Coconino National Forest: Devil’s Bridge


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.


The Coconino National Forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff in Arizona with landscapes ranging from red rocks and deserts to pine forests. We were staying in Sedona for part of our Arizona vacation and had stumbled upon the Devil’s Bridge hike when researching things to do in the area.


It didn’t occur to us at the time that this striking red rock terrain was actually part of a national forest, so we didn’t find the Devils Bridge webpage.  Instead, we asked at our hotel about it and they pointed us in the general direction with a map. Even with the map, we had a hard time finding the trail head at first. There is trail head parking just off Vultee Arch.


There is an easy green trail marked on the map at the trail head. There is also a moderate blue trail and difficult red trail. The trails are not themselves marked by color. We opted for the easy trail.


The easy trail is the dirt road just before the parking lot that the jeep tourism companies use. It is uphill, sandy, hot and dry…so ‘easy’ is a relative term. The whole 3-mile hike was a piece of cake for my husband (who runs Spartan Races) but not so much for me and my daughter.


In three-quarters of a mile, the dirt road meets up with the path to Devils Bridge. From there, it becomes more difficult. It’s another climb of about three quarters of a mile with some steep natural stone steps and very little shade.


There are wonderful views of the valley and surrounding mountains on the way up.


The natural bridge is a 50-foot high sandstone arch and looks perilous as you approach it, but it’s wider than it appears as you walk out on it. Fearless people do jumping jacks for selfies in the middle of the bridge.


I stood there long enough for a photo, fighting the urge to crawl back to safety, trying not to look down at the sheer drop on either side of me.


To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Bell Rock (coming soon)
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross (coming soon)

Location: Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Forest

Date designated or established: 7/2/1908

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014


Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site


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.


My first stop in Hyde Park was to the Wallace Visitor and Education center where I watched the short film and then spoke to the rangers about making the most of my day. After touring Springwood, FDR’s home, I drove two miles to Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill.

This unassuming entrance was the front door, through which all visitors passed.

This is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady. When I was in grade school, I was assigned Eleanor Roosevelt’s biography for a book report, so I already had an inkling that she was pretty remarkable.  My tour through her home with the thoughtful commentary of the park ranger confirmed that she was an amazing woman.


On this site, Eleanor Roosevelt, along with three other women, established Val-Kill Industries in 1927.  Here, local craftsmen produced colonial revival furniture and pewter work in order to provide supplemental income for the local farming community. In 1938, because of the Great Depression, the factory was closed and converted into a cottage which became Eleanor’s permanent home after the death of her husband.


As the wife of a president disabled by polio, Eleanor Roosevelt played a more prominent role than any of her predecessors. She often made public appearances on the president’s behalf and was particularly outspoken when advocating for civil rights. She authored a daily newspaper column and hosted a weekly radio show.


After FDR’s death, Eleanor prepared Springwood, which had always felt more like her mother-in-law’s home, for transfer to the National Park Service. She moved into the more modest Val-Kill cottage and began the second stage of her political career.


She became the United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. There she helped to author the Bill of Human Rights.

Eleanor’s winter bedroom. During the warmer months, she slept on the porch.

She also entertained various politicians and foreign dignitaries in her simple cottage. There are photos of John F Kennedy drinking from one of the generic diner-type glasses in her dining room. The few luxurious items on display in the house were Eleanor’s family heirlooms…she didn’t care for anything ostentatious.

The heirloom candelabras are at odds with the utilitarian plates and glassware and the odd figurine collection Roosevelt brought back from Europe.

JFK visited Eleanor at Val-Kill because he wanted her endorsement in his bid for president. She had supported his opponent in the democratic primaries and agreed to support Kennedy only if he would promise to work towards improving the rights of minorities and women. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Roosevelt to chair the Commission on the Status of Women. She died shortly before the commission issued its report.

Eleanor Roosevelt and JFK met in this room to discuss his election campaign.

The family offered Val-Kill to the National Park Service. The NPS initially declined due to lack of funds and so the estate was sold to developers. A non-profit ‘friends’ organization began a campaign to preserve Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy and Val-Kill was designated a National Historic Site in 1977.

Eleanor’s ‘Sleeping Porch’

Hyde Park posts:

  • FDR Presidential Library
  • Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
  • Gardens at Bellefield (Coming Soon)
  • Home of FDR National Historic Site (Coming Soon)
  • Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (Coming Soon)


Location: 106 Valkill Park Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designated or established: 5/27/1977

Date of my visit: 10/3/2018

The Stone Cottage is an older building on the property which now houses the museum
The ‘Kill’ for which the estate is named.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Glenmont


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 my previous visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park, it was Edison Day and Glenmont was closed to allow all rangers to be on hand at the Laboratory Complex downtown. So I returned a few months later, hoping to see the rest of the park.


