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Visiting Dry Tortugas National Park

Lighthouse at Garden Key

Some 70 miles west of Key West Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, lies one of North America’s most inaccessible national parks. Renowned for pirate legends, shipwrecks, and sheer unspoiled beauty, Dry Tortugas National Park harbors unrivaled coral reefs and marine life, an annual birding spectacle, and majestic Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry stronghold in the Western Hemisphere.

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Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park

View of the Olympic Mountains

With its incredible range of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems. Located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the park has four regions, including 70 miles of wild Pacific coastline, alpine areas, old-growth temperate rain forests and the forests of the drier east side.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s national parks! I’ve been to 50 of our 61 national parks — and Olympic National Park has so many different areas, there are tons of things to see and do! You can hike in the mountains, kayak or canoe in a lake or river, play in the tide pools, relax in the hot springs…and so much more! I’ve explored many areas of Olympic National Park — so I’m ready to help! If this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Olympic National Park!

Exploring the Pacific Coastline

The coastal portion of the park is a rugged, sandy beach along with a strip of adjacent forest. It is 60 miles long but just a few miles wide. While some beaches are primarily sand, others are covered with heavy rock and very large boulders.

Olympic Coast Sea Stacks

The most popular piece of the coastal strip is the 9-mile Ozette Loop. The Park Service runs a registration and reservation program to control usage levels of this area. From the trailhead at Ozette Lake, a 3-mile leg of the trail is a boardwalk-enhanced path through near primal coastal cedar swamp. Once you arrive at the ocean, you can continue out on the headland trails for spectacular views and sunsets.

Some of the best places to enjoy the Olympic coast include:

  • Rialto Beach
  • Second Beach
  • Third Beach
  • James Pond
  • Kalaloch
  • Beach 4
  • Ruby Beach

Tidepool Activities

Ruby Beach tidepool

The most popular tidepools areas are at Kalaloch’s Beach 4 and Mora’s Hole in the Wall. Rangers offer programs at both locations. Second Beach, Third Beach, Ruby Beach and many other coastal wilderness locations are also excellent places to view intertidal life in the park.

Explore Olympic’s Rivers by Kayak and Canoe

There are many kayak and canoe options in Olympic National Park’s rivers and lakes. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular spots to see the park from the water.

Paddle The Rivers of Olympic National Park

Elwha River (Class II-IV)

This river can be paddled most of the year, but the best season is in the spring or early summer. The most common put-in sites are in the lower portions of Glines Canyon and Altair Campground.

Hoh River (Class II-III)

This river offers scenic views of old-growth rainforest, but is frequented with log jams. Always scout ahead before paddling to avoid hazards. The most popular put-in locations are at the Hoh Campground and near the park entrance station on the Hoh River Road.

Queets River (Class II-III)

Queets River is a great place to experience secluded rain forests during higher water levels. In late summer, the river is often blocked by large debris and water that is too low for paddling. Log jam hazards may exist throughout the year. Popular put-in sites are the Queets Campground above Sam’s Rapid and the Hartzell Boat Launch.

Quinault River (Class II-V)

For expert kayakers willing to hike into the backcountry, the Quinault River offers challenging water. From the Graves Creek trailhead, hike 2.5 miles to Pony Bridge. This 3 mile route is through a gorge and has a mandatory portage at Dolly Falls. For calmer waters, a popular launch site is near-end of the North Shore Road at the bridge.

Sol Duc River (Class III-V)

For experienced kayakers, a 1.2 mile hike up the North Fork Trail in the Sol Duc Valley to the launch site offers fun water above Salmon Cascades. For experts interested in rapids, put-in at Salmon Cascades Overlook.

Enjoy The Lakes of Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent

Canoe on Lake Crescent

Big, deep, and blue, Lake Crescent offers a scenic paddling experience, particularly in the early morning when winds are most likely to be calm. Winds often come up in the afternoon and can quickly create waves of a foot or more. Boat launches include Storm King Ranger Station and Fairholme. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at concession operated Log Cabin Resort and Lake Crescent Lodge.

Lake Ozette

Near the coast and filled with summer water lilies, Lake Ozette offers a secluded paddle journey. Two boat launches exist at the Ozette Ranger Station and Ozette Campground. Kayak and Canoes can also access a few backcountry campsites. Sudden weather changes are common in the Ozette area — always check the forecast and plan for the possibility of sudden, strong winds and waves.

Lake Quinault

In a rainforest valley, Lake Quinault boasts mountain views and old-growth forests. Afternoon winds are common here, so always be prepared. Two boat launches are found on the U.S. Forest Service operated Falls Creek and Willaby Campgrounds. Boat rentals are available at the concession operated Lake Quinault Lodge.

Fishing in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park protects over 70 miles of Pacific Coast, 600 lakes, and 4,000 miles of rivers and streams that support some of the most extensive runs of wild salmon, trout, and char remaining in the Pacific Northwest.

Coho salmon

Only catch and release fishing is allowed, which improves native fish populations by allowing more fish to remain and reproduce in the ecosystem. This practice provides an opportunity for increasing numbers of anglers to enjoy fishing and to successfully catch fish. Releasing native fish caught while in a national park will help to ensure that enjoyment of this recreation opportunity will last for generations to come.

Fishing gear is perhaps the most important factor affecting whether a fish will survive being caught and released.
Use artificial lures or flies. Use of bait is prohibited in all park waters.
Use rod, reel, and line of sufficient strength to quickly land the fish
Use properly sized single circle or barbless hooks.

Visit The Hoh Rainforest

Throughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Hoh Rain Forest, contributing to the yearly total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet!) of precipitation each year. The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.

Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest is located in the stretch of the Pacific Northwest rainforest which once spanned the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. The Hoh is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park’s most popular destinations.

The Hoh lies on the west side of Olympic National Park, about a two-hour drive from Port Angeles and under an hour from Forks. The Hoh Rain Forest is accessed by the Upper Hoh Road, off of Highway 101.

See Olympic National Park on Foot

Day hikes of varying length and difficulty are found throughout the park. Some are universally accessible while others are more challenging. Because of the diverse nature of the park, and depending on how much time you’re able to spend in the park, you’ll want to choose one or more areas to explore.

Hiking in the Sol Duc

Before You Go…

  • Even on short hikes, be prepared for changeable weather. Carry food, water, raingear and extra layers of clothing.
  • Do not drink water directly from streams. Boil water or use a water filter or other treatment that kills or filters giardia and cryptosporidium. Iodine tablets do not kill cryptosporidium.
  • Stay on trails to avoid injury to yourself and the park’s vegetation.
  • Pack out all trash, including food waste.

Wildlife Viewing

Birds

Northern pygmy owl

Many bird species share Olympic’s skies. Bald eagles, northern pygmy owls, black oystercatchers and sooty grouse are among the 300 species of birds found in the diverse habitats of the park.

Deer

Black-tailed deer can be encountered in nearly all areas of the park. Deer often roam in the mountainous and forested locations within the park and tend to be more active during the morning and evening.

Olympic Marmots

Olympic Marmot

Spot these charismatic animals at Olympic’s higher elevations. Trails near Hurricane Ridge and alpine trails make prime destinations for marmot sightings during the summer.

Roosevelt Elk

Most elk sightings occur in Olympic’s lower valleys and rainforests. Elk encounters occur throughout the day, but are most common during dusk or dawn.

Salmon

Olympic’s rivers are home to all five species of Pacific salmon, as well as anadromous steelhead and bull trout. Although there are salmon migrations throughout the year, fall is the best time to view the salmon’s dramatic upstream journey. Most rivers in the park host a fall salmon run, but the Salmon Cascades Overlook in the Sol Duc Valley provides one of the best views from late September to Early October.

Whales

The Olympic coast offers many opportunities to view whales during their migration seasons of April – May and October – November. Prime whale watching sights include Kalaloch, Rialto, and Shi Shi Beaches.

Mountain Goats

Although not native, mountain goats can been seen high elevation areas of the park and may be encountered along alpine hiking trails. They occasionally roam near Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Black Bears

Black Bears are seldom sighted in areas with high human presence, such as roads and Visitor Centers. Most sightings, while rare, occur along backcountry trails.

Exploring Olympic National Park in Winter

Snowshoing on Hurricane Ridge

At an elevation of 5,242 feet, Hurricane Ridge is Olympic’s alpine destination in winter. Typically snow-covered, Hurricane Ridge provides opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more. Hurricane Ridge’s winter season is generally mid-December through the end of March.


