Displaying items by tag: National Parks tag

At the turn of the century, America's wild bison - which at one time numbered 60 million - had dwindled to about two dozen animals. Strong, sturdy and resilient, they’ve made a comeback, thanks to public and private conservation efforts.

On the range, in refuges and national parks, this symbol of our wildlife heritage is magnificent to observe. Despite their seemingly docile ways, don’t ignore ranger warnings. This large, grass-eating creature has been known to charge the too close for comfort curious tourist.

Snap a shot of this American icon – with a zoom lens:

1.Wildlife Expeditions, an educational outreach program of Teton Science Schools, a nonprofit organization, provides year-round wildlife viewing and natural history interpretation to those interested in a close-up, ethical view of Greater Yellowstone’s wild animals in their natural habitat. Experienced biologists use their knowledge and skills to locate bison as well as elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and coyotes amongst the towering Teton Mountains.

Contact: 1 (888) 945-3567; www.wildlifeexpeditions.org

2. The National Bison Range, 40 miles north of Missoula, MT, sprawls across 18,000 acres on one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the nation. Established in 1908, it is a scenic home to hundreds of bison as well as 200 species of birds and other native wildlife.

Contact:1( 406)644-2211; http://bisonrange.fws.gov.

3. Yellowstone National Park is home to approximately 3,500 bison, many the descendants of the few who survived near-extinction. Weighing up to 2,000 pounds, you’ll likely spot them in the Lamar and Hayden Valleys. Also, be on the look out near Pelican Valley, the Lower Geyser Basin and in Gibbon Meadows.

Contact: Yellowstone National Park; 1 (307) 344-7381; www.nps.gov/yell.

4. Terry Bison Ranch, Cheyenne, WY: This family friendly ranch offers bison viewing year round in an environment dubbed “the west the way you want it” by its owners. A popular reunion spot, families can spread out into eight cabins, 17 bunkhouse rooms, as well as RV sites on the 27,000 acre spread. Home to nearly 3000 bison, the ranch also features train rides, horseback riding, a restaurant and a Trading Post.

Contact: (307) 634-4171; http://www.terrybisonranch.com.

5. Established in 1901, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, in Indiahoma, OK, maintains a bison herd of approximately 600 animals. The 59,020 acre Refuge provides habitat for additional large native grazing animals, including Rocky Mountain elk, and white-tailed deer. Texas longhorn cattle also share the Refuge rangelands as a cultural and historical legacy species. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive on this important refuge.

Contact: 1 (580) 429-3222; www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/wichitamountains/refhist.html;

Published in Family Travel Blog

Glacier National Park.

It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.

Among my favorite visits was a multi-generational outing - my Dad, my son and my niece and it was a great destination for all of us.  

Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance. (And rooms book well in advance.)

Here are a few suggestions to jump start your visit: 

Ride the Red Bus.

The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price.

Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525. 

Family Vacation Family Travel Glacier National Park

Explore on foot.

With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge. 

Scenic Boat Tours.

Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price.

Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.

Float the River.

Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or up the adventure quotient in an inflatable kayak.

Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com

Don't Miss Many Glacier

Many Glacier - a national treasure

 

Considered by many as the heart of the park, the Many Glacier region is stunningly beautiful. Expect sparkling lakes, abundant wildlife, great hiking and a bounty of nature-based options. For great views (like the one above) stay at the historic Many Glacier Lodge. 

Base Camp.

Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. One and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site.

Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781.

For reservations inside the park contact: www.GlacierParkInc.com; (406) 892-2525 and Xanterra www.Xanterra.com.   

For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800. 

 Float, fish, swim, sail. It’s all possible when you plan a family lake vacation.

Here a five places to consider:

Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone National Park. For a different view of this high altitude lake, leave the camper vans and crowds behind and travel across the water via cabin cruiser. Then transfer to a sea kayak or canoe and embark

Published in Family Travel Blog

Hike with your family

Introduce your young children to the world of adventure travel.

Here are a few great places to get started:  

Appalachian Mountain Club Adventures. New England.

Beginning at age five, kids can participate in pond studies, GPS treasure hunts, forest ecology lessons, and wildlife watching and tracking activities. It is all part of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s family camp and adventure programs. In beautiful outdoor settings in New Hampshire and Maine, the whole family will learn outdoor skills and safety tips. Also, participate in flat water canoeing, nature walks and even a day hike to a backcountry hut. Spend the night in a bunk room or your family’s own private quarters. Contact: (603)466-2727; www.outdoors.org/adventure_camps.

Wild West Train Ride. Horseshoe Bend, ID.

