Explore Your Outdoor Options Online!Posted by Whole Earth | 11.03.2022
Explore Your Outdoor Options Online!
Now that cooler weather has arrived, are you ready to get out of town on a weekend adventure or have a family outing with a hike and a picnic? Or perhaps you'll be traveling during the holidays, and you'd like to set aside time to take in some of the local scenery while you're far from home. If so, we have a few online sites that can help you discover your options: Recreation.gov, Heritage Travel, part of the National Park Service website, and the Texas State Parks website.
Recreation.gov has been around for over ten years. The format has changed with time, but it offers information on over 4,200 facilities and activities and over 113,000 individual reservable sites across the country. Activities include camping, hiking, picnicking, boating, rafting, cycling, horseback riding, hunting and fishing, wildlife viewing, tours, and ranger-led experiences.
The website is a warehouse of information about recreation sites managed by Federal agencies including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and more. You may not have known about or even considered visiting areas run by these lesser-known government entities. With Recreation.gov you have access to detailed information about refuges, forests and grasslands, parks, preserves, and recreation areas.
Searches can be as broad as kayaking or as finely tuned as a zip code. Kayaking brings up over 300 possibilities from coast to coast. The first large search box can handle searches for activities and places. Under Explore Destinations & Activities, you can enter a location by name or zip code. Click on one of the options revealed by your search and you'll find details such as a Campsite List, Seasons and Fees, Rules and Cancellations, Facility Information, and Ratings and Reviews.
Facility Information is filled with particulars including the actual facilities available at the site, Natural Features, Recreation options, Amenities, Nearby Attractions, directions to the site, and the all-important Need to Know that includes facts such as Bear habitat, pet permissions, and more. Scrolling toward the bottom of the Recreation.gov page you'll find a linked list to Explore Most Popular Locations and to Explore by State.
At the very bottom of the page, you'll find helpful links including Build a Trip and Find Trip Inspiration. Build a Trip includes planning road trips to see the sites in Washington, D.C. or New York City. Or how about a road trip from Los Angeles to the Presidio in San Francisco or south from Chicago on Route 66? Find Trip Inspiration has suggestions for viewing fall color in our National Forests or finding 10 Awesome Hikes from 10 Major Cities. You'll also be able to track reservations, buy passes, and enter lotteries for passes to areas with limited accessibility.
You can search for specific historic sites, famous Americans, and battlefields on Recreation.gov, but often you'll find more results on the Heritage Travel section of the National Park Service site. The page includes Travel Itineraries for trips like the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail that runs from El Paso to the San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico. Each trip also includes sections on stories, materials for use in the classroom, and a list of sites on the trail. There are extensive lists of destinations under the Historic and Cultural Parks, Maritime Heritage, and Archaeology Tourism which includes sections on the Archaeology of African Americans, Urban Archaeology, Latino Archaeology, and Indigenous Landscapes. Use this resource to make our history come alive!
Here in Texas, we can add the Texas State Parks website to our list of resources to find the perfect getaway. The site lists all 88 parks, natural areas, and historic sites that make up our Texas State Parks system. Each has its own page which includes maps and checklists, fees and facilities, field trips for schools and other groups, a brief description of the geology, animals, and plants found in the park, a park history, and events. One of our favorite features is the State Parks Events Calendar. It's an overview of all the events found throughout the park system, organized by date as well as by activity on the left-hand sidebar. Another resource for discovering what's available in our Texas State Parks is the handy Official Guide. You can find copies at your local Whole Earth Provision Co. store or download a PDF in English or Spanish.
Now is the season for outdoor adventure and travel. Let's go exploring and add some new memories to our family's ongoing story. Need gear or advice? Our Whole Earth staff is here to help.