Tag Archives: state park activities

Thousand Islands Region of New York: Three Beautiful Waterfront State Parks

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

Cool breezes, sunsets to die for, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation are among the many reasons to visit the Thousand Islands region of New York. Stretching from Lake Ontario to the west along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain to the east, it’s one of the most beautiful places, in my opinion, to spend a warm weather weekend.

I grew up visiting the Thousand Islands with my family and have fond memories of playing Capture the Flag with my brother, raging bonfires on the banks of the St. Lawrence with my cousins, learning to fish with my father, and visiting family staying at nearby campgrounds.

Though you won’t find solitude or quiet during the high season at any of these campgrounds, there’s just something special about sleeping next to the river. The three options below are great places to start when you’re planning your next trip to the Thousand Islands.

On the Boat  - American Narrows [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

On the Boat – American Narrows [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Burnham Point State Park

If you’re looking for a relatively small, quiet campground with easy access to local attractions and towns, start your search with Burnham Point State Park. Located just east of Cape Vincent, New York, Burham Point is home 47 campsites situated right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Waterfront access and unobstructed views are available for a lucky few who make reservations far enough in advance, but the most choice sites go quickly during peak season.

This year, the park is open from May 22nd through September 6th with peak season beginning July 25th and ending August 7th. Campsites start at $15, but be aware of additional charges for electric hookups, out-of-state reservations, prime and waterfront sites, and weekend/holiday visits as well as vehicle entry fees.

Once you’re there, the park hosts boat launches, boat docking, a playground, showers, grills, pavilions, picnic tables, and more for visitors. Fishing and boating are popular activities at Burnham Point. Plus the park is close to local shopping, grocery stores, and other activities.

Bonfires on the St. Lawrence in Thousand Islands NY  [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Bonfires on the St. Lawrence [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Cedar Point State Park

If you’re looking for a bustling campground with a sand beach, plenty of docking for boats, and plenty of room for children to run around, Cedar Point State Park is an ideal option. Like Burnham Point State Park, Cedar Point is a popular, beautiful campground nestled right along the St. Lawrence River. Located just north of Burnham Point in Clayton, New York, Cedar Point hosts 165 sites, including RV-accessible sites as well as tent sites.

The season at Cedar Point is a bit longer than at Burnham Point, stretching from May 1st through October 11th this year. Sites start at $15, but additional charges apply for RV hookups, out-of-state reservations and more, as with Burnham Point State Park.

Cedar Point is always busy during the summer season, and with good reason. The park is home to baseball fields, a boat launch, dump and comfort stations, fishing opportunities, picnic amenities, a recycling station, volleyball courts, and best of all, a sheltered sand beach for swimming and relaxing. Even if you’re not staying in the campground, paying the day-use fee for access to the beach is highly recommended!

Sunset Over Carlton Island [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Sunset Over Carlton Island [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Wellesley Island State Park

Technically part of the Town of Orleans in Jefferson County, New York, Wellesley Island hosts the largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region. With over 400 sites available, visitors can stay in tents, RVs, trailers, even fully outfitted cottages with porches ideal for sunset watching. Though it’s a massive complex, you can still find a handful of secluded sites accessible only by foot or by boat.

Wellesley Island is open for year-round visitation, but not all campground loops and cottages stay open all year. Be sure to look at Reserve America for dates and availability as well as site prices and additional fees. The best part? As the name suggests, if you stay the night, you’ll be camping on an island.

The park hosts four full-service boat launches, docks, dumping stations, showers, food concessions, golfing, fish cleaning stations, nature trails, a museum, baseball fields, a camp store with laundry facilities, and much more. Miles of hiking trails and granite outcrops are ideal for sightseeing and sunset-watching. If summer isn’t your favorite season, drop by Wellesley Island in the winter for cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Find out about any of these state parks in the Thousand Islands region and more by downloading the free Pocket Ranger® Guide for New York State Parks mobile app!

Have you been to any of these state parks or to the Thousand Islands Region? We’d love to hear from you!

