Tag Archives: missouri

American History Through State Parks

Ever want to step into American history by visiting state parks? Well then read on.

While the United States’ official foundation is July 4, 1776, its history began well before the American flag flew high in the skies. In the years that followed its official independence date, the United States went on to its more formative years, which contributed to shaping the country’s massive culture and history. History was made when the first explorers stepped foot into what is now commonly referred as “The Land of the Free,” and it continues to be made today.

Check out these important historical and cultural sites that contributed to American history!

Trail of Tears State Park

The Trail of Tears was the forced removal of various Native American tribes in the southeastern U.S. to “Indian Territory,” a designated area west of the Mississippi River. While there was a preexisting treaty between the federal government and the Native Americans that served to honor the interests of both sides, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 signed by President Andrew Jackson made this obsolete. Largely due to a desire to acquire more land in the Midwest, which was occupied mostly by the Five Nations, the Trail of Tears became one of the darkest parts of U.S. history.

The forced relocation caused thousands of Native American deaths due to terrible conditions they faced. These relocations happened during the coldest and hottest days of the month in closed quarters, which led to exposure to communicable diseases; depleted rations led to starvation; and horrible treatment from soldiers, which included extortion and violence, were the leading causes of death. The death march significantly reduced the Native American population in the United States.

Trail of tears

Trail of Tears [Image: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/]

You can delve into this part of American history by visiting the Trail of Tears State Park in Missouri. The visitor center tells a more comprehensive breakdown of this time, and hiking is available for those that want to walk a day in the shoes of the Native Americans. Picnic sites, horse trails, camping, and fishing activities are also available alongside the majestic views of the park.

More information can be found by visiting the Missouri State Park website.

Fort Phoenix 

Located in Fairhaven Massachusetts, Fort Phoenix was involved three times in United States history: The American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. It was brought down during the American Revolutionary War when British troops sent 4,000 troops to New Bedford and raided the harbor on September 5–6, 1778.

Following the attack, the fort was rebuilt and renamed “Fort Phoenix” after the mythical phoenix bird that rises from its ashes after death. Later, the fort helped the American troops repel a British attack in June 1814.

Fort Phoenix

Fort Phoenix [Image: http://www.fortwiki.com/]

It officially went out of service in 1876 and was registered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The fort is a state reservation that features picnicking, hiking, swimming, and scenic viewing areas.

Visit Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Affairs website for more information.

Robert Frost’s Farmhouse 

On the other side of history, visit the connected farm and home of one of America’s most distinguished literary poets. Robert Frost was a highly-regarded American writer who was known for his realistic depictions of rural life, in addition to his command of colloquial speech. Famous for his works, Fire And Ice and The Road Not Taken, he was the winner of four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, was a Congressional Gold Medal awardee for his poetic works in 1960, and was heralded as the Poet Laureate of Vermont in 1961.

Robert Frost Farmhouse

Robert Frost’s Farmhouse in fall. [Image: http://www.english.illinois.edu/]

The Robert Frost Farmhouse is located in Derry, New Hampshire and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968. It is currently managed by the New Hampshire Parks and Recreation department.

For more information, visit their website.

These three sites are only part of a plethora of historic sites located within our various state parks in the country. The United States’ history is colorful, embedded with stories of the past and how it formed our present country, and these sites are certainly worth a visit. Pack your bags, and visit a historic state park today!

National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day 2015 - Square Banner - Solo Hiker [Image: www.publiclandsday.org]

Image: www.publiclandsday.org

Each year, Americans are asked to set aside one day—the last Saturday in September—to “lend a hand to the lands” that we use to enjoy the outdoors. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands, and this year, it’s taking place on Saturday, September 26th.

You can join thousands of volunteers who will gather at parks, forests, reservoirs, and other public areas to help improve and steward our nation’s natural resources. There will be opportunities to build bridges and trails, plant stream banks, restore lakes and wetlands, remove invasive plants, improve wildlife habitat, repair cultural resources and recreational facilities, and carry out hundreds of other projects. Volunteers will also learn about the importance of public lands to the nation’s environmental, economic, and social health as well as get a firsthand perspective on the problems and issues facing land managers.

If you love the outdoors, here’s your chance to give back to nature! Mark your calendar for September 26th, and find a NPLD site near you by checking the list below or visiting publiclandsday.org. And don’t forget to use our Pocket Ranger® apps during your visit to our beloved parks, forests, and lakes!

