National Parks RSS Feed

Shares
108
Shares
Share with your friends










Submit

Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017 with a full calendar of events and travel deals, including free entry to its national parks all year.  Alphabetically by province (which is the only fair way), here are seven rewarding and unusual experiences in Parks Canada, including wildlife watching, hunting for prehistoric fossils—even ski jumping.

RELATED: Awesome trips to take this summer if you’re not keen on flying

Photo courtesy of Brewster Travel Canada

Into the heights: Jasper National Park (Alberta)
Glacier Skywalk is a glass-walled, glass-floored architectural marvel suspended nearly 1,000 feet over the Sunwapta Valley floor, offering epic views of glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife, including eagles soaring at eye-level. Let your adrenaline supply recover at the attached museum that explains a million-plus years of eco-history, or on a ground-level tour of the nearby Columbia Glacier.

Mount Revelstoke

Fly like an eagle: Mount Revelstoke National Park Experience (British Columbia)
The rich ski jumping history of Mount Revelstoke is revealed at this interactive exhibit, which opened recently. Step into a pair of metal pants and skis, like those worn by multiple world record-holder Nels Nelsen, and experience the same exhilaration as you lean out at the top of a ski jump. While you’re up there, take a moment to savor the beautiful landscape of the Columbia River Valley and City of Revelstoke. Now, jump. Virtually, of course.

Totem poles in Vancouver

Totem poles and more: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (British Columbia)
Learn about the rich history of the Nuu-chah-nulth people on a guided tour, including the unique hand-carved totem poles found here and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. Celebrate National Aboriginal Day on June 21 with song and dance festivals, and salmon BBQs in the First Nations village of Maeres. There’s also world-class surfing in the chilly Pacific in a 22-mile stretch of surf between Tofino and Ucluelet.

ALSO: Save more money on your Canada vacation when you automatically earn CheapCash. How a-boot that?

Photo courtesy of Parks Canada

Swim with salmon for science: Fundy National Park (New Brunswick)
Join Parks Canada biologists to track the populations of endangered inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon by conducting snorkel surveys. This day-long expedition begins with a training session before getting face-to-face with salmon in backcountry river pools. Outings happen in September, during the natural return of Atlantic salmon to the rivers in the park. Another wet and wild experience is the boat ride through the bay’s famous Reversing Falls. No salmon, but a lot of laughter.

Kejimkujik National Park

Commune with the stars and planets: Kejimkujik National Park (Nova Scotia)
Delve into distant celestial bodies at Nova Scotia’s only Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Dark Sky Preserve. Kejimkujik interpreters offer a blend of science and storytelling as unique as a shooting star.

Photo courtesy of CNW Group/Parks Canada

Sleep in a lighthouse station: Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve (Quebec)
This is a four-star accommodation in one of the houses of the île aux Perroquets station, where you’ll learn about maritime history and the life of the lighthouse keeper. Climb the tower to admire the 360 degree view from the top of the lighthouse, and let your alarm clock be Atlantic Puffins.

Kathleen Lake at the Kluane National Park and Reserve

Climb every mountain
Kluane National Park and Reserve (Yukon Territory)

Home to 17 of Canada’s 20 highest peaks, Kluane is famous for its wilderness recreation, especially mountaineering. Explore high mountain passes on challenging multi-day treks, or tamer hikes from trailheads around Kathleen Lake. Flightseeing allows you to survey the terrain without getting your boots muddy.

app

Tagged: International, Top 10 list

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter

Latest posts by Evelyn Kanter (see all)

Shares
Share with your friends










Submit

Before you trade in that student ID for a corporate badge, here are seven affordable destinations where the dress code is nothing but casual. From hiking volcanoes to snorkeling with technicolor underwater life to kicking back with a cold beer, these destinations are safe and easy on the wallet.

RELATED: 9 gorgeous European hostels starting at $4

Reykjavik, Iceland
The post-graduation month of June is a great time to visit the Land of Fire and Ice, where the temperatures are pleasant (mid-50s) and the days are long (think midnight sunsets and 3am sunrises!). Reykjavik is a hotspot for thrill-seeking Millennials with a long list of never-ending adventures like snowmobiling, glacier hiking, descending into a volcano and, of course, Reykjavik nightlife. Budget-conscious travelers will appreciate that it’s a small, walkable city with hop on/off buses as another great way to get around. Reykjavik Excursions offers “bus passports” with routes all around and outside of the city, including a loop of the island.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s abundant natural landscape offers tons of free outdoor activities like hiking through the cloud forests and coffee plantations of Monteverde, where you’ll likely spot a few monkeys. If you want to experience the death-defying forest zipline, it will cost you a pretty penny.  Save your money and take a bus to Playa Tamarindo, where you can surf all day and party all night. The Tiquicia Lodge in bustling San Jose offers great budget accommodations with breakfast included. Plan to eat at sodas, local family-run restaurants that serve a hearty plate of Costa Rican cuisine for just a few bucks.

