Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Two northwest lodges among nation's most historic

Old Faithful
Two  lodges located within national parks in northwestern states are on a list of 10 historic national park lodges. According to the CNN article, some of the lodges were there before the National Park Service came into existence 100 years ago.

Crater Lake Lodge in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park is built at the end of a crater of a volcano that collapsed, creating the deepest lake in the United States.  The lodge overlooks the lake, which is punctuated by Wizard Island in the middle. It's a good place to relax since the guest rooms do not have television or phones. While the park is open year 'round, the lodge is open from late May to mid-October. The lodge was built in 1914.

Old Faithful Inn, located in the southwestern part of Yellowstone National Park near the iconic geyser, was built in 1904 using local stone and logs. It is a National Historic Landmark built in the nation's first national park. Guests used to modern conveniences should be prepared to rough it: The lodge does not have television, radio, internet or air conditioning.  Only a few places within the park have cell phone service; this isn't one of them.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Scenic and stately: Wallowa County Courthouse

Wallowa County Courthouse
The Wallowa County courthouse is a stately three-story building that takes up an entire city block in Enterprise, Oregon.

Constructed in 1909-1910, the Victorian building is made from locally quarried stone. It was built and furnished for around $40,000, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.  Some modifications have been made over the years, and the building is still in use today as the seat of Wallowa County government.

Visitors on their way to Joseph and Wallowa Lake pass by the building located at 101 South River Street; the block also is known as Courthouse Square.

The building is surrounded by grass and a variety of trees. A gazebo occupies one corner of the square. An arch dedicated to the early pioneers stands in the northwest corner. A granite boulder in front of the courthouse holds a plaque with the names of local men killed in World War I on it; plaques to honor the deaf of World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars were added later.  The newest memorial, added in 2011, is the Fountain of Honor, which honors all U.S. military veterans.
Wallowa County is the northeastern most county in Oregon.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

West dominates most-visited U.S.national parks list

Yellowstone National Park
It should come as no surprise that national parks in the western states draw more visitors than other national parks in the United States. What is surprising is that Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park is no longer the most visited park in the nation.

Grand Canyon drew 5.5 million visitors in 2015, but this figure was almost doubled by Great Smoky Mountains National Park with 10.7 million visitors, according to statistics recently released  by the National Park Service.

Grand Canyon topped five million visitors for the first time last year. It was one of 57 parks to set attendance records, the park service said. The park service is expecting the number of visitors to increase substantially this year as 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.

Western parks on the top 10 parks attracting the most visitors last year include:
  • No. 2L Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 5.5 million.
  • No. 3: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 4.15 million visitors.
  • No. 4: Yosemite National Park, California, 4.1 million visitors.
  • No. 5: Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming, 4.1 million visitors.
  • No. 6: Zion National Park, Utah, 3.6 million people.
  • No. 7: Olympic National Park, Washington State, 3.3 million visitors.
  • No. 8: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 3.1 million visitors.
  • No. 10: Glacier National Park, Montana,  2,4 million visitors.
Maine's Acadia National Park came in at No. 9 with 2.8 million visitors.

The west didn't fare as well when all sites, including recreation areas and historic monuments, are considered. These sites number 410 compared to 59 national parks.

Grand Canyon, which ranked second on the most-visited national park list, dropped to 10th on the most visited of all NPS sites. Blue Ridge Parkway topped the list with 15 million visitors, while California's Golden Gate National Recreational Area was second with 14.9 million visitors. Lake Mead National Recreation Area was No. 5 with 7.3 million visitors.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oregon's Joseph Canyon offers stunning views

Joseph Canyon Viewpoint
The views of Joseph Canyon from the highway are nothing short of stunning.  Travelers who stop at the Highway 3 viewpoint can literally see Northeaster Oregon for miles and miles.

The basalt-rock canyon itself is 2,000 feet deep.

