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Road

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I'm not much of a fan of Outside magazine, for various reasons. The article linked to below, though, by Mark Sundeen, is really quite interesting and worthwhile.

It's about tourism, the marketing of adventure, social media, destination development and destination management and how it is affecting and impacting our public lands and recreational areas.

Take the time to read it through before passing judgement or commenting here.

It is, at turns, disturbing and reassuring.


For the record, I'm all for, and work actively towards:
#lowimpactlanduse and #responsiblerecreation



.
 
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Daryl 32

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Personally I believe social media, you tube and on line groups that show these places to go add to the crowds more.

Sorry - this is why I do not post locations of where we go, other then to give names of places already on the internet. We also never travel in groups of more then 4 vehicles.

This is just us.
 

agame001

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Thanks for the post. I read the article and it seemed interesting in various ways; Definitely a complicated situation with no real clear, or justifiable, answer on the horizon. Anyway, I hope enough people care about public land and nature for the next generations to enjoy. Let's keep doing our part. Never been to Utah, but currently planning a 2 week overland summer trip through it on my way to Yellowstone.
 
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Dave K

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The article is a prime example of why I rarely tell a travel tale that actually involves more than my general location but on a much more grand scale.

My last trip of 2019 found me leaving my office much later than planned. I slowly toured the freeways at a snails pace, able to enjoy the fine details and views one can only experience at 5-10 mph in traffic. As I emerged from traffic and sped across California’s Central Valley evening gently faded into night. Traffic I had sat in previously faded into memory as I wound through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. 1000 feet turned to 3000 then 5000 in no time at all.

The Sonora pass is no place for the weary driver but at 11:00 PM there’s nobody on the road to contend with and one can take it as slow as they would like. Cresting the 9600 ft mark I start heading down the other side of the pass. Not long after the iPad is telling me it’s time to take a left onto that next dirt road and we are two minutes out from my favorite overnight spot. Overhead lights on I lumber down the road. On approach I catch an odd glint while turning a corner. Deciding to stop short I pop out and to my amazement.... someone is in my dang spot!! Son of a.. It,’s midnight on a Thursday and it’s 25 degrees out. What the hell is this guy doing here? No worries. Smart traveler I am, OF COURSE I have a backup plan. A few quick touches on the iPad and we are off down the trail. A few minutes up we arrive at the back plan and find it OCCUPIED!! What in the world is going on here? Who the heck are these guys?

Have you ever tried to find a campsite in the dark? Ronny Dahl makes it look pretty easy. The thing is, he has been to all of these sites previously. On a normal night I’ll give that Aussie crew a run for their money but this night, having been defeated twice, I was now struggling. I ended up tired enough to settle for an oddly slopped site far enough away from my “back up camp” to not disturb the party occupying it while I set myself up. Ended up getting the rig acceptable leveled via my high lift jack and called it a night.

The next morning I was up early and irritated. How dare these people take MY spots. Don’t they know who I am? Didn’t they know I would be here looking to use them? I know one thing for sure, they are both getting a serious scowl as I drive out of here. They are gonna know that I am the guy that woke them up last night and that I am a “serious” traveler. I have places to go and things to see.

I get the coffee brewing as I am packing. In short order I am packed and ready to roll. I fire up and walk my site making sure nothing is forgotten, left behind or out of place. I hop in the rig and head toward backup spot number two. A few minutes up the road I roll up to find it empty! What the.. Where did these guys go so early? Surely they can’t be far. I keep rolling toward my primary overnight spot to find it abandoned as well. I am stuck with my scowl and nobody to cast it at!

An hour later I am in a town with incredibly expensive fuel and terrible coffee. The gas station usually has a rig or two to look at as well as the random hitchhikers to yak with. This day is no different. I decide that I will park in the back and cook breakfast for myself. 10 minutes in the guys driving the 4runners at the pumps roll to the back and walk over. We talk for a bit about our rigs and travels. I quickly decide I like these guys. They travel like I do. Stop and go. Hit and move. Keep on going. And then they hit me with a “ you sure got in late last night”. “I’m sorry. What?”.

