News From Our Blog

Enjoy Alaska in the Summer

image

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.

Denali National Park

image

Image description: Mt. McKinley dwarfs the surrounding scenery in Denali National Park. Photo from the National Park Service

Denali National Park and Preserve is an incredible place to fully appreciate the Alaskan wilderness.  With more than 6 million acres, Denali has breathtaking views of the Alaskan terrain, stunning wildlife and of the largest mountain in North America, Mt McKinley.

Be witness to the beautiful Alaskan scenery during the summer months. At Denali National Park  there is a great chance to see a number of wild animals such as the grizzly bear, caribou and moose. You may also be able to catch a glimpse of the golden eagle or the rare bald eagle flying above the vast Alaskan sky.

Denali is great for those who are explorers at heart! There are a number of different ways to travel through the national park:

  • Tour bus: narrated by a trained naturalist, tour buses may be the best chance to see the large array of wildlife living within Denali.

  • Shuttle bus: Gives you the freedom to hop on and off the bus to explore different trails and sections of the park.

  • Bicycling: There are designated bike trails available during the summer and cyclists are welcome to bike through the entire 92 miles of  park road.

  • Hiking: There are a number of different trails located around the park that range from easy to difficult. For those who like a challenge, Denali offers you the special opportunity to hike off-trail!

Find more ways to explore the park.

Kids also have an incredible chance to learn and explore the park’s history. They can borrow a Denali discovery pack, which is filled with activities and lessons about the park and wildlife. The top ten family activities will give you a number of fun things of what to do while at Denali.

Because this park is in rugged terrain, it’s important to read up on things to know before you visit so that you can safely navigate the great Alaskan frontier.

Explore the Iconic Mount Rushmore

image

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.

Mount Rushmore

image

Image description: The iconic Mount Rushmore. Photo from the National Park Service.

Mount Rushmore is iconic, there’s no doubt about it! The massive carving, with its surrounding mountainside, is one of our nation’s most recognizable public landmarks. That’s not all there is to it, though - by visiting this public land, you can learn about the sculptures’ tumultuous history, explore the Avenue of Flags or take a hike in the South Dakota Black Hills.

More than 3 million visitors from across the nation and around the world visit the park annually, to see the landmark that has been described as a “symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.”

Initially, Doane Robinson, often called the “Father of Mount Rushmore,” intended for a carving of one of the Needles in the likeness of a notable Sioux. This plan changed as time went on and today, the carvings of four great American presidents look out from the side of Mount Rushmore.

 To learn more about the history of the installation - including the blasting away of one of the president’s heads in 1933 and the proposal of including Susan B. Anthony on the mountainside - check out PBS’s timeline of Mount Rushmore’s creation.

After taking a snapshot of the 60-foot-tall heads staring out at you from the ancient rock, be sure to check out the other activities that the park has to offer:

  • Visit the Avenue of Flags (PDF), created as a celebration of America’s bicentennial

  • Take a guided walk to the Sculptor’s Studio, or one of the other available ranger tours

  • Attend the Evening Sculpture Lighting Ceremony which takes place at approximately 9 p.m. nightly from May to September

  • Take in the Burkett Plaque, in honor of then-college student William Andrew Burkett’s award-winning essay (PDF)

  • Bask in the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota

When planning your visit, you can check out the National Weather Service’s forecast or read brochures about the park, available online through the National Park Service. You can also read President George Bush’s remarks at the park’s dedication July 3, 1991, available courtesy of the American Presidency Project.

Plan a Trip to the Beautiful Channel Islands

image

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.

The Channel Islands

image

Image description: One of the many coves on the Channel Islands. Photo from the National Park Service.

The Channel Islands sometimes referred to, as the “North American Galapagos” is an incredible national park off the coast of southern California.  Comprised of five distinct islands, this park offers a one-of-a-kind experience because of wildlife not found anywhere else in the world.

Each island in the park offers something unique that you can discover:

Anacapa Island: A great place to view the Winfield Scott shipwreck from land, also one of the best islands to snorkel through the beautiful kelp forests.

Santa Cruz Island: A fantastic place to visit if you like to swim, kayak or dive. Lucky bird watchers may be able to spot the scrub jay, only found on Santa Cruz Island!

Santa Rosa Island: Whether you decide to hike through Black Mountain or stay along Water Canyon Beach, Santa Rosa provides breathtaking views no matter where you decide to go.

San Miguel Island: This island contains an abundance of wildlife. Harbors are bountiful with gulls, pelicans and auklets. You can also watch the western meadowlark, rock wren and sound sparrow in their natural habitat.

Santa Barbara Island: An island in recovery, Santa Barbara is home to a number of different rare plant and animal life. If you dive off the coast of this island you may just find sea stars, sea urchins and gorgeous Garibaldi fish.

The Channel Islands are a great place to visit during the summer because of the many whale watching opportunities. Throughout the summer you can view the largest animal in the world, the endangered blue whale, off the coast of the islands! Other whales, such as the humpback and the orca, can also be seen in the summer months.

You can see the marine animals from on high points throughout the islands as well as through telescopes located outside the visitor’s centers.

Whale watching boating trips are also available if you want a close-up view. For more information, please check out island transportation. You can find a full list of guided tours on the schedule of events.

Whether you are visiting the islands for the wildlife or for the number of outdoor activities, the Channel Islands provide a rare insight into the southern California landscape.

Image description: Prehistoric granaries along the Colorado River above Nankoweap in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon.  
The oldest human artifacts found within Grand Canyon park are nearly 12,000 years old.  Take 360 degree virtual tours of Grand Canyon archaeological discoveries or watch a video about archaeology along the Colorado River.  
Photo by Mark Lellouch, National Park Service

Image description: Prehistoric granaries along the Colorado River above Nankoweap in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon.  

The oldest human artifacts found within Grand Canyon park are nearly 12,000 years old.  Take 360 degree virtual tours of Grand Canyon archaeological discoveries or watch a video about archaeology along the Colorado River

Photo by Mark Lellouch, National Park Service

Enjoy National Parks with an Annual Pass

If your vacation or weekend plans include visits to national parks and recreation areas, consider getting a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

Benefits of the Pass

The pass provide entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States. Entrance covers:

  • Pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single private vehicle where per-vehicle fees are charged.
  • Pass owner and three accompanying individuals ages 16 and older where per-person entrance fees are charged (children under 16 are admitted for free).


Types of Passes

  • Annual Pass - It’s $80 (ages 16 years and older) and valid for one year.
  • Annual Pass for Military - Members of the U.S. military and their dependents are eligible for a free Annual Pass. 
  • Senior Pass - It’s $10 and valid for the lifetime of the pass owner. You must be 62 years or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Access Pass - It’s free for the lifetime of the pass holder with documentation of a permanent disability. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Volunteer Pass - You can earn this pass with 250 or more hours of volunteer service on public lands. The pass is valid for one year.