Grand Canyon National Park: Grandview Point


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.


Two hours before sunset on our first evening in the Grand Canyon, we met up with Grand Canyon Jeep Tours & Safaris in Tusayan for the Grand Sunset Tour. Unlike the other tour company we used this trip, this was a well-run operation and we enjoyed this introduction to the park immensely.


Our guide was a local with ties to the Navajo and very knowledgeable about the native flora and fauna. He took us through Kaibab National Forest via the unpaved historic stagecoach roads, pausing whenever someone glimpsed an elk or deer through the trees so we could all see.


Our first stop was the steel Grandview Lookout Tower. This was built in 1936 as a fire watchtower by the Civilian Conservation Corps. We climbed the 80 foot tower to see the view from the top.


We got back into the jeep and continued along the gravel road until it met up with the park road.  We got out at Moran Point where we could see the river and Grandview Point and then got back in the jeep to travel to Grandview for the sunset.


The Grandview is the southernmost point on the South Rim and the farthest from the Colorado River. Because of its position, the drop-offs here are less steep with more intervening buttes and ravines than in spots closer to the river. This makes it an ideal place to watch the sunset as it washes over all the nooks and crannies in a colorful display.


There was a hotel built here in 1895 for Grand Canyon tourists, before the construction of El Tovar and other Grand Canyon Village facilities. It only lasted a few years and we saw no remains of it when we were there.


To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014


Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine


Welcome back to National Parks and 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. Happy Flag Day to my American friends and family!


Fort McHenry is best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it defended Baltimore Harbor against an attack by the British navy. It was first built in 1798 and saw military service up through WWII. First designated a national park in 1925, it was re-designated a “National Monument and Historic Shrine” in 1939.


On the morning following the decisive battle in the War of 1812, the victorious American soldiers raised a large flag over the fort. Seeing the 14-star flag flying in the smoke and aftermath of the battle inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” Later set to music, it became the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.


It is tradition that when a new flag is designed it first flies over Fort McHenry. The first official 49- and 50-star American flags were flown over the fort and the originals are still there. The Star Spangled Banner flying outside over the fort is a replica of the one that inspired Francis Scott Key.


The fort is in an industrial area on the outskirts of Baltimore. If you are driving there, use the directions from the website. GPS will get you lost once you get off the highway. You can also take the ferry from Inner Harbor, but you can only take it back as a return trip (no using the fort’s lot for free parking while visiting the city.) You can see my post on Baltimore National Heritage Area by clicking here.


We visited on a 100 degree Fahrenheit day with young children. Too hot for the kids to do the junior ranger thing, we started with the movie in the air-conditioned visitor center…it’s actually moving as well as informative. It’s short, about ten minutes.


We perused some interesting exhibits in the visitor’s center. Did I mention the air conditioning? And that we were there on the hottest weekend of the summer? The exhibits were cool…literally.


Then we braved the swampy inferno and walked out to the fort to see the cannons and the Star Spangled replica. There were lots of rangers around during our visit, which was great because the kids had questions which the rangers were happy to answer.


Location: 2400 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

Designation: National Monument

Date designation declared: 3/3/1925

Date of my visit: July 17, 2013


The Dole Plantation


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The Dole Plantation is a tourist attraction on the island of Oahu.  We stopped here long enough to get our free sample of Dole Whip (soft-serve pineapple ice cream) and get a little background on the pineapple industry in Hawaii.

Originally a fruit stand in the 1950s, the Dole Plantation became a full-fledged tourist attraction in 1989, complete with a train ride, maze and tour. We didn’t do any of the more touristy things, so I can’t speak to their value.

The Dole family was involved in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and Sanford Dole was the US territory’s first governor until 1903. Sanford’s cousin James Dole founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901. When the US annexed Hawaii,  selling produce to the mainland became more profitable…no tariffs.

Pineapples are easily propagated by planting the crowns of other pineapples. From walking the garden, we learned that there are multiple varieties.

If you stop here, visit early as this is an extremely popular and crowded place. And, as our tour guide warned us, do not buy the pearls!


Oahu Posts:

  • Kahanamoku Beach
  • Fort DeRussy Beach Park
  • Green World Coffee Farm
  • The Dole Plantation
  • Anahulu River (coming soon)
  • Waimea Falls (coming soon)
  • Hau’ula Beach Park (coming soon)
  • Tropical Macadamia Farm (coming soon)
  • Byodo-In Temple (coming soon)
  • Polynesian Cultural Center (coming soon)
  • Aloha Tower (coming soon)
  • Diamond Head (coming soon)
  • Iolani Palace (coming soon)
  • King Kamehameha Statue (coming soon)
  • Aliʻiōlani Hale (coming soon)
  • Pearl Harbor (coming soon)

Location: 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786

Designation: Former pineapple fields of James Dole

Date established/designated: circa 1950

Date of my visit: April 11, 2019


High Point State Park

View of the High Point monument from Lake Marcia 4/17/2015

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.

