USDA Forest Service

Special Places Newsletter

A Travel and Tourism Planner’s Guide to

Your National Forests

September 2001   Volume 1 – Issue 1


Message from

the Chief

America’s national forests and

grasslands are the “golden

crown” of outdoor settings where

national and international visitors

alike can enjoy a wide variety of

premier adventure travel and ecotourism

recreation activities. From

Alaska’s forests and glaciers,

Idaho’s wild rivers, Utah’s and

Colorado’s ski mountains, New

Mexico’s Jemez Mountains heritage

sites, to Caribbean tropical

forests, I invite you to visit your

national forests for outdoor fun

and experiences of a lifetime.

Dale N. Bosworth


Inside This


• Regional "Special Places"

destinations for tour

groups, including scenic

byways and 2002 Winter


• Naturewatch and You!

• Hidden Gems: Scenic

Wonders, Smaller Crowds

• It’s About Time—Heritage

Expeditions and Passport in


• Grassroots Ecotourism—

Ozark Ecotours





Welcome to Our Special Places–

Sustainable Tourism, the Leave No

Trace Partnership


Welcome to our Special Places promotion

of great places to “VISIT US” in

national forest and grassland destinations.

We are launching this newsletter

as a new partnership to share information

about our little known treasures

and build greater awareness among

travel and tourism professionals about

what we have to offer and what programs

exist to host use of these spectacular

public lands. The Forest Service,

U.S. Department of Agriculture, would

like to have the travel and tourism

industry join us in promoting the

development of responsible, sustainable

recreation on the land. As visitors

leave the beaten track and venture off

from our developed facilities, we have

adopted a major tool for educating

tourists and recreational users on ways

to conserve our public lands. This tool

is Leave No Trace, Inc., a nonprofit

501(c)(3) education program that

unites four Federal land management

agencies—the Forest Service, National

Park Service, Bureau of Land

Management, and the U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Service—with manufacturers,

outdoor retailers, user groups, educators,

and individuals who share a commitment

to maintaining and protecting

our public lands for future enjoyment.

Sustainable tourism starts with the

individual visitor, backpacker, or tour


Leave No Trace, Inc., is a national

and international program designed to

assist visitors with their decisions when

they travel and camp on America’s

public lands. The program strives to

educate visitors about the nature of

their recreational impacts, as well as

techniques to prevent and minimize

such impacts. Leave No Trace is best

understood as an educational and ethi

cal program, not as a set of rules and

regulations. Clearly, all use has impacts.

The goal is to leave the landscape as

charming and healthy as we found it

when bringing guests into forest and

grassland landscapes. The mission of

Leave No Trace is to promote and

inspire responsible outdoor recreation

through education, research, and partnerships.

It is an educational program

about discovering, enjoying, and maintaining

the great outdoors for ourselves;

our children; and the unique communities

of peoples, plants, and animals

that inhabit these lands. The message

has been tailored for multiple uses and

ecosystems. The Leave No Trace, Inc.,

principles have been adapted for desert

ecosystems, tropical rain forests, deciduous

forests, caves, coastal environments,

and other locations. The skills

and ethics booklet series is organized by

regions that cover all of North

America. Check for your region on the

Web site:



Outdoor Recreation Links to the World Wide Web (recreation information on all forests and grasslands) (interagency recreation activities information for Federal land) (National Recreation Reservation Service)




The Greatest Snow on Earth!

Skiers find the “greatest snow on

Earth” at the Snowbasin Ski Resort,

which is borne out by its selection as

the site for the 2002 Olympic Winter

Games signature events—the downhill

and super g. In addition to an annual

400 inches of fluffy, powdery snow, the

resort boasts 3,200 acres of skiable terrain

serviced by eight lifts and a 2,900-

foot vertical drop. Snowbasin Ski

Resort is located on the Ogden Ranger

District of the Wasatch-Cache

National Forest.

By February 2002, the resort will

offer two new gondolas and a highspeed

quad chairlift, a state-of-the-art

snowmaking system, and four new daylodges.

A new access road to the resort

places Snowbasin only 40 miles from

Salt Lake City International Airport.

The Snowbasin area also offers

marked and groomed trails and many

forest roads for cross-country skiing. A

snowmobile parking area on Highway

39 is available during the winter

months, and scenic Pineview Reservoir

offers a number of excellent locations

for ice fishing.

The Snowbasin area is a great place

to visit in the summer, with many trails

for hiking, biking, all-terrain vehicle

riding, motorcycling, and horseback

riding. Campgrounds abound, with

many sites on a first-come, first-serve

basis. Reservations are available for single

family and group picnic and camping

sites through the toll-free National

Forest Reservation System at (877)

444-6777. Tourists can also motorboat,

sail, windsurf, jet-ski, swim, fish, waterski,

sunbathe, camp, and picnic at the

Pineview Reservoir. Hunting and

wildlife viewing are also popular

throughout the forest.

