Crater Lake National Park: Happy 117th birthday!



Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


One hundred seventeen years ago, on May 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill establishing Crater Lake in Oregon as a National Park. This park protects the brilliant blue volcanic lake which is the deepest in the U.S. at 1,943 feet.


Millenia ago,  Mount Mazama (an ancient volcano) collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. There are no rivers feeding into the lake or underground water sources…the water is replenished only by rain and snow. The purity of the water combined with the depth of the lake create the vivid blue color.



Crater Lake posts:



Location: Crater Lake, OR

Designation: National Park

Date designated or established: 5/22/1902

Date of my visit: 8/25/2016


Sea Girt Lighthouse


Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.


My last stop of the day was the Sea Girt Light. The 40-mile stretch of coast between Barnegat and Navesink was unlit in the 1800s and so Sea Girt was commissioned by the Lighthouse Board in 1888. Completed in 1896, it was the last lighthouse with an integrated keeper’s residence to be built on the East Coast.


In 1921, Sea Girt became the first lighthouse to be equipped with a radio beacon, furthering its usefulness as a navigational aid.


The light was deactivated during World War II and became a dormitory for the Coast Guard.


After the war, the federal government put the lighthouse up for sale. The Borough of Sea Girt purchased the property and used it for the town library and recreation center.


In 1981, the building was in need of repairs and the borough considered selling it. Concerned residents formed the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, an independent non-profit dedicated to restoring and maintaining the lighthouse.


The committee restored the lighthouse through private fundraising. They lease it from the town and conduct tours on Sundays from Easter through Thanksgiving and open the lighthouse for special events like the annual Lighthouse Challenge.


Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:


Location: 9 Ocean Ave, Sea Girt, NJ 08750

Designation: Museum

Date designated or established: 1981

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018


Happy 100th Birthday to the NPCA!

Trail of the Cedars: The NPCA and allies halted a fracking operation outside Glacier National Park.

One hundred years ago today, on May 19, 1919, the National Parks Association was incorporated. Mather, the National Park Service’s first director, and Yard,  a journalist had pushed for an organization independent of the federal agency whose mission was to promote and protect our National Parks.

Gettysburg National Military Park. The NPCA blocked a casino and racetrack from being built on the park’s outskirts on three different occasions.

In its century of existence, the NPA, which is now the National Parks Conservation Association, has grown from a few hundred members to 1.3 million. The organization has been a driving force behind the designation of many NPS sites, including the Everglades. It has protected old growth forests in our parks from being felled, the Grand Canyon from dams and commercial development, Gettysburg from casinos, etc…

In 1965, the NPCA and its allies prevented two proposed dams from being built in the Grand Canyon. In 2016, they blocked a huge commercial development just outside the park.

In recent years, the NPCA has fought alongside other environmental advocacy groups like the Sierra Club against the reduction or elimination of National Monuments in Utah. In March of this year, they won a court battle to preserve Historic Jamestown, preventing an energy company from building transmission towers on the site.

Happy centennial to the NPCA and thanks for all that you do!

In 1934, the NPCA lobbied for the passage of the Everglades Act, which ultimately led to the creation of Everglades National Park

Ramapo Mountain State Forest


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Ramapo Mountain State Forest protects 4,269 acres in the mountainous region of Northern New Jersey. It is in both Passaic and Bergen Counties and is a separate park from the adjacent Ramapo Reservation.


There is a well-marked network of trails here. Lily and I set out to explore the easier blue (MacEvoy, named for the man who originally purchased this land to form a hunting club) trail to Ramapo Lake. There are also ruins of a ‘castle’ up a much more difficult trail and other sights to see in the park, but our time was limited as we arrived only an hour or so before sunset.


We parked in the lower lot on Skyline Drive, just off Route 287.  MacEvoy Trail begins at the end of this lot, just past the stone wall ruins. This is a popular trail and we saw several other hikers with dogs.


