National Park Week: Z I O N — Roamin Moens

National Parks really were “America’s Best Idea.” So many of my big life moments happened or were about national parks. I can remember moments exactly how they happened from the memories I have captured. Zion National Park will forever hold a special place in my heart because it was the first National Park I had […]

via National Park Week: Z I O N — Roamin Moens

 

National Parks Badges Puzzle 

 

On Location – Check out Glacier Park, Illinois with me!

Although a bit barren in January, Glacial Park Conservation Area offers 3,432 acres of recreation including a wide array of prairies, wetlands and savannas.  There are over eight miles of hiking trails with a beautiful backdrop of hickory trees, oak trees. and wildflowers. It is the home for over 41 species of state endangered animals and plants.

 

Trekking the Interpretive Nature Trail On this 2 mile trek, call  the edge, you will search for owls, deer, wood ducks and blue birds.  This “edge” offers the perfect combination of of both woodland and grassland which is exactly what these animals need.  Many types of berries, nuts and seeds are available.

  Midwestern Birds: Backyard Guide - Watching - Feeding - Landscaping - Nurturing - Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, ... Dakota (Bird Watcher's Digest Backyard Guide)                        National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition

Midwestern Birds                    National Geographic Birds

Trekking the  Plant Community Interpretive Trial

This open woodland is a savanna, hosting plant both native and non native to the area.  Some of the plants include bottlebrush grass, joe pye weed, and mayapple.   The green plants here produce their own food by trapping the energy of the sun.  They then support a wide array of organisms throughout the savanna. Here there is a very healthy ecosystem and therefore a vast biodiversity.

Geology of Glacial Park

12,000 years ago glaciers were in this park.  After leaving they left the land shaped into unique land forms and bringing rocks and till from Canada.   Because of so much till, the bedrock was buried and after breaking down, plants were able to grow in this new fertile soil.  This area then became of the top regions for agriculture.

Here are a few other great resources.

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America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

Unforgettable Winter Outdoor Outings

Winter completely changes the landscape in the Midwest, offering miles and miles of new perspective.

Illinois – Starved Rock – 13 Miles of Trails and 18 Canyons.  It is not unusual to see people climbing the frozen waterfall.

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Indiana – McCormick’s Creek State Park Explore the spectacular limestone canyon, flowing creek, and scenic waterfalls

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Iowa –  Dawn on the landscape of the Mississippi River at Pikes Peak State Park, Iowa

Kansas – Deep Creek Waterfall at Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area

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Michigan’s Upper Pennisula averages 200 inches of snowfall each year and boasts plenty of frozen waterfalls for climbing

 

Minnesota – The Itasca State Park is a beautiful place to explore in the winter. Minnesota DNR

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Missouri – Onondaga Cave State Park – Leasburg

Photo Credit: MHarrisW/TripAdvisor

 

Nebraska – Frozen waterfall along the Stone Creek Hiking Trail at Platte River State Park

North Dakota – The winding trail through part of the 200 acre nature preserve in this state park will take you through some absolutely amazing sights. There are plenty of plants and animals to be found here

Ohio – Old Man’s Cave Loop (Hocking Hills State Park)

South Dakota – Winter in the Blackhills

Winter, Spearfish Falls

Wisconsin – Lake Superior Ice Caves

And here are a few other great resources.

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America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

66 Hikes Along Route 66 – # 10

Petrified Forest National Park

Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest,Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch.  The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.

The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles.  These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House.  Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.

1000px-Shortgrass_pano_Petrified_Forest_NPPanorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.

Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones.  More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in the park.

 

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

And here are a few other great resources.

168268265X      

America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

66 Hikes Along Route 66 – #9

Meramec State Park – Stanton MO

Created in 1926 it protects over 40 caves and a forested landscape.   Fisher Cave sports massive columns and bear claw marks from the past.

Exhibits in the visitor center interpret the natural and cultural features of the park. No visit to the park would be complete without a tour of Fisher Cave with hand-held lights.

Meramec River

The Meramec River flows by majestic bluffs, wooded areas and a dramatic cave entrance.

