Tag Archives: Sun

A Visit to Milltown State Park

Back in November we talked about Milltown State Park in Missoula, Montana, and how a state park is made. A short while ago, we paid a visit to Milltown to see how it is shaping up.

Good sky!

Seems fair to say that, though still not fully open, the park and its overlook certainly have merit.

During this visit on a resplendent June weekday, there were relatively few others at the park, and most of those were Montana Conservation Corps workers who were focused on a project off the paved overlook walkway. The overlook is the focal point of the park’s facilities, and it’s no small wonder why.

Good day for readin' outside.

The view of some of the mountains visible at the park foregrounded by interpretive materials and the railing that lines the Milltown State Park Overlook.

The park’s interpretive material details the history of the river confluence and the people who depended on its waters. It also elaborates on the building of the Milltown Dam in 1908, as well as the massive flood that buried heavy metals, arsenic, and other mining waste at the base of the dam, months after it was constructed. Some of the best information details the incredible effort it took to remove the dam and poisonous sediments, and restore the confluence to the Place of Big Bull Trout, as it is traditionally known to the Salish, who fished the confluence long before pioneers and businessmen settled and dammed it up.

A gorgeous, sunny day for river viewing.

The main overlook showcases the open, sweeping grandeur of the restored confluence of the Clark Fork River.

In addition to the overlook, there is a two-table picnic area and trails that amble into the wooded hills that frame the confluence. In all, the views from the overlook are expansive; the views from the trail are in touch with the quiet wooded parts of western Montana, shaded by large and often young conifers. The trail extends about two miles down, and deeper into the park toward the river.

Dirt path through pines!

The unpaved trail extends through the trees and down toward the river. It shoots cleanly off the paved pathway to the overlook.

Milltown State Park, though still building toward its total fruition, is a marvel of modern habitat and environmental rehabilitation. Through the hard work and perseverance of park staff, community members and organizations, volunteers, and local tribal leadership in the face of local, state and federal-level hurdles, the confluence has become a wonderful vista, well worth the jot from Interstate 90. Milltown is not just beautiful and improving all the time, but represents wholesomeness achievable to all of us, if we endeavor for the good of future generations, and the health of our natural resources.

Speaking of natural resources, there’s no time like the present to get out and enjoy them! Pocket Ranger® mobile apps make trip planning easy, and app features make exploring the parks you visit a delight.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice at a State Park Near You

Two hands that look like they're holding the sun.

Welcome back, summer! Oh, how we’ve missed you. [Image: http://www.care2.com/]

Although the warm weather has arrived, summer hasn’t officially begun until this weekend during the summer solstice. Typically falling between June 20th and June 22nd, the summer solstice is the longest day and shortest night in the northern hemisphere (the opposite occurs simultaneously in the southern hemisphere during their winter solstice).

The summer solstice occurs when the sun’s zenith is farthest from the equator and is also known as the “estival solstice” or “midsummer.” Around the world and across many different cultures, the summer solstice has been recognized as a time to celebrate through holidays, rituals, and festivals. So what better way to welcome the warmth than heading out to a state park? Here are just three of the many state park summer solstice activities occurring this weekend.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Florida

A group of people in a circle in the woods holding drums.

Grab your bongos and drum in the season! [Image: http://projectavalon.net/]

A Tequesta Drum Circle will be held from 7 p.m. until midnight at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Florida hosted by the Moon Path Circle. The event is named to honor the Tequesta Indians, and there will be belly dancers, a gigantic bonfire, nature poems, and, of course, drums. It’s a holistic, environmentally aware way to celebrate summer and connect with the planet as it flows along its natural path.

More info: 954-564-4521

Old Stone Fort State Park, Tennessee

Sun shining through daisies.

Visit a spot that had prime views of the summer solstice sunrise. [Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/longint57/539260752]

Tennessee’s gorgeous Old Stone Fort State Park is full of exciting fishing and hiking opportunities. The main trail follows the walls of Old Stone Fort and traverses through areas that were once used as Native American ceremonial gathering places. At the original fort entrance, there was a perfect view of the spot on the horizon where the sun rises during the summer solstice. Learn about the fort through interpretive panels, check out the gorgeous waterfalls, and end your tour at one of the best spots for greeting summer.

More info: 931-723-5073

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, Arkansas

Toltec Mounds in Arkansas.

Tour the gorgeous Toltec Mounds and ring in the summer. [Image: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/toltecmounds/]

Bring the whole family out to Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park in Arkansas to celebrate the summer solstice and official arrival of the season. There will be primitive-styled weapons to play around with and crafts. At 6 p.m., the park staff will explain the correlation of the mounds’ alignment with the summer solstice sunset and then provide a guided sunset tour of the mounds at 7 p.m. Ease into the summer’s inevitable heat by relaxing at the Toltec Mounds.

More info: 501-961-9442 or toltecmounds@arkansas.com

We’re thankful that the cold months are behind us for now, and we’re fully ready to soak up the sun this summer. Make sure you’ve got all your summer gear, and start making plans to head out to a state or national park near you!