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Destinations

Hawaii small towns pack big character

Hawaii is known for its resort-studded beach destinations, from bustling Waikiki on Oahu, to laid-back getaways like Hawaii Island’s Kohala Coast, and luxury-laden enclaves such as Wailea on Maui. While those areas boast the largest properties and draw in the lion’s share of visitors, particularly Waikiki, there are many small towns in the Aloha State packed with character, along with a plethora of unique attractions, shops and restaurants.

They offer boutique hotels, independent shops, quirky diners and walkable streets while also relying heavily on tourism. When travel restrictions are lifted and life returns to normal following the Covid-19 pandemic, here are some Hawaii small towns on each of the four most populated islands that have something special to offer. 

Oahu

The surf town of Haleiwa serves as the social and cultural hub of the North Shore, and is peppered with knowledgeable surf shops, eclectic boutiques and eateries. The colorful buildings in the main commercial area house numerous galleries, and the town holds an art festival every July. Last year, North Shore Eco Tours launched a tour and a shuttle service from Waikiki to Haleiwa that runs Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for $50 per passenger. Check out sunset from Alii Beach, sample the food from one of the many shrimp trucks in town, and snap a photo at Haleiwa’s Rainbow Bridge.

Just west of Honolulu and close to the airport and Pearl Harbor, the town of Kapolei added three hotels in the past three years: the Residence Inn by Marriott, Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites. Nearby attractions also include the Kapolei Golf Course, Wet ‘N Wild Water Park, and Coral Crater Adventure Park, which features ziplines, ATV tours and a climbing wall. Kapolei is also closer to Ko Olina and Oahu’s leeward coast than Waikiki, and is a good option for both business travelers and those who expect to rent a car and explore greater Oahu. 

Maui

As the old plantations have given way to smaller and more diversified farms, Kula, on the western slope of the dormant volcano Haleakala, has seen a boom in specialty growers and purveyors in recent years. Many of the goods from the farms, distilleries and producers here can be found on not only Valley Isle menus, but in restaurants across the Aloha State. Surfing Goat Dairy, Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery, Alii Kula Lavender and MauiWine all welcome visitors and have a variety of tours. Oo Farm attracts visitors for both organic farm tours and farm-to-table meals. For the adventure seekers, there is also a ziplining course and paragliding launch site nearby, and the Kula Botanical Gardens feature carnations, orchids and other tropical plants and trees.

A north shore surf town, Paia holds a condensed district of shops and cafes with plenty of souvenir crafts and clothing options. Baldwin Beach, just west of the old town, offers roughly 17 acres of coastline to explore. The Paia Fish Market is a local favorite since 1989, with fresh catch specials and loaded fish tacos. Inside the boutique Paia Inn, the restaurant Vana opened in 2019 with a menu of Japanese-inspired creations employing locally grown ingredients. Paia is also home to the famed Mama’s Fish House, one of the most well-known and popular restaurants in all of Hawaii.

Kauai

On Kauai’s eastern coast, Kapaa has become a nexus for some of the best bites on the Garden Isle. Kenji Burger churns out Japanese-style burgers made from local, grass-fed beef, including the signature creation with teriyaki sauce, ponzu, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and tomato on a taro brioche bun. Usually found parked in Kapaa along Kuhio Highway, Scorpacciata food truck serves Neapolitan-style pizza made in an 800-degree oven. Wailua Shave Ice whips up the Hawaiian frozen treat using fresh fruit juices and cane sugar (no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup). NOM Kauai, specializing in Southern fare, dishes out made-from-scratch favorites like pillowy buttermilk biscuits. To work up an appetite for all those calorie-packing meals, try out the Hoopii Falls or Sleeping Giant trails, both of which start in Kapaa. For shopping, the Kamoa Ukulele Co. has a friendly and experienced staff that is happy to help you pick the perfect one to take home or simply teach you more about Hawaii’s iconic instrument.

Dubbed “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town,” Hanapepe oozes history with a quaint central area full of  plantation-era buildings that are now home to cherished restaurants and delightful cafes. Visitors will find a mix of dining options, from Hawaiian plate lunches to Mexican tacos, as well as an ample collection of artisan galleries. Make sure you let lunch digest before venturing across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, a suspension bridge built in the early 1900s that has plenty of bounce. The most lively time to visit is during the weekly Friday evening art walk and community festival.

