Greg & Kim Hull crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi

Itasca State Park: Crossing the Mississippi Headwaters

Cover: Mississippi Headwaters, Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Photo: Caitlin Rick
Article by Kim Hull


Home to the beginning of the Mississippi River, Itasca State Park is a wonderful 32,000 acre park with towering pines, more than 100 lakes, hiking and biking trails, the largest pine tree in Minnesota, the historic Douglas Lodge and much more.

Established in 1891, Itasca is the oldest state park in Minnesota and the second oldest in the United States. It is also the most popular in Minnesota, with over a half million visitors each year. Most come to cross the rocks at the headwaters of the Mississippi, but discover an outdoor paradise and return to park to explore and enjoy it further, with 70% of Itasca visitors being return visitors.

A good place to begin a visit to Itasca State Park is at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center

Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We always start a park visit with a stop at the visitors center, so we’ve been to quite a few across the country and the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center is one of the nicest we’ve visited. Bright and spacious, it is well laid-out, with interpretive and hands-on exhibits, photographs, videos, maps of the area and a gift shop.

Bear exhibit, Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Bear exhibit, Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 13,000 square foot center is named after Jacob V. Brower, a writer, historian and land surveyor, who came to the Lake Itasca area in the 1800’s to settle a dispute over the location of the start of the Mississippi. Brower remained in the area and his conservation work to save the pine forests, which were being threatened from logging, ultimately resulted in the establishment of the state park in April of 1891.

Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center exhibits, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center exhibits, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Park naturalists and staff are on hand at the center to answer questions and provide recommendations on exploring the park. Maps and information are also available at the center, including an Itasca State Park overview pamphlet.

Lodging

When planning a visit to Itasca State Park, the park has several lodging and camping options available for your stay, including a hostel, the historic Douglas Lodge, or, of course, camping under the stars.

Douglas Lodge

Douglas Lodge comon area, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Douglas Lodge common area, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The historic Douglas Lodge opened in 1905 and has since hosted guests for over 110 years. While having been updated through the years with modern conveniences, the quiet, peaceful lodge retains its historic feel with period furnishings and rustic decor.

Douglas Lodge at Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, built in 1905
Douglas Lodge at Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, built in 1905
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Douglas Lodge has three suites that include a bathroom with a shower and four single rooms that share hallway baths. The common area is a warm, cozy living room with a large stone fireplace. The Lodge also has a full-service restaurant available for both hotel guests and park visitors that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Douglas Lodge guest room, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Douglas Lodge guest room, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Hiking & biking trails

Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, Itasca has a wide variety of treks ranging from short, easy hikes to longer, more adventurous trails.

The Headwaters Loop Trail & Doctor Roberts Trail near Douglas Lodge are both wheelchair accessible, boardwalk trails that wind through nature. The Headwaters Loop Trail runs from the Mary Gibbs Headwater Center along the Mississippi River to the Headwaters and the boardwalk section of the Roberts Trail runs to Old Timer’s Cabin.

Headwaters Loop Trail, Itasca State Park
Headwaters Loop Trail, Itasca State Park
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Itasca State Park Summer Map has a full listing of the park’s hiking trails. Bicycling on hiking trails is prohibited, but 16 miles of bicycle routes run through from the visitor center to the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Center, while also connecting to Douglas Lodge.

Hiking at Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Hiking at Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Mississippi Headwaters

Kim Hull crossing the Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park
Kim Hull crossing the Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One thing we weren’t going to miss when visiting Minnesota was crossing the beginning of the mighty Mississippi River.

Sure we’ve crossed the Mississippi countless times through the years by car in the 10 states it passes through on its journey from Minnesota to the Gulf Of Mexico, but Itasca State Park is the only place on earth where you can walk across it as it begins that path downstream.

If you want to say hi to someone while you are there, give them a call and tell them to go to Mississippi headwaters webcam  and they can watch as you make your crossing. Definitely a cool adventure!

