Tag Archives: Ohio

Celebrate Thanksgiving at Your Favorite State Park!

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to spend in mother nature’s warm embrace: The weather is crisp yet not too cold to make you want to bundle up inside, and the changing foliage presents a gorgeous backdrop to any outdoor activity. It probably goes without saying, but we’re big proponents of not spending the day after Thanksgiving stuck on long lines buying discounted electronics and would much rather be outside at our favorite state parks. Luckily, many state parks feel the same way as us.

After Thanksgiving Hike, Tennessee State Parks

Tennessee's After Thanksgiving Hikes.

Work off all the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing on any of Tennessee’s state parks. [Image: http://tnstateparks.com/]

Eat as much as you want on Thanksgiving, then work it off while also avoiding the Black Friday craze at any of Tennessee’s lovely state parks through their After Thanksgiving Hikes series. Hikes range from easy to more challenging and are of varying distances. Get totally immersed in any of the parks and reconnect with your roots a bit along the way.

Thanksgiving Day Buffet, Ohio State Parks

Thanksgiving dinner.

Celebrating Thanksgiving the way it was meant to be—alongside family and friends. [Image: http://www.decoist.com/]

Don’t feel like cooking this Thanksgiving? You’re not alone on that front. Head on over to any of Ohio’s state park lodge and conference centers or dining lodges where they’ll do the cooking for you—your biggest responsibility will be relaxing, eating delicious food, and chatting with friends and family. And really, is Thanksgiving meant to be spent any other way?

Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot, Choke Canyon State Park

Wild turkey.

A little inspiration for the event perhaps? [Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/]

If you’re looking for a unique way to spend your Thanksgiving weekend, then you’ll definitely want to check out Choke Canyon State Park’s Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot. Learn the history and basics of archery with trained instructors, and maybe even learn a bit about turkey hunting as well. It’s a great event for the entire family! If you’re looking to exert yourself on an exciting hike, want to play around with arts and crafts, or just want a tasty Thanksgiving dinner, many other Texas state parks have events going on for the long weekend as well. Don’t let the opportunity to spend the weekend outside and with other outdoor enthusiasts pass you by!

Thanksgiving Dinner, Kentucky State Parks

Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving.

Cue mouth watering and stomach rumbling. [Image: http://www.lexingtondowntownhotel.com/]

All of Kentucky’s resort state parks are offering delectable buffet-style meals on Thanksgiving so you don’t have to slouch over your stove for a whole week to prepare it yourself. So kick your feet up, stuff yourself full of tasty food, and join other state park lovers to start off the holiday season on a positive note. Use the weekend to camp out in one of these gorgeous parks rather than on a long line at your local Best Buy.

Are you totally convinced yet that you need to spend Thanksgiving and the following long weekend outside? We knew you would be. Make sure you download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to enhance your outdoor experience throughout the fall, too.

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.

Look to the Skies! Birding at the State Parks

This May, look to the skies! Springtime marks a massive migration for hundreds of bird species in North America. Why migrate? The birds migrated to warmer climates for the winter; in the spring, these same birds make their way back up north to their breeding grounds.

Group of birders look through binoculars [Image: archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120122]

Join other bird enthusiasts at the state parks this May! [Image: archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120122]

The first groups of birds to start heading north are waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans). Some birds of prey, such as bald eagles and red-shouldered hawks begin moving north in early spring, as well as blackbirds and sparrows. In April and May, shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers) and songbirds (warblers, orioles, thrushes) begin their migration north. Warblers are a favorite of birders, and in certain areas of the country, you may be able to see more than 30 species of these colorful songbirds at one time!

The state parks are gearing up for this mass bird migration with plenty of events. Pack your binoculars, download the Pocket Ranger® Bird Feed app, and head to one of these great birding opportunities near you.


