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National Park news — 2/29/16

  • Tom Dell
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  • March 1, 2016
  • Yosemite hotels change names March 1 Beginning March 1, the names of some iconic Yosemite National Park lodging properties will change as part of a silly feud between National Park Service and the outgoing concessionaire.  The Ahwahnee Hotel will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Curry Village will become Half Dome Village, and Wawona Lodge will […]

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    The Great Southwest Road Trip — Part Two

  • Tom Dell
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  • February 27, 2016
  • Welcome to Part Two of our Great Southwest road trip. If you live in California, Arizona or Nevada, you should start with Part One, posted a week before this one. This is a complete itinerary for a road trip vacation. The trip duration depends on how long you stay at the destinations you’ll be visiting. And […]

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    The Great Southwest road trip — Part One

  • Tom Dell
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  • February 21, 2016
  • Welcome to the Great Southwest road trip. This week I’m offering up another complete vacation itinerary.  This road trip, which is mostly in Utah, will take you to some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.  It visits five national parks – seven if you take two optional side trips.  The trip can be […]

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    News update on wildflowers

  • Tom Dell
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  • February 19, 2016
  • This post is for all you wildflower lovers out there. All the predictions regarding El Nino got wildflower enthusiasts excited about this spring’s blooms.  The expected storms haven’t materialized in Southern California – at least not yet – but some of the best wildflower areas farther north have gotten quite a bit of rainfall, and […]

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    Next exit, a national park

  • Tom Dell
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  • February 14, 2016
  • Most road trips involve driving on interstate highways.  They’re often mind-numbing, but they’re the fastest way to eat up the miles.  Occasionally, however, they offer easy access to national parks that add great value to your trip.  After some map study, I’ve come up with a list of nine U.S. national parks that are within […]

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    Road less traveled — Fort Larned NHS, Kansas

  • Tom Dell
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  • February 7, 2016
  • Nobody happens upon Fort Larned National Historic Site by accident.

    Nobody happens upon Fort Larned National Historic Site by accident.  If you come here, it’s because you want to.  Fort Larned, located in west central Kansas, isn’t near any other major attractions, nor is it on the way to any popular road trip destinations.  Only 24,000 people came here in 2014.

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    All buildings are originals — not reproductions

    Best frontier fort

    So why visit it?

    Two reasons:  First is its historical significance.  It’s the best-preserved and best-restored frontier fort from the Indian war period.  It served a key function as a guardian of the Santa Fe Trail.  And second, the National Park Service has done a superb job of setting the fort up for visitors, with great displays that show you what life here was like in the days of Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, George Armstrong Custer and Phil Sheridan – all of whom hung out here from time to time.  If you can only visit one restored frontier army post, make it this one.

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    Troop quarters

     

    When I visited Fort Larned in December 2010, I loved it.  Of course, I had it all to myself. I especially liked the ½-mile nature trail, which takes you through tallgrass prairie and riparian woodland to the Pawnee River.

    I highly recommend Fort Larned as a detour if you’re taking a road trip that goes through Kansas.

    Logistics

    Fort Larned is open 8:30-4:30 daily.  Start at the visitor center, which has a 10-minute AV presentation, along with interesting displays of historical artifacts.  Ask the rangers if you can get a one-hour guided tour; these are offered daily May through September.  There’s no entry fee, and the guided tours are free.  Special “living history” events are held on holiday weekends; the next one will be on Memorial Day in late May.

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    Post doctor’s office

    You’ll find Fort Larned National Historic Site 6 miles west of the town of Larned, Kansas, on SR 156.  For directions, go to the NPS website at www.nps.gov/fols/index

    All travel services are in Great Bend, 30 miles northeast.  Just down the road a piece is the Santa Fe Trail Museum, open Tuesday-Saturday 9-5.  It houses informative displays on the Santa Fe Trail and its role in development of the West.  Admission is $4 for adults and $1.50 for ages 6-11.

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    Cool small town — Oatman, Arizona

  • Tom Dell
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  • January 31, 2016
  • Oatman is a guilty pleasure.  I’ll explain that remark in a paragraph or two after I tell you what it is and where it’s located. Oatman is an authentic Old West mining town located in the Black Mountains of northwest Arizona, not far from the glittering casinos of Laughlin, Nevada.  Unlike most mining towns that […]

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