National Mall

Happy 229th anniversary to our National Mall.Β  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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Grizzly Bears 🐻

While I love a number of animals, I wanted to briefly highlight one of my favorites today. And one that I am hoping hoping hoping to get a glimpse of on our next trip to Yellowstone National Park. I am talking about grizzly bears. Good job if you read the title to this blog post and guessed it! πŸ˜‰

Today, grizzly bears only live in western Canada and northwestern United States.Β  Grizzlies once roamed North America from Mexico on up to Alaska and from California across to the Great Plains. Grizzlies gained protection in 1975 by getting listed on the Endangered Species Act.

These massive animals are a subspecies of the brown bear. Grizzlies weigh around 700 pounds and on their hind legs can stand about 8 feet tall. That’s huge! Yet, about 75% of their diet comes from berries. That’s a lot of berries every day to keep these big bears happy!Β  In addition to their grand size, their color ranges from very light tan to dark brown. They have a very large shoulder hump and extremely long claws.

Grizzlies surprise many people with their agility and speed as well as with their intelligence. Grizzlies can run up to 40 mph! In addition, grizzlies have a strong intellect and solid memory!

Did you know that the mama grizzlies give birth during hibernation? I cannot imagine giving birth in a winter den! They are some strong females! And these mamas fiercely protect their cubs! I know that many mothers out there can relate to fiercely protecting our children. I definitely channel my inner grizzly at times!

Humans stand as the main predator of grizzlies. These very intelligent and unique animals play a huge role in our ecosystem and deserve to stick around for our future generations.Β  I love that our national parks provide a safe place for these beautiful animals (as well as many other animals)! And I’m crossing my fingers to see one (at a safe distance) during our next trip to Yellowstone National Park!

For lots more information on grizzly bears, click here.

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.

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!

National Park Week

National Park Week starts tomorrow, April 20th, and goes through the 28th this year! And to start this awesome week, all national parks have free admission tomorrow!

Each day this blog will highlight different aspects of the parks to celebrate this fun week!

Go and enjoy our amazing national parks!