News From Our Blog

Learn About Lincoln’s Beginnings at Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace

Image description: A newly restored cabin at Knob Creek. Photo from the National Park Service.

Hidden away in central Kentucky is the birthplace of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. While many people know who Lincoln is, many do not know about his humble beginnings as a boy growing up in the Kentucky wilderness. At Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace, you will find a window into the history of one of America’s most popular presidents.

 On February 12, 1809, Nancy Hanks Lincoln gave birth to Abraham in a small one room log cabin. In 1811, the family moved 10 miles away to Knob Creek and lived in a cabin at Knob Creek from the time Abraham was about two years old until he was eight. There are recorded instances of Lincoln talking about his years at Knob Creek, and how he and his sister Sarah, planted gardens, how he almost drowned but a childhood friend saved him, and where he first saw slaves being taken to be sold.

It is said that Lincoln’s humility and values he held throughout his life were instilled in him from his early days on the frontier in Kentucky. While living at Knob Creek, Lincoln’s father, Thomas Lincoln, worked the land and kept his children outside appreciating the outdoors. When Lincoln attended school, he and his sister would walk two miles each way.

At Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace, you can also explore the nature that Lincoln himself enjoyed so much. Discover the beautiful waters of Sinking Spring and Knob Creek, and hike through the wildlife and forests of central Kentucky.

Visit the National Park Service’s Abraham Lincoln Birthplace website to learn more about the historical background and natural wildlife near Knob Creek, and get information on visiting hours and programs for kids, teachers and families.

Explore the Natural Beauty of Shenandoah National Park

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Shenandoah National Park

Old Rag Moutain in Shenandoah National Park. Photo by the National Park Service.

Just 75 miles outside of Washington D.C., Shenandoah National Park offers an oasis of over 200,000 acres of nature trails, beautiful vistas, serene quiet and the stunning Skyline Drive. With 40 percent of the park designated as wilderness by Congress, you’ll find pieces of nature that you never expected. Because of the park’s unique location between the North and South, you may stumble upon a gray birch tree in the South, and a spotted skunk along the northern range.

  • Hike along some of the Shenandoah’s 500 miles of trails — 101 miles are also part of the Appalachian Trail. With such an abundance of hiking trails, there are options for those of all interests and abilities. Shenandoah also includes the rocky Old Rag Mountain climb, as well as an easier trail, the Limberlost Trail.

  • Bring your horse, or take a guided horse tour through the Shenandoah wilderness. Over 180 miles of trails are open to horse use, which offers a fun and new perspective of the land.

  • The park offers four campgrounds, and for the more adventurous, almost all of the Shenandoah National Park is open to “Backcountry Camping.” Once you obtain a free permit, you are allowed to camp almost anywhere in the park.

  • A special perk of Shenandoah National Park? Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive runs over 100 miles north and south through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roll your windows down, enjoy the slow speeds, and watch nature pass you by in the most leisurely way to enjoy Shenandoah National Park.

Before you go, make sure to check out the operating hours and seasonal information.

Experience Life on the Range at Grant-Kohrs National Park

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site

Image description: View from the ranch. Photo from the National Park Service.

Once an open cattle range, Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site is a great place to learn how cowboys once lived.

During the summer this working ranch is bustling with activity. There are a couple of different ways to enjoy the park; you have your choice of self-guided tours or ranger-led tours. No matter which you choose, both types of tours give you incredible insight on how the iconic American cowboys tried to make a living on Montana’s open-range.

On self-guided tours, you can walk along the historic buildings such as the granary and the ice house and look through the thoroughbred barn where old wagons and buggies that ranchers once used are now stored.

Guided tours can be arranged through the visitor’s center. You can take a wagon tour where you’ll experience the feeling of traveling by horse-drawn wagon. A park ranger will explain the history of open-range cattle farming and its impact on U.S. history.

You can also try the Main Ranch House tour to see the beautifully decorated house that once served as a trading post in early American history. And stop to talk to to a cowboy and blacksmith that can explain what life was really like in Montana.

There are also a few easy walking trails that will take you to different parts of the ranch. Trails can lead you to a great grassland habitat, or you can decide to follow the old Milwaukee Railroad, which will lead you to a place great for spotting aquatic birds. You can also head out to the pasture to take a look at the vast cattle spread across Montana landscape

Kids have the great chance to experience life as a Montana cowboy. Children can try on cowboy clothes, try to rope Woody the wood steer,  as well as play games similar to the ones children played when they lived on the ranch.

Explore Ancient Cave Dwellings at Tonta National Monument

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Tonto National Monument

Image description: One of the many cave dwellings at Tonto National Monument. Photo from the National Park Service.

In Northeastern section of the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, ancient Cliff dwellings are impeccably preserved at Tonto National Monument. These cliff dwellings house structures that once were filled with ancient people during the 13th,14th and 15th centuries. When you visit Tonto, you get to step back in time and learn how prehistoric people thrived in the harsh desert climate.

When you arrive at Tonto National Monument be sure to stop by and check out the visitors center. At the visitors center you can watch an 18 minute video about Tonto’s past as well as look at the different artifacts found during archaeological excavation.

Once you leave the visitors center you have a variety of different trails you can explore and outdoor activities you can tackle. While tours are only available from November-April at the Upper Cliff Dwelling you can still visit the Lower Cliff Dwelling, only a half mile walk from the visitors center, year round.  

Situated within a cave, the Lower Cliff Dwelling houses the former prehistoric home of the “Salado” people and have been the focus of many archaeological excavations. For more than 100 years visitors of Tonto have been able to walk through the different rooms and structures.  Before visiting these structures be sure to read the site etiquette guide.

Tonto National Monument is also a great place to enjoy the unique desert climate. The Sonoran Desert surprisingly holds a variety of different plant and animal life.  As you would expect, cacti are plentiful, but there are also trees and shrubs as well as an abundance of beautiful wildflowers. Explore the Cactus Patch trail to learn more about the plant life found in the Sonoran Desert.  

A variety of animals also call Tonto home. There are more than 160 species of birds, 26 species of land animals, including badgers and bobcats and 14 species of bats including the big brown bat!

Year-round there is always plenty to see and do at Tonto National Monument!

Discover Sandstone Wonders in Canyonlands National Park

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Canyonlands National Park

Imagine tall spires of sandstone rising like trees high above your head, flat cliffs that lay 1,000 feet above their surroundings, and some of the best lifesize rock carvings in North America all in one place. That place exists - in Cayonlands National Park.

The park, a wide expanse filled with countless canyons and fantastic rock formations, is separated into three land districts by the Green and Colorado Rivers, that are also responsible for having eroded the rock, creating the natural wonders. The districts, in addition to the adjacent Horseshoe Canyon, each offer something unique and beautiful.

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Image description: Sandstone cliffs at Canyonlands National Park.

Travel to Island in the Sky, sandstone cliffs that give breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery and offer numerous day-hikes for fun exploration.

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Image description: The Needles.

Visit the Needles, found in the southeast corner of the park, named for the Cedar Mesa sandstone that rises like needles into the sky, creating impressive towers of solid rock.

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Image description: Horseshoe Canyon.

Check out the ancient rock carvings found in Horseshoe Canyon, which illustrate thousands of years of human history. Artifacts from as early as 9000-7000 BC, possible left from the Paleoindians, have been uncovered in the area!

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Image description: White Rim Road.

Or - just take a drive down White Rim Road, a 100-mile stretch that navigates through the countryside, also doable in a three- to four-day mountain bike ride.

Check out the NPS’ guide of things to know before traveling to the Canyonlands to be prepared, and also be sure to secure permits if your plans require them.

All photos from the National Park Service.