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National Parks

Monday, January 15, 2018

Visit a National Park for Free on MLK Day

To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, all entrance fees to national parks in the US are waived today. And if you’re considering visiting Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches, the five national parks in southern Utah, you might want to head there in late April. This year’s National Park Week is April 21-29, when all national parks in the United States are free. September 22nd and November 11, Veteran’s Day, are the other dates in 2018 when you’ll find no entrance fees to the national parks. Take advantage of this opportunity to be active amidst the majestic beauty of America. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/15/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Adventures in Las Cruces Week—A Must-Stop at White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument opens daily at 7 am and it’s best to get there early before the blinding white sand radiates under the hot midday desert sun. Smack dab in the middle of the Tularosa Basin, these wave-like dunes of gypsum sand span some 275 square miles and are truly a wonder to behold. Once here, you’ll understand why it became one of America’s first National Monuments, created in 1933. Even the 45 mile drive from Las Cruces on I-70 is a joy, with the sun rising over the mountains and vistas of the wide open horizon as far as the eye can see. 
I paid the $5 entry fee and then cruised along Dunes Drive. What I love about White Sands is that you can park at any number of lots along the road and simply walk atop the hard-packed grooved sand creating your own set of footprints. At first, you’ll pass a limited amount of growth like yucca plants and their distinctive, almost prehistoric-looking flower. As you drive further in, you leave the scrub behind and all you see is an otherworldly terrain of rolling dunes. Locals like to bring their sleds to slide down the sand. Others will happily walk into this blanket of serenity for as long as necessary. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/19/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

See the Stars at Natural Bridges National Monument

If you want to extend the longest day of the year into night, consider heading to Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah. People who venture here can’t wait for the sun to finally set. Designated the world’s first International Dark Sky Park, the night skies above the park are considered the darkest in the country due to lack of light pollution. Under the guidance of an astronomy ranger, you’ll see a gazillion stars light up the Milky Way and find constellations you never knew existed. The bright night sky shines an ethereal light on the canyon walls and rock bridges to create a magical lunar-like landscape. The perfect way to start the summer! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/21/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Yosemite, Worth the Wait

“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society.” 
John Muir
Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 
I’d never been to Yosemite National Park, the first wild land in the nation protected for all-time, 150 years ago, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act. Because it was May, we could not enter from the oft-recommended east side at Lee Vining/Mono Basin/Tioga Pass. Instead, nourished by fresh cherries roadside along the way from Sequoia National Park, we entered Yosemite at the Wawona entrance and had lunch at the Big Trees Lodge. We looked around the interesting Pioneer Yosemite History Center and drove through the park on Glacier Point Road to the end for great views of the famous Half Dome and Nevada Falls. My western yearnings were met, without a doubt. Although sad that the hike we intended to do at Taft Point was closed due to snow coverage, it was quite a day.
We ended at Mariposa, CA and loved that funky small town: drinks at The Alley, dinner at Savory, and a comfortable enough room at The Yosemite Inn. The next day we were in Yosemite Valley at Bridalveil Falls under a glorious rainbow, grabbed brunch in the old Majestic Yosemite Lodge, and happily hiked to Mirror Lake and Lower Yosemite Falls. We could have easily stayed another two days at Yosemite but we had plans to meet friends and family in Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/06/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 05, 2017

Our Day at Sequoia National Park

Guest Post by Amy Perry Basseches 
Photo by Sophie Perry Basseches
Last month, my 19 year old daughter Sophie and I set out on a road trip from Claremont, California to Seattle, Washington. I’ve always loved the western part of the US, and was therefore very excited for our first stop: Sequoia National Park (established in September 1890), and King’s Canyon National Park. We entered Sequoia at the Ash Mountain Entrance (the start of Generals Highway) and proceeded to drive through the amazing sequoia forest. The trees are 1800 to 2500 years old, if you can imagine that. We toured the Giant Forest Museum and hiked up the 400 steps of Moro Rock’s granite dome. In one of those moments where “mistakes while traveling can turn into the best experiences,” we turned the wrong way on one of the national park roads and ended up seeing a whole other side of Sequoia that we hadn’t intended. Which was great until the road ended at Zumwalt Meadow with everything closed because it was early in the season. It was getting dark, we had no cell service, and our gas was running low. We turned around and fortunately made our way to our motel in Squaw Valley, (entirely different from Lake Tahoe’s Squaw Valley), where we were greeted by a sign announcing the neighboring town’s 41st Annual Turkey Testicle Festival in June.
I've always been a big "tree hugger."

