With it being the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service, I decided this was going to be the year I explore the amazing beauty parks and wildlife reserves have to offer. From sweltering swamps to pristine peaks, I invite you to join me as I go through the trials and tribulations as an amateur explorer and share the many lessons I learn as I venture to as many international, national, regional, state and local parks as I can possibly fit in one year’s time.
It goes to say. . .How can you truly appreciate and want to protect something unless you can connect with it someway, right? So let’s STEP OUTSIDE & ADVENTURE. . ..
WHERE TO START?
Anywhere! Just start. . .But just for convenience, here is a great Link to help you find a national site near you. You can also search your local state wildlife/forestry resources page and find even more locations to explore.
A bit intimidated to go solo for your first venture? There are plenty of volunteer opportunities and guided hikes that many parks offer. From quick guided walks to multiple day events, there is usually something that can be found for every taste. I have had some great experiences with both of these options and have met some incredible friends in the mean time. The social app,’Meetup,’ is also quite handy when wanting to find new places or meet new travel mates.
HOW MUCH IS IT?
While many parks are free to enjoy, there are a few that do require a nominal admission fee. With so many destinations planned, I opted for a National Park Annual Pass($88) and am already see in the perks. The pass allows admission to over 2,000 federal recreation sites.
Also, I was happy to see that free passes are available to current U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and also, Reserve and National Guard members. . . .A small token of appreciation for the men and women who sacrifice so much.
Seniors can get a lifetime pass for $10 at any of the recreation sites.
And. . . U.S. Fourth Graders get in FREE!! What?? So cool. This also includes homeschoolers and teachers. To redeem, you must bring a paper version (no e-files like on phones are allowed) to a recreation
site. This wonderful program is sponsored by Every Kid in a Park program, just click here and follow the simple instructions.
They even have a fun newsletter with fun facts and games!
HOW DO I PREPARE?
This is all going to depend on so many factors: How long you want to stay (day hike vs camping)? What will be you difficulty level? What type of terrain? What is the weather going to be like?
All of these questions are very important to know and prepare for when traveling in the elements. In 2003, San Diego county was decimated by the Cedar Fire that consumed 280,278 acres (1,134.2 km2) 2,820 buildings (including 2,232 homes) and killed 15 people- including one firefighter- before being contained on November 3, making it the largest fire in recorded California history. This unfortunate event was prompted by a ‘simple’ signal fire created by a lost hunter.
With proper planning and research, you can prevent many ‘bad situations’ from happening. A good friend and creator of San Diego School of Survival, Brady Pasola, provides a great list of things to keep on hand when doing a day hike. Some may think it is a bit overboard for a 3-4 hour hike, but I have found myself being grateful for “overpacking” a small hike a time or two.
A handy tool that I have fallen in love (due to its simplicity and convenience) is the VSSL Supplies Kit. This handy, all in one kit has all the essentials you need for your outdoor adventure. From fire to fishing, saw to safety, it has it all. After taking this bad boy out and using every part of the kit; I highly recommend it to all levels, even kids (with parent supervision) could benefit tremendously from this product. Be sure to check back again for my review and how to’s on this fabulous product.
Okay, let’s start our adventure. . .
**As many know, I do not do any of my traveling or conservation work with sponsorships or extra income. . . just saved pennies and the desire to share my passion for conservation. Please help by liking and sharing posts with friends and family. It helps me more than I can describe; not only does it help promote, but it does wonders for my morale. lol.
Social Media can be a great teaching platform, and with your help, I believe we can teach our future generations that importance of getting dirty and developing a love (instead of fear) for the great outdoors.**