Red Rock State Park – Sedona, AZ

Maintenance and cleanup of park facilities, trails, and Oak Creek riparian areas. Park interpreters will be available for questions regarding the Oak Creek and its importance to Arizona.

Call 928-282-6907 or click here for more information.

Lake Dardanelle State Park – Russellville, AR

Join Lake Dardanelle State Park to celebrate this national cleanup event in conjunction with the Great Arkansas Cleanup to help pick up trash along the lake and throughout the community. Volunteers clean trails, shorelines, and public parks around Russellville. Following the cleanup will be a ceremony for all those who volunteered and a free lunch along with activities for the whole family.

Call 479-890-7479 or click here for more information.

The Barnacle Historic State Park – Coconut Grove, FL

Partake in a morning of park cleanup, landscape beautification, and exotic plant removal. At the conclusion of the event, Park Rangers will provide free lunch and a tour of the historic house for registered volunteers. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Call 305-442-6866 or click here for more information.

George L. Smith State Park – Twin City, GA

Saturday, September 26th is Your State Parks Day. Come out and help with park cleanup and beautification projects. Free T-shirts, water bottles and other goodies will be given to all volunteers.

Call 478-763-2759 or click here for more information.

Sterling State Park – Monroe, MI

Help collect native prairie seed from grasses and wildflowers to restore Lakeplain Prairie.

Call 517-719-2285 or click here for more information.

Tombigbee State Park – Tupelo, MS

Beginning in 2015, Toyota Mississippi will kick-off a five-year NPLD project at Tombigbee State Park. Kids Camp will be offered to children under age 12 with projects that include an interactive water conservation activity provided by Mississippi 4-H as well as painting and building bird houses and feeders. NPLD will conclude with a volunteer celebration including a BBQ lunch, fishing, disc golf, live music, and door prizes (must be present to win). Over the five years, the park will be completely renovated including cabin restoration, bridge construction, installation along nature trails, removal of invasive vegetation, planting flowers and shrubs, welcome center renovations, and overall park beautification.

Call 662-317-3038 or click here for more information.

Onondaga Cave State Park – Leasburg, MO

Attend the Green Living Fall Festival and National Public Lands Day Bio-Blitz! The day’s activities will center around villages and will contain a variety of topics, including educational activities, hands-on activities, vendors, displays and demonstrations, green products, local farming, and sustainable living. The bio-blitz, in honor of National Public Lands Day, will feature experts in a variety of scientific and ecological fields leading groups to identify and record species of flora and fauna throughout the park. The public is invited to voluntarily participate in any group. The Onondaga Friends Association will be demonstrating the making of apple butter and freshly canned jars will be available for sale along with many, many other vendor items.

Call 573-245-6576 or click here for more information.

Elk Knob State Park – Todd, NC

Head over to Elk Knob State Park for National Public Lands Day where you can help work on maintaining the Summit Trail or the new Maple Run Trail. Tools will be provided. Bring water, lunch, and work gloves and wear close-toed shoes.

Call 828-297-7261 or click here for more information.

Black Moshannon State Park – Philipsburg, PA

Help beautify Black Moshannon State Park! Projects include trail maintenance, native plant gardening, litter pickup, and planting. Pre-registration is required. Lunch will be provided and free camping is available that weekend for volunteers.

Call 814-342-5960 or click here for more information.

Bledsoe Creek State Park – Gallatin, TN

Help put together playground equipment at Bledsoe Creek State Park!

Call 615-347-3639 or click here for more information.

Celebrate Earth Day at the State Parks!

Earth Day 2015 leaves poster [Image: kvbb945.com/tag/earth-day-2015 ]

Image: kvbb945.com/tag/earth-day-2015

Celebrate Earth Day at state parks across the country and join thousands of people who are getting outdoors and making a difference on April 22nd! First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to learn more about environmental issues and how you can help. Here are a few ways you can participate this Earth Day:

Take a Hike!

