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State Parks Get Hit in Budgets

201003-b-mtdiablostatepark5jpgUSA Today |  An Arizona road that once led to the ruins of the ancient Hopi Native American civilization now dead-ends at a shut gate.

"Due to budget reductions," a sign reads, "park closed." [....]

Homolovi Ruins officially closed Feb. 22, victim of a state budget deficit that led Arizona lawmakers to cut parks funding last year by 61%.

Homolovi is part of the first in a wave of closures that by June are planned to padlock 21 of the state's 30 parks, leaving people far fewer places to explore the history and beauty of Arizona.

Arizona is one of many states struggling to balance recreational values and budget crises: Lawmakers in at least a dozen states have contemplated the closure of up to 400 state parks this year, according to a National Association of State Park Directors survey, says Philip McKnelly, the association's executive director.

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Photo courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews


Just Back: Park City, Utah

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Utah and its frontiers for skiing and snowboarding have long been on my list for exploration, and my recent trip there did not disappoint. In fact, I was amazed at how easy it was to get there (a non-stop from JFK to SLC on Delta plus 35 minutes in my Enterprise rental car from the airport to Park City—with no harrowing mountain pass requiring tire chains). And it was so much fun (9,026 acres of skiing; hundreds of hotels to choose from, sunny skies, and, since 2009, no more “membership” necessary to enter a bar and buy a drink). One local told me he always felt like Park City was the redheaded stepchild of the U.S. ski areas, but I think it is soon to be (if not already) one of the favorites.

Favorite Runs:
Apex and Spider Monkey, The Canyons (lift ticket $85 a day)—trails here are generally fairly narrow, which made me feel immersed in nature, much like when I hike. Apex varies intermediate and advanced tilt down a thrilling ridge, and Spider Monkey bops beneath a cathedral of tall pines.

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Luge Yourself on a Mountainside

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The news of the accidental death of a member of the Georgian luge team before the Olympics has made each competitive run down the icy track in British Columbia more difficult to watch. And yet the sight of the riders whizzing past, banking up curves, and rocketing down chutes, continues to thrill.

If fear of your own mortality and the prevalence of rainbow-colored Lycra get-ups hasn’t dampened your chronic need for speed, test your mettle with an icy joyride down one of the four combined tracks for bobsled, luge, and skeleton in the U.S.

+ Olympic Center, Lake Placid, New York: Plonk down $75 at the track built for the 1980 Winter Olympics, wedge yourself into a bobsled between a professional driver and a brakeman and shriek the half-mile length of iced track. For a mere $60, you can go it alone on a tiny skeleton sled, face-down and teeth rattling, your chin bouncing a heart-stopping few inches above the ice.

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Hundreds of Earthquakes Rattling Yellowstone

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New York Times
|  DENVER — In the last two weeks, more than 100 mostly tiny earthquakes a day, on average, have rattled a remote area of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, putting scientists who monitor the park’s strange and volatile geology on alert.

Researchers say that for now, the earthquake cluster, or swarm—the second-largest ever recorded in the park—is more a cause for curiosity than alarm. The quake zone, about 10 miles northwest of the Old Faithful geyser, has shown little indication, they said, of building toward a larger event, like a volcanic eruption of the type that last ravaged the Yellowstone region tens of thousands of years ago.

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The Best-Travel-Jacket Wars (Cont.)

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That’s me and Harley, just back from a stroll around Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’m wearing the Rebound jacket from Nau, which I plan on taking everywhere I go because it’s the best travel jacket I’ve ever worn. The main reason it’s so great? Packablity.

With all due respect to T+L's International Editor Mark Orwoll and his Quantum Jacket from ScotteVest, I have found the best travel jacket for me: the Rebound by Nau.

Nau, a sustainable urban and outdoor apparel brand based in Portland, Oregon seems to be on the path to fulfilling of one of my life-long desires. I have always wanted a jacket made of a material no thicker than a quarter inch that changes its insulation factor depending on whether it is 62 degrees or minus two (space-age dream, I know, but someone will do it).

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Cool (Creepy) Find: Abandoned Catskills Hotel

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Earlier this year, a friend stumbled upon a set of photos of the derelict Overlook Mountain House outside of Woodstock in New York's Catskill Mountains. When TravelandLeisure.com published the World's Eeriest Abandoned Places last month, I was reminded of my desire to explore these ruins. So on a recent weekend getaway to the nearby town of Saugerties, a short two-hour drive north of New York City, I insisted we find the abandoned hotel, which in its prime hosted such esteemed guests as President Ulysses S. Grant, as described in a New York Times article from 1873.

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Grand New Park Planned for New York City

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Though I haven’t seen any solid poll numbers, I’d wager that the vast majority of New Yorkers have never been to Roosevelt Island. Let alone the vast majority of tourists visiting the city. This spit of land, snugly situated in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, is probably best known as the backdrop of a climactic battle in the first Spider-Man movie, with the webbed wonder striving to rescue commuters trapped in the Roosevelt Island tram (Spidey and the Green Goblin also do battle in the island’s abandoned smallpox hospital).

But those who don’t live on the island (or don’t travel to play tennis on the nice indoor courts there) will soon have a very good reason to make the trek. Plans are moving ahead to build Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the island’s southern tip (currently off-limits to the public), adding a dramatic new public space to the city.

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Rebecca Rusch’s Top 5 Spots for Mountain Biking

200910-b-bike-1jpg Endurance athlete and mountain biking champ Rebecca Rusch was in New York City last week, greeting fans at the special showing of Race Across the Sky, a documentary film about the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, in Colorado.

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Brave or Crazy? Swimming in The Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls

If you ask any of my closest friends, they'll tell you that, while I may be a spontaneous, even adventurous, person, I'm not much of an extreme thrill seeker. You won't catch me on any of the frightening rides we reported on last summer. Think you can convince me to jump out of a plane? Not a chance. And tethering myself to a bridge and hurtling myself off? You can't be serious.

That being said, I'm a little shocked by my intense fascination with a certain natural attraction: "The Devil's Pool" in Zambia. You can't even begin to fathom the magnitude of scariness/awesomeness that comes from this naturally formed pool of water. Enter YouTube:

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Gay Ski Weeks Inspire Pride On the Slopes

200910-b-gayskiweekjpg If you happen to be in Aspen, Whistler, or Mammoth Lakes this winter, you may notice some well-dressed skiers around. For a week during the season in each of these ski towns, thousands of gay (and gay-friendly) skiers will converge for camaraderie, fabulous après-ski, and even the occasional drag show on the slopes (you know who you are, Aspen). It’s a little early to be thinking about skiing, but interested parties should book now—space goes faster than front-row Cher tickets.

Aspen Gay Ski Week
For 33 years, gays and lesbians have been heading to Aspen for this event. Highlights: an opening party, complete with a fashion show, a film series, comedy night, drag show on the slopes. Oh, and world-class skiing and snowboarding. January 17-24, 2010

Winter Pride in Whistler, British Columbia
Come here for the Winter Olympics, stay for the gays. The 18-year-old event immediately follows the Olympics and attracts almost 3,000 visitors every year. Guests have access to free ski and snowboarding guides, cooking and yoga classes, as well as martini mixers, and—of course—huge dance parties. March 1-8, 2010

Elevation Mammoth in Mammoth, California
A large L.A. contingent has headed here since 2003 for a low-key week at a very high elevation (over 11,000 feet). The event’s mission statement sums it up: “2,000 riders. 7 major parties. 0 attitude.” March 17-21, 2010


Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.



Photo courtesy of GayWhistler.com, Andy Dittrich

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