Tag Archives: holidays

Thanksgiving-Inspired Cold Weather Picnic Guide

We here at PBN are big fans of celebrating Thanksgiving in the great outdoors. If you’re hoping to give thanks with a meal set in nature, then we hope you’ve checked out our recipe guides from years past offering the best campfire-friendly Thanksgiving fare around.

autumn picnic

Image: www.talkofthehouse.com

If you’re good to go with the food but need a few pointers on how to enjoy an outdoor meal when Thanksgiving temperatures can be too cold for comfort, then this blog post is for you! Hold onto your turkeys, grab a mug of cider, and cozy up to our cold weather picnic guide.

Remember the basics

The season may have changed, but the general picnic pointers haven’t. Brush up on our original picnic guide to make sure you cover all your bases. Use your Pocket Ranger® app to find the perfect destination, prepare a mouth-watering menu, set the mood with your favorite music, and, of course, clean up once you’re done. Hot weather and cold weather picnics are actually pretty similar.

autumn picnic

Use your Pocket Ranger® app to help you locate awesome picnic spots like this.
[Image: www.123rf.com]

Keep your food warm

It would be a real shame to whip up a delicious Thanksgiving meal only to see it turn ice-cold once it hits the chilly autumn air. However, keeping food at its proper warm temperature is a real challenge come late-November. Insulated coolers are the go-to method of maintaining food temperatures, but if you want to really ensure things stay warm, try this trick: Wrap clean bricks in foil, then warm them over the fire. Then place the warm bricks in the bottom of the cooler, making sure to keep them separated from the cooler so that it doesn’t melt (you can use towels or small pieces of wood). Viola!

Pack plenty of blankets

picnic blankets

Image: www.bhg.com

You’ll likely be packing blankets anyway so that everyone has something to sit on, but don’t forget that your guests may need a blanket to wrap up in too! Being able to snuggle up with a warm blanket will add an extra cozy touch to your cold weather picnic.

Toast those tootsies

Have you ever noticed that when your feet are cold, your whole body is cold? Likewise, when your tootsies are toasty, you are likely to be warm as well. A super simple way to keep your feet warm is by tucking chemical heat packets (colloquially called “foot warmers”) into your shoes. Your toes, and you, will stay warm for hours, so you can spend less time shivering and more time digging into the food.

Serve hot drinks

warm drink

Image: www.myhealthmyhappiness.com.au

Sure, there are foot warmers and blankets and campfires to warm you from the outside, but do double-duty on staying toasty by drinking a hot beverage to warm your belly on the inside too. Need some inspiration? Try these 5 hot drink recipes to start.

Don’t forget about indoor picnics!

No matter your options for creating a killer cold weather picnic, eating a big meal in the great, cold outdoors is just not for everyone. If you don’t want to give up on your picnic dreams just because the weather outside may be frightful, consider an indoor picnic.

Lay a picnic blanket down on the floor and bust out the casual dining ware. Give your favorite picnic foods a Thanksgiving twist. Love fried chicken? Consider serving a deep-fried turkey. Can’t get enough of potato salad? Try sweet potato salad instead. After years of traditional Thanksgiving feasts, an indoor Thanksgiving picnic will surely be a meal to remember!

indoor picnic

Image: www.asubtlerevelry.com

While this guide will help you plan the perfect outdoor meal this Thanksgiving, you can use it all season long. Have you ever had a cold weather picnic? Is it on your to-do list? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

4 State Parks to Visit at Halloween

We here at PBN are proud of our unabashed Halloween love. Whether bringing you nature-inspired Halloween costumes, campsite-friendly pumpkin recipes, a round up of the most haunted state parkscamping horror moviesHalloween events happening at the parks, or places where you might run into a UFO or Bigfoot, we take any chance we get to combine our love of the outdoors with our love of all things spooky. Since we’ve covered so many Halloween-related bases already, it may seem like we’ve left no stone unturned, but what about state parks that are just plain fun to visit at Halloween time? If you’re seeking an outdoor destination where you can really get in touch with the spirit of the season, check out these state parks to visit at Halloween.