Hikers on a trail in Wisconsin [Image: www.travelwisconsin.com]

Image: www.travelwisconsin.com

Unearth your hiking boots, thick socks, and walking stick and hit the trails on Earth Day! Cumberland State Park in Tennessee is hosting a 3-mile, Earth Day hike on the Pioneer Trail along upper Byrd Creek. See fascinating geological features, smell the wildflowers, cross a swinging bridge, and pass through the trail’s “fat man’s squeeze.” The Earth Day hike in Pomme de Terre State Park, Missouri will strike out on the Cedar Bluff Trail in the Hermitage area of the park. During the hike, park rangers will help you identify local wildlife and wildflowers. All of Washington’s state parks are free admission for Earth Day. Take advantage of this special opportunity by joining other outdoor enthusiasts on the Wildflower Walk at Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center. This 3/4-mile walk along a wetland trail is a great way to learn more about native wildflower species.

If you’d rather celebrate on the water, head to Crooked River State Park in Georgia for an Earth Day River Paddle at High Tide. Paddle your way through a maze of marsh grass before the course opens into gorgeous scenic views of the park.


Volunteers help with trail maintenance [Image: news.outdoors.org/2013/07/enjoy-outdoors-learn-new-skills-give.html]

Image: news.outdoors.org/2013/07/enjoy-outdoors-learn-new-skills-give.html

After a long, hard winter, there’s so much to do at the state parks to get them ready for the summer season. How can you help? It’s easy! Just give back to your favorite outdoor space by volunteering your time on Earth Day!

Wisconsin state parks are holding a series of volunteer days with their month-long Work*Play*Earth Day events. On any of these designated days, lend a hand at the parks by helping with repairs, trailwork, gardening, and painting. Refreshments and gifts of appreciation will be provided by Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. Of course, these volunteer days are also about fun! Once you’ve completed a volunteer project, join the park staff on a hike, bike ride or by touring a nature center.

Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania also has Earth Day projects for volunteers. These projects include trail maintenance, litter pickup, leaf removal, and native plant gardening. As an added incentive, Earth Day volunteers can camp for free at the state park’s campground!

The Earth Day Hike & Volunteer Project at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Tennessee is the best of both worlds. Help park staff complete small projects before taking a leisurely hike through the park’s beautiful meadow trails.

Bring the Kids!

Participants at Earth Day Celebration at Liberty State Park, NJ [Image: photos.nj.com/jersey-journal/2012/04/hudson_county_earth_day_at_lib_6.html]

View the NYC skyline while celebrating Earth Day at Liberty State Park! [Image: photos.nj.com/jersey-journal/2012/04/hudson_county_earth_day_at_lib_6.html]

There are plenty of family-friendly Earth Day events happening at parks across the country. At Liberty State Park in New Jersey, the annual Earth Day Celebration will have free arts & crafts activities and giveaways for kids. There will be kite-flying, live music and entertainers, and also fun inflatable rides. At the celebration’s 5K Run and 5K Walk, participants will receive a free t-shirt and also have the chance to win trophies and medals. While you’re at the park, don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the picturesque view of the New York City skyline!

There will be a full day of family fun at the Earth Day Celebration at Bear Mountain State Park in New York. Student Conservation Association’s Hudson Valley Corps and Trailside Museums and Zoo have a stellar line-up of activities aimed at fostering environmental awareness. These activities will be happening at stations along the trails, rain or shine.

Let your friends, family or the whole world know about your Earth Day adventures and achievements by sharing your waypoints on any of our free Pocket Ranger® apps! With just the click of a button, easily share your marked waypoints with others through Facebook, Twitter and email. 

Beautiful Wildflower Hikes

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/379850549794553932/

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/379850549794553932

Wildflowers are to spring as snow is to winter. When we’re hiking along, wildflowers often surprise us with their abundance— such a rare sight, almost refreshing, after a long ungodly winter. Typically wildflowers last from March to August, sometimes year-round in warmer climates. They exist in all their purples, blues, reds, pinks and yellows. The term “wild” comes from their exotic quality, since they grow without human care, but spread thanks to the birds and the bees. We’ve gathered a list of beautiful wildflowers hikes from lesser known national and state parks with great views, but smaller crowds. That means more space to frolic and dance near the wildflower fields—but be careful not to trample on them.