Yup. That’s right. My new friends of five minutes, the guys I’ve decided I liked, the guys I’ve decided are “like me”, are my SPOT STEALERS! It can’t be. I am not supposed to like these guys. These guys are the people that made my evening kinda suck. They are the reason that I am having to map more back up spots in the same area. They are the guys that will cause my anxiety on every future trip over the pass that I plan to camp at the top to split a drive. Ugh!

Point is, they were doing exactly what I was doing. The way I was doing it. Taking up “my” space while enjoying their own experience. Had I got there first, I would have been their spot stealer. The popularity of any singular unique place or experience will by default make it less and less unique. It’s just the way it is. The rate at which word spreads is faster today than it ever has been. Heck, there is a whole subset of people (yes, they are found here on OB too) that write, blog, vlog, etc., about their experiences and self promote as a way to fund more experiences. While I do understand it I believe that these people are inadvertently adding to the problem and an exponential rate. Of course, not everybody sees this as a problem, until they do. We each have our own capacity in dealing with people, crowds, lines, etc. My capacity to deal with such is very limited. Sucks for me? Yeah, sometimes. Such is life. There are many things I will not see and experience because of it.
 

Bama_Kiwi

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The article is a prime example of why I rarely tell a travel tale that actually involves more than my general location but on a much more grand scale.

My last trip of 2019 found me leaving my office much later than planned. I slowly toured the freeways at a snails pace, able to enjoy the fine details and views one can only experience at 5-10 mph in traffic. As I emerged from traffic and sped across California’s Central Valley evening gently faded into night. Traffic I had sat in previously faded into memory as I wound through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. 1000 feet turned to 3000 then 5000 in no time at all.

The Sonora pass is no place for the weary driver but at 11:00 PM there’s nobody on the road to contend with and one can take it as slow as they would like. Cresting the 9600 ft mark I start heading down the other side of the pass. Not long after the iPad is telling me it’s time to take a left onto that next dirt road and we are two minutes out from my favorite overnight spot. Overhead lights on I lumber down the road. On approach I catch an odd glint while turning a corner. Deciding to stop short I pop out and to my amazement.... someone is in my dang spot!! Son of a.. It,’s midnight on a Thursday and it’s 25 degrees out. What the hell is this guy doing here? No worries. Smart traveler I am, OF COURSE I have a backup plan. A few quick touches on the iPad and we are off down the trail. A few minutes up we arrive at the back plan and find it OCCUPIED!! What in the world is going on here? Who the heck are these guys?

Have you ever tried to find a campsite in the dark? Ronny Dahl makes it look pretty easy. The thing is, he has been to all of these sites previously. On a normal night I’ll give that Aussie crew a run for their money but this night, having been defeated twice, I was now struggling. I ended up tired enough to settle for an oddly slopped site far enough away from my “back up camp” to not disturb the party occupying it while I set myself up. Ended up getting the rig acceptable leveled via my high lift jack and called it a night.

The next morning I was up early and irritated. How dare these people take MY spots. Don’t they know who I am? Didn’t they know I would be here looking to use them? I know one thing for sure, they are both getting a serious scowl as I drive out of here. They are gonna know that I am the guy that woke them up last night and that I am a “serious” traveler. I have places to go and things to see.

I get the coffee brewing as I am packing. In short order I am packed and ready to roll. I fire up and walk my site making sure nothing is forgotten, left behind or out of place. I hop in the rig and head toward backup spot number two. A few minutes up the road I roll up to find it empty! What the.. Where did these guys go so early? Surely they can’t be far. I keep rolling toward my primary overnight spot to find it abandoned as well. I am stuck with my scowl and nobody to cast it at!

An hour later I am in a town with incredibly expensive fuel and terrible coffee. The gas station usually has a rig or two to look at as well as the random hitchhikers to yak with. This day is no different. I decide that I will park in the back and cook breakfast for myself. 10 minutes in the guys driving the 4runners at the pumps roll to the back and walk over. We talk for a bit about our rigs and travels. I quickly decide I like these guys. They travel like I do. Stop and go. Hit and move. Keep on going. And then they hit me with a “ you sure got in late last night”. “I’m sorry. What?”.