The path then leads up a rocky slope, alongside a stream that flows from Ramapo Lake. There are a few scrambles over boulders here and there.


We’d had a lot of rain, so the water was really ripping, with small waterfalls everywhere. (Scroll down for a video clip)


We’d only gotten about a half mile up when we came to what is described in trail guides as a ‘short rock hop’ across the stream. With the higher water volume, it was no hop, especially for a small cockapoo ( or a person trying to balance a cockapoo and camera while fording a raging river.)


Just ahead of us, a much larger Weimeraner was spooked and refused to cross the stream. So we turned back, content with the lovely, but short, walk through the woods.


Location: Skyline Drive, Wanaque, NJ 07465

Designation: NJ State Forest

Date designated or established: 1976

Date of my visit: 12/30/2018


Badlands National Park


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


In 2009, we drove across South Dakota to the Badlands. Badlands National Park is known for its eroded rock formations and protects the largest remaining grassland prairies in the United States.


Native Americans used the Badlands as their hunting grounds. The Lakota, because of the extreme temperatures and rough terrain, called it ‘makho sica’ which translates the ‘land bad.’


We rolled into the area at night and stayed at the Circle View Guest Ranch. Circle View is a B&B on the top of a butte. It is 6 miles outside the National Park.


In the morning, the kids helped the owners collect the fresh eggs outside. After a hearty breakfast, we were on our way to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.  There we listened to a ranger’s fossil talk and picked up our junior ranger booklets.


From the visitor center, we headed to the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. This is a half-mile loop following boardwalks and stairs through a juniper forest atop the Badlands Wall.


Then we drove the park road, stopping at various trail-heads. There are a few short walks from the road to points of interest, such as the Door and Window trails with views into the canyon.


Location: 25216 SD-240, Interior, SD 57750

Designation: National Reserve, State Park, NRHP

Date designated or established: 1/29/1939

Date of my visit: 1/31/2016




Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens – NRHP


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is an Essex County Park in New Jersey maintained by the nonprofit Citizens Committee. The gardens were established in 1927 in honor of Frank Presby. Presby was a horticulturalist who helped found the American Iris Society in 1920.


Presby Memorial is the largest non-commercial garden dedicated to irises in the world,  with approximately 10,000 individual plants. It has over 3,000 different varieties.  Some of its vintage rhizomes were stolen in 2008, but were later recovered.


The Victorian house on the grounds is the Walther House and is the headquarters for the Citizens Committee and also houses a museum store. Barbara Walther lived there and was the garden’s curator for over 50 years. In 1977, she passed away and the Citizens Committee was formed to maintain the collection.


The Citizens Committee had financial troubles in 2008 so Essex County purchased the Walther House and property and designated it a County Park. The County maintains the structure and leases the land back to the non-profit organization which continues to oversee the gardens, completely through private donations and volunteerism.


Presby has over 10,000 visitors, mostly during the blooming season each year, from Mid May to early June. The gates open pretty early…I got there as soon as it opened and had no trouble finding parking or taking photos without mobs of people.


To see my other Essex County Park posts click Branch Brook Park.

Location: 474 Upper Mountain Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043

Designation: National Register of Historic Places, County Park

Date designation declared: September 17, 1980

Date of my visit: 5/28/2016


Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City was one of five passenger railroad terminals on the Hudson Waterfront during the 1800s to 1900s. Hoboken is the only one of the five still in use today.  The Jersey City, or Communipaw, terminal was built in 1889 and operated through 1967.


Along with nearby Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the terminal was part of the immigration era. Over ten million immigrants entered the country through this station.


The terminal is on the National Register of Historic Places and was incorporated into Liberty State Park. It was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and reopened in 2016.


Today the terminal is a museum and is also where you can get tickets for the ferry to Ellis and Liberty Islands.


Location: 1 Audrey Zapp Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Designation: State Park, NRHP

Date designation declared: 9/12/1975 NRHP

Date of my visit: 2014, 2016, 2018


Dawn on a cold March day in 2018