Travel – Yosemite National Park (Part One)

Yosemite - vintage postcard

One of the things about moving from California to the Midwest that we miss most is the easy access to some of the great National Parks located in the Western States and one of our family favorites is Yosemite National Park.  We have spent many fun-filled vacations over the last 30 years exploring and hiking areas such as Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows and we have also stayed at a variety of campgrounds, cabins and luxury hotels within the park.

Yosemite National Park is located in the state of California on the western portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains ranging in elevation from 2,127 to 13,114 feet.  The park covers almost 1190 square miles although the over 3.5 million annual visitors spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley.  Visitors to Yosemite National Park can see the majestic El Capitan and Half Dome granite formations and the multitude of waterfalls, such as Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls, to the beautiful open space of Tuolumne Meadows and the massive giant sequoia trees of the Mariposa Grove.

In Part One, of the two part series on Yosemite National Park, I will discuss the history of the park throughout the years.  In Part Two, I will discuss Yosemite visitor information and a list of suggested places to see and things to see and do, please click on the link to Yosemite National Park (Part Two)

A brief history of Yosemite National Park

Four hundred million years ago sediments accumulated on the floor of an ancient sea and were compressed and then formed layers of rock that were thousands of feet deep.  Later now extinct volcanoes erupted and then the molten rock cooled to form granite mixed with the sedimentary rock.  Between 25 and 15 million years the rock formations were uplifted by the tectonic plates, slowly tilted to form a range of mountains that would evenly become the Sierra Nevada. Two million years ago during what became known as the Ice Age the area became covered with ice and glaciers slowly moved down the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range carving the granite into dramatic domes and severe cliffs, such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and creating deep U-shaped valleys, most notably the Yosemite and Hetchy Hetchy Valleys.  As the ice and glaciers melted leaving thousands of lakes and numerous waterfalls scattered across the area.  Over time, some of these lakes filled with sediment to form forested flat lands or meadows that are seasonally covered with colorful spring flowers.

Yosemite Valley - glacier  Yosemite Valley - glacier melt

According to archaeological evidence, Yosemite Valley was first settled by the indigenous Native Americans known as the Ahwahneeshee.  The Ahwahneeshee survived on local vegetation with acorns being the main staple of their diet and they also fished for salmon and hunted deer as well as trading with other Native Americans in the region.

In the mid-19th century, during the time of the California Gold Rush, European- Americans came to the area and later established settlements within the region.  This new influx of people created conflicts with the Native Americans and in 1851 the Mariposa Wars were intended to resolve the problem.  The Mariposa Battalion, a United States Army regiment led by Major Savage, entered the Yosemite Valley in pursuit of 200 Ahwahneechee led by Chief Tenaya.  Chief Tenaya and the Ahwahneechee were eventually captured, their village destroyed and relocated to a reservation near Fresno, California. These Native American encounters were written about by the officers of the Mariposa Battalion and they also include the first documented reports of the beauty of Yosemite.  (Travel Note:  For visitors wanting to see an example of an Ahwahneechee Native American Village, one was built behind the Yosemite Museum located next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center)

Yosemite - Miwok indiana circa 1925 Yosemite - Miwok indians 1

Between 1855 and 1860, businessman James Hutchings and artist Thomas Ayres are credited for writing several articles in magazines about Yosemite.  Ayres held an art exhibition of his Yosemite drawings in New York City and quickly the news spread across the nation about the beauty and grandeur of Yosemite and it soon became a popular tourist destination.  Galen Clark, an earlier settler in the Wawona area of Yosemite, built lodgings for tourists near the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees.  Visitors came to see the famous Wawona Tree, later called the Tunnel Tree.  In 1881, a hole had been cut through the tree and it was considered quite a novelty for horse-drawn carriages to carry visitors through the tree and stop to take photos.  (For more information on the Wawona Tunnel Tree, please check out the “Yosemite National Park Visitor Information” section later in this post)

Mariposa Grove - Wawona Tunnel Tree 1  Yosemite - carriage

In the late 19th century, the attitude of the people of the United States was changing toward the preservation of the land.  Galen Clark and Senator John Conness actively worked to support the protection of the Yosemite Valley and President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill on June 30, 1864 creating the Yosemite Grant.  A few years later, when Yellowstone was made the first national park in 1872, this inspired the further protection of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove and the land was given to the State of California and it was made into a state park.  Eventually on October 1, 1890 President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation to create Yosemite National Park, making it the third national park in the nation.  Yosemite National Park included over 1,500 square miles of land which included the Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows and the Hetch Hetchy Valley.  Meanwhile the newly established Yosemite National Park was administered by the State of California and managed by the U.S. Army.

