President Obama just signed legislation upgrading Pinnacles National Monument to National Park status, making it the 59th park.
From the press release:
Rising out of the Gabilan Mountains east of central California’s Salinas Valley, Pinnacles is the result of millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Within the park’s boundaries lie nearly 27,000 acres of diverse wild lands. Visitors delight in the beauty and variety of its spring wildflowers and more than 400 species of native bees. The Pinnacles rock formations are a popular destination to challenge technical and beginner climbers alike.
Designated as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the park’s management will not change by the legislation. The Pinnacles National Park Act recognizes the broader significance of park resources, specifically the chaparral, grasslands, blue oak woodlands, and majestic valley oak savanna ecosystems of the area, the area’s geomorphology, riparian watersheds, unique flora and fauna, and the ancestral and cultural history of native Americans, settlers and explorers.
Virgin Islands National Park. March 2013.
(Image: National Park Service)
We’re rethinking Mount Rainier. While it is the most accessible, in some ways, during our trip to Portland and Seattle next month, it is also the least accessible in others. I had been prepared for there to still be a lot of snow on the ground, and that we’d essentially be driving into the park up to where the road is closed at Paradise to look at the scenery, etc. In my mind, I’d likened it to the trips to Park City we’d taken when I was younger. Snow? Mountains? No problem.
In digging further, though, apparently all vehicles entering the park are required to carry tire chains until May 1, a big problem with a rental car. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think that it would be going to the park at about the least optimal time of year just to say we’d done it. Advice from a friend in Seattle had some impact on this thinking.
So, we’re going to a different park, which I think will be much more rewarding, and which won’t alter our larger travel plans at all:
Olympic National Park.
I’m a little surprised that the first park I’ll visit in 2012 is this one.
Beyond surprise, though, is huge excitement.
The next park could hardly be further from the north woods of Isle Royale:
Joshua Tree National Park.
This morning as I lay in bed waiting for it to be time to get up and face the aftermath of a Chicago blizzard, I tried to name all 58 parks from memory, counting off on my fingers. I remembered 55 of them.
The three I forgot?
Great Sand Dunes.
Virtually every project I’ve ever undertaken has begun with, or sometimes extended from, reading. And this National Parks project is no exception. My old, beloved copy of the Reader’s Digest Our National Parks from childhood is sorely outdated, both stylistically and factually. So I turned my attention, at least to start, to this volume:
National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, Sixth Edition, March 2009.