Wings Over Oak Mountain
May 1st – May 3rd, 2015
Oak Mountain State Park

Spend the whole weekend with fellow birders at the exciting Wings Over Oak Mountain event at Oak Mountain State Park. This three-day event’s itinerary includes live bird of prey programs, guided birding tours, and educational programs that focus on habitat diversity, bird adaptation, and more. Wings Over Oak Mountain is perfect for all levels of birders; on any of the guided tours, park staff will help birders beef up their avian know-how, from distinguishing bird calls to pinpointing key habitat. The event’s registration fee includes breakfast and a wine tasting from Alabama’s own vineyard, Vizzini Farms Winery.

Learn the difference between a fox sparrow and a song sparrow at a birding event at the state parks! [Image: www.cleveland.com/neobirding]

Learn the difference between a fox sparrow and a song sparrow at a birding event at the state parks! [Image: www.cleveland.com/neobirding]


Festival of the Birds at Presque Isle
May 8th – May 10th
Presque Isle State Park

Catch a multitude of birds migrating along the southern shore of Lake Erie at the weekend-long Festival of the Birds at Presque Isle State Park. More than 320 species of bird have been seen flying through the park, including warblers and other songbirds. At the park’s Gull Point, a sand plain sanctuary, look for migrant shorebirds and terns. George Armistead is this year’s keynote speaker, and every full-weekend registrant will receive a copy of his book, ABA Field Guide to Birds of Pennsylvania. To keep away the crowds, this festival is limited to 150 participants, so make sure to register soon!


Hungry Mother State Park Birding Adventure
May 1st – May 3rd
Hungry Mother State Park

Outfit your entire family with binoculars for the family-friendly Hungry Mother State Park Birding Adventure! Ready yourself for three whole days of birding activities and programs for all skill levels, including a live birds of prey show, guided bird hikes, nighttime owl prowls, avian arts & crafts, and kayak bird tours. Richard Moncrief of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics will lead an informative workshop about binoculars: how they work, how to use them, and how to choose the best model for where you go birding.

If you can’t make the entire weekend, but would still like to get your family out birding, join the Family Bird Hike on May 16th at Hungry Mother State Park. Bird enthusiast and master naturalist Randy Smith will lead an informative bird hike through the park. This is a great way for people of all ages to learn the basics about birding.

Four species of North American warblers [blog.allaboutbirds.org]

Four species of North American warblers [blog.allaboutbirds.org]


Camping is for the Birds
May 8th – May 10th
Caesar Creek State Park

Celebrate the annual spring migration at Caesar Creek State Park’s Camping is for the Birds! Camp at the Caesar Creek campgrounds, so you won’t miss any of the birding activities the weekend has to offer. Continuous bird banding demonstrations will take place at the Visitor Center, and park naturalists will lead guided birding hikes. See live raptors up close and personal at the park’s birds of prey program, and join in the “Build Your Own Bluebird Box” workshop! Space is limited, so call the Nature Center for reservations and more information: (513) 897-2437.

Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB)
May 8th – May 17th
Maumee Bay State Park

Designated the Warbler Capital of the World, witness the annual songbird migration at this year’s Biggest Week in American Birding! Northwest Ohio becomes a hub for birders every year because hundreds of bird species fly through the area on their journey north. If you are looking for birding heaven, Maumee Bay State Park is right at the heart of the migration route, and a great place to spend the day (and night!) ticking away some elusive species on your life-list. Over the course of the week, birders will see migrating shorebirds, cuckoos, hummingbirds, buntings, thrushes, flycatchers, up to 30 species of warblers and more! In addition to many guided bird hikes and kayak/canoe tours, there will be an optics exhibit, naturalist-led bird banding, a birder’s marketplace, nature photography programs, and a bird tattoo contest.

A flock of birds flies away at sunset [Image: www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/this-just-in/a-race-between-moths-and-songbirds]

Image: www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/this-just-in/a-race-between-moths-and-songbirds

Looking for ways to help the birds migrating through your own backyard?

