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Your Invited: Join the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY for their Annual Maple Season Weekend

Start to Thaw Out in the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York with the Annual Maple Season Weekend: March 25th-26th, 2017.

Cattaraugus County has many tree-lined hills covered with Maple Trees. This makes March and April one of most favorite times of year! Why you ask? Maple Season! Time for some sweet syrupy goodness! With all these beautiful Maple trees around, you can bet that we have some of the best tasting Maple syrup around and Maple Farms that range from family size to full on, year ’round productions! All of New York State shares in this splendid time of year when the world around us starts to thaw out and the sap start to flow! Come and take a tour to one of the participating Farms, try samples, join in fun activities or just purchase some of this liquid goodness! So how does warming up with a hot pile of pancakes sound to ease the cold of winter?

Maple Season-woods-tractor-ride

Maple Season time means a tour ride into the woods with this fancy tractor ride! Image: enchantedmountains.com

March is Maple Season and it marks the beginning of a season of tradition, where local Maple Farms begin to tap the trees in hopes of some sweet sap flowing down into their buckets. The time period between winter and spring is best for collection, with temperatures around 40 degrees being ideal. Nowadays, trees are tapped with cordless drills and small plastic spouts are placed to run the sap into a hanging bucket. But technology is ever changing the ways people do anything, and has exploded into this process as well. Some Maple Farms have intricate webs of tubing, going straight from the tree to the tank, with vacuums to draw out that delicious sap. Each Farm uses the same basic idea to get the sap but have different techniques and processing systems to bring syrup to your table.

Image: enchantedmountains.com

During the weekend of March 25-26, from 10 am-4 pm each day, some of our Maple Farms open their Sugarhouses, set out the samples and invite all to share their love of one of the sweetest products Mother Nature produces. This activity is great for families and is kid friendly, running from 10 am-4 pm each day. So lose those Winter Blues by heading outdoors, learning about your surroundings and thaw out with Maple Weekends!

Here's a fun alternative -- a wagon ride to the Sugar Shack

Here’s a fun alternative — a wagon ride to the Sugar Shack. Image: enchantedmountains.com

Sprague’s Maple Farm in Portville will offer wagon rides to their authentic old-fashioned Sugar Shack where they have delicious samples waiting for you to try! Have you ever tasted Maple Wine? Learn a little about the various grades of syrup, sample the different ranges, eat a maple donut or just stand next to evaporator and take in the smell of boiling sap. You will be sniffing your coat the rest of the week! Starting out as a hobby over 30 years ago, this huge farm now boasts a Restaurant serving all your maple favorites as well as free range turkey dinners. Maple is used in most every dish that is served making anything you order sweet and savory!

American Maple Museum

American Maple Museum [Image: enchantedmountains.com]

Visit Wright Farms in Farmersville to see how they are able to manage 8000 taps. Five generations of Wright’s have worked to maintain the tradition of producing maple syrup and maple products on the farm since 1840. In fact, one of those generations was inducted into the American Maple Museum’s Hall of Fame in 1978 for his contributions to the maple industry. Besides syrup, they make Maple Cream, which can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, French toast, hot cereal, fresh fruit, ice cream and more!

Stop by Boberg’s Maple in Delevan, known for their Maple Cream, for a tasty treat! Their process is more traditional with older equipment adding to the charm of the Farm. Warm up to this family owned and operated business. Samples are available.

The Pancake House at Moore’s in Freedom still serves up “all you can eat” pancakes from January to mid April, and their unique restaurant is filled with a selection of antiques, including a washing machine, sleds, tools, chinaware, knickknacks and other memorabilia. This year they are offering wagon rides to the Sugar Shack, samples and fun! Discover why you will be traveling back to this Pancake House over and over again throughout the season!

Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda, about 40 miles south of Buffalo, recently remodeled their Sugarhouse. You can come in during Maple Season Weekends and see the evaporator at work, sample some goodies, and learn about their farm that started out 20 years ago and now takes care of over 4,000 taps! In the past they have had horse drawn wagon rides, tours and demonstrations as well as other food you can buy! See what surprises they have for you this year.