Mariposa Grove - Fallen Monarch

One of those early visitors to Yosemite was John Muir, a Scottish born American naturalist, author and staunch advocate for the preservation of the wilderness.  He wandered through most of Yosemite and was one of the first to theorize and prove with his scientific research that much of the area was created by large glaciers, which was contrary to the long held belief that the area was formed only by tectonic activity.  It was also through his efforts that Yosemite became a national park; Muir was very vocal about the overgrazing of the meadows by the sheep (ironically he briefly worked as a shepherd in the Valley), the logging of the giant sequoia (which proved to be poor building material) and the general commercialization of the park.

Yosemite - John Muir 1

Muir was now deeply involved in conservation efforts writing article for newspapers and books about his travel across the country, he was also the first president of the Sierra Club since May of 1892.  In May of 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt came to Yosemite National Park and together with a small group led by John Muir as their guide they toured the park for three days.  The group traveled throughout the Valley to Mariposa Grove and to Glacier Point for magnificent views of El Capitan, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls and the Yosemite Valley far below.  During the trip Muir advised Roosevelt to take control of Yosemite from California and transfer it to the federal government for long term protection; three years later Roosevelt signed the bill to do exactly that in 1906.  (Eventually when the National Park Service was formed in 1916, the administration and management of Yosemite (as well as the other national parks) was transferred to the new agency)

Yosemite - John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt  Yosemite - John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt  Mariposa grove

But Muir was not always successful in his conservation efforts.  There was one section in Yosemite National Park called the Hetch Hetchy Valley that rivaled Yosemite Valley with soaring granite monoliths, cascading waterfalls and beautiful meadows of flowers in spring.  In 1903, there was a proposal to dam the river to provide water and power for the growing metropolis of San Francisco thereby flooding the Hetch Hetchy and losing all the beautiful scenery.  After a failed attempt by the Sierra Club and other interests to block the project from moving forward, unfortunately the U.S. Congress authorized the O’Shaughnessy Dam in 1913.  Muir was devastated by the loss of one of the most beautiful places in Yosemite National Park.

Hetch Hetchy Valley before Hetch Hetchy Valley after

Throughout the years the tourism to the park had increased steadily first with the railroads built to reach the foothills of the Sierra Nevada later roads for stagecoaches and carriages were laid allowing easier transportation for visitors into the park.  In the late 19th century the National Park Service had been reluctant to allow organized commercial development within Yosemite but eventually they permitted a limited number of concessions.  In 1899 David and Jennie Curry started the Curry Company to provide concessions to park visitors and they later built s campground and cabins that would eventually become known as Curry Village.  Later another rival company, called the Yosemite National Park Company was established by John Degnan and they built hotels, stores and other park services.  In 1925 the two separate companies merged to form the Yosemite Park & Curry Company that later built the Ahwahnee Hotel in 1927.

Yosemite Lodge - vintage photo

Curry Village - vintage photo  Yosemite - camping

Throughout the years, in order to protect the land surrounding Yosemite from over development, Congress designated an additional 677,600 acres as a protected wilderness area.  The National Park Service, in order to preserve the park in its natural condition eliminated any activities that were artificially produced, such the popular nightly event known as the Firefall.  (For more information on this Yosemite tradition that was stopped in 1969, please click on the link to Yosemite National Park – Part Two)  As the visitor attendance to the park dramatically increased, especially in Yosemite Valley, traffic congestion became a big problem.  The solution that visitors were encouraged to park their cars at their hotels, campsites or visitor center while they were visiting the Yosemite Valley and take special buses that would reduce the amount of traffic on the park roads.  In September of 1995, the National Park Service started using electric buses that would be quieter and more importantly eliminate air pollution.

