I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see an island again. I dream about sandy beaches and waves coming in and out. I dream about the salty air. I dream about the clear, blue skies. I dream about the warm breeze.
Well, I decided to take this dream and go virtual! It’s not 2020 anymore, but we still can’t travel yet. So, here I go. Come with me! I’m traveling to the Virgin Islands National Park! Virtually!
Did you know that 2/3 of the St. John Island of the Virgin Islands is a national park? Virgin Islands National Park is more than just beautiful beaches. You can hike to plantation ruins to learn about a time when sugar dominated the island or visit the ancient petroglyphs carved by the Taino Indians. This area has a lot of interesting history here.
President Calvin Coolidge designated the General Grant in Kings Canyon National Park as the Nation’s Christmas Tree on April 28, 1926 after a little girl exclaimed, “what a wonderful Christmas tree it would be!” back in 1924 while looking up at it.
Colonel John White, longtime Park Superintendent, expressed the feeling that brings people here year after year, “We are gathered here around a tree that is worthy of representing the spirit of America on Christmas Day. That spirit is best expressed in the plain things of life, the love of the family circle, the simple life of the out-of-doors. The tree is a pillar that is a testimony that things of the spirit transcend those of the flesh.”
May this special spirit be with you these holidays!
Happy 105th anniversary to Dinosaur National Monument!
A few years ago, we planned a vacation to Colorado and we planned on driving from California to Colorado. At the time, our son loved dinosaurs! I mean really loved them and even talked about growing up to become a paleontologist! After some discussions and checking out the routes, we decided to stop by this national monument and check it out.
We really enjoyed this national monument! Our son loved seeing real dinosaur fossils!
From the Quarry Visitor Center, we took a shuttle up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall.
In this hall, you can see approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones! There are even some places where you can touch them!
Our future paleontologist loved this national monument!
Beyond the dinosaurs, there is much more to do in the monument. For example, you can check out carvings in the rocks, called petroglyphs, left by the Fremont people nearly 1,000 years ago. You can also take a hike, go camping, go fishing, or watch wildlife like elk or bighorn sheep there.
Definitely check out this national monument if you’re in the Utah or Colorado area.
On this day 56 years ago, Congress established the Wilderness Act in 1964. Congress wanted to protect undeveloped and wild areas as an enduring resource for the American people. Today, this act protects 111 million acres of wilderness preserving more than 750 wilderness areas in states from Alaska to Florida.
This act created the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and immediately designated 54 areas into this system. Some of the first wilderness areas created included Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming, Ansel Adams Wilderness in California, and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Today, the National Park Service makes up about 56% of the land under NWPS with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management areas making up the rest.
Many benefits exist today from this land conservation including providing habitats for wildlife; clean air; clean drinking water; boosting local economies with tourism and recreation; and providing some really amazing places to escape and appreciate this great land here!
Go enjoy this anniversary and get out in the wilderness today!
Check out a new map here I made of national park service units that I have visited over the years. When you hover it, you will see the name of the site and years visited. You can also click on the dot to link to the specific national park service’s website for more information on that particular park.
I can’t wait to add more dots to the map! 🙂 You can find this map on the main page of this blog under a tab at any time. Enjoy exploring!
Happy Poetry Day! Poetry Day was founded by William Sieghart in 1994. He is a British philanthropist, entrepreneur, publisher, and founded Forward Prizes for Poetry.
If you live in the Vermont area, you can check out the Robert Frost Poetry Trail in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. On this trail, you get to read about 15 of his poems while enjoying this area.
Our national park system is filled with some pretty cool things! Even poems!
I’ll leave with you a poem that I wrote many, many years ago. There’s no date on it, but guessing middle or high school.
To celebrate today, write a poem (you can definitely do better than this smile poem!), read a poem, check out a poetry trail, or support your local library. Happy Poetry Day!
Yesterday, the President signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. This measure guarantees maximum annual funding for a federal program to acquire and preserve land for public use.
This will drastically improve access to trails and public lands to conserve the places we all love to hike and address the long overdue maintenance needs that have resulted in trail closures at our National Parks, Forests, Refuges, and other public lands.