Hawaii Island

Off the beaten path on the state’s largest island, Hawi’s commercial zone is not much bigger than a few blocks, but it still offers a great deal. On the way to the Pololu Valley lookout and trail, the main road offers some stand-out restaurants including Sushi Rock and Sweet Potato Kitchen and Bakery, serving mostly vegetarian and vegan fare. Boutique shops offer locally made goods including many items from Hawaii Island farms, and Hawi is the jumping-off point for outdoor activities such as kayak excursions, farm tours, ziplining and ATV tours. Also in town is Flumin Kohala, a tour in a kayak down a series of flumes used to irrigate now-defunct sugar plantations. A short drive east is Kapaau, King Kamehameha I’s birthplace where a statue stands in his honor.

Hawaii Island’s most famous product is its acclaimed Kona coffee. Many of the coffee-related tourist attractions and farms are not in Kailua-Kona town, however, but are found farther south along the stretch of state Route 11 that runs from the towns of Captain Cook to Kealakekua. Greenwell Farms, is an award-winning grower and roaster, offers a free, short tour that includes tastings of its many roasts. The Kona Coffee Living History Farm tells the story of the cash crop’s development on the island with interactive exhibits. The Aloha Theatre in Kealakekua puts on a variety of shows each year including improv comedy performances, concerts, and plays. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kona Coffee Festival, scheduled for Nov. 6 through Nov. 15.

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Destinations

Hawaiian Airlines offers free interisland flights for medical workers

Hawaiian Airlines is providing complimentary interisland flights for medical professionals this month to support the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Partnering with Hawaii’s health care providers, including Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, The Queen’s Health Systems, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, Hawai’i Pacific Health and Diagnostic Laboratory Services,
the airline is working to facilitate delivering medical services to communities across the Aloha State.

“This virus has presented an unprecedented test for all of us who call Hawaii home, and we are glad to be able to support the exceptional and important work our medical providers are carrying out across our islands each day to meet our state’s health care needs and help us overcome this challenge,” Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Peter Ingram said in a statement.

On April 4, Hawaiian began operating 16 daily roundtrip flights between Honolulu and Hilo and Kona on the Island of Hawaii, Kahului on Maui and Lihue on Kauai. The airline is also serving both Molokai and Lanai from Honolulu on Ohana by Hawaiian flights.

Additionally, Hawaiian has suspended service between Honolulu and Pago Pago on American Samoa for at least 30 days through April 23 at the request of the American Samoan government.

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Cruises

This might save us from travel ban boredom

Travelling is officially off the cards in the age of coronavirus.

But innovative companies are finding ways to keep us occupied and engaged even though we can't go anywhere.

Airbnb has just launched Online Experiences, a platform that allows hosts to still earn money, and couch-bound travellers to enjoy the next best thing to an overseas holiday.

Looking for things to pass the time? The best shows to watch, the funniest videos, the best hacks? Find it all at our Life (goes on) in Lockdown section

You can learn how to make pasta from a host in Rome. Picture: AirbnbSource:Supplied

Meditation with a Buddhist monk is on offer. Picture: AirbnbSource:Supplied

It lists experiences to sign up for, such as cooking and cocktail classes, design workshops, fitness lessons, virtual tours, art lessons, make-up classes and even a rollerskating dance party, which are hosted by people from all over the world, and available via free access to Zoom.

This experience from Ukraine lets you meet the ‘Dogs of Chernobyl’. Picture: AirbnbSource:Supplied

There are more than 50 experiences listed so far, and the prices are pretty reasonable – a Portuguese tapas class with a chef based in the Lisboa region costs about $27 per person for a 1.5-hour class, a K-Beauty lesson from a host in South Korea is $21 per person for a 1.5-hour class, and a creative drawing lesson with a cartoonist in Mexico is $11 for an hour’s lesson.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do,” Catherine Powell, Head of Airbnb Experiences, said.

You can even learn the secrets of magic from a pro in London. Picture: AirbnbSource:Supplied

“With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online.”

There are all kinds of experiences on offer from cooking, movement and meditation to arts and craft and music.

Airbnb said it expected thousands more experiences to be added in the coming months. Check out all the listings on the Airbnb Experiences website.

