Tag Archives: trains

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!

November Events Before the Snow Falls

Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean that there aren’t great outdoor November events at the state parks. From a buffalo auction to a rifle frolic, there’s plenty to do before the snow falls!


A retro, red trailer parked at a campground

Get ready to party with some Tin Can Tourists at the Vintage RV Show! [Image: www.messynessychic.com]

8th Annual Vintage RV Show
Koreshan State Historic Site
November 1, 2014

Before you winterize your RV, come out and see what RV’ing looked like years ago! At Koreshan State Historic Site’s 8th Annual Vintage RV Show, co-mingle with a thousand other RV enthusiasts and check out the wonderful and often quirky vintage RVs on display. There will also be quite a few vintage cars to check out, too. Reserve a campsite, so you can spend the weekend among fellow travelers.


Men dressed in period clothing carry rifles

Kentucky Riflemen [Image: parks.ky.gov]

8th Annual Tanner Station Rifle Frolic
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
Nov 1 & 2, 2014

We hope you’re enjoying our list of November events. Our next event takes you to Kentucky for the 8th Annual Tanner Station Rifle Frolic held at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park. This event celebrates the Kentucky flintlock rifle. In the 1780s, flintlock rifles were an essential tool used by early Kentucky settlers. This premier living history event hosts exciting, historically accurate matches that attract the best traditional flintlock shooters. High-quality prizes are awarded to winners, such as handmade knives, powder horns, and tomahawks. Many participants wear clothing that was typically worn during the Kentucky settlement period. Staff will be on hand to answer any history questions you may have. There is period camping for both vendors and participants on the grounds of Tanner’s Station. Modern camping is available at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park.


Steamin’ Day
Auburn Heights Preserve
November 2, 2014

People ride a Stanley Steamer over a bridge

Take a ride on a Stanley Steamer [Image: northdelawhere.happeningmag.com]

Celebrating the magical age of steam, don’t miss the last Steamin’ Day of the year at Auburn Heights Preserve. Steamin’ Days features steam-powered automobiles and the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley steam cars. From the vintage popper, pick up a bag of fresh steam-popped popcorn, and watch the Firing Up Demonstration to see just how the Stanley cars are put in motion. Then, hop on for a historic ride in one of the antique automobiles. The Marshall Steam Museum offers a hands-on engine display, activities for the kids, and a working 1930s Lionel electric trains display. There are also tours of the antique-furnished Auburn Heights mansion, and rides along the Auburn Valley Railroad.


150th Anniversary Battle of Johnsonville
Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park and
Johnsonville State Historic Park
October 31 – November 5, 2014

Union soldier shows visitors currency

Image: press.tnvacation.com

Not just for history buffs, the Anniversary Battle of Johnsonville held at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park  and Johnsonville State Park has something for everyone. On November 4, 1864, Confederate troops under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the Union supply base at Johnsonville, causing immense damage to Union artillery and transports. This Civil War battle will be commemorated with cannon fire, artillery and infantry firing demonstrations, period civilian activities, and cavalry demonstrations. The park will recreate a 19th century Halloween; near the Crockett Cemetery, experience the same storytelling and fortune-telling games the troops told and played by the campfire. Other weekend activities will include pontoon boat rides, Civil War art, and BBQ.


Syrup Makin’ Time on the Plantation
Jarrell Plantation Historic Site
November 8, 2014

A syrup-making demonstration using an old mill

Making syrup from sugar cane [Image: jcnews.com]

In the red clay hills of Georgia, step back in time and enjoy a traditional syrup cookoff at Jarrell Plantation Historic Site. The entire process of crushing and cooking the sugar cane with a steam engine and then boiling the juice can take around six hours. Spend some of that time watching the sugaring demonstrations, and sampling the sugar juice and stalks. Stroll through the plantation, and watch as volunteers dressed in period clothing demonstrate various farm tasks, such as woodstove cooking, storytelling, crafting, and tending farm animals. Jarrell Plantation is a great example of a “middle class” Southern plantation, with many of the original buildings and artifacts of the Jarrell family still intact. Explore the historic cotton plantation houses, sawmill, gristmill, blacksmith and carpenter shops, gardens and visitor center.

South Dakota

Fall Buffalo Auction
Custer State Park
November 15, 2014

People bid on a wild buffalo in a corral--one of the greatest November events

Name your price at the Buffalo Auction [Image: gfp.sd.gov]

Looking to start your own buffalo herd? Earlier this fall, there was a rousing bison round-up at Custer State Park. Now, the park will auction off a portion of their herd, between 250 and 400 head. By auctioning off a portion of the herd to the general public, the park ensures that herd numbers are kept in balance with available rangeland forage. Funds from the auction all support the state park system. The auction includes calves, heifers, bred heifers, mature cows and bulls, and even wild burros.

Suggested Gear List:

  • Binoculars
  • Backpacks
  • Camera
  • Hats

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and much more!