Mysteries in Our National Parks Books

I just saw these mysteries mentioned on one of my Facebook groups and I thought they looked great for young adult readers. Heck, I might read some of them! If you are going on a national park road trip or vacation with kids, it would be fun to get them a few of these. Here are some descriptions from Amazon:

“In this fast-paced adventure, the Landons trail a wounded wolf in Yellowstone National Park. The park is abuzz with rumors of a wolf attack. Meanwhile, a killer stalks the woods. Unaware of the danger, Jack and Ashley are more concerned about rebellious teenage foster child, Troy Haverson. From the opening moments at Old Faithful through 48 action-packed hours, the tension builds: What is lodged in the wolf’s radio collar? And what is the meaning of the Native American story of Sin-a-Wavi? A heady mix of suspense, adventure, and moments of tenderness lure readers into this story of kids discovering the natural world. The book’s afterword, by Yellowstone’s Michael K. Phillips, explores the park’s Wolf Restoration Program.”

“The Landon family is Southbound—headed for Florida to investigate a mysterious illness plaguing endangered manatees in Everglades National Park. Jack, Ashley, and their friend Bridger soon find themselves in deadly waters with a seven-foot shark, an injured manatee—and a mystery to solve. Who was the stranger in the speedboat who snatched Jack’s camera? And what does he have to do with the manatees? Join the heart-stopping chase through a maze of mangrove islands to find out!”

“Life-threatening accidents keep plaguing the Landon family as they investigate the mysterious deaths of white mustangs at Zion National Park in Utah. Even before they get to the park, Jack Landon knows that Ethan Ingawanup spells trouble. Things start to go awry after Ethan and his sister—two Shoshone kids—are placed in the Landons’ care. The questions begin to mount after Ethan teaches Jack and Ashley the ancient Ghost Dance: Are all the hair-raising events just coincidental? Or is there some strange magic in the dance ritual? The answers await in the raging waters of a slick-rock canyon called The Narrows. The afterword by Lyman Hafen of the Zion Natural History Association discusses white mustangs and public lands in Utah.”

Enjoy and let me know how they are!


Top 10 National Park Hikes


This is a list of my favorite national park hikes we have done. We have only visited 18 parks out of 59 so far, so I am sure these may change over time. Thanks to Adventures of a Day Hiker for the inspiration. For now here they are!

10. Bright Angel Trail-Grand Canyon National Park

I am sure the Bright Angel Trail will move higher up on my list when we finally get to stay at Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked part of the Bright Angel while we were at the Grand Canyon because we had limited time and a lot to see. Many hikers do a day hike to one of the rest houses or Indian Garden since this can be a tough one to climb back up from. We visited in October and it was still 80 when the sun was out.  The summer can be deadly. Listen to all the warnings and remember you have to go back up! This website and book are great for hikers and visitors. We also loved the South Kaibab Trail, but only got to see a little of it.

9.  The Zion Narrows-Zion National Park

The Narrows is more of a wade through the North Fork of the Zion River than a hike with elevation, but it can be hard on your legs and balance. Most day hikers do the bottom up day hike. You can also camp and get a permit to do the top down to see more of the scenery and canyon. You can rent water shoes, hiking sticks and even waders from shops at the entrance to Zion national Park if the water is cold. The shoes really help with the rocky bottom and give support to your ankles so you do not turn them. The hike is beautiful and unique. There are usually lots of people having fun towards the beginning, but it gets quiet the further you go. The Narrows can be closed from March-May, so check before you plan to go. 

8. Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail-Yellowstone National Park

There are a lot of amazing hikes in Yellowstone National Park, but we have only done a few of them so far. I hope we get to do many more next summer since we hope to work seasonally in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park! People raved about the Picnic Area hike in Lamar Valley near Roosevelt so we gave it a try. We only saw two or three other hikers the whole time, so I would definitely bring bear spray. It is an easy hike once you make the first initial climb from the parking lot/picnic area. There are lots of sheer drop offs so watch the kids. The views are beautiful and sweeping. We also love Trout Lake, Mystic Falls, Observation Point and the whole Upper Geyser Basin to Biscuit Basin for easy hikes in Yellowstone.  

7. Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

While short, Uncle Tom’s Trail packs a punch. It is steep going back up, and many people rush and forget water. Remember, you are already at a high elevation. The views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this metal staircase trail are great. You are right next to the Lower Falls. Try to get the rainbow in your pictures. Take your time and enjoy!

6. The Queens Garden Trail-Bryce Canyon National Park

I really felt like I was walking around in a fairy tale when we hiked the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon. You feel so tiny next to the hoodoos when you actually start walking around next to them. The floor of Bryce Canyon is lush and peaceful. Wall Street is amazing to hike through. We only stayed a night in Bryce Canyon and I can not wait to go back.

