Free National Parks Days 2014

January 19th, 2014

Navajo Arch in Arches National Park

Navajo Arch in Arches National Park

133 of the 401 national parks charge an entrance fee but the National Park Service has a few free days a year. For 2014 the first free day is Monday, January 20th for Martin Luther King Day. You can find the parks that normally charge a fee but are free on these days on this list.

Free National Park Days 2014

  • January 20 -Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 15-17 – Presidents Day weekend
  • April 19-20 – opening weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
  • September 27 – National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 – Veterans Day

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Get Your S’more Fix at Home

June 17th, 2011

The U.S. Forest Service has placed fire and smoking restrictions on public lands in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests in the following counties: Clear Creek, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Park, Teller, Chaffee, Fremont, Custer, Pueblo, Huerfano and Las Animas. 

The restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using fires, campfires of stove fires. Campfires are allowed in Forest Service-developed campgrounds and picnic grounds, in the provided fire grates and grills, and gas-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices are still allowed.

For more information, go to the Forest Service website,  fs.usda.gov/psicc/

– Deb Acord

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Camping In PA And NJ Is A Wonderful Getaway For The Whole Family

December 5th, 2010

This is a guest post. If you’d like to guest post on UltraRob.com, please contact me.

If you and your family love to sleep under the stars, then you will find that camping in PA and NJ may be just the thing that you are looking for. People have different ideas of what a fun camping trip is.

Some people want to find the most remote spot in the woods pitch a tent and live off the resources of the land for several days. Other people like to find a campground that has all the amenities of a working bathroom and running water. Regardless of which group you belong to, you will find something for either group of campers and for those that fall in between.

Camping in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will also offer you two totally different environments. You can find lush and dense forests in Pennsylvania for you and your family to explore. In New Jersey, you can camp near the ocean and pitch your tent right on a beach.

Pennsylvania is known for offering a rougher terrain and a more rustic type of camping adventure. You can start your adventure somewhere along the Appalachian Trail. During the fall, the backdrop of Pennsylvania’s beauty can be seen throughout the state. Hiking trails and the hunting is plentiful throughout the state.

If you prefer to relax at a campground that offers a play area for the children and showering and laundry facilities, they are located throughout the entire state, as well. There are even campgrounds that you visit during the winter months and you may find yourself skiing to the general store to pick up more supplies. Many families have a favorite campground that they go to every year and have developed small communities with other vacationing families.

For those that enjoy camping grounds that have the amenities that make life a little easier, there plenty to be had in either state. There are campgrounds that are located close to amusement parks, so that you can have both the enjoyment of camping and have a place to take the kiddies during the day. Neither state runs short in RV parks, for those that enjoying traveling with a lot of comforts from home.

Whether you are camping in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you will be creating memories that your children will want to recreate with their children. Whether you are looking for a cheap getaway for you and the kids or you want to totally escape the technologically advanced world of today, know that there is a spot for you to plunk down a tent and just be for a while.

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When Worlds Collide

November 11th, 2010

The outdoors has been featured prominently in entertainment news lately.

Last week, Oprah Winfrey and her friend Gayle visited Yosemite on her first-ever camping trip and first-ever trip to a national park.  She was invited by park ranger Shelton Johnson, who has made it a personal goal to increase the number of African-American people visiting the national parks.

The pair embarked on an Oprah-style shopping spree (no spending limit) at a California REI store before they went, stocking up on supplies, and arrived at Yosemite with a stuffed Coleman camper and enough gourmet food (sea bass, anyone?)  to feed the entire campground.   I have to admit it was entertaining TV.  Oprah built a respectable campfire, but then had to wait until after dark for the coals to be ready for cooking; Gayle started her camp slipper on fire; Oprah wore pajamas that matched her sleeping bag (who wears pajamas when they’re camping!?)

Johnson was prominently featured in the segment, and he got to make his case for getting African-Americans to visit the outdoors.  It’s been a goal of his for a long time.   He’s the only black park ranger in Yosemite and he told a newspaper reporter a year ago that he’s trying to increase the number of black Yosemite visitors (less than 1 percent of the total). 

“It’s bigger than just African Americans not visiting national parks,” he said. “It’s a disassociation from the natural world.  I think it is, in part, a memory of the horrible things that were done to us in rural America.”

Oprah is back in one of her homes, but Johnson’s campaign hasn’t stopped. Now, he wants another high-profile visitor: rapper Snoop Dogg.  Johnson and change.org have teamed up to lure Dogg into the park.  “All Snoop Dogg has to do is go camping in Yosemite and it would change the world,” Johnson says.  There’s a petition to Snoop Dog’s PR firm, 5W Public Relations, calling on the rapper to go camping.  Check it out  here.