Greg & Kim Hull crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi
Greg & Kim Hull crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi
Photo: Caitlin Rick
Caitlin Rick & Kim Hull cross the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park
Caitlin Rick & Kim Hull cross the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Get the book: The Best of Itasca

The Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce provided us with a copy of Deanne Johnson’s book, The Best of Itasca prior to our visit. It is a beautiful, comprehensive book, filled with everything you need to know whether visiting for a few hours or a week.

Itasca State Park location

Itasca State Park is in north central Minnesota a little over 200 miles from Minneapolis-St Paul and 26 miles from Park Rapids.


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Explore MinnesotaItasca State Park and the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Kim Hull, The Alpes, France

4 seasons with WoolX

Cover: Kim Hull, The Alpes, France
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


In one of those end-of-the-year moments spent browsing through photos from the last year, it occurred to me how often we had on a WoolX garment in the shot. Across the world over four seasons, we donned our WoolX through all temperatures and conditions. It was another 100+ nights on the road in 2015 and WoolX was always in our bags because it travels well, is comfortable, can be hand washed in a hotel sink, and it looks really good.

A visual recap of our year in WoolX

Spring 2015

Hiking at Lake Tahoe

Kim wearing WoolX while hiking on the Tahoe Rim Trail
Kim wearing WoolX while hiking on the Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

This section of the Tahoe Rim Trail is such a beautiful hike! The trailhead is off of Mount Rose highway, and 5 miles out on the trail is the perfect spot for lunch overlooking the lake. It is simply gorgeous.

We love WoolX for hiking since it breathes well and can be layered. On this day, we layered a long-sleeved mid-weight top over a lightweight short-sleeved top that kept us warm in the chilly morning, then cool when the day started to heat up.

Greg wearing WoolX mid-weight shirt while hiking at Lake Tahoe
Greg wearing WoolX mid-weight shirt while hiking at Lake Tahoe
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Summer 2015

Europe

Kim Hull, WoolX, Rome, Italy
Kim Hull, WoolX, Rome, Italy
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We headed to Europe in June to roam around before the Tour de France. Our first stop was Rome – such a wonderful, historic city. I’d read on the Vatican website that the Pope would be leaving in the early hours for a flight on one of the days while we were in Rome, so we hiked a few miles across Rome in the wee hours of the morning only to find his trip was canceled.

The reward for our early rise hike was pretty amazing – watching the sun rise over an empty St. Peter’s Square on a Sunday morning. After Rome, we hit Milan, Venice, Vienna, Zurich, Paris and then, it was time to get to work in Utrecht.

Le Tour de France

Kim Hull working at Tour de France 2015 Stage 12
Kim Hull working at Tour de France 2015 Stage 12
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 2015 Tour de France began in Utrecht and traveled through Belgium for two stages, before entering France. The Tour is 21 stages and two rest days, with most days beginning in one location and ending in another. It is exhausting, a ton of work and truly spectacular. I documented our coverage and what being at the Tour de France is like in “A Day Covering the Tour de France.

The temperatures ranged from shivering cold to extremely hot – and France can be brutally humid. With one roller bag each and access to a washing machine only once during the entire month it was WoolX to the rescue. When you change hotels every night, there’s only a little time for drying – the good news, WoolX dries in a couple of hours. Simply wash, hang to dry and it looks perfect.

Washing WoolX in Cannes, France Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Washing WoolX in Cannes, France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Fortunately, we did have a couple of rest days on a few stops along the Tour that allowed for a bit of exploring, such as…

A stay on a gorgeous horse ranch in northern France.

Hostellerie De La Hauquerie - Chevotel, Quetteville, France, Tour de France 2015
Kim Hull in WoolX at Hostellerie De La Hauquerie – Chevotel, Quetteville, France, Tour de France 2015
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Some relaxation time in Cannes, France.