Phuket, Thailand
With more than 36 sandy beaches, where all you need is a towel and snorkel gear, Phuket is a beachlover’s dream. After you save up for big-ticket airfare, the rest of your trip will be an incredible bargain, including Tint at Phuket Town, a great budget hotel. Here, you’ll find free Internet for uploading all those great photos and checking in on social media. Tasty street food vendors let you fill your belly on a dime. If you’re looking for an inexpensive day trip, take the ferry to Phi Phi Island or visit the marine national park at Phang Nga.

Grindelwald, Switzerland
Spend a week in the most picturesque spot in Europe, the Jungfrau Region, where the only gear you need are hiking shoes. While Switzerland is generally pretty expensive, the Mountain Hostel won’t break your budget, and is the perfect jumping off spot for the region’s multitude of challenging hiking trails. Make sure to visit Gletscherschlucht, a glacial gorge with walking paths and waterfalls. You’ll need to purchase a Swiss Pass to explore the area via trains and cable cars. If you’re able to indulge a bit, add the world-famous Top of Europe Tour to your pass, a cogwheel train that takes you to the highest station in Europe that will leave you with views that last a lifetime.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash and see the whole world for less.

Cairns, Australia
Put all those science credits to use and visit the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. You might be surprised to hear that snorkeling the reef is not only cheaper, but offers the same breathtaking experience as a more expensive scuba dive. Half Day Tours offers budget excursions that will transport you to the best areas. If you blow your budget on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, spend the rest of your trip taking advantage of the free offerings in this part of Queensland. On the Esplanade, for example, right in the city center, there’s a picturesque lagoon that’s a great place to cool off and wile away the day listening to live music. A short drive from Cairns, you’ll find Stoney Creek Falls, a free secret hideaway nestled within the rainforest featuring fresh water swimming holes, rock jumps and waterfalls.

Rocky Mountain National Parks Tour
If airfare isn’t in your post-graduation budget, gas up your car, grab a backpack and head west. If you’re looking to rough it and experience the great outdoors, the Northern Rockies are the place to go. Plan to spend a couple of days in each park, starting at the local park ranger station where you can take advantage of free daily guided walks to get a lay of the land. Grand Teton National Park has more hiking trails than you can conquer and is dotted with lakes, canyons and peaks. Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, offers a different kind of wild life than you saw in college—you’ll see everything from bears to buffalo. Stay at the historic, yet budget-friendly Old Faithful Inn (book early), the largest log structure in the world, where you can actually watch Old Faithful erupt from the cafeteria. End this epic adventure at Glacier National Park and spend the night in an authentic tepee at the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The Florida Keys
Margaritaville awaits you along the 113-mile stretch of the Overseas Highway, where you’ll see some of the state’s most picturesque beaches, kitschy roadside attractions and old-school seafood shacks. Trade in your travel itinerary for flip-flops because the Keys give casual a whole new meaning. Plan to stop on a whim anywhere along the route and chances are you’ll find a roadside stand where you can snorkel, kayak or enjoy a cold beer. Walk across famous Seven Mile Bridge connecting the Middle and Lower Keys because the turquoise blue waters make the perfect selfie backdrop. Drop your gear at the Seashell Motel & Hostel or NYAH in Key West and head for the beach to swim with sea turtles, nurse sharks, parrot fish and spiny lobsters along the shallow reefs. If you’re not burned out on history, visit the Ernest Hemingway House and hang with six-toed cats, actual descendants of Hemingway’s beloved felines.

app

Tagged: Beach, City, Florida, International

Beth Graham

Beth Graham

Beth Graham

Latest posts by Beth Graham (see all)

Shares
5
Shares
Share with your friends










Submit

The state of Virginia is indeed for lovers—specifically, lovers of beach towns. Just about as far east as you can travel within the state, the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague showcase their own traditional yet unique take on beach-town culture. Here are five reasons why Chincoteague Island and neighboring Assateague should be on your bucket list, in no particular order.

The Wildlife

The wild horses
On Chincoteague Island, you’ll find a charming beach town, filled with mom n’ pop motels and ocean-themed restaurants. Assateague Island, on the other hand, is an impeccably kept nature preserve and its most famous wild residents can be seen galloping through its natural marshes. It’s one of the few places left in America where you can still see herds of wild horses roaming in their natural habitat.

Year round, the herds can be seen grazing from the road that leads to Assateague’s beach, or while on boat or kayaking tours that take off from Chincoteague—and these boat tours offer the chance to see even more native wildlife, like dolphins and bald eagles. The island also features hiking trails and a beach. If you plan on driving to the island, parking passes are $8 per day.