Yup. That’s right. My new friends of five minutes, the guys I’ve decided I liked, the guys I’ve decided are “like me”, are my SPOT STEALERS! It can’t be. I am not supposed to like these guys. These guys are the people that made my evening kinda suck. They are the reason that I am having to map more back up spots in the same area. They are the guys that will cause my anxiety on every future trip over the pass that I plan to camp at the top to split a drive. Ugh!

Point is, they were doing exactly what I was doing. The way I was doing it. Taking up “my” space while enjoying their own experience. Had I got there first, I would have been their spot stealer. The popularity of any singular unique place or experience will by default make it less and less unique. It’s just the way it is. The rate at which word spreads is faster today than it ever has been. Heck, there is a whole subset of people (yes, they are found here on OB too) that write, blog, vlog, etc., about their experiences and self promote as a way to fund more experiences. While I do understand it I believe that these people are inadvertently adding to the problem and an exponential rate. Of course, not everybody sees this as a problem, until they do. We each have our own capacity in dealing with people, crowds, lines, etc. My capacity to deal with such is very limited. Sucks for me? Yeah, sometimes. Such is life. There are many things I will not see and experience because of it.
I was ready to take offence with your post until I got to the last paragraph. There really should be a "tongue-in-cheek" font.
 
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Munga Brown

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I see this in my community. Tourist season now lasts all year. The parade of 35mph diesel pushers never seems to end. At trail heads where there might. be three cars on a Saturday in June, now sport 15 cars on a Tuesday in January. It's ridiculous!

The one line in the article above that really hit home for me was "it's all about poop". How true! Hike up that trail mentioned above, and thirty yards in, looks like a outhouse, without the house. In all honesty, though, most is not poop smeared. Most is from women and their need to use massive amounts of TP to dab away a couple drops of pee FFS!!!! And then, the inability to pack it out, let alone find a stick in the forest ('cause gawd knows there's a lack o' those!!) to shove their pee dabber into the duff so at least it will deteriorate quickly....

So... sorry for the rant. But I can't stand tourons. The term "Ugly Americans" is on display (and it almost seems like "proud display") on a daily basis here. It's disgusting. And sad.

And this little community I'm in feels the need to invent stupid "festivals" to bring in those idiot tourons. (Mushroom festival... agate festival... wouldn't surprise me if someone doesn't invent a "sand festival" or "forest festival"... they've already started promoting "forest bathing". )

Even folks that attempt to keep their locations "secret", often times, the images they post will contain meta-data that includes location info.

And marketing/advertising makes it worse (I used to work in "the industry" doing ad photography. It's all BS spin)

edited to remove my potty mouth, sorry all!!
 
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Ragman

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This is such a great topic as it points out the angst of the “older generation” and the fact that our passion has caught on. I am in my 50s and have been camping since I was a kid in Scouts-always loved it. Since the Great Recession camping as a hobby/ vacation choice has exploded, with 2019 being the largest year ever for numbers of campers. I find myself constantly griping about not being able to roll into (type name here) and getting a campsite like I used to. What do you mean I have to book a NP campsite a year ahead of time!

On the one hand the products we now enjoy to make camp life nice has grown along with the trend so we all benefit but I do miss the seclusion, the spur of the moment, the pure joy in lack of planning that is now lost. As the article mentions the Industry has also become much more powerful..hear about who is advising the current administration on the proposed changes to the management of the National Parks? Soon enough this glacier will be brought to you by Pepsi! Times are changing so get out there while you can,
 

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All of us "older" campers have seen this issue come and go like all fad's do. Last year I did an overnight trip down part of the Mojave road. Never before have I witnessed such crowds or high speed driving on the route until then. Most of these people will move on fortunately. They will though leave behind a legacy of rules and laws that were made because of what they caused. I'm not talking about the majority, those who treat the areas with respect are invisible. I'm talking about the few who everyone sees. The negative is whats posted, pictured remembered. We dig holes for bathroom breaks even if its with our boot heal. The "few" look for the "TP" and leave their mess where the last one did. Some of you may remember when that happened on the Rubicon trail a couple of decades ago. Some groups were pushing to get it closed to vehicle traffic because of the destruction and the mass of "TP" found everywhere.