Greg Hull wearing WoolX, Cannes, France
Greg Hull wearing WoolX, Cannes, France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A bit of hiking in the Alpes.

Kim Hull, The Alpes, France
Kim Hull, The Alpes, France
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Fall 2015

Santa Anita Park

Greg Hull, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California
Greg Hull, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In October, we headed to New Mexico and southern California where we spent a day at the historic and beautiful Santa Anita race track.

Home to both 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, and the horse the world fell in love with, Seabiscuit, our day at Santa Anita Park was a blast – and the views of the San Gabriel Mountains were amazing – especially from the roof above the press box!

Hiking Lake Tahoe

Kim and Greg Hull in WoolX, Lake Tahoe
Hiking Lake Tahoe
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Returning to Tahoe, we hit the trail again for a hike at one of the prettiest places you can find to hike on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe at Eagle Falls above Emerald Bay. It was Halloween and it turned out that would be the final hike of the fall as El Niño rolled in during November and the snow began to fall.

Winter 2015

Skiing Lake Tahoe

Opening day at Mt Rose Ski resort, Lake Tahoe
Opening day at Mt Rose Ski resort, Lake Tahoe Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Finally, a ski season where it snowed early and often! Mt Rose opened on November 11 and we were on the hill for some sun, snow, and skiing!

Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

As the snow continued to pile up, we headed to the Caribbean for a few weeks of island hopping, sailing, resort shoots and even some horseback riding and swimming in Bonaire.

Greg Hull, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Greg Hull, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Skiing Lake Tahoe

Then, it was back to Tahoe for one of the best winters of skiing in memory. The snow continues to fall and we are making our way around nine of the fabulous Lake Tahoe ski resorts – and wearing our WoolX base layers as we go.

It’s been almost a year since we became WoolX Brand Ambassadors because we loved their soft, comfortable products and, looking back at the past year, we can add high-performing to the list as well. Here’s to a fabulous 2016 and all it will bring!


Disclosure & disclaimer: As 2015 Brand Ambassadors for WoolX, we received product samples for evaluation. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Kim Hull, Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull, Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado

16 free National Parks Days in 2016

Cover: Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


In celebration of their 100th anniversary, the National Parks Service will offer free admission on 16 days during 2016 at 127 parks that normally charge entrance fees. The remaining 409 parks are free every day of the year.

A reminder – any fourth-grade student can get a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program, and active duty military and citizens with a permanent disability can also get free passes.

Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde, Arizona
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

16 free National Parks Days in 2016

January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
April 16 through 24: National Park Week
August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
September 24: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 127 National Parks offering the 16 free days

Alaska
Denali National Park & Preserve

Arizona
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Grand Canyon National Park
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Petrified Forest National Park
Pipe Spring National Monument
Saguaro National Park
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Tonto National Monument
Tumacácori National Historical Park
Tuzigoot National Monument
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Wupatki National Monument

Arkansas
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Pea Ridge National Military Park

California
Cabrillo National Monument
Death Valley National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lava Beds National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument
Pinnacles National Park
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Yosemite National Park

Colorado
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Colorado National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Mesa Verde National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

Florida
Canaveral National Seashore
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Dry Tortugas National Park
Everglades National Park
Gulf Islands National Seashore

Georgia
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Cumberland Island National Seashore
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument

Hawaii
Haleakalā National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

Idaho
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Yellowstone National Park

Indiana
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Maine
Acadia National Park

Maryland
Antietam National Battlefield
Assateague Island National Seashore
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Fort Washington Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Massachusetts
Adams National Historical Park
Cape Cod National Seashore

Michigan
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Minnesota
Pipestone National Monument

Mississippi
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Vicksburg National Military Park

Missouri
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Montana
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Glacier National Park
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Yellowstone National Park

Nebraska
Scotts Bluff National Monument

Nevada
Death Valley National Park
Lake Mead National Recreation Area

New Hampshire
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

New Jersey
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Morristown National Historical Park

