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Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

Topic: national parks

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February 11, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Free entry to national parks, forests, refuges this weekend

Celebrate this Presidents Day weekend, Saturday through Monday, Feb. 15-17, with a free visit to a national park, national forest or wildlife refuge. All three days are included as fee-free days for 2014 for parks, museums, trails and other facilities operated by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. In Washington, that includes Mount…

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0 Comments | More in Fees, national parks, Northwest, Outdoors, Parks, U.S. Forest Service | Topics: fee-free days, mount rainier, national forests

December 31, 2013 at 9:41 AM

National park workers offer new-year resolutions

OK, admittedly this is a blatant bit of PR that came in email today for America’s national parks, but it’s also kind of a fun New Year’s reminder of the diversity of folks who work for the National Park Service, which spent a lot of time in the spotlight this past year thanks to October’s…

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0 Comments | More in national parks, Parks | Topics: national parks, new year's resolutions, YouTube

October 17, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Washington’s national parks happy to reopen (with sparkling fall colors)

This photo of Mount Rainier was posted Thursday on the national park's Twtiter feed with the note, "What a beautiful morning to welcome us back to Mount Rainier!" (photo courtesy of @MountRainierNPS)

This photo of Mount Rainier was posted Thursday on the national park’s Twitter feed with the note, “What a beautiful morning to welcome us back to Mount Rainier!” (photo courtesy of @MountRainierNPS)

“When I put the flag up today it felt so good,” said Ranger Maureen McLean at Mount Rainier National Park, as Rainier and Washington’s other national parks reopened Thursday.

They were among hundreds of parks,  monuments and historic sites across the nation reopening after the 16-day government shutdown.

Park gates and some visitor centers are open, but it might be a couple days before all is again running smoothly. At Rainier:

  • Gates were open Thursday morning, with the normal $15 per vehicle admission fee. Paradise and Stevens Canyon roads are
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0 Comments | Topics: mount rainier national park, national parks, olympic national park

October 10, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Recreation, economic blues as federal lands stay closed

At Olympic National Park, a gate blocks access to the park's Elwha  Valley near Port Angeles. Park roads are closed because of the federal government shutdown.

At Olympic National Park, a gate blocks access to the park’s Elwha Valley near Port Angeles. Park roads are closed because of the federal government shutdown. (AP/Keith Thorpe)

Washington’s national-park  gems — Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades — remain closed, thanks to the federal shutdown. Locals can, with some effort and confusion, figure out other places to go for scenic drives, hikes and other recreation.

But for out-of-state and foreign visitors, the national-park closures are ruining long-planned trips and have local businesses near the parks worried about lingering economic impacts.

“People come from China, Germany, everywhere to see Mount Rainier,” said

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0 Comments | More in federal shutdown, national parks, Northwest, U.S. Forest Service | Topics: federal lands shutown, mount rainier national park, Mount St. Helens

October 1, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Planning a hike or campout? Federal shutdown complicates things

Mount Rainier National Park's Paradise Inn, which was to have ended its season Oct. 7, has closed for the year, as part of the federal government shutdown. (file photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

Mount Rainier National Park’s Paradise Inn, which was to have ended its season Oct. 7, has closed for the year, as part of the federal government shutdown. (file photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

If you’re planning an outing to a National Forest or National Park, expect to find closed gates in many places, and good luck nailing down information on where you’re heading: Basically, staffers have almost all shut the doors and gone home, or aren’t answering phones, because of the federal government shutdown.

A phone call Tuesday to the Outdoor Recreation Information Center at Seattle’s REI store, usually a good source of information on both National Forests and National Parks, got this recorded message: “Because of the federal government shutdown we have been furloughed. We cannot check phone messages until the government reopens.”

National parks and their campgrounds are closed, and rangers are giving backcountry hikers and campers 48 hours to get out of the parks. Try to even check the Mount Rainier

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0 Comments | More in national parks, Northwest, Outdoors, Parks | Topics: federal shutdown, mount rainier closure, national forest shutdown

August 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Washington’s national parks in top 20 in new ranking

Kayakers paddle in the deep, turquoise waters of Lake Crescent, in Olympic National Park, which rates No. 8 in a new ranking of America's 59 national parks. (photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Kayakers paddle in the deep, turquoise waters of Lake Crescent, in Olympic National Park, which rates No. 8 in a new ranking of America’s 59 national parks. (photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

In a new ranking of America’s 59 national parks, Washington’s three national parks all fall in the top 20.

Olympic National Park is ranked No. 8, North Cascades National Park is ranked No. 14, and Mount Rainier National Park comes in at No. 18.

To come up with the ranking, The Active Times website, oriented to the outdoors and adventure, used three criteria: biodiversity, range of visitor activities and the opinions of an expert panel.

The panel of experts included 17 writers, landscape photographers and travel professionals who write about and study national parks and spend much more time there than the average person. Among those who helped out were Kurt Repanshek, editor of National Parks Traveler, Michael Joseph Oswald, author of “Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 58 National Parks, and nature photographer QT Luoung, who’s captured every park on his large format camera and was featured in Ken Burns’ documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Recently departed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also weighed in.

Here’s the top 20 in the ranking:

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0 Comments | More in national parks, Northwest, Outdoors, Parks | Topics: best national parks, mount rainier national park, national parks

March 14, 2013 at 6:00 AM

A pop-up Old Faithful (and more) supports national parks lobby

Old Faithful erupts from one of the pop-up pages of "America's National Parks, A Pop-Up Book" for adults.

Old Faithful erupts from one of the pop-up pages of “America’s National Parks, A Pop-Up Book” for adults.

Suffering the slings and arrows of the sequester, America’s national parks are strapped for cash more than ever. Yellowstone has idled its snowplows this month, delaying the park’s spring opening, and word going round is that Mount Rainier might not open its Ohanapecosh Visitor Center this year.

Here’s a way to raise a little money to help, and it’s a heap ‘o fun for your coffee table. Publishing April 8 is “America’s National Parks, A Pop-Up Book,” for adults, with support going to the National Parks Conservation Association,  which helps lobby for parks across America. The goal is for $100,000 to go to the group.

I don’t know about you, but I loved the pop-up books my kid collected, especially the “Wizard of Oz” one, complete with pop-up Kansas twister.

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0 Comments | Topics: coffee-table book, national parks, Old Faithful