Category Archives: Parks

Climbing Up the Chains on Angels Landing

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In this video, Theresa is climbing up to the top Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.  Angel’s Landing is a knife-blade of rock that towers 1200 feet above the Virgin River.  The last half-mile of the Angel’s Landing Trail is treacherous, with narrow paths and sheer thousand-foot drop-offs.  Chains are mounted into the rock to help keep climbers from plunging off the mountain.

Rare Clear Day in Homer

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“Lucky is the visitor who drives into Homer on a clear day,” says the Lonely Planet book on Alaska.  And we were certainly lucky, as the stunning Grewingk Glacier was in full view across Kachemak Bay on the day we visited Homer, Alaska.  Homer is at the very end of the road in the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, Alaska.  With a population of just over 5,000, Homer is the counter-culture capital of Alaska, full of artists and fishermen and people who are “disillusioned with mainstream society.”

We drove to the top of the mountain that overlooks Homer, hoping to visit a nature preserve there.  But while Homer was basking in warmth and sunshine, the top of the mountain was socked in with a persistent heavy downpour, so we turned back, stopping at the top of the bluff to take a video of Homer from above.  This video starts with one of the many float planes taking off daily over Kachemak Bay.  The video pans out and ends with the impressive Grewingk Glacier.  We had considered a day hike to the glacier, but the cheapest way to reach the glacier is a $150 water taxi, which also includes the risk of getting stranded overnight on the glacier if bad weather sets in.  We decided to pass because we didn’t want to risk the dogs having to stay overnight in our RV without food and water.

Playing in a Giant Sandbox

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You’re only as old as you feel, and in these videos we feel like a couple of little kids.  In this video, Theresa is running down a sand dune at Kelso Dunes in the million-acre Mojave National Preserve, Calfornia.

 

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Darby, Shadow and I are playing on the 60-story tall Kelso Dunes.  When I’m pushing my feet into the sand, I’m trying to make the dunes “sing.”  These are one of the few dunes in the world that sing in low tones when sand falls down the dunes.  Sorry for the artifacts in the video, there was dust in the lens from the desert wind.

National Park Week Begins Today!

   National Park Week

National Park Week officially gets under way today and runs through April 28.  There will be many special activities in the parks throughout the country.  Admission to all national park units will be free Monday through Friday next week.

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Show Your Support for Our National Parks

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s National Parks.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation is founded on a legacy that began more than a century ago, when private citizens from all walks of life took action to establish and protect our national parks.  Today, the National Park Foundation carries on that tradition as the only national charitable nonprofit whose sole mission is to directly support the National Park Service.

You can show your love for our national parks by purchasing T-shirts or other merchandise from the National Park Foundation.  Proceeds from the sale of this merchandise will help the National Park Foundation protect our treasured landscapes for generations to come.

 

I Heart Parks

I Love Parks

 

This Is Your Land

Park Art

    Go Parks

Go Parks

     

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National Park Week 2013 (NEW)

     

Go Wild

Go Wild!

     

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NPF Gear

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Top 10 Volcanoes on Our Trip

Mountains tend to sit in ranges and are usually surrounded by other mountains.  Whereas volcanoes are typically solitary masses that rise straight up from the surrounding plain.  As a result, volcanoes make an imposing feature on the landscape.  The height of the volcano’s peak above the plain is known as its “prominence.”  For example, Mt. Rainier in Washington has a prominence of more than 13,000 feet and is visible from Seattle 60 miles away.

But it’s not only the size of a volcano that makes it daunting.  It’s the possibility that a volcano could blow at any time and rain destruction down on everyone and everything in the vicinity.  Fortunately most volcanoes give plenty of seismic warning before becoming a real threat to people and property.

Following are the Top 10 Favorite Volcanoes of our trip:

 

1. Mt. St. Helens

Tree debris in Spirit Lake below Mt. St. Helens

Type: Active stratovolcano
Last Eruption: July 10, 2008
Last Major Eruption: May 18, 1980 (57 deaths)
Elevation: 8,366’;  Prominence: 4,605’
Location: Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington

On the clear morning of May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted in a violent fury that became the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in United States history.  57 people were killed.  250 homes, 47 bridges, 185 miles of highway, and 15 miles of railroads were destroyed.  This was our favorite volcano of our trip because evidence of its destructive power was still quite evident everywhere we looked, from the flattened forests, to the tree-filled Spirit Lake (shown above).  It was both exciting and unnerving to realize that if we had been standing there 32 years ago, we would’ve been instantly seared to death by ash and hot gas travelling 670 miles per hour.

  

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Dune Buggies in Anza-Borrego

This video shows two dune buggies zipping through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California.  This is followed by a nice look at Elephant Knees, a large mesa with a fluted side that looks like a line of standing elephants.  Sorry about the smudge in the video, it’s actually dust in the lens from the desert wind.

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Alligators in Texas? Who Knew?

We may not have believed it if we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes.  Brazos Bend State Park in Texas has the greatest concentration of alligators in the United States outside of the Everglades.  There are an estimated 300 adult alligators in the park, and we saw a total of 120 adult and child gators on our 7-mile hike along Elm and 40-Acre Lakes.

 

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Interestingly, the dogs never really noticed the alligators, even when the gators were only 10 feet away sunning themselves on a riverbank.  Perhaps it’s because the alligators weren’t moving and/or because they don’t smell much.  In this video, an alligator is floating away in the creek.

  

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Brazos Bend is also a haven for aquatic birds such as the American Coot.  These pretty black birds have the unusual ability to run across the surface of the lake as shown in this video.  The mechanical sound you hear in the video is a nearby diesel pump that was transferring water from one lake to another.

Private Waterfall View

Wapta Falls and Yoho National Park

One of our most amazing dispersed camping spots on our trip was just outside Yoho National Park in British Columbia.  We camped for three days at the Wapta Falls Rec Site, which had two private campsites separated by about 100 feet of forest.  Our campsite had a spectacular, unobstructed view of Wapta Falls, which was only 1/3 mile away and roared loudly.  Behind the falls rose two 10,000+ foot glacier-covered mountains.

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National Park News

Theresa and Timm at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

If you love the national parks like we do, please check out our National Park News blog, which includes official news feeds from U.S. National Parks plus other related stories.  You can subscribe on the blog to receive daily email updates or follow us on Twitter.

In the photo above, we are sitting at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park with the iconic Half Dome looming large behind us.