Archive for April, 2021


CA to OH NP Unit Sites

April 19, 2021

4/2 F – did a 2-mile hike from the Switzer Picnic Area in San Gabriel Mountains NM (USFS)

4/4 Sun – Easter Sunday

4/5 M – dropped Helen off at the Burbank Airport at 7:15am and drove about five hours to Lake Mead NRA.  See Blog for March 2009.  This was America’s first NRA.

Visitor Center

You can start the Historic Railroad Trail from the Visitor Center or from the Hoover Dam Lodge and Casino, which is on the upper right in this photo.   Many people do the trail from here (flat) on bikes.

I started from a 0.3-mile connector trail that descends from the Lodge.  It is 0.6-mile shorter, but you have to gain about 250 feet on the return.  I hiked about 4 miles total.

This sign shows the connection of the two trails.

There are 5 tunnels that were built for the transport of workers and supplies to the Hoover Dam construction site on the Colorado River.  Tunnel 1 –

Tunnel 2 –

Lake Mead

Tunnel 3 –

Inside Tunnel 4 –

Tunnel 5 –

After the hike I drove north on Lakeshore drive.  This is Boulder Beach.  There are many access points for beach and water recreation on Lake Mead.

Looking SE over Lake Mead from a point near the Fish Hatchery

I had a 5-hour drive to Great Basin NP – sunset in NV.  Slept in Baker NV just outside the park.

 4/6 TuGreat Basin NP is located in East-Central Nevada near the Utah border.


Helen and I toured Lehman Caves NM in 1968.  It was incorporated into the new Great Basin NP in 1986.


We visited again in 1992 with Kate, Chad, and Manuel, our exchange student from the Canary Islands.    

Kate and Chad doing their Junior Ranger activities.

Great Basin NP entrance 6:45am – 24 degrees!

I did a short hike from the Upper Lehman Creek Campground

I then did the Nature Trail behind the Lehman Caves Visitor Center – view looking east.

“Discovery or Natural Entrance” – with bat-compatible gate.   A new entrance tunnel was blasted into the cave in 1939.

Clarence and Bea Rhodes cabin (1928), they were custodians of the cave.

Ab Lehman discovered the caves in 1885

On the way out of town I visited the Baker Archeological Site administered by the BLM.

Pronghorns are the only animals in the world that have forked horns that shed each year.

This is open range country – watch out!

I had not planned on stopping in Zion NP on this trip.  However, I was passing the Kolob Canyons section of the park, which I had not been to before, and could not resist seeing another part of the park.  Helen and I tried to visit here in 2009 but the road was closed because of snow.  So, we went to the main entrance and, among other things, climbed to Angels Landing – see Blog for March 2009.

I stopped at the Visitor Center and then drove to the end of the Kolob Canyons Road.

Photos from the parking lot at the end of the road – Kolob Canyons Viewpoint

I then hiked the Timber Creek Overlook Trail for a view from a higher perspective.

It took only an hour to get to Pipe Springs NM in the northern Arizona strip. Helen and I visited in 2009 and did the ranger tour – see Blog for March 2009.  I had only one photo from that visit, so I stopped here again today.

This has been a notable “watering place” for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.  The Kaibab Tribe of the Paiute Nation is an active partner with the monument.

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) came here in the mid-1800s, conflict over water and land use began.  In 1868, a small stone cabin was built here to defend against Navajo raids.  Two sandstone-block buildings, with a central courtyard and strong wooden gates, were constructed in 1870.

Winsor Castle

Some Winsor Castle rooms –

First occupants

Next experience – Grand Canyon-Parashant NM (BLM).  In March 2009 Helen and I drove through a small eastern section of this monument on our way to the Toroweap Overlook of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River– see Blog.  On this trip, I drove the same gravel road (Rt 109) to Rt 5 and then turned west to go further into the monument.  I wanted to drive a loop from the west but the rangers in St. George told me it was too early for the 4WD road to be passable.

I had to hustle to complete the Nampaweap Petroglph Trail (about 1.5mi roundtrip) before it was dark.

I then continued west into the Mount Trumbull Wilderness and the trailhead for Mt Trumbull (8,028ft).

I used my headlights to take this photo of a marker for the Historic Sawmill Site (1870s-1940s) that was used to provide the lumber for the Mormon Temple in St. George.  Teams of oxen hauled the wood 80 miles over what became known as the Mormon Temple Road.

It was now dark, so I drove a bit off the road into the forest for the night.  The night sky was amazing.  I opened the sunroof and enjoyed the dazzling display of stars as I lay in the SUV.  It was a cold night at 6,500 feet with the temperature dropping into the teens.  So cold in fact, that because I had not brought my cold weather sleeping bag, I got up at 3am and started driving to my next location! I only saw one other vehicle while I was in the monument.

