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Party like it’s 1985: Celebrate Park and Recreation Month

Since 1985, America has been celebrating the immense importance of parks and recreation every July. This month the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is celebrating their 30th annual Park and Recreation Month with a nod to the past.

Park and Recreation Month - July 2015 - Banner [Image: www.nrpa.org]

[Image: www.nrpa.org]

Parks were created to give people a place to appreciate nature, exercise, socialize and have fun—and what better way to do exactly that than with a throwback theme? So the NRPA is challenging everyone to get retro and use the power of the 80s to increase awareness of the significant impact parks and recreation areas have on our quality of life. Communities all across the country are taking up the challenge by hosting events at parks and recreation centers. Here are a select few for you to check out:

80s Skate Jam: July 11th in Palm Bay, FL

Park & Recreation Month - July 2015 - City of Palm Bay, FL - Skate Jam [Image: www.palmbayflorida.org]

[Image: www.palmbayflorida.org]

The Palm Bay Skate Jam is held once a month at Liberty Park in the east central Florida city of Palm Bay. This fun family-friendly event is free, so bring your loved ones and skate to the best hits of the 80s! It is recommended that you bring your own skates as their supply is limited.

For more information, visit their website or call 321-952-3400.

Like, Totally 80s!: July 11th in Lawrenceville, GA

Park & Recreation Month - July 2015 - Gwinnett County [Image: www.gwinnettcounty.com]

[Image: www.gwinnettcounty.com]

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month with one of the most beloved movies of all time: 1985’s Back to the Future. Enjoy 80s themed activities including games, a trivia contest, crafts, a photo booth, DJ jams, concessions, face painting, crazy 80s hair and temporary tattoos. Then grab a blanket, pack a picnic and gather the family to travel Back to the Future. It’s guaranteed fun for all ages.

For more information, visit their website or call 678-277-0900.

80s Retro Party in the Park: July 24th in Greenville, NC

Join the City of Greenville, NC to celebrate Park & Recreation Month with activities for the entire family—with a throwback flair! Come to the park dressed in retro attire that you don’t mind getting muddy and join the family jazzercise session and 80s trivia then catch an 80s movie on the big screen later in the night. There will be prizes for those dressed as their favorite 80s icon. Families are welcome to stay and camp out under the stars in the big field for a fee.

For more information, take a look at their 2015 Programs & Activities Guide or call 252-329-2489.

80s Cruise In: July 25th in Springfield, OH

Join the National Trail Parks and Recreation District in Springfield, OH as they celebrate Park & Recreation Month, 80s style. Activities include live bands, a car show, an 80s aerobic class, a life-size Pac Man, music, food and more. Come dressed to impress in leg warmers and mile-high hair!

For more information, visit their website or call 937-328-7275.

Park & Recreation Month - July 2015 - Logo [Image: www.nrpa.org]

[Image: www.nrpa.org]

This is only a small sampling, so browse through the list of Park & Recreation Month Events to find out what’s happening in your area. While you’re at the site of your choice, don’t forget to record a short 15 second video and post it to Instagram for NRPA’s Throwback Thursday Instagram Video Challenge.

Or better yet, host your own shindig! Not sure how? It’s easy!

First, find a state park near you by downloading the Pocket Ranger® app for your state. Then dust off those leg warmers and headbands, bring back the neon colors, style your hair appropriately (go big or go home), turn up your favorite synth jams, and set up the retro activity of your choice: an aerobics class, a lip sync battle, a karaoke session, a trivia contest—the possibilities are endless! If you like, you can use the resources the NRPA has provided in their toolkit to promote your event. Finally, invite friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, and have a blast rocking Park & Recreation Month in 80s style. Be sure to take advantage of all the activities and amenities the parks have to offer while you’re there, too. Check the Pocket Ranger® app you downloaded for details on fishing, boating, camping, hiking, biking and more!

So what are you waiting for? Join the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Park & Recreation Month! Not only will you be having fun and encouraging others to be active, live healthier, and connect with nature, but you’ll also be showing off how totally rad you are in the process.

