GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

All posts tagged Ken Burns

Winter Wonderland Trip

Categories: Winter
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The eight-day countdown has started for my winter trip to Yellowstone [2012], and my excitement is building! For a devoted fan like me, each trip is as fulfilling as the last, but it’s been six years since I got to go in winter.

I was getting a little worried that the snowpack would not be sufficient for snowcoaches, but now it is. The Tauck tour—actually two separate groups—I’ll be participating in will require something like twenty snowcoaches, which will make a significant impact on the roads and facilities this time of year.

This is the first time I’ve had the luxury of going along on a tour instead of planning everything myself for a Yellowstone trip. I wouldn’t have thought of doing it, except that it’s a unique opportunity to listen to and meet such Yellowstone authorities as Paul Schullery, Jim Halfpenny , and (the star attractions) Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. Right now I’m even going back over the first two DVDs of their 2009 National Parks TV series to be ready. My company, Granite Peak Publications, is also supplying free copies of Yellowstone Treasures to all the tour guests, which I see as a super promotional opportunity.

We’re going to the best facilities, from Chico Hot Springs north of the park to Spring Creek Ranch near Jackson, and Mammoth and Old Faithful hotels will provide the bulk of our seven-night stay. The pre-trip descriptions make me smile in remembrance of favorite places: Chico has a “turn-of-the-20th-century Victorian main lodge . . . offering travelers access to the area’s natural mineral hot springs since 1900.” (When it was quite new my paternal grandfather died there while seeking medical treatment.) Most summers I get a dip in the pools and a superb dinner there. At the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center “the keynote address is by Ken Burns, who will share stories and insights on Yellowstone and other national parks gathered throughout his years of work on The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” One day we’ll go to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where “the Lower Falls freeze and an ice bridge forms across the canyon.”
. . . .
Have a look at the trip report I wrote when I got back.

People of color in the national parks

Categories: News
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Lamar Buffalo Ranch

Lamar Buffalo Ranch at sunset (2011)

Recently an online discussion has been taking place on the subject of the numerical imbalance of people of color in our national parks. This is an issue that has been on my mind for several years, but so far, I have not begun to understand why so few black and Hispanic folks visit Yellowstone. I wrote a comment on the “High Country News” online post by James Mills, who studied the question in some southwestern national parks this summer.

When I saw the interview with the very articulate and obviously dedicated black Yosemite ranger, Shelton Johnson, on the Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan TV series on the national parks in 2009, I thought this might help to draw people of color to the parks. According to Mills, Johnson wrote a letter after that series was aired that encouraged Oprah to go on her well-publicized camping trip to Yosemite.

In May 2010 I attended an independent publishers meeting, where I brought up the subject with two black women publishers I met at an informal gathering. I asked them what I could do or what could be done in general to encourage people to try the outdoor experience. Their suggestion was to get a famous black musician or athlete to set an example and publicize his or her trip in media that is popular with black people. We probably need to see many more trips like Oprah’s by many prominent and influential people of color over a period of time to begin to make a difference.
One person who commented about Mills’s post remarked that many people don’t like to camp. I can attest that, at least in Yellowstone, it is not necessary to camp to enjoy the park; there are cabins and hotels ranging in price from $30 to $235 a night—I stayed in the whole gamut of them this summer. At the top of this post is an early July sunset from our cabin at Lamar Buffalo Ranch ($30 per person per night).

I saw more black people in Yellowstone this summer than in former years—but not very many more. Mills mentions a program in the Tetons called the National Park Service Academy that “invites college students to visit the park on spring break, and thereby be exposed to many of the careers open to them in the National Park Service.” Much more of this sort of thing is needed. Perhaps city people just don’t know what it can do for them to spend some time in nature.

All Americans, as well as people from other countries who are able to travel, should feel welcome in our national parks and should be given the opportunity to appreciate what the parks have to offer us. Programs like the NPS Academy that Mills tells us about are surely a good idea. I can’t say how we should solve it, but discussing this problem is a step in the right direction.

More “debriefing” about what I saw and thought about on this summer’s Yellowstone trip will follow here soon.

More about the Burns TV documentary

Categories: On the Web
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On the National Parks Traveler website, a former park superintendent discusses some interesting issues about the parks that were not covered in Ken Burns’s fine TV documentary aired this past fall. Read his post.

I agree with much of what Rick Smith says. However, he couldn’t begin to cover national parks from all angles even in the twelve hours allotted for the episodes. Burns’s emphasis was history and the contributions of people who aided the parks’ creation, and he covered those aspects very well.

There is a small fallacy in former superintendent Smith’s paragraph about other countries reserving protected areas. He writes:

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports that there are now over 100,000 established protected areas in the world, not all of them national parks, of course, but all established to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources. These areas cover approximately 11.63% of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas. Yellowstone was the first such area created in the world. . . .

If you include all types of national reserves such as national monuments and seashores, Yellowstone was not the first area protected and set aside. Back in 1832, the Hot Springs Reservation in Arkansas was created by Congress, granting federal protection of the thermal waters. Yellowstone (established in 1872) was the first to be called a national park.