Protip: If you decide to take a boat tour, ask a local about their favorite and go for a smaller boat. Smaller boats can get closer to the ponies in the marsh.

By Bonnie U. Gruenberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bonnie U. Gruenberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pony Penning Carnival
Now, if you are looking for an even closer look at the ponies, and for a way to be a part of local tradition, try attending the yearly Pony Penning carnival. This annual “holiday” takes place in July, as this is when the wild ponies are wrangled and swum from Assateague to Chincoteague. Then, they are then paraded down Main Street and into corrals where vets check each pony’s health. The youngest of the ponies are auctioned off to raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, a fundraiser that began in 1925 and has been going strong ever since.

Protip: The historic carnival is free and open to the public, which means a crowd is inevitable. To avoid getting stuck at the back, where you can’t even see the ponies make their swim, arrive early in the morning and come prepared to wait.

Picture side of 1941-postmarked postcard depicting the Chincoteague ponies. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Picture side of 1941-postmarked postcard depicting the Chincoteague ponies. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hiking and Camping

The camping
Chincoteague Island is covered in campgrounds, and Assateague Island is full of hiking trails that are perfect for those looking to explore the natural landscape more intimately. Campgrounds on Chincoteague each offer their own benefits and features. Be sure to check out Inlet View campground and Tom’s Cove campground for the best views of the water, as they both offer waterfront campsites.

Campsite rates at Inlet view range from $27 to $35 per day. Campsite rates at Tom’s Cove $35 to $51 per day.

A view of the marshes. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

A view of the marshes. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

The hiking
There is plenty of hiking to be done at Assateague Island, and, as mentioned before, if you plan on driving there you’ll need to pay for parking. Once on the island, you can find hiking trails of all lengths and difficulty levels.

One of the shortest trails leads you to the historic and iconic Assateague lighthouse. The hike is totally worthwhile, since not only can you see the candy-cane-painted lighthouse from the outside, but also from the inside. Once you do finally reach the top, you’ll catch a breathtaking view of both Assateague and Chincoteague. Admission to the lighthouse is free. However, donations are accepted.

Protip: Although the hike itself is not difficult, climbing the many steps up to the top can be. Pace yourself to avoid getting lightheaded at the lighthouse.

At the base of the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

At the base of the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

The Beach

Assateague’s beach can be considered a ‘typical’ beach, meaning it’s clean and fun for the whole family. And yet, it’s unique in its location. Once again, you’ll have to cross the bridge from Chincoteague to access the waterfront.

Protip: Since there is only one road leading to the beach, the traffic can get pretty gnarly during “beach rush hour.” Locals will tell you to start making your way back to Chincoteague before four o’clock.

Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Locals and tourists intermingle on the beach. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Local Food

Chincoteague has been thriving in the oyster harvesting market for many years, and the delicacies can be found at countless eateries on the island… Are oysters not your thing? Well, you can also find ice cream, BBQ and homemade doughnuts without looking very far.

The Island Creamery is a local favorite and has been perfecting its small-batch ice cream, made with milk from local dairies, since 1975. They have a lot of different ice cream flavors but the most popular are of course named after the islands’ most well-remembered aspects, “Marsh Mud” and “Pony Tracks.”

Protip: The line is never too long… Even if the lineto be served at the creamery is out the door, locals swear that it’ll never take longer than 20 minutes to be served.

The Island Creamery, taking inspiration from the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

The Island Creamery, taking inspiration from the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Right before hitting the bridge to Assateague you’ll notice an oasis of quirky, quick-service restaurants. This oasis comes complete with hammocks and yard games. It is there that you will find Woody’s Beach BBQ serving a large variety of smoked meats. The sandwich creations at Woody’s are sure to keep your hunger at bay throughout a full day of pony watching, beach going and lighthouse climbing. Prices for sandwiches are between $8 and $9.

Looking for breakfast? Or maybe a lil’ bit of a sweet treat? Then look for the Sandy Pony Donuts truck on Maddox Boulevard. These cleverly-named delights are small yet mighty, with monikers such as “Strawberry Stallion,” “Surfer Dude” and “Jingle Shells.” Made hot and fresh to order, they’re only $1.65 each, $8.80 for a half dozen and $14.80 for a full.

The Culture and History

Both Assateague and Chincoteague are steeped in history, tradition and a unique culture. People who live on Chincoteague, and who’s ancestors lived on Assateague, have a deep connection to both islands, taking pride in knowing the history of their beloved home. Vacationers, too, often feel themselves drawn back—it is not hard to find someone who has been coming since they were young, and who now bring their own family to the same spot, keeping that tradition alive.

