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National Park News: June 2021

Record Crowds Expected at National Parks this Summer!

Pinks, purples, oranges, reds, and yellows illuminate the sky at sunset over the snowy Grand Canyon in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - Photo Credit: Chris Blake


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out last month's edition here. Sign up for Pathloom Beta Access to be added to a mailing list for the latest news, weekly blog updates, and exclusive sneak peeks to upcoming posts.


A rainbow beams down from cloudy skies over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Eldorado National Forest, California. Loon Lake looks extremely cold in the foreground

Loon Lake, Eldorado National Forest, CA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

Pride at Pathloom

At Pathloom, we are dedicated to making the outdoors more accessible for everyone, and we are proud to highlight other individuals, groups, and organizations with similar missions. We recognize that many communities are underrepresented when it comes to the Great Outdoors, and we want to work to change that however we are able to. In honor of Pride Month, we’d like to use this space to showcase three recent outdoors-related LGBTQ+ news highlights before continuing with our usual monthly National Park-focused News coverage. Happy Pride everyone!

  • Cyclist, avid outdoorsman, and National Parks expert Mikah Meyer is organizing a 363-mile ride down the Oregon Coast to build awareness for Outdoor Safe Space and to do his part to make the Outdoors more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Texas-based organization LGBT+ Outdoors has announced the inaugural LGBT+ Outdoorfest will be held on September 24-26, 2021 at the Rainbow Ranch Campground near Groesbeck, Texas. This event will feature workshops providing introductions to a litany of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and nature photography

  • On May 18th, filmmaker Devin Fei-Fan Tau released the film “Who’s On Top?”, depicting a group of LGBTQ+ athletes’ epic ascent of Oregon’s famed Mount Hood. The film, narrated by national treasure George Takei, draws parallels between the arduous journey up and down the mountainside and the struggle many in the community face with coming out and embracing their gender and sexuality, while also presenting real role models for outdoors-minded LGBTQ+ aspirants.


Magnificent cloudy skies lurk ominously over an enormous arched bridge spanning New River Gorge in America's newest State Park, West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park, WV: Photo Credit: Gloria Spellman

America’s Newest National Park Expects Influx in Tourism this Summer

Long a beloved vacation spot for local and regional tourists alike, the naming of New River Gorge in West Virginia as an official National Park showcases the area for tourists across the country and the world as a must-see destination. From the abundant Springtime blooms to the spectacular foliage in the Fall, New River Gorge’s unusual climate allows for both breathtaking scenery and a wide range of potential activities to indulge in. 53 miles of rapids allow for ample whitewater rafting opportunities, while the steep sandstone walls of the gorge attract rock climbers of all skill levels. 100 miles of trails provide plenty of opportunity for hiking and mountain biking.

Local officials are expecting at least a 20% increase in visitors now that the region has been redesignated from a National River to a National Park. Local business owners (and the state’s senators that sponsored this redesignation) hope this could bring immense benefits to the state’s economy. The park is actively recruiting volunteers to assist with this anticipated rush of traffic for their first summer as an official National Park.


The sky burns as the sun sets over Ute Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows splash across the sky over the mountains and rocks below.

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park Re-Closes, 2 days after Season Opening

At a peak elevation of 12,183 feet, the highest paved road in the United States can often be subject to harsh weather conditions. Trail Ridge Road, the primary thoroughfare through Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and one of the most scenic roads in the country, has closed down due to stormy weather conditions just two days after opening up for the first time in over 7 months. The road had been closed since October 2020 - a large-scale wildfire and subsequent snowstorm making for impassable conditions late last season. The road typically opens on Memorial Day weekend and indeed did so this year, only to be shut down again after a late season snowstorm hit the area early this week. Once the road reopens, a reservation will be required to traverse this beautiful scenic byway, though capacity has been expanded as compared to last year’s Covid-related restrictions.


The sun's rays filter through the trees surrounding Ricks Pond in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park, AR - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

Hot Springs National Park celebrates Centennial, Re-opens Fordyce Bathhouse

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is celebrating the 100th anniversary of their designation as a National Park with a series of events over the course of the summer. Click here for a list of events to plan travel around - don’t miss out on the “Running Of The Tubs!" In addition to this, thanks to an easing of Covid-related restrictions, the Park has reopened the historic Fordyce Bathhouse Museum & Visitor Center for the first time since the pandemic forced them to shut their doors in early 2020. Since bathing in the Park’s eponymous outdoor hot springs is prohibited (and dangerous, they’re hot!), this reopening expands visitors’ opportunities to experience all of the health benefits that soaking in (and drinking!) these waters has to offer.


Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

Virtual Grand Canyon Star Party to be held June 5-12

This year’s Grand Canyon Star Party, the 31st annual edition of the event, will be held virtually via the Grand Canyon’s official Facebook page every evening from June 5-12. The event will feature a series of speakers from the traditionally associated tribes of the Grand Canyon, and will focus on cultural astronomy from the tribal perspective. Astronomers will have video cameras connected to telescopes that they can use to highlight various celestial objects to discuss their significance. As an International Dark Sky Park, the Grand Canyon is uniquely situated to provide some of the best views of the stars on the entire planet, and this event will help to provide some important historic, cultural, and scientific context for what can be seen in the night sky.


Tons of different kinds of cacti abound in Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro National Park, AZ - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

Federal Budget to allot $3.5 Billion to National Park Service

The Presidential Budget for fiscal year 2022 was submitted to Congress in late May, and includes a $3.5 billion investment in the country’s National Parks in anticipation of one of the busiest years in the history of the Service as a result of the pandemic. This represents a $700 million increase over last year’s budget, a good indication of the importance assigned by the new administration toward the preservation of the country’s natural beauty and resources. The budget includes support for a broad range of Park concerns, such as park infrastructure upgrades, preservation of tribal cultural heritage, climate vulnerability assessments, and even body cameras for park law enforcement officials.


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out last month's edition here. Sign up for Pathloom Beta Access to be added to a mailing list for the latest news, weekly blog updates, and exclusive sneak peeks to upcoming posts.


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