Several scenic byways provide outstanding

views in the Wasatch-Cache

National Forest. The Ogden River

Scenic Byway follows State Route 39

from Ogden, UT, to the eastern forest

boundary. Visitors journeying up this

narrow canyon can enjoy alpine beauty,

excellent fishing, access to Pineview

Reservoir, and spectacular fall colors.

Driving the 44-mile byway requires

approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Portions of the route are closed in the

winter, depending on snowfall.

Visitors shouldn’t miss the drive

along the popular Mirror Lake Scenic

Byway, State Route 150. The byway

begins in Kamas, UT, and passes

through the national forest for 44

miles, ending in Evanston, WY. The

Mirror Lake area offers campgrounds

and picnic areas, overlooks, interpretive

and wildlife viewing sites, 20 trailheads,

fishing sites, 37 nonmotorized

trails, 3 all-terrain vehicle trail systems,

and winter parking areas along this scenic

byway. The byway is groomed for

snowmobiling in the winter by the

Utah Division of Parks and Recreation.

For more information on the Ogden

River Scenic Byway, contact the

Ogden Ranger District at (801) 625-

5112. For information on the Mirror

Lake Scenic Byway, contact the Kamas

Ranger District at (435) 783-4338 or

Evanston Ranger District at (307) 789-

3194. Or visit the following Web sites:




Shasta Cascade Wonderland

President Teddy Roosevelt knew what

he was doing when he set aside national

forests like the Shasta and Trinity in

the early 1900s. Scenic deep canyons

and thrilling river rapids, towering

granite peaks and cliffs, and numerous

lakes provide a wonderland of outdoor

adventure for groups and individual

travelers alike. Covering an area roughly

the size of Ohio, the Shasta Cascade

region contains seven national forests,

numerous national and State parks, the

Trinity Alps Wilderness, and the

California Cascade Range, with its

huge volcanic peaks—Mts. Shasta and


Over 1,400 miles of trails meander

through Shasta-Trinity National Forest

under a canopy of cedar trees, ponderosa

pine, Pacific dogwood, black

cottonwood, and Pacific yews. The

Pacific Crest Trail cuts across the forest

for 154 miles, with stunning views in

all directions. Shasta-Trinity National

Forest is home to over 400 species of

mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians,

and fish. Hundreds of miles of clear,

cold-running streams offer opportunities

to catch native rainbow trout,

steelhead trout, and silver salmon.

For drivers looking to glimpse the

area’s grandeur through a windshield,

the Trinity Scenic Byway along State

Highway 3 offers one of the most beautiful

drives in northern California. Selfguided

auto tour information is available

at the local offices and visitor center.

Bicyclists touring along the 50-mile

loop circling Mount Shasta can ride

alongside glaciers and lava flows.

Outdoor recreation facilities range

from primitive to modern. At Mount

Shasta Board and Ski Park, snowboarders

and skiers can cascade down sculpted

terrain like quarter pipes, tabletops,

rolls, and jumps. Three triple chair lifts

take visitors to the top; 31 trails get

them back down. The Shasta and

Trinity Units of the National

Recreation Area offer some of the

house boating and fishing available in

the West. Over 100 miles of the rivers

in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest

have been designated as part of the

National Wild and Scenic Rivers

System, providing unique year-around

whitewater boating opportunities.

Within the boundaries of the national

forest, you'll find five wilderness areas.

From mountain climbing to whitewater

boating, spelunking to gold panning,

skiing to just sightseeing, the Shasta-

Trinity National Forest has something

for everyone.

Tour buses are well accommodated

throughout Shasta-Trinity, and fee

information is available upon request.

Special-use fee arrangements for large

groups can be made through the Forest

Service. For more information on areas

within the national forest boundaries,

contact the Shasta-Trinity National

Forest Supervisor’s Office at (530) 244-


For more information on area commercial

guides authorized to provide

tours and equipment rentals, visit the

following Web site:


Information for tour planning is

available through the Shasta-Cascade

Wonderland Association, 1699 Hwy

273, Anderson, CA 96007. Visit the

Web site:

or call Karen Whittaker, Tourism

Development Manager, at (530) 365-





El Yunque–America’s Only Tropical Rainforest

If you’re looking for an exotic tour

location, try the Caribbean National

Forest in Puerto Rico. Set aside by the

Spanish Crown in 1876 while Puerto

Rico was still ruled from Madrid, it is

one of the oldest protected areas in the

Western Hemisphere. As a result, the

forest looks much as it did when

Christopher Columbus visited Puerto

Rico 500 years ago. Under a damp

canopy created by 1,000-year-old trees

and in company of giant ferns, bromeliads,

and rare orchids, tourists find it difficult

to remember they are still in the

United States. With its 200 inches of

rain per year and more than 1,000

species of plants, this is as accessible

and convenient as tropical rain forests

get—no passport, vaccinations, or

complex travel plans are required for

U.S. citizens to visit.