Goblin Valley State Park

Green River, Utah

Image: www.fineartamerica.com

Image: www.fineartamerica.com

The unique, rusty-colored landscape at Goblin Valley State Park has often been compared to Mars, but this strange park is filled with “goblins” rather than aliens. Bizarre, towering mushroom-shaped sandstone formations dot the park. Referred to as “hoodoos”, the geological features create a landscape like no other. There is something undeniably spooky about the haunting landscape of Goblin Valley, which makes it one of the best destinations in Utah to explore during Halloween season.

Granite Ghost Town State Park

Phillipsburg, Montana

Image: www.ghosttowngallery.com

Image: www.ghosttowngallery.com

What could be creepier than roaming the silent streets of an actual ghost town? Imagine what life must have once been like here as you explore remains of a once-bustling 1890s silver boomtown dating back to Montana’s boom-and-bust mining days. The historic abandoned buildings and ruins are well preserved and open for exploring. The town’s high elevation can only be reached via a steep, narrow road that winds up from Phillipsburg, which sets the tone for the spooky discoveries you’ll find once you reach the park.

Florida Caverns State Park

Marianna, Florida

Image: www.floridastateparks.org

Image: www.floridastateparks.org

Unleash your inner bat this Halloween season when you tour the dry caves at Florida Caverns State Park. Filled with stunning formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, draperies and soda straws, the caves are unsurprisingly a huge draw, and tours often sell out. The cave’s formations cast spooky shadows on the walls of the caverns, which helps to create an eerie ambiance in the cool, dank caves. With low, narrow passages that could send claustrophobes screaming, Florida Caverns is the park perfect for a Halloween visit.

Lovers Leap State Park

New Milford, Connecticut

Image: www.en.wikipedia.org

Image: www.en.wikipedia.org

Get in touch with your macabre side as you trace the footsteps of ill-fated lovers from ages past. The legend of Lovers Leap traces its origins back to the 18th century when Native Americans occupied this land. Although various versions of the story exist, the tales generally agree that Pootatuck Indian Chief Waramaug’s daughter, Princess Lillinonah, and her lover leapt to their deaths from Lovers Leap, a cliff on the Housatonic River, which runs through property. Stand atop the rock formation and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding area while you remember those who lost their lives here so many years ago. Just don’t jump!

What state parks do you like visiting at Halloween? Let us know in the comments which parks we should add to the list!

Celebrate National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day With These Campsite-Friendly Pumpkin Recipes

Normally when the PBN team celebrates holidays, it’s a day like Public National Lands Day or Earth Day that lets us honor our love of nature and the parks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the less park-centric holidays as well! We love all things Halloween, and we looove cheesecake, and that’s why we’re thrilled that today is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! Could there be a better combination than Halloween and dessert? We think not.

Of course, we still like to pay respect to our favorite pastime: exploring the great outdoors. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of some of the best pumpkin recipes that you can make right at your campsite. While your campground’s amenities may not be perfectly suited to whipping up an actual pumpkin cheesecake, there are luckily plenty of other pumpkin recipes that are a breeze to make out in nature’s kitchen! Here are some of our favorites:

Pumpkin and Apple Soup

Courtesy of Camping Road Trip

National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day soup

Image: www.campingroadtrip.com


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • Meat of 1 medium butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 apples, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sour cream


  1. In a Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted.
  2. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the squash and apples, and cook them until they start to sweat, about 15 minutes.
  4. Pour in the chicken stock until the squash and apple pieces are covered. Stir in the sprig of rosemary, and then cover the Dutch oven. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash pieces are tender that you can break them easily with a fork.
  5. Mash the squash and apple pieces until the soup has the thickness and texture that you want.
  6. Season to taste.
  7. Ladle into bowls. Add a spoonful of sour cream into each bowl, and serve with warm, toasted bread.