4/7 W – started driving at 3am from Grand Canyon-Parashant NM.  It was a long drive (12hrs) on back roads to Capulin Volcano NM in NE New Mexico.  I was here in 1990 and did the Crater Rim Trail as well as the Crater Vent Trail.

On this trip, I only had a half hour to drive to the rim parking lot and do part of the rim trail before they closed the road for the night.

Looking West from rim parking lot

After closing I hiked the Lava Flow Trail and Boca Trail

4/8 Th – arrived at Chickasaw NRA around 11am.  The springs area was purchased from the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations in 1906 and designated Platt National Park after a CT senator who had sponsored the legislation.  In 1976 it was combined with Arbuckle Recreation Area to become Chickasaw NRA.  This was one of the few times that a National Park was subsumed under another park designation.

My first stop was Little Niagara Falls of Travertine Creek

Helen gave Kate a bath in the Creek in 1982 –

I stopped by the Travertine Nature Center and then hiked to Antelope Springs

Then Buffalo Springs

There are many natural springs in the park, the CCC built several pavilions for the springs in the 1930s.  This is Pavilion Spring

Hillside Springs

Black Sulfur Springs

Rock Creek

Famous Lincoln Bridge over Travertine Creek

Bromide Pavilion

Vendome Well

The Buckhorn area of Arbuckle Recreation Area and Lake of the Arbuckles.

I arrived at Fort Smith NHS in AR in the early evening.  The first Fort Smith was constructed at Belle Point where the Poteau River empties into the Arkansas River in 1817.

The U.S. government attempted to keep peace among settlers, Osage Indians, and Cherokee Indians in this area.

The first photo is 2021, the second was taken in 1998 when I visited this site with Chad.

The second Fort Smith was built in 1838, primarily to defend against possible Indian attack from Indian Territory on the opposite side of the Arkansas River (today Oklahoma).  It was a major installation.

The Commissary

Barracks-Courthouse-Jail-Visitor Center

The Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas was established here in 1872 and operated until 1896.  In addition to Arkansas, it had jurisdiction over Indian Territory as well.  Judge Isaac Parker came to be known as the “hanging judge.”  Of 160 he sentenced to be hanged, 79 met their fate at the Gallows.

Drove into the night and slept in Missouri.

4/9 F – I arrived at the Harry S. Truman NHS Farm Unit just S of Kansas City MO at 8am.  Helen and I had visited the Harry S. Truman NHS home and Presidential Library in Independence MO in 2018 – See Blog for February.

The NPS now owns 10 acres of the 600-acre farm.  Workers were repairing the front porch roof of the farmhouse when I was there.

Harry worked on his grandmothers farm from 1906-17, between the ages of 22 and 33.  He stated that, “. . .riding one of these plows all day, day after day, gives one time to think.  I’ve settled all the ills of mankind in one way and another while riding along seeing that each animal pulled his part of the load.”

Back of house

It was a half hour drive into Kansas City MO and the National World War I Museum and Memorial.  I parked at Union Station across Pershing Road from the Memorial.

It is the largest and most notable World War I Museum and Memorial in the country.  The Allied Commanders dedicated the site in 1921 and President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the completed Liberty Memorial in 1926.  It was paid for by the citizens of Kansas City.  It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, the same year the National World War I Museum was opened.  [The National Park World War I National Memorial is in Pershing Park in Washington DC, close to the White House.  It has recently been renovated – see Blog for October 2018 and December 2020.]

The museum and memorial are run by a non-profit organization.  “The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.” 

It has been supported by the U.S. government and I believe it should become an Affiliated National Park Unit.  View of Union Station and downtown Kansas City from the Liberty Memorial.

I arrived at Gateway Arch NP, formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis at 2pm.

We have visited the “Arch” many times.  As you drive west on I70 and cross the Mississippi River from IL, Gateway Arch is the first thing you see as you enter St. Louis.  The next photo is from 1982, the following photos are from 1992 when we rode the elevator to the top. Tram cars can carry up to five.

Today, I revisited the museum.

Elevator Entrance

One Day, Three Nations

Gateway Arch is the tallest in the world at 630 feet high and is based on an equilateral triangle – base is 630 feet wide.

Old Courthouse

Old Cathedral

In 2018, the Trump administration renamed and upgraded Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to Gateway Arch National Park.  I disagree with the new designation.  There is no way that this small man-made park is on par with any of the other major National Parks.  Every other NP, among other notable characteristics, preserves a part of the natural environment.  Think Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, Acadia, etc., etc., etc.  There is no comparison!  In my opinion, the Arch should be designated a National Monument or a National Historic Site.

2003 50 State Quarters Coin Missouri Uncirculated Reverse

Six more hours of driving and I was home at 10:30pm – after having covered 8,400 miles.