Tag Archives: florida

One for the Ladies: Parks Named for Inspiring Women

There are more than a handful of women whose contributions toward parks did not go unnoticed, which sometimes ends with a dedication to them in the form of a state park name. It’s a pretty big honor, and it also goes to show that women have done a lot to help the outdoors industry expand as well as contribute to our beloved parks. So this Women’s History Month—and really, what should be the standard all year round—we’re tipping our hats to these awesome female-inspired parks.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, New York

Suffragists at Seneca Falls.

Just some suffragists doin’ their thang. [Image: https://whitmansyawp.wordpress.com/]

This glorious national historic park represents the area where men and women first gathered to discuss the possibility of women’s rights, the location of the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. You can watch a film talking about the amazing women who fought for women’s right to vote, then head to the museum and the Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was held. There are also tours of the homes of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and Jane Hunt. It’s a great place to start when looking to gain more information about the importance of equal rights in America.

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Kentucky

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.

Beautiful park with a rather dark history. [Image: http://eastkyecho.com/]

Originally named Dewey Lake State Park, this park was renamed in the late 1950s shortly after becoming an official Kentucky State Park for badass frontierwoman Virginia “Jenny” Sellards Wiley. Jenny was a tough woman who endured an accidental Indian attack that was meant as revenge against her neighbors; she watched her attackers kill all of her children, and was then taken hostage by them for 11 months. Although she faced horrors that many cannot even fathom, she remained resolved to escape from her captors. After almost being killed by a tribe, she eventually escaped and found her way back home. Now that’s a strong lady and an aptly named park!

Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, California

Hearst Castle.

Now that’s a heck of a castle designed by a heck of a woman. [Image: http://www.parks.ca.gov/]

Although not necessarily named for a woman, the famous Hearst Castle was designed by an awesome female designer, Julia Morgan. In 1894, she was the first woman to graduate from the University of California’s School of Engineering. She went on to design more than 800 buildings in California, including the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel. If that isn’t impressive, we’re not sure what is.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Florida

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.

Certainly no one is complaining that so many fought to protect this area. [Image: http://www.flickriver.com/]

This park gets its name from environmental activist Anna Dagny Johnson, who was the leader of many groups (including the Upper Keys Citizens Association and the Izaak Walton League) that worked to stop planned developments in north Key Largo. They rallied together under Johnson’s leadership to preserve onshore communities and protect offshore coral reefs. Now that’s an admirable lady!

Even though Women’s History Month is over, you’re free to enjoy these lovely parks still—we won’t judge you for your late arrival. Make sure you have our handy dandy Pocket Ranger® mobile apps with you to make your trips more enjoyable and easy.

Looking to State Parks during Black History Month

State parks are steeped in history, and as such, there are many that come to mind as important during Black History Month. While utilizing parks for the plethora of activities and outdoor fun available are great ways to get involved, it’s also important to recognize the work that went into their foundation and the history behind the grounds that you’re traversing over. Here are just a few that are worth a visit during this iconic month.

T.O. Fuller State Park, Tennessee

T.O. Fuller State Park.

[Image: http://tnstateparks.com/]

Known as a park full of great birding and hiking opportunities, T.O. Fuller State Park is certainly a site to behold. What makes it especially notable, however, is its ties to black history. It was the first state park open to African Americans east of the Mississippi River and was originally known as Shelby County Negro State Park in the 1930s. The name was later changed to honor Dr. Thomas O. Fuller who empowered and educated African Americans during his lifetime.

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, California

Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth.

Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth. [Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/]

Colonel Allensworth SHP preserves the town of Allensworth, which is the only California town to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. It was a farming community founded with the intention of improving the economic and social status of African Americans in the early 1900s. One of the founders, Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth, created the town with the hopes of it becoming known as the “Tuskegee of the West,” modeled after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. It was a place for blacks to live and start a life outside of the confines of segregated society.

Fort Mose Historic State Park, Florida

Fort Mose.

Tour the salt marshes at Fort Mose while learning about its rich history. [Image: http://audubonoffloridanews.org/]

Found in St. Augustine, Florida, Fort Mose is possibly one of the most important pieces of black history in America. It was founded in 1738 and was the first legally sanctioned free community comprised of ex-slaves. The park includes an interactive museum that helps visitors dive into the history of this site, complete with staff reenacting history while dressed in traditional garb.

Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, New York

Underground Railroad map.

