Visited: March 2018
Duration: 2 days
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
If you haven’t been following the Santa Fe Trail with us be sure to check out our other posts here:
In this post we will be doing the Western Terminus. We did some of this on a trip before we knew about the Junior Wagon Master Book so we had to fill some of this out by memory. Follow along with us with the book:
The first task in the Western Terminus book is to visit Pecos National Historic Park, grab a Junior Ranger program book – complete 2/3rds of it and get a signature from a ranger. Now, do we do anything 2/3rds in this family?? Nope!! We got our Junior Ranger Badges at Pecos and LOVED the ranger that helped us do it! Another task completed.
You can check out our full trip to Pecos National Historical Park on a different post, follow link below.
We had to skip the next task because we didn’t know the Palace of the Governors had its own Junior Ranger Program. We will need to stop and do this if we go back to Santa Fe.
Next task is the Native American Vendor Program, here is where our memory needed to serve us well. We had to list 16 things we witnessed folks selling here. 8 needed to be Jewelry Wares and 8 needed to be Non-Jewelry wares. We did it 🙂
The Plaza task was up next. My kids didn’t remember the Soldier’s Monument so we googled a picture for them to jog their memory, they had to do a little math work and draw the Monument. Check.
It looks as though protesters knocked down the monument in October of 2020, so I’m not sure if it is even there anymore. Double check before going.
Loretto Chapel is the next stop, we did the task without going into the Chapel, it was pretty simple for this crew. Beautiful Chapel
Chapel of San Miguel is the next task to conquer. Here we had to find the reredos, answer a few questions and draw one of the pictures found here. Check.
The last and final task we completed (besides doing the Wagon Master Challenges) was the Journey’s End Monument at the Entrance to Museum Hill. Here we had to walk around the monument and answer questions. Of course it had been awhile and the kids were rusty. We google mapped this and walked around virtually so the kids could answer the questions. It is truly a fantastic monument.
Well that concludes the Western Terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. WE MADE IT ALL THE WAY!!!
We emailed our books to the address listed and received the following below. It’s a pretty sweet haul.
I hope you enjoyed our trip along the Santa Fe Trail. Let me know if you have any questions and if you are going to try and tackle the Junior Wagon Master Program. We had so much fun doing it.
Visited: July 2020 and March 2018
Duration: 2-3 days
Location: Cimarron Kansas to Las Vegas, New Mexico
On this blog we will be following the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail. We did this in 2 parts, we did the Kansas/Colorado sites on our National Park trip Season 5 and the southern part we did on a Spring Break trip in 2018. Follow along with the book at the link below.
If you missed the early blogs about the Santa Fe Trail no worries, you can find them here:
Here we go!! We left Dodge City and headed to Cimarron Kansas looking for Cimarron Crossing Park, this took us awhile because we used GPS (not suggested). We finally found the park and it took awhile to find the informational sign we needed to answer the questions in the book but nevertheless we prevailed.
Moving along west our next stop along the trail is the Colorado/Kansas Marker. Here we stopped and recorded what was written on the marker. Now obviously anyone with a clue would not need to stop here and could answer the questions but we needed a state line sign picture taken with Grandma Carol who joined us on this trip 🙂
The next page in our book wanted us to head to Lamar, Colorado and check out the Pioneer Mother at the Colorado Visitor Center (we opted to find a picture of her and answer the questions, otherwise we won’t make it to our side trip). This can easily be googled, shhhh.
We did make our side trip though and got a picture to attach to our books.
Up next in the book was Bent’s Old Fort, hit this site the next morning. It was open to the public and had some great things to do. We enjoyed this place, you can check it out in it’s own blog.
At Bent’s Old Fort visiting and getting a signature from a ranger will get you this page done in the Junior Wagon Master book. Checked off!! We also opted to do the Junior Ranger at this site as well. Why not?
Next stop Boggsville, Colorado here you need to visit the Boggs house and pick up a brochure and answer a question in your booklet. In reality the question can be answered by reading the plaque in the book, which is what we did.