Whatever Farm you decide to go to, admission is FREE and all are more than happy to welcome you to their Sugar House with a sweet warm aroma of maple syrup being heated. Each Farm takes pride in their product and is happy to be doing what they are. Come to Cattaraugus County and embrace our agricultural side…. your stomach will thank you!  

Is one weekend not enough? Then keep a heads up and mark it on your calendar for the Franklinville’s WNY Maple Festival April 29-30. Two days of pancake eating, craft items, a parade, and live demonstrations. Read more about these events or places on our website: www.EnchantedMountains.com or get more information by calling 1-800-331-0543 or emailing info@enchantedmountains.com.  

 

Winter Camping and Outdoor Recreation at ‘Base Camp Oswego County’ Feb. 25

WILLIAMSTOWN –Outdoor enthusiasts can learn winter survival skills and the basics of winter camping while exploring the grounds of Camp Zerbe at the second annual Base Camp Oswego County, a winter outdoor expo, Saturday, Feb. 25.

The event is sponsored by Pinnacle Builders USA Inc., Oswego Expeditions, the Oswego County Search and Rescue Team, Oswego County Division of Parks and Recreation, Oswego County Tourism Office, and several volunteers who are experienced in outdoor recreation.

Workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. inside the lodge and on the grounds of the Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe, 253 State Route 104 East in the town of Williamstown.

Outdoor winter camping on the grounds of Camp Zerbe near Williamstown.

OUTDOOR WINTER CAMPING ADVENTURE – The second annual Base Camp Oswego County will take place Saturday, Feb. 25, on the grounds of Camp Zerbe near Williamstown. A variety of field trips and workshops will be held during the day, with optional overnight camping. For event information visit www.facebook.com/BaseCampOswego or call Oswego Expeditions at 315-561-0223. (Photo by Mary Ellen Barbeau.)

“The purpose of Base Camp Oswego County is to introduce people to the basics of winter camping and Oswego County’s great resources for outdoor recreation,” said event chairman and County Legislator Jake Mulcahey of Oswego.   “We have a full day of field trips and workshops scheduled. Overnight camping will be available Saturday night, Feb. 25, for those who bring their own winter camping gear and register in advance. This year we’ll have designated areas for family camping and adult only sites.”

Workshop topics include cross-country ski and snowshoe hikes, snow shelter building, winter survival skills, GPS and orienteering, working with sled dogs and skijoring, camp cooking techniques , fat bikes, and ice fishing. Admission to the workshops is free. There is a $10 registration fee per tent for overnight camping.

Food vendors will be on site during the day. Participants should dress for the weather and bring their own sleds, skis and snowshoes if they have them. A limited number of snowshoes will be available for loan.

Overnight camping will be available for those who pre-register and bring their own winter camping gear. To register, call Oswego Expeditions at 315-561-0223 or visit http://bit.ly/2kb8TJr

Two clinics will be held prior to the event for first-time winter campers. Jake Mulcahey and Barb Hartman will conduct “Introduction to Winter Camping” clinics at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Mexico Public Library, 3269 Main St., Mexico; and Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. at Murdock’s Bicycles and Sports, 177 W. First St., Oswego. Those planning to camp overnight should bring all of their own gear and food for Saturday night dinner and Sunday morning breakfast. Overnight campers will be asked to register and sign an insurance waiver.

The Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe is owned by Oswego County and overseen by the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Division of Parks and Recreation. Any proceeds from the event will be donated to the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau for youth recreation programming.

For information, visit www.facebook.com/BaseCampOswego or call Oswego Expeditions at 315-561-0223.

2017 NYS Winter Classic Fishing Tournament Continues through February

NYS Winter Fishing Tournament Continues through February

OSWEGO COUNTY – The 2017 NYS Winter Classic Fishing Tournament is considered the largest winter fishing tournament ever conducted in NY state, the NYS Winter Classic Fishing Tournament continues through the end of February. The event features seven categories of fish to target, a catch-and-release event for trout and pike, 58 weigh-in locations, and a prize structure that tops $80,000 in sponsored cash and prizes from over 50 sponsors making this event one of the most sponsored tournaments in the country.

Anglers fishing in the tournament can visit three local businesses — All Seasons Sports and Salmon River Sports Shop in Pulaski, and App’s Bait and Tackle in Cleveland — to weigh in their catches.