5. The Precipice Trail and The Beehive Trail-Acadia National Park

I lumped the Beehive and the Precipice Trails together even though the Beehive is shorter. I loved them both and both have amazing views. The Beehive is easier since it is about half the length of the Precipice. The Precipice is really more of a climbing/bouldering course than a hike. I wore biking/climbing gloves on the Precipice and they really helped with the iron rungs. Some parts were changeling for a short person like me, but several brave kids were doing the hikes. Not for those with a fear of heights! 

4. The Mist Trail-Yosemite National Park

I love Yosemite National Park so much. The valley is amazing. We can not wait to go back and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am hoping we can work a summer/fall season there in 2019. The Mist Trail hike was one of the highlights when we visited in 2015. Craig was wearing sneakers and it was very wet, so we did not get to Nevada Falls. My hiking boots did a great job. I would love to hike to Half Dome while we are working there, but it does scare me a bit! 

3. The Highline Trail-Glacier National  Park

Glacier National Park is a hikers dream. The Highline Trail is a great hike from the Logan Pass area. You must get there early to find a parking spot, or take a shuttle from where you are staying. There are sheer drop offs, but the hike itself is a pretty steady elevation change. We saw waterfalls, mountains, mountain goats and breathtaking views. One of my favorite national park hikes so far.

2. Angels Landing-Zion National Park

I would rank Angels Landing #1 except it was SO CROWDED when we went in October 2015. The temperature was perfect-in the 80’s. You will probably want to get on the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing early so it is still in the shade. The switchbacks are killer. It is even a great hike if you stop at Scout Lookout. The views are incredible. If you are brave try the chain portion. It is short, but if it is crowded be prepared to wait. You may want to check on when the sun will be hitting the canyon for the best light and pictures.

1. Grinnell Glacier-Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier is my number one national park hike we have done so far. It is amazing to see the effects of climate change and how the glaciers have shrunk. It was also so nice to hike with a ranger and group of national park fans.The whole hike has stunning views. I can not wait to do this hike again. We hope to work a summer season in Glacier. Maybe in 2020!

Thanks for reading and happy hiking! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures.

 

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Treasured Lands


We just got this beautiful book from the library and have been looking through it. If you love our national parks you should try to find it! 



The title is Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. It is hardcover and quite heavy. There are 456 pages of amazing photos. QT Luong worked on Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s documentary The National Parks America’s Best Idea. 




I love this part of the description: “In an odyssey that spanned more than 20 years and 300 visits, Luong focused his lenses on iconic landscapes and rarely seen remote views, presenting his journey in this sumptuous array of more than 500 breathtaking images.

Accompanying the collection of scenic masterpieces is a guide that includes maps of each park, as well as extended captions that detail where and how the photographs were made. Designed to inspire visitors to connect with the parks and invite photographers to re-create these landscapes, the guide also provides anecdotal observations that give context to the pictures and convey the sheer scope of Luong’s extraordinary odyssey.”

George Grant the First Chief Photographer of the National Park Service

 

After learning about National Parks Magazine, Craig and I got several issues from the library. The fall 2015 issue had an article about George Grant, the first chief photographer of the National Park Service. I had seen several of Grant’s photographs before, but now I know who took them. You may recognize this one of Superintendent Horace Albright taken in Yellowstone National Park.

The article says that during Grant’s “quarter century as the national parks’ principal staff photographer, he crisscrossed the country numerous times, traveling more than 140,000 miles to capture more than 30,000 images from nearly all the national parks, monuments, and historic sites that existed at the time.”  One of the photographs that struck me was Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park. It looks the same so many years later!

If you would like to see more of George Grant’s work, as well as many other national park photographs, this is where I searched on the NPS website. Here is an article about Grant.

Shown is a view of the Grand Canyon looking west, Grand Canyon National Park, June 19, 1930. National Park Service photograph by George A. Grant.

Shown is a view of the Grand Canyon looking west, Grand Canyon National Park, June 19, 1930. National Park Service photograph by George A. Grant.

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Capitol Reef

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Death in Yellowstone (and Other National Parks)

The past few weeks several very sad but avoidable accidents have happened at Yellowstone National Park. In May, a lady taking a picture of an Eagle stepped into the road and got hit by a car. On Tuesday, a pair of siblings from Oregon walked 225 yards off the boardwalks in Norris Geyser Basin and one slipped and fell into a hot spring. The water temperatures in Norris are the hottest in the park and range from 199 to 449 degrees. The day before, a 13 year old was being carried by his father as they walked off the designated trail in the Upper Geyser Basin. They slipped and got burned in a hot spring. Many signs are posted at the geyser basins warning visitors to stay on the boardwalks and marked paths. Information packets in different languages are also handed out when you enter the parks.

Rangers and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk have said that park visitation is already up 60% this year. It is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and with cheaper gas, social media interest and unrest overseas, people want to travel to the parks. 