Leave No Trace

How do you keep the wilderness wild when millions of outdoor enthusiasts visit state and national parks each year? The Center for Outdoor Ethics created a solution to this problem with their national educational program, Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace program promotes and inspires good ethical practice when in the backcountry. By following these guidelines, you ensure a gratifying and lasting outdoor experience for all.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Like any trip, planning before you arrive at your destination is key.

  • Acquaint yourself with park regulations. You can easily access this information through any of our free Pocket Ranger® apps.
  • Be prepared for extreme weather and emergencies. Pack a first aid kit and a survival kit that includes a flashlight with extra batteries, whistle, multi-tool pocket knife, maps, lighter, fire starters, and iodine tablets.
  • Respect the physical limits of your hiking group by planning a trip that’s compatible with the group’s skill level.
Backpacker in sunlit field [Image: sojourningabroad.wordpress.com]

Image: sojourningabroad.wordpress.com

  • Careful meal planning and packaging is so important when out in the backcountry. Pack only the food you need to minimize waste while you’re out on the trail.
  • Try to visit the outdoors in small groups. This is especially applicable to backpacking trips. If you are a larger group heading into the wilderness, break off into smaller groups to reduce impact on the environment. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use on the trail.
  • Refrain from marking your trail with paint, cairns or flagging, and instead use a map, compass or your Pocket Ranger® app. In addition to a compass feature, the Pocket Ranger® apps offer users advanced GPS features that can even be used offline!

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Trampling down an area’s vegetation can result in some undesirable results, such as barren areas and soil erosion. Help preserve the environment by following these tips:

  • In wilderness areas of high use, stick to established trails and campsites. Established campsites can come in a few different forms, such as raised wooden platforms, rock, gravel, dry grasses and snow. Walk single-file on trails and try to stick to the center of these trails. This prevents the trail from further eroding the surrounding landscape.
Hikers on a trail in the woods [Image: www.tripleblaze.com/blog/2013/07/14/how-to-follow-leave-no-trace-principles]

Image: www.tripleblaze.com/blog/2013/07/14/how-to-follow-leave-no-trace-principles

  • However, when camping and hiking through pristine or fragile environments, the opposite is true. Avoid making established trails or campsites by dispersing your impact on the environment. Do not camp or travel in places where impacts are just beginning to show.
  • Whether in high use or low use areas, always make sure to camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. This protects the waterbody and riparian areas (the land near a waterbody) from damage and contamination.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

This principle could be the golden rule of the backcountry: Whatever you pack in, you must pack out! This includes all trash, leftover food, toilet paper (both used and unused), and hygiene products.

  • Before leaving a campsite or rest area, check around for any trash or spilled food you may have missed.
  • Solid human waste should be deposited in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep. These catholes must be at least 200 feet from water, campsite and trails. After use, cover and disguise catholes.
Always clean up after yourself when outdoors. [Image: bartramcanoetrail.blogspot.com/2013/10/people-fish-camp-trash.html]

Always clean up after yourself! [Image: bartramcanoetrail.blogspot.com/2013/10/people-fish-camp-trash.html]

  • Got dishes? Need a shower? To clean either yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lake, and use only small amounts of biodegradable soap. When finished cleaning or bathing, do not dump this dirty water back into the stream or lake! Doing so would contaminate the natural water source. Instead, strain and then scatter the water at least 200 feet (or 80 to 100 strides) from its source.

4. Leave What You Find

Look, but don’t touch! Preserve the past by leaving natural and historic structures and artifacts as they are. This ensures that other visitors to the area will have the same sense of discovery.

  • Leave rocks, plants, feathers and other natural objects just as you find them.
  • Don’t transport non-native species with you! Non-native species frequently become invasive. These invasive species can critically damage the ecosystem.
  • A good campsite is found, not made. Do not dig trenches or build structures, such as lean-tos, tables or chairs.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

While many believe that a roaring campfire is essential to a great camping trip, fire is not always permitted in backcountry area. Before lighting a fire, always check with park regulations.