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Categories
Cruises

Airbnb is now selling online experiences coronavirus

Airbnb is looking to charge customers for “online
experiences,” even as hotels flood the digital landscape with free online
content. 

Airbnb is taking its Experiences tours-and-activities business
digital with the debut of a new Online Experiences platform this week. Airbnb’s
in-person Experiences are currently suspended through the end of April due to
the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Airbnb’s inaugural online offerings include some 50 virtual
activities streamed by hosts from all over the world. They include a HIIT
workout with an Olympic rower (from $20 per person), meditation sessions with
Buddhist monks (from $10 per person) and a coffeemaking class taught by a
professional coffee taster (from $4 per person). Airbnb said thousands of
additional virtual activities are scheduled to go live in the coming months.

According to Airbnb, Online Experiences will allow hosts to
earn some income and “connect with our global community of guests in the only
way possible right now.”

In contrast, hotel brands like Six Senses, Miraval and
others have launched online wellness platforms, offering complimentary fitness
classes, meditation sessions and other types of video content. Other properties
offering free access to online experiences include luxury brand Chable
Hotels,
which is hosting everything from virtual cooking classes to cocktail and wine
tastings via Instagram, and the Wynn Las Vegas,
which is streaming art-related
programming on Twitter.

Airbnb said it would offer free Online Experiences to select
community organizations to support older adults that may be isolated during the
Covid-19 crisis. These organizations include the National Council on Aging and
SAGE, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of older LGBT people.

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Transport

TSA Screens Fewer Than 100,000 Passengers in Back-to-Back Days

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened fewer than 100,000 passengers in consecutive days this week during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

TSA tallied just 94,931 travelers at checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday after screening only 97,130 on Tuesday.

The latest figures signal a dramatic dropoff from last year’s numbers. For perspective, more than 2.3 million travelers were screened at airports nationwide on April 8, 2019.

“On Tuesday, 97,130 individuals were screened at TSA checkpoints nationwide. First time it’s dipped lower than 100,000 during the pandemic. Yes, it’s a record low. Exactly one year ago Tuesday, 2,091,056 people went through security checkpoints,” TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein posted in a tweet.

BREAKING NEWS: On Tuesday, 97,130 individuals were screened at @TSA checkpoints nationwide. First time it’s dipped lower than 100,000 during the pandemic. Yes, it’s a record low. Exactly one year ago Tuesday, 2,091,056 people went through security checkpoints.

Despite the decline in passenger numbers, TSA officers are facing increased risk due to the outbreak, with at least 49 employees testing positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, according to Fox News.

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Travel

Airline travel has dropped 96 percent amid coronavirus





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Travel

Covid 19 coronavirus: hikers photoshop themselves into dream trip

On March 19, Marty Pollak and Monica Palenzuela journeyed from New York City to Patagonia, where they hiked the Perito Moreno Glacier, explored Torres del Paine and hung out with a herd of guanacos. Santiago and Buenos Aires were next.

Although stay-at-home mandates, travel restrictions and social distancing had become a new reality for billions of people all over the world, Pollak and Palenzuela’s five-month trip was very much alive – on Instagram.

Guided by their cancelled itinerary, the couple has been posting meticulously staged (and often Photoshopped) images and videos of themselves enjoying what would have been their adventure: say, gazing at a snow-capped peak, getting lost while hiking and taking a bus ride to Puerto Natales, Chile.

“You plan and God laughs,” said Palenzuela, 35, who is studying to be a winemaker. “But we’ve found joy in looking at what would have been. Seeing the itinerary day by day has helped us realise two things: One, this would have been an epic trip, and two, we can do it another year.”

With little choice but to stay grounded for the time being – and with plenty of time at home
– avid travellers like Pollak and Palenzuela have devised creative and meaningful ways to celebrate the vacations they have had to cancel because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We travel to escape – to unwind – but also to feel the thrill of doing something entirely new. So why not fake a vacation, if only to laugh and smile and feel something good for a minute? I’d plan a ‘fauxcation’ every day,” said Laura Dannen Redman, the digital content director at Afar, a travel media company.

As technology becomes an increasingly critical tool for everyone and everything, celebrations of “fauxcations” on social media are increasing. A video of a septuagenarian Australian couple – feet up, wearing robes, holding wineglasses and watching a YouTube video of the ocean on a flat-screen TV – went viral when their daughter tweeted: “Cruise cancelled? No problem.”

