River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Monroe, Michigan was the second National Park Service site we stopped at on National Park Trip Season 3 Summer Edition. It is also our very first Battlefield Park. This place is really small, for now. The Park Service has bought up several blocks around the park and is going to expand in the next few years.
We stopped here and headed inside for our Junior Ranger books, cancellations and a viewing of the film. The film was long and way over our kid’s heads. When the park ranger came to ask us how we liked it, we told him it was a lot of information. He explained to us in detailed form all about the battlefield and he was extremely interesting. We thanked him for his lecture and he informed us he is a retired history teacher. He was amazing and we learned so much from him!!
We took off on a walk around the park on the trails. We did the 17th Infantry Loop trail with informational signs to read and we walked the Mason Run Loop trail. Interesting to learn how America attacked Canada and Michigan was really close to singing Oh Canada.
Back in the Visitor Center and we have earned our Junior Ranger badges.
Great little stop on our way through to Maine (eventually). Not very many cancellations, this one has to share a page with another one.
Until the next stop. We are heading to Niagara Falls for the next 3 days. I will post the next park as soon as I can. I hope you enjoyed our stop here, have you been here?? I can’t wait to come back and see the addition.
Indiana State line sign. This is #20 of our 50 signs. Found this sign on I-90 at the Indiana/Ohio state line. We got Ohio and then ran across the interstate to get this one, in case we don’t have time to stop on the way home. Not much of a pull off area so please be careful if you stop here. We pulled into the grass area and parked.
Indiana Stops we made:
We are just passing through on this trip so we grabbed one of the park service sites. There are 2 more we will definitely stop at some day so stop by and check them out as well.
Visited: July 2018
Duration: 1/2 day
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express, Portage
National Park Trip Season 3 (Summer Edition) is in full swing. This was our first stop of the trip. So much to do here and the park is spread out so prepare yourself for some driving. We stopped in at the Visitor Center to get some information and pick up our Junior Ranger packets.
There are lots of habitats here to offer several things to do and see depending on your interests. Lakes, Beaches, Dunes, ponds, marshes. oak savannas, prairies, river and bogs offer hiking, swimming, biking, birding, wildflowers, history, and recreation .
Starting at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center we decided to get our Junior Ranger Activity books completed and to do this we needed to visit the Bailey Homestead. The Bailey Homestead is a few miles to the west of the visitor center. The Homestead and Chellberg farm area was once used as a trade route by American Indians and early traders. We had a nice hike around both places and filled out our books.
The Chellberg Farm. Over 100 years ago this farm was owned by Swedish Immigrants named Anders and Johanna Chellberg. We used the self guided brochure to tour the area and finished our Bingo page while looking for tools that people used to work the land in this time and area.
Up next we decided to go check out a beach and do the Dune Succession trail. Short trail and then I let the boys play on the beach to burn up some energy. They loved it here, it was hard to pull them away, but we are starving. National Parking can build up an appetite.
We finished up our Junior Ranger books over dinner at Bass Pro shop and headed in for the evening.
The next morning we stopped at the VC to earn our badges and get a certificate, before heading to the next park.
All done here at this park. 2018 brings really cool National Park Junior Ranger cancellations for your Passport. How exciting.
We enjoyed our time here at Indian Dunes National Lake shore, there is so much to see and do. I wish we had some more time here but we are heading towards Maine and chose to spend our time there. Have you been to Indiana Dunes? What were your favorite activities to do?
State line sign #18 of 50 and the last one for National Park Trip Season 2. This North Dakota sign is located on Hwy 2 heading east into North Dakota from Montana. This isn’t a very busy highway so this is a great opportunity to get a state line sign picture. Conveniently enough there was a guy there who was willing to take our picture if we took one for him. He was working and traveling across the U.S. and was collecting state line pictures for his parents (how sweet).
North Dakota stops we made: Follow links to each blog
We rounded out North Dakota with a lunch stop at Space Aliens Bar and Grill! The kids LOVED this encounter. Lots of great food and games for the kids to wear them out for the 8 hour ride home.
Visited: August 2017
Duration: 1-2 hours
Accommodations: Medora, North Dakota then drove home
Knife River Indian Villages NHS was the last stop on National Park Trip Season 2. It is a little Park Service Site located 60 miles north of Bismark. The park has a visitor center, reconstructed earthlodge (furnished with replica artifacts), a film, exhibits, remains of three village sites and trails.
We arrived mid morning at the Visitor Center and grabbed our Junior Rangers. Watched the short film “Maxidiwiac”, visited the museum, walked out and viewed the earthlodge and its furnishings inside.
We walked the two rivers trail and finished up a few items in our books. Back to the visitor center and we have earned our badges. We stopped and spoke with a woman that was trekking across America with her husband that had visited over 350 NPS. Her Passport Book was amazing.
