Travel: 9 free days at U.S. National Parks in 2014!

Your lands: 84 million acres, 17,000 miles of trails

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — This year, you’ll have nine chances for a fee-free visit to one of America’s 401 national parks, starting as soon as Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20, 2014). The park service recently announced the 2014 schedule of free days, offering the fee-free visits as a way to encourage visitation.

The 2014 entrance fee-free days are:

Morning photo: 2013 Travel shots

Around the world with Summit Voice

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A classic sunset view of San Francisco sky from the Coit Tower.

FRISCO — If you’ve been a Summit Voice reader for a few years, then you’ve probably had a chance to visit a few special places with us — maybe the olive groves of Corfu, ancient castles and world heritage sites in Albania or the icefields of Antarctica. This year’s trips included a short visit to San Francisco early in the year, and an autumn journey to Iceland, fulfilling a long-time travel dream. It’s hard to narrow down hundreds of shots to find some “favorites,” so I just went with my gut feeling, choosing the images that evoked the strongest feeling as I scrolled through the archives. Happy trails to you in 2014! Continue reading

Dwindling Denali wolves raise tourism concerns

wolf population across the 6 million acre park and preserve declined from 143 in fall 2007 to just 55 in spring 2013

Wolves on the Denali Park Road. Photo courtesy NPS Photo / Nathan Kostegian.

Wolves on the Denali Park Road. Photo courtesy NPS/Nathan Kostegian.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — An arbitrary decision by the Alaska Board of Game to allow wolf hunting and trapping near Denali National Park has cut the regional wolf population by nearly two-thirds and significantly reduced opportunities for park visitors to see wolves in the wild — one of the main reasons people go to Denali in the first place.

This year, fewer than 5 percent of park visitors were able to see wolves, down from about 45 percent back in 2000, according to National Park Service statistics obtained by a federal government watchdog group.

“This precipitous decline in wildlife viewing success appears to be unprecedented in the history of the national park system,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and a Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility board member. Continue reading

Colorado: Permits for river trips through Dinosaur National Monument going online

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Floating past Tiger Wall on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Changes will enable boaters to apply for four launch dates

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Starting this year. boaters looking to garner a permit for the popular trip through Dinosaur National Monument will be able to apply online instead of via snail mail at Recreation.gov.

The application period runs Dec. 1, 2013 through Jan. 31, 2014 for high-season multi-day trips, and the online application system also opens up some new opportunities for boaters. Recreation.gov does require each applicant to register and create a profile with their unique email address and a password so that they can process payments.  Continue reading

Morning photo: Wide-open spaces

Iceland revisited …

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In the midst of wildness, farmers, going back to the Viking days, have eked out some patches of cultivated land. Click on the image to see it full-sized.

FRISCO — I always wait a few weeks before I go back to a set of images and get serious about deleting the shots that don’t measure up. Sometimes, they’re just slightly out of focus, other times I don’t like the composition, or the lighting just wasn’t quite right. Some images just don’t hold any interest because they lack strong lines, or they’re just empty.

In the series of pictures I shot during a recent visit to Iceland, there are a number of scenes that emphasize the open spaces, which dominate much of the country’s landscape. I had earmarked a bunch of shots for deletion, but before making the final cut, I went back one more time and found a few that showcase the scale of the countryside in the remote West Fjords, choosing images that at least had some interesting lines or light-play — something to draw the eye! Click on the images to see them full-size, And please visit the online Summit Voice gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscapes. Continue reading

Global tourism grows 5% over last year through August

Emerging economies lead the way

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Europe reported strong tourism growth during the first eight months of 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global tourism continued to grow steadily during the first eight months of 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization, which tallied an increase of 5 percent from January to August 2013 compared to the same period last year.

The best-performing regions were Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. For the year to-date, tourist arrivals totaled 747 million worldwide, up 38 million from last year, when global tourist arrivals topped 1 billion for the first time ever.

International arrivals topped 125 million in both July and August, while in June the 100 million arrivals mark was exceeded for the first time. Continue reading

Morning photo: West Fjords

Amazing land and seascapes

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Fjord light.

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The West Fjords of Iceland claw into the North Atlantic.

FRISCO — Iceland is fairly remote to begin with, as far as remoteness goes in the era of jet travel, and the West Fjords, a cluster of mountainous peninsulas jutting northwest toward Greenland, may be the most remote part of the North Atlantic island. Probably any traveler worth his or her salt would look at a map of the country and automatically be drawn toward the region, where only a few roads have been carved along and over the steep walls of the fjords. Towns are few and far between, but hot springs are plentiful, and if you go far enough, you’ll end up at Látravík, considered to be the westernmost point of Europe and home to one of the North Atlantic’s key seabird rookeries. Magical light, magnificent scenery and plenty of peace and quiet are the hallmarks of the area, and we’re already plotting a return visit. Continue reading

Morning photo: Iceland landscapes

Remote and pristine …

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An iPhone pano in the West Fjords captures some of the vastness of this remote landscape.

FRISCO — Pristine is an over-used word when it comes to landscapes, but in Iceland, it seems to apply more than in many other places. The island itself is far from most other landmasses and population centers, and the sparse population means there isn’t nearly as much detritus as in many parts of the world. For a photographer, that means unblemished vistas and untouched scenery. You almost have to go out of your way to find a structure to give some of the scenes a sense of scale. All in all, Iceland is a photographer’s dream. Even when the mists and rain roll in, the ensuing light can be magical.

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The Hvítá River carves a dramatic canyon through the lava landscape at the Hraunfossar waterfall in iceland.

Continue reading

Morning photo: Fields

Pastoral beauty

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Fallow fields in Grand Junction, Colorado, with the Grand Mesa as a backdrop.

FRISCO — I haven’t joined in the #FriFotos Twitter chat for a few months, but when I saw this week’s topic, I did a quick scan of the Summit Voice archives to find some of my favorite pictures of fields around the world, starting right here at home in Colorado and ranging as far as Iceland and Antarctica. On a recent trip, Leigh and I had a chance to visit Iceland, and amidst the wondrous ice fields and stunning coastline, we were fascinated by the lava fields, some of which are carpeted with a squishy, thick layer of moss. Upload your field photos via Flickr, Twitter or Instagram, tag them with #FriFotos and then enjoy the global slide show! Continue reading

Morning photo: Falling water

Astounding cascades in Iceland

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Waterfall in Tostanfjörður, in the West Fjords region of Iceland.

FRISCO — Between plentiful precipitation, melting icecaps of late summer, and precipitous geology, Iceland is a paradise of waterfalls. On the routes that Leigh and I explored last month, we seemed to encounter a new cascade around nearly every bend in the road. Some, like Gullfoss, are rather famous stops on the well-worn tourist path. Others, equally beautiful, seem to exist in a quiet near-vacuum of the sparsely populated island, especially in the remote West Fjords region, where each of the glacier-carved valley boasts dozens of falls, usually culminating in one final drop at the head of the fjord, where the rivers pour into the sea. Continue reading

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