One post in Afar’s #TravelAtHomeChallenge, which started on Instagram in March, shows Dannen Redman wearing an all-white outfit with a red belt, being chased down a driveway by her 2-year-old daughter: a riff on running with the bulls in Spain.

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Cruises

Travel industry virtual Passover seder

In what is a first, the Israel Ministry of Tourism brought
together travel leaders from all corners of the industry for a virtual Passover
seder, the ritual meal that accompanies the holiday. 

Also a possible first: talk of commission protection
accompanied the breaking of maztah.

Eyal Carlin, the Israel Ministry of Tourism’s commissioner
of North America, thanked two of the participants, ASTA CEO Zane Kerby and
USTOA CEO Terry Dale, for their efforts to keep the industry afloat. 

“With us, we have two wise leaders whose work to advocate on
behalf of the travel industry has been on full display,” Carlin said. “In this
crisis, they have known what to say, when to say it and how to act.”

Kerby and Dale read parts of the seder, along with Signature
Travel Network CEO Alex Sharpe, Travel Leaders Group vice president of
marketing Jim Nathan, MAST Travel Network COO John Werner and representatives
from United, American and Delta. 

The event included a few quips about the hand-washing element
of every Passover seder. “No, really that’s part of the Seder, not just corona
paranoia,” Carlin said. Dale’s seder portion reminded everyone that nobody
should “rejoice when your enemy is defeated” unless that enemy is coronavirus. 

There were also expressions of hope. Gal Hana, the Israel
Ministry of Tourism’s director of Canada, said that while parsley is usually a
reminder of springtime growth, “maybe growth is a bit stunted this time around,
but it is still important to remember that growth shall return, and with it,
prosperity for the travel industry.”

Sharpe, whose technical issues prevented him from showing up
on Zoom, wrote a very current list of things to be thankful for right now:
enough toilet paper, grocery delivery, Netflix binging and Zoom. He concluded, “If
God had made everyone postpone and we got to keep ALL of the commissions … actually
that would fix most of our problems!”

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Travel

Covid 19 coronavirus: Airbnb offers online travel experiences from hosts around the world

With communities around the world staying home to protect their own health and the health of others, the travel and tourism industry has suffered some of the most immediate impacts.

Travellers can’t leave home, and those employed in the industry can’t work. A new initiative from Airbnb hopes to offer some help for both sides.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do,” says Catherine Powell, Head of Airbnb Experiences. “With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online.”

The company has today launched Airbnb Online Experiences, an extension of its popular Airbnb Experiences platform, which have been suspended at least until the end of April. It’s hoped this temporary solution will help hosts continue to earn, while also allowing those stuck at home in lockdown to learn a new skill, safely connect with others, or pursue an interest.

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Categories
Travel

Trespassing, vandalism abound in national parks affected by coronavirus


Even America’s parklands are beginning to strain under the coronavirus pandemic.

a close up of a rock mountain: The Rio Grande marks the boundary between Mexico’s protected Santa Elena Canyon (left) and Texas’s Big Bend National Park, which is temporarily closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rio Grande marks the boundary between Mexico’s protected Santa Elena Canyon (left) and Texas’s Big Bend National Park, which is temporarily closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Though group size limits and stay-at-home orders restrict the movement of millions, time outside in nature is more vital than ever. Dozens of national parks have closed entirely, from Acadia to Zion, while other public lands remain open despite controversy—and visitors are testing the limits.

Trespassing, donuts, and arson

Golden Gate Bridge over a body of water: Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s visitor facilities are closed, though its outdoor spaces remain open for public use. California’s stay-at-home order allows appropriately distanced outdoor activity, and several parks reported a surge in visitors at the end of March.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s visitor facilities are closed, though its outdoor spaces remain open for public use. California’s stay-at-home order allows appropriately distanced outdoor activity, and several parks reported a surge in visitors at the end of March.