  • Create backyard habitat for the birds by planting native grasses, flowers and shrubs.
  • Refrain from using toxic pesticides outside. These pesticides pollute waterways and reduce insects that birds need to survive.
  • Keep your cat indoors! Domestic cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 species of bird worldwide. The Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that free-roaming domestic cats kill billions of birds every year in the United States.
  • Prevent birds from striking your windows by placing large stickers on them. The sticker breaks up the bright reflection of the sun, so the birds can see that the window is not a viable flyway.
  • Drink bird-friendly coffee! By drinking certified shade-grown coffee you are ensuring conservation of vital bird habitat.

Want to keep track of your bird sightings using just your smartphone? Download your state’s free Pocket Ranger® app to easily locate birding locations, identify species, and send your saved waypoints via email, Facebook or Twitter to other birders. And don’t forget to document and share all of your birding discoveries via the free Pocket Ranger® Bird Feed app, a social network just for bird enthusiasts!

Ohio State Parks You Won’t Want to Miss Out On

OhioStateParks_Old Man's Cave-Hocking Hills Region-BlogGraphic

We wanted to focus a bit of extra attention on Ohio parks and our fantastic Ohio Pocket Ranger® app. The app provides updates on all things to do with Ohio parks—from upcoming events to news about various parks, it’s easy to find any sort of park-related information you need. Find out which parks have tennis courts or check the weather at your favorite park before packing up the car. No matter how you use it, the app will become an essential part of your outdoor activity planning! Below are just five parks in the state that you’ll want to put on your itinerary for the upcoming year.

Geneva State Park

A grassy field with benches overlooking a lake.

Geneva State Park [Image: parks.ohiodnr.gov/geneva]

Bordering Lake Erie’s northeastern shoreline, Geneva State Park is a picturesque park that’s great for a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. From the comfortable lodge and conference center, you’ll be able to see gorgeous views of the sparkling lake. If you’d rather rough it and take in the great outdoors, there are plenty of camping opportunities as well as hiking, hunting, and fishing. Take a dip in the calming Lake Erie waters, soak up the sun at the beach, or try your hand at archery. Winter sports enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the park is open year round with tons of cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling to enjoy as well.

Mohican State Park

A waterfall coming over a save where there are carvings in rocks.

Mohican State Park [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/thart2009]

The beauty and distinctness of Mohican State Park has been shaped by the Wisconsinan, the last glacier to enter Ohio more than 12,000 years ago. Diverse in plant and animal life, Mohican State Park is home to raccoons, skunks, red foxes, American toads, gray tree frogs, wild turkeys, and much more. Bikers, hikers, and runners will love the winding trails to be found here—especially the acclaimed 24.5-mile loop. The Mohican River yields an abundance of smallmouth bass and has plenty of opportunities for canoeing. You’re not going to want to leave, and luckily you don’t have to! There are a multitude of camping options that are just begging to be taken advantage of. 

Hueston Woods State Park

A sailboat on a lake with trees surrounding it at an Ohio State Park.

Hueston Woods State Park [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/bontempscharly]

Whether you’re looking for a great place to kick back and relax or an exciting outdoor adventure, Hueston Woods State Park is great for either. The Hueston Woods State Nature Preserve is a gorgeous preserved old-growth forest that beckons visitors to explore its many acres. Miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails wind through the park. Visitors can unwind with a fun game of mini golf, horseshoes, or frisbee golf. A paintball field and target range also entice many visitors into getting a bit adventurous and trying something completely new. The park is stocked with fascinating fossilized remains of ancient marine animals, bringing people worldwide to this mesmerizing park.

Maumee Bay State Park

A picture of park near Erie Lake with a pond, trees, green grass, and people walking along a trail; Maumee Bay State Park--part of Ohio State Parks

Maumee Bay State Park [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmidwest]

Chock full of natural wonders, Maumee Bay State Park mirrors the unrivaled charm of Ohio and Lake Erie. Its wetland environments are brimming with diverse wildlife species, and there have been over 300 different bird species spotted throughout the park. The two beaches at the park are great for swimmers of any age to splash around at. Anglers will enjoy some of the best fishing available in the Midwest, and boaters can just cruise along the crystalline lake. Visitors are encouraged to extend their stay by camping for a few days at the park, which can be done at any time of year.