I'm already hearing about closing areas and passing laws to combat the latest influx of off-road camping/overlanding as well as the environmental impacts the larger groups seem to be causing in my state.
I'm sure in time most of us will see the shift and the fad will go a different direction again.
 

Road

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All of us "older" campers have seen this issue come and go like all fad's do. Last year I did an overnight trip down part of the Mojave road. Never before have I witnessed such crowds or high speed driving on the route until then. Most of these people will move on fortunately. They will though leave behind a legacy of rules and laws that were made because of what they caused. I'm not talking about the majority, those who treat the areas with respect are invisible. I'm talking about the few who everyone sees. The negative is whats posted, pictured remembered. We dig holes for bathroom breaks even if its with our boot heal. The "few" look for the "TP" and leave their mess where the last one did. Some of you may remember when that happened on the Rubicon trail a couple of decades ago. Some groups were pushing to get it closed to vehicle traffic because of the destruction and the mass of "TP" found everywhere.

I'm already hearing about closing areas and passing laws to combat the latest influx of off-road camping/overlanding as well as the environmental impacts the larger groups seem to be causing in my state.
I'm sure in time most of us will see the shift and the fad will go a different direction again.
.

I'm not sure how far, Scott @smritte, things will shift and the fad will go a different direction again. It will, to a degree; though I believe that because of the pandemic and the huge increase in interest in outdoor recreation, we will see a larger increase that stays than we normally would over the same period of time.

Large corporations like Dometic and holding companies like Clarus are absorbing companies like Front Runner Outfitter, Camp Chef, Zamp Solar, and Rhino Rack, because they see opportunities.

As I wrote on American Adventurist earlier this evening, quoting this from an article in Outside Business Journal about Clarus scooping up another "superfan" brand in Rhino Rack:
Those huge opportunities are primarily because of Covid, Walbrecht said. The pandemic has driven more people outside to embark not just on epic adventures but also what he calls microadventures—an overnight backpack, a weekend of mountain biking, a three-day paddling trip, a hike out the back door.​
“The market has just exploded,” Walbrecht said. “The Covid-driven rise in outdoor activities has made that even more apparent today. It has become the new escape.”​

What I added was:
A new escape, and a new landscape for existing adventurers, especially those of us who venture out on extended journeys around various continents.​
It is going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out over time and how products are pushed and promoted; how that shapes outdoor recreation; and how land management practices respond, especially in already sensitive areas.​
It behooves us all to promote what I've come to call low-impact land use and responsible recreation.​
I firmly believe that this forum and others can make a positive impact for generations on just that; low-impact land use and responsible recreation, by encouraging through a united approach in education and awareness how important it is to our future.​
.
 

Sneaks

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We each have our own capacity in dealing with people, crowds, lines, etc. My capacity to deal with such is very limited. Sucks for me? Yeah, sometimes. Such is life. There are many things I will not see and experience because of it.
I feel this deep in my soul. We live in a rural Maine town (352 people, was 353 but someone died yesterday, in a state that has a serious "age" issue so I don't expect population to increase) for a reason. It's not that I don't like people - though society is a different story - it doesn't take much noise or interaction for my general anxiety to go to 11, then the massive energy drain is quick to follow. Being able to work 100% remote for the last 10 years has made a huge difference in my mental health. When we go to "get away," we really just want a change of scenery, not a change in lifestyle. I'm positive I've missed out on some amazing things (concerts, exhibits, events, etc.) over the years, but I probably wouldn't have enjoyed them as much as someone else. It's all about finding the best balance. People across the road started setting up for Memorial Day 3 days in advance, so did my anxiety and anger. HOW DARE THEY HAVE A PARTY! The logical part of me says "they have a right to do this, and if it makes them happy then it's all good" where the introvert in me is whispering "they are doing this just to piss you off." The struggle is real.

