Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ride the rails through the Canadian Rockies, first day


The Rocky Mountaineer rounds a curve with vistas of
lake and mountains all around.
I’ve settled into my seat on the Rocky Mountaineer train when the hostess comes by with a warm, refreshing washcloth. Soon we’ll have breakfast, she says, as the train with a reputation for impeccable dining and service rolls by Eisenhower’s Peak and Castle Peak, mountains that preview scenery we’ll see on our two-day train ride from Banff in Alberta province to Vancouver on the western coast of Canada.
Majestic mountains provide scenic landscapes along the way.
Rocky Mountaineer began operating luxury trains in western Canada more than two decades ago. Larry and I are riding the most popular route called First Passage to the West, a journey through a vast territory of unspoiled wilderness that is not accessible by other means. As the only passenger rail service on the CanadianPacific track, it traces the rail route that connected British Columbia to Canada more than 125 years ago.

The route starts in Calgary, Alberta, travels 307 miles through breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery around Banff and Lake Louise and then on to Kamloops in British Columbia, where passengers disembark for the night. Trains run only during daylight, so guests won’t miss any of Canada’s snow-capped peaks, gleaming lakes, and green river valleys along the way. From Kamloops the next day, we’ll ride 285 miles to Vancouver, arriving late afternoon.
Creating a rail route

Monument at Craigellachie
When the United States purchased Alaska in 1867, it was feared that British Columbia might be annexed by the U.S. British Columbia promised to become part of Canada in exchange for completion of a transcontinental railroad.
The Rocky Mountains have always been the biggest obstacle for establishing a southern transportation route across Canada because building through mountain passes was very costly. But the project was undertaken by Canada’s two prominent railroad companies, and the last spike was driven into the ground at Craigellachie (noted by a monument we pass) in 1895, ultimately uniting the country.
So many “wow” moments

About mid-morning we approach the Rocky Mountain Trench, a section of flat land that separates the Rockies from the Columbia Mountains. With those ranges and the Purcell Mountains in the background, we spend plenty of time in the vestibule, the open-air observation area between coaches. Although we have excellent views at our seats on the upper deck through a wide wall of windows that extends overhead, we feel more connected to the scenery when outside—and it’s the best spot for taking pictures.
Rolling hills, mountains, and blue skies provide scenic views
on the Rocky Mountaineer train ride.
As the train travels through Mount Macdonald Tunnel, the hosts explain how avalanches in the 1880s often buried trains traveling over Rogers Pass. For about a century the Canadian Pacific Railway instituted various solutions, but in the 1980s CPR completed an engineering feat by tunneling through the mountain to create the longest train tunnel in North America. Each day 24 Canadian Pacific trains traverse its 10-mile length.

Large expanses of windows allow passengers to
enjoy passing scenery from the comfort of their seats.
Before daylight fades, the Rocky Mountaineer enters a semi-desert region. As we travel onto Thompson Plateau toward Kamloops, our destination for the night, the flatland is covered with scraggly sagebrush and rabbit bush vegetation. We learn that ranching and fur trading are important to the economy of Kamloops, whose central location has also made it a tournament capital for many sports.
Larry enjoys a cool drink
on the train.
While it’s possible to drive the distance faster, riding on a train is more scenic, comfortable, relaxing, and doesn’t require much more exertion than walking from our coach to the dining car. Since passengers spend the night in hotels, luggage is transported by truck and deposited in pre-arranged hotel rooms.

After our arrival in Kamloops, a bus takes us to Five Forty Hotel, where we find a lime green post-it note on our bathroom mirror that reads “Be a little crazy now and then.” Great advice, we decide!

Part 2 of Ride the Rails through the Canadian Rockies will detail the second day’s journey and arrival in Vancouver.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

 








         
 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Staying safe when boating

If water activities are in your vacation plans--anything that involves riding in a boat-- please read and heed these safety tips from the Sea Tow Foundation. Life jackets are especially important for children, but adults would do well to follow the  advice on this infographic. Stay safe to have fun!




Thursday, May 19, 2016

Traveling back roads? What to do if your car breaks down

Are you planning a road trip this summer? Even if you have your vehicle checked out thoroughly for any mechanical problems prior to leaving (really, a must), you should also be prepared in case you happen to get stranded on a lonely stretch of road with little or no cell phone service.

