Visitors Defecating on Ground Next to Locked Public Restrooms at Death Valley National Park

The national park employees haven’t had the opportunity to say much about the national parks being closed because as federal employees, they aren’t allowed to share their views publicly. realizing that it’s important that the park rangers’ views be heard, NPX films, along with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) set up a way for park rangers to share their views anonymously which they turned into a video entitled “Anonymous Rangers” which is well worth watching and should be passed along to all you know.

The video wasn’t able to incorporate all of the information that the rangers passed along for the project. Some of the information received, but left out of the video include that visitors are defecating on the ground immediately adjacent to locked public restrooms at Death Valley National Park, that visitors are vandalizing park property, and that park staff have received insulting messages including: “F*** you. This is my park. I pay taxes” and “I peed in your parking lot you federal government bastards.”

Our national park rangers deserve better…

anonymous ranger video

9 Amazing Hikes That Will Make You Wish Autumn Came Twice a Year

By Alanna Sobel

Albert Camus once said that autumn was like a second spring, where each leaf became a flower. Nowhere is this as true as within the National Park System, where the coming of fall encourages trees to turn their bounty of foliage into a veritable feast for the eyes with bright oranges, crisp reds, and yellows that shine with anticipation. An epiphany of beauty awaits visitors in an explosion of hues during autumn as nature puts on a dazzling finale.

A brief list of the most gorgeous fall park trails should be on every bucket list.

Autumn hikes
Image courtesy of jay8085

Glacier National Park in Montana offers some of the West’s most impressive autumn vistas and Firebrand Pass, cradled by two climbing mountains, gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the meadow’s fall palette. Beaver Pond Trail in Yellowstone is the perfect spot to observe wildlife making their winter preparations. Beaver Pond Trail can easily be a day hike, while Firebrand Pass is more difficult and will take more time.

Riprap Trail in Shenandoah National Park contains a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and takes hikers past private coves of mountain laurel that follow streams within the park. The swimming holes are the main attraction along this trail, especially during warm fall days. While in Virginia, the White Oak Canyon Trail is a must-see as well. Lush forests surround impressive waterfalls, several with natural geological slides.

For those not interested in swimming, Sargent Mountain Loop, located in Acadia National Park, offers its princely hues of golds and bronzes primarily in October. The view of the coastline and Mount Desert Island is impeccable and the hike is just challenging enough to thrill the intermediate hiker. For those that live in the west, the Tuolumne River Loop in Yosemite is a relatively flat hike, perfect for panoramic shots and is a fairly easy hike for beginners. The Puppy Dome and Dog Lake both offer breathtaking scenery perfect for fall photography.

For those with limited mobility or those who are unable to traverse several miles of rocky landscape, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal way to enjoy the national park. This road trail can be traveled via car, though not motor-home, and takes visitors past swollen fall rivers and historic buildings nestled under canopies of reds and oranges. Also in the Great Smokies, the Oconaluftee River Trail follows the river for 1.5 miles. The clear waters reflect the fall colors of the forest and provide a peaceful escape for those seeking a shorter hike. Lastly, the Blue Ridge Parkway must be included on every list of fall trail escapes. Built to connect Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the dramatic views of foliage and mountain ridges are truly unforgettable.

Alanna Sobel is a writer for the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. In partnership with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation enriches America’s national parks and programs through private support, preserving our country’s heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts. To learn about our national parks or to find out how you help, visit

List of National Parks that are Open During the Shutdown

As most people are well aware at this point, the vast majority of the parks within the national park system are closed due to the government shutdown. A few states have worked with the government and they have decided to reopened a few parks with state funds. It’s important to note that just because a state has decided to reopen some parks within their state, that doesn’t mean that all of the national parks sites within their state are open. The number of sites open is still only a small percentage of the 401 sites that make up the national park system. Below is the current list of sites that are currently open, along with the dates that they are scheduled to remain open:


grand canyon national park arizona

Grand Canyon National Park (currently scheduled to be open from October 12 to 18)


rocky mountain national park

Rocky Mountain National Park (currently scheduled to be open from October 11 to 20)

New York

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty National Monument (currently scheduled to be open from October 12 to 18)

North Carolina / Tennessee

national park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (currently scheduled to be open from October 16 to 20)

South Dakota

mount rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (currently scheduled to be open from October 14 to 23)


Arches National Park

All Utah parks are currently scheduled to be open from October 11 – 20

Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Natural Bridges National Monument
Zion National Park

Cataract Falls, Colorado

I would not recommend anyone making a special trip only to see Cataract Falls. The lower falls, which is the only area that is really accessible to most people, is nice but nothing spectacular. An exception might be for those with children who want to see a waterfall in the Vail, Colorado area (it’s about an hour drive from Vail in White River national forest in the Eagles Nest wilderness area) or simply don’t want to do a moderate to strenuous hike which is required to see other waterfalls in the area. It’s not the biggest falls around, but it’s easy to get to (only about 1/4 mile off the road). There is a small bridge below the falls where you can get a nice photo (the first photo below was taken from it), and there are areas where you can sit on rocks to enjoy a snack or meal.

cataract falls

I made the trip in late Autumn (mid October), so there was a bit of snow on the ground and the waterfall was beginning to ice up:

Ice forming on Cataract waterfall, Colorado

The is a way to get to the top of the falls, but it’s much steeper than the trail there with a lot of loose gravel on the trail. I wouldn’t recommend it for small children or anyone who isn’t confident with their balance. This is a shot from the top of the waterfall:

The top of Cataract Falls in Colorado

From the top of the fall, the trail disappears, although you can still climb to see an upper falls area. This is quite difficult and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone but well experienced hikers. I made it about half way up, but stopped due to the snow/ice on the ground. I’m not sure it would have been any easier without the snow on the ground. This photo was partial way up:

Upper Cataract waterfall in Colorado


Take Interstate 70 West to exit 171. Upon exit, turn right (south) on U.S. 24. You will drive 15.4 miles when you’ll see a national forest gate and dirt road on your left. This is the North Entrance to Camp Hale. Drive until the road ends (not far — you can see the end from U.S. 24) and turn right. Drive about a mile until you reach a fork in the road (there was a “Road Closed Ahead” sign at the fork when I was there). Stay left (the road closed side). Drive until you reach the “Road Closed” barrier (I’m not sure if this is permanent or not, but was there in October 2013):

road closed sign

The trailhead is 100 feet before the barrier (you passed it if you reach the barrier) on the left side marked with two large wooden triangle posts.

Aspen at White River National Forest

The Autumn colors are out in Colorado. I took a hike today at White River national forest in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area where the Aspen were sparkling with a golden yellow. Below are a few of the photos from the hike.

amazing aspen trees

aspen changing color

aspen grove

aspen on trail

aspen tree golden

aspen trees

beautiful aspen tree

golden aspen closeup