The Caribbean National Forest is

located about 25 miles east of San

Juan. “El Yunque,” as it is locally called,

is one of the most popular recreation

sites in Puerto Rico. Almost a million

tourists visit this highly accessible tropical

rain forest each year. El Yunque is

the largest remnant of original forest

that covered virtually the entire island

before 85 percent of Puerto Rico was

cleared for agriculture.

Islanders typically visit the forest in

the hot summer months of July and

August. Most off-island visitors come

during the winter and early spring

months. Many cruise ship passengers

tour into the heart of the forest. Lowvisitation

times are mid-April through

mid-June and September through

October. Whatever time of year you

visit, the scenic roadways, picnic areas,

trails, and the El Portal Rainforest

Center will welcome you.

You can learn about the forest and

its relationship with other tropical rain

forests in the world at the El Portal

Rainforest Center. Its unique architecture,

spectacular natural setting,

exhibits and interactive displays, and

helpful interpretive personnel make it a

favorite starting point for your visit. A

new nature trail starts just outside of

the center. The theater’s bilingual film

gives insight into hidden corners of El

Yunque. The gift shop offers a unique

selection of books, local arts and crafts,

videos, educational items, and souvenirs.

For more information call (787)


Forest Adventure Tours offer the

opportunity to explore El Yunque rain

forest trails with a guide. For information

and reservations call (787) 888-

1880. If visiting the forest during hurricane

season (from June 1st to

November 30th), check for local

weather broadcasts: (787) 253-7877.

For more information, visit the following

Web sites:




NatureWatching on

National Forests

The NatureWatch program provides

opportunities for people to experience

wildlife, fish, and flowers in their natural

settings; promotes recreational

viewing opportunities; facilitates learning

about the environment; and promotes

conservation efforts and wise use

of natural resources. The NatureWatch

program is administered by the Forest

Service Wildlife, Fish, and Rare Plant

Program in cooperation with program

sponsors and thousands of partnerships

around the country.

Incorporate NatureWatch activities

into your tours! For more information

on NatureWatch auto tours, site locations,

Web site at

naturewatch/default.htm or call

(414) 297-3257.




The Great Lakes of Colorado

The Arapaho National Recreation

Area (ANRA) is a scenic water wonderland

in the upper reaches of the

Colorado River Valley. Adjacent to

Rocky Mountain National Park, it is

about a 2-hour drive from Denver, CO.

Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake,

Monarch Lake, Willow Creek

Reservoir, and Meadow Creek

Reservoir are nestled within the

ANRA. Adjacent to the ANRA,

Grand Lake, with its deep, clear blue

waters, is the largest natural lake in

Colorado. Together, the lakes and

reservoirs are often referred to as the

Great Lakes of Colorado.

At an elevation ranging from 8,200

to 11,000 feet, the area offers cool summers

and cold, snowy winters. Facilities

usually open around May 20 and offer

full service until shortly after Labor

Day, subject to the weather.

Camping, picnic, and boating facilities

are available at most of the lakes.

Specific lake characteristics include:

3 Lake Granby—the second largest

body of water in Colorado—offers

power and sail boating, water skiing,

wind surfing, and fishing on its

7,256 acres.

3 Monarch Lake supports high-quality

nonmotorized recreation experiences

on its 150 acres.

3 Shadow Mountain is a shallow

reservoir connected by a canal to

Grand Lake, allowing boat passage

between the two.

3 Willow Creek Reservoir—tucked

into the Willow Creek Valley—is

oriented toward fishing and canoeing

and allows powerboats restricted

to a “no wake” speed on its 750


3 Meadow Creek Reservoir—located

in the most remote part of the

ANRA—is nearly 10,000 feet in

elevation and allows nonmotorized

watercraft on its 125 acres.