Especially if you like to venture off main highways and explore out-of-the-way roads and tiny towns, you should carry a paper road map to help locate where you are. Smartphones are wonderful for giving directions from one place to another or finding gas stations, tow trucks, or car dealerships in case of trouble. But your phone might not work as well as you need if you’re traveling on an isolated country road.
Driving the open road is fun--until trouble hits.
A red hazard warning triangle will alert other motorists if you have pulled to the side of the road, or if you can’t get the car off the road. In addition, or if you don’t have one of these, be sure to put your blinking emergency lights on. This makes your car more visible and will alert passing vehicles to the fact your car is not moving and that you might need assistance.
Hazard lights serve as warnings.

You can also hang a white cloth or piece of paper from the driver’s side window, scribble a sign to put in the rear window,  or tie a cloth on your car’s antenna as a signal for help. If you get out of the car to check on the problem, be sure not to stand or work on the car near the traffic side.

After dark, put on the interior light to signal the need for help. If the car’s engine will still run, turn it on periodically so you don’t run the battery down. If you get out of the car to flag down help, don’t block the hazard lights or stand in the path of oncoming traffic.
Should you stay with the car or seek help? The safest thing is stay with the car unless you recently passed something (a building, for example) where you might find assistance. If you’re certain help is within a reasonable walking distance, pull off the road and put a warning system into effect before leaving the vehicle.

Your main objective when stranded on the road is to remain visible while signaling your need for assistance. Even in the middle of nowhere, it’s possible either a stalled car or a driver wandering on the road may become victims of an accident because other drivers do not see them in time and realize their plight.
Photos from free sources.

 

 

 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Affordable Kauai


Ruggedly awesome Na Pali coast of Kauai

Lush foliage in thick native forests and a proliferation of rainbow-hued blossoms surrounding streets and gardens are hallmarks of Kauai. No wonder this tropical paradise is called the Garden Isle of Hawaii. But it’s also called the Island of Discovery, an apt moniker because its geographic diversity provides options to discover landscapes as varied as sparkling beaches, mountains and valleys, forests and rivers, and soaring cliffs along the jagged coastline.
 
Kauai's Waimea Canyon is called the "Grand Canyon of Hawaii"

The oldest and fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai was formed from volcanic eruptions 5 million years ago. Thousands of years without eruptions have allowed the island to grow into a verdant haven with a unique topography among the islands. Its beauty is available for everyone to enjoy.


Blue waves sweep up on this black sand beach in Kauai
Visitors, whether first-time or repeat, continue to discover fascinating and free, or inexpensive, ways to appreciate Kauai. Enjoy these photos of my favorite Hawaiian island.

Beautiful beach on the north shore of Kauai

Opaeka Falls on Kauai
For the complete article, originally published in Arizona Highroads, March/April 2015, click http://highroads.az.aaa.com/article/kauai.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
 

Monday, May 9, 2016

U.S. National Monuments worth visiting


The U.S. National Park Service celebrates its centennial in 2016, and there is much  publicity surrounding the  best known of our national treasures. While people are familiar with many of the 59 parks that NPS is charged with protecting and preserving, they may not realize that 112 official monuments also come under the auspices of NPS.
The monuments are all different, but each has a significant place in our country’s historic or scenic landscapes. In this post, I’m commemorating the centennial by highlighting a couple of my favorites.

The gigantic faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson,
Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln greet visitors at Mount Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is an enormous sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Nearly three million people visit each year. I visited there in July 2015 and marveled at the majestic presidential faces and the importance of each man in America’s history.
The Lincoln Memorial in
Washington D.C. shows a stoic
President who faced many challenges.
The Lincoln Memorial was built to honor the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the marble statue immortalized the president who preserved the country during the Civil War and became known as the Great Emancipator.

The Navajo National Monument, located on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona, preserves three intact cliff dwellings of the ancestral tribe called Anasazi. It honors the resourcefulness of our country’s early inhabitants, who learned to use what was available in nature to their benefit.
View from the rim of Cedar Breaks
in Utah
Cedar Breaks is a national amphitheater canyon with incredible rock formations similar to the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The canyon stretches over three miles and is more than 2,000 feet deep with a hiking trail on the rim that provides exceptional views.

Grand Staircase-Escalante isn’t a single monument but almost two million acres of notable paleontological finds and stunning geology. The monument consists of the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante—some of the most beautiful red rock landscapes in the nation and a stunning prelude to several national parks in Utah.
Driving in Grand Staircase-Escalante is a scenic journey
amid gloriously red cliffs
Mount St. Helens, located 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is the most active volcano in the Cascade Range. Its most recent series of eruptions began in 1980 when a landslide and powerful explosive eruption created a large crater. It ended six years later after more than a dozen extrusions of lava built a dome.