We are off to Space Aliens Bar and Grill in Bismark to finish off our National Park Trip for this year. Then the 8 hour drive home. It has been a great trip. Looking forward to planning National Park trip season 3. I hope you enjoyed our National Park Trip this year. Click on the tag National Park Trip Season 2 to view all of our stops. See you next post.
Visited: August 2017
Duration: 1 hour
Accommodations: Rough Riders Inn, Medora, North Dakota (highly recommend)
We traveled from Glacier National Park across Montana today and headed into North Dakota to visit Fort Union National Historic Site.
Small but worth a stop. We were the only people there when we arrived and got the royal treatment. We stopped into the visitor center and grabbed our Junior Rangers. We got right to work on these. The Ranger explained that all answers are going to be on the information signs located around the park.
We stopped off for a demonstration on how to make arrowheads for trade in these times. We even got to keep them. This guy was great giving us fountains of information about the Fort Union also known as the Outpost on the Missouri. This is where principal plains tribes traded their goods. Fort Union was the Western Department’s most profitable division.
We finished up our Junior Rangers in no time at all and headed back into the visitor center where not only did we earn badges but also earned a bison hide for all of our hard work! The kids were able to trade this hide for several items. Hunter chose to trade his for beads and Gunnar traded his for a flag (shown in the FUTP picture above).
Great stop to break up the time between Glacier and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks. Kids had a good time trading and we all learned. Success!
Have you been to Fort Union Trading? What did you think of it?
Visited: August 2017
Duration: 3-4 hours
Accommodations: Rough Riders Hotel, Medora (Highly recommend)
The last national park we visited on the National Park Trip Season 2 was Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in beautiful Medora, North Dakota. This park was perfect for wrapping up our park trip. We were exhausted and this park is mostly drive-able and there were NO CROWDS. Just what we needed after 4 days at Glacier.
If you are planning to visit this park, I would suggest to plan some extra time to spend in Medora, it is a great town. Lots of shopping and great restaurants, the hotel we stayed at was perfect!
On this trip we visited the South Unit. The South Unit has information, a theater, museum with Theodore Roosevelt’s personal items, Maltese Cross Cabin, lots of wildlife and a 36 mile scenic loop.
We stopped in at the Visitor Center and watched the film, grabbed our Junior Ranger booklets and we took off on the Scenic Drive.
Our first stop was at Skyline Vista. A short little hike to see a great overlook.
Up next we stopped along the road to watch bison. I loved this park because of all of the wildlife we spotted here. The low crowds might contribute to why we saw so many?? Win-win in my book.
So many nice relaxing stops along this road. Wind Canyon Trail was next, another short hike for more beautiful views again.
More driving and you can view beautiful colors in the buttes in the park. This was fascinating to me and gorgeous. I don’t see this everyday.
Here are what the colors of rock represent:
Blue/Grey is Sandstone made of quartz
Brick Red is Bentonite Clay and is made of volcanic ash
Tan are bands of lignite coal
Black is called clinker- a rock baked by the heat of burning coal
Along the way we stopped at a ranger station and learned about a summer intern that is studying bison herd movement at the park. They shot skin darts at the bison, isolated the dna from the skin cells, sequenced the dna and compared all the dnas to see mismatches in herd population. This will tell them whether or not there are migrating herds coming to the park or if the herd is staying in the park and breeding. Really cool stuff (especially for me).
Finished off the loop and headed back to the visitor center. Check out all the wildlife we saw on the loop today. Pretty cool.
We stopped in to the Maltese Cross Cabin and toured that while there wasn’t anyone there. Back in to the Visitor Center to get our Junior Ranger badges and we are going shopping in Medora.
We are off to shop for the rest of the day and possibly swim in the pool. We need to relax, this trip has been nonstop. This park ranger was shocked on Park trip season 3 in Acadia when we recognized him from this park. Small world out there.
We really liked this relaxing park. Have you been there? What did you like about it??
State line sign #17 of 50 for this traveling crew. We have left Yellowstone National Park (check out those 3 blogs) and traveled through Idaho to get into Montana on Hwy 87. The trip from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park is amazing. If you have a chance to do these 2 parks in your vacation you will see some great scenery on your drive in between. This state line sign was found on Hwy 87 heading north into Montana from Idaho. It has a great pullover spot so if you in the area and looking for a safe state line sign to get this one is great.
While in Montana on National Park Trip Season 2 we hit 2 National Park Service Sites. Click on the links below to view those blogs.
Both were fantastic stops on the trip. There are 3 sites left in Montana for us to visit, to bad it will need to be at a later date. Stop back I’m sure we won’t wait too long, Montana is beautiful.