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/05/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Maine’s North Woods National Monument Is Now a Reality

Today marks the official 100th anniversary of the national park system. To coincide with the centennial, President Obama announced yesterday that Roxanne Quimby’s 87,654 acres located just east of Baxter State Park will make the list as the North Woods National Monument. On Tuesday, Quimby’s nonprofit, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., transferred her ownership to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Long a proponent of creating a national park in Maine’s North Woods, Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees skin care products, has been a contentious figure in the region ever since I’ve been reporting on Maine. In a Boston Globe Magazine story on the AMC entering the Maine woods in 2004, Quimby’s name came up time and time again. Locals were worried that the AMC would restrict land use for snowmobiling, logging, and hunting. That never happened. Instead, the AMC introduced Maine’s glorious interior of vast forest, mile-high mountains, secluded lakes, and long rambling rivers to thousands of people who never heard of it. This summer I had the privilege of joining forces with Northern Outdoors and Maine Huts & Trails to help promote the Maine woods. If creating a national monument helps to promote the region to the world and finally gives the largest chunk of wilderness in the northeast the recognition it deserves, then I’ll happily celebrate with a pint of Baxter Stowaway IPA. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/25/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Visit Yellowstone Without the Crowds in Winter

Yellowstone National Park has already attracted over 3.8 million visitors in 2015 and that number will surely increase in 2016, when the National Park Service celebrates its centennial. Indeed, Yellowstone in summer feels more like “forever congested” than “forever wild.” Come winter, these same parks are virtually uninhabited, almost returning to their original state. Who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to cross-country ski or snowshoe with more bison and elk than homo sapiens? The Yellowstone National Park Lodges has just announced six Lodging and Learning packages that will help entice you. They include “Yellowstone on Skis” and a “Winter Wildlife Expedition.” All trips are guided and transfers are available from the nearby Bozeman airport. Austin Adventures, now owned by the same company that runs the National Park Lodges, Xanterra, also offers a 6-day winter adventure in Yellowstone. The trip features a snowshoe hike above Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and a snowmobile ride over Lake Yellowstone on your way to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Austin Adventures also just announced that all 4th graders will travel free on their trips in 2016 to the national parks. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/22/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Explore Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

No Canada wish list would be complete without mentioning Torngat Mountains National Park on the northern tip of Labrador. One of the most remote parts of Canada, the park is only accessible from mid-July to late August, primarily on a package tour created by Parks Canada and the Torngat Mountains Base Camp. Don’t expect roads, signage, and camping outside of the base camp. Inuit elders from Nunatsiavut and Nunavik come together with visitors to bring you on adventures and tell stories about their homeland. You’ll hike in the spectacular mountain landscape, boat to the majestic Saglek Fjord, take helicopter charters above the jagged peaks, and fish for arctic char, then cook it the traditional way on hot stones. Polar bear, caribou, and seals are all common sightings. Thankfully, you’ll be hiking with a trained Inuit polar bear guard. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/06/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 27, 2015

President Obama Announces Every Kid in a Park Initiative

In case you missed it, President Obama announced last week that all fourth graders and their families will receive free admission to national parks and other federal lands for a full year. The Every Kid in a Park initiative is part of an effort to get kids away from their screens and be active outdoors. Hallelujah! It will start in the fall of 2015 and run through next year to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service in 2016. An annual pass to National Parks currently costs $80 for family. So now you can hit the beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore for free and use the $80 to get lobster rolls at Arnold’s


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/27/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hike Blue Mesa, Petrified Forest National Park

Driving east of Flagstaff, the dry arid Arizona terrain gives way to colorful bands of rock, as if some Impressionist painter laid down his brushstroke on the badlands. Welcome to the glorious Painted Desert. Continue a wee bit south and prehistoric rock gives way to 200 million year old petrified wood, also colored in rainbow hues, the home of Petrified Forest National Park. Once a playground for dinosaurs, Petrified Forest also was a settlement for a long line of Native Americans as evidenced by the Agate House, an ancient pueblo built of petrified wood. By all means, get out of the car with camera in tow and take several of the short hikes. A one-mile loop called Blue Mesa brings you to the multi-hued sandstone, while the half-mile Giant Logs Loop leads to the biggest trees in the park, some with trunks close to ten feet in diameter. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/14 at 10:00 AM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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