Angler catches a steelhead fish at a tournament

Anglers fishing Oswego County waters can enter their catches for the New York State Winter Classic at three Oswego County tackle shops: All Season Sports and Salmon River Sports in Pulaski, and App’s Bait and Tackle in Cleveland. Pictured holding a steelhead he released back into the Oswego River is Tommy Quinzi. Photo courtesy of Capt. Kevin Davis, Catch the Drift Guide Service

“This will be the third year for this statewide event and it continues to grow with more anglers getting involved and larger prizes to the winners,” said tournament organizer Tim Thomas. “The event allows anglers to fish any waterway in NY state, any time between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, using any legal angling method, to target seven categories of fish. ”

Live leaderboards on the website keep anglers updated in near real-time throughout the event for both the main event and weekly awards. This year’s event features two large prizes: a $2,500 cash grand prize sponsored by Clam Outdoors (to be given to one of the first place finishing anglers by random draw) and a Case canoe with graphics wrap and fishing accessories for the overall largest fish entered.

Additional prizes include weekly, monthly, and overall prize packages, product specific awards, female angler awards, species specific awards including a $1,500 stainless steel artistic steelhead mount by world-renown artist Steve Nielsen, door prizes, and angler achievement awards for catching fish of substantial size.

Registered anglers will also have a chance at 58 shanties being given away in raffles – every weigh-in location has one to give away. Anglers can gain entries either by registering for the event or bringing fish in to the stations during the event (one entry per angler per day per location per fish). Registration is $25/angler ($35/angler with the optional lunker pool) and anglers can register at most weigh-in locations or online at www.nyswinterclassic.com.

“The New York State Ice Pro-Am Corporation in association with Finders Keepers Sportfishing continues to strive to offer exposure for the New York State fishery through their tournament events and sponsor connections to promote the industry and encourage tourism,” said Thomas. ” These tournament events have been very successful at offering new product companies and tackle shops exposure to turn profits.”

For more tournament information, contact Thomas at (585) 330-0494 or email info@FKsportfishing.com or visit www.NYSwinterclassic.com.

For Oswego County fishing conditions and visitor information go to www.visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN.

Explore Winter Wonderland at Cattaraugus County in The Enchanted Mountains

Explore the Winter Wonderlands at Cattaraugus County in the Enchanted Mountains

Contributed by: Cattaraugus County

Western New York Winter is upon us in The Enchanted Mountains! Here in Cattaraugus County, one day we could be shoveling out two feet of snow and the next dodging raindrops! Never fret, whether you choose to explore the Winter Wonderlands of our Natural areas or prefer to celebrate the season by visiting our splendid indoor museums, galleries and theatre performances, you are sure to celebrate all of Winter, not just the holidays. Come and enjoy these fun winter activities with the whole family, you’ll be glad you did!

Snowmobile season is in full effect! [Image: enchantedmountains.com]

Trails and Lodging 

When the snow comes down all fluffy and fast, you can be sure that is the best time to ride a snowmobile. Cascade over the freshly fallen snow laying peacefully on the fields or slow down in our forested areas to look up and glance at the snow-lined trees. We have over 450 miles of trails, including those in Allegany State Park. With all those miles and trails that connect into the next County, you will need at least a couple days to pack in all the fun! We have numerous lodgings with easy trail access including cabins in Allegany State Park, Harwood Haven, Mystic Water Resort and The Woods at Bear Creek! Plus plenty of B&B’s, house rentals and more! Call 1-800-331-0543 for your Free Trail Map and brochure which lists these places and more, plus restaurants, snowmobile rentals , snowmobile service stops and gas stations along the trail!

Here is just one example of the day of fun that awaits you this winter!

Stay at The Inn at One Bank Street in Randolph, which has restaurants and gas within a half of a block from your guest room. Walk over to Vern’s Place in the morning for an affordable, delicious meal to give you the energy to be out in the cold all day. Head back to the room, gear up and take your sled over to Arrowmart to gas up before you go, again just a half block away! Now you’re ready for an adventure – but don’t forget your trail map! It is very important to respect the landowners that allow the trails to go over their property. And remember, just because you see a trail doesn’t mean it is for your use! It is your responsibility to know the trails and stick to them!

