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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Skipping National Park Week


Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

National Park Week is this week in the United States. Happy days to all of those of you who were looking forward to it. There certainly is no shortage of great places to explore. And so I strongly suggest you get out and check out some of these amazing places. After all, they are free through Tuesday, May 27th.

Where am I going? No where. In case you don’t recall, I swore off the national parks. Why? Because they don’t allow dogs, and there’s no way I’m leaving Anna home when there are so many great places that allow dogs here in Colorado. (Look ahead to some upcoming stories from Steamboat Springs.)

A watch tower at Manzanar National Historic Site

A watch tower at Manzanar National Historic Site

So why, then, talk about National Park Week? For two reasons:

1) It’s important to get out and see these places, whether a park, monument, or historic site. Each is important for a different reason, whether it be a location where the course of our country changed (See Manzanar National Historic Site above) or simply because it’s beautiful (See the Grand Canyon below).

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

2) While I don’t need to rant again about how I’m not going to the parks because I can’t bring my dog, I do want to mention what a fantastic time she and I had this past weekend at Colorado’s Barr Lake State Park.

The reflection in Barr Lake

The reflection in Barr Lake

I’ve lived 20 minutes from Barr Lake for more than eight years, but not once have I visited. I figured it was just a lake – like Cherry Creek State Park – where people would go boating or fishing. While it is that, it’s also a great place for a walk. We only did about two and a half miles this weekend, since Anna was a bit under the weather with an ear infection. Had she been feeling better, we probably would have done an out-and-back of about nine miles. (We can’t make a full loop of the lake, since some birds have ground nests.)

During our short walk, we saw dozens of different kinds of birds – pelicans, eagles, geese, and more – a big bull snake, and this little guy:

Watching him watch us

Watching him watch us

And the views? While Barr Lark State Park is on the northeast part of the Denver metro area and away from the Rockies, the setting is amazingly picturesque. The mountains loom over the lake, which is nice and clear and reflective.

The Rockies over Barr Lake

The Rockies over Barr Lake

The U.S. National Parks – and National Park Week, as a result – are amazing. And I highly recommend everyone get out this next week and see at least one or two. But don’t forget all of the other great parks, like the state parks here in Colorado, in the process. They too are wonderful places to do some hiking, boating, or simply sit on a bench, enjoy, and get away from it all.

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3 Comments on “Skipping National Park Week”

  1. rayh526@msn.com May 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    What did Anna have to say about Rocky Racoon?

    • Jason's Travels May 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      No matter how hard I tried to point him out, she was too busy eyeing the geese to notice.

  2. Traveling Ted (@travelingted) May 26, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I really enjoy Wisconsin for this reason. There are tons of beautiful places, rivers, hiking trails, but very few federally protected land. This means there is not much bureaucracy. I camped on a sandbar on the Black River and the camping fee was $0.00 and there was no permit or entry fee. You can bring your dog too. The only rule is you cannot bring glass and you need a life preserver in your boat. Two rules I can happily abide by.

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