  Yosemite - old advertisement

For more information regarding Yosemite visitor information and a list of suggested places to see and things to see and do, please click on the link to Yosemite National Park (Part Two)

For more information about posts related to Yosemite National Park on this blog site, please click on the links to:

  • John Muir – a post about the man that helped to establish Yosemite as a National Park as well as the first president of the Sierra Club,
  • The Bracebridge Dinner – a post about the popular annual Christmas event held at the Ahwanhee Hotel in Yosemite and
  • Sequoia National Park – a travel post with detailed information about one of the other nearby national parks in California.

John Muir’s Birthday

John Muir 1

Visiting Yosemite for the first time in the 1980s I was enjoying our week long stay and stopped in the bookstore/gift shop to pick up something to read in the evenings.  When I am visiting a place I always like to read something about the local history, so the book that I purchased was “Son of the Wilderness – The Life of John Muir” by Linnie Marsh Wolfe.  Until that time I never really knew anything about John Muir (born: April 21, 1838  died: December 24, 1914) and I became fascinated with the life story of the Scottish-born naturalist, author and wilderness preservation activist.  He seemed to be such a simple man that was filled with such joy and wonder on his treks into Yosemite and other places of natural beauty throughout the country.  To honor his birthday today, this post tells the story of his life and will discuss his many accomplishments that changed the way many of us view our natural surroundings and our desire to save those special places for future generations.

John Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland and was the third child of Daniel Muir and Ann Gilrye who had a large family of eight children.  Muir was raised in a very strict religious home and this is probably the reason he was constantly in trouble for his mischievous adventures.  He was a curious child exploring the countryside around his home where he developed his love of nature early in life.  But his idyllic life in Scotland was soon to change in 1849 when the Muir family immigrated to the United States and settled on a farm located near Portage, Wisconsin.

Muir’s father was a very strict and dominating parent who required his children to work hard on the farm and adhere to his deep religious beliefs.  When he was 22 years old, Muir finally found some freedom from his difficult life when he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin located in Madison.  Muir took his studies very seriously and was proud to pay his own expenses working several different jobs.  He was a good student and soon developed a life-long friendship with Professor Ezra Carr who became an important mentor to Muir by inspiring an interest in chemistry, botany and geology and also his wife, Jeanne, who encouraged Muir in his future career as a naturalist author.

Muir never completed his college education and instead followed his brother to Canada in 1863 to avoid military service.  While in Canada he spent the spring and summer exploring the area around Lake Huron but when his money started to run out he rejoined his brother in Ontario and soon found work at a local sawmill.  In 1866, Muir returned to the United States and settled in Indianapolis, Indiana and started work in a local factory making wagon wheels.  He proved a valuable employee and was very inventive in improving the factory’s machines and manufacturing process.  Unfortunately in March 1867, Muir had an accident that was to dramatically change his life.  While working at the factory a tool slipped and struck him in the eye requiring his confinement in a darkened room for six weeks while he recovered from the injury. During his convalescence, Muir re-evaluated his life and decided that he needed to pursue his dreams of exploration and the study of nature which he felt this was his true purpose in life.

In September 1867, Muir set out on a trip from Indiana to Florida that he later wrote about in his book, “A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf”.  His plan called for no specific route, just to wander through the wilderness across the country until he reached his destination.  He ended up in Cedar Key, Florida and quickly found work at the Hodgson’s sawmill.  Muir traveled briefly to Havana, Cuba to study the flowers and shells of the island and then later traveled by boat to New York to connect with another ship traveling to California.

Arriving in San Francisco, Muir soon made plans to travel to a place he had recently read about and was very anxious to see.  On his first visit to Yosemite, Muir was overwhelmed by the beauty of the high granite cliffs, abundant waterfalls and meadows filled with flowers.  He eventually found seasonal work as a shepherd in the valley, then at a local sawmill and he built a cabin along the Yosemite Creek where he lived for two years.  Muir later wrote a book about his experiences in “First Summer in the Sierra”.  While living in Yosemite, Muir would take frequent hikes into the backcountry with a tin cup, a small supply of tea, a loaf of bread and a worn copy of a book of essays by the naturalist author, Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Fatefully in 1871, Emerson came to Yosemite while on a tour of the Western United States and Muir was able to meet the author that he so greatly admired.