How about heading up to Little Valley, then over through the back hills of Ellicottville through the McCarty Hill Forest then over to the quaint town of Franklinville. Check out the Woods at Bear Creek for dinner and to warm up. The Woods at Bear Creek offers a view of the pristine snow over their lake that can be seen from the restaurant! Once you’re warmed up, head south through Ischua and down through Portville. If you didn’t grab a bite to eat at The Woods at Bear Creek, then give Sprague’s Maple Farms a try! Almost everything on the menu has maple syrup in it! There are gas opportunities here too at Kwik Fill and the Halfway Inn Bar & Grill. Make your back to Randolph through Allegany State Park to start scoping out a location for next year’s snowmobile vacation.

Love winter but prefer the indoors?

Why not ease into it with ice-skating at the William O Smith Rec. Center in Olean. This is the perfect compromise. You get to enjoy a great winter sport, but can step off the ice to warm up at any time. Plus, what makes a better date night than ice-skating? (Hint, hint) Afterwards, take that special someone out to a lovely dinner at any of the new restaurants in Olean. Try Woodside Tavern on the Range on River Road for a beautiful setting, or the hip new Ravyn & Robyn Lounge, featuring fine Italian Cuisine made from scratch! There’s always the tried and true favorites as well – The Beef N Barrel, Brothers Bistro, El Mariachi and Angee’s! Recount the funny happenings of ice-skating while you dine together and enjoy the slower pace of winter.

Historial Museum exhibit fat Cattaraugus County New York

Cattaraugus County Historical Museum  [Image: Cattaraugus County]

Can’t stand the thought of cold weather?

Well, we recommend you make your way into one of our outstanding museums, galleries or theatrical performances to keep you warm. We have 26 museums in the County that can be viewed in our Heritage Brochure (free if requested as well). These have a variety of interests including Town and Village histories, History of the County, Seneca Nation Culture, themes relating to African American History and the Underground Railroad and one even has a Mammoth! The Regina A Quick Center is located on the campus of St. Bonaventure University and has stunning and important works of art from their collection and others. There are also live performances here from renowned musicians thanks to the group “Friends of Good Music”.

The theatre is alive and well and as you know the saying goes, “The Show Must Go On”. And that means in the winter as well. Spend a delightful evening inside dreaming of other lives lived and hearing the great stories and musicals put on by our fantastic local talent. Olean Community Theatre will be starting their 38th season in 2017 and will feature “The Big Meal” “Assassins” and “9 to 5”. The Olean Theatre Workshop has provided family theater for over 34 years and upcoming performances of The Odd Couple will debut in Feb. The Ray Evans Seneca Theatre is the host to the Cattaraugus County Living Arts Association’s performances. “Hair” will be gracing the stage here in February and is sure to be the talk of the town for the months surrounding. This one is not to be missed!

Actors play a scene from the play Arsenic and Old Lace at the Olean Community Theatre in The Enchanted Mountains

Olean Community Theatre, Arsenic and Old Lace Play  [Image: Cattaraugus County]

So whatever you’re idea of winter is, a time to enjoy crisp cool air and fluffy snow or a time to slow down, relax and find special moments indoors, then The Enchanted Mountains of Western NY are where you need to be! Visit us online at EnchantedMountains.com, call us at 1-800-331-0543 or follow us on Facebook!

A Visit to Milltown State Park

Back in November we talked about Milltown State Park in Missoula, Montana, and how a state park is made. A short while ago, we paid a visit to Milltown to see how it is shaping up.

Good sky!

Seems fair to say that, though still not fully open, the park and its overlook certainly have merit.

During this visit on a resplendent June weekday, there were relatively few others at the park, and most of those were Montana Conservation Corps workers who were focused on a project off the paved overlook walkway. The overlook is the focal point of the park’s facilities, and it’s no small wonder why.

Good day for readin' outside.

The view of some of the mountains visible at the park foregrounded by interpretive materials and the railing that lines the Milltown State Park Overlook.