Lodging accommodations are available

at both the recreation lakes and in

the nearby towns of Lake Granby and

Grand Lake. For more information,

contact the Granby Chamber of

Commerce at (970) 887-2311 or

Grand Lake Chamber at (970) 627-


The west entrance to Rocky

Mountain National Park along

Highway 34 is located just 1.5 miles

north of the ANRA. Those visiting

the Rocky Mountain National Park

should complete their trip with a visit

to the scenic lakes of the ANRA. Tour

groups will enjoy a wide variety of

watersports on these Great Lakes of

Colorado. Many of the marinas rent

boats of all kinds. Boat-in camping is

popular along the northeast shores of

Lake Granby. Hiking is also popular,

with portions of the Continental

Divide National Scenic Trail in the

ANRA. Horseback trips are another

option on many trails. Rental stables

are available in the town of Grand

Lake. Mountain biking for all skill levels

is popular around Meadow Creek

Reservoir and in areas surrounding the

ANRA. Bikes are rented in the towns

of Grand Lake, Granby, and Winter

Park. Backcountry camping is permitted

in the ANRA, with access to the

Continental Divide.

Cutthroat Bay Group Camp can

accommodate up to 2 groups of 50 people

in a rustic setting. Reservations are

required. Point Park picnic area and

fishing pier have facilities that are

accessible to all. Reservations can be

made through the National Recreation

Reservation System at (877) 444-6777.

Daily fees are charged for use of the


There is an entrance fee of $5 per

day or $10 per weekend (3 days).

Golden Eagle, Age, and Access

Passports are accepted for admission.

For information on organizing tours

in the Arapaho National Recreation

Area, contact Bill Dunkelberger, Area

Manager, at (970) 887-4127, or contact

the Sulphur Ranger District,

Arapaho National Forest, 9 Ten Mile

Drive, P.O. Box 10, Granby, CO

80446, (970) 887-4100. For trip planning

on the Web, use




America’s Best-Known Volcano

Mount St. Helens rumbled to life in

March 1980. For 2 months, earthquakes

and steam explosions rattled the

mountain and the nerves of Northwest

residents. Then, on May 18, 1980,

Mount St. Helens erupted. The entire

north face of the volcano collapsed in

the largest recorded landslide in history.

A tremendous lateral blast swept over

ridges, toppling 230 square miles of forest

like matchsticks. The eruption lasted

9 hours, turning a lush, forested

landscape into a stark, gray moonscape.

Mount St. Helens National

Volcanic Monument was created in

1982 for research, recreation, and education.

Within the monument, the

environment is left to respond and

recover naturally. Scientists and visitors

follow the changes in the landscape

and volcano, and watch as vegetation

and wildlife return to the blast zone.

No where else in the country can

you view such comprehensive information

on volcanic history as at Mount

St. Helens. A full master plan of roads,

viewpoints, visitor centers, and recreational

facilities have been developed

in the monument to encourage visitors

to explore and learn about this unique

volcanic landscape. Mount St. Helens

offers picnicking, camping, and trails of

all lengths and levels of challenge.

Each year thousands of climbers make

the journey to the crater rim. In addition

to self-guided opportunities, Forest

Service interpreters lead many activities

including guided walks and

amphitheater talks.

On State Route 504, Mount St.

Helens and Coldwater Ridge Visitor

Centers are open year-round and

Johnston Ridge Observatory is open

from spring to fall. Windy Ridge

Viewpoint and other sites along Forest

Road 99 are generally open from

Memorial Day until snow closes the

roads. Most trails are accessible from

June through October, although some

lower elevation trails can be hiked all


Winter at Mount St. Helens is magical.

Many cross-country ski and snowmobile

trails await winter tourists.

Snow enthusiasts gather at Marble

Mountain, Cougar, and Wakepish Sno-

Parks, while those seeking shelter from

the winter weather visit Coldwater

Ridge Visitor Center, lingering to enjoy

a cup of hot cocoa in the restaurant.

Tour and school groups are welcome

at the monument and are

encouraged to schedule visits in

advance. Fees are charged at the

Monument Visitor Centers, Ape Cave,

and Windy Ridge, as well as for climbing

the volcano. Golden Eagle, Age,

and Access Passports are valid. For

information on tours and passes, contact

any of the following numbers:

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center:

(360) 274-2100

Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center:

(360) 274-2131

Johnston Ridge Observatory:

(360) 274-2140

Monument Headquarters:

(360) 247-3900

Lodging, food, gas, and other services

are located in nearby communities.

For information on local offerings and

tour support, contact the following

attractions and Chambers of

Commerce, or visit the monument

Web site at

Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center

(Cowlitz County): (360) 274-7750

Forest Learning Center

(Weyerhaeuser Co.):

(360) 414-3439

Castle Rock: (360) 274-6603

Kelso/Longview: (360) 577-8058

Centralia/Chehalis: (360) 748-8885

Woodland: (360) 225-9552

Stevenson: (509) 427-8911





Discovery in Southeast Alaska


Every good tour operator knows that

Alaska is the land of superlatives—

whether it is about size, temperature,

variety, or uniqueness. The Tongass

National Forest and the Southeast

Alaska Discovery Center give you a

strong sense of this last frontier.