Map of various Underground Railroad routes. [Image: http://newyorkhistoryblog.org/]

New York was a haven for many slaves seeking freedom, and it was accessed best through the Underground Railroad. With the help of abolitionists, the Underground Railroad was a series of safe houses and secret routes that slaves would use to escape to free states or Canada. New York was often sought out due to its proximity to water and Canada. It was also home to many free slaves who fought for equality since New York’s manumission of slaves in 1827. There are many sites across the state that delve further into this part of New York’s history.

Make sure you use our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to help aid you in your adventuring this month. Our handy park history section can help inform you on the early days of your favorite sites.

How Now Sea Cow?

West Indian manatee.

A curious West Indian manatee. [Image: thedodo.com/]

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced a proposal earlier this month centered on the idea of upgrading the presently endangered West Indian manatee’s (or sea cow) status from endangered to threatened. For background, the designation of “endangered” means that, without management, a species is on the slippery slope toward extinction, while “threatened” means that a species’ habitat and population are sustainable but don’t do a great job of promoting the animal’s collective proliferation (aka the species is in danger of becoming endangered). As such, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife motion is a reflection of the manatee’s “significant improvement” in population sustainability and habitat strength and has many leaping for joy. Though there has been some wariness to temper the excitement and applause as well.

The West Indian manatee has been a gentle, rotund protectee of the Federal Endangered Species Act since the act was signed in 1973, though manatees have been federally recognized as an endangered species since the 1960s. At the time the ESA came about, the manatee’s population had dwindled down to an estimated 700 because of factors like boat-related deaths and destruction of habitat, among other things. Today, with the estimate grown to over 6,000 individuals, the species seems headed in the right direction in terms of its stability. That’s genuine cause for celebration across the board, but some groups concerned with manatee conservation are focused on what might happen if the species doesn’t get the protection that comes with the “endangered” status as well as the looming problems associated with an environmental phenomenon called red tide.

Manatee eating.

Manatee enjoying a snack. [Image: imgur.com/]

An example of this quandary is playing out at present in Brevard County, Florida, one of the counties where many manatees live, and coincidentally, an area with one of the highest rates of manatee mortality in the state. The county commissioners approved a resolution to ask Florida wildlife leaders to conduct research on how effective boat speed restrictions are at protecting the manatees that inhabit the county’s waterways. Conversely, Katie Tripp, a leader in the Save the Manatee Club, feels that the relatively high number of boat-related injuries and fatalities among manatees in Brevard County will only increase if the speed restrictions vanish. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife proposal is open for public comment until April 7, 2016.


As anthropomorphic as it is round, this manatee is definitely emoting what you think it’s emoting. [Image: wikipedia.com/]

If you want to enjoy the manatee in its element, there are plenty of ways to do so! One especially great way to see some adorable, sea grass-chomping examples of the order Sirenia, is to download the Official Guide for Florida State Parks & Beaches app powered by Pocket Ranger® and to also make your way to any of the state parks on this map!

State and National Park Christmas Celebrations

Are you feeling the Christmas and holiday spirit yet? Many of us are (happily) cooped up, spending our days and nights preparing for the holiday later this week. The strong aroma of Christmas cookies wafts into our noses, carols passes through our eardrums, and lights dazzle us both inside and outside our homes—is there anything more exciting than the holiday season? It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all, and arguably the best way to spend it is at a state park. Well, maybe we’re a little biased, but partaking in Christmas celebrations at a state park is absolutely a great way to pass some time! Here are just a few parks that are spreading Christmas cheer that you might want to make an appearance at.

Celebration of Lights at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, FL

Trees lit with Christmas lights.

Image: https://abidanshahdotcom.files.wordpress.com/

Take part in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park’s annual Celebration of Lights any day from December 19–December 24. If you happen to miss any of those days leading up to Christmas, then don’t worry—there’s an after-Christmas party on December 26! It’s a great time to connect with friends, both old and new.

For more info, call: (352) 628-5343 or (352) 628-5445 ext. 1006

Old World Christmas Events at Allaire State Park, NJ

Boy being kissed by a reindeer.

Pro tip: Look out for mistletoe. [Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/]

Ever wonder about old Christmas traditions and how people used to celebrate throughout history? Well New Jersey’s Allaire State Park is hosting their annual Old World Christmas, which offers a blast from the past, at their quaint Allaire Village. Enjoy performances of “A Christmas Carol” as well as the stunning Christmas Lantern Tours.

For more info, call: (609) 984-1795, (609) 292-2994, or (609) 984-1795

Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park, MD

Polar Bear Plunge.

