Posts for National Parks

Photo: Courtney Kowalewski
National Parks, Rocky Mountain National Park, State Parks, Uncategorized, Winter in the National Parks

Six Reasons to Visit a National or State Park in the Winter

Although the majority of state and national parks experience the highest number of visitors in the summer, the winter is the perfect time to visit one. Here are our six reasons why we LOVE to visit in the off-season.

Animal tracks at Denali National Park Photo: NPS

Winter visitors– Some animals visit only during the winter months making it a treat to see them. For warmer climates, such as Channel Islands National Park, winter is prime time to spot whales. The Great Horn Owl is a winter only visitor to Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah. Migratory birds settle in for the winter in the Everglades. It is also a great time to see how year-round residents spend the winter. Animals with darker coats will tend to stand out more in the snowy landscape making it easier to spot them. You can follow their tracks in the snow to discover hidden dens and resting places.

The quietness– Fewer crowds, wide open parking lots, a lack of traffic and empty trails-need we say more.

Winter activities– Sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing and cross-country skiing are just some of the winter activities you can do in the parks. Many parks offer demonstrations and guided tours to introduce visitors to these winter activities.

We had the trail to ourselves while snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: C Johnson

Bryce Canyon in winter Photo: NPS

Prime photo taking– No longer will you have to crop people out of your photos. You also won’t have to wait in line at the most scenic spots for a perfect pic. Snow-capped mountains and waterfalls turned to ice can make for some beautiful landscapes. In fact, the cold actually brings out more color, especially on those bluebird days.

Special events and activities- Winter weekends take place at Rocky Mountain National Park at the Estes Park YMCA. Bryce Canyon offers nighttime astronomy programs. From backcountry ski tours to full moon snowshoes, like at Bear Creek State Park in Lakewood, Colorado, you can find all kinds of special events that highlight the best of the season. Snowmobile outfitters take photographers to remote places in the park during winter in Yellowstone.

Cooler temperatures make the winter an ideal time to visit Death Valley. Photo: NPS

Mild temperatures– The extreme heat that greats summer visitors is months away when visiting the parks in the winter. During these months, you can still find sunny, mild days in the colder landscapes while lower temperatures bring visitors to places like Death Valley that are normally too hot to visit in the summer.


We love RMNP in the winter! Photo: C Johnson











Don’t miss an opportunity to visit your local state park or a national park this winter!

Adventure On,


Written by Courtney in February 9, 2018
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Photo: C Johnson
Adventure Gifts For Kids, Outdoor Gear, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Presents for the Outdoor Kiddo

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast. What better way to show your kiddo(s) some love this day than with gifts that advocate getting some Vitamin D and/or spending quality time being active together. These are some gift ideas for Valentine’s Day that our 4.5-year-old gives the thumbs up to.

Present Ideas For Kids

For adventures both indoors and out, the Camelbak Scout backpack is perfect for the young explorer. Emma loves to be in charge of her own water and snacks when we are hiking, and this pack lets her do both. She has space for extras too from a hat and gloves to her nature notebook and pencils. The 1.5L bladder is removable for cleaning or for when not in use. The chest strap keeps the pack securely in place.

Emma carried her fuel for our hike to Lower Creek Falls in Escalante in her Camelbak Scout. Photo: C Johnson

No one can deny the power of snacks! It has saved us on hikes, made long car and plane rides more bearable and been a great motivator to keep whining at bay. For fueling on the ski lift, while enjoying our latest hike, or hitting the local bike park, we love Clif Kid products from the  ZBAR filled bars (apple and almond butter is Emma’s current favorite) to the ZFRUIT ropes. Non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup and other natural ingredients, make their products our go to.

Running around Sprague Lake in RMNP in her Salomon Wings. Photo: C. Johnson

When Emma puts on her Salomons, it’s like she can do anything. Their slogan “Time to Play” is the perfect catchphrase for these shoes. Emma uses them for almost every outdoor activity she enjoys including hiking, trail running and riding her mountain bike. The traction is just awesome helping with confidence for steeper terrain ascending and descending. They hold up too after endless exploring. The shoes carry a higher price tag, but you’ll be able to pass them down to younger siblings. They also have good resale value. Over the years, Emma has worn the Salomon XA Pro shoes, Salomon Wings, and Salomon Speedcross.

The Oso Hoodie is perfect for biking, hiking or on any adventure like enjoying s’mores while camping in Glenwood Canyon. Photo: C Johnson

From infancy to now school age, the North Face Oso Hoodie has been our go-to lighter jacket for Emma. In Colorado, it’s wearable year-round for mild winter days to cooler summer evenings. It’s good for sitting around a campfire, springtime weather skiing and hitting the playground. Our daughter loves the color choices and the softness too. The boys equivalent jacket is the Chimborazo Hoodie.

Get active together- Try a drop-in at the local climbing gym, a parent and child yoga class, a few hours jumping together at the trampoline place or go for a day on the slopes as a special treat! Trying a new activity together is a perfect gift!

A National Parks Pass (or state parks pass if you don’t live close to a national park) is a perfect gift for year-round adventure. Emma has loved following along in our travels with her National Parks Guide U.S.A. She has enjoyed collecting her stamps in her Passport to Your National Parks Book while we explored eight national parks and monuments over the summer. Her book will continue to fill up with all the additional trips for my book including Arches and Canyonlands in March.

The VTech Kidizoom Action Cam has been a fun toy to have while we explore the outdoors. We’ve had fun shooting underwater photos, photos of animals on the trail and goofy face pictures too. It also comes in purple– our daughter’s color choice because that is one of her favorite colors!

We hope these suggestions help give you some ideas on fun gifts you can buy your adventure seeker for this Valentine’s Day (or any holiday really)!

Adventure On With The Ones You Love,





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Written by Courtney in February 7, 2018
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