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Several Deaths in National Parks During Government Shutdown

Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park. Walter Siegmund photo.

In a departure from previous practice, Trump administration officials have decided to leave many pieces of public land open to visitors during the government shutdown. Since Dec. 21st, the day on which many federal employees were furloughed, a total of seven people have died in national parks. 

Related: The Federal Government Shutdown Hasn't Been Great for Public Lands

Parks Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum said in an interview that four of those deaths are believed to be suicides, with the other three being accidental.  The shutdown has delayed full investigations of the deaths, so information about the events is limited.  

Horseshoe Bend Overlook in Glen Canyon Recreation Area. Paxson Woelber photo.

On December 24th, a 14-year-old girl fell 700 feet at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona. The following day, a man visiting Yosemite died falling into a river after sustaining a head injury near Nevada Fall. On the 27th, a woman was killed by a falling tree in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

With no employees to collect entry fees or enforce visitation limits, visitors have been flooding into the parks. In many popular areas high visitation combined with low staffing has led to seriously deteriorating conditions, a prime example being the accumulation of human and material waste reported in Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Death Valley, and Joshua Tree National Parks.

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Historic Mile-Wide Avalanche Near Aspen, CO
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Historic Mile-Wide Avalanche Near Aspen, CO

Historic Mile-Wide Avalanche Near Aspen, CO

The slide connected multiple paths and took out "hundreds if not thousands of trees." Colorado Avalanche Information Center photo and quote. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reporting that a massive slide in the mountains outside Aspen released naturally on Saturday, March 9.  The avalanche's crown was around a mile wide and ran over 3000 feet, damaging an unoccupied home in the valley below.  Related: Colorado's Red Mountain Pass to Close Indefinitely Because of Avalanches

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First Grizzly of 2019 Spotted in Yellowstone
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First Grizzly of 2019 Spotted in Yellowstone

First Grizzly of 2019 Spotted in Yellowstone

Now avalanches aren’t the only thing you need to consider when heading to the backcountry, add grizzly bears to that list. Despite an incredible winter, with the most snowfall we’ve ever seen in Jackson during the month of February alone, bears are out and ready to eat. According to Buckrail, the first grizzly of 2019 was spotted on March 8th between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, Grizzly tracks were found between Mammoth Hot Springs and

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Video: Big Sky Offering Guided Headlamp-Skiing
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Video: Big Sky Offering Guided Headlamp-Skiing

Video: Big Sky Offering Guided Headlamp-Skiing

Many ski areas offer night-skiing under floodlights, but how many offer private night-skiing tours using headlamps? As far as we know, Big Sky is the only area in North America with such a program. Groups of seven plus a guide are equipped with 2,100 lumen headlamps and sent up the new Ramcharger 8-pack chairlift for two hours of serene skiing under the stars.  Related: Copper Announces New Experts-Only Lift It's pretty affordable in the grand scheme of guided skiing as well, costing