Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Day2-DSCN0022Welcome 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.

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The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area contained within the Siuslaw National Forest and so is a unit of the US Forest Service, not the NPS. Back in my post on Flathead National Forest, I talked briefly about the Forest Service’s mission of managed conservation vs. the National Park Service’s goal of preservation. As a result of this different ‘prime directive’, you are likely to find more commercial recreational opportunities in National Forest lands.

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Oregon Dunes is a 40 mile stretch along the southern Oregon coastline of temperate sand dunes intermingled with forested land. We stopped in a few sections of this park on our drive down Highway 101 to Redwoods National Park.

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Our first stop was in the northern section in Florence, Oregon. We took a sandrail tour with Sandland Adventures, giving us our first glimpse of these sand mountains.

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Our driver and tour guide was Ben. We took the thirty minute tour and it was a wild, thrilling ride around the dunes with some scenic interludes while we caught our breath. There is a calmer ride available on a sort of dune bus for those with motion sickness issues.

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The dunes themselves are the result of millions of years of wind erosion. Some of them are 500 feet above sea level. Here and there you will find a forested oasis in the middle of all that sand.

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As we traveled south the dunes were visible from the highway in some sections. Our next stop was in Reedsport where we found the park’s Visitor Center was closed. So we had lunch across the street at the Harbor Light Family Restaurant.

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This is a small place, frequented by locals. We did have to wait 15 minutes for a table to open up, but it was worth the wait. They source many of their ingredients locally. Two of us had the chicken pot pie. They have a smoker and use the tender smoked chicken in the pot pie. Yum!

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After lunch, we visited Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. This park is centered within Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Though the dunes here are not as dramatic as in the Northern section, there is a beautiful ocean vista, a historic lighthouse (circa 1894) and a small museum.

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Location: 855 U.S. 101, Reedsport, OR 97467

Designation: National Forest, National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 3/23/1972

Date of my visit: 8/20/2016

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Travelling south over the Conde McCullough Memorial/Coos Bay Bridge as we left the Oregon Dunes NRA behind. This bridge was built in 1936 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock Women’s Barracks

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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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.

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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

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Fort Point National Historic Site

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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.

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After exploring the Marin Headlands on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge (you can see my post on the Marin Headlands by clicking here,) we drove across the famous bridge to visit Fort Point nestled under its southern side.

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Fort Point was built during the Gold Rush by the United States Army to defend San Francisco Bay against foreign attacks. It was completed just before the start of the Civil War and never saw battle.DSC02578

Renowned for its fine masonry, it was saved from demolition in the 1930s . The Golden Gate Bridge architect designed the span to arch over the fort instead of razing it.

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The fort is now protected as Fort Point National Historic Site, signed into law by President Nixon in 1970. It is administered by the National Park Service as a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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We tagged on to the end of a ranger-led tour and explored the three levels where there are historical artifacts on display. There are great views of San Francisco and Alcatraz from the roof. And this view of the Golden Gate is quite a different perspective from the usual bridge vista.

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Location: Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designation declared: 10/16/1970

Date of my visit: August 18, 2012

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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Wahweap Overlook & Marina


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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.

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From the top of Wahweap Overlook, there are panoramic views of Wahweap Bay and the surrounding waters of Lake Powell. There is a signed turnoff on highway 89 about 3 miles North of the dam. Follow the short dirt road, to the parking lot.  There is a shade shelter and a bench.

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We stopped at the overlook on our way to dinner at the marina and were lucky enough to see a thunderstorm descending on the far side of Lake Powell. We stayed for a while, trying to capture photos of the lightning strikes and enjoying to cool breeze.

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Down at the marina, we had dinner on the roof deck of a restaurant on one of the docks. The restaurant itself was nothing special, but the view made it worth the trip. We watched the sun set and saw a rainbow after the storm passed.

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To see my other Glen Canyon National Recreation Area posts, please click on the links:

Location: 100 Lakeshore Drive, Wahweap Marina

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designated or established: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 8/18/2014

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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Navajo Bridge

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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 Navajo Bridge in Glen Canyon National Recreation area is off the beaten path. I’d seen photos of it on Instagram when planning this trip, so I knew I had to get it on the itinerary. After having spent a few days seeing the sights around Page, Arizona, we set out for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, with a slight detour to see Navajo Bridge.

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This turned out to be a pretty big detour since part of Highway 89 had washed away during a storm and we had to go around through Navajo territory and then back up to the turn-off to the bridge. And then, when we got there, the Interpretive Center was closed. There hadn’t been any mention of that on the website…we should have called.

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Undeterred, we parked in the lot on the opposite side of the canyon from the visitor center, walked across the pedestrian bridge, took photos and then shopped in the Native American craft market in the parking lot.

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Navajo Bridge is actually two bridges. The original bridge opened in 1929 providing a direct route from Arizona to Utah across the canyon. Previously, motorists had to either drive 800 miles around to cross the Colorado River or take a ferry.

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By the 1990s, the historic bridge was proving inadequate for modern traffic. The historic bridge became a pedestrian bridge and a new bridge was erected across Marble Canyon, slightly downstream from the old one. Though my husband may have been annoyed by the extra drive time, I’m glad we made the trip to see this.

To see my other Glen Canyon National Recreation Area posts, please click on the links:

Location: U.S. Hwy 89 A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014

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Navajo Bridge is the 9th highest steel arch bridge in the US, at 470 feet above the Colorado River in Marble Canyon.

Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock

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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.

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Fort Hancock was built to defend the entrance to New York Harbor in the late 1800s.  It was active through both World Wars and the Cold War, converting to a missile base when the old gun batteries became obsolete. It was deactivated in 1974.

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The Fort Hancock Museum is in the Guardhouse which was built in 1899. This building served as the military jail for the base.

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Restoration of the building began in 2010 but then suffered serious damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

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In September 2018, the museum was re-opened to the public. It showcases artifacts from all periods of the peninsula’s long history.

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My other posts on Sandy Hook:

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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

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The fort, together with the proving ground, became a National Historic Landmark District in 1982
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A revolutionary war era musket ball, discovered during a recent archaeological dig conducted by Monmouth University
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The fort was named for General Hancock who was a war hero at Gettysburg and the Democratic nominee for president in 1880. He lost the election by a narrow margin to James Garfield.
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New York’s skyline as seen from the top of the lighthouse with one of the 1800s gun batteries in the foreground. The peninsula is continually being extended by tidal sand deposits so the battery was closer to the water when it was built.

Gateway National Recreation Area: Sandy Hook Light

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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.

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Sandy Hook Lighthouse reopened on September 30th, 2018 after a ten month restoration project. The renovations included replacing the front door, windows, the lantern deck and walls. The window frames were treated to prevent staining of the lighthouse.

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The lighthouse is the oldest, still-active beacon in the country. Built in 1764, it was only 500 feet from the shoreline. After over 250 years worth of sand deposited by the currents, the lighthouse now sits a mile and a half from the tip of the peninsula.

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During the revolutionary war, the American militia tried to destroy the lighthouse to prevent the British from using it to invade New York, but it survived.

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In the 1800s, it got a new lantern house and a brick lining.

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In 1964, on its 200th birthday, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark.

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After the opening ceremonies and ribbon-cutting we were allowed to climb to the top of the tower and take in the views of the bay, Fort Hancock and New York Harbor.

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My other posts on Sandy Hook:

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Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designated or established: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

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