New Mexico
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Pecos National Historical Park
White Sands National Monument

New York
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Saratoga National Historical Park
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

North Carolina
Wright Brothers National Memorial

North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Ohio
James A. Garfield National Historic Site
Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial

Oklahoma
Fort Smith National Historic Site

Oregon
Crater Lake National Park
Lewis & Clark National Historical Park

Pennsylvania
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Fort Necessity National Battlefield
Johnstown Flood National Memorial
Steamtown National Historic Site

Puerto Rico
San Juan National Historic Site

South Carolina
Fort Sumter National Monument

South Dakota
Badlands National Park
Jewel Cave National Monument

Tennessee
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Texas
Big Bend National Park
Fort Davis National Historic Site
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Padre Island National Seashore

Utah
Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Golden Spike National Historic Site
Natural Bridges National Monument
Zion National Park

Virgin Islands
Christiansted National Historic Site

Virginia
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
Assateague Island National Seashore
Colonial National Historical Park
George Washington Memorial Parkway’s Great Falls Park
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Petersburg National Battlefield
Prince William Forest Park
Shenandoah National Park

Washington
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Lewis & Clark National Historical Park
Mount Rainier National Park
Olympic National Park
West Virginia
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Wyoming
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Devils Tower National Monument
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

More information on the free days is available on the National Parks website.

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

WoolX, Lake Tahoe

From midweight to heavyweight in 24 hours at Lake Tahoe

Cover: Kim & Greg Hull hiking Lake Tahoe
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


While many were readying their superhero attire and prepping for Halloween shindigs, we headed to Lake Tahoe on October 31 for some fall hiking.

Although the day started out a bit chilly, as the sun rose, the day warmed into the upper 60s, perfect for a last fall hike before El Niño arrives in the Sierra for what we hope to be a phenomenal winter of Lake Tahoe skiing.

Lake Tahoe’s Eagle Falls

Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One of the prettiest places you can hike can be found on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe at Eagle Falls above Emerald Bay. A popular spot for South Lake Tahoe visitors, the Eagle Falls Loop and Eagle Falls Lake hikes offer stunning views of both Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.

Emerald Bay is located about 10 miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Parking can be found along the highway just outside the trailhead or in the Eagle Falls trailhead lot for a small fee. On the weekends and throughout the summer, Eagle Falls can be very crowded and the highway is busy and fast, so use extreme care when walking near the roadway. The Eagle Loop is a short, bi-directional trail that involves quite a bit of climbing up and down stairs constructed by the park.

Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For the Eagle Lake trail, a self-serve wilderness permit must be obtained at the trailhead. Once past the bridge, the trail involves climbing another stone staircase before leveling off, with Eagle Lake just ahead.

Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While the waterfalls are at their peak in the spring, the area is beautiful in the summer and fall as well. Bring a lunch, find a quiet spot and marvel at nature at her finest.

WoolX, Lake Tahoe
Hiking at Lake Tahoe
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From midweight to heavyweight in 24 hours

For our late fall hike, we both wore midweight WoolX tops which were perfect with temperatures beginning at 47°F then warming to 67°F by midday.

So comfortable, WoolX clothing is made from the softest Merino wool with just a bit of stretch, so it both performs well and keeps you warm. After trying out several WoolX styles about a year ago, we loved their clothing so much we joined on as Brand Ambassadors. Now four seasons in, we live in WoolX year round. It looks great, fits great, and is washable and dryable – as in, you can put it in the dryer and it doesn’t shrink.

For hiking and skiing, we both are fans of the 1/4 zip, which is super comfortable, stylish and keeps you functioning at top performance.

From midweight to heavyweight in 24 hours at Lake TahoeThings change fast around here – we went from midweight on October 31st to heavyweight by November 1st.

