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In the way long ago past of 2011, we may have mentioned that there were some free entry days coming to National Parks across the United states in 2012. Well the future is here—this weekend—so pack up the minivan, Prius, or station wagon and visit your favorite national park on the house.
Uncle Sam is opening the gates to all his parks as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, so it might be a good idea to do something nice—like donating your time or money—rather than just freeloading a free hike. The admission fees are waived January 14-16.
Nature Travel / Costa Rica Travel / Hiking / Green Travel / Active Travel / National Parks / Volcanoes / Volcano Travel / → All Tags
Have you got a spare three or four hours? If you were in Costa Rica right now, those could be spent hiking around a volcano and petting frogs. Sure, everyone knows the giant Arenal volcano towards the center of the Central American country, but Costa Rica has six other active volcanoes, one of which is Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, located in the Guanacaste province and within its own National Park.
Rincón de la Vieja is serious business as far as volcanoes go. Heading up to its top rim and caldera is no longer allowed (too risky!) but local, experienced guides can easily lead you on a several-hour hike to spot fumaroles (steam vents), bubbly muddy water cauldrons, cute froggies and waterfalls so clear and cool you'd think it was Norway instead.
You better revise your list and ask Santa for one of those stainless steel water bottles, as there’s one place your plastic bottle is no longer welcome.
Initially the head honcho over at the National Park Service wasn’t totally cool with banning plastic bottles at the parks across the land, but now it sounds like things might move forward at places including the Grand Canyon. Parks considering getting ready of plastic need to do a few things first, however, including making a checklist to report how much waste they’ll eliminate, as well as the effect on businesses and other groups that benefit from selling stuff at the park.
If your ride aboard the commuter rail just isn’t giving you that warm and fuzzy feeling this holiday season, it might be time to look for a different kind of train. The Polar Express is certainly an option, especially the one offered by the Grand Canyon Railway in the days leading up to Christmas.
All your favorite aspects of the children’s book—and none of the creepy ones from the feature film—come alive as you board the train just outside the Grand Canyon in Williams, Arizona. After a customary declaration of “All Aboard,” the train chugs off through the woods and wilderness on its way to the North Pole. Cookies and hot chocolate are served on the train while enjoying a rendition of the classic story, and then the main event arrives when it's time to visit Santa and his reindeer.
The outdoor season might be winding down for 2011—it’s getting chilly—but that just means it’s time to start looking forward to 2012. Sure there’s plenty of stuff to do in the winter, but it won’t take many blizzards or snowpocalypses before we’re dreaming of spring at national parks across the country.
Even better than a visit to a slice of the country’s backyard is a free visit, and thankfully the National Park Service has already released its freebie days for next year. Start planning your trips now, as we’re sure the RVs and pop-up trailers will be swarming the entrance gates.
Movie Set Travel / San Francisco Travel / National Parks / Animals / California Travel / Nature Travel / → All Tags
The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes opened in theaters just two weeks ago, but already one of the movie's featured locations has seen an increase in visitors, thanks to the film. The movie didn't actually spend any time filming at the Muir Woods National Monument but producers did use photos to recreate the park for a scene in which the apes run across the Golden Gate Bridge and escape to Muir Woods.
The scene is apparently making quite an impression on audiences since the park is seeing more than 5,000 visitors a day, the most they've had in more than two years.
If you’re driving to the Florida Keys from pretty much anywhere else in the Sunshine State, you’re going to navigate the final stretch of US-1 for around two hours. Once you’re outside of Key Largo the turquoise waters start to show their true colors, but with your eye on a final destination at the end of the road you’re usually too focused to stop. However, if you’re going to pull off for a little time to splish and splash we have to recommend Bahia Honda State Park. Just pay attention to the mile markers, because if you blink you just might miss the entrance to the beach.
This state park sits at around mile marker 37 in the Florida Keys, and from what we saw on our recent stop, it might just be the best place to take a break between Key Largo and Key West. The park is open each and every day of the week form 8am until sunset, and admission will set you back $8 per vehicle under the assumption that your car is filled with passengers—it’s just $4 if you’re venturing in all by yourself.
There’s rainbows and even double rainbows, but have you ever seen or heard about the elusive moonbow? Well, it’s kind of the same thing but instead of needing sun and rain droplets, moonbows develop thanks to moonlight reflecting off bits and pieces of the wet stuff during the night. This might not be something you can see everywhere, but if you want to go hunting for one Yosemite National Park is one place where to start.
The park is a good spot to begin your moonbow hunt, as here the park’s waterfalls provide the perfect amount of mist and water to allow moonbows to flourish on a moon-lit evening. Park officials report that the best time to see the phenomenon is during the spring and summer season, so if you’re still planning your summer national park road trip, add this spot to the list.
The other day we got the chance to get some advice from an older, wiser, big sister travel expert, Samantha Brown. You know her as the host of her own show on the Travel Channel and as The Woman Whose Job We All Covet.
This summer, she's got another gig--she's the spokesperson for Nature Valley's National Parks Project, an awareness campaign to get folks to take advantage of the nearly 400 national parks in America and in doing that, help preserve our national parks for the next generation.
Now in a perfect world with unlimited funds we'd be at the Acadia National Park in Maine walking along with Sam in matching L.L. Bean jackets and duck boots but instead we did a Skype interview indoors--she in a hotel room in Boston and we in the cleanest corner of our home office.
Who doesn't like hiking, biking and exploring in our national parks in the summer? Now there's a chance to help maintain them while you're at it. The Sierra Club's Volunteer Vacations give everyone the opportunity to give something back to the public lands we all love. Trips take place year-round at national parks across the USfrom the Grand Canyon to the Bartow-Pell Conservatory in NYCso there really is something for everyone.
The Sierra Club also makes an effort to design trips that will accommodate all levels of skill and stamina. Each vacation includes a variety of tasks which range from building and maintaining trails to helping archaeologists perform research duties.
Spring has sprung in national parks across the country, but if you’re heading out into the wilderness just remember one thing. All the critters and creatures are also excited about the warmer weather, and they’re also kind of hungry after being cooped up indoors for the entire winter.
In Yellowstone National Park, the bears have started to come out of their dens, and they’re eager to snag a few pick-a-nick baskets or whatever us humans leave lying around the park. Officials say that loads of snow has forced the bears to stay put a little longer than usual, but they’re on the loose now and they really want a snack or two.
Outdoorsy types, get your hiking boots on and backpacks ready. National Park Week is set for April 16 to 24, giving you the chance to explore 394 national parks for free all week long. Freebies include national monuments and historic sites.
While a number of national parks are usually free, more than 100 of them charge you to enter. So you'll save the $20 car fee at Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park as well as the $25 vehicle fee at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.