  • If fires are allowed, use only established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires. Keep your campfire small and manageable.
  • Hold off on the huge logs! The Center for Outdoor Ethics recommends using sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Can you spot the two campfire faux pas in this photo? [Image: lnt.org/blog/campfire-challenge]

Can you spot the campfire faux pas in this photo? [Image: lnt.org/blog/campfire-challenge]

  • Burn all the wood and coals in your campfire to ash and put out the fire completely. Then scatter the cool ashes.
  • As for cooking outdoors, use a lightweight camp stove. A lightweight camp stove (rather than a bulky camp stove) will also be a blessing for your back!

6. Respect Wildlife

It’s certainly exhilarating to come across wildlife when outdoors. For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, follow these guidelines for wildlife sightings:

  • Always observe wildlife from a distance. Never approach or follow wildlife.
  • Never feed wildlife! Feeding wildlife can make wild animals dependent on humans, creating opportunities for potentially dangerous encounters.
Black bear takes over picnic at campsite [Image: http://forum.wakarusa.com/showthread.php?11815-ARTICLE-Black-Bears-Tear-Into-Tents-at-Wakarusa]

Don’t let your favorite breakfast cereal become theirs. [Image: forum.wakarusa.com/showthread.php?11815-ARTICLE-Black-Bears-Tear-Into-Tents-at-Wakarusa]

  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing food rations and securely.
  • If you bring pets with you, make sure you have control of them at all times. In many places, leashes are required.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

While you may head into the backcountry to be alone in the great outdoors, chances are you may come across a few other outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Respect other visitors to the area. Be courteous and yield to other hikers on the trail.
  • Take breaks and camp away from the trails and other visitors. Avoid making loud noises or speaking in loud voices when in the backcountry. Keeping your voice low not only helps others enjoy their time in the wilderness, but also increases your chances of seeing wildlife.
  • If you encounter pack stock in the backcountry, step to the downhill side of the trail.

Any adventure in the outdoors is going to require some quality gear. By taking the Pocket Ranger® State Park Visitor Survey you could win a $350 gift certificate to Backcountry.com!

Kick Off Summer at National Kids to Parks Day

Get the whole family outdoors at the upcoming 5th Annual National Kids to the Parks Day! On May 16th, America’s state parks partner with the National Park Trust to host this nationwide day of outdoor play. Just a week before the official start of summer, this is a perfect day to explore and discover favorite local, state and national parks and public lands. From scavenger hunts to bird-watching, these state parks are hosting great Kids to Parks Day events:

Nature Hikes & Scavenger Hunts

A family goes hiking in Shenandoah. A great place to go for National Kids to Parks Day [Image: www.goshenandoah.com]

Image: www.goshenandoah.com

Specifically designed with the whole family in mind, the James River State Park’s Scavenger Hunt has 20 items participants have to track down. Winners will get a ride on the park’s Tye Overlook wagon for free that evening! Or learn about Leave No Trace Principles and hunt out all things that shouldn’t be on the trail on Shenandoah State Park’s “Unnatural Hike.”

Join the Lake Bistineau State Park’s Nature Hike for a memorable wilderness experience in the park’s upland mixed hardwood forest, open waters, and stands of cypress and tupelo trees. Stay the night in one of this Louisiana state park’s cabins or campsites, so you can get out on the lake in a canoe or kayak the next day!

At Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in New York, walk the towpath trails on a nature walk, and learn more about native species of birds, animals, plants and flowers. We recommend packing a lunch; there’s nothing better than having a picnic by the Aqueduct Boat Launch or the Yankee Hill Lock!

Bird-watching & Gardening

Kids birdwatching with binoculars [Image: kidsactivitiesblog.com]

Image: kidsactivitiesblog.com

Go birding at the beautiful lagoons and shoreline of Louisiana’s Grand Isle State Park. Resident bird species include a variety of songbirds and shorebirds, such as shearwaters, pelicans, herons, and cormorants. At Leesylvania State Park in Virginia, check out the Osprey Observation. Rangers will be on hand to answer all your questions about these magnificent birds of prey.

