National Mall

Happy 229th anniversary to our National Mall.  The National Mall is centrally located in Washington, DC.

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The National Mall is America’s most visited national park and nicknamed “America’s front yard”.

The Mall area preserves the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, the National Mall, East and West Potomac Parks, Constitution Gardens, 60 statues, and numerous other historic sites, memorials, and parklands.

I remember seeing the National Mall for the first time. I had traveled to DC for an internship after graduating college. In my free time, I walked over to check out a few sights and knew this area would be an ideal place to see some iconic memorials.

I grew up seeing the skyscrapers in Chicago. I’ve seen tall or big buildings. I’ve seen open areas and parks.

Yet, this place wowed me. I paused in my steps there. The beauty, the history, the size, the importance of it all truly awed me.

I love going back to this part of our national park system. It brings together our country in unique ways. It still awes and wows me!

According to the National Park Service, “The open spaces and parklands envisioned by Pierre L’Enfant’s plan, which was commissioned by President George Washington, created an ideal stage for national expressions of remembrance, observance, celebration, and expression of First Amendment rights.”

If you’re traveling to the DC area, definitely make some time and check out the National Mall area.

Happy 229th!

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Indiana Dunes National Park

Recently, we visited Chicago and Indiana to see family and show the kids some fun there. During this trip, we visited a national park! And we got see a newly designated one!

Indiana Dunes National Park sits along the southern shore of Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana. This national lakeshore became a national park as of February this year.

We checked out the visitor center first and our kids become junior rangers there! As I’ve mentioned, you definitely need to check out the junior ranger activities at our national parks! Great way to get the kids involved and learn something!

At the center, we read up on the park, watched the short history film, and even bought our youngest a junior ranger vest and hat. 😍

I love learning cool facts about the park like the fact that Lake Michigan took form 11,000 years ago when the Wisconsin glacier began to melt.

We headed to the shoreline and parked by the Kemil Road Access Point. We enjoyed seeing the lake and let the two kids skip some rocks.

We had to drive over and check out the park’s most dynamic dune, Mount Baldy. Mount Baldy stands 126 feet tall. To see this powerful dune, you need to take a short, fun trail to reach the beach from the parking area. It’s a fun little hike!

If you’re in the Chicago or Indiana area, check out our 61st national park and the first national Park in Indiana.

Crater Lake National Park

Happy 117th anniversary to Crater Lake National Park located in Oregon!

About 7,700 years ago, Mount Mazama erupted creating the deepest lake in the United States and the 9th deepest in the world.  With a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the  one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever see. The water’s intense blue color is an indication of its great depth and purity. Surrounded by cliffs, the lake is fed entirely by rain and snow. Scientists consider Crater Lake to be the cleanest and clearest large body of water in the world.

My husband and I have journeyed to this national park twice.  Here are a few photos from our first excursion there in September 2007.

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Did you the see the lake in the second photo? Yep, we didn’t either on that trip! The snow and clouds came in fast and hid that beautiful lake. We still enjoyed being in the national park, but really wanted to see Crater Lake!

And here are a few photos from our second trip there in August 2016.

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We definitely saw this amazing lake on this trip! We really enjoyed seeing this spectacular lake as the blue color is really unique.

We also took in a hike in the woods there too as the lake is only part of the national park.  This national park has a ton of old-growth forests with towering ponderosa pines to ancient whitebark pines hosting many trails for hiking.

If you’re in the Oregon or Northern California area, I highly recommend checking out this national park. This lake will truly amaze and inspire you!

Place of the Week

Click on the Place of the Week tab above here or the link on Mondays now for our national site of the week!

The national park system has 419 national areas including national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.

Each week, that page on this blog will highlight one of the national areas and give you a link for more information. Check out this week’s place of the week and then come back on Monday for the next one!

Happy Monday!

Bark Ranger Day

As part of National Park Week, today is Bark Ranger Day. Let’s take a guess what this might mean…..bark….like dogs!

BARK actually stands for:

Bag your pet’s waste

Always wear a leash

Respect wildlife

Know where you can go.

These are four great points to remember when bringing your pet to a national park.

Enjoy a photo of our first dog, Ranger, at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.