Pumpkin Cornbread

Courtesy of Overland Trailer

National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day recipe

Image: www.overlandtrailer.com


  • 1 1/2 cups corn flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or freshly cooked and processed)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp molasses


  1. Preheat Dutch oven with a ring of about 17 briquettes around the outside of its bottom.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in cornmeal.
  3. In separate bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in pumpkin, brown sugar, oil and molasses.
  4. Make a well in the dry mixture. Add pumpkin mixture and blend batter with a few quick strokes.
  5. Pour a thin pool of vegetable oil on the bottom of the oven. When the batter hits this, it will fry it quickly and make a nice crust. It also makes the cornbread easy to remove.
  6. Pour batter into the oven. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, or until cornbread is browned and the surface has a slightly springy feel. Put an additional 15 briquettes on the lid of the oven to brown the top.


This recipe is gluten-free.
The cornbread is delicious with jam, jellies, cheese, butter and/or honey.

Warm Pumpkin Pie Drink

Courtesy of Camping Life 

National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day recipe

Image: www.ohsheglows.com


  • 1 carton (946ml) almond milk or milk of choice
  • 1 15-oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or 2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp each nutmeg and ginger)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or other sweetener, or to taste


  1. In a medium-sized pot, whisk together all ingredients to taste.
  2. Heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie Cobbler

Courtesy of Scoutorama

National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day recipe

Image: www.favfamilyrecipes.com


  • 1 29-oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 12-oz cans evaporated milk
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick margarine or butter


  1. Whisk together all ingredients except for cake mix and butter in large bowl.
  2. Line inside of Dutch oven with foil.
  3. Pour liquid into Dutch oven.
  4. Carefully sprinkle dry cake mix on top of pie filling.
  5. Slice stick of butter and spread slices onto top of cake mix.
  6. Cover Dutch oven and begin heating process.
  7. Cook until cake mix turns golden brown.
  8. Serve warm or cold.

How will you be celebrating National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day? What pumpkin recipes are your favorites to make, both at the campsite and at home? Share them below in the comments!

The 6 Best Songs for the Ultimate Hiking Trail Mix

This Saturday, August 31, is National Trail Mix Day! If you plan to honor this very important national holiday by hitting the outdoors with trail mix in hand, you are not alone! We plan to fix ourselves some of these delicious trail mix recipes and get out there and celebrate!


Hiking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

Since we already have you covered on recipes for trail mix, we’re bringing you the ultimate musical trail mix. These tunes will get you in the mood for a hike and power you through your adventures on the trails.

“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

Running, hiking, dancing, singing, and various other forms of self-embarrassment immediately commence whenever “Born to Run” comes on. It may actually be scientifically impossible to stand still while The Boss is belting out lines like, “Baby, we were born to run,” and, “We’ll run till we drop/Baby we’ll never go back.” Bruce may not have had hiking in mind when he wrote the song, but it certainly couldn’t be better suited to being the soundtrack to your treks.

“The Climb” – No Doubt

Image: www.setemagali.com

Image: www.setemagali.com

If you’ve been conquering your mountain as part of the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge, then you are no doubt familiar with Gwen Stefani’s use of a mountain climb to symbolize tackling a challenge. Whatever you’re striving to achieve in the great outdoors, whether it’s completing a trail, running a mile, or actually hiking a mountain, lyrics like, “So high the climb/Can’t turn back now/Must keep on climbing up to the clouds,” are sure to inspire you to push yourself further.

“Wildflowers” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Could there be a song more filled with beautiful nature imagery? Just the mentions of wildflowers, a boat out at sea, and sailing away are enough to inspire us to get outdoors. By the time Tom is belting out pleas to, “Run away, let your heart be your guide,” and singing, “You belong somewhere you feel free,” we are practically itching to throw on our hiking boots and run free through the nearest park.

“Fred Bear” – Ted Nugent

Image: www.forestfoliage.com

Image: www.forestfoliage.com

We would quote all of the lyrics in “Fred Bear” that inspire us to head out into the forest, but then we’d have to quote the entire song. Anyone who has spent time in America’s beautiful state parks will likely relate to lines like, “The spirit of the woods is like an old good friend.” Ted may be speaking to Fred Bear when he says, “Walk with me down the trails again,” but we would be happy to join him in spirit as we hike along to this jam.