You can drive along the rim of Colorado National Monument,
one of the grandest landscapes in the West.
Colorado National Monument is a gorgeous park near Grand Junction, Colorado. Spectacular canyons cut deep into sandstone formations in this area of desert land high on the Colorado Plateau. The park hosts a wide range of wildlife, and visitors can participate in hiking, horseback riding, road bicycling, and scenic drives. There are magnificent views from trails and the Rim Rock Drive, which winds along the plateau.
Waco Mammoth National Monument is among the newest, established July 2015 to protect a wooded site near the Bosque River on the north side of Waco,Texas where the remains of 24 Columbian mammoths were discovered in 1978. A short walk from the visitor center leads to the original fossil location where specimens from this mammoth nursery can still be seen.
See mammoth bones at this new national monument in Waco, Texas.
Photo by National Park Service
As you can see, even though these sites are called monuments, there’s often more than just one component, and many are just as beautiful and awe-inspiring as national parks. So what is the difference?

According to the National Parks blog: “The main difference is that National Parks are created through acts of Congress and must be large enough for broad use by the public. National Parks should have inspirational, educational and recreational value. National Monuments, on the other hand, are made through declarations from the President and have historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest.”

If you have a national park pass, it is good at any of the lands that NPS manages.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Cuba is the new adventure destination for American tourists

Curiosity drew us to Cuba in 2013. This island country lies just 90 miles from Florida's coastline, but it's a world away in culture and ideals. Cuba has been off-limits to American travelers for more than half a century, but some of the mystique has disappeared since the Obama administration pledged to renew diplomatic relations in January 2016.
Many Cubans have opened paladars, restaurants in their homes.
Read more about my journey in this article published in Arizona Highroads, a AAA magazine. We traveled 1100 miles across Cuba on a "people-to-people" tour with International Expeditions, learning how ordinary Cubans live and work every day.
http://highroads.az.aaa.com/article/cuban-culture

Children in a rural school accepted donations from our tour group.
Photos by Beverly Burmeier

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LBJ Ranch celebrates park service centennial with bbq and music


The National Park Service and Friends of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park will host a special barbecue and dance at the LBJ Ranch from 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm on Saturday, May 7, that will feature the Fort Griffin “Fandangle Sampler.”

 
President Johnson signed more national park legislation than any other chief executive in history—47 new park units were established and 23 were expanded. For that reason, it is very appropriate that Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is the setting for numerous special events throughout the centennial year.
 
Aroma from The Salt Lick BBQ’s rotisserie will fill the oak grove on May 7 and the music of Jake Penrod and his Million Dollar Cowboys will keep guests dancing well into the evening. The night of entertainment and delicious barbecue will also be a celebration of the National Park Service’s centennial year.

Park guests will be able to experience a Fort Griffin Fandangle show very similar to the program that President and Mrs. Johnson first presented at their ranch in 1967 for ambassadors from Central and South American countries. The event on May 7 will be the fourth time a “Fandangle Sampler” has been staged at the LBJ Ranch—previous events were held in 1967, 1976, and 2008.

Each summer for more than seven decades the citizens of Albany, Texas have presented the Fandangle, the oldest outdoor musical program in Texas. It is theatrical history that is written, directed, and performed by hundreds of members of the Albany community. Through singing, dancing, and story-telling the Fandangle recaptures the history, folklore, and legend of the Old West.
 
Information and reservations are available at www.FriendsofLBJNationalPark.org . Reservations are $50 for adults, $15 for children 12 years and under. 

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is open seven days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For a complete calendar of events go to http://www.nps.gov/lyjo/planyourvisit/calendar.htm

Information courtesy of Dave Schafer, LBJ National Historical Park
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Saturday, April 30, 2016

'Journey into Big Bend' at Bullock Museum in Austin


I really love that during 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service, there’s so much publicity about the more than 400 properties that come under the protection of NPS.
Early morning haze drapes the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.
We try to visit different national parks in the U.S. every year, including returning to some of our favorites. So I’m thrilled to share that Big Bend National Park in Texas is the focus of an exhibit currently at The Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin. “Journey into Big Bend” is an educational program sponsored by Big Bend Chamber of Commerce, Forever Resorts, LLC, Gage Hotel, and Visit Big Bend.

Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin
Even better, you can celebrate Big Bend National Park during the Free First Sunday program on May 1. Admission is free from 12 noon to 5 p.m., and there will be lots of free family activities until 3 p.m. For example, explore Texas’s ancient past by getting hands-on with fossils, make sun print works of art with plants native to the Big Bend region, and listen to a camping story.
Rugged hills and mountains provide hiking opportunities in Big Bend.
Smudge Studios will teach participants to take great nature photographs, and those skills can be applied to a challenge in the Museum’s exhibits. Staff from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will also be on hand to share how they have worked to help improve Big Bend landscapes.

If the exhibit inspires you to plan a trip to Big Bend National Park in the southwest corner of Texas, you’ll discover a variety of scenic, ecologic, and historic resources.  Mountains, desert, and water combine to make a unique topography that was considered worthy of national park status by Congress in 1935. Nine years later the park was established to preserve and protect the unique U-shaped space where the Rio Grande River loops along the Texas-Mexico border.

Rafting on the Rio Grande River is a special treat in Big Bend National Park.
Encompassing more than 800,000 acres, the park is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the U.S and the only national park that contains an entire mountain range, the Chisos, within its boundaries. It’s a land of dramatic contrasts—extremes in temperature, elevation, and moisture are found in the three distinct regions—so it almost seems like three parks in one.

Tall cliffs border the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park.

The serene beauty of Big Bend inspires repeat visits from many travelers. Dark night skies glowing with millions of twinkling stars (no city lights to dim the view), steep river-carved limestone canyons, diverse wildlife and bird species (Big Bend boasts more types of birds, bats, and cacti than any other national park in the United States), rugged mountains, and uncommonly beautiful desert cacti and wildflowers provide enough enticement for 300,000 visitors annually.

Big Bend is one of those places you can go back to again and again, and it’s like you’re seeing it for the first time. Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about the largest national park in Texas--for free.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



Friday, April 29, 2016

Allow plenty of time to explore Grand Canyon National Park


Four hours. That’s the average time visitors spend at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Magnificent Grand Canyon landscape from south rim
Having visited there several times as well as rafting on the Colorado River through the canyon, I was flabbergasted to learn that most of the 5 million annual visitors do not spend one night in this magnificent park.

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most powerful and inspiring landscapes. It’s especially dazzling when you stand on the rim and observe how geologic processes that occurred over billions of years — powerful upheavals, moving water and erosion — created this massive landscape.
Brilliant colors of ageless rock walls in Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking into the canyon is always an option, but if that is too adventurous, visitors can find plenty of ways to spend several days admiring scenery and exploring the park.
My article from the Dallas Morning News shares activities we enjoyed during a fall visit--activities that visitors can participate in year-round.

http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/travel/us/20160206-allow-plenty-of-time-to-explore-grand-canyon-national-park-in-winter.ece

Photos by Beverly Burmeier

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kids need a national park guide, too


During this centennial year of the National Park Service, what could be a better family vacation that visiting one of America’s beautiful national parks? Plenty of special events and activities will take place, so check online for dates when planning a trip to one of these protected parcels of land. And don’t forget your National Geographic guidebook.
To make the trip even more exciting for the younger members of your family, National Geographic Kids has published a special edition of National Parks Guide U.S. A. for children ages 8-12. The book is chock full of brilliantly colored maps and photos, including double page spreads, that will appeal to all ages.  It’s the perfect book for kids—and parents—who love roaming and exploring outdoors.

Generally four pages of the guide are devoted to each park, with information about the best things to see and do, ways to discover more, and which animals visitors are likely to see. Tips from park ranger tips come in handy for your visit, too.
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Parks are covered by geographical location—East, Midwest, West, and Southwest. After detailing the history and highlights of each park in lively text, the book offers suggestions for enjoying the park, whether families prefer taking it easy picnicking and riding a gondola or getting a little extreme with hiking, kayaking, or mountain biking. 

Redwoods National Park in California
It’s a fun, adventure-filled guide that will help make a visit to any of the 400 plus properties (59 national parks) under the care of the National Park Service an unforgettable experience. After reading the book, kids will have a better understanding of why the National Park Service has worked hard for 100 years to preserve and protect our country’s stunning scenery and wildlife. When children develop a love and appreciation of nature and conservation, we’ll all be better assured that these parks will remain unspoiled and amazing for many generations.
Other new children’s books timed to the 100thanniversary of the National Park System in 2016 include Junior Ranger Activity Book, packed with enriching experiences and engaging facts and photos of each park, and Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure, a fantasy story with gorgeous photos, weird facts about the park, and history of Yellowstone.