Whoa! That must have been some Halloween candy-fest. Granted, while trick-or-treat candy dispensing (in my stylish black WoolX tunic) also resulted in quite a bit of M&M consumption, the fall days of October hiking at Lake Tahoe turned to snow by the next morning, as the first significant winter storm brought a covering of white to the Sierra.

Luckily, WoolX comes in multiple weights to accommodate the changing seasons as well.

November 2014 snow forecast#Winter is Here

Time to tune the skis, kick the ski conditioning into high gear, and pull out the heavyweight WoolX. Actually, midweight tops and base layers are perfect for skiing on bluebird days, but the heavyweight line is super for cold, blustery January days.

Either way, we’re covered – let it snow!


Disclosure & disclaimer: As brand ambassadors for WoolX, we receive product samples for evaluation and are not otherwise financially compensated by this sponsor. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Best of Reno Tahoe: Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bandelier National Monument: Hiking trails, cliff dwellings & ruins

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

New Mexico has some fabulous hiking spots but one of our favorites is Bandelier National Monument.

Located about an hour from Santa Fe or two hours from Albuquerque, Bandelier’s 33,000 acres contain cliff dwellings where the Pueblo people built homes in the rock cliffs, petroglyphs, and evidence of even earlier life, when nomadic people occupied the land over 10,000 years ago.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

In 1880, Adolph Francis Bandelier came to the area to study the dwelling sites, later publishing both scientific reports and a fictional book based on Pueblo life, “The Delight Makers.” Bandelier, along with other archeologists, emphasized the importance of preserving the site, which in 1916 was accomplished when  President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to establish the national monument, naming it after Bandelier.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hiking Bandelier National Monument

With over 70 miles of trails at Bandelier, there’s something for everyone, with trails ranging from short, easy loops to steep, long switchbacks.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Main Loop Trail

The Main Loop Trail is a short, partially handicapped accessible, 1.2 mile loop that begins at the visitor center. The trail is well-maintained and takes about an hour to complete, allowing for stops along the way. The upper parts of the trail near the cliff dwellings require some climbing of stairs, which have handrails.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Main Loop Trail winds along the floor of the Frijoles Canyon past archeological sites such as the Big Kiva, which, according to the park, once had a roof covering it and was a communal meeting place.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The remains of the Tyuonyi (Qu-weh-nee) village is estimated to have once been two stories with over 400 rooms.

The Puebloan people used volcanic tuff blocks, which is relatively soft and breaks easily, to construct the homes. The blocks of tuffs were held together with a mortar mud mixture. Ponderosa pines from nearby were used to make vigas, rough-hewn beams to support the roofs.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Continuing on, the trail leads to the cliff dwellings called cavates, or small human-carved alcoves. Ladders allow visitors to climb up to view the cavates.

Greg Hull at Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Greg Hull at Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Stops are numbered along the trail and trail guides with coordinating descriptions are available in the visitor’s center.

The views from the elevated section of the trail near the cliff dwellings are quite spectacular.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

So, why did some of the Puebloan people live in the cliff dwellings and some live in the Tyuonyi village?

It’s believed that both were occupied during the same period and that the village on the canyon floor would have been used during the summer. During the winters, the south-facing cliff dwellings would have been warmer than on the canyon floor.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Dwellings along the canyon wall were often multiple stories, which can be determined by the number of rows of viga holes.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Main Loop Trail also passes Talus House, which was reconstructed in 1920.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Other Bandolier National Monument Trails

The Alcove Trail connects to Main Loop at the half way point, adding an additional 1 mile to the hike round trip. The Alcove Trail section leads to Alcove House, which is located 140 feet above the canyon floor.

The 1.5 mile Falls Trail starts near the visitors center, leading to the Upper Falls. The Falls Trail should not be attempted when winter conditions are present. Do not drink the water.