Visited: August 2017
Duration: 4 days
Accomodations: AirBNB about 10 miles from the park. (Columbia Falls) Astrid Cabin
Glacier National Park, the mother of them all. I have heard so much about this park I couldn’t wait to get here. There is so much to take in and so much to do here you could come every day for a month and still not get it all in. We covered the basics knowing that this would be a park we will need to put on the revisit list.
I am going to try and pack 4 days into this post, but I will need to just cover our highlights. Just know this is not a park to miss!! It is one of the favorites.
1st stop Apgar Visitor Center, Junior Ranger book, magnets and our shopping musts all taken care of. Off to do a bit of hiking. If only there was any parking?? Oh wait there was one spot at a pull off after Lake MacDonald.
We drove up to Logan Pass Visitor Center and by this time in the day the parking lot was full and not letting any other cars in. We were getting hungry so we drove to Rising Sun did a little shopping and grabbed some lunch.
We drove back down the road a bit and did a boat tour on Saint Mary Lake. This was a great time. We saw a bear and some moose swimming and playing in the lake. The gal that did our tour was top notch. It was a great time and they had a stamp for us for our passport book. Bonus!! There was a stop off on the lake with a little hike to Baring Falls. There we took some great photos and saw a yellow bellied marmot snoozing on a rock.
We headed back up to Going to the sun road and popped off at a pullout we heard our boat captain tell us about. It was the Triple divide (the only triple divide in the world). This was a cool stop, we like these types of pull offs.
A stop at the viewing for Goose Island and we are heading back to Logan Pass which is less busy now. Crowds are dying off. It is busiest between 9-3 in this park so plan your day better. We know now 🙂
Its a new day and we are Glacier experienced. Today more hiking and get there early so we have parking 🙂 We started the day off with a hike starting at Jackson Glacier overlook and we hiked to St. Mary Falls and Victoria falls then up to Sun Point Nature trail bus stop to take us back to our car. GREAT HIKE!!!
Headed back down the road and found room in the parking area for trail of the cedars. This trail was a short and nice trail that is a must if you can find some parking. Get here really early (like before 8 am or later in the evening) we pulled in around dinner time. Great short hike with a water fall.
Couple more pull offs that were finally open and that ends our busy day.
Next day Gunnar and Grandma took a break and stayed at the cabin while Hunter and I hiked the Highline trail. This hike was magnificent. I highly recommend this if you came to Glacier to hike. This hike goes above and beyond, literally. You are up on the tops of the mountains looking down on the park. It was amazing how high up we were. It took us about 7-8 hours to do the hike and we stopped for lunch at the haystacks and filled up on water at the Chalet. What great memories Hunter and I made that day!! I don’t think you could take a bad picture at this park.
Well this took all day and I had to teach my child how to hitch hike through national parks because the bus system here can’t hold all of the guests that visit here. Keep that in mind when wanting to do the park by bus. We got to the bus stop at Apgar at 8 am and were told we wouldn’t get on a bus until 10:30 so we opted to hitch hike. We were picked up by a guy who works in the park (was off duty) and then by a mom with 3 kids heading up the road. All great people just be aware if you are doing this.
Next day we stopped off to get our Junior Rangers badges and stopped off at the West Glacier Railroad depot to get some tshirts and stuff, stumbled upon ALL of the Glacier National Park Passport Stamps!!! Woo hoo!!! If you can’t make it to all Visitor Centers stop in here.
We also want to visit Two Medicine and Many Glacier parts of the park.
Off to North Dakota. Check back for those 3 parks we will visit.
Visited: August 2017
Duration: 2-3 hours
Accommodations: Fairmont Hot Springs, Anaconda, Montana
A stop between Yellowstone and Glacier to break up the 8 hour drive time was this gem located in Deer Lodge, Montana. After a fantastic night swimming in a hot springs pool and playing a few rounds of mini golf, we hopped over to Grant-Kohrs Ranch. This place was a great surprise, we all loved this stop. It was full of history, cowboys and cattlemen. This was right up our alley.
In 1972 Congress set aside Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site as a working cattle ranch that symbolized wide open space, the hard working cowboy, the spirited cow pony and vast herds of cattle.
We stopped off at the Visitor Center, grabbed our Junior Rangers and signed up for the Ranch House tour. We walked the .25 mile paved trail towards the Ranch House. Oh the wonderful things we learned here.
The walk was beautiful and nice and the kids enjoyed their time together walking it.
We learned all about marking on horses, names of animals kids, how to read brand markings on cattle, cowboy essentials, and all about things that the blacksmith makes.
We took a tour of Bunkhouse row to see how the ranchers lived, visited the Ice House/Tack Room and headed out by the barns to take our turn at roping cattle (wood cattle). The boys really had fun with this. Meanwhile, mom and I wandered over to the Chuck wagon for some cowboy coffee around the fire. This was a cool touch.
