Posted by: Kirsten | Friday, 25 January 2008

Cast Away Those Winter Blahs!

From an NPS press release…

National Parks Offer Winter Fun for Visitors

Many parks offer special programs in the winter in addition to their regular programs – the following are just a few of the many wonderful programs taking place this winter.  For a more complete list of winter activities and special programs in national parks, visit http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/winter2008/activities.htm

De Soto Nat'l MemorialDe Soto National Memorial in Florida will be running its annual camp season December 15, 2007, to March 30, 2008.  Camp Uzita at De Soto National Memorial brings visitors back in time to 1539, when 650 Spanish conquistadors came to Tampa Bay and changed the lives of its native inhabitants forever. Programs focus on the meeting of two very different cultures. Living history interpreters demonstrate Native and European arts and crafts. Children are invited out on Saturdays to learn about Native American mask painting and paint one to take home for themselves. For more information, contact the park at (941)792-0458.

One of the most enjoyable winter activities for any national park occurs in Grand Teton National Park with the ranger-led snowshoe hikes.  These hikes take place everyday, and the park supplies visitors with classic wooden Yukon or Alaskan-style snowshoes for their outing with the ranger to explore the winter beauty of the park. Visitors learn about how the harsh conditions of winter determines which animals and plants survive here as they amble over hill and dell in search of wildlife and/or signs of wildlife. The trip eventually brings the visitors to the banks of the Snake River.  For more information, contact the park at (307) 739-3300.

Death Valley National Park in California is the answer to those people who find it really difficult to enjoy the national parks because it is cold and snowy or just cold and wet.  An abundance of ranger conducted activities are available at Death Valley including living history guided tours of Scotty’s Castle (a 1920s mansion with all original furnishings and stories to match).  In addition to ranger conducted activities the park’s 3.4 million acres are available for exploration on foot or by car and/or 4×4 vehicles.  With the longer winter nights, Death Valley is an excellent place to enjoy the brilliant night skies!  We have some of the best and clearest skies in our country and Death Valley’s dark night skies expose the stars like few people have ever seen.   If people are dreaming of the days to come where they can hike in shorts and a light jacket and see spectacular scenery and relive the early history of the west, why wait until June, July or August- come to Death Valley and experience it during the winter!  For more information, contact the park at (760) 786-3200.

The National Park Service always recommends stopping by the visitor centers to get the most up-to-date information.  In addition, NPS reminds visitors that safety is critical, and hikers should stay on marked trails and let family members and/or friends know their whereabouts.  Remember to dress appropriately for the elements and activities you are going to engage in, and it’s always best to have plenty of water on hand (and maybe a little hot chocolate too). Park Rangers are easily recognizable in their distinctive green and gray uniforms.  Ask questions…that’s what they are there for!

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