national park service

Exploring Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park With Kids

This summer we were lucky to visit the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The views are breathtaking, the air so clean, the hikes scenic, and you spot wildlife everywhere you turn.

national park service

Before heading up to the mountains, we recommend you stop at the Visitors Center and sign up for the Rocky’s Junior Ranger Program for children K-8th grade. The program places an emphasis on park preservation, flora and fauna facts, and environmental education. Jaf and LouLou completed the Junior Ranger booklet, and earned their badges. We ended up purchasing all their gear to make it more official, including a magnifying glass, whistle, and compass to help them navigate their way through their adventures.

national park service
Jaf, the junior ranger!

There is so much to do at the park you’ll need at least a week to really enjoy all the activities. Visit their “Suggested Kids Activities” link for more information.

national park service
Breakfast time at Glacier Lodge

Our lodging at Glacier Lodge, a family-owned and operated ranch in Estes Park was even more wonderful than we could have ever expected. We met families that have been returning to the Lodge for over 20 years! The cabins are comfortable and clean, and there’s so much to do on the property itself. Our most unforgettable memory from the trip was being a few feet away from a buck.

national park service

What. an. experience!

national park service
Petting the horses 🙂

On the last day we walked over (literally a minute’s walk) to Cowpoke Corner Corral stable and rode ponies as well.

national park service

Now that we’re back in Michigan for the summer, we’re planning our next National Park outing – did you know that the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary this year?!

2016 is the 100th year the National Park Service has been active and preserving places with scenic beauty. The Smithsonian Channel has a one hour special that premiers on August 28 – the two Junior Rangers and myself will definitely be tuning in. 🙂

The one-hour special tells the story of how this radical idea evolved into an enduring mission shaped by the creativity, resourcefulness and passion of individual Americans.




NEW YORK, JULY 27, 2016 – It began as a radical idea to preserve a mysterious land of “boiling sulpher springs.” Now the National Park Service is 100 years old – with more than 400 places we’ve seen fit to save forever. Smithsonian Channel will celebrate the centennial with AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS AT 100 premiering Sunday, August 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The one-hour special tells the story of how this radical idea evolved into an enduring mission shaped by the creativity, resourcefulness and passion of individual Americans.

AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS AT 100 takes an unexpected view of the first century of our National Park System. The poster-child parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon all have rich scenery and surprising histories. But of the more than 400 places now managed by the Park Service, many are preserved not just for their scenery, but for their importance to the American story, scientific inquiry and preservation of our national treasures.

Some parks feature fascinating backstories, while others offer modern mysteries. In the 1890s, a 16-year-old boy was riding his horse in the territory of New Mexico when he spotted a flurry of bats emerging from the hills. As he got closer, he saw “the biggest and blackest hole I had ever seen, out of which the bats seemed literally to boil.” The boy, Jim White, would go on to play an instrumental role in establishing Carlsbad Caverns as a national park. Over a century later, biologists Louise Allen and Nickolay Hristov are still discovering unexplored caverns – and using the latest technology to create 3-D maps of them.

America’s third national park served as a natural barrier to defend Washington, DC during the Civil War. Today, Rock Creek Park is a laboratory for Smithsonian Institution scientists trying to understand how wildlife adapts in an urban environment. “You think this is primarily a people park, but it’s really an animal park, too,” Smithsonian research ecologist Bill McShea says. Camera traps have revealed the presence of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and even coyotes.

Along with natural spaces, the National Park Service protects places of historical importance, such as the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam. These, too, are yielding modern-day discoveries. Smithsonian forensic anthropologists Doug Owsley and Kari Bruwelheide are often called upon to analyze the remains of soldiers. “Telling that story…makes the event, the history, not just so much more tangible, but so much more personal,” Bruwelheide says.

Other parks featured in AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS AT 100 include Arizona’s Petrified Forest, Crater Lake in Oregon, California’s Channel Islands, and one of the newest national parks, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument outside of Las Vegas.

AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS AT 100 is produced and written by Dan Wolf. Joy Galane and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.

Smithsonian Channel(TM), owned by Smithsonian Networks(TM), a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network’s offerings are series including Aerial America, Million Dollar American Princesses, The Weapon Hunter, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Civil War 360, 9/11: The Heartland Tapes; MLK: The Assassination Tapes and The Day Kennedy Died. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth(TM), through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content. To learn more, go to, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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