John Muir 2

While living in Yosemite, Muir became known locally for his vast knowledge the natural history of Yosemite and visiting scientists, artists and other distinguished people would hire him as a guide. When he was not working, Muir would often wander about the Yosemite Valley and the surrounding area to learn more about the botany and geology of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  He soon formed an interesting theory that the ancient glaciers “sculpted” the valleys and the granite surfaces of the mountains which was contradictory to the accepted scientific theory at the time.  Eventually Muir proved that his theory was valid through his observations of an active glacier near Merced Peak and encouraged by his friend, Jeanne Carr, Muir had his findings published in local and national newspapers.  Over the years, Muir continued travels in Yosemite and he also ventured to the state of Washington and then into the Alaskan territory of the United States.  (Remember, during this time in history Alaska was not officially a state until 1959)

By 1878, Muir’s friends were starting to encourage the constant wandering 40 year old bachelor to finally settle down.  Returning to the San Francisco area, his close friend Jeanne Carr introduced Muir to Louisa Strentzel, the daughter of a prominent physician named Dr. John Strentzel.  The Strentzel family lived northeast of Oakland on a 2,600 acre ranch filled with fruit orchards in Martinez, California. Then, in 1880 after returning from a trip to the Alaska territory, Muir and Louisa were married.  Shortly afterwards, Muir went into partnership with his father-in-law and for the next ten years Muir managed the property and the large fruit orchards.  (Travel Note: the Martinez house and a portion of the ranch are preserved by the National Park Service as the John Muir National Historic Site.  For more information, please see their website at

John Muir home

Muir and Louisa had a happy marriage and they had two daughters, Wanda and Helen.  While living at the house in Martinez, Muir gradually he began to spend an increasing amount of time writing about his experiences not only in Yosemite but also his past trips into the Alaska territory and the state of Washington where he climbed Mount Rainer.  For a man that enjoyed spending his time exploring the natural world around him, Muir soon found himself developing a successful career as a naturalist author.

John Muir - family

Over the years, Louisa began to fully understand that her husband was becoming more restless in his stationary life at the ranch and he needed to return to his travels.  Muir frequently returned to his beloved Yosemite, this time bringing his daughters with him but sadly he began to see the disastrous damage caused by the overgrazing of sheep in the meadows and the effect of the extreme logging of the Giant Sequoia in Mariposa Grove during his absence.  It was while on a Tuolumne Meadows camping trip in 1889 with an influential editor of “Century” Magazine, Robert Underwood Johnson, that Muir convinced the editor of the need to bring the Yosemite area under federal protection.  Muir and Johnson lobbied Congress and the Act to create Yosemite National Park was passed on October 1, 1890.  Unfortunately, the State of California still controled the areas of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove but Muir was successful in persuading local officials to prohibit livestock grazing in the Yosemite backcountry to stop any further damage.

Meanwhile, Muir was approached by Professor Henry Senger of the University of California at Berkeley to attend a meeting that was being held to form a group that was to become known as the Sierra Club.  That first meeting was held on May 28, 1892 and Muir was soon elected to be the club’s first president, a position that he held for 22 years.  Muir and the Sierra Club continued the efforts to lobby the federal government to include the areas of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove into a proposed expanded Yosemite National Park.  During a visit to the California in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt traveled with Muir to Yosemite where they camped near Glacier Point for three days.  During that trip, Muir was able to convince Roosevelt about the need to bring those areas under federal control to protect them from further damage.  In 1906 Roosevelt signed a bill increasing the size of Yosemite Park to include both Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove.

Muir and Roosevelt

Unfortunately, Muir and the Sierra Club were not successful in saving another area of Yosemite.  The population and urban growth of the nearby San Francisco area caused a desperate need for an additional water source.  Political pressure was mounting to dam the Tuolumne River in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to create a large water reservoir.  Muir was very strong in his opposition of the project and united with his fellow members of the Sierra Club, Muir wrote to President Roosevelt about his concerns.  Then, President William Taft suspended the Hetch Hetchy dam project temporarily.  Muir and the Sierra Club keep the pressure on the federal government and a national debate went on for years regarding the project.  Eventually, President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill authorizing the construction of the dam and it became law on December 19, 1913.  Muir was greatly affected by the decision and he was deeply saddened by the loss of the Hetchy Hetchy Valley.