Monkshood [Image:orums.steves-digicams.com]

Monkshood [Image:orums.steves-digicams.com]

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is home to some of the rarest wildflowers. About a dozen plant species are unique to Ozarks. Just last year they discovered a rare wildflower never seen in Missouri, called monkshood. Wildflowers can be seen from the first spring blooms to the last blooms in November. For beginners, some of the most common and easiest wildflowers to spot are the purple coneflowers, fire pinks, larkspurs, and columbines. One early bloomer to keep in mind is the Ozarks Wild Crocus, not found elsewhere, and seen from April to May in heavy forested areas, near rivers and tributaries. The rein orchid is another beauty of greenish yellow flowers, appearing from June to July, reaching two feet in height. From the name alone we can tell, the showy lady’s slipper is a magnificent beauty. This orchid is visible from May until early June, and is usually found on the bottom of limestone bluffs along small streams and in ferns.

North Carolina

Craggy Gardens in Blue Parkway [www.randmcnally-temp.s3.amazonaws.com/pois/images/28bb1174e74d4c99bfeba708c60bcbb4.jpg]

Craggy Gardens in Blue Parkway [www.randmcnally-temp.s3.amazonaws.com]

The flora of Blue Ridge Parkway is not to be missed. This world-renowned park is home to 1,400 species of plants and diverse micro-habits. Due to a wide range in elevation from high to low, visitors can enjoy a variety of wildflowers from March to October. But the best time to see an array of species is early April to May when the canopy trees start to leaf out. Summer wildflowers are blooming in the valleys while spring wildflowers bloom in the high peaks. Some dazzling early bloomers include the dandelion, dwarf iris, spring beauty mayapple, and the birdfoot violet among others. From May through August you can find the turk’s cap lily, pink lady’s slipper, evening primrose, Bee balm, and fire pink. A portion of the parkway is also located in Virginia, which naturally blooms earlier due to lower elevation. Here is the bloom schedule for more info. Blue Ridge Parkway also passes through the Great Craggy Mountains, famous for its high peaks and distant views. Take the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, a 20-minute walk that includes a 360-degree view from its summit, tunnels of rehododendron, twisted birch trees, and wildflowers spreading from beginning to end.


Crows poison [www.allthingsplants.com/pics/2012-02-29/Horntoad/24e251.jp]

Crows poison [www.allthingsplants.com/pics/2012-02-29/Horntoad/24e251.jpg]

Texas is one of those states where you can’t go without seeing wildflowers, and we mean ever. You can find the famous bluebonnets in Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site part of the 450 wildflower species in the park, including the Mexican hat, White Prickly Poppy, Blue-Eyed Grass, crows poison, among others. Also see the Indian paintbrush in Lake Whitney State Park. During spring about 40 species of wildflowers cover the roadsides and landscapes. Here you’ll get to see some animals prancing around: raccoons, foxes, bobcats, among others. Daingerfield State Park is another gem known for its wildflower hills of dogwoods, redbuds, and wisteria vines. If you’re in the mood to celebrate check out the nearby Wildflower Trails Festival, happening April 16.


Prairie Coneflower and Bergamont. [Image: www.audubonofkansas.org/tag/roadside-wildflowers-2/]

Prairie Coneflower and Bergamont. [Image: www.audubonofkansas.org/tag/roadside-wildflowers-2/]

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, one of the last remaining among its kind, is a vast prairie landscape of 10,000 acres. Enjoy its wild colors from spring to autumn. Twirl around as the wildflowers and tall grass dance to the wind. There are over 350 species of wildflowers, shrubs and other plant types. Some of the April bloomers include the Prairie Iris, grey bindweed, wild strawberry, and more found in the bloom schedule, The four dominant wildflower species in Tallgrass Prairie are little bluestem, big bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass. We hear the Southwind Nature Trail is the ideal hike to see rolling hills and streams lined with cottonwood and hackberry trees, and a variety of grasses and flowers. Along the trail spot insects, birds, and mammals that call the prairie their home.


Turks Cap Lily (Lilium superbum) [Image: NPS]

Turks Cap Lily (Lilium superbum) [Image: NPS]

Shenandoah National Park displays wildflowers for the length of the growing season, beginning in early spring (late March) as the hepatica and bloodroot push their way out. When the days warm up, purple and yellow violets flower, the large trillium and wild geraniums will appear within the forest. May is the time for pink azaleas to bloom in the forest, and along Skyline Drive, followed by the white flowers of mountain laurel in June. There are 862 plant species, and they appear in spring at lower elevations, also along streams: South River, Hughes River, Rose River, and Mill Prong. Later in the season, the banks of Skyline Drive and the Big Meadows area ideal great places to see summer and fall wildflowers. (For more specific dates, check out the park’s bloom schedule.) Seek out Dark Hallow Falls, Mill Prong, and Franklin Cliff Stroll— all well-known for their variety of wildflower exhibits.