There have been a lot of “crazy tourist” news stories already coming from the parks. I am sure you read or heard about the two tourists putting a Bison calf in their car to save it because they thought it was cold. Or High On Life, a group of Canadian tourists with a clothing line that blatantly ignored several National Park rules and then posted the pictures of themselves doing it to Instagram and Facebook. They have warrants issued for their arrests, but made it back to Canada. Then you have the woman petting a Bison– a wild animal that weighs over a ton and can move at 40mph. Park warnings say to keep 100 yards from Bears and Wolves and 25 yards from Bison and Elk. This woman also made news by approaching an Elk too closely.

In Glacier National Park a young man just died jumping into a pool of water in Running Eagle Falls. A climber died in Zion in March and last year there was an awful accident in Keyhole Canyon.  The last time Craig and I visited Yellowstone in 2014, a young girl fell at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the day we were there. Last year, a park employee made news when a bear attacked him while he was out alone running or walking without bear spray. On Monday a man fell while taking pictures in Acadia National  Park.

Throughout history accidents have happened in our wild places. Some are avoidable and some are due to weather and nature. I for one am glad there are still so many wild places left in this country and I hope they stay that way. Some great books to read before your trips are Death in Yellowstone, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite and Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. There are also a few other parks with books like these. They will give you a new found respect for the parks and the people that have to try and rescue visitors that make often fatal mistakes.


If you are visiting any National Parks during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, do some research before you go, read the information and warnings at the parks, respect the animals in their home and respect the fragile ecosystems.  If you plan to hike, carry water and bear spray or join a Ranger led hike. Too many are carving and spray painting rocks, leaving trash everywhere and not following warnings. Please do not ruin it for those of us that love and respect these places. Go and have an amazing time and be an ambassador for our parks!

National Park Classes

If you are looking to learn more about the National Parks when you visit, you may want to attend one of the Association or Institute classes. I was scrolling through some of the new classes and hikes today and they look amazing! Here are links to The Yellowstone Association, The Yosemite Conservancy, The Glacier Institute, The Zion Association, and The Grand Canyon Association. Check out their classes and talks and let me know about any other park classes you see. Craig and I are going to be keeping an eye on their job pages as well. I would love to work in one of the park bookstores or as a guide.

 

 

Full Time RV Route Planning

RVMapRoute2017/2018

After we decided on a date of 2018 for full time RVing, I have been planning a route. I think I have a good plan for our first year! I have been using Road Trippers again since it is pretty easy to map out a route online. Then the info shows up in the app on my phone. It is a rough draft right now since campsites are still too far out to book in a lot of the areas. I have to fill in stops in between major stops as well. I would like to keep our driving time to 3-4 hours or less on travel days. We also have to firm up where we would like to work. Interviews for the summer season (April-October) in the National Parks usually happen in November and December of the previous year. We hope to work in Yellowstone or Grand Teton for our first summer season since they have a lot of options for Workampers.

Our plan is to head down to Florida in the fall of 2017. Hopefully the beginning of October. We will just have the truck at that point. We want to stop at Shenandoah, The Blue Ridge Parkway, The Smoky Mountains and Congaree National Parks on the way down. We would also like to see Charleston and Savannah since we have never been. Our cats Lotus and Bamboo have been on a road trip before from Florida to Massachusetts, and luckily several of the hotels are pet friendly.

We will stay the winter in Central Florida. My parents are there and Craig and I lived there for nearly six years. We hope to do some seasonal work at the parks and shop for an RV. 5-6 months should be plenty of time to find one we like (fingers crossed.) Towards the end of March/beginning of April we will head to Wyoming by way of Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. We hope to see several of the National  Parks in those areas on the way. I would like to get to Wyoming towards the end of April, so we will tell them that in our interviews or add that info to our resumes. 

After working the summer in Yellowstone or Grand Teton (hopefully), we would like to head down to Utah or Arizona again.  Zion and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are open year round. If we can, we would like to work a few months at one of these parks. Then we could head to San Diego for a month and up the coast to Yosemite! I am hoping we can work the summer season of 2019 (April-September) in Yosemite National Park. If they would let us leave mid September after Labor Day, we could see Lake Tahoe, Lassen, Redwoods and Crater Lake.  After that we will have to decide! 

Again, we are pretty flexible since we will have to see what job offers we get and what is posted next year. Craig and I have both worked in retail, merchandising, front desk and concierge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, waited on tables, bartended, etc. in the past. We have worked in travel, banking, library/archiving, IT, web design, marketing, PR and owned several companies. Both of us are good with computers. We used to own a pet sitting company so we can help out on farms. In the next year and 1/2 we plan on taking several AMC classes on trail work and building, wilderness first aid and  map and compass info. We already volunteer for several local outdoor organizations helping with walks, trails, hiking, etc. I think we have well rounded backgrounds for Workamping!

Wheelingits blog posts on Planning RV Travels are a big help. I have bookmarked and Pinned so much info it will take me a year to get through it all! A trip to AAA is in order so we can pick up some paper maps. I will also buy Benchmark Maps so we have paper maps on hand. 

Stay tuned for more planning!