Tag Archives: camping

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?

Related articles

Winter Got You Cold? Have an Outdoor Party Indoors!

For most of the country, winter can get pretty cold. And while our love for the outdoors stays strong all year long (we’re all about winter camping and winter state park activities and winter picnics!), we know that there are times when some people just don’t want to go outside. So for all the outdoor enthusiasts that tend to hibernate during these colder months, we’ve figured out a way for you to stay in touch with your outdoor life. Meaning, we’re presenting you with a guide to throwing the ultimate outdoor party indoors!

Let’s get this party started.

We’re dividing this post into a few categories: décor, food, and activities. Just thought you should know.

Décor

We’re about to transform your living room (or kitchen, or dining room, or bathroom—you get the point) into a scene right out of nature.

First off, consider your floor. If it’s some kind of fabric not found in nature, perhaps you’d like to cover the ground with some sort of turf rug.

artificial grass rug outdoor party indoors

Image: www.amazon.com

Now that you have your grassy ground, it’s time to set up camp. And what’s a campsite without a tent? (Really, what is it? We want to know.) You can go a little crazy, and pick up one of these unique tents, or you can play it safe and pick one out here, by clicking “Hike & Camp”, then “Tents”, and scrolling through all of the lovely options.

Once the tent is pitched, you’ll have to make sure you have some scenery to look at. You may not need to do anything at all; since you’re such a nature enthusiast, your home may be decorated with beautiful photos like this one.

scenic landscape outdoor party indoors

Image: www.adore-theworld.tumblr.com

If not, you can do a number of things: buy a couple posters, simply print out and maybe blow up some of your favorite Instagram shots (or your favorite photos from Tumblr, like this one), or, if you want to be really fancy, you can take a panoramic picture of your favorite outdoor spot and print it at your local print shop and just hang on your walls.

pretty forest outdoor party indoors

Image: www.adore-theworld.tumblr.com

Your campsite is almost set up, but it’s still missing a key component: a campfire. Here are some instructions on how to create your own fake campfire for the indoors!

indoor campfire outdoor party indoors

Image: www.ehow.com/how_8692860_make-fake-campfire-indoors.html

Food

Now that the décor is set, it’s time to start talking food. Feel free to serve anything you would make over a fire while camping, but we also have a few suggestions of our own.

Obviously, you’re going to need some s’mores. You can do the whole classic thing, or check out our favorite twists on the campfire treat. Whatever you do, make sure you roast those ‘mallows over a flame!

Other ideas? Native American Frybread, grilled hot dogs, chili, pasta packets (thrown on the fire in foil), or anything else your heart desires. Just be sure to serve it on this awesome stump plate.

tree plate indoor outdoor party

Image: www.hgtvgardens.com/tools-and-products/holiday-guide-garden-gifts?s=11

 

Activities

What’s an outdoor excursion without some fitness-fueled fun? Not an outdoor excursion, for one thing. That’s why we’re suggesting rock climbing, and showing you how to build your very own indoor rock climbing wall!

rock climbing wall outdoor party indoors

Image: www. instructables.com/id/Garage-Climbing-Wall/?ALLSTEPS

Be sure to play some rockin’ music that reminds you of the outdoors (may we suggest our Ultimate Hiking Trail Mix?) or perhaps some nature or animal recordings. Whatever you do, just make sure you keep the outdoor spirit going throughout your whole indoor party!

Ever thrown an outdoor party indoors? Have any other suggestions? Let us know!

Never a Bore: 4 Twists on the Classic S’more

Yes, it’s true: s’mores never get old (you always want s’more!) but it’s fun to branch out in dessert camping territory. That’s why we’ve collected four of our favorite twists on the classic s’more recipe! So start setting up camp and sitting ’round the fire, because these treats are the perfect way to kick off a sweet new year.

Chocolate Fondue

Adapted from Mother Nature Network, www.mnn.com

chocolate fondue dessert camping recipes

Image: www.mnn.com

We’re feeling a little Top Chef-esque. Inspired by the principles of molecular gastronomy, this twist on the classic s’more recipe is a deconstructed version of a deconstructed food!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups food to dip (fruit, marshmallows, bite-size pieces of cake, etc.)

Directions

At home

  1. Store cream in insulated container, and pack other ingredients in leak-proof containers.

At the campsite

  1. Break up chocolate, if necessary, and place in pan or bowl.
  2. Bring some water to a boil, and then pour just enough water into the bowl to cover the chocolate. Let the chocolate and water sit for about 10 minutes, and then drain the water off the top.
  3. Pour in the cream and vanilla, stir well, and start dipping!

