the idea. Learning what each of these Latin roots means is key...

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