Join DiscoverPWM’s InstaMeet at Leesylvania State Park

Contributed by Discover Prince William & Manassas, VA Convention and Visitors Bureau

Leesylvania State Park pictures of beach, trail, and dock.

Visit Leesylvania State Park, Saturday June 20th at 11am to celebrate Great Outdoors Month!

Are you an avid Instagram user and love being outdoors? Then you will want to join other Instagrammers at Leesylvania State Park, Saturday June 20th at 11 am to celebrate Great Outdoors Month! Those that come armed with their smartphones or cameras will receive a one hour nature hike guided by one of Leesylvania’s park rangers!

Come learn about the history of the land that served as the birthplace of “Light Horse” Harry Lee, the father of Civil War General Robert E. Lee. This 500-acre state park on the banks of the Potomac River features a state-of-the-art boat launch and sandy beaches, perfect for an afternoon spent sun-tanning by the water.

We’ll be taking a historic adventure down Lee’s Woods Trail, one of the most scenic hikes in the park. The 2 mile path curves along the shores of the Potomac River, through Revolutionary and Civil War points of interest, as well as the estate home of the Virginia-famous Lee family. Interpretative markers along the hike will give you a chance to learn more about Leesylvania State Park’s role in American history as the a ranger guides you along the picturesque landscape.

Some interesting spots (and great photo opportunities!) include the fishing pier and sandy shores lining the Potomac, cannons and artifacts from the war eras, ruins of the Fairfax & Lee family homes, as well as arbor lined paths that cut through the trail. In the summer, many sightings of bald eagles have been reported on Free Stone Point as well. Make sure to have your camera ready!

All participants will be asked to share their pictures using the #DiscoverPWM & #VAOutdoors hashtags to help showcase the beauty of our region. The Virginia Tourism Corporation may even feature your photo on their Virginia is For Lovers travel blog!

For more information, please contact Nicole Warner at 571-257-3218 or by email at nwarner@discoverpwm.com.

Trevor Simington: Adventure Photographer

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 9.44.27 AM

Trevor Simington isn’t the type of photographer to get attached to a particular image, instead he focuses on the genuine experiences connected to the photos. He travels whenever there’s time to spare, documenting his adventures through Instagram—from giant national parks, such as Yellowstone, to the smaller, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. In case you missed it, this California native is our National Parks Photo Contest winner over on Instagram!

California may be his go-to-area for wild explorations, but he’s travelled to Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, among other states. When capturing landscape and wildlife, Simington seeks to convey the beauty he sees and feels in nature. He’s taken photos of tarantulas, owls, prairie dogs, lizards, as well as catching amazing landscapes, wildlife, and portraits, even dabbling with stars and lunar eclipses. “[It’s] rewarding after keeping a standard day job and finding the time to explore the beauty of our parks and everything in between,” he said on winning.

Take a look at some of his images, as he recounts his adventures and the lessons on nature and traveling.

PBN: According to Instagram, you’re a city slicker by day, and adventure photographer by night. What’s your occupation?

Trevor Simington: Haha well I suppose. I work the usual weekday 9 to 5 as a Data Processor in a startup company in Glendale, California. But I find myself routinely seeking opportunities to explore nature and my environment in the least amount of time I can find or make available.     

Cypress Tree Tunnel, Point Reyes National Seashore, California [Image: Trevor Simington]

Cypress Tree Tunnel, Point Reyes National Seashore, California [Image Credit: Trevor Simington]

PBN: How did you get started with photography? Is it something you always wanted to do?

TS: It’s kind of funny. An old friend coerced me into buying a Nikon SLR years ago. [Prior to that I] never had any interest in photography. I took a couple of pictures I liked, but had trouble figuring out how to use the thing, so I ended up selling [the camera].

Only as of 2012 I decided to take up hiking. I found myself in so many beautiful places, mostly in California—that I had no idea existed— only then did I buy another camera, and never left home without it.  When I began taking a ton of photos, I started to take it more seriously. I wanted a record of the epic beauty in these places I was experiencing.