The Tongass is America’s largest

national forest, with almost 17 million

acres. It has some of the smallest and

largest critters and plants—from the

shrew to the brown bear, from tiny bog

orchids to towering spruce. The

national forest encompasses about

2,000 islands, over 5,000 glaciers, and

33,000 miles of coastline. In short, it’s a

place to inspire the soul!

During the summer months, thousands

of visitors travel the ferries of

southeast Alaska. The Tongass

National Forest has interpreters on

board the ships 7 days a week from

June 1st through Labor Day to bring

alive the wonders of Alaska. One of

four Alaska Public Lands Information

Centers located around the State, the

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is a

key visitor resource. It is located in

downtown Ketchikan, just 2 short

blocks from the cruise ship dock and

2.5 miles from the ferry terminal.

As tourists enter the spacious lobby,

they’re surrounded by authentic red

cedar totem poles that represent the

three tribes of Southeast Alaska: the

Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. An

information desk, center store, trip

planning room, movie, and series of

world-class exhibits await perusal.

Interpreters are available to answer

questions and offer programs. For many

visitors, the first stop after the lobby is

to view Mystical Southeast Alaska, an

award-winning 14-minute program

that combines slides, video, and original

music in an orientation program on

southeast Alaska. From the theater, visitors

go to nearby exhibits, which highlight

the ecosystems, natural resources,

and people of southeast Alaska. The

trip planning room is designed like a

wilderness lodge, where visitors can

plan travels to any of the six geographic

regions of Alaska. Before going back

into the lobby, many people stop at the

Alaska Natural History Association

(ANHA) Bookstore, which features

books, videos, maps, educational

resources, and gift items that highlight

topics featured in the center.

If you are interested in taking groups

into this remarkable area, contact the

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

and start them out right!

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

50 Main Street

Ketchikan, AK 99901




Phone: (907) 228-6220

TDD: (907) 228-6237

Fax: (907) 228-6234

Web sites:





Lewis and Clark

If you’re looking for a theme tour of

westward expansion, Native American

history, and the indomitable spirit of

human discovery, this is the place! The

Lewis and Clark National Historic

Trail brings to life the experiences of

the great expedition in the early 19th

century to discover a “Northwest

Passage” from the Atlantic to the

Pacific Ocean.

Located on a bluff overlooking the

Missouri River in Montana’s Giant

Springs Heritage State Park, the

25,000-square-foot interpretive center

includes a huge exhibit hall, a 158-seat

theater, a hands-on education room,

and a retail store. Easy trails invite visitors

down to the river.

Exhibits chronicle the 1804 to 1806

journey of Meriwether Lewis and

William Clark, with a focus on their

interactions with the Plains Indians. A

two-story diorama portrays a portage

around the great falls of the Missouri

River, and two-story windows overlook

the river. The theater features a 30-

minute introductory film. Native plants

can be viewed by traveling on an outdoor

trail. At the living history area

along the banks of the Missouri River,

demonstrations of expedition daily life

and native cultures occur during the


The center is gearing up for the 4-

year commemoration of the Lewis and

Clark Bicentennial from 2003 to 2006.

A variety of workshops and classes are

offered, lasting from a 1/2-day to 3-day

sessions and covering topics from event

planning to the 19th century Indian

material culture. Each workshop

requires advance registration and a

small fee. Attendance is limited. The

interpretive center also offers regularly

scheduled interpretive programs on

expedition-related topics such as medicine,

food, diplomacy, and wildlife, as

well as current-interest demonstrations

on portaging, pitching a teepee, plant

study, and various orientation and outdoor

skills. Call for current program


Entry prices range from $5 for

adults, to $4 for seniors and students, to

$2 for youth (6 to 17 years). Children

age 5 and under enter free. Groups

with more than 20 paying adults may

arrange for a discount. Educational tours

are also offered during the school year.

For more information or to make a group

reservation, call the interpretive center at

(406) 727-8733. Interpretive tours are

offered daily during the spring, summer,

and fall. The center is fully accessible to

individuals with disabilities and also offers

parking for tour buses.

For further information, contact the

center at: P.O. Box 1806, Great Falls,

MT 59403-1806, or visit the Lewis and

Clark Web site at

Other Web sites with information about

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and

their expeditions include:



From Relics to Rentals: Recycled

Forest Service Cabins for Rent!


Imagine yourself as the sole smoke

spotter for 100,000 acres of land, alone

on a mountaintop while summer lightning

flashes in dizzying bolts all about

you. Or, perhaps you are the Lone

Ranger charged with riding and protecting

a whole mountain range with

your trusted steed as your only companion.

