17 August 2010

We Love Our National Parks!

This past weekend we had the opportunity to visit another one of our national parks: Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. I visited there as a child with my parents years ago~I think I was the age that The Princess is now~and remembered how beautiful it was.

Since my last visit there however, they have made a lot of improvements, including building a beautiful new visitor center. We all had a lot of fun exploring their displays and browsing in their gift shop. They even had these adorable little Junior Ranger uniforms for sale. I would've bought a couple of them just for fun if they hadn't been $40, but I did get Mr. B to try on a hat for a quick photo. Isn't he cute?:)

We had a lovely day to visit, it was actually under 100F! We didn't start sweating till late in the afternoon...lol

While enjoying our picnic beside a mountain creek we got to see a host of swallowtail butterflies flying around over the water. They would cluster on the rocks beside the creek~they were beautiful!
Next we walked to the top of Pinnacle Overlook and drank in the gorgeous views. The Appalachian Mountains are truly beautiful!

We enjoyed learning more about the history that has happened here. For instance, I had no idea that Daniel Boone forged the Wilderness Road through here in 1775~one year before the Declaration of Independence! The culture in these mountains is so different. I can see how it would take a very tough breed of people to survive those early years of settlement here.

The kiddos brought along their nature journals, of course, and had fun adding some new pictures to them.

The last thing we did before leaving the park was to hike to the Tri-State Peak. I really wanted photos of us standing in three states at once: Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. I just didn't know I was going to have to hike 1.2 miles uphill (and then 1.2 miles back down again, of course) to get those shots! But it was worth it~at least I decided it was after huffing and puffing all the way up. I seriously need to get into better shape! And did I mention that those cooler temps were long gone by this time of our day? Yeah, I don't know when I've sweated so much...thank goodness for air-conditioned vehicles:)

It was definitely a memorable visit that we all enjoyed. And, as always, when we visit at National Park site the kiddos participate in the Junior Ranger program. If you haven't done this with your children, I highly recommend it. Just ask at the front desk of the visitor center at any national park site about this program. Your children will receive a workbook to be completed as you see the various sites around the park. (Generally they don't require them to complete the entire book, as there are varied exercises according to grade levels). When your visit is over just drop back by the visitor center to show that they have completed at least part of the exercises during their visit. Your kiddos will be rewarded with a certificate and also a Junior Ranger badge from that park. My kids have earned 6 of them now, I think. They're pretty proud of them! And the workbooks are great to keep. I always enjoy working through them with the kids because I inevitably learn something that I didn't know about the park. Oh~and they also have a Web Rangers program on their site that we are going to check out, too.

We really do love our National Parks!


Beth said...

Oh, too cool! What a great trip. We are big national parks fans, too. Maybe I'll blog about our adventures some day. I hope to get the kiddos on another roadtrip before they all leave our happy home. Thanks for sharing about your day.

Kathy said...

gorgeous photos! Wow, the beauty of God's creation is breathtaking! =)

Darla said...

Your photos are gorgeous! I love hiking state/national parks, too. I'll have to look into the Junior Ranger program.

Carey said...

great pictures! Reminds me of the hiking we did this weekend. I followed you here from the Homeschool Hop

Jenilee said...

very cool trip and gorgeous pictures! what a worthwhile place to go! I love trips like that and our girls always love that kind of family time! :)