Shawnee State Park

A photo of the tree leaves changing color around a lake at Shawnee State Park--part of Ohio State Parks.

Shawnee State Park [Image: parks.ohiodnr.gov/shawnee]

Nestled among the expansive Shawnee State Forest, this picture perfect Ohio state park is one of the most astounding areas throughout the state. There are plenty of activities for water enthusiasts and land lovers alike. Explore the Roosevelt and Turkey Creek Lakes via pedal boat, kayak or canoe then stop off at one of the beaches for a refreshing swim. If you’re looking for a more laid-back afternoon, shuffleboard and tennis courts can be found at the lodge. Traverse through the park on any of its six hiking trails, or challenge yourself on the 60-mile Shawnee backpack trail instead. No matter what you do, keep an eye out for wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, raccoons, various songbirds, and elusive bobcats and black bears. Come visit “Ohio’s Little Smokies,” which is the endearing nickname given to the hilly area that peeks out over the Ohio River, and see for yourself why people keep coming back!

Spring is right around the corner, and now is the perfect time to start planning your warm weather adventures. This list is just a taste of the great things to experience in Ohio. Check out the Ohio State Parks Pocket Ranger® app today so you can get started!

April State Park Events to Keep You Active

Don’t let April showers keep you indoors! Here are few springtime events that are sure to get you outside.


View Boston from the watchtower at Blue Hills [Image:  buoutingclub.com]

View the city of Boston from the watchtower at Blue Hills Reservation. [Image: buoutingclub.com]

Blue Hills Reservation
Southeaster Massachusetts Adult Walking Club Hikes – April 12, 18 & 26
Rockin’ In The Park – April 26, 2015

What better way to enjoy springtime than with a walk in the woods? This April join the Southeastern Massachusetts Adult Walking Club at Blue Hills Reservation for three separate day hikes on April 12, 18 and 26. The club is open to people of 16 years of age and older, and there is no fee to join. We especially like that these hikes all fall under 4 miles, making them the perfect way to escape to the forest for an afternoon. The hikes at Blue Hills are moderate, somewhat hilly, and after so much rain, we’re guessing a bit muddy. Be sure to wear proper footwear!

Blue Hills Reservation is just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, but its 7,000 acres provide a green oasis for city- and surban-dwellers alike. From the Science Center to the Blue Hill Observatory to the Trailside Museum, Blue Hills is the perfect place for families. On April 26th, take the family to Rockin’ In The Park where geologist Les Tyrala will share secrets about local stone on this hike over rocky terrain. With the new Pocket Ranger® Massachusetts State Parks app, record your tracks on the geology hike, so you can share them with family and friends via social media or email!


Don't forget to take a tour and learn more about the prison's famous criminals! This is one of our April State Park Events [Image:  wondersofwyoming.com]

Don’t forget to take a tour and learn more about the prison’s famous criminals! [Image: wondersofwyoming.com]

Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site
Spring Exploration – April 25, 2015

As part of National Environment Education Week, take the kids to Spring Exploration, a free event at Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. Kids will observe, explore and learn more about how animals’ behaviors change in springtime. In addition to this event, take the time to explore this unique historic site. Built in 1869, the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site is a fascinating site for adults and kids to explore. Listed on National Register of Historic Places, the prison once held many criminals, including notorious outlaw “Butch Cassidy.” Now a museum, visitors can see photographs of convicts, informational displays about life at the prison, and even walk into the strap iron cells where outlaws were once housed. Spend the day touring the prison as well as the visitor center and ranch.