Mess-Free Campfire Cones

Courtesy of Johnie Gall (dirtbagdarling.com), from Blog.FreePeople.com

campcone  twist on s'mores

Image: blog.freepeople.com

A s’more masquerading as an ice cream code? Don’t mind if we do.

Ingredients

(for one cone)

  • 1 waffle ice cream cone
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips (for added antioxidant powers!)
  • ¼ cup mini-marshmallows
  • ¼ cup diced fruit like strawberries or bananas
  • You can also add ¼ cup of toffee chips, brown sugar, almonds, coconut or dried fruit.

Directions

  1. Mix your chocolate chips, marshmallows, fruit and nuts together in a large bowl.
  2. Scoop a cup of the mixture into your waffle cone and wrap securely in a sheet of tin foil, making a seal on one side of the cone.
  3. Heat up the cone over a campfire or over a grill once your coals have turned gray, rotating often.
  4. In about 5-7 minutes your cone should be ready to eat!

Tortilla Dessert Roll Ups

From EchosOfLaughter.ca

tortilla_desert_roll_ups_twist_on_classic_s'more_recipes

Image: www. echoesoflaughter.ca

It’s like a wrap—of dessert!

Ingredients

  • Tortillas (wheat or corn)

And whatever things you like, such as:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows
  • Bananas
  • Almonds, peanuts or walnuts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Nutella

Directions

  1. Spray tin foil sheets lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Lay out tortilla. Add whatever morsels you like and pile them together in the middle.
  3. Roll up tortilla with seam facing down.
  4. Place on hot grill for 10-15 minutes.
  5. When the inside is melted and gooey, the dessert is ready!
  6.  Cut tortilla in half and serve.

Pot of S’mores

Courtesy of June Dress, TasteOfHome.com

pot_of_s'mores_twists_on_classic_s'mores

Image: www.tasteofhome.com

Who needs a pot of gold when you can have a POT OF S’MORES?

Ingredients

  • 1 package (14 1/2 ounces) whole graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

  1. Prepare grill or campfire for low heat, using 16-18 charcoal briquettes or large wood chips.
  2. Line a Dutch oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Combine cracker crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of the pan. Pour milk over crust and sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Top with marshmallows.
  3. Cover Dutch oven. When briquettes or wood chips are covered with white ash, place Dutch oven directly on top of six of them. Using long-handled tongs, place remaining briquettes on pan cover.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes or until chips are melted. To check for doneness, use the tongs to carefully lift the cover.

What are your favorite recipes to make fireside for twists on the classic s’more? Let us know, in the comments below!

5 Camping Hacks To Enhance Your Outdoor Experience Part 2

You asked for it and we’re here with another list of unique camping hacks for your next camping adventure. In our last article, we learned how to avoid cracking a glass when pouring in hot water, easy, quick ways to deter ticks and how to get more bang for your buck when using soap.

  1. Grilled eggs 
Image: www.allrecipes.com/recipe/eggs-on-the-grill.com

Image: www.allrecipes.com/recipe/eggs-on-the-grill.com

With this easy, tasty camping hack, you’ll need some eggs and a muffin pan. These grilled eggs are pretty easy to make and will yield great results. Spray the pan with cooking oil, pour the cracked eggs into the grill and voila! You can also add any spices, bacon, eggs or cheese to spruce up your dairy dish.

2. Travel coffee bags

Image: www.http://blog.exitotravel.com.com

Image: www.http://blog.exitotravel.com.com

Travel coffee bags are much like tea bags, but filled with coffee, instead. This camping hack requires some pre-preparation. Pour coffee grounds into the filter and fold. Then, wrap the top with dental floss. Put the bag in heated water and have yourself a fresh cup of coffee to get your day started.

3. Chips as a fire starter

Image: www.http://www.foodiggity.com.com

Image: www.http://www.foodiggity.com.com

Mark this under “things I never thought I would do with a Dorito.” Foodiggity says lots of chips, not only Doritos, are made of hydrocarbons and fat, which is said to be highly flammable. You can’t build a strong campfire with only chips, but they’ll provide enough fire to get the party started.

4. Hanging pots

Image: www.pinterest.com

Image: www.pinterest.com

For this camping hack, you’ll need a belt and hooks. Did you know that if you were to wrap a belt around a tree and put hooks in the belt holes, you can hang your clean dishes (Not dirty. We don’t want you to attract any wildlife.) You can wrap the belt on a  nearby tree and hang your dishes and utensils, or just about anything.

