South Dakota’s Wind Cave

It doesn’t take long after crossing the state line into South Dakota to reach the first of the state’s two national parks (Parks with a capital “P” of which there are 59 in the NPS.) A quick pass through the town of Hot Springs, and I am crossing the park boundary before I know it. Research has indicated that the town of Hot Springs is “HSINO,” (hot springs in name only) as the only source for the spring is a kids pool that is warm, at best. So I skip the pool and go straight for the park. Continue reading

On Linking the Lakes and Locating the Lost

One might think that with a name like Rocky Mountain National Park, it would be all about the mountain peaks, right? After all, the park is made up of mountain ranges with 78 peaks exceeding 12,000 ft, so one can expect a spectacular mountain view anywhere you go. In fact, that’s the difference between the west side with more heavily forested views, versus the east side marked with stark mountain cirques carved by glacial ice, deep canyons, and jagged spires. Continue reading

The Newly Wed and the Nearly Dead

After spending almost a week on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, I still hadn’t had enough of the mountains. Steamboat was beautiful, but the ridiculously expensive RV park where I was staying was too far in the opposite direction from the hiking trails, requiring a tedious drive through traffic to get to any areas suitable for a hike. A look at the map reveals it won’t be that far to backtrack from the I25 corridor to Continue reading

A Sense that Summer’s Ending

Connecting the quiet west side of Rocky Mountain National Park with its more popular east side near Estes Park is the NPS’ highest paved road, Trail Ridge Road. The scenic, twisting, winding road traverses through the heart of the park from Estes Park on the east side to Grand Lake on the west. It’s the only way to get from one side of the park to the other. But more noteworthy, it’s the highest paved road in our national park system. The two lane road is 48 miles long, ten of those miles above tree line, topping Continue reading

Summer in the Never Summer Mountains

As I continue my northern trek up through Colorado, I sit at the crossroads. I want to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Though I’ve been there before, it’s been many years, so I remember very little.

Besides, I am longing for some “ready made hiking.” I grow weary having to research every inch of my life. What are those noises and hiccups that the Winnie and Tracker make, and where can I get them fixed? What are the road conditions ahead?  Weather research now includes not just storm clouds but smoke clouds as well. Where are the legal overnight spots? What are my best options for campgrounds? Continue reading

Maritime Wrap-up: Prince Edward Island

As I see it, there are four areas of interest in visiting Prince Edward Island. First, they are known the world over for their mussels…any seafood restaurant or raw bar worth its seasoning will at some point feature “PEI Mussels” on the chalkboard as a special of the day. The second reason is for the long expanse of beautiful red sand beaches, some of which make up PEI’s one and only National Park. The third reason to visit is if you have an odd curiosity about potato farming, as PEI produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes. And the fourth reason would be “All things Anne.” For those who may not know (myself included up until now) the 1908 novel, Anne of Green Gables, which sold 50 million copies was based on Prince Edward Island. A large museum complex bears the title. I had mild curiosity, but no one attraction was calling to me. Okay, well, maybe the mussels. Continue reading

Carefree in Gros Morne National Park

One of the great things I have come to enjoy about Gros Morne National Park is given its popularity, it does not feel overly crowded.  It’s a treat to stop at the Visitor Center and ask the staff “What are the most scenic hikes here?” without the fear of encountering a human highway on the trail.

Of course, the Tablelands, or walking on the earth’s mantle, is considered the park’s “premier park experience,” along with the boat ride to Western Brook Pond.   But Continue reading

Good Morn in Gros Morne

Continuing with my loose strategy to get north as quickly as possible before the icebergs melt, I am headed straight up the Northern Peninsula with as few stops as possible…with one exception.   The Trans-Canada Highway passes right through the heart of Gros Morne National Park.   The most notable highlight of this national park is the Western Pond Brook Tour.  This two-hour boat ride across a glacially carved, fresh water lake can only be reached by a “two-ish” mile hike to the boat dock at the edge of the pond. Continue reading