Tag Archives: Yosemite National Park

National Park Concessionaires seek to Shake Things Up (with apologies to Taylor Swift)

I think there may have been a recent bout of collective insanity washing across the States. What else could explain Taylor Swift, Delaware North and Xanterra filing trademark for common terms?

Delaware North has operated the concessions in Yosemite for the last 20 years or so. They are seeking trademark protections for the iconic Ahwahnee lodge and Camp Curry Village.  When the concession goes out to bid, they want the next concessionaire to pay them handsomely for the names that predate their operation by decades. Perhaps Delaware North should pay any remaining descendants of the tribes who lived in the area for their use of the name for the past 20 years — it is derived from their name for the valley, “Owwoni” or “large mouth — after all.

Not to be outdone, Xanterra who operates El Tovar at the Grand Canyon is now in one the act too. They are seeking trademark protection for El Tovar, Bright Angel and Phantom Ranch. There claim is at least based upon their operating the lodges for most of the past century.  Presumably, their claims are being filed largely because today’s lawyers see gaps in contracts written decades ago.

And to top it off, Taylor Swift is seeking to trademark such common terms as “1989” and “I Am an American Citizen.”  Will I have to put a penny in a jar every time I tell someone, no despite my British accent, “I Am an American Citizen?”

While the Taylor Swift push is a side-show, the push by the concessionaires to claim these trademarks disturbs me.  They are being allowed to operate with public parks as they offer a valuable service to the visiting public. It would be a loss to the public if these storied names went away because of a legal spat designed to increase their chances of retaining a lucrative concession.  Rather than take a short-term view, driven by clever attorneys, why not take a long-term view more in-keeping with the park ethic. Even if they lose the concession for a period, they will be better off in the long-term if these names and brands are maintained and strengthened. To me it’s clear that  regardless of what the lawyers may say, these names belong to the public as much as the parks they are allowed to operate in do.

Embed from Getty Images

National parks shut down — where should I go?

NPS closed for business
NPS closed for business

So the Federal Government has shut down as the lawmakers continue their spat.  And with it the doors have been shut on your National Parks. By some estimates, 715,000 people would have visited the parks every day during October. If you live here, you can always wait it out. But if you’re here on vacation, what should you do?

Fortunately here in California we have a wonderful state park system and if you’re here to see the redwoods and giant sequoia in the National Parks you have some great options.

Muir Woods National Monument is closed — consider heading a little further north to Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Or for a real treat, head south to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It’s the oldest park in the state park system and home to the tallest tree south of Humboldt County!

Yosemite National Park is closed — it’s tough to find a stand-in for the valley or the vast backcountry wilderness, but if you came to see the Giant Sequoia groves you are in luck.  A little further north is Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This jewell of a park has two incredible sequoia groves. Not only will you see some amazing forest giants, but you’ll get to stand on the Discovery stump and learn how the destruction of the tree spurred the movement to save the redwoods.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is closed — while nothing compares to walking the trails in Giant Forest, you could always head north to Calaveras Big Trees. Closer to the park is Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest with ancient sequoia, rock art, and a host of other significant cultural resources it’s well worth a visit.

Redwood National Park is closed — this one is complex. Given it’s partnership with the state park system, although the National Park is closed,  many of the best trails are actually in the state park much of it is likely still open. And fall is a wonderful time of year to get into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. For me, nothing beats Prairie Creek Redwoods — a rich, verdant forest, wild coast and of course the iconic elk.

Towering Redwoods in Redwood National and State Parks
Towering Redwoods in Redwood National and State Parks