Banner for Mohican Wildlife Weekend in April [Image: www.mohicanwildlifeweekend.com]

Image: www.mohicanwildlifeweekend.com

Malabar Farm Historic Landmark
Mohican Wildlife Weekend – April 24 – 26, 2015 

Malabar Farm Historic Landmark is gearing up for a celebratory weekend full of outdoor activities for the whole family. The theme for this year’s Mohican Wildlife Weekend is “Face Your Wildest Fears,” with all activities focused on wildlife, nature, birds, and the history of the Mohican area. Register for the 3rd Annual Malabar Farm Udder Nonsense 5k, a family-friendly, pet-friendly, non-competitive and cow-themed 5k where you can choose to walk, run or waddle across the scenic grounds of the farm. On Saturday night, get your dancing shoes on for the Wildlife Barn Dance complete with live music and square dancing. Close your night with the April Night Haunt where you’ll explore the normal to the paranormal, learning about murders, cemeteries and haunted houses. Use the new Pocket Ranger® Official Ohio State Parks & Outdoors Guide app during the hike to mark waypoints so you can return to them the next day! The night haunt ends with hot dogs and s’mores around a campfire, which we think is just perfect.


Look for phlox and trillium on your wildflower pilgrimages. [Image: images.nationalgeographic.com]

Look for phlox and trillium on your wildflower pilgrimages. [Image: images.nationalgeographic.com]

Frozen Head State Park
47th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage –April 11 – 12, 2015

Fall Creek Falls State Park
34th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage – April 11 – 12, 2015

Spring has sprung in Tennessee! Bursting with wildflower events, we couldn’t choose just one to spotlight. Since 1968, people have been visiting Frozen Head State Park to see the mountain wildflowers bloom in springtime. With hundreds of plant species, the park’s Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage will guide visitors through the forests to find the showiest displays of wildflowers.

Or head to Fall Creek Falls State Park for their 34th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. The park is hosting a variety of hikes, workshops and driving tours for visitors. Whichever wildflower pilgrimage you take, consider spending the night at the parks so you can explore all weekend long. Make overnight reservations quickly and easily by using the Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for Tennessee State Parks.

Out & about at the parks this April? Share you adventures with us on Instagram

Winter Fun at the State Parks

There’s no reason to say indoors this January! We’ve found some great winter fun at the state parks that is sure to keep you warm and active outdoors.


Elks stand in the snow at a Kentucky state park

A herd of elk at Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park [Image: parks.ky.gov]

Winter is a great time to see wildlife at the Kentucky state parks. Bundle up and bring the binoculars for a Winter Elk Watch at Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park. Elk were reintroduced to Kentucky in 1997, after being extinct from the region for 150 years. There are now around 10,000 elk within the state, and many opportunities for sightings. Or visit Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park to partake in The Gathering of the Eagles. For one weekend every year, the park offers visitors the opportunity to see migrating Bald eagles. There are interpretive programs, as well as guided tours by bus and luxury cruise ship.


Learn about winter survival at the Cold Day, Warm Hearts, & Family Fun Day at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. Enjoy fishing and birding activities, and create winter crafts. Make some great family memories while roasting hotdogs and s’mores over an open fire.


People cross-country ski through the snow in Maine woods

Image: www.forestsformainesfuture.org

With tons of powder, get up to Cobscook Bay State Park for their Winter Family Fun Day! Family-friendly activities will be happening all day long, including sleigh rides, nature walks, skating, and sledding, plus free equipment rentals for those wanting to cross-country ski or snowshoe. Get cozy at the warming station and let the park staff serve you a delicious hot lunch.


For a night of rousing music under a full moon, come to Myakka River State Park to hear the popular Americana band, Have Gun Will Travel. This band was featured on NPR, and also has their own award-winning craft beer, High Road Ale. Grab your favorite beverage and head to the South Pavilion to see one of the best Americana bands around!

If you’re looking to partake in something a bit quirkier, Koreshan State Historic Site will be hosting the fascinating interpretive program, Archeology of Poop: The Truth Comes Out in the End. Limited to just 90 participants, this program will focus on the archeological study of paleofeces and privy deposits. Participants will also get to try their hand at archeology with a hand-on activity consisting of “replicate” materials found in a historic privy. Make sure to reserve your spot!

