If Neilson had bothered to call Backpacker to fact-check his charges, he would have learned a different set of facts. First, our author had cleared the routes and campsites during several conversations with park officials, including two with Anita Varley, the only source Neilson cites in his column. (We later learned that one of the areas was closed to camping but not hiking, and we immediately informed readers.) Second, our story contains specific warnings about bears and thermal areas and more than a dozen references to "difficult route finding," "miles of bushwhacking," "thick grizzly habitat," and other hazards. Third, the very essence of backpacking is exploring remote places, and no other magazine does more to help readers do that safely than Backpacker.
We stand behind the service we provide to readers and behind our author, Steve Howe, a 20-year veteran of Western outdoor reporting. We’re saddened that HCN allowed this one-sided attack to sully his reputation and ours.