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The Gipper

National Parks

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The Gipper    1,173

As some of you may know, I am a National Parks aficianado. By that I mean I have been to a lot of them. Most of them in fact.

 

Just a little bit of basics:

 

There are now 417 National Park Units. Five are newly added just this year.

These include not only the 59 designated "National Parks", but also National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Memorials, National Seashores, National Lakeshores, National Battlefields, National Recreation Areas, National Scenic Rivers, and the like.

 

Of the 417, I have now visited 326, since I just came from a trip to Kansas/Missouri/Nebraska/Colorado where I hit 9 of them in a week.

 

Of the 59 designated National Parks, I have been to 52 of them. Of the 7 I have not been to, 5 of them are in remote parts of Alaska where you need a float plane, charter boat or maybe a dog sled to get to them. One is American Samoa and is closer to Australia than to the US proper. The last one is in California, called The Pinnacles. NP. It is the newest designated NP, only a couple of years now and that is why I have not been out there.

 

Of the 91 NP units I have not visited, I could probably hit over a quarter of those with just 2 future trips: first, in New York City and Long Island there are like 14, and in New Mexico/SW Colorado there are another dozen.

 

There is actually a fairly new one in Ohio that I have not been to: The Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument, in Xenia OH. I hope to get to that one later this summer.

 

The ones I just visited last week were: Harry Truman NHS in Independence Mo., the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Brown Vs. Board of Education NHS in Topeka. Fort Larned and Fort Scott in Kansas, Nicodemus NHS Kansas. Bent's Old Fort and Sand Creek Massacre in Eastern Colorado. and the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice Nebraska (just north of the Kansas border).

 

My next ventures are that I will be doing a swing through Boston in early summer, hitting 5 NP units between Boston and Salem. Later in the summer I will be going to southern Indiana to hit a couple down there...and to visit the one in Xenia on the way.

Please feel free to give your NP stories.

 

 

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mjp28    156

My one brother and his wife are big into camping and the park system. Since his days as an Eagle Scout and for most all of his adult life he was into kayaking and now just camping and biking.

 

They retired at 55 two years ago and bought a new loaded Chevy Silverado extended cab Z71 4x4 with a cap and ordered a custom built lightweight camper from an outfit in Quebec, Canada and drove up there to pick it up and a sightseeing trip.

 

This past summer they spent almost 4 months going from OH through MI/MN/ND/MT and went north from ID into Canada up to Winnipeg then west to BC then back NE up near the Artic Circle and backtracking east back through MN/MI to Ohio.

 

They reserved campsites at parks where available and were in some totally primitive areas with no electricity, gas, nothing but occasional satellite phones. They also liked birding sites.

 

He being an EE and her a computer specialist got to fix many campground wifi, computer, lighting, electrical and other problems because there was ZERO tech support in many areas, lightyears behind the states.....if they backtracked through the same campsites they were really welcomed!

 

This summer they're going to the far eastern PA area for her week long family reunion (13 kids!) then to camp in upstate NY amongst other areas. Many years back they liked the Rocky Mountain areas during vacations.

 

Sounds like you would have a lot in common. ;)

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The Gipper    1,173

Not so sure. I am not really camping/RV guy at all. At least not now at all. When my son was in scouts, yes, we did some camping in National Parks. One time a group of us went down and camped in Mammoth Cave NP. Another time a group of 13-15 of us did a camping trip that took us to Crater Lake and the Redwoods, then up along the Oregon Coast. These were all straight tent camping, no RVs involved.

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mjp28    156

Not so sure. I am not really camping/RV guy at all. At least not now at all. When my son was in scouts, yes, we did some camping in National Parks. One time a group of us went down and camped in Mammoth Cave NP. Another time a group of 13-15 of us did a camping trip that took us to Crater Lake and the Redwoods, then up along the Oregon Coast. These were all straight tent camping, no RVs involved.

 

Do you just make reservations at cabins or nearby motels when traveling? When my brother was working they only had vacations and would do that on longer distance trips. However they did some tent stays (not for me now).

 

Now when retired and with the truck alone do the cabins or motel stays but when they hook up the trailer they go virtually anywhere plus often bring their bikes. In any case they are big into the National Park visits, his wife actually was thinking of relocating out west to be near the parks there but family is all in the east.

 

Now I'm more into the nice hotels with great restaurants and a bar. ;)

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The Gipper    1,173

Do you just make reservations at cabins or nearby motels when traveling? When my brother was working they only had vacations and would do that on longer distance trips. However they did some tent stays (not for me now).

 

Now when retired and with the truck alone do the cabins or motel stays but when they hook up the trailer they go virtually anywhere plus often bring their bikes. In any case they are big into the National Park visits, his wife actually was thinking of relocating out west to be near the parks there but family is all in the east.

 

Now I'm more into the nice hotels with great restaurants and a bar. ;)

Yes, some reservations. Sometimes I just stop at a motel.

