Gilbert Ray Campground

Gilbert Ray Campground

Saguaro National Park

There are no car campgrounds in Saguaro National Park.  It’s unfortunate, but thankfully there is one close by.  Gilbert Ray Campground is inside Tucson Mountain Park, which is run by Pima County.  It’s adjacent to the southern border of the similarly named Tucson Mountain District (that’s the west district) of Saguaro National Park.  The campground is only 3 miles away from Saguaro NP, so it’s practically part of the park.  We used it as our basecamp for the time we…

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Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Saguaro National Park

As a teacher, I’m always ready for a vacation by the time spring break rolls around. Since it’s only a week, we usually plan on a park that we can really explore in that time frame. In 2017, we ditched a chilly, windy April in DC for a week in Tucson. It felt pretty good as we left the airport and felt the arid climate for the first time. We headed to Gilbert Ray Campground to check in for our…

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Planning and Overview Spring 2017

Planning and Overview Spring 2017

Saguaro National Park

When you think about our national parks, Saguaro probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.  Unless you live in Tucson, Arizona, since the park straddles the city.  Established in 1933 as a National Monument, and upgraded in 1994 to a National Park, Saguaro was formed to protect its namesake – the Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea).  Pronounced Sa-WAH-ro, the cacti grow very slowly, but can get as tall as 40 feet and live for more than 150 years…

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Hawksbill Summit Loop Trail

Hawksbill Summit Loop Trail

Shenandoah National Park

We’ve explored Shenandoah quite a bit, but there are many hikes we haven’t made it to.  The southern district springs to mind, as we usually frequent the closer north and central districts.  There are hikes that we haven’t done that are (according to popular opinion) some of the best the park has to offer.  If you search for best hikes in Shenandoah, Hawksbill is usually on the list. So, we traded in a humid summer day in DC for cooler…

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Our Favorite Spots and Visiting Tips

Our Favorite Spots and Visiting Tips

Acadia National Park

Our trip to Acadia was wonderful, and we wished we had more time there.  This post serves as our reflections looking back on Acadia – our favorite spots, things that we wished we did, tips for traveling to the park, or things we didn’t like.  It can also be used as a guide to the park, with links to more detailed posts if you want to dive in.  We’ll definitely revisit Acadia someday.  But there are a lot of other…

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Schoodic Point & Schoodic Head Trail

Schoodic Point & Schoodic Head Trail

Acadia National Park

It was our last day in Maine, and we had gone to Schoodic Peninsula to check out the newest addition to Acadia NP.  We had already explored the Schoodic Institute and Sundew Trail.  Before our trip, we had seen photos of waves crashing onto rocks at Schoodic Point.  And a ranger at Schoodic Information Center had recommended hiking up to Schoodic Head, which would be the last hike of our trip. Schoodic Point The drive to Schoodic Point from the…

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Schoodic Institute & Sundew Trail

Schoodic Institute & Sundew Trail

Acadia National Park

Sadly, our time on Mt. Desert Island had come to an end.  We’d explored, hiked, eaten, and enjoyed ourselves immensely on the island.  But we weren’t finished with Acadia yet.  There are three districts in the park, and we had visited two of them.  The last one, Schoodic Peninsula, awaited us.  Schoodic is the only part of Acadia located on the US mainland.  From the eastern coast of Mt. Desert Island, you can actually see Schoodic. One way to get…

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Southwest Harbor Shops and Restaurants

Southwest Harbor Shops and Restaurants

Acadia National Park

Southwest Harbor is small town on the southern end of MDI’s west side. Our first taste of it was seeing the harbor itself on the drive in. There are several piers, and one had a small pulloff. It looked so picturesque with boats scattered around, and we just had to stop and take some photos. The harbor is small, so we definitely recommend stopping to take in the views. To us, this was quintessential Maine. Southwest Harbor is also the…

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Beech Cliff Trail & Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Beech Cliff Trail & Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Acadia National Park

The west side of Mt. Desert Island doesn’t have as many hikes as the east side, and overall the hikes didn’t interest us as much.  The one trail that we decided to do on the west side was Beech Cliff Trail.  It interested us because, like the Beehive on the east side, this trail features some unique obstacles.  In this case, multiple iron ladders.  So we woke up in Seawall Campground on our second to last day in Maine, and headed…

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Seawall Campground

Seawall Campground

Acadia National Park

Our journey to Isle au Haut and Duck Harbor Campground finally came to a close.  We had used up our maximum 3 nights to stay in the campground.  So it was time to venture back to Mount Desert Island where we hadn’t yet visited the western half of the island and our next home, Seawall Campground.  The weather had been great each day on Isle au Haut, but on the day we left the skies were grey and foggy.  As we…

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