Relive the drama of our early forest

rangers as you enjoy our many

restored authentic cabins and lookouts

on national forests and wilderness


In these modern times of plugged-in

communication, these sites are no

longer necessary for managing the land.

Because the sites are too valuable and

close to the heart to destroy, a public

rental program was developed to protect

and maintain them, and to offer

the experience of staying in the wild in

the historic cabins and lookouts of

early rangers.

There are now over 400 Forest

Service-maintained structures available

for daily or weekly rental around the

country. Most can be reached only by

foot, ski, snowmobile, or horseback.

“Off the beaten track” definitely applies

here! From administrative cabins still

used today in Alaska, to quasi-luxury

cabins with private springs in Florida,

the great outdoors of national forest

cabins awaits you. Check out the following

Web sites for phone numbers or

to make online reservations for these

one-of-a-kind treasures:







Grassroots Ecotourism:

Ozark Ecotours


If you are planning a trip to the Ozarks

of Arkansas and are looking for a

unique, locally based, authentic ecotourism

experience in the heartland of

America, then you must try Ozark

Ecotours. Located in the landscapes

around Jasper, AR, these tours were

developed to provide highly interactive

educational tours into the natural and

cultural history of the Ozark

Mountains. Each tour is designed to

provide tourists with ecological and

cultural interpretations that support

and protect the Newton County natural

resources and cultural heritage and

the Ozark Mountain culture. Some

tours may explore remote natural

springs and waterfalls, native history

sites, or seldom known native plants.

Each has a special theme and is tailored

for high interaction with the

group participants. As an expert in

birding, history, native lore, or hidden

gems of the forest, each local guide is

well versed in interpretation techniques

and how to keep visitors close

to the real experience of the land and

culture they are traveling through.

These tours are very limited and special

opportunities to help support the

preservation of Ozark culture and to

enjoy a wonderful, intimate experience

in these natural landscapes.

Tours can be arranged for groups of

6 to 12 people as custom tours. They

are ideally suited for small van tours or

individual groups looking for that

unique tourism experience. The entire

Ozark Ecotours effort is community

driven and is a great example of truly

authentic ecotourism principles set into


To find out more information on

prescheduled tours or how to book a

custom tour, contact:

Ozark Ecotours, P.O. Box 513, Jasper,

AR 72641-0513

Voice: (870) 446-5898

FAX: (870) 446-2701

Toll Free: (877) 622-5901

Web site:



Hells Canyon National Recreation Area


On the Wallowa-Whitman National

Forest, Hells Canyon National

Recreation Area (NRA) straddles the

Snake River as it winds its way down

the boundary between Idaho and

Oregon. In Hells Canyon one can find

some of the most rugged, spectacular

wildlands on Earth—including, at

7,800 feet (2,800 meters), the deepest

gorge in North America and the

wildest whitewater stretch of the Snake

River. The Hells Canyon Wilderness

encompasses nearly one-third of the

NRA. Hells Canyon State Scenic

Byway (a newly designated All-

American Road) passes through part of

the canyon, offering breathtaking vistas.

Hells Canyon NRA includes a

diversity of plant and animal communities,

over 1 million acres of pristine

land, archaeological sites of irreplaceable

value, scenic beauty, and recreational

opportunities galore.

Drawn by relatively mild winters,

lush forage, and plentiful wildlife, Chief

Joseph’s band of Nez Perce Indians

lived in Hells Canyon. Today, the walls

of the canyon are like a museum, displaying

evidence of the Indians’ early

settlement in pictographs and petroglyphs.

Hunters, anglers, and casual

observers appreciate the variety and

abundance of fish and wildlife. Scenic

vistas abound; countless undeveloped

sites await discovery. If you are seeking

a more developed setting, choose from

900 miles of constructed hiking trails

and 25 designated camping areas.

Whether you seek a wilderness hike or

a scenic drive, a rafting thrill or tranquil

water, a campsite away from civilization

or one in a bustling campground,

Hells Canyon NRA has plenty

to discover!

This year Hells Canyon NRA celebrates

its 25th anniversary, as well as

the designation of the Hells Canyon

State Scenic Byway as an “All

American Road.” Make your plans

now to join in the celebrations!

Please note you will need a

“Northwest Forest Pass” when parking

at several trailheads serving the Hells

Canyon NRA on the Oregon side.

They may be purchased from Forest

Service offices or local vendors for $5

per day. Many of the roads leading to

Wilderness trailheads and viewpoints

are single lane and suitable for lowspeed

use only. Call (541) 426-4978 for

road conditions before entering.

