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.