New Jersey

A boy learns how to ice fish

Learn how to ice fish! [Image: www.greatfallstribune.com]

The Annual Winter Festival at High Point Park State Park is a celebration of all things snow and ice. Bring the whole family for a day full of winter activities, such as guided hikes, sing-alongs, and winter-themed crafts. There will also be snowshoeing and ice-fishing demonstrations. Take along your Pocket Ranger® app and mark waypoints of places that you’d like to revisit in the spring. Later, help yourself to some complimentary hot cocoa and cookies and warm up by the fire.


Hit the trail on horseback to celebrate MLK Day in the winter woodlands. On this guided trail ride at F.D. Roosevelt State Park, a naturalist and wrangler will share tidbits about the natural history of the Pine Mountain Ridge area. President Franklin D. Roosevelt liked to picnic at this park because of its gorgeous hardwoods and pines, creeks, and small waterfalls. Horse rentals are possible through Roosevelt Riding Stables.


Want to learn more about dog-sledding? The Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland will be holding an informational afternoon about this thrilling winter activity at Punderson State Park. Visitors can meet working sled dogs and learn more about the Husky breed. See these Huskies in action during the sledding demonstrations.


There are so many ways to get outside in Pennsylvania’s state parks this January! The Winterfest at Hills Creek State Park will have sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and skating. There will also be kids crafts, guided hikes, and hot drinks and snacks. Best of all, ski and skate rentals are available and free of charge! The highlight of the Ice-O-Rama event at Lyman Run State Park will be the unveiling of the thought-to-be extinct Giant Ice Shark of Lyman Run. Activities will include sledding, skating, cross-country skiing, and snowshoe and ice fishing clinics.  Soup and hot beverages will be available at the event. The Snow Festival at Bendigo State Park includes a snow box derby, winter survival demonstration, and guided tree identification walks. Hot food will be provided by the local scout troops.

July’s Best State Park Events

park rangers, demos, festival, Eno River, state park, kids

Image: www.ncparks.gov

July is bursting with great events (and fireworks!) at state parks around the country. We’ve combed through the event calendars and uncovered the ones that you won’t want to miss:

Three Rivers Regatta
Point State Park, Pennsylvania
July 2 – 4, 2014

Three Rivers Regatta, Point State Park, Pennsylvania, crowd, boats, water, festival

Three Rivers Regatta [Image: www.brooklineconnection.com]

Point State Park is the place to be this summer! Just a few weeks after holding the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Point State Park gears up for another colossal event: the Three Rivers Regatta. Work on your summer tan while at Regatta Beach (one of only two makeshift inner city beaches in the world), then mosey on over to the larger-than-life replica of the Battle of Ft. McHenry made entirely of sand. Don’t blink or you could miss the powerboat races, where boats frequently top speeds of 125 mph!

Looking for more excitement? This year, the Regatta is hosting the XPogo World Championships in addition to BMX and agility dog stunt shows. A fan favorite is “Anything that Floats,” a parade of handmade, crazily decorated parade floats that bob down the river. This year’s headliners include American rock singer Steve Augeri, former lead vocalist for the rock group Journey, jazz musician Kenny Blake, and Beatlemania Magic. The Regatta culminates with Pittsburgh’s Official 4th of July Celebration fireworks, widely considered to be one of the Top 10 Fourth of July fireworks displays in the country. And did we mention that all of this fun is free? There is no admission fee and no charge for any of the Regatta’s concerts, acts, activities, or events!


Festival for the Eno
Durham City Park, North Carolina
July 4 – 5, 2014

Festival for the Eno, drums, band, live music, North Carolina, crowd, summer, tents

Festival for the Eno [Image: blog.fmrealty.com]

Looking for fantastic music this Independence Day weekend? Check out the 35th Annual Festival for the Eno in Durham, North Carolina. With over 65 acts on four stages, there’s sure to be something that strikes your fancy. All proceeds of ticket sales go towards funding important conservation of the Eno River Basin. An assortment of local food trucks will be serving up some great bites, and the Sweetwater Beer Garden at the heart of the festival will be happy to pour you a local brew. Be sure to rent a kayak or canoe so you can spend some quality time paddling around on the festival’s namesake! Need a place to crash for the night? Using Pocket Ranger®’s Official Guide for North Carolina State Parks, you can easily rent a campsite or vacation cabin at Eno River State Park.