For more info on wildflowers viewings, download our Pocket Ranger® State or National Park Apps.

State Park Events this September

September is for apples, fall foliage, and state park events! From fiddling to marbles, bison to wild ponies, we’ve uncovered September’s liveliest state park events to kick off your fall.

State Park Event: Mountaineer Folk Festival 
Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee
September 5 – 7, 2014

children playing on the grass at the Mountaineer Folk Festival state park events at old time sorghum-milling

Old Time Sorghum-Milling [Image: www.tnvacation.com]

Head to Fall Creek Falls State Park for incredible food, music, and amazing views of the park’s popular waterfalls! For three days, the Mountaineer Folk Festival will be playing up live bluegrass and gospel music. Visitors can try their hand at pioneer skills and square dancing. There’ll be cannon firing, sorghum-making, and blacksmithing demos, and over 100 craft booths to browse for treasures. Fall Creek Falls State Park was listed as one of the most popular family destinations by Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living. With Pocket Ranger®’s Tennessee State Parks app, reserve a campsite or cabin to enjoy the park’s outstanding waterfalls, forests, canyons, and golf course!

State Park Event: National Rolley Hole Marble Championship 
Standing Stone State Park, Tennessee
September 13, 2014

Featured on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and National Geographic, the National Rolley Hole is the world’s most challenging marble tournament. The best players from around the globe come to compete at Standing Stone State Park. Tournament players use flint marbles made by local craftsmen on the park’s clay dirt marble yard. Not yet a marble pro? Check out the marble-making demos, kids’ games and swap meet!

State Park Event: Archeofest 
Pinson Mounds State Park, Tennessee
September 15 – 16, 2014

Pinson Mounds State Park in Tennessee

Pinson Mounds [Image: www.rjrvtravels.com]

You won’t want to miss Archeofest at Pinson Mounds State Park! Archeofest celebrates Native American culture and features traditional singing, dancing, regalia and games. Participate in some of the exciting demos on pottery, flintknapping, leatherwork and jewelry or check out the craft fair. The fifteen Native American mounds found at the park were created thousands of years ago. Archeological evidence suggests that these mounds may have been used for both ceremonial and burial purposes. Tour the park’s museum to learn more about these fascinating, man-made structures.

State Park Event: Laura Ingalls Wilder Days 
Heritage Hill State Park, Wisconsin
September 13 – 14, 2014

Families at a state park event called Laura Ingalls Wilder Days at Heritage Hill State Park

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days [Image: www.decoraharea.com]

Celebrate the early American pioneer lifestyle of author, Laura Ingalls Wilder at Heritage Hill State Park’s Laura Days! Laura Days is a weekend full of family fun. Watch the beautiful Grand Parade in the park, and partake in a pie-eating contest or a spelling bee. Take it easy in a horse-drawn wagon ride and later throw up your heels at the square dance. There is an exciting tomahawk-throwing contest and medicine show to see, too! The arts & crafts market features fresh produce, Amish baked goods, and handmade items.

State Park Event: Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival 
Custer State Park, South Dakota
September 27 – 28, 2014

The world’s largest, publicly-owned bison herd roams free over Custer State Park’s 71,000 acres. Each year, this herd of 1,300 is brought thundering into the corrals by cowboys and cowgirls. The bison are then sorted, branded, and given health checks. If you’re not one of the lucky few astride a horse, watch the buffalo stampede over a hot cup of coffee from the corrals’ bleachers. Afterwards, mosey on over to the bustling arts festival and fantastic food challenges, such as the Annual Buffalo Wallow Chili Cook-off and Cabela’s Challenge Dutch Oven Cook-off.

State Park Event: Prairie Jubilee 
Prairie State Park, Missouri
September 27, 2014

Bison at Prairie State Park for the Prairie Jubilee state park event

Bison at Prairie State Park, MO [Image: blog.visitmo.com]

Come celebrate the tallgrass at Prairie State Park’s Prairie Jubilee! A living history loop gives visitors insight into what life was like for early Missouri settlers. Listen to live music and give the bison chip-throwing contest a try. There will be a reenactment of an old-time medicine show and free tours of the bison herd. Hungry? Grab yourself a bison burger and settle down in the tallgrass to gaze out at the gorgeous sea of green.