Olympic National Park

Click here to see the Olympic National Park poster

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our national parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob and the National Park Poster Project

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Best Things To Do in Arches National Park

Arches National Park - Delicate Arch

A visit to Arches National Park provides an opportunity to discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park protects the largest proliferation of arches in the world — more than 2,000 natural stone arches, fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, and balanced rocks. Landscape Arch, measuring 306 fragile feet, is the second-longest span in the world and it’s a sight you will never forget. And, Delicate Arch is one of the most famous geologic features anywhere on earth!

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s national parks! I’ve been to 50 of our 61 national parks — and Arches National Park is one of my personal favorites! I’ve been to Arches National Park many times — so I’m ready to help! Whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, or if you have one hour or three days, you can always find something to do at Arches. Here are some of the best things to do in Arches National Park!

Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers

Arches National Park - Park Avenue and the Courthouse Towers

After you leave the Arches Visitor Center, you’ll drive up steep switchback roads, and the first major area of the park you’ll see is Park Avenue and the Courthouse Towers. Walk among these massive monoliths and towering walls and see amazing views of the nearby La Sal Mountains. Beyond the viewpoint, the trail descends steeply into the spectacular canyon and continues one mile to Courthouse Towers.

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park - Delicate Arch

People come from all over the world to visit Arches National Park, and visiting the most delicately chiseled arch in the entire area should put Delicate Arch on the top of your must-see list. The light opening of the arch is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park. Delicate Arch has become a widely recognized symbol of the state of Utah.

Devils Garden

Arches National Park - Devils Garden

Devils Garden offers breathtaking views, camping, backpacking, stargazing, and hiking of all skill levels. Devils Garden is one of the premier locations in the park and here you’ll find arches, spires, and a large concentration of narrow rock walls called “fins.” Fins eventually erode and give way to the formation of arches like Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America with a light opening of 306 feet. This awe-inspiring expanse is only 6 feet (1.8 meters) in diameter at its narrowest point.

Arches National Park - Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch

Balanced Rock

Arches National Park - Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock, one of the most iconic features in the park, and stands a staggering 128 feet tall. Balanced Rock defies gravity but this won’t always be the case. Eventually, the 3,600 ton boulder will come tumbling down as the erosional process continues to shape the landscape.

Windows Section

The Windows Section contains a large concentration of arches and is one of the most scenic locations in the park. North Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch are just a few of the awe-inspiring expanses you’ll find in just over two square miles. Other named features in this area include Garden of Eden, Elephant Butte, and Parade of Elephants.

Exploring the Park by Car

If your time at Arches is limited, the easiest way to see many of the park’s outstanding natural features is to drive the 18-mile scenic road. Parking is limited at all destinations, and popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden may fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays.

If you have an hour or two, drive to The Windows Section and see some of the park’s largest arches. Add a half hour to stroll beneath either North Window or Double Arch. Or, drive to Delicate Arch Viewpoint and see the world’s most famous arch, a mile distant. Stop at Wolfe Ranch on your way back and imagine what it would have been like to homestead this relatively barren area in the late 1800s.

Get Out and Hike

To really experience some of the park’s best features, you need to get out and hike! The trip to Delicate Arch is particularly rewarding, and if you can time it at sunset, it will be a memory to cherish forever. Arches contains a variety of hiking trails, many of which are considered easy to moderate. Trails provide access to outstanding viewpoints and arches not visible from the road. In some cases, trails travel under arches, affording quite a unique perspective on the park’s namesake features. Sandstone basins called ephemeral pools or potholes are home to a variety of life. Tiny organisms depend on the water in these shallow pools. Also, climbing, scrambling, walking or standing upon, or rappelling off any arch is prohibited in the park.

Arches National Park - hiking

Backpack the Backcountry

There are a few options for backpacking at Arches. The park’s backcountry is mostly rough terrain, inaccessible by established trails with very limited water sources, so plan to carry all you need. While Arches National Park is known for its outstanding geologic features, it also contains irreplaceable cultural resources and sensitive high desert ecosystems.

Enjoy Rock Climbing & Canyoneering

Arches National Park - Climbing

The rock at Arches offers excellent climbing opportunities, despite its sandy nature. Most climbing routes in the park require advanced techniques. Canyoneering is an adventure sport using climbing equipment for rappels and other technical descents through canyons. While Arches has no real “slot canyons,” many of its sandstone walls are cross-hatched with narrow passages appropriate for this type of exploration.

Bike through the Park

Inside the Park

You can ride your bike on all paved and unpaved roads in the park. But you may not ride your bike on trails or anywhere off a road. The Salt Valley and Willow Springs dirt roads are less traveled than the paved roads, but they are more suited to mountain bikes due to washboards, deep sand, and other obstacles.

Outside the Park

There are many options for riding bikes outside the park. Moab is surrounded by mountain biking trails of every difficulty level. Popular road rides abound, as well. A paved bike path connects Moab with the entrance to Arches, and continues along US 191 to UT 313, which leads to Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Camp Under the Stars

Arches National Park - Camping Under the Stars

The campground at Devils Garden affords phenomenal views and is the only campground at Arches National Park. You can reserve campsites for nights between March 1 and October 31. During this busy season, the campground is usually full every night. If you’re arriving at Arches without a reservation, you’ll probably have to look for a campsite outside the park. Between November and February, campsites are first-come, first-served.

Check out the Ranger-led Programs

Programs are offered spring through fall and rangers and volunteers offer a variety of programs every day. Program types, times, and locations vary throughout the year and may change due to weather or other factors. Here’s a short list of programs you might consider:

Short Interactive Program (May-September)

These programs are usually 5-15 minutes, are free and all ages are welcome. No advance reservation is needed and times and locations vary, so check at the visitor center.

Guided Walks (June-August)

Walks are usually about 60 minutes and a moderately easy one mile walk (although some are on uneven surfaces). Walks are free, open to all ages, and no advance reservation is required. Bring water, sunscreen, and a hat!

Evening Programs (May-September)

Evening programs run 45-60 minutes and are free and all ages are welcome. Programs are held at the Devils Garden Campground amphitheater. No advance reservations are needed, but check for start times at the visitor center or the campground. Campground evening programs are not conducted during stargazing events.

Fiery Furnace Hikes (May-September)

The only way to enter the Fiery Furnace is with a ranger or with an individual permit. Rangers offer Fiery Furnace hikes spring through fall. Tickets for these hikes are in high demand, and reservations are required. These physically demanding hikes are for ages 5 and up only. You must purchase tickets in advance.

Gaze Up at the Stars

Rangers lead stargazing programs and events at Arches National Park, which has some of the darkest skies remaining in the contiguous 48 United States. The darkness of a moonless night at Arches surprises many visitors. As few as one in ten Americans lives in an area where they can see the estimated 2,500 stars that should be visible under normal conditions. At Arches, the naked eye is sufficient to witness a wealth of stars. Under the right conditions, common binoculars may even reveal the rings of Saturn. Check the calendar at the visitor center to see if there are any special events taking place when you’ll be in the park!

A Few Photography Tips

Delicate Arch at sunset might be the most famous image to photograph in the park, but it’s certainly not the only one, nor is it necessarily “the best.” In this land of wondrous rock shapes, timeless vistas, and piercing contrasts, you are surrounded by compelling subjects for photographs. The best light occurs early in the morning and late in the afternoon, as the lower angle of light gives your subject depth and a greater sense of reality. The warmth of the light deepens the redness of the rock into amazing hues — the very reason this land is often called “color country.”


I’ve created a poster for Arches National Park that features the iconic Delicate Arch.

Arches National Park

Click here to see the Arches National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our national parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob and the National Park Poster Project

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Best Things to do in Shenandoah National Park

Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is your escape to rest, relaxation and recreation. Meander along Skyline Drive — a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains. Hike to cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas and quiet wooded hollows. Or picnic with the family and enjoy the 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, and an incredible night sky.

The park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and Valley to the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont to the east. Although the scenic Skyline Drive is the most prominent feature of the park, almost 40% of the land area has been designated as wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 50 of our 61 National Parks — and I have explored many areas of the park — so I’m here to offer some suggestions! If this is your first time to the park, or you’re returning after many years, check out some of the best things to do in Shenandoah National Park!

Experience Skyline Drive

As you travel along Skyline Drive you will notice mileposts on the west side of the road (right side if you are traveling south, left if you are heading north). These posts help you find your way through the park and help you locate areas of interest. The miles begin at 0 at Front Royal and continue to 105 at the southern end of the park. The largest developed area, Big Meadows, is near the center of the park, at mile 51. All park maps and information use these mileposts as a reference.

Shenandoah National Park - Skyline Drive

The speed limit is 35 mph, so you can roll down your windows, feel the breeze and experience every curve and turn of this beautiful drive. There are nearly 70 overlooks that offer stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling Piedmont to the east. Black bear, wild turkey, and a host of other woodland animals call Shenandoah home and regularly cross Skyline Drive in their daily travels. Watch carefully for these animals who may dart across your path without warning.

Who Doesn’t Love a waterfall?

Shenandoah National Park - Dark Hallows Falls

Besides small cascades along streams, there are large and lovely waterfalls in each section of Shenandoah National Park. All are accessible from a parking place along Skyline Drive. But they all involve a hike downhill—and, of course, the harder hike back up! Check out the waterfalls — each with its own beauty and personality. Here are some of the more popular falls…

  • Overall Run Falls at mile 21.1
  • Whiteoak Canyon Falls at mile 42.6
  • Cedar Run Falls at mile 45.6
  • Rose River Falls at mile 49.4
  • Dark Hollow Falls at mile 50.7
  • Lewis Falls at mile 51.4
  • South River Falls at mile 62.8
  • Jones Run Falls at mile 84.1

Get Out and Hike!

Shenadoah National Park - Hiking

There’s so much more to see than just waterfalls, and hiking is the best way to get out an explore the park. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails in Shenandoah ranging from easy to very strenuous. You can even hike part of the Appalachian Trail! When you are out on the trails, look for the concrete trail markers with directional information at trailheads and intersections. Here are some suggestions for hiking the North, Central and Southern Districts of the park.

North District Hikes in Shenandoah

From the tallest waterfall in the park, to the quiet historical Fox Hollow Trail, the North District of Shenandoah has something for everyone. Hikes in the North District of Shenandoah National Park include the quiet, historical Fox Hollow Trail, the scenic Overall Run Falls, and Compton Peak, with impressive columnar jointing geological features. While in the North District be sure to talk to a ranger at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center.

Central District Hikes in Shenandoah

Whether you are looking for a short hike through the forest or a destination hike leading to peaks or waterfalls, the Central District of Shenandoah National Park offers many options for recreation and relaxation. Hiking options in the Central District include scenic waterfalls like Dark Hollow Falls and Whiteoak Canyon, sweeping summits like Stony Man Mountain and Marys Rock. The Central District also includes Big Meadows and Skyland, areas rich with history that currently are home to lodging, dining, and shopping options.

South District Hikes In Shenandoah

The South District is the most remote area of Shenandoah National Park. Whether you are looking to take a shorter hike to rugged talus slopes or a longer trip into the Wilderness, your adventure starts here. The South District offers plenty of hiking opportunities from the easier Blackrock Summit — featuring a rocky talus slope and majestic views — to the very strenuous Riprap Trail featuring cascades, and views of Shenandoah’s Wilderness. While there is no visitor center in the South District, the Loft Mountain Wayside and Campground can offer some services.

Bicycling Through the Park

Another great way to see the park is on two wheels! Bicycling is permitted along Skyline Drive and on paved areas in the park. Bicycles (road and mountain bikes) are not permitted on trails, unpaved roads or in grassy areas. Because Skyline Drive is a two-lane road with steep hills and numerous blind curves, cyclists are urged to use extreme caution.

Shenandoah National Park - Bicycling - Neal Lewis
Photo Courtesy NPS/Neal Lewis

Cyclists should be prepared to operate their bicycles during periods of low visibility, or while traveling through a tunnel, or between sunset and sunrise. During periods of fog, reflectors will not provide the necessary safety for bicyclists. Lights on both the front and rear of the bicycle are required. Mountain areas can experience dramatically different weather than what is being experienced in the lowlands, so be prepared!

Camping & Sleeping Under the Stars

There’s no better place to do it than Shenandoah! Beautiful campgrounds, each with unique features and access to nearly 200,000 acres of backcountry to explore are perfect for your next camping adventure!

Shenandoah National Park - Moonrise

Mathews Arm Campground

Mathews Arm, at mile 22.1 of Skyline Drive, is the nearest campground for those entering the park from the north. It is next to a nature trail and the trail to Overall Run Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park. Elkwallow Wayside, with camping supplies and food service, is two miles away.

Big Meadows Campground

Located at mile 51.2 of Skyline Drive, Big Meadows Campground is near many of the major facilities and popular hiking trails in the park. Three waterfalls are within walking distance; the Meadow, with its abundant plant growth and wildlife, is close by.

Lewis Mountain Campground

Lewis Mountain Campground is located off mile 57.5 of Skyline Drive and is the smallest campground in the park.

Loft Mountain Campground

Located at mile 79.5 of Skyline Drive, Loft Mountain Campground is the largest campground in the park. The campground sits atop Big Flat Mountain with outstanding views to east and west. Two waterfalls and the trails into the Big Run Wilderness area are nearby.

Fishing in Mountain Streams

Shenandoah National Park - Fishing
Photo courtesy NPS/Neal Lewis

Shenandoah National Park contains over 70 mountain streams that support diverse aquatic resources including brook trout populations. Fishing opportunities are abundant but are also regulated in order to preserve and protect fish resources. For current rules, license requirements, guidelines on ethical fishing techniques, and planning a fishing trip, make sure to review the park’s fishing regulations.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is a popular activity in Shenandoah National Park. Opportunities for all levels of climbers abound. Providing these opportunities are part of Shenandoah’s mission as is protecting the resources. Responsible rock climbing practices will ensure that these opportunities will be enjoyed by future generations.

Ranger Programs

Ranger-guided programs give visitors the opportunity to explore the wonders of the park with a Ranger. Programs are offered in spring, summer, and fall. Discover the many stories of Shenandoah’s past, take a walk through the splendor of a unique mountain meadow, or learn about the many animals and plants that thrive in Shenandoah National Park.


I’ve created a poster for Shenandoah National Park that features Dark Hollow Falls.

Shenandoah National Park

Click here to see the Shenandoah National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob & the National Park Poster Project!

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Best Things To Do at Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier from Reflection Lake

Mount Rainier National Park is home to Washington State’s 14,410-foot-tall active stratovolcano — and the highest point in the Cascade Range. Mount Rainier is surrounded by valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, and old-growth forests. More than 25 glaciers flank the sides of the volcano, which is often shrouded in clouds, which dump enormous amounts of rain and snow. So, whether you’re coming to tackle the mountain on a challenging hike, eager to see Paradise’s wildflower meadows, or drive to Sunrise – there is something for every visitor. Even in winter, when portions of the park are closed, activities are available for outdoor adventurers, including skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

2019 marks the 120th Anniversary of Mount Rainier National Park…and you can see the commemorative poster I’ve created at the bottom of this post!

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and I have explored many areas of the park — so I’m here to offer some suggestions! If this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, check out some of the best things to do in Mount Rainier National Park!

The park has five developed areas — Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise and the Carbon River & Mowich — with three visitor centers, a museum, and several wilderness and climbing centers and ranger stations. There are three main drive-in campgrounds, and two inns that provide lodging within the park.

Longmire

Mount Rainier from Longmire
Mount Rainier from Longmire

The original 1916 headquarters and museum are located here and offer information and exhibits that tell the story of the early days of the park. The Longmire Wilderness Information Center as well as the National Park Inn are located here, too. There are several hiking trails within Longmire, including the Trail of the Shadows, a short loop that begins near the museum, takes you on an easy walk past Longmire hot springs, through the surrounding forest and past a replica of one of the park’s earliest homesteads.

Paradise

Paradise, located at 5,400 feet, is a great place to start your park visit. Here you’ll find the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center — the main visitor center for the park. It offers general information, exhibits, a park film, guided ranger programs, a gift store and cafeteria. The historic Paradise Inn — usually open from mid-May to early October — is located here. And, you’ll also find The Guide House, where climbers can obtain permits and hiking and backcountry camping information. In the summer, this area is perfect for wildflower viewing. In winter, it’s the place for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing.

Ohanapecosh

Located 42 miles east of the Nisqually Entrance, Ohanapecosh is thought to mean “standing at the edge.” Situated among Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock, you can experience the beauty and complexity of an old-growth forest. The east side of the park is also somewhat drier and sunnier than the west side, making it a good destination when Paradise and Longmire are wet or foggy.

Sunrise

Mount Rainier from Paradise
Mount Rainier from Sunrise

Sunrise is the highest spot in the park that can be reached by vehicle. And at 6,400 feet, you’ll have amazing 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys. You also have views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, as well as other volcanoes in the Cascade Range. The spectacular views, coupled with a varied trail system, make Sunrise one of the more popular destinations in the park.

Carbon River & Mowich

Rainforest near the Carbon River
Rainforest near the Carbon River

The history of this quiet corner of the park goes back well beyond the mining and logging that took place here. The Carbon River, named for coal deposits found in the area receives consistently high amounts of rainfall so the climate and plant communities found here resemble that of a temperate rainforest. Mowich Lake is set in a glacial basin surrounded by fragile wildflower meadows, and is the largest and deepest lake in Mount Rainier National Park.

Hike to Waterfalls & Wildflowers

Narada Falls
Narada Falls

Mount Rainier National Park offers more than 260 miles of maintained trails that lead through peaceful old-growth forest, river valleys and high subalpine meadows. From these trails you can explore and experience the forests, lakes, and streams and view the fields of wildflowers and network of glaciers.

If you’re looking for easy and enjoyable trails that the whole family can experience together, here are some of my favorites.

Sunrise Nature Trail & Sunrise Rim Trail

At Sunrise, you can access two short hikes: the Sunrise Nature Trail and the Sunrise Rim Trail. The 1 ½-mile Sunrise Nature Trail starts from the Sunrise picnic area and is a self-guided loop that weaves through meadows with breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades. The 1-mile-long Sunrise Rim Trail leads to two overlooks of Emmons Glacier.

Grove of the Patriarchs Trail

Located west of the Stevens Canyon Entrance on the Ohanapecosh River, this 1-mile loop takes you to an island where 1,000-year-old Douglas fir and western red cedar trees tower overhead. There’s also a swinging suspension bridge on this trail!

Silver Falls Trail

This 3-mile round-trip trail begins at the Ohanapecosh Campground and takes visitors to the spectacular Silver Falls. It is relatively flat and easy to hike, making it popular with families. The trail follows the river to the falls, crosses a bridge and then loops back to the campground.

Skyline Trail

Fall Colors along the Skyline Trail
Fall Colors along the Skyline Trail

This 5 ½-mile hike starts near the entrance to the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center and is marked by stone steps inscribed with a quote by John Muir that reads: “… the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings.” Head clockwise and the trail climbs 2 miles to Panorama Point, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views.

Climb a Volcano!

Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. Each year thousands of people successfully climb this 14,410 foot active volcano. Will you be next?

Climbing Glaciers
Climbing Glaciers

To reach the summit, you’ll have to climb some 9,000 feet over a distance of eight or more miles. You must be in good physical condition and well prepared! Proper physical conditioning can offset the effects of fatigue that lead to mistakes and injuries. Weather, snow, and route conditions can change rapidly, so before beginning a climb, obtain a current weather forecast.

Experience the Wildflowers

Penstemon
Penstemon

Mount Rainier’s renowned wildflowers bloom for a limited amount of time every year. The “peak” bloom for wildflowers is heavily dependent on weather and precipitation patterns, so accurate predictions are difficult. But in most years, many flowers will be blooming by mid-July, and by the first of August the meadows should be very impressive. Frost can occur by late August, but even after light frosts the meadows continue to be very beautiful, thanks to changing leaf colors and seed pod development that take the place of colorful blossoms.

Bicycling

At Mount Rainier, cyclists can enjoy bicycling that is both challenging and scenic. Bicycles are allowed on park roads but they are not permitted on any hiking trails and the park does not have any designated bike trails. September and early October are generally excellent times for cyclists to visit Mount Rainier. During these months, there are usually fewer vehicles on the roads and fall colors enhance the scenery.

Fishing

Mount Rainier National Park isn’t known for its fishing, so don’t be disappointed if you fail to catch fish, or if the fish are small! Only experienced anglers do well and then only during limited times of the season. Rivers and streams are open from late-May or early-June through late-October, and most lakes are ice-free July through October.


I’ve created a poster for Mount Rainier National Park, featuring a view of the volcano from Reflection Lake.

Mount Rainier National Park

Click here to see the Mount Rainier National Park 120th Anniversary poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob & the National Park Poster Project!

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Best Things To Do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Though it’s only a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. You can fish, golf and even enjoy skiing and snowboarding!

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and Cuyahoga Valley is a great place to visit – regardless of the time of year! Cuyahoga Valley is unusual in that it is adjacent to two large urban areas and includes a dense road network, small towns, and private attractions. I have explored much of the park — so I’m ready to help!

If this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park!

Ride the Scenic Train

The National Park Scenic Railway is a unique way to experience all the natural wonder Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Sit back and relax as the train weaves through the Cuyahoga Valley and races along with the rushing Cuyahoga River. Look for eagles, deer, beavers and otters in their natural habitat.

From January-May, the National Park Scenic excursion is a two-and-a-half hour round trip through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Board at Rockside Station, Peninsula Depot, or at Akron Northside Station. From June through October, the train runs Wednesdays-Sundays on an extended schedule. You can choose from a variety of seating options including coach, table top, first class, lounge, upper dome, executive class, or suites.

Hiking

Hiking

You can hike more than 125 miles of trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park that range from nearly level to challenging. ,Pass through various habitats including woodlands, wetlands, and old fields. Some trails require you to cross streams with stepping stones or log bridges, while others, including the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, are nearly level and are accessible to all visitors. A portion of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail also passes through the park.

Biking

Biking the Towpath Trail

Towpath Trail

This multi-purpose trail was developed by the National Park Service and is the major trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Mountain Biking

The East Rim Trail System has stunning views, varied terrain, exciting obstacles, and an element of adventure for anyone who explores it.

Bike and Hike Aboard

Bike or hike the Towpath Trail in one direction and hop on the train on your way back! The train can be flagged down at boarding stations by waving both arms over your head. You should arrive 10 minutes prior to the train’s scheduled arrival…and you can pay your fare when you board.

Visit the Beaver Marsh

Beaver Marsh

The Beaver Marsh is among the most diverse natural communities in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The exceptional scenery and wildlife make it one of the park’s most popular destinations. Here you can enjoy photography, bird watching, and sharing nature with family and friends.

Enjoy Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls is one of the most popular locations in the park. This 65-foot waterfall is accessed via a partially accessible boardwalk. For a more challenging trip, take the steep stairs to the lower viewpoint or the 1.4-mile Brandywine Gorge Trail.

Hike or Picnic at The Ledges

The Ledges

The Ritchie Ledges are witnesses to change – from creation out of Sharon Conglomerate millions of years ago, to landscapes wrecked by humans and to preservation today. The Civilian Conservation Corps created the park you see today, building trails and shelters throughout the area.

Explore Blue Hen Falls

Blue Hen Falls

This 15-foot waterfall is a beautiful hike every time of year. There is a small parking lot located across the street from the main trailhead. From there, the falls are a steep half-mile hike.

Fishing

The Cuyahoga River and numerous ponds are open to fishing. Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s philosophy is to maintain the predator-prey relationship rather than to stock fish for recreational fishing. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged to maintain the fish populations needed for continued sport fishing. The park has over 65 species of fish that live in its waters. Steelhead trout and bullhead can be caught in the Cuyahoga River. Bluegill, bass, and crappie can be caught in lakes and ponds in the park.

Cuyahoga River

Kayaking and Canoeing

People who want to canoe or kayak the Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Valley National Park need to bring their own equipment and have experience to manage the safety risks posed by the river. The National Park Service does not maintain the river for recreational use. Canoeing and kayaking the river can be dangerous. Water quality, low head dams, and debris in the river all pose hazards.

Horse Riding

Viewing the Cuyahoga Valley landscape from horseback is like no other experience. Horseback riding is permitted only on trails signed and designated as horse trails. Horses need to be brought in as there are no horse rentals adjacent to the bridle trails.

Try Your Hand at Canalway Questing

Find more than 40 adventures—called quests—along the Ohio & Erie Canal! Put on your sleuthing hat and follow rhyming clues and a curious map to each hidden quest box. Along the way, discover the area’s treasures—the natural and cultural gems of the Canalway. Unlike geocaching, no GPS unit is needed and no trinkets are exchanged. When you find a quest box, collect its unique stamp, sign its logbook, and put it back in place for others to discover.

Golfing

Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers the unique opportunity for golfing within the park, although none of the golf courses are federally owned or operated. You can golf at any of the following courses:

Astorhurst Country Club
Brandywine Golf Course
Shawnee Hills Golf Course
Sleepy Hollow Golf Course

I’ve created a poster to celebrate Cuyahoga Valley National Park that features the famous Brandywine Falls. The poster can also be purchased at the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park shops in the park!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Click here to see the Cuyahoga Valley National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob & the National Park Poster Project!

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Best Things To Do at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is unlike most national parks. It is stretched across 82,000 acres north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge, making it one of the world’s largest national parks in an urban setting and home to one of the largest urban parks in the world. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area protects a wide range of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of the land in the park was formerly used by the United States Army. Now managed by the National Park Service, it is the most visited unit of the National Park system, with more than 15 million visitors a year.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s national parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 national parks — and Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of my personal favorites — having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area. With 37 distinct park sites, from Muir Woods National Monument to Fort Point National Historic Site to Alcatraz Island, more than 130 miles of trails, and 1,200 historic structures, Golden Gate National Recreation area truly has something for everyone!

If this is your first time to the San Francisco Bay Area, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Golden Gate National Recreation Area!

Marin County (North of Golden Gate Bridge)

Fort Baker

Fort Baker is a 335 acre former 1905 U.S. Army post located immediately north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This hidden gem of a site consists of over 25 historic army buildings clustered around a main parade ground, a sheltered harbor protected by a jetty, a number of historic gun emplacements, and trails and forested areas climbing gently up from San Francisco Bay.

Headlands Center for the Arts

The Headlands Center for the Arts is an artist residency program set in renovated military buildings in the Marin Headlands. Offers programs including performances, discussions and lectures, and displays a 1,800-square-foot project space with a rotating roster of artists open to the public.

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands from Fort Point
Here you can discover the many cultures that have called the Marin Headlands home, from the Miwok Indians to the American Military and everything in between. Enjoy a hike through its varied trails, including dog-friendly Rodeo Beach, or visit The Marine Mammal Center, Rodeo Lagoon, Muir Beach, Tennessee Valley and the Gerbode Valley. Take a drive along Conzelman Road from the northern foot of the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Bonita. This five-mile road offers breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument

Walk among old growth coast redwoods, cooling their roots in the fresh water of Redwood Creek and lifting their crowns to reach the sun and fog. Federally protected as a National Monument since 1908, this primeval forest is both refuge and laboratory, revealing our relationship with the living landscape. You’ll also see Coast Douglas-fir, Bigleaf Maple, Tanbark Oak, and California Bay Laurel.

Oakwood Valley

On a clear day you can see as far as Point Reyes from this park adjacent to the Marin Headlands. Trails loop through groves of eucalyptus and bay laurel. In the spring you will find lupine and California poppies. In summer, the grasses turn golden, and by late summer you can find fennel, sagebrush, and blackberry bushes. Oakwood Valley contains the largest untouched woodland of Coast Live Oak and California bay trees in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Olema Valley

Olema Valley is a rolling landscape of grassland and forest a ten mile stretch from Tomales Bay to Bolinas Lagoon. This area has been shaped by geologic forces and changing patters of human use. Until recently, the dynamic story of the valley remained largely undiscovered. Now, steps are underway to preserve both the history and fragile beauty of this northern corner of the park.

Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse

A secret jewel of the Bay Area, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855, was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast and helped shepherd ships through the treacherous Golden Gate straits. Today, the lighthouse is still active and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Discover Point Bonita’s wild landscape, geology and fascinating history by hiking the trail to the Point Bonita Lighthouse!

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach is one of Northern California’s best kept secrets. It’s located about 20 miles NW of San Francisco alongside Mt Tamalpais State Park. Being only a 35 minute trip from the Golden Gate Bridge, Stinson Beach is a very popular day trip for residents and tourists alike. With opportunities for volleyball, hiking, picnicking, fishing, or surfing, people continue to visit Stinson Beach to escape from the frantic pace of everyday life, just they have been doing for more than a century.

Muir Beach Overlook

Muir Beach
Muir Beach Overlook provides expansive views of the Pacific Coast, including the Point Reyes Peninsula. Visitors can also explore several historic base-end stations, observation posts that were part of the San Francisco Bay coastal defense system. From this vantage point soldiers could view ships through telescopes, and plot their distance, speed, and direction in order to aim nearby coastal defense guns that protected the area from invading warships in the 1900s.

Fort Cronkhite

Located in the Marin Headlands north of Rodeo Lagoon, Fort Cronkhite is a former World War II military post that stands at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Fort Cronkhite is one of the few examples of these World War II “mobilization posts” remaining in the country. The fort’s barracks, mess halls, and other structures are preserved to tell the story of the soldiers who waited here for an enemy that never came. Today, Fort Cronkhite’s buildings are used as offices and housing for the National Park Service and its park partners.

Nike Missile Site SF-88

SF-88 is a decommissionedArmy surface-to-air missile (SAM) site located near Fort Barry, in the Marin Headlands to the north of San Francisco, California. Opened in 1954, the site was intended to protect the population and military installations of the San Francisco Bay Area during the Cold War, specifically from attack by Soviet bomber aircraft.

San Francisco County (South of Golden Gate Bridge)

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz
Alcatraz reveals stories of American incarceration, justice, and our common humanity. This small island was once a fort, a military prison, and a maximum security federal penitentiary. In 1969, the Indians of All Tribes occupied Alcatraz for 19 months in the name of freedom and Native American civil rights. Here you can explore Alcatraz’s complex history and natural beauty.

China Beach

China Beach is in a tiny cove tucked between Lands End and Baker Beach in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco. This sheltered pocket of sand features a picnic area, sunbathing, good play spots for children, and spectacular views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate.

Fort Funston

Fort Funston Beach
Fort Funston features 200-foot high sandy bluffs on San Francisco’s southwest coast where the winds blow reliably wildly. No surprise it is one of the premier hang-gliding spots in the country. A network of trails make it ideal for hiking and horseback riding. Dog owners will be happy to know they can take leashes off here. It is also home to the Fort Funston Native Plant Nursery.

Fort Mason

Once known as San Francisco Port of Embarkation, this former United States Army post located in the northern Marina District, alongside San Francisco Bay. Fort Mason served as an Army post for more than 100 years, initially as a coastal defense site and subsequently as a military port facility. During World War II, it was the principal port for the Pacific campaign. The National Historic Site now houses non-profit organizations and offers a variety of cultural activities.

Fort Miley Military Reservation

The Fort Miley Military Reservation, sits on Point Lobos (not to be confused with Point Lobos near Carmel-by-the-Sea), one of the outer headlands on the southern side of the Golden Gate. The grounds and buildings have been converted into the San Francisco VA Medical Center are administered by the Veterans Health Administration of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Lands End

At every turn of the trail on this wild and rocky northwestern corner of San Francisco, there is another stunning view. Along the way you’ll see hillsides of cypress and wildflowers, views of old shipwrecks, access to the epic ruins of Sutro Baths in the Sutro Historic District, pocket beaches, and a new Lookout Visitor Center.  A natural preserve including the Coastal Trail will bring you to scenic views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate.

Presidio of San Francisco

For 218 years, the Presidio served as an army post for three nations. World and local events, from military campaigns to World Fairs and earthquakes, left their mark. Here you can enjoy the history and the natural beauty of the Presidio. Explore centuries of architecture. Reflect in a national cemetery. Walk along an historic airfield, through forests or to beaches, and admire the spectacular vistas.

Baker Beach

This is the birthplace of the Burning Man festival, a popular sunbathing spot that is clothing-optional at its northern end. Stretching a mile below the rugged cliffs on the Presidio’s western shoreline, Baker Beach’s spectacular outside-the-Gate views of the Bridge and the Marin Headlands are unsurpassed. Keep your eye out for harbor porpoises frolicking in the surf and for California’s State Rock (serpentine). And, you can learn about an early 20th-century “disappearing gun.”

Battery Chamberlin

Battery Chamberlin holds the last 6-inch “disappearing gun” of its type on the west coast. Built near Baker Beach in 1904, Battery Chamberlin was constructed to accommodate the lighter, stronger, more powerful coastal defense artillery developed in the late nineteenth century.

Crissy Field

Crissy Field is the premier recreation area on the Presidio. The Golden Gate Promenade provides access to the restored tidal marsh and beaches along the bay shore. Whether your exercising or merely contemplating at the shore, you can enjoy the expansive views, water birds, native plants and sandy beaches along Crissy Field.

Fort Point National Historic Site

Fort Point - Corridor
From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point defended the San Francisco Bay following California’s Gold Rush through World War II. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of 3rd system brick masonry and interacts gracefully with the Golden Gate Bridge. Situated at the southern base of the Golden Gate Bridge, it once housed 126 cannons to protect the bay against invaders. The fort was completed just in time for the Civil War, but never fired a shot in combat.

The San Francisco National Cemetery

Situated in the northern center of the Presidio, the San Francisco National Cemetery offers a breathtaking final resting place for the nation’s military veterans and their families. Framed by Monterey Cypress and other majestic trees, the cemetery rests on a slope overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Among the 30,000 Americans laid to rest here are Civil War generals, Medal of Honor recipients, Buffalo Soldiers, and a Union spy.

Ocean Beach

Picture a 3.5-mile stretch of white beach with few tourists and no high rise buildings. It’s just you and the waves and the seabirds at Ocean Beach, on the westernmost border of San Francisco, adjacent to Golden Gate Park. Great for strolling and flying kites, but the water is frigid and the currents hazardous for all but the most experienced surfers.

The Sutro District

Sutro Baths
A collection of historic attractions developed by Adolph Sutro in the late 19th Century, including the Cliff House – a historic restaurant first built in 1863, rebuilt following fires in 1894 and 1907. Also houses the Camera Obscura, a historic building containing a device which projects a 360° image

Sutro Baths

Since 1863, visitors have flocked to San Francisco’s western shore to enjoy sweeping ocean views and fine dining at the Cliff House. The concrete ruins just north of the Cliff House are the remains of the grand Sutro Baths. These are the concrete ruins of an indoor swimming pool constructed in 1894 by former SF mayor Adolf Sutro.

Sutro Heights Park

In 1885, self-made millionaire Adolph Sutro created the Sutro Heights Park, an elegant and formal public garden that covered over twenty acres in the area now known as Lands End. Inspired by the rugged beauty and incredible scenery, Sutro intentionally designed the grounds to capture the views of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands.

 

San Mateo County (South of SF)

Milagra Ridge

Surrounded by urban development, Milagra Ridge forms what biologists call an island ecosystem. Here, wildlife is isolated from other habitats, feeding and migration corridors are compromised and exotic species can easily invade native habitat. Despite this isolation, Milagra Ridge hosts a surprising number of threatened and endangered species including Mission blue and San Bruno elfin butterflies and the California red-legged frog. This 240-acre parcel of land was also home to the Nike Missile Site SF-51L.

Sweeney Ridge

Sweeney Ridge is a hilly hiking area of ridges and ravines and its 1,200-foot-high summit, covered with coastal scrub and grassland, slopes down to the bay on one side and to the Pacific on the other. Wildlife at Sweeney Ridge includes hawks, deer, and a plethora of both native and introduced spring wildflowers. The sandy coastline and adjacent wind-protected valley of Thornton State Beach are good venues for picnicking, beach walking, surf fishing, and flying remote-control gliders. This is also the location of where Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà discovered the San Francisco Bay and is home to several World War II lookout nests and pillboxes as well as Nike missile site SF-51C

Phleger Estate

Part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail,  here you can enjoy a verdant redwood forest reborn here at the southern tip of the Golden Gate National Parks. This tranquil park was once severely logged and century-old redwood stumps and remnants of steam mills are still in evidence. But along its miles of trails and tumbling creeks, second-growth redwoods and firs are rising again.

Mori Point

Located on a promontory just south of the city of Pacifica, the 110 acres of Mori Point are one of the newest additions to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. High up above the cold waves, the site boasts sweeping views from Point Reyes all the way to Pedro Point. It protrudes several hundred feet out into the Pacific and is plainly visible from any high point in the City of Pacifica. Trails lead across the ridge and to Sharp Park beach. The site includes recently restored wetlands and a pond, protecting endangered San Francisco garter snake and red-legged frog habitat.

Rancho Corral de Tierra

A former Mexican land grant north of Half Moon Bay and on Montara Mountain, at nearly 4,000 acres, Rancho Corral de Tierra is one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the San Mateo peninsula. Once planned for development, now visitors can enjoy its awe-inspiring views, important watersheds, miles of public trails, and diverse wildlife.

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Best Things To Do at Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

Grand Canyon - Hermit Road

There’s nothing like your first visit to Grand Canyon National Park — and the first time you look over the rim — it’s simply awe-inspiring! The extraordinary combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate this canyon, which is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Without question, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s national parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 national parks — and Grand Canyon National Park is one place you have to see! Whether you’re more comfortable exploring the canyon from the rim, or want to take a more adventurous route on foot, by bike, or on the back of a mule, I’ve been to Grand Canyon National Park many times — so I’m ready to help! If this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park!

Grand Canyon - Bright Angel Trail

Walking or Hiking

The Rim Trail

Going on a hike is a wonderful way to experience the Grand Canyon National Park’s rich natural beauty and immense size. The Rim Trail is perfect for quiet views of the inner canyon and for visitors who desire an easy hike. The Rim Trail stretches from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest, a distance of about thirteen miles — and most of the trail is paved. Between Pipe Creek Vista and Bright Angel Lodge only a few short sections of the trail have grades that exceed accessibility standards. West of Bright Angel Lodge, the Rim Trail narrows and climbs the Bright Angel Fault to viewpoints along Hermit Road. Between Powell Point and Monument Creek Vista the trail is a three foot wide dirt trail. The section of the Rim Trail between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest is also known as the Hermit Road Greenway Trail and provides three miles of paved greenway trail provide additional views for cyclists and hikers.

Walk the Trail of Time

Grand Canyon - Yavapai Geology Museum

Start at the Yavapai Museum of Geology and finish up at the Verkamps Visitor Center — a 1.2 mile stroll along the canyon rim. The path contains information about the canyon’s geologic history, and samples from each layer of the canyon.

Day Hikes: Exploring the Canyon on Foot

Day hikes are by far the most popular type of trip into the Grand Canyon. A down-and-back excursion lets you commit to traveling only as far as you think you can handle, and it allows for carrying less of a load to weigh you down.

One of the most popular day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park is the 9-mile round-trip on the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden and back. If you go, you must bring enough food and water — and sunscreen — to last the day. Because this hike starts by descending into the canyon — the easy part comes first. You’ll start at an elevation of 6,860 feet and drop to 3,800 feet — a hike that will take you 5-6 hours when taking plenty of breaks.

Overnight Backpacking

Grand Canyon - Phantom Ranch

Spending the night is the best way to experience Grand Canyon National Park. You can take more time to enjoy the scenery — and travel farther to see more of it. Traveling to the bottom of the canyon in one day, camping at the bottom, and coming up the next day is the best way to see the Colorado River. Most people can’t make it to the river and back in one day. The walk to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail (4-5 hours) or 10 miles on the Bright Angel Trail (4-6 hours). A good rule of thumb is for every hour it takes to hike down, it will take two to hike up.

Bicycling

Bicycling is a great way to experience the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park. And bicycles are allowed on all paved and unpaved roads on the South Rim. Cyclists can enjoy approximately 13 miles of roads and Greenway Trails that allow for more intimate explorations along the rim. If you get tired, load your bike on one of the park’s bicycle-friendly shuttle buses – there is a bus stop every one-half to one-mile along the 13 mile-stretch.

Scenic Hermit Road follows the canyon rim for seven miles and is one of the best places in the park for cycling. Most of the year, private vehicle restrictions eliminate most traffic. The Hermit Road Greenway Trail, between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest, provides a 2.8-mile bicycle path away from the road and, in places, along the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Don’t have a bike with you? Rent one from Bright Angel Bicycles, next to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Bright Angel Bicycles provides rentals and guided bicycle tours between mid-March and October 31.

There is also a small coffee bar and café with a grab & go menu targeted toward hikers, bikers and pedestrians. The café is open year-round.

Tour the Scenic Hermit Road (also known as West Rim Drive)

Hermit Road is a scenic route along the west end of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for seven miles out to Hermits Rest. Access this popular route by using the free park shuttle, or travel on foot, by bicycle, or commercial bus tour. Along the canyon rim are nine designated viewpoints where the free Hermits Rest Route shuttle bus stops.

Free shuttle bus service runs from March 1 through Nov. 30. During this time, the road is closed to private vehicles. Besides the main road, there is a designated greenway for travel by foot or bicycle. Commercial bus tours, jeep tours, and van tours, are also available.

Tour Desert View Drive (Hwy 64 – also known as East Rim Drive)

This 25 mile road leaves Grand Canyon Village, then travels east to Desert View. You can drive your private vehicle, or take a commercial bus tour, a jeep tour, or van tour. View the Colorado River at Moran, Lipan and Desert View Points. You may exit or enter the park on the eastern end at Desert View. (via Arizona Highways 64 and 89)

Explore Desert View Point

Grand Canyon - Watchtower

Climb to the top of a 70 ft. tall stone Watchtower for a panoramic view extending more than 100 miles on a clear day. Designed in 1932 by Mary Colter, the historic Watchtower is a replica of prehistoric towers found on the Colorado Plateau. There is also a general store, deli, seasonal campground, and gas station.

Experience Desert View’s Cultural Demonstration Program

At Desert View, you can interact with tribal artisans from Grand Canyon’s traditionally associated tribes – where they share their history and crafts. Jewelers, silversmiths, weavers, potters, sculptors, and a variety of other artisans are present throughout the year. The demonstrations are free and take place in the historic Watchtower on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Tusayan Ruin

is the remains of a small Ancestral Puebloan village located 3 miles west of Desert View.
The Tusayan Ruins — also known as the Tusayan Pueblo — is an 800-year-old Pueblo Indian site within Grand Canyon National Park. Many consider it to be one of the major archeological sites in Arizona. The site comprises a small, u-shaped pueblo featuring a living area, storage rooms, and a kiva.

Tusayan Museum

Grand Canyon - Tusaynan Museum

This interactive facility contains a variety of exhibits designed to enhance visitors’ understanding of the unique human history of the Grand Canyon National Park area. The museum provides interesting displays — including artifacts dating back to 4,000 years. Admission is free. Hours: 9 am to 5 pm. There are also daily ranger-led tours of the ruins.

Explore the Grand Canyon on the back of a Mule

South Rim Mule Trips

Grand Canyon - Mule Trip

For the more adventurous visitor looking to create the memory of a lifetime, take a mule ride along the rim or perhaps down into the Grand Canyon itself. Horses may be iconic to the American West, but the equine of choice at Grand Canyon has long been its hybrid relative, the mule. These animals have the sure-footedness of a burro along with the larger size and strength of a horse. They have been carrying canyon visitors since the late 1800s. In fact, more than 600,000 people have taken Grand Canyon mule rides since they were first offered in 1887.

There is no Grand Canyon National Park adventure more rewarding or more unique than a mule ride. The overnight rides take you deep into the canyon, where you can stay overnight at Phantom Ranch. If you think the view from the rim takes your breath away, wait until you experience the Grand Canyon from within.

Canyon Vistas Mule Ride

If you only have a short time to visit the South Rim, but are still looking for some adventure, take the Canyon Vistas Rim Ride. The ride doesn’t take you into the canyon itself, but the views along the way are stunning. Grand Canyon mule riders can take in the breathtaking vistas of Grand Canyon National Park while traveling along the rim of the canyon.

Whitewater and Smooth-water Raft Trips on the Colorado River

Sit back, relax, listen and learn as you learn the story behind the scenery of one of America’s great rivers. Here, canyon walls rise a thousand feet into the sky. Mysterious messages have been carved into stone by the Ancient Ones. And, look skyward for eagles, herons, and maybe even a California condor as you drift on the crystal clear water, carried by the gentle current of the Colorado River.

Grand Canyon - Whitewater

Ask any of the 22,000 Colorado River runners who brave the Grand Canyon white water river rafting trips each year to describe the experience — and you’re likely to hear that it is “the trip of a lifetime.” Whitewater trips through Grand Canyon last from 3 days to 21 days and require reservations made well in advance.

Or, you can experience the thrill of a 15.5-mile smooth water float trip down the Colorado River, through Glen Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Any lodge within the park may arrange half-day and all-day smooth water trips from Glen Canyon Dam. Excursions include transportation from the lodges.

Photographing the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States and is a favorite destination of many photographers. Although there are endless amazing photographic opportunities at Grand Canyon National Park, once you spend a little time at the rim, and you soon realize why most viewpoints are the best places to view and photograph the canyon. The overlooks are at places where the rocks jut out into the canyon, providing the best views.

Here are some of my favorite places to make lasting images…

  • Yaki Point – Best to shoot here at dawn.
  • Mather Point – The classic Grand Canyon view, and for good reason.
  • Mohave Point – A spectacular view of the river looking west.
  • Hopi Point – Another classic South Rim overlook with expansive views both east and west.
  • Desert View Point – The Watchtower with the river below and the Palisades of the Desert in the background. Makes a great sunset shot.

Attend Free Ranger Programs

Grand Canyon National Park offers one of the most extensive ranger programs in the National Park Service system. Learn more about Grand Canyon nature, science, history and culture with a park ranger as your guide.

Grand Canyon - Ranger Program

Ranger programs offer guided hikes, where you will learn about the wild inhabitants who survive in this place of extreme changes in elevation, exposure, and climate. Join a ranger to discover stories of humankind’s enduring relationship with the canyon, or to hear captivating stories about diverse human connections. Learn how the Grand Canyon was formed while exploring Yavapai Geology Museum. Or, enjoy special events and evening programs during the summer in a beautiful auditorium or outdoor amphitheater — like star walks, night hikes, cemetery tours, and more.

There are too many programs to list — and they are always changing, so check the South Rim Village or the South Rim Desert View Ranger Program schedule once you arrive.

Stop by a Visitor Center, Historic Home or Museum

And don’t forget the Visitor Centers, historic homes and museums that house exhibits and provide all the park information you’ll need for your stay at Grand Canyon National Park, including the film: Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder, that’s shown in the theater at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Grand Canyon National Park

Click here to see the Grand Canyon National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our national parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob and the National Park Poster Project

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Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along America’s Atlantic coastline. This 47,000-acre recreation area — primarily on Maine’s Mount Desert Island — features woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the United States’ East Coast. Among the wildlife are moose, bear, whales and seabirds. The bayside town of Bar Harbor, with restaurants and shops, is a popular gateway. And each year, more than 3.5 million people explore seven peaks above 1,000 feet, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads with 16 stone bridges.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and Acadia is great park the whole family can enjoy! I have explored most areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Acadia National Park!

Explore Mount Desert Island

The majority of Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island. The island offers an endless array of activities for everyone including a visit to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. Here, the mountains truly meet the sea and you can enjoy one of the most spectacular settings on the entire East Coast. With its beautiful coastal scenery, the island is a great location for hiking or ocean kayaking. Bar Harbor, the largest town on Mount Desert Island is often thought of as synonymous with the Park. But visitors can also stay in charming Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, Otter Creek, Seal Harbor or Somesville.

Drive the Park Loop Road

Park Loop Road
The 27-mile Park Loop Road is the best way to navigate through Acadia National Park. The loop begins near the Hulls Cove Visitor Center on the north side of the island in Bar Harbor. It connects the park’s lakes, mountains, forests and rocky shores — making exploration easy. Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff and other popular sites and trails can be reached from the road. 20 miles of the Park Loop Road is one way. But there is a two way section that begins near Wildwood Stables — perfect for taking in the magnificent views.

Hike, Bike & Ride the Carriage Roads

Carriage Roads
This 57-mile long network of paved paths created and financed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. provides hikers, bikers, inline skaters, horse riders, and horse-drawn carriages a unique way to visit Acadia National Park. Over the course of the 27-year project, Rockefeller designed the paths to highlight the best scenery in the park — circling around Jordan Pond, Eagle Lake and Mount Desert Island. The Carriage Roads are off-limits to motor vehicles. During the winter months, some of these allow for cross-country skiing and limited snowmobiling.

Explore Jordan Pond

Jordan Pond
When you think of the most idyllic spot in Acadia National Park, Jordan Pond with its pristine calm waters surrounded by lush, majestic mountains in all directions usually comes to mind. The Jordan Pond Nature Trail — an easy stroll through the evergreens — and the Jordan Pond Shore Trail — a more difficult trek along the rocky coast — spill out to the picturesque and pleasant respite of Jordan Pond. Regardless of your route, at the end you’ll find crystal-clear waters that mirror the surrounding mountains. Swimming is not allowed, but non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks are permitted.

Hike Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain — at 1530 feet — is not only is it the tallest mountain in the park, but it’s the tallest mountain on the North Atlantic seaboard. It’s also the first point of the United States to greet the rising sun — a spectacular sight to see. Largely composed of pink granite, it’s covered with spruce and pitch pine forests, tiny sub alpine plants, short gnarled trees and wild blueberries. You can hike the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail or drive the narrow 3.5-mile access road. The only attraction that can be reached by car, Cadillac Mountain tends to draw large crowds. There are several observation areas along the way — perfect for taking in the views before you reach the top.

Enjoy Sand Beach

Sand Beach
On the east side of Mount Desert Island, Sand Beach is nestled between two walls of solid pink granite and surrounded by towering evergreens. With 290 yards of shoreline, Sand Beach is the most popular beach in the park because the views are outstanding. And, you can hike up the Great Head Trail for an even better vantage point. The beach is largely comprised of sand and shell fragments created by the pounding surf. The waterline can vary quite a bit because of the difference between high and low tide.

Visit Otter Cliff

Otter Cliff
One of the most spectacular sights along the North Atlantic Seaboard, Otter Cliff is a classic stop along the Park Look Road. The famous 110 foot high granite precipice is one of the highest Atlantic coastal headlands. In the summer, you may see adventurous rock climbers working their way up the granite cliffs and whale pods spouting off shore. In the fall, large flocks of ducks congregate here in the waves before migrating south for the winter.

Experience Thunder Hole

Feel and hear the thunder of the sea against the rocky shores at this small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks. At the end of this inlet is a semi-submerged cave where the waves rush in and air and water is forced out like a clap of thunder. Water can spray as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar! To catch the big boom, there’s an element of luck, as well as timing. The best time to visit is when the tides are changing. From here, you can also take in the views — Schoodic Peninsula in the distance, Sand Beach to your left and Otter Cliff to the east.

Ride at Wildwood Stables

Wildwood Stables provides a variety of daily horse-drawn carriage rides and tours from end of May through mid-October of each year. Tours follow the famous and scenic carriage roads that were originally constructed by John D. Rockefeller. Tour lengths include one and two hours with the option to charter a private carriage driven by a Wildwood Stables’ coachman. The stables are located next to the picturesque Park Loop Road on the southeastern side of Mount Desert Island.

Explore Schoodic Point

Located at the southern tip of Schoodic Peninsula in Winter Harbor, Schoodic Point is composed of a craggy shoreline, granite headlands and spruce-fir forests. It provides one of the best places to view the pounding surf during rough seas as well as great views of Cadillac Mountain. Schoodic Point isn’t as easily accessible as some of the park’s other major attractions. But that’s precisely why park visitors find this area so special. There are four hiking trails; the Schoodic Head Trail, Anvil Trail and East Trail lead hikers through spruce-fir forests to pine woodlands at the top of Schoodic Head. The less-strenuous Alder Trail guides visitors through a shrubland.


Acadia National Park

Click here to see the Acadia National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob and the National Park Poster Project

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Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park (Part 1)

Blue Pool

One of the greatest experiences in Yellowstone National Park is witnessing its geologic wonders. Topping the list are the hydrothermal features: hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, and geysers — particularly, Old Faithful. Well over 10,000 different hydrothermal features have been estimated to be active within the park. Even more incredible might be that over half of the world’s active geysers are found here. Every year, some 500-700 geysers are active. In 2011, it was determined that 1,283 geysers have been recorded as erupting in Yellowstone. This is truly incredible, when all of the rest of the world’s geysers combined number less than 500. Hydrothermal features are extremely dynamic, changing throughout the day, across seasons, and over the years. This makes revisiting the different thermal basins so interesting. Besides seeing familiar sites, you can also see how those areas have changed since the last visit.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and Yellowstone is one of my all-time favorites! I have explored most areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

Yellowstone is huge…and this is the first of three posts describing what to do and what to see when you visit Yellowstone National Park. Read on to learn more about the southern part of the park.

Watch Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser
Watching Old Faithful Geyser erupt is a Yellowstone National Park tradition. People from all over the world have journeyed here to watch this famous geyser. The park’s wildlife and scenery might be as well-known today, but it was the unique thermal features like Old Faithful Geyser that inspired the establishment of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park in 1872. Old Faithful is one of nearly 500 geysers in Yellowstone and one of six that park rangers currently predict. It is uncommon to be able to predict geyser eruptions with regularity, but Old Faithful has lived up to its name, only lengthening the time between eruptions by about 30 minutes in the last 30 years. Thermal features change constantly and it is possible Old Faithful may stop erupting someday. Geysers and other thermal features are evidence of ongoing volcanic activity beneath the surface and change is part of this natural system.

Check out Fishing Bridge

The original bridge was built in 1902. It was a rough-hewn corduroy log bridge with a slightly different alignment than the current bridge. The existing bridge was built in 1937. Fishing Bridge was historically a tremendously popular place to fish. Angling from the bridge was quite good, due to the fact that it was a major spawning area for cutthroat trout. However, because of the decline of the cutthroat population (in part, a result of this practice), the bridge was closed to fishing in 1973.

Visit Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

Large volcanic eruptions have occurred in Yellowstone approximately every 600,000 years. The most recent of these erupted from two large vents, one near Old Faithful and one just north of Fishing Bridge. Ash from this huge explosion — 1,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens — has been found all across the continent. The magma chamber then collapsed, forming a large caldera filled partially by subsequent lava flows. Part of this caldera is the 136-square mile basin of Yellowstone Lake. The original lake was 200 feet. higher than the present-day lake, extending northward across Hayden Valley to the base of Mt. Washburn.

Explore the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake

Members of the 1870 Washburn party noted that Yellowstone Lake was shaped like “a human hand with the fingers extended and spread apart as much as possible,” with the large west bay representing the thumb. In 1878, however, the Hayden Survey used the name West Arm for the bay. West Bay was also used. Norris’ maps of 1880 and 1881 used West Bay or Thumb. During the 1930s, park personnel attempted to change the name back to West Arm, but West Thumb remains the accepted name.

West Thumb

Explore the West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin, including Potts Basin to the north, is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The heat source of the hydrothermal features in this location is thought to be relatively close to the surface—only 10,000 feet down! The West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake was formed by a large volcanic explosion that occurred approximately 150,000 years ago. The resulting collapsed volcano later filled with water forming an extension of Yellowstone Lake. The West Thumb is about the same size as another famous volcanic caldera, Crater Lake in Oregon, but much smaller than the great Yellowstone Caldera. It is interesting to note that West Thumb is a caldera within a caldera. The hydrothermal features at West Thumb are found not only on the lake shore, but extend under the surface of the lake as well. Several underwater geysers were discovered in the early 1990s and can be seen as slick spots or slight bulges in the summer. During the winter, the underwater thermal features are visible as melt holes in the icy surface of the lake. The ice averages about three feet thick during the winter.

View Wildlife in Hayden Valley

Bison, Yellowstone National Park

Hayden Valley is located six miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction. Hayden Valley offers some of the best habitat in the lower 48 states for viewing wildlife like grizzly bears, bison, and elk. Hayden Valley was once filled by an arm of Yellowstone Lake and it contains fine-grained lake sediments that are now covered with glacial till left from the most recent glacial retreat, about 13,000 years ago. Because the glacial till contains many different grain sizes, including clay and a thin layer of lake sediments, water cannot percolate readily into the ground. This is why Hayden Valley is marshy and has little encroachment of trees.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Geyser

Click here to see the Old Faithful poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Share this with Friends, Family & Followers