Within in a year of the defeat, Muir died in Los Angeles, CA on December 24, 1914 after a brief bout with pneumonia, he was 76 years old.  Muir is buried next to his wife’s grave near their former home in Martinez but until recently the burial site was privately owned with limited access.  Currently the National Park Service has acquired the grave site and there are plans to include it into the nearby John Muir National Historic site.

John Muirs grave

Travel – National Park Travel Tips (Part One)

Within the National Park Service there are 59 National Parks, 108 National Monuments, 78 Historic Sites and hundreds of other sites which they administrate and maintain.  The national parks in particular are popular travel destinations which offer beautiful scenery as well as offering hiking, camping, boating and other recreational activities.  Across the United States there are numerous opportunities to enjoy these magnificent parks.  So, get out a map and look for the national parks in your area or plan a longer road trip and visit several along the way.

The first thing to do when planning a trip to a national park is to book lodge or campsite reservations.  Sometimes accommodations within a national park can be very limited and popular destinations book far in advance, so researching the information regarding accommodations is very important.  Facilities can range from luxurious lodges to very rustic campsites and these decisions are determined by your personal preference.  Our family had stayed at all different types of accommodations and we have enjoyed every one of them.  Honestly, unless you are very particular about your sleeping arrangements, in the evening when bedtime comes around you can be so exhausted from the day’s activities that you are asleep before your head hits the pillow!  When we have been on past road trips and visiting several national parks in a period of time longer then a week, we have found that a combination of campsites and lodges accommodations can be a great balance because sometimes you want the luxury of a comfortable bed and a private shower or bath.  If the national park you are visiting is close to a city, sometimes the hotel accommodations are more plentiful and rooms are available in all price ranges.

Visiting a national park can be an exciting adventure for you and your family.  To make the trip a successful one a little advance research is a good idea.  Once you decide on a destination and have accommodation reservations made, try to gather as much information as you can regarding the area in which you are planning to visit.  The local library is a good resource for tour and guide books on a particular national park or check out online book sources like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  I always like to read a book about the history of the area before visiting.  Then, when we are on the trip, sometimes it is a good idea to have something to read in the evening when you are back at the campsite or lodge.

When I first visited Yosemite National Park I purchased a book by John Muir.  Muir was a naturalist and author who wrote about his adventures in Yosemite and the importance of protecting and preserving areas like Yosemite throughout the United States.  His activism efforts lead to founding the Sierra Club which is one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States.  I really enjoyed reading about his adventures in Yosemite and then visiting the places he was talking about in his books.  I think I appreciated my time in Yosemite more when looking at the beauty of the scenery through the eyes of John Muir.

The next major decision when planning a national park trip is determining a schedule of activities and things to do.  Gathering information about the activities of the national park is a very helpful way to setting the trip budget because it allows for additional expenses such as: guided tours, rock climbing, horseback riding, raft trips, etc.  Once the trip dates are confirmed, I would advise booking any type of popular activities in advance.  Sometimes these activities fill up quickly especially during the peak summer vacation months.  Nothing can ruin a trip more than arriving at a destination and finding out that activity you were looking forward to experiencing has been sold out.  When we visited the Grand Canyon we wanted to take the mule ride on the Bright Angel Trail, so we booked the ride in advance and were able to pick the day and time that fit into our trip schedule.  On this same trip we also reserved a popular river raft tour on the Colorado River in advance so as not to miss out on this exciting adventure.  As early as possible, take the time to get these important reservations made and it will eliminate the stress so you can enjoy the trip knowing that your activities are confirmed!

Listed below are several additional tips and suggestions to help when planning a national park trip.