For group information, visit the Web


html or contact the Hells Canyon


Hells Canyon National Recreation


88401 Hwy. 82

Enterprise, OR 97828

(541) 426-4978

Satellite offices are located at

Clarkston, WA: (509) 758-0616, and

Riggins, ID: (208) 628-3916.

For additional trip planning information,

contact the Wallowa Mountains

Visitor Center at (541) 426-5546 or

TDD (541) 426-5609.

The following Web sites offer information

about recreational activities and

outfitter/guide services:






Hidden Gems:

Scenic Wonders–Smaller Crowds

These “lesser known” national treasures of the National Forest System possess

great facilities for both group tours and smaller parties that are looking for true

backcountry Americana locations, “far from the madding crowds.”


Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed and

Toadstool Geologic Park


A visit to Hudson-Meng Bison

Bonebed is perfect for the adventuresome

small group. Here you can

glimpse a current archeological excavation

in progress. Interpretive materials

and guided tours explain why this is

such an important discovery and

encourage visitors to develop their own

theories about what happened to the

bison. The site is located in the shadow

of Nebraska’s picturesque Pine Ridge,

overlooking this unique site within the

Oglala and Buffalo Gap National

Grasslands. Here you can still imagine

how dinosaurs roamed the land and see

the prairie landscapes that early settlers

found when they carved pathways to a

new life in the late 1800s.


Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m : May 15 -

September 30

Excavation Session Dates:

Session 1: May 29 - June 7

Session 2: June 12 - 21

Session 3: June 26 - July 5

Session 4: July 10 – 19


Adult: $3

Children 6-12: $1

Under 6: Free

Group rates and tours are available by

calling (308) 432-0300 (off season) and

(308) 665-3900

when the facility is open.

Near Crawford, Nebraska, it's only a

few miles to the moonscape of

Toadstool Geologic Park. Toadstool

Geologic Park is noted for unusual geologic

formations and scientifically valuable

fossil deposits. It also contains the

longest known mammal trackway of

the Oligocene epoch. This 1-mile-plus

trackway is featured in a new interpretive

kiosk and a self-guided trail

brochure. A 1-mile-loop trail from the

campground highlights many examples

of eroded clay/sandstone formations. A

reconstructed sod house provides a

look into the past when homesteaders

on the prairie used the only abundant

building material available. A $5

camping fee or a $3 per vehicle day-use

fee is charged from Memorial Day

through Labor Day.

For information, check




Sedona’s Red Rock Country


The magnificence of Red Rock

Country has been 330 million years in

the making. Traveling from the

Mogollon Rim high on the Colorado

Plateau to the depths of Oak Creek

Canyon, you pass through a rich geologic

record, similar to that of the

upper Grand Canyon. Like pages in a

great book, horizontal layers of rock tell

stories of ancient oceans and swamps,

floodplains, vast deserts of sand, and

violent volcanic eruptions.

The splendor of Red Rock Country

is obvious even through the windshield

of a quickly moving vehicle. Unified by

Oak Creek—the vital riparian link

between the Mogollon Rim and the

Verde Valley—this splendid and

unique landscape is a geologic wonder

and a living crossroads between time

and space. The stream is the lifeblood

of the area, and the magnet that draws

regional visitors from the desert valleys

to the cooler environment of the Red

Rocks. People have come to this area

for more than 10,000 years. Nestled in

Red Rock Canyons are outstanding

rock art sites, impressive pueblos, cliff

dwellings, and other remains of prehistoric

cultures that once inhabited the


Red Rock Country boasts three federally

designated wilderness areas,

marked by colorful cliffs and soaring

pinnacles, dry desert, thick pinyonjuniper

forests, and lush riparian areas.

With nearly 200 miles of trails, camping

and hiking is allowed in all wilderness

areas. Parking is very limited at

most trailheads; buses are not recommended.

Within a short drive of Sedona, AZ,

several Forest Service campgrounds

and picnic areas provide recreational

opportunities for groups and family

campers. Most campsites and all picnic

sites are available on a “first-come,

first-served” basis. Campground reservations

are accepted at some locations.

Campgrounds fill up early, so calling

ahead is recommended. Dispersed

camping outside of campgrounds is prohibited

in much of Red Rock Country.

Many driving routes are “must see”

drives, including Highway 89A into

Oak Creek Canyon from Flagstaff,

Highway 89A to Sedona from

Cottonwood, and Highway 179 to

Sedona from I-17. All routes feature

spectacular views of Red Rock

Country. Buses are welcome on these

scenic routes.