The next task is located in Trinidad, Colorado. Here we visited the The Trinidad Santa Fe Trail Museum to view a coat that is displayed there. We had to answer a question about what we thought this coat was used for.
This is where we leave you on our NPT Season 5 trip and head to Colorado to finish out all of the National Parks of Colorado. We pick up from National Park Trip Season 3 – Spring Break when we stopped at Fort Union National Monument.
Next stop in the book we have already done 🙂
Here visiting the site and doing the Junior Ranger at Fort Union gets you a task done in your Junior Wagon Master book. Good thing I save all the Junior Ranger books. This got us our check mark and completion of the Mountain Route in the Junior Wagon Master book. We are trucking along on this trail. Only one more section to go, that we have already traveled before finding this book.
To see our complete visit to Fort Union National Monument visit the link below.
Check back for the Western Terminus, coming soon.
Thanks for following us on this journey it was so much fun taking all of the trips and completing the books. Here is what we got after sending in all of our hard work.
Pretty darn sweet!!!
Visited: July 2020
Duration: 1.5 days
Location: Council Grove, Kansas to Dodge City, Kansas
Welcome back to our Santa Fe Trail expedition! If you haven’t read the first part of our trail please do so here – Santa Fe Trail Eastern Terminus.
This next section of the trail goes through the beautiful state of Kansas, you can follow along with the Junior Wagon Master Booklet at the link below.
We begin this part of the trail in Council Grove, Kansas. A cute little town with lots of Santa Fe Trail history. This location became known as the “rendezvous” point of the Santa Fe Trail. This was the last place for caravans to gather supplies for their wagons. Traders gathered in this site to wait for enough people to create a caravan to make the journey onward. The statue in the picture above depicts the women on the Santa Fe Trail, because this was mainly a trade route, women weren’t in abundance, the ones who did make the journey were strong and courageous.
Here in Council Grove we visited the Madonna Statue, The Post Oak (and old oak tree that served as a post office, traders would leave notes in the tree) and the Neosho River Walk where we needed to answer questions in our Junior Wagon Master Book.
Next stop is Lost Spring, a few miles west of Council Grove. Here (was a 2 day drive in the wagons from Council Grove) the wagons could camp and get water. It was named lost spring because the spring eventually dried up and disappeared. Here we had to make a stone rubbing of the monument for our Wagon Master Book.
Continuing westward 20 or so more miles we found Cottonwood Crossing. Here we had to read the wayside markers of people’s accounts of what happened on the trail to answer some questions in our book. We had to look pretty hard for this.
We headed out to Hwy 56 to get to the next destination. The highway has signs to let you know where these are but we still followed the directions in the book. Up next was Chisholm Crossing, here we needed to draw and fill in the map found here in our book and write a song about the trail, ours were very interesting. As you can see even Yogi was enjoying the trail.
We skipped the next part of the book – The Coronado-Quivera Museum, I can’t remember if it was closed due to Covid or just closed because it was getting later in the day. We would have liked to stop but we didn’t need it to complete our book pages luckily.
Next stop for us was Ralph’s Ruts, thankfully Ralph Hathaway preserved this place so generations could still enjoy seeing the ruts in the prairie along the trail. Here we answered more questions and wrote Ralph a letter thanking him for his generosity.
In for the night in Great Bend, had a nice dinner and got some well needed rest to conquer the remainder of the Central Terminus.
Next morning we headed out and stopped at our next stop, Pawnee Rock. I drove past this site dozens of times going back and forth to Dodge City and never noticed it. It was actually beautiful and peaceful the morning we went. Our books had us drawing in the shapes on the monument, answering questions and writing a poem. Kids did a great job on all 3.
Oh this next stop was amazing, I could have spent the day here but I only allocated a couple of hours on the itinerary. This place was done really well and we all enjoyed this stop! Just wish we had more time here. What was it?? The Santa Fe Trail Museum outside of Larned Kansas.
Here we needed to fill out what goods were traveling what direction on the trail. This one was a little tough until we found the display we needed. After this we walked around and enjoyed the other displays. As shown below we are about half way on the trail (Hunter is pointing where we are)
Just a few miles West down the highway was our next stop.