Glenmont was Edison’s mansion, about a mile away from the labs and factories in West Orange.  It is on 13 acres on a hill in Llewellyn Park, which was America’s first planned residential community.


To take a tour of the house, you must go to the Visitor Center on Main Street and get a ticket. Best to get there early as tickets often sell out by noon.  You cannot visit Glenmont, which is in a gated community, without a ticket and a pass for your car.

The Visitor Center in West Orange

Edison bought Glenmont for his new bride Mina as a wedding gift. It was a bargain because the original owner, who was a clerk for a dried goods company,  built the estate with $250k in embezzled funds. Edison paid $125k for the house, outbuildings, furnishings for 29 rooms and 13 landscaped acres.

Mina’s ‘Potting Shed’…she was involved in gardening projects in the community.

Photography is not allowed inside the mansion. The Park Service has kept the home as it was in Edison’s time, with most of his original belongings and furnishings displayed inside. The ranger who led our tour sternly cautioned us not to straggle behind or touch any of the valuable artifacts.


Having previously toured the Laboratory Complex, I wondered if Thomas Edison had spent much time in this home. He was a genius and an insomniac prone to working on inventions through the night and sleeping for an hour here and there on a cot in his lab. But when we went upstairs, the ranger pointed out the family room where Edison enjoyed playing checkers and other games with his children.


Upstairs was the noisy family room where the children could be as loud as they wanted (Edison was partially deaf.) Downstairs were the fancier rooms for entertaining guests. Mina Edison loved the conservatory with its windows and she loved to watch the birds.


Thomas Edison put the house into Mina’s name to separate it from the Edison Company… in case something went wrong with the company they wouldn’t lose their home. Mina sold the house back to the Edison company for one dollar in 1947 with the stipulation that she be allowed to live there until her death and that the house become a museum afterwards.


Mina and Thomas Edison are buried in graves in the back yard.

Edison NHP Posts:

Location: Llewelyn Park, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 8/18/2018

The garage which houses several antique cars

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Newfound Gap & Clingman’s Dome Road


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.

Another way to tour Great Smoky Mountains National Park by car is via the Clingman’s Dome Road. The first time we drove to Clingman’s Dome, we weren’t able to get out of the car at the Dome lot because a storm had descended on us. But on the drive up, we were able to stop at several pull-outs for breathtaking views.


We began at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. We perused the exhibits, watched a short film and got our bearings for the drive into the mountains.


From the visitor center, it was about 13 miles to Newfound Gap. We pulled over at some scenic vistas. There were dark storm clouds in the distance.


At 5000 feet elevation, Newfound Gap  is the lowest pass through the Smoky Mountains. It was discovered in 1872. Prior to that, the lowest pass was thought to be Indian Gap, two miles to the west.


At Newfound Gap, you can straddle the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The Appalachian Trail is also accessible here.


The Clingman’s Dome Road begins at Newfound Gap. It is seven miles from here to the parking lot for the Dome, with more pull-outs along the way to enjoy the scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll climb to the Dome at the end of the drive.

But on this day, we had to be content with the journey and save the destination for a sunny day.

To see my other Great Smoky Mountain National Posts, click the following links:

Location: Gatlinburg, TN

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 9/02/1940

Date of my visit: August 2013


Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock Women’s Barracks


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.

March is Women’s History Month in the USA and this Friday is International Women’s Day, so today I am highlighting a stop on the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail.


The Women’s Army Corp was formed during World War II. Women were given stateside non-combatant positions so that the men who would normally do those jobs could be sent into combat.


WAC soldiers were first assigned to Fort Hancock in New Jersey in 1943 and were originally destined for clerical positions. The women proved so invaluable to the war efforts that their roles expanded to the motor pool, commissary, finance office, etc…


The WACs were assigned to building #25. Known as the WAC Mansion, the building was 17,000 square feet and luxurious by army standards.


Today the Women’s Barracks is in need of repair, but fared better than some of its neighbors did during Hurricane Sandy. The National Park Service has offered many of the fort’s buildings for lease…lessees will be responsible for restoration and maintenance while preserving the historic integrity of the site. When I visited in September, there was an ‘under contract’ sign posted here, so hopefully it will soon receive some much-needed TLC.

This is a few buildings over from the Women’s Barracks and has partially collapsed. The Park Service does not have the funds to restore all of the Fort Hancock buildings so has begun leasing them out. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology has a building adjacent to this one and may rebuild it to expand their campus.