The cascade of closing parks has sent travelers in search of new destinations, including Arizona’s Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

Created in 1930 to protect the picturesque landscape a Hollywood film crew proposed blowing up, Sunset Crater isn’t far from Flagstaff, and has seen an uptick in traffic. A loop road that meanders through Coconino National Forest bisects the monument on its way north to nearby Wupatki National Monument. Though the two monuments and their grounds are closed, the road is not, as it accesses national forest lands as well as private residences.

a man riding on the back of a truck: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks closed on March 24. The National Park Service’s hesitance to fully close parks during early stages of the pandemic drew criticism from experts.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks closed on March 24. The National Park Service’s hesitance to fully close parks during early stages of the pandemic drew criticism from experts.

Brenda Emry, an interpretive ranger at Sunset Crater, said Monday that upwards of 45 vehicles a day—more than accounted for by residents or Forest Service traffic—drive through.

“The traffic is heavier than you would anticipate right now” during a pandemic, she said. “Anybody that’s pulling off the road, they basically are considered [to be] trespassing, unless they just continue through. I’d say maybe 18 to 20 a day that really try to pull off the road and start hiking our trails.”

The vehicles bear a wide range of license plates: California, New York, New Mexico, Wisconsin. “People are being told to stay home, stay put, and yet, it’s because of that sort of cabin fever I think that is starting to happen,” said Emry. “There are still a lot of travelers.”

At Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, staff try to juggle officials’ competing needs.

“We’re trying to strike a balance between the CDC guidelines and the governor’s orders to stay at home,” said Shenandoah spokesperson Sally Hurlbert. “He’s telling people to stay home, but he’s also leaving the door open for them to go to public places and get exercise and fresh air—for mental health as well as physical health reasons.”

RELATED GALLERY: Trespassing, vandalism abound in national parks affected by coronavirus 

Slide 1 of 12: Seen from the International Space Station, the vibrant blue waters of Oregon's Crater Lake fill a dormant volcano.
Slide 2 of 12: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams made this composite image of Olympic National Park, highlighting some of the park’s well-known glaciers and rugged peaks.
Slide 3 of 12: The iconic Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser Crater of Yellowstone stand out in this satellite image, but the lesser known Opal Pool and Turquoise Pool are worth exploring as well. The parking lot and highway to the right give you a true sense of scale in relation to these massive natural wonders.
Slide 4 of 12: The jagged edges of the Grand Canyon rim are intersected by an extensive stretch of snow, giving this satellite image a wonderfully intricate, abstract look.

Slide 5 of 12: It can be challenging to find your bearings amidst the depth, colors, and textures of this aerial look at Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords. Jagged pieces of ice break off into melted blue waters in this satellite image.
Slide 6 of 12: Rich blues and bright whites dance through the light and shadows around Katmai National Park. Clouds roll in from the right, but from the sky they appear to blend with the white mountains.
Slide 7 of 12: This view of Biscayne National Park provides a glimpse into the dramatic and diverse shades of blue as the depth changes around Biscayne Bay. The pristine greens of the national park islands of Sands Key, Elliott Key, Totten Key, and Old Rhodes Key stand in stark contrast to the coast and the islands around it.
Slide 8 of 12: Though you cannot see a state line crossing from space, this view shows the vastness of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, as well as neighboring cities of Driggs, Darby, and others in Idaho.
Slide 9 of 12: This park blends in seamlessly with its surroundings on Mount Desert Island and the inlets and islands surrounding match the lush green terrain.

Slide 10 of 12: Just north of Funeral Peak, the Badwater area of Death Valley National Parkexposes its intricate layering of springs and accumulated salts that make up the “bad water” in the pool of the basin. The Badwater basin is also the lowest point in North America and an elevation of 282 feet.
Slide 11 of 12: Kilauea, one of five volcanoes that created the island of Hawai’i, is protected by Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in the southeast of the Big Island. Kilauea is still one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.
Slide 12 of 12: On the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, you’ll find the peaks and rivers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the terrain looks serrated and harsh from above, the rushing mountain streams are a beautiful sight from the ground or the sky.

Crater Lake National Park

Seen from the International Space Station, the vibrant blue waters of Oregon’s Crater Lake fill a dormant volcano.

Olympic National Park

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams made this composite image of Olympic National Park, highlighting some of the park’s well-known glaciers and rugged peaks.

Yellowstone National Park

The iconic Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser Crater of Yellowstone stand out in this satellite image, but the lesser known Opal Pool and Turquoise Pool are worth exploring as well. The parking lot and highway to the right give you a true sense of scale in relation to these massive natural wonders.