Where we live is between several "touristy" regions in the state. The number of massive campers, trains of ATVs on trailers, and RVs was easily already at mid-July levels before May ended. The states are pumping out the tourism ads, the housing market has gotten irrationally stupid, and people are feeling the need to do something after a year of not doing much. This too shall pass, but I fear what we will be left with on the other side of it is going to be ugly.
 

FishinCrzy

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@Road said: "It behooves us all to promote what I've come to call low-impact land use and responsible recreation.

I firmly believe that this forum and others can make a positive impact for generations on just that; low-impact land use and responsible recreation, by encouraging through a united approach in education and awareness how important it is to our future."

Amen, brother.


The pandemic surely has had a large effect on the numbers of people using the outdoors as a get away. Social media is a driving factor as well. My take is that the tsunami of us baby boomers is also a factor. We have longer lifespan, better health, more disposable income, and as was pointed out, many of us have grown up around an outdoor background that leads back to that atmosphere when the time comes. Promoting the low impact use of our resources to the younger generations needs to be a priority. How? How does one get more trash cans and outhouses, etc., into the heavily trafficked areas? Just takes money and effort, right? I don't want to think about more regulation or taxes but there may need be some reshuffling of resources to address these issues. Could there be a voluntary organization that brings the issues and some solutions to the forefront? I would contribute something to an organization that supported and recognized local, state, federal efforts to get the needed resources to critical areas. Reward organizations for there efforts. Membership could become a badge of stewardship that people could be proud to support. There are many examples of organizations taking the banner to support their interests. Ducks Unlimited, Wild Turkey Federation, Coastal Conservation Association, are just a few. Membership could have its benefits like AAA, or AARP. I've mentioned before that outdoor, camping, overlanding, etc. needs some organized lobbying to push these stewardship efforts. Overlandibound.com could be that impetus. I see membership here is steadily on the rise. That to me means there is a grassroots interest in what we all love. I don't have all the answers and maybe this is the coffee kicking in this morning but, I know I would monetarily support further efforts to promote stewardship of the outdoors. We here need to set the example for the rest. OK, another cup of coffee and I'll have it all figgered out.

"Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals!" Butch Cassidy
 
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Tundracamper

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The main thing this article clarified for me is why magazines are going out of business. The story line was like a dog on ice - all over the place. How about three paragraphs and a table to nicely summarize things.

The same sad story can be said about most nice places. Once people find out about them, they get crowded and aren’t really nice any more. That’s life.
 

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It sucks that places get overrun but then it's to be expected I guess. With social media/you tubers glamourizing travel to these places visitation is bound to increase. They show the world how easy it is to go places and do things. I don't blame folks for wanting to do the same things they've seen on their screens.

The wife and I are going to make our first trip specifically routed to visit national parks this Summer. I am honestly concerned that the experience will be like the outdoor version of going to Disneyland ( I hate going to Disneyland). If crowds and long lines are the norm we may have to reconsider the plan. I don't mind visiting state park and other more local areas instead. I'd rather have solitude over seeing the "it" locations.

@Tundracamper said: The main thing this article clarified for me is why magazines are going out of business. The story line was like a dog on ice - all over the place. How about three paragraphs and a table to nicely summarize things.

I thought the exact same thing reading the article. I guess they don't bother to teach writing skills in journalism school anymore.
 

Road

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It sucks that places get overrun but then it's to be expected I guess. With social media/you tubers glamourizing travel to these places visitation is bound to increase. They show the world how easy it is to go places and do things. I don't blame folks for wanting to do the same things they've seen on their screens.

The wife and I are going to make our first trip specifically routed to visit national parks this Summer. I am honestly concerned that the experience will be like the outdoor version of going to Disneyland ( I hate going to Disneyland). If crowds and long lines are the norm we may have to reconsider the plan. I don't mind visiting state park and other more local areas instead. I'd rather have solitude over seeing the "it" locations.

