How to not be THAT tourist when visiting National Parks


Every year more than 318 million people visit our National Parks (NPS). What many call our nation’s “best idea”, National Parks have been treasured by Americans for over a century. Some might say we’re even loving them to death. 

I have spent the last 10 years living and working in multiple National Parks including Olympic, Glacier, and, most recently, Yosemite. As both a resident of and tourist to the Park’s, I have a unique perspective of the intersection between natural and human communities that call these special places home. Both your experience and the impact you have on the National Park(s) you chose to visit will be greatly improved if you avoid these 5 classic missteps.


  1. Driving like a Tourist

The chance to see a wild animal, especially from the safety of our cars, is a thrilling experience. And sometimes the beauty of a place can cause you to forget you’re driving at all. However, the temptation of stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture, swerving into oncoming traffic while your gaze stays on the “wild” deer, driving so slowly that the ground squirrels can keep up with you is not only a bother to the locals but is actually dangerous. We know it’s beautiful. We know it’s exciting. Just please pull over.  

Picture: An example of “tourist driving” (Washington Post)



2. Dismal Bathroom Etiquette

This misstep is the main reason that you cannot drink straight from a mountain stream without fear of giardia. It’s not the animal poop that will make us gut wrenchingly sick, it’s our own human feces. So please, PLEASE, bury that poop! The vast majority of people either choose not to or are uninformed of this critical Leave No Trace protocol. Also, pack out your toilet paper if you choose to use it. “Paper lilies,” as they are sometimes referred to, not only pollute the environment but are a major eye sore while hiking. 

Picture: The dreaded paper lilies (Pacific Trail Crest Association) 



3. FOMO (fear of missing out)

A large draw of our country’s remaining open, undeveloped spaces is the silence. Many seek to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with nature. If you are coming to the National Parks for “solitude” and “relaxation,” do not fall into the trap of FOMO. The hoards generally start hiking around 10:00 a.m. and all go to the same “can’t miss” trails. If you really want some solitude, start your hike either before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. and put in the effort to hike the longer trails.

Picture: Glacier’s famous Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at its worst (NPS)



4. Domesticating the Wildlife

Yes, they are cute– and their fur makes them seem so cuddly! But please, don’t be the person who feeds mountain goats skittles. Not only is human food unhealthy for wild animals, feeding wildlife can disrupt their natural foraging rhythms, causing them to starve in the winter months. Or worse, animals that become aggressive towards humans often have to be put down by Rangers. Resist the urge! Save a bear. 


Picture: The first director of the National Park Service, Steven Mather, feeding a bear in 1923 (PBS). We know better now. Read the “Night of the Grizzlies” if you still think feeding bears (or any other wildlife) is a good idea. 



5. Accidental Death

There is a 607 page book called “Death in Yosemite.” Do not make the book 608 pages! A major rising cause of accidental deaths in recent years is, you know it, the “selfie.” Though selfies appear innocent and safe, if you’re trying to get that –perfect– shot dangling over a 2,000 ft. waterfall luck may not always be on your side. The quest for extreme selfies killed 259 people between 2011 and 2017…don’t be the next selfie victim! (BBC)

Picture: Dumb Selfie (National Park Trips)





Author: Sara Edwards

Sources: Continue reading “How to not be THAT tourist when visiting National Parks”



“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

A Veterans guide to Surviving College

This guide on Veterans in College was created by Antonio Hendricks, a student at the University of Montana, Army Veteran, devoted father, coach, and of course “Student”.

Veterans and College:

9 times out of 10 you can spot the Veteran on a College Campus, or at least the newly inundated.  They are usually the ones in the Grunt Style or Art15 shirts, camouflage back packs, patches on something, and an attitude that says they are better than you. I know this doesn’t make for a bad person, but  automatically they are separated, a person apart from the norm, and screams that person is still fully ingrained in their past.  The truth being, most of us can relate to that person, why, because we were probably them in one fashion or another.

Don’t get me wrong, a person’s military service is most likely a large portion of who they are/were and I know for me it definitely is.  But, like all things there is  a time and place for everything.

So You’ve Decided to Go to School…Now What?


When I started day 1 I had a thought that continually went through my mind: What the hell am I doing here??  This was immediately followed by the subsequent ideas of: Why did I decide to go to college, What am I going to study, and most of all How do I accomplish this goal? All of which were finished with: WTF??

On a more serious note, the biggest fear I have heard from other students-veterans (including myself), is the insecurity of being in the same cohort as a bunch of 18 year old, fresh out of high school kids. Are you embarrassed or ashamed of what they might think of you being the “old person” in their class, probably assuming that you failed out before? We were all worried about this at some point.

I can’t even begin to describe the amount of times those thoughts went through my mind when I first started.  I though that I had a goal, I thought I had a path to follow, and I thought most of all that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

The facts were: I didn’t know anything!!

So I did what many do, I stumbled; and then I sought advice.  Advice from people who had been where I was and could hopefully provide me some level of guidance to get me on the right path.  Using these mentors, many whom were very similar to the ones I had in the military, I found a way to navigate this new obstacle.

So……what do we do to be successful???

The things I found that have allowed me to be successful are simple, and quite honestly the same ones that got me through my time in the military!

