May 20 is the National Park Trust’s annual Kids to Parks Day. Click here to pledge to spend time in nature with your family (and have a chance at winning some great prizes). Read on, and there will be an opportunity to win a pair of Northside outdoor shoes through this blog!
Last Christmas, we drove from Portland, OR to Houston, TX to spend the holiday with family. With two kids, one 4 years old, you can only drive so many hours in a day before you need to get off the highway and rest for the night. So, it took us 3 days to drive there and 3 days back. Thus, it’s important to stop here and there and stretch your legs and let the kids get their wiggles out. On our return trip, once such pit stop was at a new-to-us place – Arches National Park in southeast Utah.
We arrived about a half-hour before the visitor center was to close at 5pm. We rushed in so my 10-year-old son could get the Junior Ranger booklet – and while he got one, the ranger said he would rather see us get out into the park and enjoy the scenery in the hour before the sun set. He enlisted me to take charge of a Junior Ranger badge to pass on to my son after he completed the booklet later. Now, we needed to get into the park to witness some of the spectacular geology – formed mostly by physical and chemical erosion over millions of years – I had only seen before in books and online.
We drove into the park on the main highway and pulled over intermittently to take in the views and snap some photos. We ended up getting on foot and taking a trail to the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, gazing across at the park’s flagship arch from behind its more-well-known side. We hiked back, got back in the car, and drove back the way we came. Then back north toward the Salt Lake City area where had our hotel for the night.
Two hours is all we spent at Arches National Park, but taking that time to spend a little family time in nature at one of our country’s beautiful public lands, not only did good for the long day on the road, but did good for our long road as a family. We will definitely plan to visit Arches and Moab area for a longer time for a future vacation.
Including time for parks, natural areas, and trails is crucial when we travel. It helps us connect as a family, provides time for fresh air and physical exercise for living healthier, and instills in our minds and hearts the importance of protecting and spending time in these natural spaces set aside for everybody. And getting outside and exploring in nature should not be a difficult, or expensive, thing to do. All it really takes is having good shoes, the appropriate clothing for where you live or time of year, and the motivation!
Here’s one way to get motivated:
May 20, 2017 marks the 7th year that the National Park Trust has put on Kids to Parks Day. While getting outside with your family should be a regular part of your routine, this day is one you can set aside to devote to visiting a new place in your region. There will be “Kids to Parks Day” events held all over the country (Oregon-specific list here), and the NPT has put together some activity ideas for how to spend your time in nature. And remember, current 4th graders can get a free national parks pass that will be good through the end of summer, for the whole family…
If you pledge to participate for Kids to Parks Day, you will receive quality time in nature with your family, and have a chance to win some prizes. So pledge here!*
If you’re in the Portland area, you can find a park to visit using this map tool from The Intertwine (or download and try out their new app Daycation). There are also a few non-Kids to Parks Day events that are occurring on the same day at some local parks and natural areas: the annual family-friendly Tualatin River Bird Festival at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood; a Metro program on mosses at Scouters Mountain (geared toward adults but all ages are welcome); a guided hike about forest biodiversity at Tryon Creek State Natural Area; and a seed-themed Children’s Nature Fair at Leach Botanical Garden.
To enter for a chance to win a pair of outdoor shoes from Northside (like those pictured above), please comment on this post telling me about a time that a park visit during travel did great things for your family. From the entries I will randomly pick a winner. The contest will be open until Friday, May 19, midnight PST. If you would like to enter without commenting on the blog, you can send me an email with your story at darwinsbulldog AT gmail DOT com. Good luck!
* Did you pledge to participate for Kids to Parks Day on May 20?**
** Did you really? Okay, I’m done. Get outside and have fun!