World Championship of Catfishing & Independence Day Celebration
Pickwick Landing State Park, Tennessee
July 4 – 6, 2014

Catfish, World Championship, Tennessee, fishermen, summer

World Championship of Catfishing [Image: www.tnvacation.com]

Catfish, fireworks, bluegrass, golf. What better way to celebrate Independence Day? Pickwick Landing State Park will present an excellent fireworks display over Pickwick Lake on July 4th. Spend the night at Pickwick Landing’s inn, so you can tee up at the golf course or lounge at the beach bright and early the next day.

Nearby Savannah, Tennessee, also known as “Catfish Capital of the World,” is currently hosting the National Catfish Derby. Through July 5, any catfish caught in the Tennessee River is eligible to win. (Don’t forget to upload photos of your own monster catch onto Pocket Ranger Trophy Case®!) On July 6, the World Championship of Catfishing will have its final weigh-in at Pickwick Landing State Park with cash and prizes awarded to the winner. Not so interested in noodling for your own catfish? Then stick around for the after-party for free catfish and live music. Or grab a lawn chair and head to the 35th Annual Savannah Bluegrass Festival to listen to the best that Tennessee has to offer.


11th Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival
Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio
July 12 – 13, 2014

Toledo Lighthouse, girl, sunglasses, water, Lake Erie, lighthouse

Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival [Image: www.toledoblade.com]

Looking to tour the inside of a 100-year old lighthouse this summer? Head to the 11th Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival at Maumee Bay State Park! Since Toledo Lighthouse remains active, this festival is one of only two times annually that the lighthouse is open to visitors. Afterwards, visit the Nautical Village arts & crafts show to pick up some lighthouse-inspired souvenirs and try your luck at the silent auction. With over 200 items at the auction, you’re bound to win something! Help yourself to delicious food like brats, homemade fries, shrimp, and funnel cake while listening to Jimmy Buffet-style musical entertainment at the park’s amphitheatre. And while you can’t spend the night in the lighthouse, you can reserve a campsite (or a yurt!) at Maumee Bay State Park.


Bannack Days
Bannack State Park, Montana
July 19 – 20, 2014

Bannack Days, Montana, collage, pioneers, old, horses, gunfight

Bannack Days [Image: blog.rv.net]

A fun-filled weekend celebrating 152 years of history, Bannack Days at Bannack State Park is something you don’t want to miss! Learn how to shoot a black-powder rifle, pan for gold, and hand-dip a souvenir candle. Watch the local blacksmith forge incredible works of art and take a wagon ride along Bannack’s historic main street. Get ready for good eats like ice cream, kettle corn, fry bread, corn on the cob, and fresh lemonade. Throughout both days, there will be plenty of live bluegrass, gospel, and old-time fiddler music. And keep your eyes peeled for a few staged gunfights!


4th Annual Wakonda Indian Festival
Glen Elder State Park, Kansas
July 19 – 20, 2014

Wakonda Indian Festival, Native American, dance, feathers, tribal dress, haybale

Wakonda Indian Festival [Image: www.sparkpeople.com]

Dancing, drumming, storytelling: Learn all about Native American culture firsthand at the 4th Annual Wakonda Indian Festival at Glen Elder State Park. Waconda Lake was once a spring, believed to hold great healing powers. On the shores of this lake, there will be traditional and contemporary Native American drumming and dances, such as the Hoop Dance and Crow Hop Dance. Stories and legends will be told by master storyteller Ron Brave in the festival’s tipi. Help yourself to delicious Indian tacos, fry bread, and buffalo burgers, and browse the fine silverwork, leatherwork, jewelry, and dreamcatchers on display. Since it’s sure to be a bit warm that day, bring along a bathing suit so you can take a dip in Waconda Lake.