Grand Canyon National Park

The jagged edges of the Grand Canyon rim are intersected by an extensive stretch of snow, giving this satellite image a wonderfully intricate, abstract look.

Kenai Fjords National Park

It can be challenging to find your bearings amidst the depth, colors, and textures of this aerial look at Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords. Jagged pieces of ice break off into melted blue waters in this satellite image.

Katmai National Park

Rich blues and bright whites dance through the light and shadows around Katmai National Park. Clouds roll in from the right, but from the sky they appear to blend with the white mountains.

Biscayne National Park

This view of Biscayne National Park provides a glimpse into the dramatic and diverse shades of blue as the depth changes around Biscayne Bay. The pristine greens of the national park islands of Sands Key, Elliott Key, Totten Key, and Old Rhodes Key stand in stark contrast to the coast and the islands around it.

Grand Teton National Park

Though you cannot see a state line crossing from space, this view shows the vastness of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, as well as neighboring cities of Driggs, Darby, and others in Idaho.

Acadia National Park

This park blends in seamlessly with its surroundings on Mount Desert Island and the inlets and islands surrounding match the lush green terrain.

Death Valley National Park

Just north of Funeral Peak, the Badwater area of Death Valley National Parkexposes its intricate layering of springs and accumulated salts that make up the “bad water” in the pool of the basin. The Badwater basin is also the lowest point in North America and an elevation of 282 feet.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea, one of five volcanoes that created the island of Hawai’i, is protected by Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in the southeast of the Big Island. Kilauea is still one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, you’ll find the peaks and rivers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the terrain looks serrated and harsh from above, the rushing mountain streams are a beautiful sight from the ground or the sky.

Sixty-five miles or so of Skyline Drive, from Front Royal south to Swift Run Gap, are closed to vehicles—though open to cyclists and pedestrians because the surrounding counties have asked for help in reducing crowds drawn by the park’s hiking trails.

Park staff also decided to close the park overnight: Lodgings are shuttered, there’s a ban on camping, and they didn’t want to encourage nighttime hiking. But there are still some Shenandoah visitors who sense no one is watching.

“There’s been a little bit of vandalism, but it’s mostly what we would call nuisance behavior,” said Hurlbert. “People spinning donuts in parking lots and overlooks. We’ve had an increase in speeding, people coming in and speeding Skyline Drive. And trash, lots of trash, more than usual. We’re trying to keep up with the sanitation, but it’s putting our rangers at risk every time they have to pick up a piece of garbage alongside the road and empty trash cans, because [coronavirus] can survive for a period of time on cardboard and plastic surfaces.”

It doesn’t stop at nuisance behavior: There have been reports of arson at Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri. Park staff announced Monday the offer of a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the conviction of those who started the Pot Hole Wildfire on March 9, which threatened a private home.

Looking ahead

As telework becomes the new norm for the staffs of most park units that have closed facilities, some employees at Big Bend National Park in Texas have focused on overdue projects.

“We’re doing a lot of work outside,” said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “Trail work, vegetation work. We are repainting the visitor center, deep-cleaning facilities. We’re maintaining social distance, but we still are hard at work and trying to put the park in as best shape as we can so when we reopen to the public, people will see that we’ve used the time productively.”

For Jennifer Pharr Davis, the parks can’t reopen soon enough. Davis, who in 2011 set the then-record for fastest hike of the 2,180-mile-long Appalachian Trail, owns a guided hiking business in Asheville, North Carolina, next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The closure of Great Smoky Mountains, and a recommendation from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to stay off the iconic footpath, forced cancellation of her scheduled hikes.

“We are 90 percent closed right now,” said Davis. “Our trips are canceled, most of the parks around us are closed, our shop has closed. Now the hard part is knowing when we can reopen and start scheduling things again. From a business standpoint, we’ve ceased everything except online retail.”

Even some of the wildlife seems eager for the flocks of visitors to return.

“Now that the people have gone away, we don’t have as many seagulls and crows hanging around,” J.J. Condella, general manager of Flamingo Adventures on the southern tip of Everglades National Park, said Monday of the usually ever-present birds that hope to steal a bite of visitors’ lunches. “They seem to have given up hope and moved on to a different area.”

Kurt Repanshek is the founder and editor-in-chief of NationalParksTraveler.org, a nonprofit media organization that covers national parks and protected areas.


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