Offering comprehensive information

and education services, five visitor

centers welcome tourists to the Red

Rock Country. A Red Rock Pass is

required for parking in the national


For more information call the

ranger station at (520) 282-4119, or

contact Coconino National Forest,

Sedona Ranger District, P.O. Box 300,

250 Brewer Road, Sedona, AZ 86339.

For complete trip planning assistance,

check the following Web site:



Blanchard Springs Caverns


Come experience a “living” cave where

glistening stalactites, stalagmites,

columns, and flowstones slowly form

and change—the result of minerals

deposited by dripping water. Visitors

can stroll through large, beautifully

lighted rooms with paved trails. For

over 25 years, spectacular cave formations

have drawn visitors to Blanchard

Springs Caverns. Located on the

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, the

caverns offer a close-up view of a little

known subterranean world.

Blanchard is a three-level system,

but only two levels of the caverns are

open for guided tours. Open yearround,

the Dripstone Trail Tour travels

about a half-mile through huge rooms

and sparkling formations. It is accessible

to people with strollers and, with

assistance, individuals in wheelchairs.

Although rates to tour the cave are

subject to change, they range from $5

to $9 per person, with discounts available

for Golden Age or Golden Access

Passports. Discounts are also available

for groups of 10 or more when reservations

are made in advance. Call (888)

757-2246 between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30

p.m. (c.s.t.) for current rates. Guided

The visitor center is open from 9:30

a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is fully accessible.

RV campers will enjoy Blanchard

Campground, with 32 sites, and the

Gunner Pool Campground, with 27


Blanchard Springs Caverns and

recreation areas are located 15 miles

northwest of Mountain View, AR.

For information or tour reservations,


USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box

1279, Mountain View, AR 72560,

(870) 757-2211, or toll-free (888) 757-


For Web site information, visit




Heritage Sites: It’s About Time!


National forests are not just about natural

vistas and wonderful recreation

sites, they also shelter the stories of our

past. Ancient pueblos, ceremonial

kivas, totem poles, ancient villages,

obsidian quarries, ghost towns, gold

mines, Basque tree carvings, homesteads,

lookouts, and lighthouses are all

part of our historic landscape.

Uncovering their stories can be quite

an experience. The Forest Service

offers a number of ways to experience

this history, from staying in a historic

lookout or cabin, to volunteering to

help agency archaeologists, to visiting

sites and learning preservation skills

from the Forest Service staff of heritage






Heritage Expeditions are educational

tour programs about historic and prehistoric

sites on national forests. Some

even offer training courses designed to

teach traditional skills. Upcoming

Heritage Expeditions include a hiking

and camping trek along Oregon’s historic

Santiam Wagon Road;

Horsemanship & Packing clinics in

Montana; and a bus and hiking tour in

northern California, which takes you

by prehistoric rock art, stone tool quarries,

Indian battlefields, and Basque

Sheepherders’ carved tree art.

Want to learn how to stabilize historic

buildings? How about cooking in

a Dutch oven? Driving a team of

mules? It’s all waiting for you in

Heritage Expeditions! Fees vary according

to the type and length of the expedition.

A 1-day course on Dutch Oven

Cooking is $90, you get to take home

the cookbook and 10-inch dutch oven!

The 5-day hiking and camping trek

along the Santiam Wagon Road is


For more information about

Heritage Expeditions and current offerings,

call (530) 233-8730 or visit the

Web site:



Passport in



Passport in Time is a volunteer program

that invites the public to work

alongside Forest Service archaeologists

and share in the thrill of discovery

through archaeological and historical

research. It is better suited to the individual

traveler who wants a very

“hands on” educational vacation.

Adventurous Passport in Time volunteers

have helped stabilize ancient

cliff dwellings in New Mexico, excavate

a 10,000-year-old village site in

Minnesota, restore a historic lookout

tower in Oregon, clean vandalized rock

art in Colorado, survey for sites in the

rugged Montana wilderness, and excavate

a 19th-century Chinese mining

site in Hell’s Canyon, ID.

Because Passport in Time is a volunteer

program, there is no fee to participate.

The program now includes sites

on 117 national forests in 36 States.

Many projects involve backcountry

camping where volunteers are responsible

for their own food and gear. Others

offer, often for a small fee, meals prepared

by a “camp cook.” Volunteers

may stay at campsites where recreation

al vehicle hookups are provided or at

local hotels and travel to the site each

day. The projects vary in length from 2

days to 2 weeks or even longer. The

level of accessibility ranges from very

difficult to easy, depending on the

activity and location of the project.

The Passport in Time

Clearinghouse can answer questions

about accessibility or physical requirements

for any project. Just call (800)

281-9176 (voice, TTY) or (520) 722-

2716 (local Tucson number) or send an

e-mail to

To find out more about the program

and projects, check the Web site at

Projects are also announced in the PIT

Traveler, published in March and

September. The newsletter is free; just

contact the PIT Clearinghouse to

receive a copy or to be added to the

mailing list.