Add a little zest to a first train ride when you book Thunder Mountain Line’s Wild West Train Robbery ride through southwest Idaho. As the story goes, a sneaky con-man and his sidekicks set out to steal a chest of gold as it is transported on the rails. The US Cavalry is on board for protection, but passengers, young and old, experience the adventure, drama and suspense as the tale unfolds during the 3.5 hour round trip excursion. Available selected dates, July through November.   Contact: 208-331-1184 www.thundermountainline.com/wildwest11.htm

Windjammer Landing Resort. St Lucia.

Children under six and their older family members can choose from a range of soft adventure opportunities while staying at this Caribbean island resort. Hop aboard for a banana boat ride, play on the floating trampoline or check out the inflatable climbing wall. Learn to snorkel or try a guided SNUBA experience, a kid-sized, first step toward learning to Scuba dive. Experience sailing on a Hobie Cat. Then visit a nearby volcano or take a rainforest tour. Contact: 1 (877)522-0722; www.windjammer-landing.com.

Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, WY.

Park your family within exploring distance of Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger Teton National Forest, the National Elk Refuge and Yellowstone National Park. In this ideal Rocky Mountain setting for first time adventure, young nature lovers will enjoy scenic float trips, horseback riding, wall climbing and some of the most majestic scenery available within our nation’s boundaries. The resort’s resident wildlife biologist is on hand to answer questions. Ask about the National Parks Explorer package, designed to maximize your time in the area.

Contact: 1 (307) 732-5000; www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole

Costa Rican Adventure.

Explore the rainforest with your junior adventurers where they will delight at spotting monkeys and sloths, plus color-rich birds and butterflies. Plan for easy walks through national parks and kid-friendly rafting on the Rio Penas Blancas. Learn about volcanoes and later explore tide pools and build sand castles at the beach. Sail and snorkel in the Gulf of Papagayo and scope for whales, dolphins, turtles, and rays.

Contact: http://adventureswithinreach.com/costa-rica/itinerary.php?trip=9_day__Multisport_Volcanoes_And_Tropical_Coasts_

ft yell grizz

Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes. Yellowstone National Park, June 2011

Published in Adventure

Within this wonderland’s 2.2 million acres

you'll have plenty of opportunity to see

wildlife of all kinds - bear, elk, moose, buffalo, wolf, pelicans -- and some tourists

who get a wee bit too close to these untamed creatures.

I captured this image of a playful Grizz......with a telephoto lens.

Find out more about visiting Yellowstone and planning other national park adventures!

www.familytravel.com/Active-Travel/National-Parks/Hike-The-Parks.html

Published in Family Travel Blog

myths and mountains

Each year, the month of February is deemed “plant seeds of greatness month” in an effort to encourage Americans to examine their goals and aspirations and make changes where desired. 

Use this idea ( you don’t have to wait until February), to spark a conversation within your family. Then forge ahead. Learn a new skill, explore new territory or give back to your community. 

Consider these ideas:   

  1. 1.    Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. But when it comes to eco-savvy travel, consider a cycling tour. Forget the trains, planes and automobiles and encourage the entire family to hop on a two-wheeled alternative. Sign on for trips offered by  Cycling through the Centuries and you’ll pedal through parts of Portugal, Spain and South Africa not accessible to travelers arriving by vehicle. Throughout the trip, everything is recycled. Meals and picnics consist of locally grown specialties. Contact: www.cycling-centuries.com 
  2. 2.    Give back during a great adventure. Join pioneering adventure travel expert Dr. Antonia Neubauer for a trek through Nepal, the country she says, where adventure travel was born. Explore the cultures and festivals of the people and join in the efforts of READ Global. The award-winning program inspires rural prosperity by building a community library and resource center in a village then seeding a local business to fully sustain and support the library and provide local jobs. Contact: 800-670-6984; www.MythsandMountains.com
  3. 3.    Find inspiration in a great hotel just steps from the grandest canyon. Completed in 1905 to accommodate tourists arriving to this wonder of the world, El Tovar provides a history-rich lodging experience just steps from the rim of the magnificent Grand Canyon. Every season offers a new opportunity to put your world in perspective by simply standing at the edge of this visual extravaganza. From your cozy, hunting lodge-style digs, set out for hiking, photographing, journaling and people watching. Contact: 888-29-PARKS (888-297-2757); www.GrandCanyonLodges.com. 
  4. 4.    Become a golf great. Follow Kentucky’s Golf Trail and sharpen your skills on one of 19 courses operated by the Kentucky Department of Parks. The “Trail Card”, sold at all state park golf courses, provides unlimited green fees for cardholders. Check out the “Tees and ZZZs” packages, which include meals, lodging and more to craft a great family weekend.. Contact: 1-800-255-PARK (7275); www.parks.ky.gov/golftrail
  5. 5.    Plant a seed. As a symbol of your new goals or commitments, visit a nearby botanical garden, join a local tree planting effort or launch a community garden in your own neighborhood. You’ll then have the pleasure of watching the greenery grow along with your own efforts. Contact: 214-515-6500; www.DallasArboretum.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in The Whole Family

 There is nothing so American as our national parks. The fundamental idea behind the parks is that the country belongs to the people.  – Franklin D. Roosevelt

As a resident of both Montana and Arizona, in recent years I was pleased to note that President Obama and his family chose my "backyard" parks" - Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon- to spend precious family time.