The park’s interpretive material details the history of the river confluence and the people who depended on its waters. It also elaborates on the building of the Milltown Dam in 1908, as well as the massive flood that buried heavy metals, arsenic, and other mining waste at the base of the dam, months after it was constructed. Some of the best information details the incredible effort it took to remove the dam and poisonous sediments, and restore the confluence to the Place of Big Bull Trout, as it is traditionally known to the Salish, who fished the confluence long before pioneers and businessmen settled and dammed it up.

A gorgeous, sunny day for river viewing.

The main overlook showcases the open, sweeping grandeur of the restored confluence of the Clark Fork River.

In addition to the overlook, there is a two-table picnic area and trails that amble into the wooded hills that frame the confluence. In all, the views from the overlook are expansive; the views from the trail are in touch with the quiet wooded parts of western Montana, shaded by large and often young conifers. The trail extends about two miles down, and deeper into the park toward the river.

Dirt path through pines!

The unpaved trail extends through the trees and down toward the river. It shoots cleanly off the paved pathway to the overlook.

Milltown State Park, though still building toward its total fruition, is a marvel of modern habitat and environmental rehabilitation. Through the hard work and perseverance of park staff, community members and organizations, volunteers, and local tribal leadership in the face of local, state and federal-level hurdles, the confluence has become a wonderful vista, well worth the jot from Interstate 90. Milltown is not just beautiful and improving all the time, but represents wholesomeness achievable to all of us, if we endeavor for the good of future generations, and the health of our natural resources.

Speaking of natural resources, there’s no time like the present to get out and enjoy them! Pocket Ranger® mobile apps make trip planning easy, and app features make exploring the parks you visit a delight.

Best Movies About the Great Outdoors

We’re almost reaching the end of the summer. It’s one of the best times of the year to enjoy the outdoors while also preparing for the coming colder months. What better way is there to relax and also be reminded of the beauty of nature then to kick back with some of these classic movies about the great outdoors? Here’s our pick of the best movies about the wilderness, complete with the good, the bad, and the ugly:

Walkabout, 1971

Image Credit: https://www.lewiswaynegallery.com/walkabout-1971-lobby-cards-7-jenny-agutter-p-11755.html

Image Credit: https://www.lewiswaynegallery.com/walkabout-1971-lobby-cards-7-jenny-agutter-p-11755.html

Walkabout contrasts mainstream, air-conditioned Australian society with the isolation and beauty of the Australian outback. Well-known and popular in Australia, the movie tells the story of a teenage schoolgirl and her brother stranded in the wilderness and then meeting an Aboriginal boy. The unlikely trio soon become friends and start living off the land together. Unfortunately, their paradise is short-lived. Cosmopolitan life soon very forcibly breaks apart the new friends, and their experience and connection with nature seems like a dream.

Badlands, 1973

Image Credit: http://1001movieman.blogspot.com/2014/07/560-badlands-1973.html

Image Credit: http://1001movieman.blogspot.com/2014/07/560-badlands-1973.html

For outdoor and road tripping enthusiasts who love the American landscape and have always wanted to drive cross-country, Badlands is the movie for you. This classic follows the relationship between a 25-year-old former garbage man, now full-time criminal with a 15-year-old whose hobby is baton twirling. As their literal journey unfolds through prairies, small towns, forests, and plains, the charms of rural America and the clear, expansive sky are on display. Think of Badlands as possibly one of the best travelogue-crime love stories you may ever watch.

The Last Wave, 1977

Image Credit: http://movieretrospect.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-last-wave-mystical-thriller-about.html

Image Credit: http://movieretrospect.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-last-wave-mystical-thriller-about.html

This is another Australian movie, but this time about nature as a dangerous and mysterious force in Australia. In fact, the Aboriginals and lawyer connected by their intuitive powers sense that civilization as Australia knows it, is about to be purged and rebuilt through a big natural disaster—hence, “the last wave.” Nature is the overriding and unstoppable force throughout the movie, pounding Australian cities and outlying territories with relentless rain, and disrupting modern lives and routines.