Fort Larned National Historic Site. I won’t go into heavy details about his stop since you can read it on it’s own blog here
Here just visiting, doing the Fort Larned Junior Ranger and getting a signature on the Junior Wagon Master book page gets you a task done towards your completion.
Our next stop was the last stop for our Central Route on the trail. It was found west of Dodge City Kansas.
The Santa Fe Trail ruts. Here the travelers had to choose between taking the Mountain Route or the Cimarron Route, both had there own dangers. This crew decided to take the Moutain route, then veer off and enjoy some Colorado National Parks when we were done.
Here we answered questions about the ruts and views. Concluding our trip on the Central Route of the trail.
We managed to finish all the tasks we needed in this section of the book. Earning us the Central patch. Here is a picture of all of the patches we earned doing the whole trail. Pretty sweet!
Check out the other portions of the trail at the following links
Visited: July 2020
Duration: 2 days
Location: Started in Booneville and ended in Sibley, Missouri
Accommodations: Hotel Frederick, Booneville, Missouri. (Hightly Recommend)
I stumbled across this Junior Wagon Master Book(to be done following the Santa Fe Trail) while looking for an address to send in our normal Santa Fe Trail Junior Ranger. I fell in LOVE with this after looking at. Printed it and we began working on it. We thought it was the perfect thing to work on during Covid 19.
This post will follow the Eastern Terminus of the Santa Fe Trail, you can see the pages we completed and our route along the way at this link.
First stop on the Trail was New Franklin, here we needed to read the plaque and fill in the blanks on our booklet, we also had to answer a few questions from the wayside markers. This site marks the birthplace of the Santa Fe Trail and where William Becknell became the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail”.
Second stop (the next morning) was just north of Booneville at a small trail-head park that was known as Old Franklin, here we needed to read signs and answer just a few questions.
We headed West on I-70 to Arrow Rock where we discovered a quaint little town with lots of charm and really cool history. We went through the Visitor Center and headed up the hill to Main Street. At the Visitor Center the kids needed to draw a picture of something from the visitor center and then write a few sentences about the display and connection to the Santa Fe Trail.
This town was fabulous. They even had a display of tents and wagons to resemble how it looked when people stopped here along the trail with live people to answer questions.
We walked along the board walk and unfortunately the Historic Tavern was under restoration during our visit but we would like to return when it opens. We sat in old rocking chairs and enjoyed the peace and beauty of this town before we moved on to our next stop.
Next stop, Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center. Here you learn about all of the Native tribes that occupied the area that the Santa Fe Trail crossed through.
The booklet asks you to check out the flip-grids located by the Wikiup House, we looked all over to find out that they have been taken down. Not to worry the wonderful girl working gave us a demonstration on all of the tools there and we were able to answer the questions in the book. Thank you so much staff here, you were awesome!!
Bonus: We also noticed that you can get the books here instead of printing them if that works better for you, but I would call first in case they are out when you get there.
From here we headed to Lexington to visit the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site.
Large companies soon began supplying the goods that travelers along the Trail would need, here in Lexington the Aull Brothers formed one of the first companies and this was the location of its warehouse.
Here we learned about how the Civil War, the Battle of Lexington and the Santa Fe Trail all combined to effect each other. We answered some questions about this and learned how hemp bales were used to protect the troops here.
Off to the next stop which is Historic Fort Osage in Sibley, Missouri. Open and the workers were really good about masks and social distancing. We went through the museum to help us answer the map question we needed and then headed up to the fort to explore. It was gorgeous.
While in Booneville we walked under the bridge where the Steamboat landing would have been and found the kiosk. We took a picture and attached it in our book. Here you can still see the remains of the cobblestone street for the river landing.
This concludes our time on the Eastern Terminus of the Santa Fe Trail, we have completed enough of the activities to earn this badge. The other sites were not visited because they were closed due to Covid at the time we were working on the books. We headed home from here.