Bandelier National Monument’s Tsankawi section is located 12 miles from the visitor center. 1.5 miles in length, the Tsankawi trail leads to cavates, petroglyphs, a mesa and the ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. The Tsankawi section should not be attempted when winter conditions are present.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go

Hours & seasons. Bandelier National Monument is open daily, year-round except Christmas and New Years Day, from dawn to dusk except during heavy snow days or other emergencies. Backpacking permits must be obtained at the Frijoles Canyon Visitor Center for any overnight stays in the park’s backcountry.

Shuttle bus. During the summer months between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM, all Bandelier National Monument visitors, except vehicles displaying disability tags, are required to take a free shuttle bus from the White Rock visitor center to access the main visitor area of Bandelier National Monument, including the visitor center, Main Loop Trail, and Falls Trail. Shuttles run approximately every 30 minutes weekdays, and 20 minutes on weekends. The shuttle is free, however the park entrance fee still applies. Before 9AM, and after 3PM, all vehicles may drive directly to the park.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

What to bring. Temperatures are high in the summer at Bandelier, so bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen & a hat. Thunderstorms, which can have hail and lightning, are frequent in the summer afternoons and flash flooding can occur.

Watch for bears and rattlesnakes.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Related

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque hiking: Petroglyph National Monument

Cover: Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Between 400 to 700 years ago, North American and Spanish settlers who called the Rio Grande valley home, in and near what is now Albuquerque, created over 24,000 petroglyphs on volcanic rocks. The site of these images, Petroglyph National Monument, was established as one of the largest petroglyph concentrations in North America in 1990.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

What is a petroglyph?

Petroglyphs are rock carvings made by inscribing images into the rocks, exposing the lighter-colored rock underneath. According to the National Park Service, 90% of the petroglyphs located in Petroglyph National Monument were created by the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians, who would have used another stone or some type of chisel to pick or carve the images into the basalt boulders.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting to Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

If you’re in Albuquerque and in the mood for a hike, Petroglyph National Monument is easily accessible with several trail options that wind through the New Mexico desert next to the thousands of petroglyphs.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The best place to start is the Petroglyph National Monument Visitors Center on the west side of Albuquerque near Unser and Western Trail. There is a warning on the National Parks website that advises that when entering “Petroglyph National Monument” into a GPS, you may end up in a neighborhood or at the administrative office which is not designed for visitors. They are correct – go to the Petroglyph National Monument website before you head to the park where you’ll find a map, coordinates, and directions to the visitor center.

The rangers and staff at the visitor’s center have park information, answer any questions you may have, and provide trail suggestions based on the hike length and difficulty you desire.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Before you begin your hike amongst the petroglyphs, keep in mind…

  • Do not touch the petroglyphs. Hand oils can damage them and cause deterioration.
  • Respect the culture of the native peoples that called this area home. Don’t remove or vandalize anything.
  • Stay on hiking trails to prevent erosion.
  • Take water and sunscreen.
  • Leave the area and take shelter in your vehicle if thunderstorms move in during your hike.
  • You are in the desert, home of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. Watch where you step and report any snakes spotted to park rangers.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Petroglyph National Monument: Boca Negra Canyon

While it only contains about 5% of the park’s petroglyph’s, the Boca Negra Canyon section of the park is the most visited.

Located about 2 miles from the visitor’s center, Boca Negra Canyon has three paved trails.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The shortest trail, The Macaw, is an easy 5-minute stroll that provides easy access for viewing the Macaw petroglyph.

The Cliff Base Trail is slightly longer at .2 miles and takes about 15 minutes as it winds through the boulders with views of numerous petroglyphs. Both the Macaw and the Cliff Base Trail begin from the same point near parking, restroom and picnic facilities.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The third trail at Boca Negra Canyon is Mesa Point Trail which requires more climbing as it rises to reach the mesa top, providing a panoramic view of the canyon. The trail takes about 30 minutes roundtrip and is the most difficult of the three.

