Browsing the archives for the National Parks category.


A Historical Experience on a Road Trip to California National Parks

american history, National Park, National Parks, Travel, travel and history, travel and leisure

A Historical Experience on a Road Trip to California National Parks

 Joe Laing, El Monte RV

What a perfect way to spend a vacation – traveling in an RV on a tour of California’s National Parks! This is truly a unique way to experience California and U.S. history as well as amazing people from our past. Explorers, adventurers, artists and Native Americans – all sorts of folks savored the beauty and also some of the adversity of California as they arrived year after year, century after century. Many stories are told within California National Parks.

Let’s start in Southern California and work our way up to the northern reaches near the Oregon border. We will move not only through the deserts of the southwest where archeologists find historical treasures, but also through wild lands of rugged mountains and tall trees where American Indians hunted and gathered for their families. We’ll visit Gold Rush Country where miners laid down their lives for riches beyond measure. As you travel in an RV you will never lack for a place to stay, as there is an abundance of RV parks everywhere you go.

At Channel Islands National Park, off the coast in Southern California, you will be visiting five amazing islands that have been the subject of many years of research by scientists and historians. Each island has its own story. The Chumash inhabited the islands for thousands of years, yet were decimated when traders and explorers brought in disease. These same traders exploited resources as they hunted seals and otters. Because the islands are so isolated, they have a wealth of unique plant and animal life which creates in itself a wonderful reason to visit.

Heading east now, you will want to visit Joshua Tree National Park next. This desert park offers views into a rich history, with a fascinating story set in an almost surreal environment. There are numerous archeological and historic sites to explore. It is imperative you stop at the museum to see the Campbell Collection which consists of numerous artifacts, notes and photos which tell the story of early cultures.

On north now to Death Valley National Park! You simply cannot visit California without stopping here. You may not believe how much history this park can contain. However, you can’t deny that the Twenty Mule Team wagons have made an impression on young and old ever since they entered the history books. You have the opportunity to visit a long list of ghost towns such as Chloride City, Greenwater or Harrisberry. And to get a look into the life in this desert area in the 20s and 30s, be sure to stop at Scotty’s Castle.

Again heading northward, you will come to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where the breathtaking beauty of the giant trees and rugged mountains will encourage you to get out in the fresh air and get some recreation time in. These side-by-side parks lie in the San Joaquin Valley and have a six thousand year history at least, with hunters and gatherers living in this Southern Sierra wonderland. More came in later years – the trappers and miners, the sheepherders and the loggers. Learn the story of Walter Fry, who arrived as a logger, but after counting the growth rings on one of the trees he cut, decided he wanted no part of ending over 3,000 years of growth.

Don’t miss Yosemite National Park and learn all about our well-known John Muir and all he did to have this area protected as a national park. Experience the views as did Ansel Adams through his camera lens. This park is filled with history and you should allow many days to take it all in. There is so much about this park that can be said, that we’ll leave it at – GO!

Finally you will come to your last two stops, very different from each other – Lassen Volcanic National Park in north central California and Redwood National Park on the coast. Lassen is filed with meadows, lakes and, of course, volcanoes. More than one! Discover the wild stories of the Native Americans who lived and raised their families in the Lassen area. Find out all about the effect that American Indians and the loggers had on Redwood National Park. The wildlife and beautiful coastline at Redwood National Park are some of the main attractions here. As you explore either park, you will learn so much about this region of California and how natives and European explorers came and forged out a living. Although your tour is now at an end, the memories will last forever!

About the Author

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see http://www.elmontervsales.com/.

Half Dome Hike Risk vs Driving to Yosemite Risks

National Parks, yosemite, yosemite half dome california

I have just  survived a top ten dangerous hike in the most dangerous National Park so naturally I’ve been wondering just how dangerous that hike was.  Typically we overestimate “dramatic” dangers like lightning strikes and hikes and underestimate the mundane, greater dangers of driving cars and riding our bikes around.