Arches National Park in Utah
If your family is planning a national park excursion—or if you’d like to pique your children’s interest in America’s amazing national parks—the kids’ version of National Parks Guide U.S. A. is one guide they will read, dog ear, and want to take along.  $14.95
Big Bend National Park in Texas
 
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
 

 

 

Summer getaways in northern Utah

What could be better in the summer than warm days and cool nights? That's what you get when you escape to the mountain regions of northern Utah.
Beautiful, cooling cascades at Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah
Salt Lake City, Park City, and Sundance offer stunning scenery, plentiful shopping and dinging options, and a variety of outdoor activities for all skill levels.

Find out more reasons why northern Utah is a great destination for summer getaways in my article published in Arizona Highways, a AAA magazine.
Photo by Beverly Burmeier

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Embracing the unexpected in Antarctica


Penguins, icebergs, and our ship--on a gorgeous sunny day in Antarctica.
On day 10 of our week-long Antarctic expedition, a blizzard blew in. Winds gusting up to 115 miles per hour slung snow sideways across the deck of our ship. Ice crusted windowsills and kayaks stacked on the port side of the deck as temperatures fell below freezing.
The ship rolled with the roaring waves prompting the captain to reposition the ship so that the mountains onshore would provide additional shelter from the storm.

Our expedition begins
Throughout the seven scheduled days aboard Sea Adventurer, we had enjoyed exceptional weather—epic days, the guides said. Nearing the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, temps hovered in the mid-30s and seas were mostly calm—perfect for our Antarctic experience.
Disembarking the plane that brought us to King George Island.
We booked the trip almost 18 months in advance with two objectives in mind: to fly both directions from Chile to Antarctica and to cross the Antarctic Circle. Quark, a leading company in polar expeditions, only schedules one trip that accomplishes both.  At the time of booking I didn’t realize what a feat crossing the Circle is, especially because the ship must maintain its schedule during the trip. Most companies taking tourists (yes, we were) to Antarctica only reach the tip of the peninsula, which is certainly a wonderful destination, but we wanted to do more.
Brilliant sunset after crossing the Antarctic Circle
The night before leaving Punta Arenas, Chile we were issued heavy-duty, waterproof, double-lined, yellow parkas (ours to keep) and thick mid-calf “muck” boots. These were necessary for keeping feet warm and dry as we tromped through snow, ice, mud, and slush. Also, most Zodiac landings on shore required walking through water a short distance before reaching land.

Boarding Zodiacs to get to the Sea Adventurer, which was
anchored off shore.
In the morning everyone met in the hotel lobby at 3:30 a.m. for an early morning flight—necessary to utilize the shrinking window of opportunity for landing on the primitive airstrip at the Chilean military base on King George Island. Still, we applauded our good decision to fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island. Not only did we skip the two-day, potentially horrendous passage through the Drake Channel, but we saved four days’ travel time on our voyage.
After two hours in the air, the plane landed uneventfully, passengers disembarked, and we walked a mile and a half on a muddy path to the beach where we boarded Zodiacs that took us to the Sea Adventurer. Excitement was thick in the air as each traveler first set foot on the ship that would be our home for a week’s expedition.

Weather determines everything in Antarctica
Ice on a window of the ship
We just didn’t anticipate that we would spend three more days of anxious waiting before getting back to Punta Arenas.  The day of our scheduled return flight, fog rolled in making a sight landing on King George Island impossible. For two days, a dull haze covered the landscape. Two times the plane took off from Punta Arenas—and two times weather conditions forced it to turn back. On the third unplanned day aboard the Sea Adventurer—after the blizzard had subsided—the air cleared, and the plane finally was able to take off and subsequently land at King George Island.

Quickly, our luggage was loaded onto the Zodiacs, and we also boarded the water crafts for our last ride to shore. When everyone had reached land, our group got permission to walk across the Chilean military base. We were there to watch the plane zoom in for a landing. Ditching our muck boots (too dirty for the plane), we boarded and took off without delay—to a hefty round of applause.
Finally (and gratefully) leaving King George Island--walking to the airstrip.
Antarctica was fabulous, but most people had schedules to keep—and flights to change--so we were anxious to get back to South America.  Still, we were warm, dry, and well-fed during the unexpected delay—another reason our journey was truly unforgettable.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Monday, April 18, 2016

New guide book details the best of U.S. national parks


You may be aware that the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial in 2016. That means a lot of special activities and events will take place in each of our national parks during the next year.
 