The Bristol Bird Club of Virginia will lead a special family birding session at Natural Tunnel State Park. From old growth forest to grassy area, discover all kinds of birds that live in the park’s four different habitats. Or spend the afternoon in the park’s community garden! Alongside the Scott County Master Gardeners, learn more about gardening while weeding and planting.

In Missouri, get down in the dirt at Mudpie Magic at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park! Make mudpies, dig in the dirt, explore rotten logs, and catch crawdads. There are many natural water park features at this state park, so take a dive into the river to rinse off! Or test your birding skills and so much more at Trail of Tears State Park. Join the Birder ID hike and scavenger hunt, and stick around for the “Eggstravaganza” egg hunt and egg quiz challenge at 7:30PM.

Arts & Crafts

Kids flying kites in park [Image: www.kitesclub.com/the-benefits-of-kite-flying-25.html]

Image: www.kitesclub.com/the-benefits-of-kite-flying-25.html

Learn the fascinating art of letterboxing at Shenandoah River State Park’s Letterboxing Workshop! Originating in England, letterboxing involves puzzle-solving and is a bit like geocaching. At this workshop, make your own rubber stamp and then go on a hike to discover your first letterbox.

Go fly at kite at Harry S. Truman State Park’s 3rd Annual Kid’s Kite Day! Park staff will show kids (and kids at heart!) how to assemble and decorate their very own kite. While the glue dries, settle down for a picnic or take some of the park’s example kites for a test flight.

Bluebirds are returning to Missouri on their great migration north. At Pomme De Terre State Park, learn how to build a bird house for Missouri’s state bird. All materials and tools will be provided at this event. Just bring your creativity!

5K & 10K Runs


Looking to keep a brisker pace on National Kids to Parks Day? Join families at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s Run Wild – “A Run for Wildlife!” Proceeds raised from the 10K, 5K, and Kids Run all benefit Nebraska’s wildlife. Both the 10K and 5K take runners through a scenic, naturally challenging trail. The 1-mile Kids Run is perfect for kids ages 12 and under, and parents can run alongside young children. Since none of the events are timed this year, everyone is a winner! Dressing like a wild animal for this event is strongly encouraged. Afterwards, celebrate the day with a picnic, face-painting, fishing, and touring the live animal exhibits.

Families that visit the state and national parks on Kids to the Parks Day are encouraged to submit photos of their adventures to Buddy@BuddyBison.org for possible inclusion in the National Park Trust’s commemorative map. Download your state’s free Pocket Ranger® app for more information about trails, campground reservations, and more!

Go Emerald Coasting this Spring!

Contributed by Emerald Coast Tourism, proud sponsor of Florida State Parks & Beaches Pocket Ranger® app

It’s hard to say what season is best on the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Summer, of course, is an absolute paradise there. In winter, you can trade frigid snow for sugar-white sand. And when it comes to fall color, nothing beats emerald green. But spring… there’s just something about spring. Many consider it the perfect time to go #EmeraldCoasting.

So what exactly does Emerald Coasting in the spring mean? Where do we start? In the springtime, Emerald Coasting is parasailing and jet skiing. It’s boating adventures and world-class golf. It’s marine shows at the Gulfarium. It’s dining al fresco on fresh seafood while watching a gorgeous sunset.

Little girl emerald coasting runs along a beach [Image credit: Peter A. Mayer]

Emerald Coast Tourism [Image credit: Peter A. Mayer]

Emerald Coasting in the spring is catching sight of newborn baby dolphins while you are on a dolphin cruise. It’s watching your kids get wet and wild in the fountains at Destin Commons while you indulge in some retail therapy. It’s the thrill-ride fun of Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, reopening May 2 after a long winter break. And if you’re an angler, spring is a great time to try your luck in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”

To find out what’s best about spring in Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, visit EmeraldCoasting.com. There’s a 100% chance of flip-flop weather, so why wait? Start planning today!

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.

Alabama

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]

Pennsylvania 

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!

Virginia

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]

Ohio

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!