Looks, uh, fun? [Image: http://www.northbeachmd.org/]

It’s pretty likely that you’ve heard of the Polar Bear Plunge as it’s become a wintertime tradition for many daring individuals who don’t mind basking in frosty waters. The Special Olympics of Maryland accompanies others at Sandy Point State Park’s Polar Bear Plunge. Grab your bathing suit (and a warm, fuzzy towel for afterwards), and head to the beach this Christmas season!

For more info, call: (410) 242-1515

The Nation’s Christmas Tree at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, CA

The General Grant Tree.

We’re rubbing our necks just looking at this photo. What a tree! [Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

A visit to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park in its own is magical, but is there anything more seasonally appropriate than visiting the Nation’s Christmas Tree (also known as the General Grant Tree)? Probably not. Unfortunately the annual Trek to the Tree led by the Sanger Chamber of Commerce already passed (it happens on the second Saturday of December, so mark it on your calendars for next year!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit the park and enjoy the sights anyway.

For more info, call: (559) 875-4575

These are just a few of the many ways that you can get involved at a state park this holiday season. So pack your Christmas cheer, download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, and get ready for some serious celebrating!

Pack Your Bag and Head to the Woods: Great Fall Camping Sites Near You

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that fall is one of the best times to pack a bag and pitch a tent in the middle of the woods. Fall camping means colorful foliage swirling around, crisp air biting at your nose, and the opportunity to be completely immersed in the wilderness without having to worry about feeling sticky in your tent or freezing on the cold, hard ground. Really, does it get any better than having an autumn adventure? We made a list of some of the best state and national parks to spend the night in this fall.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Perfect Fall Camping Setting at Acadia National Park

Seriously, how is Acadia National Park allowed to even be real? [Image: http://bscrittersitter.blogspot.com/]

Of course Acadia National Park is a camping hub—with its gorgeous views and wide array of outdoor activities to partake in, it’s almost easier to make a list of things you can’t do here. You’ll find everything from mountain ranges and dense woodlands to vast expanses of beaches and sparkling waters. With a wide variety of different habitats comes the opportunity to see all the fall changes that come to each, which of course you can’t be expected to see in just one day.

Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas

Lost Maple State Natural Area in fall.

The colors, Duke, the colors. [Image: https://www.geocaching.com/]

Head out to the Lone Star State to watch the leaves change and enjoy the cooling weather—if the name wasn’t indicative enough, it’s an especially fantastic spot to peep some changing maple trees at! The Lost Maples State Natural Area is updating their website to note the changing foliage throughout November, advising when the best time for visiting would be. It’s a great resource to have to make sure you don’t accidentally show up after all the leaves have already fallen.

Kissimmee State Park, Florida

Kissimmee State Park trees.

Tour the gorgeous trees at Kissimmee State Park this fall. [Image: http://www.centralfloridahiker.com/]

Whether you’re looking to head out into the water or opt for a low-key, relaxing picnic instead, you’ll be accommodated at Kissimmee State Park. It also happens to be one of the most ideal places in Florida to extend your stay by a few days and relax into the warm weather. If you aren’t already aware, fall in Florida is entrancing and is not something to be missed.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park in fall.

Yosemite National Park, how’d you get to be so beautiful? [Image: https://www.scenicwonders.com/]

There’s a reason that Yosemite National Park has a reputation for its jaw-dropping views and plethora of outdoor activities. So it only makes sense that it’d have premium camping opportunities as well. Although a California autumn isn’t quite the same as an East Coast one, it still makes for a unique adventure that’s worth experiencing. Bottom line: You could definitely do worse than spending a few nights in Yosemite National Park this fall.

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Snow Canyon State Park.

Although there aren’t any pretty leaves, we think we can forgive Snow Canyon as it’s still super beautiful. [Image: http://www.sandhollowresorts.com/]

A bit of a different direction—one that doesn’t exactly have the changing leaves we normally affiliate with fall. But spending a night in the hypnotizing Utah desert is a worthwhile venture regardless. Climb over the spreads of black lava and red rock cliffs during the day then collapse into a tent as the seemingly endless sky spreads out overhead. Can’t you picture it already? It’s just like a movie.

Perrot State Park, Wisconsin

Perrot State Park in autumn.

Breathtaking views and amazing foliage: Coming this autumn to Perrot State Park. [Image: https://philipschwarzphotography.wordpress.com/]

Some of the most picturesque campsites can be found in Perrot State Park, and they’re only enhanced by autumn and all its predictable changes. Many visitors come for the hiking, biking, and canoeing. Then they decide to stay so they can do it all again the next day.

Are you feeling convinced yet that fall camping is one of the best ways to spend your autumn? Good, we figured as much. Before you head out, make sure you download our handy Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to aid in any and all of your explorations.