“Road to Nowhere” – The Talking Heads

If you’ve ever felt like the great outdoors are downright heavenly, then what better line to run along to than, “We’re on the road to paradise/Here we go, here we go”? “Road to Nowhere” is the rare song that actually sounds like what it’s about. The repetitive gallop of the beat makes it easy to find your groove as you travel along on your own road to nowhere… or to the trailhead, mountaintop, or wherever you may be headed. “Maybe you wonder where you are” as you hike through the parks, but with your Pocket Ranger® app’s GPS map in hand, it’s not hard to find out!

“Morning Has Broken” – Cat Stevens

Image: www.themumukshusoul.wordpress.com

Image: www.themumukshusoul.wordpress.com

This song is as gorgeous as the natural sights it describes. Dawn is a spectacular time to wake up with an invigorating hike or run, and the twinkling sounds of Cat’s piano playing are the perfect backdrop to witnessing a spectacular sunrise. Hearing Stevens sing about blackbirds, rainfall, sunlight, and the freshness of morning is enough to make us not even hate our 5am alarm when we arise bright and early to head to the trails.

What are your favorite songs to play on your hike? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Fireside Fiesta: 5 Camp-friendly Recipes for Cinco de Mayo

This Cinco de Mayo celebrate Mexican heritage (and delicious food) by gathering around the campfire or grill and feasting on these delicious culturally inspired recipes. For those unfamiliar with the holiday, Cinco de Mayo or The Fifth of May” is a Mexican celebration of national heritage that is often honored with lots and lots of music, dancing, and of course, food and drink. Start a fiesta of your very own without leaving the campgrounds by treating yourself and your camp buddies to this mouth-watering Mexican recipes.

Image: www.lifeisfare.wordpress.com/

Image: www.lifeisfare.wordpress.com/

Let’s kick off this virtual fiesta with a recipe for all the fishing fanatics out there from Life is Fare. These Local Fish Tacos are a great way to use your fresh catch and celebrate this colorful holiday all in one flip of the spatula. Loaded with fresh veggies, savory herbs, and pico de de gallo, these fish tacos are sure to add some spice to any campground.

Image: www.dirtygourmet.com

Image: www.dirtygourmet.com

We cannot wait to sink our teeth into this next recipe from camp cooking authorities Dirty Gourmet. Crunchy, cheesy, and spicy, these Skillet Fried Tacos have are a triple threat to rumbling tummies everywhere. Image returning from a day-long hike to nosh on these crispy pockets of deliciousness—sounds like heaven if you ask us!

Image: www.http://wpsu.org

Image: www.wpsu.org

This next recipe is a surefire crowd-pleaser, and is just as satisfying on the back deck as it is in the backcountry. Mexican Grilled Corn or elote is a summer staple that has found its way to menus all across the U.S. Smothered in creamy mayo and dusted with spices, cilantro and cotija cheese, this roasted snack is perfect for picnics, BBQs, or impromptu fiestas that may need an extra bit oomph.

Image: www.Sunset.com

Image: www.Sunset.com

This campfire recipe is the full enchilada—no really, it does! Sunset’s Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowl is a hungry hiker’s dream: gooey cheese, crunchy chips, fresh veggies, and protein-packed chicken. Don’t worry, this zesty nacho bowl only looks complicated, and you and your compadres will have it whipped up and ready to eat before you can say “tengo hambre!”

Image: www.copykat.com

Image: www.copykat.com

While queso is just Spanish for “cheese” in the world of dips it means so much more. This spicy, melty Skillet Queso from Copy Kat, is a simple yet supremely satisfying way to get your Mex fix while huddled around the campfire. We recommend packing extra tortilla chips, or you’ll be licking cheesy goodness off your bare fingers—it’s that good!

Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Gifts for the Gadget Gurus

We all know him (or her), the gadget guy, the one friend or family member who always has his iphone no less than six inches from his face, and is always the first of your group to get the latest and greatest technology from mobile devices to garage door openers. While gadget guy may be a pain to shop with, he doesn’t have to be a pain to shop for with this sleek, chic gift guide for the techies turned outdoorsmen, or vise versa.  Jam packed with gizmos, gadgets, and even gizmos and gadgets for your gizmos and gadgets, this go-to guide is sure to make you some nerd’s hero this holiday season.


1. Lifeproof Case For iPhone

Sometimes a waterproof cellphone case just isn’t enough to protect your phone from your rough and tumble lifestyle. Enter in this water, dust, snow, and shock proof case that not only shields your precious device from the elements, but keeps it safe from you and your misadventures. This life-proof iPhone case is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast or klutz on your shopping list, and makes a great companion to Pocket Ranger® who performs best when safe and dry! Available at ThinkGeek.com, $79.99.

2. Tool Logic Survival Card

This credit card-sized multi-tool makes even the smallest pocket knife look bulky, with it’s slim, streamline design that fits in any wallet with ease. This survival card comes complete with a 2″ inch blade, whistle, tweezer, toothpick, flashlight, and a fire starter, making it the perfect gift for any outdoorsmen or survivalist. The card’s small, convenient size and shape ensures that you will have it on your person in the event of an emergency—unlike that clunky tackle box your uncle put together for the apocalypse! Available at GanderMountain.com, $24.99.

3. Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Bicycle Clips

Few things allow you to keep in contact while keeping active like this bluetooth speaker designed especially with bicyclists in mind. This portable speaker clips easily to any bike, for safe, hands-free calls while your pedaling down the path. Available at Amazon.com, $129.95.

4. Fuego Element Portable Gas Grill

Got an outdoor chef on your holiday list this year? This easy to use, easy to carry gas grill is sure to be the life of any party, and is a perfect gift for the fierce foodie who is constantly on the go or doesn’t have a lot of space to try out his or her favorite BBQ recipes. From an apartment fire escape to cozy campground, this totable grill will have you up and cooking in no time, no matter where you roam. Available at Amazon.com, $145.

5.Berkley Bite Detector LED Green

Let’s face it, fishing is a sport of patience, and sometimes while we’re being oh-so patient we have a tendency to drift of and miss a nibble or two on our line. This Bite Detector makes sure you never miss a bite, with it’s quick alerting LED display that notifies you when a fish has taken your bait. Flashing LED light is ideal for night fishing, while a sonic notification alerts anglers during the day. A great stocking stuffer for the fish enthusiast in your life, the Bite Detector is small enough to fit in just about any tackle box or pocket. Available at Amazon.com, $11.97.

6. Northwest Territory 5 LED Tent Light with Remote Control

No more fumbling in the dark for a flashlight that only lights up half of your tent, this remote controlled tent light is sure to brighten any avid camper’s day, and transform even the tiniest tents into a cozy home away from home. Available at Kmart.com, $12.

7. SPOT Connect

Most of Pocket Ranger®’s features can be used with little to no cell reception, but for those times when you just need to make a call or send a text, there’s SPOT Connect. This handy little gadget transforms smartphones and other mobile devices into satellite communicators, so you can feel save an secure even in the backwoods dead zones. Available at FindMeSpot.com, $169.99.

8. Nomad 7 Solar Panel

Even the strongest satellite devices won’t do you any good if you’re phone is dead and you’re alone in the woods. This state-of-the-art solar powered panel charges a wide range of mobile devices, and fits neatly into any backpack. Durable and weatherproof, the Nomad 7 is the backpacker’s new best friend, because sometimes even if you want to get away from it all, you don’t really want to get away from it all! Available at GoalZero.com, $99.99.

9. Adventure Plus Multitool

Multitools, especially this one from National Geographic, are one of the best stocking stuffers an outdoor  enthusiast can receive—the reason being, it’s like getting four or five gifts in one, streamlined package. The Adventure Plus Multitool comes complete with a triple LED flashlight, a freeze-resistant liquid compass, two-power magnifying glasses, digital time and thermometer, a signal mirror, and safety whistle—all ready at a moments notice. Available at NationalGeographic.com, $24.95.