PBN: There’s a colorful vividness to your photos. How would you describe your style?

TS: As I got the adventure bug, I tried to turn my photos into an art that communicated the feeling of visiting these locations. When I became more familiar with photography, I forced myself to only shoot in Manual and RAW to gain proficiency in the use of exposure, film speed and aperture in order to bring out the colors.

Prairie Dog ready to attack? Devils Tower National Monument [Image: Trevor Simington]

Prairie Dog ready to attack? Devils Tower National Monument [Image Credit: Trevor Simington]

PBN: Is there a preferred camera or lens to achieve that style?

TS: After having several quality point & shoots and DSLRs, I realized that these images needed to be recorded on a full format sensor with quality lenses, so I made the leap to purchase a Nikon D610 and the Nikon 24-70 2.8. Although I’m in need of more lenses and looking to broaden my equipment, I’m surprised by how many wonderful shots you can take with just one lens.

PBN: What’s your favorite image to date?

TS: Well it’s very hard to say as I’m usually attached to an image based off the experience, and the franticness of being at a certain spot at the right time! It seems, I can never arrive at a location I want to photograph with ample time to set up. Although these locations are shot by many, I still believe these are my favorite photographs; I shot it the best I could! (Some of his favorites are on this page.)

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park [Image: Trevor Simington]

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park [Image Credit: Trevor Simington]

PBN: We know you love visiting National Parks. What are some of your favorite parks and why? 

Yes, definitely! I don’t have a favorite National Park since there is always plenty to discover everywhere. It’s surprising how much variety one finds in just one National Park. I can never get enough of Yosemite of course, but equally Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Canyonlands, Arches, and Zion. I also had an incredible time in Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef, Sequoias and Lake Powell. But Yosemite is probably my “home” park.

PBN: What’s your next outdoor adventure?

TS: I’m excited to explore the canyons of Lake Powell with a paddle board this upcoming May.  It’s one of the most amazing recreational places to visit.

he night sky was at the Trona Pinnacles, California [Image: Trevor Simington]

The night sky at Trona Pinnacles, California [Image Credit: Trevor Simington]

PBN: What’s the strangest thing, person or place you’ve encountered while being in nature?

TS: Probably the time I was hiking the Devils Backbone Trail to Mt. Baldy in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t exactly strange, but I was definitely spooked. I was hiking solo late at night, with the eeriness of the forest trees under a half moon.  As I walked along, I paused when I noticed the silhouette of a dog and its eyes reflecting back at me from my headlamp.  As I looked around I counted eight pairs of eyes hidden in the bushes in all directions around me, then realized it was a pack of coyotes. I’ve never been afraid of coyotes, but no one wants to be ambushed by a pack of coyotes.

My first thought was to yell and turn up the music on my phone, and slowly proceed without showing fear. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t proceed without fear, but they also didn’t seem to care about my presence, so I carried on seeking a good place to campout for the night.

PBN: Lastly, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while traveling?

TS: There are probably better lessons to be learned, but I try not to over-plan. Instead I see where the adventure takes me. I think one should be willing to experience anything and appreciate nature as it is. Often people don’t appreciate nature in its entirety. And of course while some areas are considered more beautiful than others, I am easily pleased regardless if desert or pine forest.

[Image: Trevor Simington]

Northern prairies of the Black Hills, South Dakota [Image Credit: Trevor Simington]

See his photos and other submissions featured in the new Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide!


Explore National Parks with the Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide

National Parks Passport app opening page

Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide [Image: www.pocketranger.com/apps/national-parks]

Whether you’re planning a trip across the country or looking to explore your local environment a bit more, a detour to a National Park site along the way should be a crucial part of your planning process. The release of our Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide makes planning a whole lot easier and more fun than ever before! Our National Park Passport Guide will be available tomorrow (Saturday, March 21) on the App Store, Google Play, and through our PRX site!