Two examples of many high priority deferred maintenance projects include:
– The Grand Loop and entrance roads at Yellowstone National Park are inadequate for current visitor needs. More than half of the park’s $586 million maintenance backlog is needed for long-overdue road repairs.
– The aging buildings at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Georgia have $12 million in maintenance needs, including repair work at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where the late civil rights leader preached and where his funeral was held.
Two examples of many high priority conservation needs include:
– 470 acres of scenic, culturally significant lands at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, including two parcels sacred to the Huna Tlingit people and one island parcel surrounded by marine wilderness with potential for camping, fishing, wildlife watching and other recreational pursuits.
– 153 acres at Big South Fork National Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee that represent the most threatened tracts of land within the park. These lands provide refuge for a variety of threatened and endangered species and are especially vulnerable to development if not acquired through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This new law will definitely help our public lands here!
Since March, we have spent lots of time at home. And spent plenty of time dreaming of hiking and traveling again. To help get excited for future hikes, I made this fun hiking stick. I have some real hiking poles, but thought it would be a fun activity to paint my own hiking stick.
My kids found this stick in our yard and discarded it for being too big for their project at the time. I checked out the stick and it was a perfect size for hiking.
This stick was pretty smooth and didn’t need sanding, but some others might need to be sanded. I painted the sections and later sprayed it with a sealer. I opted with a colorful, rainbow look, but you could do any colors and patterns. You could even add stickers, ribbons, or other decorations to make it your own style.
Just thought I’d share a fun (and easy) hiking activity to do at home!
While we wait until we can go and visit a national park, check out a few movies here to enjoy some scenes from a variety of national parks.
Star Wars, A New Hope (1977) – Death Valley National in California – filmed some scenes on Tatooine here as well as some other scenes in the movie
Dances with Wolves (1990) – Badlands National Park in South Dakota- has a variety of scenes there including a pretty, mixed grass prairie landscape scene
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – Redwoods National and State Parks in California – filmed some scenes here
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – Zion National Park in Utah – Robert Redford and Paul Newman filmed some scenes here
Star Trek V, The Final Frontier (1989) – Yosemite National Park in California – Captain Kirk decides to climb El Capitan in this film
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming – featured the tower as the aliens landing site
The Shining (1980) – Glacier National Monument in Montana – filmed the Going-to-the-Sun Road and a few other scenes here and the Overlook Hotel lounge set in the film was modeled after the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park
Into the Wild (2007) – Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska – Sean Penn’s movie based on Jon Krakauer’s book set here
Rocky IV (1985) – Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming – filmed the Tetons as a stand in for scenes with his training in Siberia
Planet of the Apes (1968) – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and Utah – filmed the landing site for the astronaut crew there
Forrest Gump (1994) – National Mall in Washington DC – Forrest Gump described this scene as the happiest time of his life takes place here and Forrest also journeyed through Glacier National Park in his adventures
North by Northwest (1959) – Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota – Alfred Hitchcock movie with Cary Grant filmed some scenes here, but the final scene was filmed on a set which looked just like the memorial
E.T. (1982) – Redwoods National and State Parks in California – filmed some scenes here in the forest
Free Solo (2018) – Yosemite National Park in California – filmed the nonfiction movie here about a rock climber’s attempt to climb El Capitan
Enjoy some movies while pretending to be in a national park!
Did you know that you check out and take a virtual tour of some of the most popular national parks online? I know that I need an escape from everything going on right now and wanted to share it with others.
The National Park Service (NPS) has a great website with a ton of tours, videos, webcams, photos, articles, and other excellent resources.
First, I have to share my favorite national park, Yellowstone National Park. Click here to virtually tour parts of Yellowstone like the Mud Volcano area, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Mammoth Springs, and some other areas.
You can also check out another one of my favorites, the Grand Teton National Park, by clicking here.
Who has seen the 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The film used this unique tower in Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. You can visit it virtually and check out this distinct tower by clicking here.
I have always wanted to visit Denali National Park in Alaska. Click here to take a virtual tour of this national park.
Take a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York by clicking here.
The national park service has a ton of other online opportunities to virtually explore our national park treasures. Click here for NPS’s main page and search your interests.
Take a minute and enjoy our country’s beauty and treasures online. It will do wonders for the soul during these tough times right now.