Deliverance, 1972

Image Credit: http://hawkensian.com/2014/09/26/deliverance-1972/

Image Credit: http://hawkensian.com/2014/09/26/deliverance-1972/

Deliverance is an American favorite because of its story of drama and danger amidst the Georgian wilderness. Four Atlanta businessmen intend to explore an idyllic river valley, but their trip turns into a nightmare after encountering gun-toting and sadistic hillbillies. Views of the river, gorges, and small town during overcast weather contribute to the movie’s gloomy and suspenseful atmosphere. While the thriller isn’t exactly a walk in the park, it may definitely get your heart racing.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1975

Image Credit: http://nymphalie.blogspot.com/2015/06/picnic-at-hanging-rock-1975.html

Image Credit: http://nymphalie.blogspot.com/2015/06/picnic-at-hanging-rock-1975.html

Picnic at Hanging Rock showcases scenic Australia, with the movie centered around a group of schoolgirls and their teachers’ picnic to Hanging Rock, a distinctive geological formation in Central Victoria. As the students explore the Hanging Rock and the surrounding area, eventually one member becomes abandoned, and cause the remaining members of the party to panic. The sunny weather and apparent peacefulness of the scene only adds mystery to the disappearance.

Many movies feature nature prominently. Hopefully, these movies spur you to experience the outdoors yourself, and be sure to download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps beforehand to make your adventure that much more comfortable.

A Day Well Spent at Wekiwa Springs State Park

This post is contributed by Justin Fricke of The Weekend Warrior

There’s something missing in Florida—National Parks. We only have one and that’s down south. Way down south in the everglades. What we lack in National Parks, we greatly make up for in State Parks. We have 161 State Parks in Florida and one of the closest to Orlando is Wekiwa Springs State Park. Wekiwa Springs is in Apopka, FL and it’s only 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando.

Wekiwa Springs is basically an outdoor oasis amongst an urban jungle. It’s the perfect year-round getaway from the madness of the city.

Scenic view at Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Image Credit: FloridaSprings.org

The summers are brutally hot here in Florida, and Wekiwa Springs has one killer spring to help the locals and tourists cool off. The spring is at the center of the park. The grassy area where you can throw down a blanket is sloped, creating an amphitheater effect. The spring itself is crystal clear and 72 degrees year-round.

Springs can be inherently dangerous to swim into. A lot of them are just massive cave systems and it’s very easy to lose direction and get lost in them. The spring at Wekiwa Springs State Park is simple and only 15 feet deep. Just swim down along the rock walls and once you hit the sandy bottom you can look underneath the rock walls to see where all the water comes screaming out of the earth.

English: An Alligator on the Wekiwa Springs Ru...

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Florida winters is prime time for hiking with the onset of cooler weather. Wekiwa Springs State Park has miles on miles of nature trails. The shorter trails are just a couple of miles and the longest trail is over 10 miles. Serious hikers love the long trail, and who wouldn’t? It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon by yourself or with a few of your close friends. Long distance runners, and all sorts of runners for that matter, love the trails. They’re great to train on with a softer running surface than the road. The trails are also well maintained, and it’s a wonderful change of scenery from running in urban landscapes.

In addition, any season is perfect paddling season in Florida. Throughout most of the year, it stays warm in Central Florida and one of the best places to paddle is the Wekiwa River. The State Park rents out canoes and kayaks for a nominal fee and the beach where you launch them onto the river is right near the spring. Right after launching your paddling vessel you should keep a wide eye out in the bay. Gators love to hangout in the area (don’t worry, it’s impossible for them to get into the spring where you can swim). Just admire them from afar and they’ll admire you from afar as well.

Entrance to Wekiwa Springs State Park

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Further down the Wekiwa River are tons of opportunities for exploration. There are so many little canals where you can paddle to; you’ll be occupied for hours. Just keep in mind that water levels do play a key factor in where you can go. When there’s been a lot of rain, like during the summer, it’ll be easy to paddle through all the different canals. However, when there hasn’t been much rain, like in the winter, they tend to run a little dry. The only way to find out which canals you are able to explore and which ones are meant to be explored for another day is to simply explore for yourself.

The next time you’re feeling a little claustrophobic from the city of Orlando, just know there’s a natural oasis waiting for you. Wekiwa Springs State Park is the perfect place to get away from the city to experience nature, without having to pack and drive for hours.