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!
A couple of weeks ago, we ventured out of town for a few days and visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Given this trip was plan B for our summer vacation, it turned out really great!
Sequoia and Kings Canyon sit south of Yosemite National Park in California in the southern Sierra Nevadas. Sequoia is America’s second national park created in 1890.
In Sequoia National Park, the kids opted to check out General Sherman as our first adventure in the park. General Sherman stands as the earth’s largest tree in volume of total wood. It is 275 feet tall with a circumference of 103 feet. Its trunk weighs an estimated 1,385 tons! It’s also estimated to be 2,200 years old! Every year, General Sherman grows enough new wood to produce a 60 foot tall tree of usual size.
Over in Kings Canyon National Park, we checked out General Grant.
While these parks have the amazing giant trees, these two parks also showcase other diverse parts of nature. Enjoy a few photos of other parts of these parks:
We really enjoyed our time here! We did miss going to the visitor centers and listening to ranger talks, but the kids still learned new things and completed their junior ranger books that we printed out at home before our trip.
While most people drive on through these two parks in one day, you can easily spend multiple days here and enjoy the variety of landscapes and trails here. I’d highly recommend checking out these two parks if you’re in the area!
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir
During our vacation in Yellowstone National Park this summer, we discovered the Museum of the National Park Ranger.
Built in 1908, the museum once served as the Norris Solider Station. It’s currently on the National Register of Historic Places. This spacious, multi-room log structure housed a detachment of U.S. Cavalry. The soldier station changed into a ranger station and underwent several room alterations before it finally became the Ranger Museum in the 1990s.
This cool museum takes you through the history and timeline of national park rangers in America. You can learn about their iconic uniforms, duties, hardships, lifestyle, and other cool facts here. They have some really great exhibits here! And you can even watch some short videos in a small auditorium in the museum (great opportunity to rest your tired legs and learn a few fun facts).
In addition, retired national park service rangers staff this museum giving visitors a great opportunity to ask questions about their past work and the national park. Ask away as they love to chat!
If you’re in Yellowstone, take time to stop into this cool museum and check out the history here!
A couple of weekends ago, we headed away for the weekend to Mammoth Lakes in California.
Fall in the mountains just rocks! I love the cool, mountain, fresh air and cold temperatures once the sun goes down.
While there, we originally talked about doing a day in Yosemite. But, we decided to check out Devils Postpile National Monument instead and could not be more happy with our decision!
We started our day there enjoying a hike to Rainbow Falls. Gotta love a 101 foot high waterfall and one that reflects rainbows! 🌈
The trail intersects with the PCT and JMT which is pretty cool to see a tiny bit of those two iconic trails.
After the hike, we took a bus over to the Devils Postpile ranger station. Our kids got their junior ranger books there.
We hiked to see the Devils Postpile. Pretty cool to see the lava formations in the mountain and know how many years ago it all happened. It reminds you of the magnitude of earth and time here compared to us little humans.
Established as a national monument in 1911, this is really cool to see in person!
Our daughter’s little stuffed friend joined us in the national monument as well!
While lesser known than the nearby Yosemite National Park, Devils Postpile National Monument is definitely worth a visit!
Happy 104th 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.
Started in 1994, “It celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits.”
Get outside and celebrate this day!
Visit a national park for free today, volunteer outside at a local park, and enjoy time outside!
Happy 129th anniversary to Sequoia National Park! On this day, President Harrison signed legislation creating America’s second national park. It was the first national park created to protect the giant sequoia trees from logging. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt added the Kings Canyon National Park to Sequoia to have these national parks operate jointly.
We visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park about eight years ago. Enjoy a few photos from our visit there.
The Ash Mountain Entrance:
Tunnel Rock (original granite tunnel was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and this narrow passageway was the only route through until the highway was widened in 1997. You can still walk underneath or on top of the rock if you can hike up it):
Giant Forest (large sequoia grove):
General Sherman (largest living sequoia tree standing about 275 feet tall):
John Muir reflected that giant sequoia groves are “not like places, they are like haunts.” Happy 129th, Sequoia National Park!
One of the highlights from our trip happened by surprise. In Yellowstone National Park, we caught Castle Geyser erupting while literally standing next to it.
Most people think about Old Faithful when they picture Yellowstone National Park. However, Yellowstone has 500 amazing geysers and some 10,000 thermal features to check out!
Castle Geyser has the largest cone geyser and may be the oldest geyser in that area. It’s named after looking like an old castle.
While the geyser’s eruption pattern has changed over time, it now goes off about every 12-14 hours unless it has minor eruptions which throw off the pattern at times.
The water eruptions from this castle shoot hot water up to 100 feet into the air for about 20 minutes! And then it blows some hot, noisy steam for around 30-40 minutes. The entire eruption can last about an hour.
We caught this eruption one day in July while visiting there. Our family loved it! Definitely a highlight from the trip!
Enjoy some photos and a video of this really cool geyser!