Petroglyph National Monument: Piedras Marcadas Canyon

Piedras Marcadas Canyon is located at the northernmost section of Petroglyph National Monument and is home to the densest concentration of petroglyphs.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While the trail begins near a parking lot in a neighborhood, the trail quickly winds away from the homes. At just under 2 miles roundtrip, the flat, sandy trail is an easy hike along the boulders with six markers along the way identifying petroglyph areas.

Other Petroglyph National Monument areas

In addition to Boca Negra Canyon and Piedras Marcadas Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument has additional areas for hiking and viewing petroglyphs.

Rinconada Canyon is a secluded 2.2-mile roundtrip walk with no service or water and The Volcanoes Day Use Area offers moderately strenuous hiking near the cinder cones without petroglyph viewing.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
New Hampshire: Hiking with a View, Followed by an Autumn Brew

New Hampshire: Hiking with a View, Followed by an Autumn Brew

Article and photography by Iris Fischer-McMorrow


New Hampshire is home to a great après-ski culture. What better way to end a good day on the slopes than sharing a toast with friends? It seems a little unfair, though, that this practice gets attention during the winter, especially when the beautiful state of New Hampshire has so many year-round outdoor activities.

In the fall, deep reds, vibrant oranges, and bright yellows paint the hillsides. It is a perfect time to hike, and New Hampshire is home to many mountain trails with stunning views. Even better, some trails are located only a short distance from small New Hampshire towns with great options for an “après-hike” celebration, especially if a good microbrew is appealing.

New Hampshire Hiking: Crawford Notch
New Hampshire Hiking: Crawford Notch
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

Whether you are traveling to Southern New Hampshire, or plan to head up to the heart of the White Mountains, there are countless options. Here are four favorite accessible mountain hikes with great views, and easy stops nearby to share a congratulatory toast after a beautiful fall day outdoors.

1. Southern New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region

Close to the Southwest corner of New Hampshire is Mount Monadnock, a popular mountain for hiking (rumored to be the second most traversed mountain in the United States). However, New Englanders also have a few favorite trails on Pack Monadnock, a neighboring mountain, with great views across to Mount Monadnock and the Wapack Range.

New Hampshire Hiking: Pack Monadnock
New Hampshire Hiking: Pack Monadnock
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

The Pack Monadnock trails leave from Miller State Park, and all trails are fairly equal in difficulty (moderate uphill climbs, but short: about 1.5-2 miles each way). The summit can be a bit crowded at times, but the views from the top more than make up for the crowds. On a clear day, you can even glimpse the Boston skyline in the distance.

Only five miles away from the Pack Monadnock trails is Peterborough, a small town filled with artist’s studios and a few cozy places to sit and enjoy a local IPA or that New Hampshire favorite: pumpkin ale.

Harlow’s Pub, Peterborough
Harlow’s Pub, Peterborough
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

Harlow’s Pub is a local institution, a place where musicians and artists gather to enjoy good food and beer with local music. The feel is eclectic; from the British phone booth decorating the corner to the 70’and 80’s memorabilia filling the walls. It is no doubt a unique spot to unwind after a good hike. If it’s a sunny day, the outdoor patio is a great place to sit back and rest after a day on the mountain.

2. Central New Hampshire’s Sunapee Region

Don’t ignore the middle of this amazing state. The lakes here are famous, and when surrounded by fall foliage, this part of New Hampshire is filled with striking views.

New Hampshire Hiking: Reflection
Reflection
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

Mount Kearsarge is one of the oldest mountains in the state. The summit offers beautiful views of Mount Cardigan and Sunapee, and on a clear day, you can see the White Mountains. Easy trails right to the summit are accessible from Rollins State Park but don’t cheat. Instead, start from a different location and hike a trail that winds up the side of Kearsage. To do so, leave from Winslow State Park, and take the Barlow Trail for a 1.7-mile hike each way. Along the trail, you will catch beautiful views of Mount Cardigan and Ragged Mountain.