  1. Do the Work:  I can’t tell you how simple this is and yet so many people refuse to do it.  You will constantly see people that don’t do the work and then complain about why they aren’t successful.
  2.   Be Accountable: Just like the military taught us. Be at the right place, at              the right time, with the correct stuff and you’ll never be wrong. Don’t                 worry about the people coming in 15 minutes late or not at all.  It’s your   education not theirs.
  3.  Humanize Yourself: I cant tell you the amount of times that introducing myself to a professor has allowed me to separate myself from the pack.  Showing your Professor that you care enough to have them know your name (in a good way) can make or break a person in a class and maybe help you over that hump between passing and doing really well.
  4. Ask for Help: This one is probably the hardest for anyone and for me was the hardest to get good at.  If you don’t know something ask.  If you are unsure of something ask.  If you need help…..ASK!! Recognizing that we all need help sometimes, put down the pride, or the fear and ask those around you.  Chances are they know the answer or have the same questions you do and like anything there are strengths in numbers.


Final Thoughts:

Is college a struggle?  Yes.

Does it take a lot of work? Yes.

Can it be made easier? Yes.

Those four things are by no means all encompassing, and for me are merely just what helped to get me through and to the point where I am at now.

Should you take the advice, that is entirely up to you, but like anything there are things that make the journey harder or easier.

Moral of the story:  Apply yourself, do everything in your power to succeed and and leave as little as possible to chance.

College even this late can be an amazing experience if you allow it to be and like the military you have the opportunity to create memories that will remain with you forever.

At the end of the day, be proud that you won’t let fear stop you. Be proud that you are willing to face the stigmas and do something for your future. And god forbid, attempt to be a mentor or a friend to some of those young kids that probably feel just as lost as you.

Bullet Journaling 101

I picked up bullet journaling my freshman year of college as a way to keep all my assignments, test dates, and personal reminders together in one place. I pretty much immediately got sucked into a hundred Pinterest pages about all the things people use their bullet journals for and now, two years later, I’ve completely filled my 200-page bullet journal! What started out as a way to get my shit together turned into a creative outlet that allowed me to track my school schedule, person schedule, birthdays, books I want to read, movies I want to watch, and even my mood. My bullet journal is a planner that I am actually committed to keeping up with because not only does it have everything I need all in one place, but I also enjoy doing it. So, if you are looking to start a bullet journal, need some page ideas, or are just curious, here are a couple of my favorite pages:


  1. I start the year with a year in review:








  1. I start every month with a “cover page” that has the month name and a quick view calendar. Here are some of my favorite cover pages:

















  1. I then schedule out my weeks of the month. Here a couple pages that I like:















  1. To organize my school stuff I first draw out my schedule, then I write out all the assignments and class info:















  1. These are some random things that I also like to track or that just make me happy:










































  1. Finally, here are just some cute headers:













By: Zuzu Rudio

7 Reasons Why Butte is the Best City in Montana

When I proudly tell people I am from Butte, Montana, I find the typical response is a look of disgust with a quick and sarcastic apology. I have even had people tell me I should refrain from mentioning that. Butte is a unique town to say the least. 

Butte has an awful reputation that is commonly known across the Big Sky country. There are a lot of common misconceptions about my hometown and I am here to convince you otherwise. Butte is a city full of fascinating history and has a one of a kind story. These are my top 7 reasons Butte is the best town in Montana.

1.) Butte is full of firsts

Butte is the most historical city in Montana, by far. It was even one of the first cities west of the Mississippi River to get power! It was also one of the first mines to strike for a safe workplace and a union. Butte is one of the very few cities in the US with an open container laws, meaning you can walk around town with an open beer in your hand.

2.) The “Big M” mountain

The “Big M ” mountain is an extinct volcano located at the top of the city. In 1910, the engineering students of the Montana School of Mines built a 67 feet tall and 75 feet wide letter M on the southeast slope of Big Butte. This ‘M’ is lit up by 150 lightbulbs at night. And on a night any sports team from Tech wins, the ‘M’ flashes in a “V’ for victory all night.


3.) St. Partick’s Day

Butte has the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States per capita. From a 57 float entry parade to drinking green beer, Butte knows how to celebrate. It is so huge and widely known that you can watch a 24 hour live stream online of the festivities!


4.) Oldest Chinese-American Restaurant in the US 

Butte has the oldest Chinese-American restaurant in America. Yes, you read that right, in Butte, Montana The Pekin Noodle Parlor is the oldest Chinese-American restaurant in the US currently running. This restaurant made its debut in 1911 and had been a tight family run business since.


5.) Butte is the Richest Hill on Earth

Butte gained its nickname “The Richest Hill on Earth” thanks to its mining of gold, silver, and copper. Mining has always been huge for this town. During WWI, the bullets used were composed of copper, meaning that Butte supplied the copper for ⅓ of the bullets used as well ⅓ of the copper supplied in the United States.


6.) Evel Knievel 

Butte is home to the famous Evel Knievel. Evel Knievel is a professional daredevil and stunt man. During his career, it is estimated that Knievel had suffered more than 433 bone fractures, earning an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime”. He has since been buried in Butte. 

7.) The Lady of the Rockies 

Now this is a tear jerking story. The statue was the brainchild of Bob O’Bill who promised the Virgin Mary he would build a statue if his wife recovered from the cancer from which she was suffering. His wife recovered and O’Bill, with the help of many in the city of Butte, began building Our Lady of the Rockies in 1979. With the help of 70 volunteers, the third largest statue in America was erected. This statue can be seen from anywhere in Butte and it is lit all night!