State Park Event: Annual Fall Harvest Festival
Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia
September 27 – 28, 2014

Wild Ponies feeding at the Annual Fall Harvest Festival State Park Event at Grayson Highlands State Park

Wild Ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park [cindybsims.blogspot.com]

Since 1976, Grayson Higlands State Park has held the annual Fall Harvest Festival. Bursting with autumn foliage and exhibitions of Appalachian culture, the Fall Harvest Festival is a treat for the whole family. Help yourself to local food, like hobo pies, biscuits, and BBQ. Stop by the craft fair for walking sticks, quilts, turkey calls, and puppets. Grayson Highlands State Park is also home to a population of feral (and very cute!) ponies. The ponies protect the park from dangerous forest fires by eating back the brush. Wish you had your very own Grayson Highlands pony? You’re in luck! Each year, a few of these wild ponies are auctioned off to the public during the festival.

Suggested Gear List

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel Handbag

Check out the Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items & more!

Your State’s Flower

If you are a person who adores flowers, then you will be interested to know what flower belongs to your state. When you are out in your state park, try to spot one of these flowers and share your photos on our Pocket Ranger® social media channels. Here are some of our favorite state flowers. Coincidentally, we happen to have apps for these states!


Camellia on green shrubs

Image: www.mooseyscountrygarden.com

The flower that belongs to this state is called a camellia. Camellias are evergreen shrubs and small trees that grow in slightly acidic soils with humus and good drainage. They usually grow 1 to 12 centimeters in all seasons and they range from white to pink to red.


Pink and white mountain laurels on green shrubs

Image: breathtaking-blog.blogspot.com

The mountain laurel is this state’s flower. These grow in large, rounded mounds and have dark green foliage that remains on the plant all year. In late spring, it bears clusters of flowers in white, pink, and red. Mountain laurels prefer moist grounds and they grow up to 10 feet in height. They also tolerate full sun in moist soil, although they do grow better in partial shade if the soil gets dry.


Pink Peach Blossoms on tree branch

Image: shampitaaa.deviantart.com

Delaware is the state of the peach blossoms. These flowers blossom in early spring. They range in color from very light pink to red and lavender depending on the cultivar. The peach blossom is 2.5 to 3 centimeters in diameter with five petals. It’s striking against with the tree’s bark.


Orange Blossom with flower

Image: www.humanflowerproject.com

This state is known to be the sunshine state but it is also the home of the orange blossom. The orange blossom is an evergreen tree that grows to the height of 20 to 30 feet. It can be found blooming all year round in Florida, which means more oranges!


Yellow Goldenrod with green leaves

Image: ztona.org

Goldenrod flowers are Kentucky’s state flowers! It is a perennial plant that is known for its healing properties. It has a long wood stem with spiky tooth-like parts and have yellow flowers that grow in thick clusters and they grow up to 12 inches. The yellow parts of the plant can be used in salads and the leaves can be cooked like spinach or added to soups, stews, or even casseroles.


Pink Hawthorn Tree

Image: theconstantharper.com

This state’s flower is the hawthorn. It is a small tree or shrub that grows 6 to 30 feet tall in spring and early summer. The flowers are grouped in broad, dense, flat-topped clusters and resemble cherry or apple blossoms. The petals are usually white or pink. Its abundant red berries attract birds and other animals. Hawthorn is one of the oldest medical plants and it has been used to treat heart problems.


Pink Bitterroot flowers between rocks

Image: www.flickr.com

Bitterroot is the name of the flower that belongs to this state. This perennial flower is a small, low plant growing only one to three centimeters in height, with pink or white petals and leafless steams. Bitterroots grow on gravelly to heavy, usually dry soil. They are best grown in full sun and where summer rains are abundant.

New York

Red Roses with green leaves

Image: www.colourbox.com

New York is the state of the rose. Roses come in many different shades and colors. They can be seen in gardens and vineyards. Some varieties are known for their prickles along the stems of the plant, which are used to deter predators. They also grow 6 to 8 inches in height. Roses should be planted between November and February and they are available all year round. Roses are considered to be a symbol of love, of course!