We had to pull the kids away from roping to go on our Ranch house tour. Boy are we glad we did this tour. The park ranger/tour guide was amazing. Engaging everyone in the tour and making it very interesting (even for the kids). The furniture was gorgeous. There was a cabinet desk that belonged to Kohrs that was hinged to fold up and lock away drawers. If you come here stick around for the tour it is fun to see the inside of the house. The boys liked it so much they hung out on the back porch relaxing and chatting with the park ranger afterwards.
We walked around the property a little more enjoying the scenery and checking out the buildings. Here is some horse drawn vehicles and equipment that was original to the ranch found in the barn.
We sat at the picnic table out by the Feed lot sheds to finish up our booklets and then headed back up to the visitor center. We really enjoyed this place much more than we expected. Junior Ranger badges earned and we are off to Glacier National Park. Check back for that blog, I can’t wait.
We bought a few things for my cowboy husband from the gift shop and we were off. We loved Grant-Kohrs Ranch, have you been here?? I hoped you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Bonus: An A&W right down the road for a great lunch stop.
Visited: March 2018
Duration: 2-3 hours
Accommodations: Stayed with friends in Sanford, TX
The last stop on our Spring Break National Park Trip was in Sanford, TX. Chris and I met some fantastic people and we love them so much we planned a trip to see them. Then added a bunch of National Park Service Sites to the trip. Luckily they live about 20 minutes from one, how handy!!
We loaded everyone up and headed to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. We did not stop at Lake Meredith Visitor Center because you could do both at Alibates. When we arrived we had no idea what to expect.
Alibates Flint is a beautiful red rock only found in the panhandle of Texas. It has dated back to the end of the last Ice Age, 13,000 years ago. The flint was quarried by the Paleo-Indians. They used it to create spears to hunt the animals that roamed the Great Plains. This is the sharpest rock to exist. It breaks in a predictable pattern when struck and can be formed into the finest deadly point.
In 1965 Congress declared Alibates a National Monument (the only one in Texas) to preserve the native peoples quarries.
Below is a picture of what this beautiful rock looks like.
When we arrived we grabbed Junior Ranger books and watched a short film on the 2 parks. We then went through the museum to check out what the rock looks like and how it was used through the centuries. We walked out the door and went on a small hike to look for flowers and animals known here at the park. It was our first roadrunner we encountered that had us excited. The kids finished up their Junior Rangers and we went for a ride on the road to the dock. Gorgeous!
We headed back to the visitor center and by now the Ranger was back from giving a tour of the quarry. He swore the boys in as Junior Rangers for both Alibates Flint and Lake Meredith.
Then offered to teach us to use an atl like the native people did. We signed right up for this!
First a little safety lesson, then we learned how to the natives did it.
Throwing the atl was the highlight of the trip. After a bit we were doing great at this (some of us anyways).
Here is a video of my oldest hitting the target 🙂
Then came the fun part. See who can throw it the furthest!! I can’t tell you who won, I will let you guess.
What a great experience. This place was beautiful, fun and educational, that’s all we really ask for in a NPS stop. Have you been here?? Did you love it? You know what I said each time one of the boys hit the target?? Atl boy, good job 🙂 🙂 🙂
That concludes our National Park Spring Break Trip for 2018. I hope you had a chance to read all the posts of the wonderful places we stopped along the way. If not be sure to click Spring Break on the tag and it will take you to each stop. I hope you enjoy! Here is a picture of each kid’s Junior Ranger haul from this trip! Backpacks and vests are filling up fast.
Visited: March 2018
Duration: 1-2 hours
Accomodations: None. This was an afternoon stop between New Mexico and Texas.
Capulin Volcano erupted over 60,000 years ago producing 2 kinds of volcanic products: cinders/scoria (frothy chunks of volcanic rock) and lava flows.
Today you can walk trails on the the volcano and venture down into its crater. Capulin National Monument offers 5 trails (we were not able to do any because they were closed the day we were there because of strong winds).
Crater Rim Trail: 1 mile loop paved
Crater Vent Trail: .2 mile one way paved
Nature Walk: 10 min walk paved from Visitor Center to prairie
Lava Flow Trail: 1 mile loop unpaved
Boca Trail: 2 mile loop unpaved
We stopped off at the Visitor Center and grabbed some Junior Ranger books and headed to the top. There is a nice road that was open to drive up to the top of the volcano. The benchmarks at the top had a few of the answers we needed in our books. Most of the other answers came from the visitor center and the short film. Up at the top were great views and the crater. Check it out.
Back down to the Visitor Center and we have earned more badges for this trip. They even let the kids wear the Ranger hats to get sworn in as Junior Rangers!
Cancellations and badges and we are off to Texas, yee Haw!
Great stop to break up the drive time to the next destination! Have you been to Capulin? Did you like it? We lava it!!