5. Coal carrier

Image: www.sewmanyways.blogspot.com

Image: www.sewmanyways.blogspot.com

We’re saving the best for last. Campfires are obviously one of the most important aspects of camping. That’s why we’ve included two ways of starting a fire on this list. This unique camping hack comes from Sew Many Ways. When traveling outdoors, compactness and weight are very important factors to consider when packing items in your backpack. Instead of carrying a bag full of coal, you can place coals in an empty egg carton. Sew Many Ways says to make sure you’re using a cardboard carton and not the kind made of styrofoam. When you’re ready to start a fire in a pit, place the box in the center and light up the whole carton. The carton is so easy to light, and it really gets the charcoal going, too!

Camping with inTENT: The Coolest Tents Around

While in nature, your tent is considered your home, so it makes sense that you’d want the best house on the block. You may not be able to have a grand staircase or wood-burning fireplace, or a unique concept that hasn’t been made a reality yet, (such as the floating tent and the Titanic tent), but we’ve found some of the coolest (and real) tents around for those who like camping with a bit of eccentricity.

The JakPak tent

coolest tents around

Image: www.bonjourlife.com

First up is probably the coolest camping tent on our list. This contraption not only doubles but triples as a jacket, sleeping bag AND tent. It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy to use. It’s lightweight, so you can carry around anywhere. Once you’ve arrived at your overnight camping destination, just remove the jacket, unzip and unfold.  

The inflatable transparent bubble tent 

Image: www.huffpost.com

Image: www.huffpost.com

Think: what would happen if A Clockwork Orange had a baby with The Boy in the Plastic Bubble? Well, that baby would totally be the transparent bubble tent. This modern, chic tent is a plastic paradise. Its aim is to get people as close to nature as possible: French designer Pierre Staphanie Dumas said his design’s purpose is to “spend an unusual night in the nature” and take advantage of “a multifunction life space all year long.” Many variations of these “bubble” tents exist around the world. This tent allows campers to see around their camping area at all times, plus, it’ll let campers see the stars at night while they’re falling asleep. This cool camping tent is one for the books!

Dawg-E Tent

Image: http://www.jewettcameron.com

Image: http://www.jewettcameron.com

Man’s best friend needs his own space sometimes. In fact, some campers think it’s a good idea to invest in tents for their dogs. Lucky Dog’s Dawg-e-Tent is the perfect getaway spot for your pooch. It only takes a few seconds to assemble and disassemble. The tent comes with a fleece mat and is water resistant. The tent is modeled after a regular tent, which means your pet/s will enjoy the same camping experience you do. With this cool camping tent,  your dog will want to go to the dog house.

Dimension sizes are:

  • Small: 14″ L x 14″ W x 22″ H, 6.1 lb.
  • Medium: 24″ L x 24″ W x 35″ H, 10.1 lb.
  • Large: 31″ L x 31″ W x 47″ H, 12.3 lb.

The Cot Tent

Image: www.store.kamprite.com

Image: www.store.kamprite.com

The cot tent is for those who prefer a little elevation with their relaxation. This tent includes a full-coverage fly, a 1,500 mm waterproof-rated coating and a patent-pending rain-gutter system that keeps zippers dry and ensures the camper is protected from the outside forces of nature. The tent also boasts cup holders, an organizer panel to keep your camping items organized and closeby and a zippered storage bag.

At 56” x 88”, the tent is big enough for two people. After you’ve finished your camping excursion, the tent folds up and fits into a handy carrying bag.

Need a place to try out your totally awesome new tent? How about at your nearest state park? Download our free Pocket Ranger® mobile app and let the adventure begin.

7 Celebrities You’ll Want in Your Camping Party

It’s a (potentially embarrassing) fact: most of the world cares about celebrities. We want to know who they’re dating, where they’re going, who their friends are, what they’re really like when they’re not hanging out on the red carpet, or acting behind a camera, or giving interviews to the press.

So, we’re planning an epic soiree to make that happen, Pocket Ranger® style. That’s right, internet: we’re going camping with 7 celebrities. We’ve thought long and hard about who to invite: there are some obvious choices, some not-so-obvious choices, and a couple really not-so-obvious choices. But we’re confident that the eclectic group we’ve assembled will make for an unforgettable trip. And so, to convince you, we will list them, in no particular order.