Blue Bonnet with leaves

Image: keeparlingtonbeautiful.com

Feast your eyes on the bluebonnet. This flower blooms in early spring and it grows in stalks about 8 to 12 centimeters long. They are resistant to cold weather and rarely freeze at night. Bluebonnets need time to flower and must be planted in late September or October to ensure that they will bloom in the spring. The cold weather makes the roots develop and the warmer weather allows the seeds to germinate.


White sego lilies in grass

Image: www.ksl.com

Utah’s state flower is the sego lily. Sego lilies prefer open grass or sage lands and do not need soil to be moist, but they do need depth to spread their roots. This flower blooms in late summer and consists of three large, white, tulip-like petals, which curve upwards and resemble a cup-like structure. They grow up to 6 to 8 inches in height.


Wood Violet with green leaves

Image: www.tramperstrail.com

Wood violet is this state’s flower. They are irregular in shape and their colors range from deep blue/purple to violet. Sometimes they are white with blue markings. Wood violets have five petals in which the lower ones are longer and the two petals have fine hairs. These flowers bloom in early spring and fall. They also grow up to 4 to 8 inches.


Pink and purple indian paintbrush with butterfly

Image: andrewcarrell1969.deviantart.com

Wyoming is the state of the Indian paintbrush. These flowers are set in clusters and they are known for removing metal toxins from the soil. The roots intertwine with other plants like grasses or sagebrush in order to maintain nourishment. The Indian paintbrush is a perennial, but in some species, they are annuals. They range in colors from red, orange, yellow, and white and they grow 15 to 60 centimeters high.

Garden of flowers

Image: www.973thedawg.com

While you are out in your state park admiring these flowers, you may also have the chance to view wildlife that is attracted to these specific flowers. Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to see wildlife that exist in the state park you are visiting. Also, check out more state apps that we have!

Mark Twain’s State Parks

Image: www.i.telegraph.co.uk

In the vast terrain of U.S. State Parks, few famous authors can claim the honor of having not one but two parks named for them. But then again, few authors are Samuel Clemons, aka Mark Twain.

Born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835, Clemons would go on to live a rich and storied life that began with one visit of Halley’s Comet and ended with the next (one day later on April 21, 1910). He was the author of a diverse body of work, but will forever be remembered for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The latter is considered by many to be “The Great American Novel”.

He was a humorous raconteur that traveled across the U.S. and around the world, giving talks which many historians compare to modern stand-up comedy. If you happen to be in either New York or Missouri you can learn more at either one of these Mark Twain State Parks!

Mark Twain State Park in Florida, MS [Image: www.mostateparks.com]

Located near his birthplace in Florida, Missouri, this Mark Twain State Park offers many options for visitors looking to enjoy the outdoors. Fishing and boating happens in the 18,600 acre Mark Twain Lake, and there are also camping facilities and areas for a simple picnic on a pleasant day. Not only that, but adjacent to the site is the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site where visitors are treated to interpretations of his life and times. The Clemens home is even preserved in the museum!

Image: www.mostateparks.com

After decades of adventuring and writing about it, Clemens settled down in the New York/Connecticut area. Located in Horseheads, New York, Mark Twain State Park and Soaring Eagles Golf Course is located near where Clemens and his family spent summers. Visitors can go hunting, cross-country skiing, picnicking, and golfing. Nearby is the Village of Horseheads,  a charming destination with shopping and sites galore, and of course the excellent City of Elmira.

Image: www.ilovethefingerlakes.com

After marrying, Clemens relocated to upstate New York, and lived in the area until his death. Clemens, his wife Olivia, and their children are even buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, just north of Horseheads and Mark Twain State Park. While Clemens’ legacy is always intertwined with the Mississippi River, where legend has it that his pen name was originated, he is also as much a part of the northeast. He even chose Connecticut to be the home state for his famous time traveling protagonist in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court!

With a bestselling autobiography posthumously published in 2010 (100 years after his death, as per his will), interest in Mark Twain has increased yet again.  From William Faulkner to Ernest Hemingway to Barack Obama, there have been an army of notable figures who have praised his legacy. If you want to see some destinations related to an American legend, you can’t go wrong with these two. Have fun, take in some history, and in some cases you might even end up in the setting of some of Mark Twain’s books!

If you want to learn more about state parks in New York and Missouri, you can download the free Pocket Ranger® app for New York here and Missouri here!