The canyon not only has spectacular views but also offers a cultural history since it was the winter home of the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce Indians. Indeed, the canyon is named for the famous chief, who is thought to have been born in a cave there. Running through the canyon is Joseph Creek, which runs into the Grand Ronde River, a tributary of the Snake River that flows into the Columbia River at Pasco, Washington, ending at the Pacific Ocean.

For centuries the Nez Perce traveled through Joseph Canyon as they moved from the summer camp in the Wallowa Valley to their winter camp on the Grand Ronde and Snake rivers.

The Nez Perce own 15,000 acres in the Joseph Creek watershed and have turned it into a conservation area and wildlife refuge. The area is home to several threatened species of plants and the threatened bald eagle and Snake River steelhead. Elk, mule deer, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks can be seen. Tribal members use the canyon land for ranching and hunting.

The viewpoint is one of 38 sites in the Nex Perce National Historic Park. It is located in northern Wallowa County about 30 miles north of Enterprise, Oregon, and 11 miles south of the border with Washington. It has interpretive signs and vault toilets.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gorgeous scenery marks Washington's North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park
Photo by National Park Service
If you want stunning scenery, there's no better place to find it than North Cascades National Park. It's just been named one of the top 16 places to visit in the world in 2016.  It was the only destination in the United States to make the list. 
North Cascades National Park is located in Washington State, stretching from the border with Canada south to near Twisp. The park is bisected by SR Highway 20, one of the most scenic drives you'll ever make. Many years ago, when I lived in Omak, Washington, I sometimes took Highway 20  when I went to Seattle in the summer. A longer drive, but the scenery made it worthwhile.
The route was filled with high mountains, Liberty Bell being one of the most photographed, and beautiful glacier-fed lakes. The park has more than 300 glaciers, the most of any place in the United States outside of Alaska.  The scenery must be equally as beautiful in the winter, but I wouldn't know. Because of heavy snows, the Washington Highway Department closes the highway in winter from Ross Lake on the west side of the mountains to Lone Fir Campground on the east side.
Wild flowers and wildlife abound here, among them deer, cougars and black bears. If you see one of the more than 1,500 black bears, the National Park Service wants to know about it and asks visitors to fill out a bear monitoring form.
Camping and hiking are popular activities here; hiking, especially, since the park is close to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Three PNW shops make some of USA's best doughnuts

Warning: Reading this article may cause you to gain weight!

Three West Coast doughnut shops were among 29 nationwide that were singled out by Food & Wine on CNN as having the best doughnuts in the United States.

Top Pot Doughnuts, Seattle, was singled out for its oversize donuts and fritters as well as their flavors and decorations.

Portland's entry was Voodoo Doughnut, so named because one of their doughnuts is shaped like a voodoo doll, filled with red jam, and a pretzel stick shoved through it.

Portland's second entry was Blue Star Donuts, which also makes doughnuts in Los Angeles and Tokyo. They were singled out for using a French brioche dough and the unusual toppings and flavors.

The majority of those named to the list were located on the East Coast.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Anatone: the shrinking Washington community

Anatone, Washington
Anatone, Washington, may have been a thriving community at one time, but today it resembles a ghost town, with dilapidated buildings lining both sides of Highway 129.

It sits high on the windswept prairie above the Snake River, and is surrounded by wheat fields, the major agricultural crop on the prairie.

The community was founded in 1878 by settlers by Daniel McIvor and Charles Issecke, and named for a Nez Perce woman.

Its population is shrinking. Anatone had more than 200 residents in 2000; now it’s down to 38, with cats, dogs and horses adding another 48 inhabitants, according to the community’s Facebook page. Anatone doesn’t have a newspaper but it does have a newsy Facebook page.

Anatone has no services, so travelers on Highway 129 will need to take care of this in Asotin, about 30 miles to the north or wait until Oregon. Limited services are available just across the border, with major services available farther south in Enterprise, Oregon.

Snake River from Highway 129
What Anatone has is stunning views of the Snake River as the road descends into Asotin and forest views in Oregon.