Exploring Turtle Mound, Built by the Timucuan People

This post is contributed by Justin Fricke of The Weekend Warrior

Rising about 75 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and extending almost 600 feet along the Indian River Shoreline sits Turtle Mound, a turtle-shaped mound that contains oysters and refuse from the ancient Timucuan people. Archeologists believe that the Timucuans used their leftover oyster shells to build this mound to escape the rising Indian River during severe rainstorms and hurricanes. Early European settlers used it as a landmark since it could be seen from seven miles out at sea.

This is the oldest and tallest shell midden in the mainland United States, according to archeologists. It’s believed that the Timucuan people built Turtle Mound between 800–1400 BCE, however, recent radio-carbon dates it around 1000 BCE. Archaeologists have even found pottery from around 1200 BCE in the area. As more settlers started coming to the new land, the Timucuan people faced more conflict as Turtle Mound was a strategic area in regards to natural resources and military advantages. The Timucuan people lasted until about 1400 BCE when their land was overrun by new settlers.

Nowadays Turtle Mound’s owned, managed, and preserved by the National Parks System and is part of the Canaveral National Seashore. When New Smyrna Beach is a little too crowded or you’re just in the mood for a history lesson, Turtle Mound attracts visitors for a fun day. It’s $5 to enter per car, and you can stay all day. Enter the park and drive down the main road until you see a trailhead and parallel parking on your right. Jump out of the car, bring your camera, and take the boardwalk until it dead ends at the Indian River. Picnic tables are on your left where you can see dolphins breaching the surface, or you can head down the wet trail.

Hiker on Turtle Mound trail

Image Credit: Justin Fricke

The wet trail gets its name for a reason—you have to walk through the water on this trail. Be prepared to get your shoes/sandals wet or to go barefoot instead. Make sure you watch your step so you don’t cut your feet if you go barefoot. Keep an eye out by the mangroves because manatees like to bury their face in there and feed on the plentiful grass. You’ll see their tails flapping up and down to keep them in place before they turn around and seek out more grass.

Turtle Mound Water

Image Credit: Justin Fricke

Head back to the boardwalk and hang a right to go up to the observation deck. The views are expansive, but think about braving a hurricane from up there. Remember that the Timucuan people built where you’re standing, minus the wooden boardwalk, as a refuge to ride out hurricanes. The Timucuans were hardcore people!

View of water from Turtle Mound

Image Credit: Justin Fricke

As you walk on the boardwalk, look for a sign to dial a number. Dial the number on your phone and you’ll get a virtual tour guide explaining Turtle Mound’s history and what you’re seeing. During the winter months you can even rent out a campsite down at this end. It costs a fee, but you get to camp on the beach and spend more time at a National Historic Site—how cool is that?!

Reel Adventures with Darcizzle Offshore

Watch out, guys—there’s a new girl rockin’ the boat, and she has a knack for catching anything off the Southern Florida coast. Watch the Pocket Ranger® video channel for fun and exciting fishing adventures brought to you by Darcizzle Offshore. Her name stands up to her reputation with jaw-dropping videos that reel you in and never let you go! To get you started, watch her bass fishing expedition:

Darcizzle Offshore host, Darcie, takes fishing to another level. Her skill behind a fishing rod and experience handling the deep unknown captivate audiences, “showing the world girls CAN fish too, one catch at a time.” Whether you are an avid angler or experience fish only when it’s on your plate, follow her blog for the latest updates. The videos are nonstop entertainment and know-how, showing the best ways for a successful fishing trip. In the below video, Darcie invites viewers on a lobster dive, giving step-by-step instructions on how to find the big ones and bring them to your table:

Enough to make your mouth water, right? By subscribing to Darcizzle Offshore’s YouTube channel, you can get an angling education from someone who has done it her entire life, which far surpasses what you could get trying to learn on your own. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram then like her on Facebook. By following her on Google+, you can stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of Florida fishing, including monthly fishing reports, events, and more. Darcie also likes to help promote partners and sponsors, often bringing them along on her adventures.

Darsizzle Offshore using a speargun to catch fish

Image Credit: Darcizzle Offshore

Visit the Pocket Ranger® video channel to watch Darcizzle Offshore bring in the big catch! The video channel is filled with entertainment from contributors like Darcie who are dedicated to showing you a good time and inspiring your next trip. Before you pack your bags and ready your tackle box, download the Pocket Ranger® mobile apps for the latest in travel information, weather, and things to do. The Pocket Ranger® apps are free and fully equipped with GPS features to make your next adventure a stellar one!