• Bryan Donoghue

National Park News: September 2021

Wildfires, Flooding, Astronomy, and National Public Lands Day


a watercolor sunset over a Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park features vivid pinks, purples, and oranges over the plains

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan


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.


charred tree trunks are the remnants of the wildfires of the past at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California

Echoes of Wildfires Past: Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



US Forest Service Closes Every National Forest in California


On August 30th, the US Forest Service announced that all National Forests in the state of California will be closed to the public until September 17, 2021. This announcement comes just prior Labor Day weekend, which historically has been an extremely busy time for National Parks and Forests throughout the country. The USFS cites an unprecedented wildfire season as the reason for this decision - with 1.7 million acres of forest already in ashes and firefighting resources throughout the state stretched to their absolute limit. Those responsible for this difficult decision hope that it will reduce the risk of people being endangered by these ongoing fires, as well as the likelihood for additional fires to break out.


Pelicans gather on a small sand bar with one flying overhead, as the sunset bleeds orange across the sky over Everglades National Park in Florida

Everglades National Park, FL - Photo Credit: Chris Blake



Flooding Impacts National Parks Throughout Country - Widespread Trail Closures


While the droughts in the Northwest have led to record wildfire spreading, much of the rest of the country is being impacted by rainfall so severe it is causing flooding throughout neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Across the South and up the Eastern Seaboard, communities are facing dire emergency situations, and flooded roads are complicating evacuation and travel logistics for many. Unfortunately, this phenomenon also extends to our National Park Service, with many parks throughout the country implementing closures of trails, parking areas, and campsites to mitigate damage caused by the storms and ensure the safety of visitors. If you’re planning to visit a Park this holiday weekend, be sure to check their website first to ensure your itinerary will not be interrupted.


One of the more Grander of Tetons looms over a valley in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Andrew Helmbrecht



Grand Teton National Park, Utah Parks Lower Fire Danger Rating to Moderate


Though climate change is certainly making its impact felt this season with the outdoor recreation community, not all is hopeless across the country. For the first time in what seems like months, Teton Interagency Fire has downgraded the Fire Danger Rating in Grand Teton National Park to “Moderate.” Even though two wildland fires are still actively burning within Park limits (in addition to two proscribed fires along the western edge of the park), the impact of rain and snow throughout the region over the past few days was sufficient to allow area vegetation to reattain non-critical moisture levels. Similar conditions throughout Utah have also led officials in that state to reduce fire restrictions throughout their Park system. Visitors are still reminded to be extremely conscious of any campfires, as this lowered rating does not prevent ignorance or neglect from causing the next great wildfire to break out.


Stars explode brilliantly in the night sky over a red rock striated slot canyon near PAge, Arizona

Night Sky over Page, AZ - Photo Credit: Tom Gainor



Southwest Astronomy Festival to Commence September 10-12


National Parks and Monuments throughout the Southwest are offering a series of free astronomy programs, dubbed the Southwest Astronomy Festival, to visitors next weekend, September 10-12, 2021. Southwestern Utah and Northern Arizona feature some of the darkest night skies in the country, and are an ideal location for stargazing and learning about astronomy as a whole. The majority of events related to the festival will be hosted by Grand Canyon - Parashant National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument, click the links for a full schedule of events.


California in all its breathtaking beauty - a small mountain stream trickles down between thousand year old redwoods and other trees on Mount Tamalpias in Marin, California

Mount Tamalpias: GGNRA, CA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



Golden Gate National Recreational Area Looks to Implement New Fee Structure


Golden Gate National Recreational Area, which according to the NPS was the second most visited National Park in the country last year, is seeking public input to determine if visitors would tolerate parking and usage fees being introduced across many of the attractions of the region. The proposed fees represent a significant change, and come as a stark contrast to the dedication of the past to keep as many of these free of charge to encourage visitors from a variety of economic backgrounds. While the need for funding to support Park operations is certainly important, this may have a significant negative impact on the public accessibility of this area. You can make your voice heard on this issue until September 26th, 2021, by emailing goga_business@nps.gov or calling 415-561-4700.


A jaw dropping view of snow capped mountains in the distance in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Way too much snow for a photo snapped in June.

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



Free National Park Entrance on National Public Lands Day - September 25


The National Park Service will be waiving entrance fees for every National Park in the country on Saturday, September 25th! This is to celebrate National Public Lands Day, a holiday held each year on the fourth Saturday of September that celebrates the amazing natural beauty of this country, and encourages visitors to give back by volunteering on ongoing restoration and improvement efforts at the Parks. Click here to search for events and volunteering opportunities in your area, and start planning your trip today! Keep in mind that National Parks tend to be extremely busy on free entrance days, so be sure to arrive early, and check the website in advance for any reservation requirements!



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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