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National Park News: May 2021

Warmer Weather Brings More Opportunities to Get Outdoors!


a monstrous cliffside vista, a crystal blue river flowing through a craggy rocky canyon, under a perfect clear blue sky. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Brett Stanton


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out January’s News, February's News, and March's News. In an effort to avoid confusion, beginning this month we'll be labeling this series with the current month, rather than the previous. 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.


Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park, Maine presents an incredible vantage point of lush green forests extending out to a refleftive blue atlantic ocean, as several wispy clouds lurk overhead

Beehive Trail: Acadia National Park, ME - Photo Credit: Brett Stanton



Acadia, Glacier, Other National Parks to Mandate Reservations for Day-Use Visitors



Several of the most popular National Parks in the country have expanded their reservation system to include day-use visitors, in addition to existing overnight/backcountry permitting already in effect. Acadia, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks have introduced reservations in an effort to reduce overcrowding and encourage social distancing. The cost of most of these reservations are trivial - meant more as a means of managing the number of visitors than as an additional revenue stream - but it should be noted that these costs are separate from the regular park entry fees. Specific policies vary by park, but most require these reservations to be made ahead of time - and due to the popularity of these parks (and their pandemic-related capacity restrictions), it is recommended to secure tickets well in advance.



A woman gazes out over the green river and brown rocks of the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ: Photo Credit: Tia Li Fouroohi



Grand Canyon Announces Massive Infrastructure Overhaul



National Park Service representatives have announced plans to repair the 12.5 mile pipeline that has provided the majority of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim with its water supply for over 60 years. The repairs are set to begin in January 2023, and expected to last up to two years. Engineers plan on doing all they can to reduce the impact this will have on visitors, but some trail and facility closures are expected to occur at various times throughout the repair period. Among the most popular attractions expected to be closed are the River Trail and Phantom Ranch Campground. Aspiring Grand Canyon visitors may want to push up their plans to 2021 or 2022 to ensure they are not impacted by these imminent closures.



Sunset illuminates the clouds with oranges and yellows over the scrubby plains of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Brett Stanton



NPS to Roll Out Autonomous Vehicles in Yellowstone, Other National Parks Throughout 2021



The National Park Service is teaming up with local Departments of Transportation to introduce self-driving shuttles to parks across the country in 2021. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Wright Brothers National Monument in North Carolina will be the first to introduce a pilot program to assess the feasibility of autonomous vehicles to transport visitors to popular attractions throughout the park. Though the shuttles will operate without human input (at speeds of 8-12 MPH), an operator will ride in each vehicle to ensure safety in event of malfunction. Ideally, this solution will lead to reduced congestion on the roadways and less overcrowding at popular areas - improving overall visitor experience. This is a fascinating window into how future technology may impact our country’s natural treasures, at a time when visitor management is more important than ever in parks to limit the potential spread of Covid-19.



Stars twinkle in the dark sky over giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Forest, California

Sequoia National Park, CA - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



Crystal Cave Reopens in Sequoia National Park



Crystal Cave, an extremely popular attraction within Sequoia National Park, has officially announced it will reopen beginning Memorial Day Weekend 2021, after closing down for the entire 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Reservations, which must be made in advance of a visit, became available on Recreation.gov as of May 1 for dates ranging from Thursday-Sunday through the end of October. The extremely delicate formations within the cave are beautiful to see, but so fragile that a guide is required to enter the cave to ensure the contents of the cave remain undisturbed. The stalactites, stalagmites, and subterranean waterways are once again open to the public after shutting down last year for the first time since opening in 1940.



I'm colorblind so I can't tell you the color of the domiciles carved into the rock face of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. The skies overhead look somewhat greyish blue, I guess, but the clouds look amazing. The forest under the aforementioned rock face is most likely green, but looks lush, plush, and soft, like you could dive right in and take a nap or two. If you're reading this, you're probably laughing about as hard as I am writing it

Mesa Verde National Park - Photo Credit: Alec Krum


Mesa Verde Certified as 100th International Dark Sky Park



The International Dark Sky Organization has announced that Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado has been recognized as an official Dark Sky Place - indicating it is one of the best places on the entire planet for stargazing. These ideal conditions are found when aridity and elevation combine with distance from sources of light pollution - and Mesa Verde has all in abundance. This certification is both a tribute and a commitment to preserve the same night skies witnessed by the Pueblo Indians over their ancestral homeland for hundreds upon hundreds of years. The NPS recommends Morefield Campground, Far View Lodge, or any of the overlooks along the park road as ideal stargazing locations. This certification comes just in time for Milky Way Season, which runs through September in the Northern Hemisphere.



National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out January’s News, February's News, and March's News. In an effort to avoid confusion, beginning this month we'll be labeling this series with the current month, rather than the previous. 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.


Check out these other articles by Pathloom which you may enjoy:

The Medicinal Value of Camping Alone

The Glory of Yosemite

Very Superstitious: Phoenix In The Fall

The Resilience of the Redwoods: Big Basin’s Rise from the Ashes

Leave No Trace Principles

Types of Camping



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