Saturday, April 4, 2015

Make a National Park Your Next Destination

Kayaking at the Apostle Islands National Seashore
I'm planning a short weekend getaway to see the Washington DC Tidal Basin full of cherry blossoms soon. As I was following the progress of the buds, I found out about a new program to get more people into the national parks since 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.  There will be centennial events across the nation and maybe you'd like to be part of that.  Spend a few minutes browsing the events planned already for this year and be inspired.

In Wisconsin, we don't have any national parks, but we have trails and a national seashore.  You can find parks nearest you at the Find Your Park website.   This could be useful as you plan your next vacation. You can also read the stories from people who are visiting the parks, or add your own story. You can also find trails and parks at the Wisconsin DNR, like the new 4000 mile North Country Scenic Trail that runs across the top of Wisconsin through seven states.

A few years ago I went to the Apostle Islands National Seashore and we did some kayaking and sailing on Lake Superior.  Let's use this as an example.  If you go to the Find Your Park map and click on the Apostle Islands, you'll get a directory of things to help you, such as the Plan Your Visit option. Once you're there, you will find even more links which include maps, camping information, and helpful tips.

One of many segments of the Ice Age Trail
Another Wisconsin option would be to hike or bike the Ice Age Trail.  This 1200 mile trail traces the glacier's edge.  If you try this in summer, be sure to bring mosquito repellent.  From the National Park website, you can follow links to local partners like the Ice Age Trail Alliance to find out about local events and how you can be more involved, if that's your desire.

Maybe you want to select a few parks that are outside of our area and plan a driving vacation for the summer.  We do this frequently and have a good time spending quality time in the car.  Last May I went to Yosemite and had a great time with my sisters.  Hey, it's a time for all of you to talk to each other.  How often does that happen?

Once you've decided on your destination, there are a couple other websites and apps that can be useful.  Oh Ranger Park Finder finds parks using your phone's GPS, so if you are seeking destinations for a playground, bathroom, or picnic area enroute, this will give you a list of options. Tripadvisor and Yelp can help you find everything from restaurants to lodging to attractions like museums in the area. Every Trail is a good resource when you want a map of a specific trail, like the Ice Age Trail.  Some of those hikes are within the boundaries of a national park.

Wherever you go, enjoy and feel free to share your vacation tips and photos!
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