Here are the patches we earned doing the whole trail. They are really cool and boys loved them!
While doing the Eastern Terminus we stayed in Booneville, Missouri at a beautiful Historic hotel named Hotel Frederick, it was perfect!
Check back for the following blogs to follow us along the trail coming soon:
Visited: March 2020
Location: Homestead, Florida
Accommodations: Houseboat rental Flamingo Adventures in Everglades National Park
Duration: 3 days
At one point in time I was talking to some guy somewhere, if I remember correctly we were in the infield of the Daytona Speedway at the Daytona 500. No idea why I was talking to this guy but he said to me “If you ever go to the Everglades, rent a houseboat and spend a few nights on it, you will love it”. It stuck in my head for some reason and I am so glad it did. This experience was amazing and will go down in history as one of my favorite experiences at a national park. Stay tuned, that part is at the end.
Everglades National Park was the first National Park on National Park trip Season 5 – Spring Break Edition, we have Biscayne and Dry Tortugas planned but will be ruined by Covid, BOOOO!!!! Luckily we got Everglades National Park in before the parks closed down.
Everglades is an amazing park full of wildlife and water. We made it to all of the Visitor Centers the park offers on this trip with the exception of the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Our first stop in the park coming from Big Cypress Preserve was Shark Valley Visitor Center. What a mess! Cars lined up for a mile out of the entrance. Get there early if you have a tram pass. We made our tram appointment and it did NOT disappoint us. We saw tons of wildlife on the Tram Trail and several gators at the Observation tower. I would highly recommend doing this if you are visiting the Everglades. Check out these photos!! So much fun when we observe nature in front of us.
Lots of alligators to see along the tram trail and especially at the observation deck. We loved the Observation tower, great views too.
Once done with our tram ride, we drove from the Shark Valley Visitor Center down to Flamingo Visitor Center where we checked in and got the Houseboat. They drive you through a mangrove and then the driver gets on a boat to head back so you have the houseboat all on your own for the length of your stay. Husband had to take several classes and get a permit to drive it so be aware there will be several hours used up to prepare for this adventure (which is worth it).
We spent the next few days and nights on the houseboat and it was wonderful!!
Fishing was great, but the highlight of the trip was our dolphin encounter, while cruising around Whitewater Bay 2 dolphins swam with us for hours, splashing us, chasing us and just putting on such a fun show. Here is a clip for you. This was so fun to watch!
The nights out on the houseboat were pretty incredible as well. No lights so all the stars shone so bright we sat outside for hours enjoying the peace and beauty.
The next morning the boat folks met us to drive us back through the mangrove and check out. We found out then that all of the National Parks in Florida were closed. WHAT!!!!!! We needed to plan the rest of our trip on our drive to the Keys now. No problem.
Back through the beautiful mangrove
On our way out of the park we stopped and did a short hike to Mahogany Hammock. Cool place to see how these dense island forests work. Pretty neat.
And then it hit me as we left the park……
We didn’t stop at the Visitor Center when we came into the park so we won’t get our cancellations!!! The odds of us ever coming back is slim so it is now or never. With almost tears in my eyes I walked up to the Visitor Center where they had staff outside answering questions and handing out information. I begged a young female park ranger if she could please go inside and stamp all of our passports. She looked around and said she would see what she could do. A few minutes later, out she came, she saved the day AND did a wonderful job at that. One of my favorite cancellation pages!!
We were not able to earn our Junior Rangers, we had to send in for that. No problem, we did Biscayne as well and sent those 2 in plus our Big Cypress and we were able to earn a Tri-Park Patch as a bonus.
Unfortunately on our way to Key West our sea plane adventure to Dry Tortugas National Park was cancelled and our kayaking trip in Biscayne was cancelled. Thus concluding the end of our National Park Trip Season 5 – Spring Break edition. We spent the rest of the trip enjoying the Florida Keys, it was beautiful. Not a bad trip, we headed home to quarantine and spend the next few months home schooling.
Check back soon. We did do a short National Park Trip in the summer AND we completed the whole Santa Fe Trail and hit some odd National Parks on their own.
