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  • Writer's pictureJamie R.

National Park News: March 2021

News to know before venturing outdoors this Spring!

Old Faithful erupting in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, set against a brilliant sky full of wispy clouds

Yellowstone National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out January’s News, February's News, and 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 climber admiring the view from the top of a cliff in Zion National Park in Utah. The cliffs are striated with brilliant red rock

Zion National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Falco Rodriguez

Zion National Park is temporarily closing cliffs in the park for the 2021 breeding season of Peregrine Falcons, expected to last until late July. These birds were critically endangered in 2017, but their complete extinction was prevented due to conservation efforts similar to Zion’s closures. Biologists and volunteers from the parks will monitor the breeding and nesting for these birds and determine precise reopening date based on the new chicks’ development, and when they are ready to leave the nest. The Peregrine Falcon prefers nesting on high ledges with territorial tendencies during this time, and Zion National Park is committed to harboring sanctuary for these and other wildlife.

Beginning March 1, the following cliffs will be closed to climbing: Angels Landing, Cable Mountain, The Great White Throne, Isaac (in the Court of the Patriarchs), The Sentinel, Mountain of the Sun, North Twin Brother, Tunnel Wall, The Easy Temple, Mount Spry, The Streaked Wall, and Mount Kinesava. Hikers need not be alarmed - if one of the aforementioned cliffs lies along a marked hiking trail, the trail itself is expected to remain open during this time. Climbing in this context is considered bouldering or scaling.


Geyser smoking in Yellowstone National Park, partially obscuring the sun directly overhead

Yellowstone National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

Parks begin Spring Cleaning and Maintenance

Several National Parks are expected to engage in some tender love and care over the next few weeks, which can cause closures and delays in plans. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is expected to perform maintenance on 4 different roads, and begin vegetation management in the Park that could last until mid-April. Yellowstone National Park experienced road closures due to excessive snow. Over winter, roads were open only to oversnow travel using snowmobiles or snow coaches, but will reopen to normal vehicle traffic once plowing efforts have been completed. If the weather permits, some roads plan to reopen to automobile traffic in mid-April. This will likely extend to more National Parks as Spring begins, so check for traffic and road closures before beginning any travels where weather could be an issue.


the Arches of Arches National Park in Utah, red sandstone weathered by centuries of, well, weather. Grey skies overhead

Arches National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

Arches National Park in Southern Utah is one of ten parks selected to be a Hot Spot by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. In March (and again in September), a Leave No Trace team worked directly with these parks to share information with visitors, land managers, volunteers and locals on how to recreate responsibly to reduce impact on the outdoors. Programs involving Leave No Trace education are free, and will be open for public attendance. LNT identifies Hot Spot locations by focusing on popular outdoor spaces across the United States that are seeing an increase in recreational use, and subsequent human impact. This impact can be seen through excessive trash, damage to vegetation, trail erosion, disturbance to wildlife and more. Regardless of whether you plan to visit Arches or any of the other specific Hot Spot parks this year, you can help support your favorite National Parks and outdoor spaces by following the Leave No Trace Principles wherever you go!


the sunset coloring clouds with pink and purples, as a lone kayaker traverses the waters in Hatteras National Seashore, accompanied only by a Flock Of Seagulls

Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC - Photo Credit: Tara R

Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina is reminding visitors recreating offshore that the water temperature is dangerously colder than the air temperature. Spring weather begins to increase the air temperatures, but water temperatures may take until the end of April to warm to safe levels. Check with your coastal park for any water temperature advisories before packing a bathing suit. Spending too much time in excessively cold water can lead to hypothermia, serious breathing issues while in the water, and more severe cold shock effects - especially for senior citizens. Protect yourself against these temps by wearing a wetsuit, or otherwise properly equipping yourself if you’ll be on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard suggests that those doing any sort of boating on bodies of water be sure to wear life jackets, and keep a VHF-FM radio nearby for emergency use.


A haze sets in over a beautiful wooded river in Glacier National Park, Utah

Glacier National Park, MT - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

The United States and Ireland have officially come together via a virtual ceremony to establish Glacier National Park in Montana and Killarney National Park in County Kerry, Ireland as “sister parks”. Through this agreement, the Parks plan to work collaboratively to share best practices of technical and professional knowledge, data, technology, and training; possibly coordinating visits as well. This agreement follows notice of the parks seeing similar issues derived from excessively high foot traffic from visitors. The issues also address ecological concerns, such as controlling exotic and invasive wildlife, local outreach, and ecological monitoring.


Smoky skies over the mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Mountains in the distance, a striking field of what looks like wheat in the foreground

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, FL - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

For many parks, camping season typically begins each year on April 1st. This year many have prepared their campgrounds for opening by allowing campers to reserve their site online prior to arrival. If reservations are an option for your local campsite, give it a try! Furthermore, most of the campsites that offer reservations also have a non-contact check-in feature. Some parks are able to accommodate walk-in registration, but it would be best to reach out to your specific campground for more information.


Sun setting over the hoodoos and striated rock structures of Bryce Canyon NAtional Park in Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

Vermont Representative Peter Welch (D) and Utah Representative John Curtis ® have reintroduced legislation to increase the funding set aside for The Recreational Trails Program. This funding was first granted in 1991, and was most recently introduced to the United States Congress in 2020 but did not receive votes. This bill proposes to nearly triple the funding that is currently allocated, from $83 million to $230 million.

This supports general maintenance, and the development of trails for hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and 4-wheel driving for Americans and their families. Representative Welch has mentioned that “The coronavirus pandemic has only increased Americans’ interest in getting outside to appreciate the recreational opportunities throughout the country,” and an increase in funding will help future generations enjoy the same trails and experiences. This bill is currently supported by 11 other representatives.


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out January’s News, February's News, and 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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