Tips and suggestions when planning a trip

  • When starting to plan a trip to a national park, a great resource is the National Park Service website at  This website will have information regarding specific national parks such as: hours, fees, reservation, history, geology, animal, plant info as well as a special section for kids.
  • Be sure to involve the kids in the planning process, talk to them about what sites they would be interested in visiting.  Plan a balance of adult and children activities to keep everyone happy.  Be flexible in planning the activities and don’t over schedule, smaller child need time to simply play and run or maybe even take a nap.
  • When traveling, be sure to break up the trip with frequent stops at rest areas or for meal times.  Sometimes national parks are located far away from cities and facilities may be limited.  Be sure to check in advance for this type of information.  Plan ahead with extra snacks and drinks or perhaps pack a picnic lunch.  When on the hiking trails or outside the car, be sure to carry enough water for everybody and especially in the southwestern national parks in the summer it can get very hot and you will want to avoid dehydration.
  • Before leaving, consider purchasing a special map for the kids so they can enjoy following along during the trip.  This will answer that inevitable question of, “are we there yet”!  Also, when you know the specific national park you are visiting, check out the children’s section in your local bookstore or online at, sometimes you can find a fun book for them to read about that particular park.
  • If you are traveling to several national parks, consider purchasing the National Park Annual Pass.  The pass is $80 and valid for a full year from the month of purchase.  Do the math and see if this would be economical purchase for you.  If you are traveling with a senior citizen, consider the Senior National Park Pass which costs $10 and is valid for a lifetime.  The purchaser must be 62 years or older and the Senior Pass admits the pass holder and up to three additional adults traveling together in the same vehicle.  (Children under 16 are always admitted free in a national park)  We found out about this from a park ranger when we were traveling with my husband’s mother and we joked that from now on when we visit a national park we are taking her with us because basically we could get in for free!
  • When at the national park visitor center, consider purchasing the Passport to Your National Parks Stamp Book.  This is a great way for the kids to collect stamps from the parks they visit and a fun way to remember the places.  One of our first stops in any national park we visit is the visitor center for maps and current park info, while there our daughter always heads to the passport stamp section to get the park’s stamps for her passport book.
  • Another great idea for the kids is the educational Junior Ranger Program and it is totally free.  When you are at the park’s visitor center pick up a copy for your child.  Usually the booklet has activities and questions for them to answer while they are exploring the park.  When the book is completed return to the visitor center for them to participate in a quick ceremony administrated by the park ranger, the child will raise their right hand and repeat the Junior Ranger oath before receiving the park’s Junior Ranger patch.  We always try to do this with our daughter and it is a great photo opportunity!
  • Taking a pet, particularly dogs, on a trip may sound like a good idea but most national parks have rules and regulations.  Always check in advance for information regarding pet limitations as this will be helpful in determining whether to leave them at home and making alternative arrangements.
  • When visiting the national parks, be sure to observe all the rules and regulations such as speed limits.  Be sure to take into consideration any special safety signs such as bear warnings.  Respect the park’s wildlife and be sure to observe bear safety rules when on hiking trails and other areas of the park.  It is always a good idea to make a quick check of the weather report at the park’s visitor center and while there also check for road or trail closures.  Heat or high altitude conditions can effect visitor’s health, so take precautions and be prepared.  When we go on hikes in the national parks, we always carry a small backpack with a small first aid kit, flashlight and enough water for everyone.  Consider purchasing a couple of reusable water bottles prior to your visit for use while hiking, this is an excellent way to be green (earth) smart.
  • Since one of the goals of the National Park Service is protecting and preserving our national parks, be aware of your impact on the environment.  Consider parking your vehicle and walk, bike or take the park’s public transportation when available because these simple choices will reduce the carbon emissions into the environment.  Be sure to observe the recycling cans while at the visitor center, lodges, campsites, etc. while in the park.  Conserve water whenever possible while in the parks, such as washing dishes at campsites.  When at the campgrounds be sure to minimize your campfire impact, when leaving extinguish the fire fully and be sure to dispose of waste properly.
  • When camping in the park, before to check all camping equipment before leaving.  If the tent is new, consider setting up and taking down the tent.  Solve any possible problems and check that all equipment is functioning properly, such as the camp stove or lantern.  Be sure to have extra batteries for flashlights, etc.
  • Please stop and take a moment with your family to enjoy the national park with all the beauty and activities that are available.  If you have limited time when visiting the parks, be sure to stop at the visitor center. These facilities offer information and other services, excellent natural and historical displays and orientation movies as well as shopping and sometimes dining opportunities.  Be sure to take a drive on any of the scenic roads because it is a great way to explore the park.  Take the time to get out of your vehicle and walk even a short distance on one of the park’s hiking trails.  This is a great idea especially when a park can be crowded during the busy summer months.

Finally, I hope that you and your family consider a trip to one of our national parks.  There are so many diverse natural and historical sites to see and I’m sure any one of those chosen will provide you and your family with experiences and moments that will be remembered for a lifetime.

For additional ideas and tips when visiting a National Park please check out National Park Travel Tips (Part Two).