In the end don't we all vote with our feet?  

They will also followed in historic footsteps. 

Park historians from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and the National Park Service shared the following anecdotes about the visits of previous U.S. Presidents: 

Instead of staying in one of Yellowstone’s lodges, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose to stay at the private home of Harry Child, the owner of the Yellowstone Park Company, which operated the park lodges and other concessions. His reason: he did not want the general public to see him in his wheelchair. Designed by Robert C. Reamer, the same architect who designed the Old Faithful Inn, the large home is a single-floor prairie-style structure, so it can easily accommodate a wheelchair.  

Bill Clinton visited both the Grand Canyon (in 2000) and Yellowstone (in 1995). President Clinton stayed in the Mary Colter Suite of the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar and had lunch at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn. President Clinton and the First Lady also took a stroll around Old Faithful Geyser.

President Gerald Ford was already familiar with Yellowstone National Park when he visited in 1976; he had been a 23-year-old National Park Service ranger in 1936. Ford once said his time in Yellowstone was “one of the greatest summers of my life.” One of his duties was to meet and greet VIPs at the Canyon Lodge. He also protected other park rangers who fed bears at the bear-feeding truck, a popular visitor attraction at the time. The park long ago stopped feeding bears and other wildlife.

In 1883, President Chester Arthur rode a horse from the southern to the northern entrance of the park and met supporters at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel before departing the area aboard the newly completed Northern Pacific Railroad. Although it wasn’t quite completed and still lacked a complete roof, President Arthur dined at the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room before his departure.

President Theodore Roosevelt made his final visit to Yellowstone National Park in 1903. Although he was on a two-week vacation, he managed to squeeze in some business too. Roosevelt, Harry Child and Robert C. Reamer reviewed plans for the Old Faithful Inn, which was completed the following year. During that trip he also laid the cornerstone for the Roosevelt Arch at the northern entrance to the park. The arch bears the inscription: “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”  President Roosevelt also visited the Grand Canyon – in 1903, before it was a national park and again in 1911.

Calvin Coolidge visited Yellowstone in 1927. Although Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright tried to engage President Coolidge in park-related politics, Coolidge was more interested in fishing than talking.Howard Taft visited the Grand Canyon in 1911.I

n 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill that designated Yellowstone the world’s first national park. It was a move that has been called America’s best idea. Sadly, President Grant never visited Yellowstone.

During his visit, President Jimmy Carter traveled to one of the islands on Yellowstone Lake to fish with National Park Service officials. After his presidency, Carter returned to the park and had pizza in the employee pub at Lake Hotel. He even signed the wall of the pub, and his signature is still visible today.President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923, shortly before he died. Staff in the park named a geyser after him and observed a moment of silence in his honor. President George Herbert Walker Bush visited both the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. His visit to Yellowstone in 1989 was the summer after the historic Yellowstone fires. He was briefed by park officials about Yellowstone fire science.

Published in National Parks

The American Civil War, a conflict of considerable scale, was fought on home soil.

Sixty percent of the battles were fought in Virginia. Communities, parks and museums, primarily in the East and South, will continue to offer living histories, lectures, and tours noting this era in our history.

Gettysburg. Gettysburg, VA.

Visit what is perhaps the best known of the Civil War battlefields where many believe the outcome of the war was determined. Free Ranger led tours are available for various areas of the park. You and the kids will enjoy driving tours through some of the more significant areas including Little Round.Top, Culp’s Hill and Pickett’s Charge. This is the well known scene of Abraham Lincoln’s famous address marking the victory and the creation of a new nation. Contact: 866-889-1243, www.nps.gov/gett; www.gettysburgfoundation.org

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. Richmond, VA.

Situated on eight acres on the James River in downtown Richmond, this is the first museum to tell the war story from the African American, Confederate and Union points of view. Through multi-faceted education programs, including their signature exhibit, In The Cause of Liberty, the organization seeks to tell the whole story of the conflict that continues to shape the country. A National Historic Landmark, the Tredegar iron works site was the primary armament producer for the Confederacy. Contact: 804-780-1865; www.tredegar.org.