Even if you’re visiting the islands for the first time, the community has a way of making you feel at home. It’s as if a connection is formed as soon as you set foot on the island. Just by interacting with locals, you are sure to learn much about Chincoteague and Assateague’s history. But if you’d like to learn even more about why this is such a closely-knit community, you can visit the Museum of Chincoteague Island, which is located mere steps from the bridge to Assateague. It’s a small museum, but it includes exhibits highlighting the oyster market, the hurricanes and the fires of Chincoteague, as well as the well-known equine celebrity, Misty of Chincoteague.

Her story goes something like this: In 1947, author Marguerite Henry met a pony on the island by the named Misty, and her owners the Beebes. Misty went on to inspire her popular children’s novel, and later a movie, which was filmed on the island. The story, although fictional, introduced Chincoteague and its pony culture to the world. This story is a great source of pride for the community of Chincoteague. In fact, Misty herself can be found at the museum… stuffing and all.

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The famous Misty of Chincoteague (left) with one of her foals. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

According to those who know the island, the final thing that you must do before leaving is visit the grave of Captain Chandler, as this will ensure your return to the island. There is no address for the site, but ask any local and they will know how to get there. And if you want to know any more about this local legend, you’ll just have to visit Chincoteague Island.

image002

Tagged: Beach, Family, Seasonal

Shares
3
Shares
Share with your friends










Submit

It’s the all-American vacation: a trip to one of our national parks. And with the National Park Service marking its 100th anniversary this year, there’s no better time to explore the great outdoors. But after you’ve Instagrammed nature from every possible angle, what can you actually do? The big, open sky is the limit.

Take an art workshop at Yosemite National Park in California

When it comes to finding your muse, it doesn’t get much more inspiring than Yosemite’s giant sequoias, majestic waterfalls and tranquil streams. Channel your creativity with the help of art and photography classes offered each spring and fall at Yosemite Art Center. The cost is just $10 per student per day.

Yosemite National Park. Credit: FaunggsPhotos/Flickr.

Yosemite National Park. Credit: FaunggsPhotos/Flickr.

Try sled-dog mushing at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska

Whether you book a guided trip with a team of dogs or BYOD, this snowy sport is one of the coolest ways (pun intended) to tour this park, which is home to the tallest peak in North America. On a clear day, the Huskies can cover up to 30 miles.

Denali National Park. Credit: Joseph/Flickr.

Denali National Park. Credit: Joseph/Flickr.

Ride a llama at Yellowstone National Park in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming

Dyed-in-the-wool nature lovers will want to explore the backcountry the old-fashioned way: by horse, or even llama. Guided excursions are available through several licensed tour companies. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, from bald eagles to bison.

Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Always Shooting/Flickr.

Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Always Shooting/Flickr.

Go sand sledding at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado

Snow sledding is a hassle. By the time you’re bundled up, someone inevitably needs to use the bathroom. Get to the fun part faster when you try mild-weather sand sledding or sandboarding on the tallest dunes in North America. The equipment is designed especially for sand, makingfor a smooth ride.

Great Sand Dunes National Park. Credit: Flickr CC

Great Sand Dunes National Park. Credit: Flickr CC

Go snorkeling at Virgin Islands National Park in the Caribbean

More than half of the island of St. John is technically a national park? Works for us. Much of the parkis actually underwater, so you’ll want to explore the reefs, mangroves and seabeds with the help of a mask and flippers.

Virgin Islands National Park. Credit: Wikipedia.

Virgin Islands National Park. Credit: Wikipedia.

Take a jazz Pilates class at New Orleans Jazz National Park in Louisiana

Redwood forests and gulf stream waters are great. But if you’re not about that life, head to the old U.S. Mint building for a more cosmopolitan escape. The building is now a shrine to the musical genre, making it the perfect spot to catch a live performance, bring the kiddos for educational workshops or take a jazz Pilates class with Pilates instructor-slash-vocalist Stephanie Jordan, combining fitness, dance and of course, all that jazz.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Credit: NPS.gov.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Credit: NPS.gov.

Play 18 holes at Death Valley National Park in California

It’s no surprise that one of America’s toughest courses, as crowned by Golf Digest, is located at 214 feet below sea level. Furnace Creek Golf Course, located at a ranch in the desert park, is the world’s lowest elevation golf course. So even if you shoot well above the 70 par, you can brag that you played your lowest game ever.

Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley National Park. Credit: Daveynin/Flickr.

Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley National Park. Credit: Daveynin/Flickr.

Try spelunking at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky

Our national parks are celebrated for their wide open spaces. This is not one of them. If you’re up for an adventure, try the Wild Cave Tour, a six-hour trek that’ll have you crawling, squeezing and hiking your way through 5 miles of caves.

Mammoth Cave National Park. Credit: Daniel Schwen/Flickr.

Mammoth Cave National Park. Credit: Daniel Schwen/Flickr.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Beach, California, Family, Tips & advice