My other posts on Sandy Hook:

Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018


Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area: DeWint House


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 Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area  is one of the forty-nine federally-recognized National Heritage Areas in the United States. The Hudson Valley NHA is considered a National Park Service affiliate. Through the partnership with the Park Service and other organizations, the Heritage Area includes over one hundred sites spread across ten counties in New York State.


I visited the DeWint House in Tappan, New York. This site is billed as Washington’s Headquarters in Tappan. George Washington stayed there on four separate occasions between 1780 and 1783.


I stopped first at the Visitor Center in the 1865 carriage house. A later owner of the DeWint house added this structure to the property after returning from the Civil War. There are many artifacts displayed from Washington’s time and there is an introductory video in which two charming children take visitors on a virtual tour.


The DeWint house was built in 1700, evidenced by the numbers set into the brick facade. During the Revolutionary War, it was owned by the DeWint family who had made their fortune in the West Indies. Over the years, the home passed to different owners until the Masons bought it and restored it as a Masonic Shrine in 1932.IMG_2641

George Washington stayed at the DeWint House four times during the Revolution. His most notable visit was the second, when he signed the death warrant of John Andre. Andre was the major who conspired with Benedict Arnold in the thwarted plans to hand West Point over to the British.


During a later stay, Washington negotiated the evacuation of British forces from New York City with British General Carleton.


After watching the video and looking at the displays in the carriage house, I went over to the stone and brick house. The house’s two first-floor rooms have been restored by the Masons and furnished to reflect the 1780s and Washington’s visit.


You can only peer into the rooms through a Plexiglas partition, so taking in the video and the museum displays first is necessary to appreciate the history of the site.


To see my other posts from The Hudson Valley National Heritage Area, please click the links below:

  • DeWint House (Washington’s HQ at Tappan)
  • Camp Shanks
  • Storm King Arts Center– Coming Soon!
  • New Windsor Cantonment– Coming Soon!
  • Purple Heart Hall of Honor– Coming Soon!

Location: 20 Livingston Avenue, Tappan, NY

Designation: National Heritage Area, National Historic Landmark

Date designation declared: 1996 NHA, 1966 NHL

Date of my visit: 8/18/2018


Glacier National Park: Grinell Glacier Trail


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 our last day in Glacier National Park, we decided to explore the Many Glacier Valley. We parked in the lot for the Many Glacier Hotel since we planned on touring the historic lodge in the afternoon. From the lot, we followed the horse trail over the road and picked up the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail around the head of the lake.


This short scrubby trail led to the Grinell Glacier Trail head. That parking lot was already starting to get full at 8:30 AM. The hike to Grinell Glacier is one of the most popular in the park.


I’d already checked online and warned my family that we would not be able to go all the way to the Glacier. It was the last week of June, but the trail is not usually cleared of snow and ice at the top until late July.


There were signs at the trail head saying basically the same thing, so we were mentally prepared to have a nice hike along the first two lakes and then go left at the fork towards Grinell Lake instead of bearing right to the steep trail to the glacier.


The first two miles were relatively flat, travelling up the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and then Josephine Lake. When we reached the end of Swiftcurrent Lake. we looked back to see Many Glacier Hotel against the mountains where we’d started.


Then a gradual incline took us to a path above Josephine Lake through fields of wildflowers. We passed an inlet with an iceberg floating in it.


When we got to the fork, we saw young people descending from the glacier trail. They confirmed that we could not get all the way to the glacier, but that we could get to a great overlook of Grinnell Lake by following the glacier trail for 10 minutes.


Ten minutes turned out to be a steep, slippery, rocky climb of about a mile and maybe 45 minutes in the world of adults who have a less limited concept of time passage. Tall steps were carved into the rock in places and in others, little waterfalls rained down on us, cooling us off.


The view of Grinell Lake from the overlook is breathtaking. The color of the water is the most vibrant of the three lakes in the valley because it is the closest to the glaciers and receives the glacial flour runoff first.


At about the three and half mile mark, there was a ranger making sure that no hikers tried to go past the signs and risk traversing the ice covered cliffs.


As we headed back down the trail, we had to break the news to hopeful hikers on the ascent that they wouldn’t be able to go all the way to the glacier.


When we got to the start of Swiftcurrent Lake, we decided to hike the other shore back to Many Glacier Hotel. We were rewarded with some different scenes of canoes on the lake with Grinnell Point rising above it.


Location: 1 Rte 3, Browning, MT 59417

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910

Date of my visit: 6/27/2018