Some of the major National Parks have their own lodges. I have stayed at some of those: Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, Mesa Verde, Sequoia, Crater Lake. Those can be a nice experience. For some others I have used my timeshare to stay nearby. Yosemite, Saguaro, North Cascades, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Guadelupe Mtns. Some others.

For this past trip I did not visit any of the "major" national parks per se. I visited 9 National Park units, plus other sites. Some days I visited a couple of NP units in a single day. For this trip I was just using basic hotels. I would be out and about, going to the parks and other sites, then toward the end of the day using my smart phone I would look for a "cheap" hotel in a town I was going to be in. Super 8, Econolodge, Travelodge, Motel 6, and a couple of "mom and pop" motels. Most in the 60-65 dollar per night range, plus tax.

I would just show up and say "I see you have rooms for X per night, can I get one?" Yes. Only one night did I have a problem finding a room. Actually it was my first night. I was looking in Lawrence Kansas, but because of events at the school I had to go another 30 miles away to Topeka to find a room.

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mjp28    156

On my brother's Canadian trip they budgeted $30/day for campsites (+/-) some with hookups some primitive, for 120 days about $3600 plus all kinds of miscellaneous expenses you run into in God's country near the Artic Circle.

 

Things like cell hookups, satellite phones to try to get email, ATMs, laundry, fresh food, milk can get exotic to say the least. Did catch many upper US plus many Canadian Parks.

 

I did talk to him nearly every day except when he was up in the northern lights territory and in incredible mountain passes most with narrow two lane roads....pulling a trailer. (No thanks!)

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TexasAg1969    594

My parents bought a home in Estes Park outside of Rocky Mountain N.P. Colo. in 1976 and we lived near there for another 7 years before eventually coming back to Texas. We sold the place after they both had died, but my older brother and a sister bought homes there, so I have been walking those trails almost every year for over 40 years. There are two walks that are my favorites. One I take flatlanders on is to park at Bear Lake @ 9,450 feet and trek mostly downhill, after about a 2/3 mi. upward trail, down to Bierstadt Lake very early in the morning before the wind gets up. On the far side of that lake you can often catch a perfect reflection of the up close Rockies including Long's Peak. Absolutely stunning panorama of the whole range from there. Then it's an easy walk from there down to the main road to a shuttle bus pickup point where you can ride free back up to Bear Lake to get your car. Easy walk for the tourists with great views, especially in the fall when the aspen are turning and the elk are in rut. Bugling can be heard for miles during that time.

 

The harder walk has to be in August and early Sept. depending upon how long it takes for the snowmelt to open the trail. The Glacier Falls Trail near Bear Lake goes past those falls, up past Mills Lake and on to Black Lake where you can look strait up a stone facing about as high as Stone Mountain Ga. and watch the snowmelt tumble down off that facing strait into the lake. It's a daylong round trip so take plenty of water, energy bars plus raingear because often you get thunderstorms that are coming over the Rockies there from about noon on that time of year.

 

If you are on a hike with me in the Park and I tell you we need to turn and run back downhill to the car, then you just have to trust I know how to read those clouds after so many years learning the hard way what they mean when they first start to build before tumbling over the mountains with a lot of lightning and heavy rain. A friend I took had a hard time believing me and kept slowing us down to watch. So the last 400 yds we sprinted with lightning, small hail and rain. Sometimes you just have to trust someone else's experience.

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The Gipper    1,173

I have been on the Bear Lake circle hike. Not a long one, about a 1 mile flat hike. In fact, the time I did it, I was with a fellow who was wheelchair bound, and they had a handicap access trail about a quarter of a way around it which I went with him. Then I went the rest of the way around on the non handicap access part.

I was glad to have done so because he said that "trek" was the highlight of his trip. He died only a year or two later, so, as I said, I felt privileged to have been able to accompany him on that Bear Lake hike.

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TexasAg1969    594

Sprague Lake which you pass on the road to Bear Lake is completely wheelchair accessible and has nice areas for picnics and great views. Had a big blowdown though a couple of years back and lost a lot of the big Ponderosa pines. I've been to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Yosemite and others, but RMNP is still my favorite place. Recently I have even spotted moose on the eastern slope that were reintroduced to the western slope a few years ago. I thought it was a large black bear in a remote lake until I got closer since I had only seen them on the other side of the divide in the Park.

 

https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/WildlifeSpecies/Mammals/MooseReintroductionFactSheet.pdf

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The Gipper    1,173

Since you like Rocky Mountain NP, you may want to read a mystery novel set in RMNP by an author named Nevada Barr. She (yes, the author is a she) has written a number of murder mystery books set in various national parks. They are light, entertaining reading basically. Murder mysteries. But things in the book do take place all over RMNP, including Bear Lake:

 

http://www.dancingbadger.com/nevada_barr.htm

 

"Hard Truth" is the one set in RMNP

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The Gipper    1,173

As of the most recent trip I took, I have now been to 335 of the 417 National Park units. Most recent ones were:

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers NHP in Xenia, OH.

Abraham Lincoln's Boyhood home in southern Indiana,

George Rogers Clark National Monument in Vincennes Indiana.

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