However in the case of Half Dome it appears there is a bit of death risk, albeit still pretty small in the scheme of things.

http://www.backpacker.com/october_08_americas_10_most_dangerous_hikes/destinations/12631

Our odds of survival were always good, but Yosemite has been a dangerous park, especially last year 2011 when  18 people (!)   died there :  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/us/06yosemite.html?pagewanted=all
Spooky description of a 2007 fall off the cables:
Book about Yosemite deaths.
Base jump off the place where we took pix:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdxU2tDbL54
Of course you have to compare the small number of deaths on that hike over many, many years (20 on dome, 60 on trail) with the huge number of people who *survived* their hikes, as I think we did (assuming no parallel universes where we didn’t survive), to get a reasonable risk calculation.   You also need to compare that risk to other risky things we do, such as *drive to Yosemite*.
I wanted to know which was more dangerous – the drive or the hike.   Obviously there are many confounding variables  (nobody was drunk driving, our hiking experience is higher than average, decisions vary with people, etc, etc, but here’s a shot at the answer  …..
Let’s assume that the  20 dome deaths are since cables were installed by The Sierra Club in 1919  (hey, THANKS Sierra Club!):
Now we need to estimate the number of people who have made it up there as we did.   Ranger guy below the dome and internet tells us it is now about “350-400 per day”.   That would be current high season with permit restrictions so hard to know the past until I can find more records.  But we know that the low season (winter) is about 0 per day.   Probably far fewer people in 1919 than now, so let’s *wildly guestimate* that on average, since 1919,  100 people per day go up, and that almost all that traffic is during the high season of June, July, August, September when cables are elevated with the metal rods  (in the past and in winter they lay flat on the surface).  100×120 days = 12,000 people up per year.  90 years of cables x 12,000 =  1.08 million ascents of half dome over 90 years.    ROUND THIS WILD GUESTIMATE to one million people up  half dome over all of human history.
We now have 1,000,000 people who went up and 999,980 people who come safely back down.  20 of the million, sadly, died on half dome.   Thankfully, every single one of us remains in the 999,980 group of happy Half Dome hikers.
Your chance of dying on the final half dome portion of the hike is, very very approximately, if our assumptions are reasonably accurate, about 20 / 1,000,000 or one in  50,000.    We could also state this in this fashion if our assumptions are correct:
“For every 50,000 people who go up the final portion of the half dome hike … one will probably die”.
For extra drama we might note that we had 6 people on the hike so the (pre-hike) odds that one of us would die were 6/50,000 or 1 / 8333.
 
Now we need to compare this to our 900 mile car trip home.   Car travel is one of the more dangerous things we do on a regular basis.   VERY ROUGHLY in California there are 1.21 deaths per 100 million miles travelled
We did not travel 100 million miles so we need this calculation to figure out deaths per Yosemite trip:
The chances of dying during 900 miles of car travel in California:  900 x  [1.21 / 100,000,000] =   .00001 deaths per Yosemite trip.
So, on average of all drivers and cars and circumstances, the chances that somebody will die on a trip of 900 miles in California are about one in 100,000.      Put another way this means that, very approximately:
” For every 100,000 people who take a 900 mile trip to Yosemite by car, one will die ”  
 
So if all these assumptions are pretty reasonable, than we can state that the half dome portion of the hike with its one in 50,000 chance of death, is about twice as dangerous as the car ride with its 1 in 100,000 chance of death.  

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Crater “Pu u O o” Collapses 250 feet (photo courtesy NPS)

Hawaii, hawaiian islands, National Park, National Parks

Kilauea Volcano is in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and is the earth’s most active volcano, sending Lava to the sea pretty much continuously since 1983, though the flow of lava and the patterns vary considerably.    Here are my own Kilauea pictures from a 2005 trip out into the lava flows:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeduck/sets/72157594538064050/with/391552231/

The Volcano is in Kilauea Volcanic National Park and is located in the south of the “Big Island” aka Hawaiia, not to be confused with Oahu – the Island with most of the people, the big city of Honolulu, and many scenes from Hawaii 5-0.

Recent Activity from National Park Service NPS at Kilauea National Park: In the east rift zone: Pu`u `O`o crater walls continued to collapse; lava was trickling back onto the collapsed crater floor; lava continued to issue from west flank vents and pond near the vents. At the summit, the lava lake surface continued to recede. Seismicity was low. Gas emissions remained elevated from summit and rift zone vents.    (Photo courtesy Hawaii Volcano Observatory).