New Hampshire Hiking: Views From Mount Kearsarge
New Hampshire Hiking: Views From Mount Kearsarge
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

A longer hike means a reward, after all. New London is just minutes away from Winslow State Park and well worth the trip. This college town offers views of the Mount Sunapee Ski Resort, as well as great stops for coffee, sandwiches, or a good local brew. The Flying Goose Brew Pub brews beer on site. They have a Saison called “Death of a Beer Geek” that is pretty intriguing. The Goose is a favorite pit stop for outdoor enthusiasts year round.

3. The White Mountains: Pinkham Notch

Northern New Hampshire is home to jaw-dropping vistas and terrain. This is the real drama. It’s Mount Washington, after all, the highest peak in the Northeast. The other peaks of the Presidential Range surround Mount Washington, and the area is famous for intense changes in weather and climbing conditions.

New Hampshire Hiking: Tuckerman’s Ravine, Mount Washington
New Hampshire Hiking: Tuckerman’s Ravine, Mount Washington
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

Don’t be intimidated. The Appalachian Mountain Club has a visiting center in Pinkham Notch, and the folks there can help you choose safe, accessible day hikes that offer breathtaking views right out back.

It is a popular pastime to hike up to Tuckerman’s Ravine. However, if a quiet fall hike with fewer people – but still filled with beautiful views – is appealing, there are great loop trails off of Old Jackson Road, just behind the visitor’s center. Trails are about 2.5-3 miles in length round trip, with a moderately difficult ascent at times, but the reward is a private view across to Tuckerman’s Ravine, Wildcat Mountain, and the other peaks around Pinkham Notch.

New Hampshire Hiking: White Mountains
New Hampshire Hiking: White Mountains
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

A toast with a good local beer should follow all of this hard work. Jackson and North Conway are two New England towns within a short driving distance of Pinkham Notch, and between the two towns are some great pit stops for a pint and a snack.

The bar at the Red Parka Pub is a local favorite and is regularly packed to the gills. The outdoor seating area, surrounded by a fence of alpine skis, is a great place to relax. Equally popular is a local brewery’s restaurant, the Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company. Celebrate the season with Opa’s Oktoberfest German-style lager along with a plate of Bavarian pretzels and beer cheese. Or better yet, a plate of nachos covered in smoked brisket. Remember: the hike was a calorie burn, after all.

4. The White Mountains: Crawford Notch

New Hampshire Hiking: Crawford Notch
New Hampshire Hiking: Crawford Notch
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

Crawford Notch, a gorge in the White Mountains, is a hikers dream. The notch is filled with wildlife, waterfalls and dramatic views. The Appalachian Mountain Club operates a visitor’s center here as well, a great destination for information about the park and its numerous trails. There is no shortage of day hikes all along the Crawford Notch’s nearly 6,000 acres, but a favorite is Mount Willard, a moderately difficult, but short (3.2 miles round-trip) hike to some of the most spectacular views in the area.

New Hampshire Hiking: Views From the Omni Mount Washington Resort
New Hampshire Hiking: Views From the Omni Mount Washington Resort
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

In this part of the White Mountains, there is a special location to enjoy a real reward after a hike. You will find it at The Mount Washington Resort. This historic hotel tucked just below Mount Washington, sits outside of Crawford Notch State Park. Breathtaking views of the White Mountains are visible from every corner of the hotel. Yes, there are restaurants here with white tablecloths and waiters with bowties. But, believe it or not, you can be a dusty hiker with muddy boots, especially if you want to enjoy the pub downstairs.

New Hampshire Hiking: White Mountains
Photo: © Iris Fischer-McMorrow

For the real reward, though, I recommend heading out to the porch on a warmer fall day. Maybe splurge and enjoy a cocktail. Kick back in one of the comfy chairs and raise a glass to the day’s work. Take a well-deserved sip while you gaze out at the mountains, grateful for a day in New Hampshire’s wilderness.