Celebrity Camping

We’re going camping with some famous people. Just another typical day for us.
[Image: www. adore-theworld.tumblr.com]

Les Stroud

Les Stroud Celebrity Camping

He looks pretty fierce, right?
[Image: www.nndb.com]

You know him from Survivorman, the TV series he produces and stars in that airs on the Discovery Channel, which has him wandering through the wilderness every week with no food, shelter, fresh water, or company. This guy’s amazing—he not only survives in the wild for seven days at a time with very minimal supplies, but, according to the Discovery Channel website, he’s “the only producer in the history of television to produce an internationally broadcast series entirely written, videotaped, and hosted alone.”  He’s also an in-demand speaker, author, and musician (he’s performed with Jacob Dylan, The Roots, Blues Traveler, and Alice Cooper, among others), so you’ll never get bored sitting around the campfire—he’s got tons of stories to tell and songs to sing. Considering “he’s eaten everything from brains to bugs”, and his outdoor adventure skills are off the metric system, he’s arguably the best guy to go camping with, ever.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart Celebrity Camping

That’s our Martha, crafting away.
[Image: www.marthastewart.com]

Sure, the homemaker/lifestyle icon/businesswoman of crafting and cooking and gardening fame may not seem like the camping kind, but we think she’d be a great asset to the group. Her ability to make anything beautiful will probably make the campground feel like home, especially when you wake up to find your tent decorated with these gourd lanterns and leaf garlands. You’ll have no idea how she had time to do it, and then you’ll see a beautiful picnic laid out, with pumpkin vases as centerpieces and wild herb ravioli already cooked and accompanied by campfire chicken made under a brick with lemons, with toasted marshmallow, charred bread, and banana sticks with chocolate fondue, because you know Martha wouldn’t do “just s’mores.” Her verging-on-glamping territory might even impress Les Stroud, because you know her food’s going to be better than bugs.

Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek Celebrity Camping

We’ll never get bored with this trivia man at our camp out.
[Image: www.globalstrategygroup.com]

Alex will have to leave his suit and tie behind, because he’s a necessary part of our equation for camping fun. Les can sing and speak, and Martha can lead us all in crafting lessons, but what about when those things get old? Alex will take over the entertainment; with his incredible knowledge of, well, everything, he’ll be able to host a pretty spectacular game of Jeopardy-styled trivia for our whole motley crew.

Eva Longoria

Celebrity Camping Eva Longoria

Sure, Eva looks glam, but we know she loves a good camping trip.
[Image: www.aceshowbiz.com]

This may seem surprising, but Eva’s not just here for eye candy. The actress and philanthropist famous for her role on Desperate Housewives likes camping; she went on a trip with her ex-husband Tony Parker in Normandy, where they slept in regular ole’ tents. According to People, she’s also an avid hunter, and “learned to shoot at age 4, hunting deer, turkey, quail, and wild pigs on her family’s Texas ranch.” You know that Martha has got to have some great venison, turkey, quail, and pig recipes, and since Les is always so alone out in the wilderness, we’re sure he won’t mind some hunting company.

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey celebrity camping

Matthew McConaughey loves exercising in the outdoors.
[Image: www. wallpperhd.com]

We’re adding another actor to the mix. To some, he may just be eye candy, but Matthew is actually very into camping. His June 2012 wedding to Camila Alves had a camp out theme, and, according to the San Francisco Examiner, “attendees even stayed in tents on Matthew’s property.” He’s lived in a vintage 28-foot Airstream, and has dreams of owning an Airstream Hotel or Compound. He usually plays rugged guys, anyway, so we’re sure he’ll dig all the hiking, fishing, and hunting our camping trip will entail.

Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley celebrity camping

Actress Shailene Woodley is a nature-loving Earth child, and therefore, a perfect camping companion.
[Image: www.imdb.com]

You might not know her if you’re not into current pop culture mania, but Shailene is the next great actress. She started on kid-fare, like The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but she’s moved on to indie fare and movies with George Clooney and the next YA franchise, winning 16 awards (including one at Cannes) and 20 nominations, including one for a Golden Globe. She’s also our resident Earth Goddess, who’s pretty into Gaia. In her conversation with Emma Stone for Interview magazine, she explained how she’s “just started adapting [her] lifestyle to that of indigenous people,” and she’s all about organic farming and herbalism and re-wilding. She’s also down with “lucid dreaming”, and taking herbs like mugwort and making them into tea or burning them like sage, like “the Native Americans used to do to bring on helpful dreams to encourage visions for the coming days.” She’s also into yoga, so we’re envisioning some campfire yoga sessions, followed by herb gathering and mugwort tea.