On the beach in June 2005

High Point State Park is in the Northwest corner of New Jersey in Sussex County. In the midst of the Kittatinny Mountains, the highest point in the state of New Jersey is there.


The most distinctive feature of the park is the monument marking the high point at over 1800 feet in elevation. It is an obelisk, like the Washington Monument, and was built to honor war veterans in 1930.


The land and monument were donated to the state by the Kusers. Anthony Kuser (1862-1929) was a New Jersey businessman with a rarely used summer home in Sussex County. He donated the property and funded the construction of the monument in 1923.

Mansion ruins 12/27/2014

For years, I lived minutes from the main entrance and we spent many summer days playing on the sand beach of spring-fed Lake Marcia. Afterwards, we would often drive up to the monument for views of the Delaware River and the Tri-state (NY, PA, & NJ) area.

At the monument 6/5/2005

I have been back in the off-season several times since moving away. It is a peaceful place to visit once the summer crowds have gone.

Steenykill 4/29/2017

The Steenykill Lake and boat launch are right off Route 23 on a dirt road. The view of the monument over the lake is great in the fall when the leaves turn color.

Steenykill 10/21/2004

Sawmill Lake is in the quieter section of the park, with a campground on one side. There is a dam at one end, resulting in a waterfall.

Sawmill 12/27/2014

Location: 1480 NJ-23, Sussex, NJ 07461

Designation: State Park

Date designation declared: 1923

Date of my visit: 12/27/2014

Sawmill 4/29/2017
View of the Delaware from the monument in December 2014

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park


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Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie in Ohio is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the US side of the Great Lakes. Built in 1822 as a navigational aid on the Marblehead Peninsula, it is still in use today.  It had 15 lighthouse keepers from the 1820s until the signal was automated in 1958.

marblehead map
Map from Google

We were visiting friends who had a home in Marblehead. They took us out on the lake in their boat so we could see this famous landmark from the water. We could also see the amusement park across the bay in Cedar Point. Visitors can take tours of the lighthouse in the summer.


Location: 110 Lighthouse Dr, Marblehead, OH 43440

Designation: State Park, NRHP

Date established/designated: NRHP 1969

Date of my visit: 7/26/2008


Zion National Park: Kolob Canyon 5-Mile Drive


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We began our exploration of Zion National Park in the quieter Kolob Canyon section. Kolob Canyon is accessed by a separate entrance in the Northwestern corner of the park.


We first stopped at the visitors center for our park pass and perused the gift shop. Then we started our climb up the five-mile scenic drive. This is the only paved road on this side of the park and it does not connect with the main section in the south.


There were few cars on the drive so we were able to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery. We pulled over at several stops along the way to get out and take pictures of the 2000-foot cliff walls lining the canyon.


After about a half mile, the drive culminates at the Kolob Canyon Viewpoint which is also the trail head for the Timber Creek Overlook Trail.


Zion Park Posts:

  • Kolob Canyon Section
  • Zion National Park
  • Kolob Canyon 5-mile Drive
  • Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Coming Soon)
  • Emerald Pools (Coming Soon)
  • Canyoneering (Coming Soon)
  • Hidden Canyon (Coming Soon)
  • Scout Lookout (Coming Soon)
  • Angel’s Landing (Coming Soon)
  • Pa’Rus Trail (Coming Soon)


Location: 3752 E Kolob Canyon Rd, New Harmony, UT

Designation: National Park

Date designated/established: 11/19/1919

Date of my visit: April 9, 2017


Chicago Botanic Garden


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 Chicago Botanic Garden is a 385-acre public garden and living plant museum in a suburb of Chicago. It is laid out across nine islands in the Cook County Forest Preserve.


It is one of only 17 public gardens in the USA to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums due to its extensive horticultural library and its research laboratories. It has the largest membership of any US Public Garden with over 50,000 members.


The Chicago Horticultural Society manages the garden, though it is on land owned by the forest preserve. The Society, which was founded in 1890, adopted the mission to create a public garden in 1962. It took ten years to realize this goal.


My daughter and I flew into Chicago for Memorial Day weekend a few years ago. Upon landing, we picked up her friend and went right to the garden where we waited in a pretty long line to pay the entry fee. Once inside the gates, we had a surprisingly good lunch in the visitors center cafe and mapped out our plan.


There are 27 distinct gardens in four natural habitats and with only half a day we couldn’t really see everything. It was early in the season and blooms were just beginning to emerge.


There was tram tour, but we decided to just walk around the loop and enjoy the scenery.


Location: 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022

Designation: Public Garden

Date designated or established: 1972

Date of my visit: 5/23/2015

The Carillon Bell Tower is a stand-out feature in the park. Constructed in 1986 with bells made in Holland, its summer concerts are a major attraction for the garden.