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.

Volunteer!

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. 

Everyday Can Be A Walk in the Park in the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York!

When you think of Spring, you might imagine yourself thawing out, getting back outdoors for a hike, or hopping on the motorcycle and riding anywhere! Springtime is here in Cattaraugus County, otherwise known as the Enchanted Mountains! For some, this is their favorite time of year, with new growth all around, warmer days and the opening of all the amazing parks. Cattaraugus County is home to Allegany State Park, open year round, but there’s also have Griffis Sculpture Park, Rock City Park, Sky High Adventure Park and the Onoville Marina, all of which begin to welcome visitors at the start of May.

Red House Lake in Alleghany State Park [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

Red House Lake in Allegany State Park [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

There’s no better place to see the birds soar, watch the flowers bloom and get outdoors than Allegany State Park. One of the joys of warmer weather is camping. Gather around the campfire to hear the noises of the night while you “unplug” with your family. This park has much to boast about being the largest NY state park and offering a 24-mile trail system for mountain biking, two lakes, miles for hiking (including the North Country Trail), and just about any other outdoor activity you can think of. You can get those muscles moving again at their numerous events in May, starting with the Allegany Adventure Run on the 2nd. Geocachers set your coordinates to this park on the 16th and 17th of May for the annual Geobash. Now in its’ 10th year, an array of activities are planned including night caches, games, educational seminars and a free pancake breakfast. Later in the month, the fun doesn’t end with the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage. Held the last weekend in May, this is an outdoor learning experience where participants can enjoy programming on everything from bird banding to a folk concert.

Rock City Park [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

Rock City Park [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

Rock City Park will offer visitors a spectacular view from “Signal Rock,” where they can see all the new leaves forming on the trees. Discover 80 foot tall rocks that have been left over from the ice age. Hike the trail that leads under, around and sometimes through these magnificent rocks then check out the souvenir and rock shop or the Fluorescent Light Rock Room. They host their Mother’s Day Weekend Arts and Crafts Show on May 9th and 10th.

Griffis Sculpture Park [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

Griffis Sculpture Park [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

The grass is always greener at Griffis Sculpture Park, where nature combines with art. Hike along the trail to come upon over 250 enormous sculptures. Adults like the park because it has beauty like no other, while children like the park because you can climb on some of the sculptures! Fun to visit in any season, visitors will enjoy feeling the sun while resting beside a giant giraffe or by the ladies near the lake.

Warmer weather also means warmer water! Float your boat and soak up the sun along 91 miles of natural shoreline in the Reservoir, launching at Onoville Marina. Explore the trees while climbing through them and racing down the ziplines at Holiday Valley’s Sky High Adventure Park. Don’t forget the golf clubs when you go as Holiday Valley also has a redesigned 18 hole par 70 “Double Black Diamond” golf course that is challenging and well maintained, with breathtaking scenery from every hole.

Onoville Marina [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

Onoville Marina [Image Credit: NY Cattaraugus County]

Live to ride? Then you have been waiting all winter to get your motorcycle or horse out for some fun! Keep a heads up for two motorcycle events in our area. First, join the rest of the gang at Gowanda Harley-Davidson on Memorial Day for their Ride to Remember. Honor and respect those who served and the reason behind the day. Then let loose at the Hollywood Happening, one of the area’s largest motorcycle events. Three days of live bands, contests, vendors and rides to benefit the ongoing restoration efforts of the Hollywood Theater the last weekend of May!

No horsing around, the Enchanted Mountains is a great place for bridle trails. Looking for horse related events and get-togethers? Keep EnchantedMountains.com/Horse on your favorites list then. Our local stables, clubs, and arenas are committed to sharing their passion for all things equestrian with experienced or beginner riders. Let the Crosspatch take you on a guided trail ride with your own horse or one of theirs. Nothing quite compares to seeing the countryside on horseback.

So get into the swing of Spring by making a trip to the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York. For free information on any of these activities or events or to request free guides, call 1-800-331-0543 or visit EnchantedMountains.com.