I loved Everglades so it really made the whole trip worth it. Have you been?? Did we miss anything??
Visited: March 2020
Duration: 1-2 hours
Accommodations: Driving from Bradenton to Houseboat in the Everglades
This was a stop driving to Everglades National Park. We popped in here real quick, watched the park film, completed our Junior Rangers, walked around at each Visitor Center and boardwalk viewing areas.
There are 2 Visitor Centers located on Highway 41 that cuts through the park. One on the east end and one on the west end. We stopped at both and enjoyed both. They have AMAZING cancellations so make sure you stop and get them!!!
Quick stop go get out and see wildlife and stretch our legs. But we are off for a full day of the Everglades and heading to board our houseboat we rented for the next few days. Check back for that it was AWESOME, so glad this was recommended to us.
Earning the Big Cypress Junior Ranger Badges
Remember to stop here and get the Passport cancellations, you won’t be sorry. They just might be my favorite so far!!!
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check back for Everglades National Park, it was truly a memorable park and it is high recommended. Another wonderful Florida National Park site down.
Visited: March 2020
Duration: 2-3 hours
Location: Bradenton, Florida
Accommodations: Tortuga Beach Resort for 3 nights. Wonderful place!!
Next up on National Park Trip Season 5 – Spring Break Edition we stayed 3 nights in Bradenton, Florida, enjoying beaches, pools, wonderful restaurants, golf cart cruises and this gem, DeSoto National Memorial. This National Park Service site is a tribute to Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer who sailed to America and was granted a license to explore La Florida. He landed on the west coast of Florida in May 1539 and he and his army spent the next 4 years crossing their way across the southeastern United States. At this site you will learn all about De Soto, Spanish conquistadors and the Native Americans that inhabited the land here when the Spanish arrived.
On this blog, you will learn about our journey around DeSoto National Memorial. We begin at the Visitor Center picking up our Junior Ranger Books and embarking on our mission. I highly recommend the Junior Ranger books at this site. They are very well done, you learn a ton and it is fun (for all ages).
We explored the museum and enjoyed trying on the armor that the Spanish army wore in the time of DeSoto.
After we conquered the Visitor Center and Museum we took off on foot – armed only with our brains to help us defeat this Junior Ranger book and take over this land. We marched along the Memorial Trail ready to take on anything. This hike was a fun hike along the coast line (we aren’t used to this in Iowa), so we really enjoyed the sun and sea.
Here on the Memorial trail stations are set up with pictures of Native Americans or Spanish soldiers, you can see the Tabby House Ruin, DeSoto Point, Holy Eucharis Monument, Memorial Cross, De Soto Monument and a replica of what a Spanish camp would have looked like in this era.
We walked all of the foot path and back to the Spanish Camp (shown below)
It was getting hot out here and my soldiers wanted to go swimming. So we marched back to the visitor center where they earned their DeSoto National Memorial Junior Rangers. Badges and cancellations earned and this troop is off to enjoy a few days in sunny Bradenton.
Another great Florida National Park Service site checked off. We are on our way to the beach!! I hope you enjoyed our family’s attack at DeSoto National Memorial.
Visited: March 2020
Location: Macon, Georgia
Accommodations: Holiday Inn, Macon, Georgia
Duration: 2-3 hours
National Park Trip Season 5 – Spring Break Edition has begun. Our goal – to finish all the Florida National Parks. However, a pandemic is afoot and will we be able to finish??? Stay tuned.
Macon Georgia is about 15 hours from our house and we have another 6-8 hours to go before our stay in Bradenton, Florida. I added this National Monument to break up the drive. We got up around 3 am and drove the 15 hours, staying at a very nice Holiday Inn in Macon, not far from the Monument. We awoke the next morning, ate our continental breakfast and headed out to Ocmulgee National Monument.
Ocmulgee is witness to 10,000 years of inhabitants in this area of North America, ranging from Ice Age hunters to Creek Indians. The period between 900 and 1100 CE (Common Era) is highly notable above other ages here. The Mississippian Culture, a skillful farming people inhabited the area. They built Earth lodges, burial sites, a village, trading post and trenches in this area and all can still be seen during your visit here.
