News From Our Blog

Explore the Iconic Mount Rushmore

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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.

Mount Rushmore

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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

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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.

The Channel Islands

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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.

Tour the Historic, Beautiful Gettysburg National Military Park this Summer

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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. 

Gettysburg National Military Park

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Image description: A stone wall on Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg National Park. Photo from the National Park Service.

This July marks the 150th anniversary of the historic Battle of Gettysburg, fought in 1863. The battle, known for being the bloodiest fight in the Civil War, is recognized by historians as being the turning point in the battle between the North and South, and at the Gettysburg National Military Park, you have a chance to explore this piece of national history!

When you walk on the hills of the national park - Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Ridge - your feet are travelling the same paths as soldiers did more than one hundred years ago. Stand in Soldiers’ National Cemetery and you could be standing in the same place as President Abraham Lincoln when he delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.

On your trip to the park, you can visit the museum and visitor center for a look at the history of the area, and be sure to check out the film, “A New Birth of Freedom,” narrated by Morgan Freeman.

There are lots of ways to tour the park, so be sure to choose the method best for you:

  • Guided bus tours through private companies
  • Self-guided car tour, with or without audio tour CDs available for purchase
  • By foot, self-guided, heavily dependent on weather conditions

In the summer months, there are extended ranger programs and activities available, including the junior ranger program - great for kids! You can find a complete guide and schedule of ranger programs on the National Park Service website.

For some safety suggestions and for help in planning your visit, check out the “Things to Know Before You Come” page. Before visiting with kids, be sure to talk to them about the history of the Civil War, since they will be walking among history when they travel to Gettysburg this summer!

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From the U.S. Department of Interior:

Not all of our public lands are far from urban areas. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area chronicles two hundred years of history, from Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, and the California Gold Rush. It also provides some pretty killer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Photo: Justin Kern

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From the U.S. Department of Interior:

Not all of our public lands are far from urban areas. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area chronicles two hundred years of history, from Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, and the California Gold Rush. It also provides some pretty killer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

Photo: Justin Kern

Image description: Ferruginous Hawks enjoy a spring day in Idaho.

Photos from the Department of Interior