I guess I'm just bewildered by the inaccurate and flippant tone of the article.
For example:My curiosity had been piqued by a trip through Wisconsin Dells, a glacially carved river valley that has the world’s largest concentration of water parks (complete with the requisite fudge shops, tchotchke shops and miniature golf courses). Before that trip, my top nominee would have been Natural Bridge in Virginia, which has featured the seasonal sound-and-light show, “Drama of Creation,” since 1927. Today, the site can be rented for a conference or a wedding.
One would think Ms. Rossbacher is describing the Dells of the Wisconsin Dells- but she is not. She is describing the town of Wisconsin Dells, a town, formerly known as Kilbourn, that is a craptastic tourist craphole- but fails to point out that the actual Dells of the Wisconsin River are north and south of the town, and are, almost entirely, contained within a Wisconsin State Natural Area that is closed to human entry. Not exactly commercialized.
The Ducks and tour boats that allow visitors to see the features in the Dells? Since the river is a navigable waterway, there's nothing to be done about that.
She includes this quote about the Grand Canyon-Bruce Johnson (a retired federal employee) says the “First place that comes to mind for me is the Grand Canyon, particularly the south rim, ugh! What with the burros, the helicopters, and the inn at the bottom, I think they have done a pretty good job [of commercialization] for a place that's essentially difficult to access.”
The helicopters? I'm sure that GCNP management finds them to be every bit as annoying as Mr. Johnson, and would very much like them to disappear- but so long as the FAA allows them to fly over the canyon, they'll fly over the canyons; the FAA is in charge of the airspace above a certain elevation, not NPS-http://www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/a ... chrono.htm
The burros? They've been bringing people in and out of the canyon for at least as long as I'd wager Mr. Johnson's family's DNA has been on this continent. They are useful for bringing goods to not only Grand Canyon Village, but to the Native American communities in the bottom of the Canyon. And they're probably also very useful for hauling the corpses of 20-something yo dude! frat-bros who think they can hike to the bottom of the canyon and back up in a day. The lodge in Grand Canyon Village? Grand Canyon Village predates the park, so if Mr. Johnson would like wander into the hornet's nest of land takings and historic structure regulations, he's free to do so- but I do not.
My take is- these places- Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon- as they are formally managed, are not commercialized, but that outside forces drive and manage anything that can be correctly defined as commercial. As to Mammoth Cave? 2016 marks the 200th anniversary
of guided tours in the cave. There's more than a century of "commercialization" at Mammoth Cave before it even became a National Park. And yet, the last time I set foot in this "commercialized" cave, we rigged a rope and dropped a pit no human being had visited before, and surveyed- until we were too chilled to continue- a drain leading off of the dome that goes on, and on, and on.... and is not very commercial.