Middle east rift zone vents: The walls of Pu`u `O`o Crater continued to collapse yesterday including a block immediately to the left of the webcam which dropped in overnight. A trickle of lava returned to the very deepest part of the collapsed crater floor yesterday morning and was visible in the webcam overnight. During yesterday’s overflight, the depth of the collapse was measured at about 75 m (245 ft) below the east rim. The flows that gushed out of the west flank vents on August 3rd remained active but with the outer limits of activity retreating back toward the sources; in other words, lower effusion rates weren’t allowing the active lava to travel as far from the vents before solidifying. The flows remained entirely within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and pose no direct hazard to any developed areas.

The GPS network around Pu`u `O`o Cone recorded slow contraction across the cone overnight. The tiltmeter on the north flank of Pu`u `O`o Cone recorded continued deflation. Seismic tremor levels were low. The most recent (preliminary) sulfur dioxide emission rate measurement was 3,100 tonnes/day on August 4, 2011, from all east rift zone sources.

Background from NPS Kilauea  National Park: The eruption of Kilauea’s middle east rift zone started with a fissure eruption on January 3, 1983, and has continued with few interruptions through Pu`u `O`o Crater or vents within a few kilometers to the east or west. Since late March, lava has been filling the collapsed crater within Pu`u `O`o Cone, first building a perched lava lake that, in July, evolved into a shield with the lake at its top as a result of uplift of the crater floor and lake. In early August, the crater floor again collapsed as lava burst from vents on the west flank of Pu`u `O`o cone.

Yosemite National Park, California USA

american history, National Park, National Parks, yosemite, yosemite half dome california

Yosemite National Park in California, USA was one of the USA’s first protected natural areas and an early US National Park.

The area of over 1000 square miles, mostly wilderness, is recognized around the globe as one of the world’s most beautiful and sublime mountain landscapes.

Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls tumble thousands of feet over sheer granite cliffs into the valley below, joining the quiet Merced River as it winds through forest and meadow.

El Capitan’s 3000 foot sheer cliff and Half Dome are two of the most striking granite features in the world.

Yosemite is the most famous of California’s five National Parks and stands with Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming as one of the USA’s most famous national parks, known worldwide for both its natural beauty and for the role it played in fostering the works of John Muir and the parks and environmental protection movements.

Yosemite was home to Scottish born naturalist John Muir and was the source of much of Muir’s inspiration as his writings led to profound changes in the way Americans viewed the wilderness. Yosemite park is a critical key to an understanding of the Sierra Club, one of America’s most influential voices for the preservation of wilderness. Today, Yosemite remains one of America’s finest unspoiled natural landscapes and will always rank as one of the greatest of all the world’s natural treasures.

Hike to Half Dome
Hike to Clouds Rest
More Yosemite Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=yosemite&w=all&s=int
National Park Service Website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

UNESCO World Heritage Program – USA World Heritage Sites

National Parks, UNESCO, World Heritage, yosemite, yosemite half dome california

Just back from Yosemite National Park in California I’m even more convinced that the UNESCO World Heritage Site list is a great way to guarantee you find fantastic places as you visit countries around the world.      Obviously no small list can be completely fair or inclusive, especially for the huge territory of the USA, but this is a GREAT group of extraordinary natural and cultural places:

Clearly this approach to travel in the USA would probably be supplemented by at least a few days of big city sightseeing.     Many coming to America may want to see places like Las Vegas and  Hollywood which are unlikely to ever have “UNESCO World Heritage” status.    But the UNESCO list is a  superb starting points for your travel, especially to unfamiliar areas.     For the trip to Vietnam I was happy that the list seems to match up well with the “word of mouth” information I’ve been collecting from my Vietnamese pals and others.    There I’ll be able to take in most of the UNESCO sites such as historic Hoi An, Saigon, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay near Hanoi.      In Italy in June my favorite place was the Cinque Terre – a UNESCO site.      Interestingly, the Cinque Terre and some places really seem to play up this status where I didn’t even know Yosemite was on the list until I checked this morning.



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