 

More than 13 miles of hiking trails are available for exploring the park

 The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

And here are a few other great resources.

168268265X      

America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

The Long Way Home To The Other Fitz Roy — Because Itz There

Patagonia: The Return Home **Completed in November 2019, The Torres del Paine ‘W’ hike and Fitz Roy are Sylvia and Brian’s fifth and sixth BucketList adventure completed together, respectively. We have never ventured further to put a hike in our bucket. And so it was over. Except for the long, long road back. After […]

via The Long Way Home To The Other Fitz Roy — BecauseItzThere

66 Hikes Along Rt. 66 – #5

Gaylord Donnelley Trail

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The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

 

Part of the I&M Canal National Heritage Area, the Gaylord Donnelley Trail will take you from Lockport to Joliet.  Lockport and Joliet were two of the most influential Illinois cities of the 19th and 20th centuries.  On this eleven mile trail you will explore canal ruins, a closed amusement park, the old Joliet prison and the ruins of the Joliet Iron Works.

A Bit of History

On its completion, the I&M Canal created a new transportation corridor.  By connecting the waters of the Illinois River with those of Lake Michigan, a vast all-water route connected widely scattered sections of the United States, specifically the Northwest, South and East.  Travelers from the eastern U.S. took the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York, where steamboats brought them through the Great Lakes to Chicago.  Transferring to canal boats, a 96-mile trip on the I&M Canal brought them to LaSalle/Peru.  Here people boarded river steamers bound for St. Louis and New Orleans.  The canal opened the floodgates to an influx of new commodities, new people and new ideas.

The I&M Canal, and the railroad and highway connections that soon paralleled its path between Chicago and LaSalle/Peru, became the great passageway to the American West. The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848 made Chicago and northern Illinois the key crossroads of the American mid-continent. The opening of the canal heralded a new era in trade and travel for the entire nation. The I&M Canal allowed travelers the option of taking an all-water route from New York Harbor to Chicago, Illinois, to St. Louis, Missouri and even to New Orleans, Louisiana. This water highway provided a mud and dust-free alternative to overland travel. Passengers increasingly chose the all water route to the West, bypassing the Ohio River route. Freight could go from St. Louis to New York in 12 days via the I&M Canal and the Great Lakes, while the Ohio River route might take 30-40 days.

https://iandmcanal.org/about-this-place-history/

Winter Hiking – Moraine Hills, IL

Moraine Hills derives its name from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier. As glacial ice melted here following the Wisconsin glaciation period, it left gravel-rich deposits called kames that make up the park’s wooded hills and ridges.

From fishing to hiking and biking – from lush habitat and rare plants to watching a wealth of wildlife – Moraine Hills State Park is home to a recreational bounty in northeast Illinois. Located 3 miles south of McHenry in McHenry County, the park is located near the Fox River and McHenry Dam, with about half of the park’s 2,200 acres composed of wetlands and lakes.

In 1939, the State of Illinois made the initial McHenry Dam State Park land acquisition of 15 acres on the east bank of the Fox River. Major acquisition of the Lake Defiance area began in 1971, and construction of park facilities took place in the spring of 1975. The present Moraine Hills State Park opened in October 1976. The park name is derived from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier.

The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained largely undeveloped, maintaining a near-natural condition.

The waters and wetlands of Moraine Hills are home to abundant wildlife; more than 200 species of birds have been identified at the park.  Fishing is available on both Lake Defiance and on the Fox River. The McHenry Dam area provides access to the Fox River, and a fishing pier accessible.  More than 10 miles of trails make Moraine Hills popular for hikers, skiers and cyclists, and provide one of the park’s main recreation features.

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/MoraineHills.aspx

66 Hikes Along Rt. 66 – #4 – Starved Rock

 

 

Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.

Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.

WATERFALLS
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.

ICEFALLS
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!

600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore
the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea
level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface.
Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000
feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years.
Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is
moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks
up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these
rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped
rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is
called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine.
After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills
which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were
so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and
form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was
formed by one of these streams.
15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine
that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State
Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm
Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River.
Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured
through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm
Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox,
and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

Starved Rock State Park