National Parks are brimming with cultural, historical, and natural significance like you won’t find anywhere else. From a tropical getaway in Hawaii to a more obscure trip east of the Mississippi, our app provides you with all the information you want and so much more. We’re preparing beginners for their first trips to these sites and supplying the seasoned pros with the types of updates and information they’ve been waiting for.

A picture of Oregon's Crater Lake National Park on the National Park Passport app screen.

Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide [Image: www.pocketranger.com/apps/national-parks]

With GPS mapping technology utilized in the app, it’s easy to create the perfect trip. Start off by searching for a specific park, looking up national sites that are near you, or checking out what areas have your favorite outdoor activities available. Once you’ve found the best spot, you can map your route by road, satellite, or hybrid and terrain. Don’t forget to share your current position, waypoints, and tracks on social media along the way, too! Navigation is easy with longitude/latitude positioning and the built-in compass, and you can even record, save, and recall your footfalls. Even if you’re not quite sure of where you want to go, the app has a handy list of the Top Ten National Parks (including the acclaimed Acadia National Park!) for you to browse through at your convenience.

The Explore section of the National Park Passport app  where you can search by Nearest Me, By State, By Activity, By Zip Code, or choose to Search by Park Name.

Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide [Image: www.pocketranger.com/apps/national-parks]

The app makes it possible to stay up-to-date on the comings and goings of National Parks, too. Check the weather before heading out, find directions, browse through various park maps, and look up different park events all by simply tapping your finger. You can even set it up so your device receives alerts from your favorite parks. Contact information is available for each park site as well as fascinating history and park overviews.

Screenshot of the Acadia National Park home screen.

Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide [Image: www.pocketranger.com/apps/national-parks]

We’ve supplied you with plenty of winter escape suggestions already, but the warm weather is finally starting to peek its head out from under the snow, making now the perfect time to starting planning a new venture. Whether you want to learn a bit about the history of a certain area, explore on land and water, or just kick back and relax, the National Park Passport Guide will become your new best friend. Once you embark on your travels, make sure you check out our photos from other visitors and snap some pictures of your own to share with us on social media—even though our Instagram picture contest has ended, we’d still love to live vicariously! Happy travels!

6 Instagram Accounts Every Outdoor Enthusiast Should Be Following

If you go on Instagram to look at mountains and trees and lakes and waterfalls that look so painting-like you can’t fathom that they were actually photographed in nature, you should definitely be following these amazing naturesnappers.

1. @patcole4 pat cole outdoor instagram accounts Patrick Cole loves a nice, vibrant, saturated, colorful shot. Now a Las Vegas resident, he finds “nothing more peaceful than the purity of nature.” He works in the restaurant business, but to us, he’s like a professional Instagrammer—his nature shots are just too perfect.

2. @eltaylo erin taylor outdoor instagram accountsWe couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered Erin Taylor’s Instagram account, but there’s a reason her photos are so fantastic—the girl’s a professional photographer (check out erinltaylorphotography.com). Besides for her dreamy Colorado photos, we love that she would like to live in a Wes Anderson movie (because really, who wouldn’t?!) and that she has full-blown conversations with her pug Oscar.

3. @stevestrehl

steve strehl outdoor instagram accounts

#Colors didn’t really mean anything to us until we found Steve Strehl’s photos. While he doesn’t use any Instagram filters, he does use an editing app called Snapseed. Steve’s from Utah, and he’s a junior at the University of Montana, so he’s no stranger to nature’s beauty. He loves to ski, hike, climb, play hockey, and just head out on spontaneous trips to national parks.

4. @dillypickle11

dillypickle11 outdoor instagram accounts

Every time we check out Nadeane Palacios’s photos, we can’t believe she’s not a photographer. We’re not even sure how this mother of five teenagers has the time to wander through the amazing natural beauty that is Utah and take pictures of it—but we’re ecstatic that she does! Looking at how interesting her photos are, we’re not surprised by her poetic connection to nature: she “[loves] to shoot water; [she] [loves] the way it dances.”

