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Tomorrow is National Public Lands Day

Saturday, Sept. 29 marks the 19th annual National Public Lands Day, a celebration of America’s natural and cultural heritage.  It’s a great opportunity to get outside—either as a volunteer at one of over 2,000 participating sites nationwide, or as a visitor to one of the many areas that is observing a fee-free day.

As part of last year’s National Public Lands Day, legions of volunteers around the nation combined forces to plant a whopping 100,000 trees and plants and build an impressive 1,500 miles of trail.  That’s quite a tally for a single day’s worth of work, and it’s a great reminder of how much we can do for our parks and other public lands when we decide to take responsibility for them. Read more

The Beautiful Buildings of Our National Parks

I usually camp when I visit national parks, and indeed I spent the first few days of my recent trip to Glacier on the park’s west side, based out of Apgar campground on the shores of Lake McDonald.  After a few nights there, I relocated to the east side of the park, and decided to take advantage of such comforts as a shower and a bed.  In a park like Glacier, though, not any bed would do: I spent one night at the Many Glacier Hotel and another at the Glacier Park Lodge.

These two historic hotels were constructed by the Great Northern Railway as part of their “See America First” campaign that enticed wealthy travelers to put off the traditional Europe tour in favor of visiting wild western landscapes.  The Glacier Park Lodge, located adjacent to the rail depot in East Glacier Park, Montana, opened in 1913.  More than fifty miles to the north, the Many Glacier Hotel followed suit in 1915.  Read more

Moving Again

I feel as though I only just arrived in Yellowstone, yet here I am, packing and cleaning, getting ready to move again.  Picking up and relocating frequently is the lot of the seasonal park ranger, and there are things I like about it.  I never get bored with the inherently repetitive aspects of my job, for instance, and I welcome the chance to delve into a new homelandscape every six months or so.  But staying put for two years of graduate school in Vermont spoiled me with “normal” life: I got to taste the joy of immersing myself more deeply in a place.  To many of you, who may have spent your entire lives in one place, two years without moving may not sound like much.  But for an itinerant park ranger, not having to move three or four times during that period was a heavenly taste of what it’s like to settle somewhere. Read more

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