But wait…that’s not all.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service presented their newest honorary forest ranger with a badge and ranger hat to Betty White.  White, who is 88, said she wanted to be a forest ranger when she was a young girl, but that women weren’t allowed into the agency then.

“Wilderness is harder and harder to find these days on this beautiful planet, and we’re abusing our planet to the point of almost no return,” she said. “In my heart I’ve been a forest ranger all my life, but now I’m official.”

 – Deb Acord

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Should You Rent or Buy Your Outdoor Gear?

October 19th, 2010

Camping Near Lake City, CO

Are you planning on outdoor adventure in the near future? If you’re trying out a new activity, you may not already own the gear you need. While your first thought may be to head to your local outdoor store or order online, you have another option as well. In addition to buying your own camping and other outdoor gear, you may also be able to rent it.

Both buying and renting have their own pros and cons. When it comes to determining whether you should buy your own camping gear or just rent the camping gear that you need, you may have a difficult time deciding what to do. Below, the advantages and disadvantages of buying your own outdoor gear and renting your outdoor gear are outlined.

Pros to Buying Outdoor Gear

You will find that there are a number of pros or plus sides to buying your own outdoor gear. One of these plus sides is the convenience of having it available whenever you decide to head out for an adventure. If it’s something like a pack it’ll already adjusted the way you like it. For something like a tent, you’ll know how to put it up and not need to read the instructions unless maybe if you don’t use it often enough.

Snowshoeing on Wolf Creek PassHaving your own gear also means that you can use it as little or as often as you would like and it won’t cost more. If you’re are planning to the activity frequently, you will find that it is easier, as well as cheaper in the long run, to buy your own outdoor gear.

It is also important to note the many options you have when buying your own outdoor gear. When buying your own outdoor gear, you can buy whatever you want. For instance, if you would like a camping tent that has lots of ventilation, you can find ones that have lots of vents. When you buy your own outdoor equipment, you have the ability to be picky if you want to be. With the huge selection of outdoor gear to choose from and many online retailers, the decision as to what you want to buy is yours to make. Here on UltraRob.com, you can search for outdoor gear from over 80 online retailers.

Cons to Buying Outdoor Gear

Although there are a number of positives, like convenience, to buying your own outdoor gear, you will find that the biggest downside to doing so is the cost. Depending on what you need to buy, it can get pretty expensive to purchase your own outdoor gear. With that in mind though, there’s some outdoor gear like camping tents or sleeping bags, that can be purchased for affordable prices especially if you don’t have to have the lightest available. If you are on a budget, you can still buy your own outdoor gear, but you just need to know where to look and watch for sales or buy used from somewhere like eBay.

Pros to Renting Outdoor Gear

When it comes to renting outdoor gear, you will also find a number of pros and cons. As for the pros or plus sides to renting your outdoor equipment, instead of buying it, you will find that the cost is much more affordable. Despite being relatively affordable, different rental stores charge different rental fees. You will also find that outdoor gear can typically be rented for as little as one day or as long as a couple of weeks. Renting your outdoor gear is nice if it’s your first time using a particular piece of outdoor equipment and if you are unsure as to whether or not you would be interested in doing so again.

Cons to Renting Outdoor Gear

As for the cons of renting your camping gear, you may find that you are faced with a limited selection of outdoor gear to choose from. Many outdoor stores only rent the basic items, like tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, skis and snowshoes. While you may have some choices, you will mostly find that your selection is limited. To increase your selection you may want to look at renting online at somewhere like LowerGear.com or GoGITTO.com.

Also when you rent, you will be using a piece of outdoor equipment with which you aren’t familiar. Unless you rent the item a few days early, you won’t have much time to try it out and make sure it meets your needs before you head out on your wild adventure.

I rented snowshoes and backcountry telemark ski equipment a few times before I bought my own. Renting gave me a better idea of what I wanted to buy. As often as I have used them, it has made more sense to own them plus I can go on the spur of the moment without the hassle of renting.

For a couple comparisons between renting and buying outdoor gear, I checked a couple tents. At our local REI store, their Half Dome 2 Tent currently is $199 but can be rented for a week for a bit under $40. Online the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 person tent rents for $39 a week from LowerGear.com plus for where I live 2-way shipping adds another $18.70 for a total of $57.70. It retails for around $329.

Depending on your plans, renting or buying may be your best option. In addition you may also want to think about borrowing outdoor equipment from someone that you know.

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Gear Lust

August 11th, 2010

We’re over halfway through the traditional camping season, and I’m feeling like some new gear. Here are a few things that look intriguing:

The Jetboil Flash, a cool stove that include a thermo chromic temperature indicator on the three color neoprene stripes (it shows you when the contents are hot); a drink-through lid; and a windscreen for the adjustable-flame burner.   The neoprene cozy is the most innovative part of this stove – it stays in place during cooking and doesn’t melt; and it has a pocket for utensils.