@Tundracamper said: The main thing this article clarified for me is why magazines are going out of business. The story line was like a dog on ice - all over the place. How about three paragraphs and a table to nicely summarize things.

I thought the exact same thing reading the article. I guess they don't bother to teach writing skills in journalism school anymore.
.
One of the main reasons I stay away from Outside magazine is because of their poor writing. They actually paid a guy one time to write an article about traveling who did not know the difference between obscure and obtuse or how to use the words in an article. The fact that that sort of thing is found acceptable and gets by editors is mind-numbing.

The point of the article remains, however, no matter how poorly written one may perceive the content.
.
 

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This is what I find disheartening.

The political desire to discourage camping and gear up for glamping by ignoring the families on a budget and building full service facilities for the Prevost crowd while gating those remote places mist of us love.

Mighty Five ads would increase visitor spending, but not the total number of visitors, by targeting a subset that’s more likely to hire a guide than go it alone, glamp instead of camp, and dine on grass-fed leg of lamb drizzled with a balsamic reduction instead of roast weenies on the campfire. What’s more, some resources would be diverted away from advertising into what she called “destination management” and “destination development”—for example, increased signage and trails in the state parks, which she says will reduce visitor impact. Varela also cooed about a new strategy for “addressable TV,” which could target specific customers based on data collected by their cable companies.

We see the same thing in BC, Parks Canada has surveys out askung how they should be marketing the National Park experience. I say step back to the 1960s when Parks Rangers gave evening campfire stories on the parks, the job, the wildlife, but I'm afaid they will gear up with wifi, drive thru RV stalls for the 40 footers and FULL services including paved walk ways.

Sad but likely where we will be in 10 years.... time to buy a sailboat.

But then, this overselling of our National Parks in both Canada and the USA just means the crowds are focused and there is plenty of beauty in more isolated locations if you go looking. Banff National Park has always been an over crowded attraction. Parking lots are full by 8am and the highway shoulders look like school zones at 3pm. The off season is the only time to hit the big attractions, and travel early.

I agree with his assessment and conclusions completely but the part I'm resigned to is this is the kind of turn key vacation our kids want. Especially if they have kids too. No one wants to explore, they want it to be like a theme park, movie theatre,. Once upon a time you had to be an adventurer to climb Everest, Today you can write a cheque and a crew of sherpas and mountain guides will get you there.

26-travel-expectations-vs-reality-664x446.jpeg
 
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Tundracamper

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It sucks that places get overrun but then it's to be expected I guess. With social media/you tubers glamourizing travel to these places visitation is bound to increase. They show the world how easy it is to go places and do things. I don't blame folks for wanting to do the same things they've seen on their screens.

The wife and I are going to make our first trip specifically routed to visit national parks this Summer. I am honestly concerned that the experience will be like the outdoor version of going to Disneyland ( I hate going to Disneyland). If crowds and long lines are the norm we may have to reconsider the plan. I don't mind visiting state park and other more local areas instead. I'd rather have solitude over seeing the "it" locations.

@Tundracamper said: The main thing this article clarified for me is why magazines are going out of business. The story line was like a dog on ice - all over the place. How about three paragraphs and a table to nicely summarize things.

I thought the exact same thing reading the article. I guess they don't bother to teach writing skills in journalism school anymore.
What we didn’t realize is that Arches was actually open prior to the gates being manned. It’s an honor system and cars were rolling in before 8 am. With us being early birds, I wish we had gone way before 8 am. I’m not sure if all parks are like that, It that would certainly be good to know.

When we got to arches 11:30-ish, the gate was closed due to crowding. So, we decided to go on Shafer trail over in Canyonlands. that was a great experience and not too many people, but it did pick up during the ride. Then, we got back to Arches around 2 or 3 and spent the afternoon there. We decided to go back in the am and do some hiking - that’s when we discovered the gates were open all the time - duh! Still, some lots were aloe filling up. G