Tag Archives: new york state parks

Halloween Haunts

What’s this! Your cheeks sense chill air, crisply scented with leafy decay as a slow creeping sensation causes the hairs on the back of your neck to rise… it’s Halloween!! State parks are the best year-round, but are also the SP🎃🎃KIEST way to get a taste of nature as the days shorten. We thought we’d list prime, kooky ways to get your heart rate up!

Trains and Treats in California

There’s festive fun aplenty to get your autumn on track at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Park goers should prepare themselves for a freight–er.. fright! on the Spookomotive Ride, leaving the station hourly this Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th, from noon to 4 p.m. The 45-minute, 6-mile (round-trip) train ride is $15 for adults, $8 for young people aged 2-17, and free for children two years old and younger. A mad scientist will be on board to startle and delight passengers, as well as to field questions regarding how to reanimate sewn-together people, or use lightning as a renewable energy source for your own secret laboratories!

The theme for the weekend is Witches & Wizards, but if you’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to reveal your zombie train conductor costume with all its bells and whistles (overalls are back in a big way this fall, after all), the CSRM would probably be it. There’s trick-or-treating at the museum on Saturday, Oct. 29th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with plenty of sweets and knowledge to be had for magic folk and ghost engineers alike.

Chugging right along…

[Image: hiddensandiego.net]

Once called Día de los Muertos, Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, is a pre-Columbian tradition which has its roots in central and southern Mexico. Today, the macabre-yet-bright skeletal imagery and the spirit of venerating deceased loved ones marks a holiday celebrated across cultures here in the United States. [Image: hiddensandiego.net]

If you can’t make the Halloween events at the CSRM and find yourself in southern California, you can check out the Día de los Muertos celebrations at Old Town San Diego SHP. On November 1st and 2nd, there will be historical and modern altars set up around the park to commemorate the inhabitants of Old Town. Visitors can take an altar tour to learn about this tradition, and themselves contribute to the “Tributes & Sentiments” chalk graveyard to remember their own loved ones.

Wicked Woods in New York

A halloween hallow?

Serene or sinister? The more you know, the more your answer will crystalize. [Image: www.pinterest.com]

In keeping with the haunted themes of the season, Green Lakes State Park in Central New York is welcoming one and all to their event, Wicked Woods. On October 29th, from 4 to 8 p.m., admission to the park is free. There will be beachside mini-golf and costumed trick-or-treating, a haunted trail, crafts, a photo booth, and a large bonfire to cap it all off. You can learn more about the event here. As an added bonus, you can work some feel good magic into your eerie festivities by bringing along a non-perishable food item to donate to the local food bank.

Owl-O-Ween in Tennessee

Owls have long been as much a part of Halloween imagery as pumpkins, ghosts or witches. It’s possible this is because of their domination of the nocturnal world, which they survey with their piercing eyes and well-informed demeanor. If you’ve ever taken a break from personifying these mighty nighttime hunters and wondered about the distant hollow hoots one occasionally hears on dusky hikes, Owl-O-Ween at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, Tennessee is just the ticket. For $3 per individual, or $5 per family, hikers can explore nature after sundown, while learning about the Barred Owl and its unique night-song from a knowledgeable ranger! October 29th, 7:30-8:30 p.m., guests are encouraged to make a reservation by calling 615-885-2422 or visiting the Long Hunter State Park website, here.

 

Uh oh...

This would look a whole lot more terrifying if you were a field mouse… [Image: www.birdwatchingdaily.com]

Whether you’re looking to take on Halloween fully costumed, or simply enjoy the smells of autumn, there is an inexpensive or free way to satisfy your Halloween cravings at a state park near you. There’s no time like the present to download a Pocket Ranger® mobile app and explore what’s going on!

State Park Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities are a great way to obtain marketable skills and expand one’s network reach in today’s ever-evolving society. It is also a great avenue to explore possible jobs that you hold an interest in and learn more about that position as well as the organization that you’re working for. Not only will you be gaining some experience, but you also gain a multitude of benefits, such as skills that can be used even after you stop volunteering.

In this sense, your state parks offer numerous volunteer opportunities. The opportunities are diverse and can range from acting as a public contact to becoming a part of the Cultural Resource Protection team to being an interpreter. The opportunities also offer a nice incentive, such as the possibility of earning a free campsite or a free park pass after a certain number of volunteer hours have been fulfilled. Check below for possible volunteer options that you can do in your local state parks!

Natural Resource Protection

habitat restoration

Volunteers happily participating in habitat restoration efforts. [Image: www.projects-abroad.org/]

The California State Parks offer their volunteers the opportunity to assist in critical resource protection for various aspects of their state parks. These can range from trail construction and maintenance to native plant enhancement and nurturing to habitat restoration and beach cleanup.

Adopt-A-Trail Program

trail clearing

Trail clearing is done in groups for it to be successful. Not only will you be helping your fellow state park enthusiasts clear their favorite trails, but you’re also becoming an expert in that trail and getting your dose of daily exercise—now that’s killing two birds with one stone! [Image: www.post-gazette.com/]

The Wisconsin State Parks system has a program called Adopt-A-Trail. What does that entail, you ask? It’s simple! You essentially “adopt” a trail and become a crucial member with a group of people who take care of the trails to ensure that they are clean and properly maintained for the thousands of visitors in the area annually. Your job responsibilities can be as simple as reporting any trail obstructions and hazards to acting as a handyman and providing assistance in trail reconstruction and renovation.

Group Volunteer Opportunities

group volunteer

Thought that group volunteering is only for young adults? Think again! Above, a group of enthusiastic senior citizens volunteer together as park rangers. [Image: www.prescot-az.gov/]

Don’t want to volunteer by yourself? Don’t worry! Florida State Parks has an option for friends, families, or you with other members of your community to do group volunteering in nearby state parks. Simply contact a park’s Coordinator of Volunteer Services for more information to begin organizing your own group today.

Youth Volunteers

youth volunteer

Joining youth volunteer groups is often a great way to boost your resume as well as meet new friends with the same interests. [Image: www.yvc.org/]

For parents with young children or students looking for volunteer/internship opportunities, these are for you. Most state park systems offer internship opportunities for you to be involved in. Simply check with the individual parks for more information regarding their policies, and for those under 18 who are interested in volunteering, be sure to acquire parental permission from your parent(s)/guardian(s) beforehand.

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, particularly with your local state parks. You can gain more knowledge about the importance of preservation within the state park systems and will have memories and skills that are transferrable to other areas in your life, be that now or later. If you wish to volunteer for your local state park, check out the individual park websites, your state’s state park website, or your Pocket Ranger® apps (downloadable in Google Play and Apple Stores) for important information on how to be more involved.