5. @trippedavis

trippe davis outdoor instagram accounts

The first time we saw one of Trippe Davis’s photos, we literally gasped out loud. (It was that gorgeous!) This freelance photographer, bartender, and 1st assistant cameraman creates lush and beautiful images that show his deep love for the woods. The Portland, Oregon resident also has a way with words: “I like being able to reach out and see the whole world through an iPhone app.” (If you’re interested in a spokesperson, Instagram, we suggest direct messaging Trippe.)

6. @ralfafara

ralfafara outdoor instagram accounts

Becca Alfafara is a lot of things: she’s from Detroit, she currently lives in West Glacier, Montana, she’s an avid knitter, and she works seasonally as a park ranger. She’s also an unbelievable Instagrammer, whose photos routinely get the highest likes of any of our posts. Take a look at her feed and you’ll probably want to head out to Glacier National Park and never come back.

Looking for even more amazing nature photos (in addition to these 6 Instagram accounts every outdoor enthusiast should be following)? Follow us on Instagram (@officialpocketranger), and we’ll do all the work for you! We regularly scope out all the coolest naturesnappers and repost their incredible photos.

Oh, and if you’d like to follow in these Instagrammers’ footsteps, just hashtag your nature photos like so (#pocketranger) for a chance for us to repost them and credit you! (Don’t say we never tried to make you famous…)

Who are your favorite naturesnappers? Let us know in the comments!


The New And Improved Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™

When you think social media, you probably picture Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But we at ParksByNature want you to add another social network to that list: we want you to think Trophy Case™.

What’s this Trophy Case™ we speak of? Why, it’s our newest breed of app: a photo and video sharing portal, designed exclusively for outdoor enthusiasts. And what does that look like? Funny you should ask, since we can show you right here!

Pocket Ranger Trophy Case Splash

If you think this looks pretty, wait till you see all the other user photos!

It’s pretty much like an Instagram—an extra-special Instagram that allows you to find and follow new friends and see beautiful photos—but only the beautiful photos you want to see. Meaning, all of the photos users posts will be outdoor-related, but you can choose what you to want to appear on your feed: any combination of Wildlife Watching (Birding), Fishing, Hunting, and Scenic!

Since it’s truly an outdoor community (you can share on the Trophy Case™ platform AND through Facebook and Twitter!), we’re planning on some real community-oriented events, too. That means we’re planning some really cool challenges—things like photo and video contests, fishing tournaments, our patented GeoChallenges—that enable Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™ users to score points and win prizes!

But, wait! That’s just the basics. We’re here to tell you about the fabulous updates we’ve just done—the new and improved Pocket Ranger™ Trophy Case, if you will.

First off, we just added video capability to the app, which is pretty super, if we do say so ourselves. We’re even ready to guide you through shooting your first video. See?

recording  Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™

Step-by-step instructions on filming your first video. You’re welcome.

Once you become a regular ole’ cinematographer, you can add special effects, like the ability to shoot separate clips and put them into one continuous video!

special effect cropped Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™

Like so.

Other updates? General things, like performance enhancements—you know, things like the app loads faster, posting a photo or comment goes quicker, and crashing is pretty much a thing of the past!

But if you thought that was it, you’re wrong. (This is the new and improved Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™, after all!) There’s now hashtag capability—you can hashtag your posts and search for other photos using hashtags. We know what you’re thinking: #awesome.

Anyway, if #videos, #hashtags, and general performance enhancements weren’t enough, we’ve got one more update for you: more defined privacy settings! You can set your profile (and therefore your posts) to private if you only want to share things with certain users. And changing your settings is super easy to do!

Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™

No Trophy Case™ users will be saying “privacy, schmivacy”—if you want to keep your things private, it’s easy to do so.

Those are all the updates we have so far, but never fear—we’re always working on developing new features and improving our apps, so pretty soon we’ll have even more updates for you.

For now, enjoy the new and improved Pocket Ranger Trophy Case™ app! Join the community here.

Oh, and remember, like all of our apps, Trophy Case™ is free to download, free to use, and free to engage with. Have you downloaded the app yet? Tell us all about it!