Antietam National Battlefield. Sharpsburg, MD.

In what is deemed as the bloodiest one day battle in American history, more than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing at Antietam. Join a park ranger for a battlefield talk and learn how the twelve hour conflict ended the Confederate Army’s first invasion into the North and resulted in President Lincoln’s first step toward the Emancipation Proclamation. It was here, in the Maryland cornfields, where the First Texas Infantry lost 82 percent of their soldiers, the highest Confederate casualty rate in a single battle. Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge and may enjoy taking part in the driving tour scavenger hunt. Contact: 301- 432-5124; www.nps.gov/anti/ 

Civil War Museum. Fort Worth TX.

Learn about the 90,000 Texans who served in the military in the Battles of Antietam, Gettysburg and beyond. View civilian and military artifacts from the era, including a Confederate flag collection, and Victorian dress. The film “Our Homes, Our Rights”, detailing Texan’s involvement, is shown every half hour. Children under seven are admitted free. Contact: 817-246-2323; Resource: The Texas Historical Commission publishes a brochure noting Civil War sites. It is downloadable at no charge at www.thc.state.tx.us Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge. Contact: 703-361-1339; http://www.nps.gov/mana

Resource: www.civilwartraveler.com; www.CivilWar.org; www.CivilWarTrails.org.

Published in Explore

Hitting the trails is a great way to get some exercise and explore an area up close. Strike out with friends, join a group, or sign up for a guided outing.

Find a trail close to home or make a great hike the centerpiece of a family adventure. Consider these places that blend history, great views and a good time.

1. The Grand Canyon.

Why not think big? I’ve hiked within this national treasure with two of my sons when they were ten years old. I observed that kids often scamper up and down the trails with more ease than their parents. Offering some shade and water along the way, the Bright Angel Trail is the best place to start for great views of the inner canyon. Choose day hikes to the Three-Mile Resthouse ( 3 miles one way ) or to Indian Garden ( 4.6 miles one way ). Better yet, reserve a camp site at the Bright Angel campground ( 9.3 miles one-way) or bunks at Phantom Ranch ( 9.8 miles one way) for a fuller experience. Plan well in advance. Reservations for Phantom Ranch can only be made by mail, phone or fax. 888.29.PARKS; www.grandcanyonlodges.com/phantom-ranch. For camping visit www.recreation.gov.

2. Yellowstone National Park.

Within this wonderland’s 2.2 million acres, hiking options are plentiful. The Beaver Pond hike near the Mammoth Hot Springs is a great spot to see wildlife. During a recent visit there were several elk in the parking lot! This gentle, 5 mile loop trail passes through Douglas fir, aspens and fields of grass and sage. Expect spectacular views of surrounding mountains.

Explore the scenic trails near Cooke City and explore fabulous high mountain lakes. Spend the night at the Skyline Guest Ranch for enjoy warm hospitality and a hearty breakfast.  Contact:  www.YellowstonePark.net/hiking or www.TravelMT.com.

3. Southern California’s Backbone Trail.

Not far from the Hollywood action you’ll find the 68 mile Backbone Trail. Choose from a handful of day hike options. Try the Ray Miller Trail, accessed through the Pt. Mugu State Park. One mile in you’ll encounter a seasonal waterfall. You’ll be worlds away from the urban hustle. (805) 370-2301 www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/backbonetrailsegments.htm

4. Washington DC/Virginia - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal –

Take a break from museum hopping and stretch your legs on this scenic path that passes by several old locks and a lock house. Just 20 minutes from Washington, DC, this hike begins at the Angler’s Inn and follows the canal towpath for 2.3 miles to the Great Falls Tavern. Spectacular in the fall, the trip provides an opportunity to discuss the way locks once lifted boats 600 feet during the years – from the 1830s until 1924 – it was in use. In the same area, consider The Billy Goat trail , a four mile loop hike. www.trailink.com 

5. San Diego – The Silver Strand (also known as the Bayshore Bikeway).

Enjoy the sweet smell and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean on this 11-mile route that follows the path of an old railroad grade. Flat and paved, it’s stroller (and bike) friendly. Check out the Navy ships floating in the harbor. The path connects Coronado with Imperial Beach. Later take in the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. www.Railsandtrails.org

Published in Adventure

It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.

Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance. Here are a few suggestions to help plan your visit:

Explore on foot.

With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Ride the Red Bus.

The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price. Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525.

Scenic Boat Tours.

Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price. Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.

Float the River.

Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or an inflatable kayak. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1 (800) 235-6781. 

Base Camp.

Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. A great option for family reunions, one and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781. For reservations inside the park contact: www.GlacierParkInc.com; (406) 892-2525.

For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800.

Published in Hike
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