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls Celebrity Camping

Bear Grylls looks ready for our camping trip.
[Image: www.whatcanilearntoday.wordpress.com]

Like Les, Bear is one of the most well-known and accomplished adventurers out there. As a young kid, his father taught him to climb, and at 23, he became one of the youngest people to summit Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. According to his website, he did it in “over ninety days of extreme weather, limited sleep, and running out of oxygen deep inside the ‘death zone’ (above 26,000 feet.)” He’s also made a name for himself on the Discovery Channel, starring in the TV shows Man vs. Wild and Born SurvivorHe’s done things like host a dinner party at a table suspended below a hot air balloon at 24,500 feet, make a wetsuit out of a seal hide, and construct a fishing spear out of bamboo. Since he did all of that, a few days out in the wilderness with us will be a breeze (unless he decides to make it more adventurous, which is fine by us) and we’ll all feel great with him looking out for us. Added celebrity bonus: we hear Les may have a bit of a rivalry going with Bear, so having them share a tent could be a cat fight we’d all want to see.

Now, if only these famous people would respond to our invitations (is your e-mail working, guys? you can call us back!), we could get this dream trip going…

What celebrities would you want to go camping with? Do you want to see more installments of this series, including fictional characters or famous people from all time?

Pinson Mounds State Park

Sure, we love state parks for all of their outdoor recreational opportunities—things like hiking and camping, which Pinson Mounds State Park has plenty of—but we get really excited when a park has a little something extra to it, like it’s some sort of historical site (which happens often) or archaeological site that relates to Native American culture. So that’s why we were so excited to learn about Pinson Mounds State Park in Tennessee, because (you guessed it!), it’s got some archaeological/historical/Native American significance.

So, if we’ve piqued your interest, download the Tennessee Pocket Ranger® app, join the TN State Parks Passport Challenge (it’s free, and fun, and a game that will act as your tour guide at the park), and come join us on our virtual visit!

Pinson Mounds State Park

Image: Tennessee State Parks

The Mounds

Let’s talk the namesake of the park! If you think we’re going to make a really bad joke about mistaking coconut covered chocolate candy for the main attraction at Pinson Mounds State Park, well, you’re half wrong. The mounds we’re talking about are of the big heaps of earth kind. There are a bunch at the park: the Pinson Mound, the Ozier Mound, the Twin Mounds, and Mound 31. According to the park website, “archaeological evidence suggests the mounds were both burial and ceremonial in purpose”, so when you check out these mounds, you’re probably getting a first-hand look at the Native Americans’ version of the pyramids (which is pretty neat in our book app.) Oh, and if you don’t just trust us on the awesomeness factor of the mounds (shame on you!), than trust the National Register of Historic Places—Pinson Mounds is a national historic landmark.

Pinson Mounds

Image: Tennessee State Parks

The Park

So, we’ve learned about the mounds, but how did the area become a park? During the ’50s and ’60s, local citizens strongly believed in the mounds’ significance, so they had the state of Tennessee buy the land to preserve it as a park. In 1974, Pinson Mounds officially became a Tennessee State Park. According to Pinson Mounds State Park’s website, “to this day, the park contains the largest Native American Woodland Period mound group in the United States.” Pretty amazing.

The Museum

What kind of historical place doesn’t have a museum? Not Pinson Mounds State Park! The Pinson Mounds museum actually looks like a Native American mound, which is incredibly cool. Within the mound museum, there’s an archaeological library, 4,500 square feet of exhibit space, an 80-seat theater and “Discovery Room” for historical exploration, the West Tennessee Regional Archaeology Office, and park offices.

Pinson Mounds Museum

It’s a bird! It’s a mound! It’s a museum!
[Image: www.wikipedia.org]

The Outdoor Attractions

Considering how happening the museum is, we understand how you might never want to leave it, but since we’re all about outdoor activities (and we know you are, too), we’ll give you the lowdown. There are five hiking trails (all two miles or under, some paved and some natural surface): the Nature Trail, the Earthworks Trail, the Hudson Branch Trail, the Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail, and the Mounds Inner Loop Trail. All of the trails are at a moderate difficulty level, except for the ADA-accessible ones (the Hudson Branch Trail, which has a natural surface, and the Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail, which is paved.)

Other outdoor things to do? Camping and picnicking! Each picnic area has a table and grill, and the group camp has four cabins (which will sleep eight people each), bathrooms with six showers, washers and dryers, and a large main building with a kitchen.

Endnote? Pinson, Tennessee, here we come!