Tag Archives: camping

Tips for Camping out of a Kayak

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

With the popularity of kayaking and kayak fishing steadily on the rise, more and more people are beginning to get away from the traditional canoe and switch to kayaks for their camping excursions. But there are several things that a person must take into consideration before attempting to camp this way. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning a camping trip via kayak.

Kayak Camping

1. Store it away

My number one rule for camping out of a kayak is that if you aren’t willing to lose it, keep it below deck. The question isn’t whether or not you’re going to flip one day; it’s when. Paddle enough, and it’s almost a guarantee that someday you’ll capsize in the kayak. Even well strapped down gear can break free during a spill and one runs the risk of losing precious gear for good if it’s not stowed away safely. Vital gear like emergency radio, water, food, and a tent should be kept within the kayak rather than on top. Losing gear like that can instantly end a camping trip and make things much more difficult on yourself.

2. Pack light

Think of camping from a kayak as almost like hiking. You want to carry everything you need, but you also want to be as light as possible. Unlike a canoe that can easily handle several hundred pounds of gear, a kayak is limited on space. In addition, a really heavy kayak in the water will tend to go through waves, rather than over them. This often leads to getting far wetter than you would normally. If you’re paddling long distances, a light kayak will help save your arms and shoulders from feeling like they’re going to fall off.

3. Anchors away

Camping Out Of A Kayak

An anchor is one piece of gear that every kayaker should have. They come in handy both while fishing and while just traveling. It’s a simple task to toss out the anchor and take a break while paddling, and doing so will prevent you from possibly losing ground to currents or winds. When it comes down to actually camping, I like to pull the kayak out of the water (if possible) and toss out the anchor on dry land. Fluctuation tides or inclement weather conditions could come float the kayak in the middle of the night. And the one piece of gear that you absolutely cannot afford to lose is the kayak itself. When camping on something like a platform or dock, I still use my anchor and wrap it around the wooden posts or columns.

4. Bag it up

Kayak Water

Whether you’re paddling a sit-in or a sit-on kayak, getting wet is inevitable. Not only will you get wet, but so will your gear. That’s why when I pack up to go camp from my kayak, I make sure to keep things that need to stay dry inside dry bags. These waterproof bags have rubber seals and clips that can ensure a watertight seal. Things such as dry clothes, cookware, and food all go inside a dry bag. By putting things in dry bags, a paddler opens up much more available space on the outside of the kayak. Bags can be strapped down with bungee cords or rope and doing so frees up room on the inside of the kayak.

5. Bring back-ups

This holds true for almost any camping excursion, be it hiking, canoeing, or kayaking, but be sure to bring back up items. An extra paddle is a must when camping from a kayak. Imagine, for a second, how terrible it would be to break or lose your only paddle when you’re on a multi-day trip. Other items include ways to fix broken gear like rudders or seats. Spare rope, extra clothes, and alternate ways to make fire are things that I’m sure to always bring along. Redundancy is essential when it comes to being well prepared on a trip.

Though it’s slightly less conventional than camping from a canoe, the kayak is definitely a good way to spend a few days in the wild. It’s just important to remember the kayak’s limitations and plan accordingly. If you follow these easy tips, you’ll be well on your way to having a successful kayak camping trip and realize just how fun it can be.

Do you have any tips for camping in a kayak?

Everything You Need To Know About Being A State Park Campground Host

Do you enjoy camping so much, you wish it could be a full-time job? Well, it can be (sort of) when you volunteer to be a state park campground host.

Hosts serve as “live-in” ambassadors for a campground. In exchange for a free campsite, the volunteer host takes on certain responsibilities. Although the specific job duties of a campground host vary from park to park, and state to state, here are the basics of what you need to know if you’re thinking about being a state park campground host.

Clear your schedule (seriously)

First, you need to have some free time on your hands. Perhaps you are retired, working a job that entails long stretches of time off, or simply independently wealthy and living the dream. At least one of those should be true if you hope to be a state park campground host, because the gig typically stretches from one to six months.

campsite

Do you think you could get used to several weeks of this?
[Image: www.naturallyaprincess.tumblr.com]

Be ready to roll up your sleeves!

What these 30 days to 6 months will be spent doing depends on the park and the state, but one thing is certain: it’s not just a free, relaxing, carefree stay at the parks! (But wouldn’t that be nice?) Generally, hosts are expected to set an example to other campers by being model campers, following the rules and regulations, and demonstrating exemplary housekeeping practices.

That’s not all! Being a campground host involves more than just being on your best camper behavior and showing the other visitors how it’s done. Parks can require anywhere from 20 to 40 hours of work a week! (Remember when we said camping could sort of be a full-time job?) Common host duties include offering visitor information, explaining rules and regulations, distributing brochures and maps, collecting fees, performing emergency repairs, staffing museums, stores, and visitor centers, conducting light maintenance, working on park projects, helping with general housekeeping, and keeping park staff in the loop.

trail maintenance

Image: www.rustyhitop.tumblr.com

If that sounds like a lot of work, you may be interested in hosting with your better half. Couples can usually split the required workload, and surely 10 hours a week sounds a lot sweeter than 20 when you consider the benefits.

Speaking of…

The trade off

You may be wondering why anyone would sign up for such a hefty responsibility. As it is with most jobs, there are some perks involved! The first and foremost perk is free camping. While you’re hosting, you’ll get to camp at the state park free of charge. The free goodies don’t stop there. Pet fees and usage fees for park amenities (such as rentals, boating, swimming, etc.) are often reduced or waived. Some hosts who serve for an extra lengthy amount of time may even be offered a cabin.

stars

Sleeping under the stars is quite the perk.
[Image: www.flickr.com/photos/skeating]

While those are some of the material benefits to being a state park campground host, let’s not forget another very important perk: providing a useful service! Your time spent hosting will allow you to help countless campers in need, and help to maintain the park campgrounds that we all love so much.

Are you campground host material?

Aside from a willingness to volunteer to be a state park campground host, there are a few other things you should possess.

You have to be a people person, since the primary purpose of hosting is to help out your fellow campers and park staff. Campground hosts should be outgoing, helpful, and friendly. If you’re worried you might panic if someone asks you to help them with a flat, you might want to reconsider.

campground

Are you ready to help all these people?
[Image: www.seanlitchfield.tumblr.com]

Physical prowess is also a must. We don’t mean you have to be Fabio, but you should at least be physically capable of performing your hosting duties and working the required amount of time each day and week.

Oh, and you should also have camping equipment. While the state park will hook you up with a campsite, they typically don’t furnish it for you.

Still interested?

If you feel you’re a good fit for a campground hosting gig, contact your state park system to inquire about opportunities. Contact information for the state park systems can be found in your Pocket Ranger® app, which, by the way, can also give you the skinny on all of the state park campgrounds, so you can do your research beforehand.

Have you ever been a state park campground host? Leave a comment and let us know how it went!

How to De-Winterize Your RV

If winter camping isn’t your thing, you’ve likely been impatiently waiting for spring to arrive so that you can return to the campgrounds and get back to sleeping under the stars. We previously gave you 9 tips for staying warm in your sleeping bag to get you ready for tent camping during chilly springtime nights. If RVs are more your style, then this is the preparation guide for you: how to de-winterize your RV. (You did winterize, right?)

joshua tree rv

Before you can enjoy fun like this, you have to de-winterize your RV.
[Image: www.blog.timmelideo.com]

De-winterizing your RV is essential. It helps to flush out antifreeze that collected in the lines during the winter months, and ensures that the battery is completely charged, the propane gas lines are intact, and the tires are properly pressurized. Although de-winterizing varies a bit between vehicle models and makes, these general tips will have your RV ready to hit the road this spring.

1. Charge the battery

Okay, so, if we’re being technical, Step 1 is actually, “Remove your RV’s exterior winter covers,” but, duh. After that, start charging your battery. Make sure the charger is off while you connect it to the RV. Place the battery near the charger, and then connect the black cable to the RV’s black terminal and the red cable to the RV’s red terminal. Use the dial to set the charger’s voltage to 12V, and then turn it on. Let the battery charge while you tend to the remaining de-winterizing steps.

2. Flush the system

Time to give your RV an enema! Connect a garden hose to the water hookup. Open up all of your RV’s faucets, turn on the hose, and allow the water to flush out the lines. Then check the clock, since it typically takes roughly 10 minutes for the system to be cleaned. Flush the toilets, which cleans the sewer lines and rinses out any lingering antifreeze. When the water runs clear, you can shut off the faucets.

rv bed

While “Install a super comfy bed” is not an official step, it’s certainly not a bad idea.
[Image: www.cyberscribbles.tumblr.com]

3. Inspect the propane gas lines

Remove the propane tanks from storage and place them on the tank mounts (usually located at the rear of the RV, near its tow arm). Connect the propane hoses to the RV in accordance with the proscribed method for your vehicle’s make and model. Check to make sure the hose connections have no leaks. Open the line by turning the propane valve approximately 1/4 of an inch. Place a damp, slightly soapy sponge at the connectors, and see if any air bubbles appear. If you spot bubbles, you likely have a leak and should replace your connections. If you don’t see any bubbles, your lines should be good to go.

4. Hook up your charged battery

Disconnect the battery charger from the terminals, and secure the battery in the vehicle’s battery compartment in accordance with the manual. Connect the RV’s black cable to the battery’s black terminal, and the red cable to the red terminal.

rv camping

Soon, my friends. Soon.
[Image: www.blog.elmonterv.com]

5. Finishing touches

Shut off the garden hose and disconnect it from the RV. Check your tires to make sure they’re filled to your vehicle model’s recommended pressure. Head to a dump station to drain the water tanks and refill them with fresh water.

6. Go camping!

Now that you know how to de-winterize your RV, once your vehicle is all spiffy and ready for another season of camping, it’s time to head to the campground. You may have a favorite location already in mind, but if you need a bit of inspiration, simply search your Pocket Ranger® app‘s Explore feature By Activity to find an Overnight Stay option that accommodates all your RV needs and desires.

rv on the road

Once your RV is de-winterized, you can head out on the open road.
[Image: www.forestonfoot.tumblr.com]

Leave us a comment and let us know, are you most excited for springtime tent camping or RV excursions? Have you de-winterized your RV yet? (And how does it rank on the Excited For Summer Scale compared with uncovering the pool?) However you choose to camp, we hope you enjoy spring in the state parks!

Top 5 Nature-Themed Bento Lunches

If you have a desire to make healthy food that’s fun to eat, you should learn about bento lunches! This traditional Japanese method of making segmented lunch is also great for people who have food allergies and specific dietary needs.

Sometimes labor intensive, creating bento boxes is a great way to show your spouse, children and other loved ones how much you care!

There’s also a lot of room for creativity, as you’ll see in this list of our top 5 nature-themed bento lunches. Enjoy!

1. Camping Bento 

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.beneficial-bento.com/2012/06/camping-bento.html?m=1

It may not seem like it considering the current weather, but camping season is coming back! This beautiful camping-themed bento from beneficial-bento has a cool purple sky made with “forbidden rice”.

The creator of this bento really amped up the nature theme with some zucchini trees (not to mention the delicious sounding combo of lean ground beef and lentils for the ground). Oh, and the moon and stars are cheese.

2. Wildlife Veggie Bento

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.veggie-bento.com

We love wildlife here at ParksByNature and this next beautiful bento art is from veggie-bento. The totally cute bear is a cheese sandwich and he’s caught a gummy fish! Art imitating life.

Let’s not forget about those asparagus trees and carrot flowers! Not only does it make us happy to look at, but it looks good enough to eat.

3. St. Patrick’s Day-Themed Bento

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/263671753156137132/

Irish-themed bento! That’s right—we didn’t forget it was St. Patrick’s day today! Enjoy the holiday, and maybe eat something green and healthy. All those green foods up there look tasty and are an explosion of color for the eye. We’re feeling inspired to eat some greens just by looking at it!

4. Heron Bento

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/kitsa_sakurako/475692905/in/set-72157603564413806

Yep—that’s a heron. Made out of egg. (Which is some good protein for your hike or birding activities!) And look at that blue rice sky! How did they get it so blue? This bento art comes from Sakurako Kitsa, who has made many beautiful bentos with themes ranging from a movie to nature scenes to animals.

5. Goose Bento

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/kitsa_sakurako/1208491716/in/set-72157603564413806/

Well, what can we say. If you made it on this list you really know what you’re doing! And lunch artist Sakurako Kitsa has some great nature-themed bentos. Here’s a couple of Canadian geese looking majestic against some sky blue rice.

Bento Lunch Boxes for the Trail

There are a lot of cool products you can use to take your bento creation on the trail. You grab your Pocket Ranger® app and you’re ready to go and enjoy eating some bento nature scenes while you enjoy looking at real nature scenes! Here are a couple of product options for bringing your bento lunch on the trail: 

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.ecolunchboxes.com/ecolunchbox-three-in-one/

This ECOlunchbox Three In One is great for packing a nice lunch for the trail, and of course its reusability makes it eco-friendly! Careful though—these aren’t totally leak proof if you’re packing wetter foods.

 

Top 5 Nature Themed Bento Lunches

Image: www.justbento.com/bento-box-spotlight-light-my-fire-lunchbots-rosti-mepal

This design from Light my Fire looks almost as cool as your inevitably awesome bento lunches will look! It comes with a spork and some other pieces if you get the whole meal kit. Both of these lunch boxes are a good size, perfect for when you go out for a picnic.

Handmade bento lunch is a craft that has experienced a revival in recent years and we hope this list inspires you to think about some fun, creative and healthy ways to bring lunch on your next outdoor activity. So use your Pocket Ranger® app to find a new location for a picnic or a hike, pack a lunch and let’s enjoy nature and have fun!

Have A Good Night’s Sleep With A Camp Pad

Contributed by Al Quackenbush, The SoCal Bowhunter

Over several decades, I have used every type of thick and thin sleeping pad until I finally moved on to an air pad. I’ve realized that there are many benefits of having higher quality gear when camping, but the best benefit is a great night’s sleep and no more grumpy mornings.

My first memories of camping were with my dad and brother, and we didn’t even use a camping pad. In fact, I don’t know if my dad had thought about it. After a few seasons of camping like this, I remember seeing a piece of blue foam rolled underneath the Christmas tree. After opening it up (along with some new sleeping bags), my brother and I received a crash course on how to use a rolled foam pad effectively. This could only mean we were planning on doing some more camping in the next year!

Eventually, we went camping and once I felt the cushioned goodness between my body and the ground, I was hooked. It did take some getting used to, though. For instance, hiking with a new piece of gear was a challenge. While it didn’t weigh much, it was awkward and large. That didn’t seem to matter once I experienced a good night’s sleep in the Adirondack Mountains, though. Sure, you had to unroll it and get it just right, but it was great.

There are also other options for getting a good night’s sleep besides using the traditional rolled foam. You could use folding camp pads, too. I’ve never used folding camp pads, but I think they might work even better. Firstly, they are easier to pack. Secondly, they can also be used as a pad for your knees when glassing the wilderness. Thirdly, they unfold with ease; no extra folding and twisting necessary!

Camp Air Pad

While the folding camp pads are better than the foam, the best choice for a good night’s sleep is with a camp air mattress. Nothing prepared me for the first time I slept on a camp air mattress. Can you say heavenly goodness for my back? I mean this was serious business. I never imagined how great an air mattress could be for a backcountry camping trip. I had my doubts and thought an air mattress would be too thin, that it would pop, or that it would be awkward, but I was wrong.

Air camp pad

Sleeping on a camp air mattress was bliss. Blowing it up took less than 30 seconds and it conveniently fit in every tent I tried. The technology is sound, well thought out, and designed for hikers and campers who want a lightweight camp pad that takes up less room than a JetBoil camping stove. I even used mine on the floor of my little girl’s bedroom when she had a hard time sleeping. I slept on the floor, next to her bed, with the camp air mattress under me. We both slept soundly.

Before you head out into the backcountry, plan for a good night’s sleep by investing in a camp air mattress. It was the best thing I could do for my aged body. I honestly don’t think I could handle a weeklong hunting trip without using one. A good night’s sleep will give your body a chance at some solid rest, so you can do some hunting at your best!

4 Outdoor TV Shows Perfect for the Pocket Ranger® User

ParksByNature may be an outdoor lifestyle brand, and you know how we feel about being outside during all sorts of weather, but sometimes (during a polar vortex, at three o’clock in the morning, etc., etc.) even we have to stay indoors. And if you’re not in the mood to throw an outdoor party indoors (although we’re not sure why not), then consider indulging in America’s favorite pastime. That’s right—we’re talking television.

And if we’re going to talk television, we’re going to do it right. Forget the obvious shows (at least for this post) like Survivorman and Man vs. Wild. (We still love you, Les Stroud and Bear Grylls!) We’re thinking more along the lines of shows that are more loosely related to the great outdoors and all things Pocket Ranger®-esque. Our list only goes to show how important the outdoors is to our culture—whether you realized it on a hike or by watching one of these programs. So get ready to read about our favorite outdoor TV shows!

1. Hey Dude

This was an old-school Nickelodeon show that ran from 1989 to 1991. A few familiar faces starred: Christine Taylor (appeared in Arrested Development, a bunch of movies, and is Ben Stiller’s wife) played Melody, while David Lascher (played Josh in the Clueless TV series and another character named Josh in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) portrayed Ted.

The premise? Ben Ernst leaves his accounting job in New York behind and buys the Bar None Dude Ranch near Tuscon, Arizona. The show follows the lives of Ben, his son Buddy, ranch hand Lucy, and the teenaged summer employees (including Melody and Ted).

 

Hey Dude Outdoor-Themed TV Shows

Yippy-tie-yie-yay (Like the cowboys say).
[Image: www.topcultured.com]

We’re sure many an outdoors enthusiast got her start from watching Hey Dude. Teenagers living on a dude ranch! Wide open spaces! They all horseback ride and swim! There are cowboys! The teenagers lead overnight camping trips! They tell ghost stories! Bar None plays another ranch in a baseball game! There is Native American culture (and archeological discoveries)! Pretty much all things state park-related!

And if the Bar None was a state park, we know they’d be using Pocket Ranger® to search By Activity for horseback riding, camping, and swimming.

Oh, and it has a killer theme song. See here. The caption will now make sense to you.

2. Captain Planet and the Planeteers

We think you’re lying if you tell us that you’ve never found yourself walking along, crossing a street, and suddenly singing: “Captain Planet/He’s a hero/Gonna take pollution down to zero”. Besides for its super catchy theme song, it was a form of “edutainment” (you know, education and entertainment) to get kids thinking about protecting the environment.

(We know you know it.)

Five kids from all over the world were chosen to be planeteers and given the power of one of the elements (earth, fire, wind, water) and heart, in the form of rings. When their powers combined, Captain Planet appeared, to help them fight ecovillians and such.

Clearly, the environmental conservation factor is applicable here. Each planeteer has some sort of relationship with nature, which is why they’d be perfect Pocket Ranger® users. Linka’s a birdwatcher—we know she’d want to download one of our Fish & Wildlife Watching apps, and zero in on the wildlife watching section of Trophy Case™. Gi loves the ocean and the creatures that live there, so she’d be another wildlife watcher. The same probably goes for Ma-Ti, as his pet monkey Suchi is quite special to him.

captain-planet-and-the-planeteers-outdoor-TV-shows

Is it just us, or is Captain Planet hunky?
[Image: www.collider.com]

3. The Wild Thornberrys

Keeping with the theme of kids’ shows (and cartoons, considering #2 on this list), we’re including The Wild Thornberrys. This show followed the adventures of the Thornberry family, nature and wildlife documentary makers who traveled all over in the Commvee, their two-story mobile home.

The-Wild-Thornberrys-the-wild-thornberrys-24168575-400-295-outdoor-tv-shows

Image: www.epicbattlesofraphistory.wikia.com

The main character is Eliza, who’s the youngest daughter in this mish-mosh family: there’s father Nigel, the expert zoologist, survivalist, and naturalist; mother Marianne, who does the camerawork and editing for their show; Debbie, the angsty teenage daughter who just wants to be normal and go the mall; Donnie, a wild, feral boy who was raised by gorillas and now lives with the Thornberrys; and Darwin, a chimpanzee who wears clothes and is very civilized (he speaks in a British accent!), but only Eliza really knows the depths of his sophistication, because—get this!—Eliza can talk to animals! (It was no big deal, really, she just saved a trapped wild animal that turned out to be a SHAMAN trapped in an ANIMAL’S body.) That’s pretty much why the show exists, as we follow her adventures in nature, helping animals, talking to animals, learning about animals, etc., etc.

the-wild-thornberrys-movie outdoor TV shows

Yep, that’s Eliza, just doing what she does, riding elephants and exploring nature and talking to animals and such.
[Image: www. movies.zap2it.com/movies/the-wild-thornberrys-movie/photo-gallery-detail/29825/1411465373?aid=zap2it]

Anyway, we definitely think the Thornberrys would use the Pocket Ranger® apps for wildlife watching. Don’t you?

4. Parks and Recreation

Number 4 means we’ve graduated from the kids’ shows and are moving into some prime time territory. Parks and Recreation is a critically-acclaimed comedy about Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department in the town of Pawnee. Sure, it’s not a state park system, but they’re dealing with the bureaucratic business of creating and maintaining parks and such, so we think it’s pretty darn close.

Yes, the focus is on the relationships, and yes, since Leslie’s goal is to become the president, she moves on in her political career, serving on City Council. But the show is called Parks and Recreation, people! And they go on camping trips. And hold park festivals! And stuff.

parks-and-recreation-cast-bc-outdoor-TV-shows

See! Nature’s behind them.
[Image: www.okmagazine.com]

Anyway, we would totally work with Leslie to create a Pawnee Parks App. Too bad it’s a fictional town.

What did you think of our choices? Are you sad we didn’t include Salute Your Shorts? Do you want to see a post about reality nature programs, like Survivor and Man Vs. Wild and Survivorman? Brilliant idea: do you think we should start creating apps for fictional places?! Weigh in!

 

5 Great State and National Park Winter Escapes

Maybe the recent polar vortex rocking most of the United States has got you thinking about warmer weather climates as a potential getaway. According to the Farmer’s Almanac prediction, this winter is shaping up to have colder-than-normal temperatures and above average snowfall and precipitation. If you’re ready to embrace the cold, Pocket Ranger® has some great information on Fun State Park Winter Activities, but if you’re into some warmer adventures here are some state and national park winter escapes where you can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, hiking and camping.

The First Underwater Park in the United States

What could be further away from the arctic environments than an underwater park with snorkeling, scuba diving and glassbottom boats for viewing the coral reef? Economical and family-oriented, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is America’s first underwater park and it is located on Key Largo in Florida. The park itself includes approximately 70 square nautical miles of waters in the Atlantic Ocean and is home to a stunning array of marine life.

state and national park winter escapes elkhorn coral

Elkhorn Coral [Image: www.wikipedia.org]

Snorkeling and Scuba tours are available where you can check out the coral and fish up close as well as the iconic Christ of the Abyss statue. The aquatic wildlife is spectacular with 260 species of tropical fish, including bright parrotfish that come in a variety of colors and the world famous great barracuda! These are some fearsome looking predators, but despite their characteristic rows of sharp teeth, barracudas don’t cause any trouble with humans.

State and National Park Winter Escapes Great Barracuda

Barracuda [Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Not into snorkeling or scuba diving? Explore the 178 miles of coral reefs on one of the glassbottom boat tours! You can enjoy the diverse wildlife of the park without going underwater at the aquarium, or maybe you want to relax at the nearby beach. Download the Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® App and get transported into another world at this underwater state park!

Death Valley National Park, California

You want hot? You’ve got it. While parks in some locations might close down in the winter due to excessively cold temperatures, Death Valley National Park actually closes down in the summer because it gets too hot! With temperatures in the triple digits in the summer, many parts of this park are actually better to visit in winter. Check out Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. The park actually warns against hiking the Badwater Basin salt flats in the summertime.

State and National Park Winter Escapes Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin: that’s not snow. [Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Even in the wintertime the days will still be warm and dry and hikers should be sure to drink plenty of water. (One and a half gallons a day is recommended.) Contrary to its grim name, a wide range of life has found a way to thrive in Death Valley. The nights will get chilly here, but not polar vortex chilly.

Waterfalls in Alabama

For a laid back getaway, why not spend a day with some waterfalls at DeSoto State Park in Alabama? These waterfalls are enjoyable most of the year, but will be particularly delightful when most of the country is experiencing winter.

State and National Park Winter Escapes Desoto Falls Alabama

Desoto Falls, Alabama [Image: www.wikipedia.com]

In addition to over 25 miles of hiking trails, DeSoto offers visitors interesting rock formations, the opportunity to enjoy varied and abundant plant and animal life and for visitors in the mood for biking, over 10 miles of mountain biking trails. This will also be a great opportunity to use the all-new Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for Alabama Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife.

Snow Canyon State Park

We know what you’re thinking; winter escapes and a place called Snow Canyon seem like an unlikely combination. But Snow Canyon State Park in Utah is actually a great winter escape! Named after Utah pioneers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, Snow Canyon State Park doesn’t actually sport much of the white stuff from its namesake. The park is known for its mild weather and the daytime is warm and sunny and great for hiking even in the dead of winter!

State and National Park Winter Escapes Snow Canyon

Maybe you will recognize these from the movies [Image: www.utah.com/images/lf/panoSnowCanyon2.jpg]

Part of the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, this park is a favorite destination for winter camping. The site for the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the landscape is dominated by the dramatic geology of the orange-red Navajo sandstone cliffs.

Winter is the less frequented time of year so visitors can enjoy this landscape in a more peaceful and solitary environment than in the summer. The Utah State Parks Pocket Ranger® App is an indispensable item for your trip!

Balmorhea State Park

Did you know there are spring-fed swimming pools? Balmorhea State Park in Texas has the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool!

State and National Park Winter Escapes Balmorhea

It’s one of those spring-fed pools. [Image: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/balmorhea]

The pool spans 1.75 acres and guess what? No matter how cold it is in other parts of the country, this state park’s swimming pool stays at 72-76 degrees year round!

The water comes from the San Solomon Springs, which has been providing water for thousands of years, (first to the Mescalero Apache and later to Mexican farmers for irrigation.)

Each day, 23-28 million gallons of water from Solomon Springs flow through the pool.

There are even scuba diving opportunities at this pool, highly regarded for the amazing clarity of its waters down to 25 feet deep!

Do any readers out there have suggestions for fun winter escapes?

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