Teva Illum flip flops, with LED lights.   If you’ve ever stumbled out of your tent in the dark for a bathroom break, you’ll appreciate this idea.  Tiny detachable LED lights illuminate the ground about eight feet in front of each step. The lights, which are waterproof,  run on batteries that can be replaced.

The Saris Bones trunk bike rack.  I admit it – the color choices sold me on this (who could resist purple?)  but the stability and six attachment straps are also worthy features.  It has a unique shape that’s different than other car bike racks.

The REI Adventure Dog Dream Bed. This is on my dog’s wish list – it has a self-inflating pad insert that allows you to roll it up for easy carrying, and a Sherpa fleece cover.  Think Therm-a-Rest for dogs.

The Dajo Survivor knife, because you can never have too many camping knives. This cool tool has a stainless-steel blade, a fire-starting notch and a Swedish FireSteel included, along with a sheath, emergency whistle and five foot of cord.

A CamelBak insulated stainless steel Better Bottle.  How optimistic I am when I go hiking with my water bottle filled with ice.  How disappointed I am when I stop for my first drink of warmed water.  This bottle eliminates that disappointment, and it has a cool silver finish.

– Deb Acord

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Weekend in Leadville

August 9th, 2010

Lance Armstrong on Leadville 100 Course

This weekend we went camping near Leadville at 11,000 feet. With the Leadville 100 this weekend, I wanted to spend some more time at altitude. A couple weeks ago, I slept in the back of our van at 11,700 feet and I’ve done a few rides at altitude this summer but I don’t think I’ve spent as much time at altitude as normal.

I had also replaced several worn out parts on my bike plus switched to new tires so I wanted to give them a try on the Leadville 100 course. I rode most of what I wanted to see of the Leadville 100 course when I was there a couple weeks ago but I didn’t ride Powerline. Since I’ve been sick and didn’t want to push it, I had my wife drop me off at Carter Summit. I rode from there around the back side of Turquoise Lake, up Sugarloaf, down Powerline and over to the Fish Hatchery.

Just after I hit the pavement after Powerline, I saw Lance Armstrong, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and someone else I didn’t recognize coming toward me. I looked back and saw they stopped at some vehicles so I turned around. Lance was friendly and let me take a photo with him. He said this week was really busy for him so he would decide this week for sure whether he’s racing. He also said it’s been a while since he’s been fast. JHK said it was a really tough course but it sounded like he’ll be bringing his A game.

Since it was Boom Days in Leadville we checked it out. It seemed to be mainly booths selling trinket stuff but there were some mining competitions. I would liked to have seen them doing the rock drilling but when we were there they were just seeing how fast someone could fill an ore cart with gravel.

Sunday morning was the burro races. We didn’t stick around for them to come back to town. They had a few burros that they were letting people race for about a block and back. My girls wanted to do it. The 5 year old was very disappointed because they wouldn’t let her do it because she just had flip flops. They let my 7 year old do it but I had to do it with her. Normally I avoid running but it was fun pulling a burro down the street and we won our group.

UltraRob

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Story of Frightening Attack

August 6th, 2010

Grizzly Bear and Cub

The details of a bear rampage at a Montana campground in the Gallatin National Forest near Yellowstone National Park last week showed that some commonly known precautions for camping in bear country worked and some didn’t.

A grizzly bear killed one man and injured two people as they slept in their tents.  One of the victims, Deb Freele, said she woke up just before the bear bit her on the arm.  She says she screamed, but the louder she screamed, the harder the bear bit down.  So she played dead and when she stopped moving and screaming, the bear stopped biting, then left her tent.

Playing dead and not fighting back is one of the things wildlife officials tell people to do if they are being attacked.  In this case, it worked.  Campers are also warned to keep food out of the reach of bears because it increases the danger of an attack. In this case, all the campers had put their food in metal food canisters at the campsites but that didn’t stop this rampaging bear.

Wildlife officials don’t know why the bear or bears targeted three of the 27 tents at the Soda Butte Campground. They later trapped the bear and found her three cubs that were malnourished.

– Deb Acord

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A New Path to the Forest (Service)

July 2nd, 2010

We all love a simplified website address but the federal government has never really bought into the idea of simple, until now. The U.S. Forest Service – Pike and San Isabel National Forest, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands has launched a new site, and the address is simpler – www.fs.usda.gov/psicc

According to a press release, the Department of Agriculture is working to standardize its agencies’ websites.

The site includes information on recreation, notices, news announcements, permits and more.

– Deb Acord

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Free National Park Entry This Weekend

June 4th, 2010

Great Sand Dunes National Park

This weekend it’s free to get into over 100 National Parks. It’s the 2nd set of days this year for free entry. There are 3 more times this year for free entry. They are

  • August 14-15, 2010
  • September 25, 2010 (Public Lands Day)
  • November 11, 2010 (Veterans Day)

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