So, it’s time to get your copy of National Geographic’s Guide to National Parks of the United States. This popular book is now in its eighth edition, which features new text, maps, and photos. It’s a best-selling, comprehensive guide that contains the latest practical advice for visiting each national park in the United States.

“There’s simply no better getaway in the United States than a visit to one of the 59 national scenic parks,” says John M. Fahey, Jr. Chairman of the Board, National Geographic Society.

Glacier National Park
I agree. No matter what you look for when you travel—serenity, history, culture, landscapes, geology, wildlife, adventure, or family fun—you can find it in one of our national parks. This guide may just provide the inspiration you need to plan a trip and pack your bag.
The parks are divided into geographical regions in the Guide (East, Midwest, South Central, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska), so you can choose a park near you or in an area you’ve been longing to visit.

Great Smokey Mountain National Park
Each section has a detailed map of parks located in that region. First, you’ll get a brief overview of what each national park offers and its history, so you’ll understand why it has earned that distinction. Then special features of the park—those “do not miss” spots and activities—are described along with specific traveler information regarding trails, scenic points, and best time to go.  

The Guide lists accommodations within the parks and campgrounds nearby. Health and safety concerns, entrance fees, and suggestions for getting the most from your visit are included. Maps provide more detail about roads and trails to help you maneuver through each park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
My favorite feature of the book: All the photos and maps are in full color! These amazing photos will whet your appetite for spending time among our country’s treasured parks. Many of the maps (80) and photos (220) are full page, and all provide stunning views of outstanding landscapes.

This Guide has become my “wish book.” Even though I’ve visited many national parks, when I thumb through the book I find new places to explore--even new parks I wasn’t aware of—and I wish I were there.
 
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier. cover photo courtesy of Karen Wadsworth, Media Masters Publicity
 
 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Free admission and festivities during National Park Week


Gorgeous reflections in Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park
I’ve written many times about our country’s Best Idea, the creation of national parks, and the free days that are offered several times a year. There’s no better time than now to choose your favorite, closest, or a never-visited park and discover what makes it unique.
Colorful rock formations in Badlands National Park in South Dakota
The National Park Service (NPS) celebrates 100 years of protecting and preserving the nation’s parks and monuments during 2016, so plan to take advantage of no entrance fees during National Park Week, April 16-24.

Each of the 410 national parks, monuments, seashores, etc. is a thread in the tapestry that tells the story of our country—its beautiful landscapes, diverse culture, and rich heritage. Throughout the year, and especially during National Park Week, the NPS and National Park Foundation invite everyone to discover and share their unique connections to our public lands.
Thermal pools in Yellowstone National Park
“We have an amazing variety of special events taking place during the centennial,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Some commemorate our first hundred years, but many others look to the future, to the next 100 years, and will help connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. It is through them that America’s lands and stories will be preserved and passed on to future generations.”


Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park
“With free admission to parks all week, National Park Week is the perfect opportunity to check out a new location, revisit one of your favorite parks, and perhaps invite a friend who has never visited a park before to join you,” says Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. “These treasured places are vital and relevant to people from all backgrounds from all over the country,” he adds.
Impossibly blue Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
The week kicks off with National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 16. Parks will host kid oriented activities and host events which encourage fourth grade students to visits national parks and other public lands by offering a free annual pass.

Steam fissure in Volcanoes National Park,
Big Island of Hawaii
Other highlights during the week include an education summit on April 20, Earth Day events on April 22, national park InstaMeet on April 23, and Park RxDay on April 24. Park Rx is a community health initiative where medical doctors “prescribe” time in parks to promote wellness and help prevent and treat chronic disease.
St. Elias mountain approaching Wrangell-St. Elias
National Park in Alaska
National parks are perfect destinations for family getaways. If you live near a national park, plan a day trip—or stay a couple of days if your chosen park is further away. Either way, you’ll enjoy recreational opportunities, learn local history, bask in outstanding natural scenery, and have wonderful memories to share.

Information courtesy of Kathy Kupper, National Parks Foundation
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier