Tag Archives: United States

Happy Birthday, NPS!

By now, you are probably aware that the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday today, August 25th! And, it got us a present: free entry to all NPS parks and monuments today and for the whole weekend! Yessiree! The 124 parks that usually charge admission are completely free to enter, which takes a chunk of the cost out of more than 400 ways national park-goers have to explore something wild, imbued with history, AND awe-inspiring all at once.

[Image: www.nps.gov]

One hundred years of juuust enough development so you can explore, really branch out, and find genuine, quiet solitude (especially with a back country permit), but ideally not get completely lost. Cheers! [Image: www.nps.gov]

And not only is the NPS throwing its boom gates wide open, but there are state parks departments across the country also offering free admission today! New Hampshire State Parks are on board in the east, as Washington State Parks open their arms in the west.

Over the weekend, you can have a first-hand encounter with some of the wonder preserved at our national parks, monuments, battlefields and historic sites. Among the many splendors at our national parks, you can take in waterfalls or tour earthwork forts. You can hike up mountains, or maybe see (and stay a safe distance from) bison, bighorn sheep, or elk. Maybe you’ll catch sight of an elusive wolf pack or share the shade of a stately saguaro. Or you could possibly even find yourself exploring caves, swimming in an ocean, lake, or river, engaged in watching a reenactment, or simply taking a stroll somewhere beautiful. The National Parks are the gateway to our heartland!

[Image: www.whitehousehistory.org]

Then-President Teddy Roosevelt undoubtedly squinting against the sun (it was really bright, okay?) as he looks at the future–the preservation of natural wonders that could almost bring tears to a Rough Rider’s eyes. Almost. [Image: www.whitehousehistory.org]

However we take in the splendor of our natural resources, it is important to remember that while the NPS centennial is an achievement that we’ve all had a hand in simply by visiting or voicing our appreciation for the parks, there is still work to be done. These priceless park landscapes have largely been pristine for millions of years, but they increasingly face challenges posed by our ever-changing world. Celebrating the NPS Centennial equally honors our nation’s conservation efforts, and draws attention to the action required to preserve it for another hundred years, and another hundred after that, for ourselves and the generations yet to come. Whatever your views on this journey we’re all on, visiting a national park this weekend is a great way to learn about the resources around you, our effect on them, and how we can work together to make them even better.

Onward!

[Image: www.whitehouse.gov]

President Barack Obama looks out at the Grand Canyon, and beyond taking in the awesome scenery, perhaps considers the next one hundred years of the National Park Service, to which he has added 27 new monuments during his presidency. [Image: www.whitehouse.gov]

If you aren’t able to celebrate in a park on the 25th or this weekend, National Park Service gates are open again for National Public Lands Day on September 24th, and on Veteran’s Day in November. For a full run-down on what all is going on at a national park near you, there’s a full events feed on the Pocket Ranger® National Parks Passport Guide mobile app!

Every Kid in a Park

Two fourth graders show off their park passes, good for a year and any National Park, monument, forest, or wildlife area in the United States. [Image: www.doi.gov]

Two fourth graders show off their park passes, which are good for a year at any national park, monument, forest, or wildlife area in the United States. [Image: www.doi.gov/]

Last year, President Obama signed an initiative called Every Kid in a Park. The initiative, which took effect in the fall, makes it possible for any fourth grader in the U.S. to receive and use an annual pass from the National Park Service at any of the NPS parks, monuments, waterways, forests, or wildlife refuges. And while the initiative conveniently coincides with the National Park Service’s centennial year, the initiative looks past 2016 as it seeks to help young people develop an understanding of and respect for nature and everything our parks grant us. Its goal is to help preserve the parks’ integrity through future generations.

Some junior-rangers-in-training learn the ropes from a park ranger in Florida. [Image: floridastateparks.org]

Some Junior Rangers-in-training learn the ropes from a park ranger in Florida. [Image: floridastateparks.org/]

Even though the Every Kid in a Park initiative is for fourth graders and their families, there are many ways that kids of all ages can get involved at their nearest state and national parks. Perhaps the coolest among the numerous options (volunteering, anyone?) are the various Junior Ranger programs at state and national parks for kids as young as five and up. The Junior Ranger programs center on instilling general ranger qualities, like knowledge of the natural and human history preserved in our parks or how to experience nature without impacting the animals and plants that live there all the time. There are also more specific Junior Ranger programs that are dependent on the regional history of the parks they focus on. A kid can learn how to be a Junior Archaeologist in the Southeast, a Wilderness Explorer anywhere there’s a national wilderness to explore, or a Night Explorer pretty much anywhere it gets dark enough to see the stars.

you might not get a hat out of your Junior Ranger study, but a park ranger just might tip theirs at you. [Image: www.nps.gov]

You might not get a hat out of your Junior Ranger study, but a park ranger just might tip theirs at you in that slow knowing way. [Image: www.nps.gov/]

According to the NPS, more than 800,000 children have completed their workbooks and become Junior Rangers in just the last year, and every day more kids become familiar with the “Explore, Learn, and Protect!” motto. With these teachings, they learn about the diversity, extremes, and importance of our national lands and waterways as well as our history, environment, anthropology, and ecological impact. It’s great that there’s a program that puts kids in touch with the rich cultural significance of our shared lands and of those that have been here for millennia, whether human or not.

If travel to a national park during this time of year is too much hassle, but you want to get going on your Junior Ranger passport, don’t worry! The NPS offers the WebRanger program with lots of fun interpretive and educational activities to enjoy from your computer, perhaps while you await or plan your next trip to a national or state park. And as always, look to our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps for your next state park adventure!

American History Through State Parks

Ever want to step into American history by visiting state parks? Well then read on.

While the United States’ official foundation is July 4, 1776, its history began well before the American flag flew high in the skies. In the years that followed its official independence date, the United States went on to its more formative years, which contributed to shaping the country’s massive culture and history. History was made when the first explorers stepped foot into what is now commonly referred as “The Land of the Free,” and it continues to be made today.

Check out these important historical and cultural sites that contributed to American history!

Trail of Tears State Park

The Trail of Tears was the forced removal of various Native American tribes in the southeastern U.S. to “Indian Territory,” a designated area west of the Mississippi River. While there was a preexisting treaty between the federal government and the Native Americans that served to honor the interests of both sides, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 signed by President Andrew Jackson made this obsolete. Largely due to a desire to acquire more land in the Midwest, which was occupied mostly by the Five Nations, the Trail of Tears became one of the darkest parts of U.S. history.

The forced relocation caused thousands of Native American deaths due to terrible conditions they faced. These relocations happened during the coldest and hottest days of the month in closed quarters, which led to exposure to communicable diseases; depleted rations led to starvation; and horrible treatment from soldiers, which included extortion and violence, were the leading causes of death. The death march significantly reduced the Native American population in the United States.

Trail of tears

Trail of Tears [Image: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/]

You can delve into this part of American history by visiting the Trail of Tears State Park in Missouri. The visitor center tells a more comprehensive breakdown of this time, and hiking is available for those that want to walk a day in the shoes of the Native Americans. Picnic sites, horse trails, camping, and fishing activities are also available alongside the majestic views of the park.

More information can be found by visiting the Missouri State Park website.

Fort Phoenix 

Located in Fairhaven Massachusetts, Fort Phoenix was involved three times in United States history: The American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. It was brought down during the American Revolutionary War when British troops sent 4,000 troops to New Bedford and raided the harbor on September 5–6, 1778.

Following the attack, the fort was rebuilt and renamed “Fort Phoenix” after the mythical phoenix bird that rises from its ashes after death. Later, the fort helped the American troops repel a British attack in June 1814.

Fort Phoenix

Fort Phoenix [Image: http://www.fortwiki.com/]

It officially went out of service in 1876 and was registered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The fort is a state reservation that features picnicking, hiking, swimming, and scenic viewing areas.

Visit Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Affairs website for more information.

Robert Frost’s Farmhouse 

On the other side of history, visit the connected farm and home of one of America’s most distinguished literary poets. Robert Frost was a highly-regarded American writer who was known for his realistic depictions of rural life, in addition to his command of colloquial speech. Famous for his works, Fire And Ice and The Road Not Taken, he was the winner of four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, was a Congressional Gold Medal awardee for his poetic works in 1960, and was heralded as the Poet Laureate of Vermont in 1961.

Robert Frost Farmhouse

Robert Frost’s Farmhouse in fall. [Image: http://www.english.illinois.edu/]

The Robert Frost Farmhouse is located in Derry, New Hampshire and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968. It is currently managed by the New Hampshire Parks and Recreation department.

For more information, visit their website.

These three sites are only part of a plethora of historic sites located within our various state parks in the country. The United States’ history is colorful, embedded with stories of the past and how it formed our present country, and these sites are certainly worth a visit. Pack your bags, and visit a historic state park today!

State Park Independence Day Celebrations

Fireworks, delicious barbecue, and a healthy dose of American pride are the perfect ingredients for a successful Independence Day celebration. And what better way to show your nationalism than heading out into gorgeous nature and supporting a local state park? Here are just three parks that offer a fun way to spend the upcoming Fourth of July.

Gorgeous fireworks.

Nothing says Independence Day like an amazing fireworks show! [Image: http://sf.funcheap.com/4th-july-fireworks-show-san-pablo/]

Sunset Patriotic Paddle Parade

Paddle along the peaceful shores of Texas’ Martin Creek Lake State Park or their Sunset Patriotic Paddle Parade. Limited amounts of rentals are available, so arrive early or bring your own kayak. And don’t forget those decorations—make sure you and your boat arrive decked out in your red, white, and blue-est!

More info: 903-836-4336 or lisa.male@tpwd.texas.gov

A boat covered in American flags and a huge Statue of Liberty.

Refer to this photo as inspiration for your patriotic boat. [Image: http://houseboats.com/photo-galleries/american-spirit-patriotic-photos/]

Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration

Nothing says love for your country’s history like taking a trip back in time at California’s Wilder Ranch State Park for their Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration. Join in on the parade that travels through the complex to the front lawn where speeches, a flag raising, and patriotic music await. Dress in your early 1900s best and bring some musical instruments, then exchange your present-day bills for some neat 1900s tokens! Afterwards stick around for food or pack a picnic and relax at the park.

More info: 831-426-0505

Three women dressed in old fashioned 1900s clothing in a carriage being pulled by horses.

Past participants in the Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration. [Image: http://www.santacruzca.org/events/index.php?evtid=7793]

Independence Day Fishing Rodeo

Bring your kids over to Georgia’s Reed Bingham State Park where the Friends of Reed Bingham are hosting an Independence Day Fishing Rodeo. Prizes will be awarded, and anyone under 12 is urged to compete. There’s really no better way to celebrate America’s independence than going fishin’!

More info: 229-896-3551

Two kids fishing holding a fish.

Bring the whole family out for an exciting day of fishing! [Image: http://www.hukgear.com/blogs/news/20038915-tips-for-taking-kids-fishing]

Don’t forget to download our Pocket Ranger® Mobile Apps to find out about other Fourth of July events at a state park near you!

Make Your Own Trails with the Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition

Any of our Pocket Ranger® apps can help you find adventure, but you’ll need a rugged rig to get you there. Named Motor Trend’s 2015 Truck of the Year®, we nominate Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition as that perfect ride to get you from humble abode into the great outdoors.

Chevy Colorado Z71 - Trail Boss Edition [Image: www.chevrolet.com]

Image: www.chevrolet.com

Reach any trailhead with the Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition. This midsize pick-up comfortably handles the toughest trails thanks to its rugged durability, powerfully efficient 3.6L V6 engine, and Z71 Off-Road Package. No matter the weather, the trail-ready Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac® all-terrain tires keep you moving in all conditions. Best of all that Z71 Off-Road Package guarantees a smooth ride.

Chevy Colorado Z71 - Trail Boss Edition [Image: www.chevrolet.com]

Image: www.chevrolet.com

Got gear? Whether you’re a hiker, kayaker, hunter or angler, with the Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition there are storage options galore for all of your outdoor gear. GearOn™ moveable cargo tie-down rings and GearOn™ cargo divider in the bed give you many ways to secure your gear. Inside the cab, the large center console provides easy storage options for your gadgets and a nonskid space for charging devices. Armed with rear vision camera, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and OnStar Advisor, this truck pulls its weight when it comes to you and your family’s safety. Composed of high strength materials and reinforced safety cage, the Chevy Colorado Z71 series frame actually minimizes damage in the event of a collision.

Chevy Colorado Z71 - Trail Boss Edition [Image: www.chevrolet.com]

Image: www.chevrolet.com

Take the internet into the wilderness with you! Turn your Chevy Colorado Z71 into a hot spot with 4G LTE high-speed Wi-Fi connection powered by OnStar. Forgot to download a Pocket Ranger® app before you left the house? Download apps, surf the web, and stream video and music with the cab’s powerful connection that can serve up to seven devices. Four USB ports found in the cabin’s console add to ease of use. The truck’s cabin is also equipped with a top-notch Bose® sound system. Queue up the perfect soundtrack for those nights spent star-gazing from the truck bed.

Driving along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway is a favorite during peak fall foliage season. [Image: www.motorhomeroadtrip.com]

Driving along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway is a favorite during peak fall foliage season. [Image: www.motorhomeroadtrip.com]

Download the Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for New Hampshire State Parks and cruise the scenic Kancamagus Highway. While most will be stuck looking at the White Mountains from the hardtop of “the Kanc,” with your Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition, you can access numerous trailheads. We recommend hiking Mount Chocorua, a steep climb with commanding views of the Presidential Mountains. Don’t want to leave your Chevy behind? Put the Chevy Colorado Z71 to the test by summiting Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast!

Alpine Lakes Wilderness [Image: www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/alpine-lakes-wilderness]

Alpine Lakes Wilderness [Image: www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/alpine-lakes-wilderness]

Or get lost in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington. Less than 50 miles from Seattle, you can rely on your Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition to easily transition you from hip, urban sprawl to austere, alpine wilderness. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area is home to the glacier-carved North Cascades and part of the legendary Pacific Crest Trail. Some of the best rock-climbing opportunities in the country can be found at Cashmere Crags. Or load up the kayak or canoe and spend the day on one of the 700 mountain lakes and ponds within the area. Download the Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for Washington State Parks for advanced GPS mapping capabilities that will help you navigate your adventure.

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!

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!