We started off at the Visitor Center by grabbing Junior Ranger books and heading into the museum. You will need to spend some time in the visitor center looking at displays to complete your Junior Ranger book, it is a really nice center/museum.
We finished all inside questions and headed out into the park for more answers. We took off on the trail that loops from the VC goes up to the Earth lodge, past the Cornfield Mound, by the trenches and back to the VC. It was a gorgeous spring day in Georgia and we loved this walking path.
We then surfaced back at the Visitor Center, got in the car and drove the road to see the other sites- Village Site, Trading post, and all the other mounds.
We headed back up to the Visitor Center after completing our Junior Rangers and got a really cool surprise! Check it out a cool patch to add to our collection! Junior Ranger patches received, lots of cancellations in our passport and we are off to the beach in Bradenton and our next National Park Service site!!
Well that’s a wrap for this National Monument we learned “mounds” of information.
Up next DeSoto National Memorial and off to Wal-Mart for toilet paper, apparently there is a shortage, or is there really?? Stop back soon to see more!
Idaho!! This was a state line picture taken on National Park Trip Season 2 when we left Yellowstone and headed to Glacier. This sign was located on ID-33/WY-22 coming west out of Jackson, Wyoming. This is a great and safe spot to get this sign with lots of people stopping that can take your picture.
Idaho National Park Service Sites we have visited:
While visiting these sights in Idaho we had the pleasure of staying at, Banbury Hot Springs in a pool side apartment, we loved it. It was close to Hagerman, Minidoka and Shoshone Falls.
Lunch was spent at Shoshone Falls, worth the side trip, it was beautiful.
Idaho was great. We loved all of our stops here. We have one NPS site left and I am not sure if we will ever get it, but of course we will try our hardest. It might be a college trip during summer vacation, fingers crossed they are still interested when they are older.
Visited: August 2019
Location: Almo, Idaho
Accommodations: Almo Inn (The Amarillo Room) this place was AWESOME!!!
Duration: 4-6 hours
We made it to City of Rocks in the afternoon hours, we stopped in at the Visitor Center, grabbed maps, cancelations and Junior Ranger books before heading out into the park.
This park was AMAZING!! I had no idea how beautiful it would be. It follows the California trail into the east entrance of the park. The first stop we made on our way in was Camp Rock, where emigrants from the California Trail left a record of their passing in axle grease. This was so much fun to look at.
Next along the route is Treasure Rock, the coolest place we found here. This location is a perfect spot for photos and some good climbing rocks (not the rock climbing that professionals do, but the ones that kids can do to entertain themselves). Check out the views from this site.
Next up on the trip through the park was Elephant Rock. Bath Rock and Bread loaves. You can probably imagine what each one of those rocks look like so I will spare you the photos. Bread loaves was where we did a turn around otherwise you would exit the west part of the park. We headed back in to find Window Arch. Across from Bath Rock and into a campground there is a parking lot in the back that you can walk to Window Arch. Kids loved it.
It was getting dark when we decided it was time to leave the park and head to dinner. Not many choices in this town, but we found a cool pizza place to stop in before heading back to our awesome hotel room at the Almo Inn.
The next morning, we stopped in the visitor center as soon as it opened to get our Junior Ranger badges before we head home. They didn’t have specific badges for this park, just a generic badge that we had earned doing the Historic Preservation Book. Luckily there were patches available for purchase so we opted to get those. Hopefully by now they have badges. If not spend the $5 per patch, they are pretty cool looking.
That’s a wrap for National Park Trip Season 4, our journey West along the Oregon, California and some of the Mormon Trails. I hope you all have enjoyed our path to discovery on this trip, if you missed it here were the stops we made along the way during National Park Trip Season 4, click the links below to view each one.
City of Rocks National Reserve (this post, no link, you are already here)
I hope you enjoyed our trip! We sure did. Lots of miles traveled and memories made. Until the next adventure……..