Hi all and happy Friday. From kayaking to cycling, letter-boxing and reading -- on a sun-drenched beach or beneath a green-leafed canopy -- there are dozens of ways to experience the inspiring, natural environment that characterizes our state and community.
As National Park Week 2012 wraps up Sunday, April 29, I'd like to share some some sugs from the National Park Service and National Park Foundation for planning excursions to Michigan's five national parks -- Isle Royale National Park , Keweenaw National Historic Park , Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore , North Country Scenic Trail -- and beyond. And while we're at it, also planting a few seeds of inspiration for enjoying our local, Huron-Clinton Metro Parks:
* Yoga on the beach at Lake St. Clair Metro Park beginning Saturday, May 29 at 8 a.m: http://www.metroparks.com/content.aspx?ID=949
* Nature, wildlife or action adventure photography. Exploring on your own is often the most convenient (read: cheapest) route, but don't rule out the benefits of working with with a guide via http://www.richardbernabe.com/PhotoWorkshops.htm Either way, once your film has been processed, (read: downloaded) share photos and videos, along with stories from your national park travels at www.nationalparkweek.org. This site also contains a calendar of events and lots of information on how to visit and support the national park system.
* Half-marathon running at Stony Creek: http://shelby-utica.patch.com/articles/stony-creek-hosts-half-marathon-may-22
* The 16th annual Astronomy at the Beach event, Sept. 21-22 at Kensington Metropark. Using a portable planetarium, visitors will take part in simulation tours of the constellations and other current objects. A children's sky tour treasure hunt will be featured and organizers urge early arrival to check out sun spot or late departure to observe dozens of celestial objects moving through the night sky., weather permitting. Go here for more information about this event.
* Sheep sheering, fireworks, discovery cruises, etc : For more information, visit http://www.metroparks.com/content.aspx?ID=931
Now, for 8 great ideas for getting fresh air and exercise through park experiences anywhere as thoughtfully detailed by the NPS and NPF.
* Take a Hike: Explore the 18,600 miles of trails built especially for you for short hikes or a day-long expeditions. Cross the Continental Divide on the High Line Trail in Glacier, go vertical on the Moro Rock Trail in Sequoia & Kings Canyon, or tackle a section of the Appalachian Trail. If you’d like to hike with an expert, many parks offer daily ranger-led guided tours, including the Everglades, Jean Lafitte, and Hot Springs.
* Go Underground: Travel below the surface and discover the dazzling sights found along more than 900 miles of cavernous passageways. Visit Mammoth Cave – the longest cave in the world or the 14-acre Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns. Sign up for a spelunking trip.
* Sleep Under the Stars: Experience the simple pleasure of an evening campfire, sleep in the great outdoors, and wake up in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the world. Choose your setting – mountain view, ocean view, or even city view. The NPS's 12,000 campsites include New York City and Boston.
* Go For a Drive: Some of the prettiest scenery you’ll ever see is along the 5,450 miles of paved, NS roadway, with 1,100 miles specifically designated for sightseeing. Just be sure to get out of the car at overlooks or trailheads to stretch your legs. Wander a short distance to a waterfall at Shenandoah or meander through a meadow at Rocky Mountain.
* Check out Wildlife: Take advantage of some of the best places to view wildlife in their natural habitats. Don’t get too close, but if you're patient you'll catch glimpses of everything from baby birds to two-ton bison. Appreciate the strutting grouse's annual courtship dance at Grand Teton or the spring migration of grey whales at Point Reyes. Encounter prehistoric wildlife including the saber tooth cat at Badlands or a Stegosaurus at Dinosaur. Some 233 national parks showcase preserved fossils, some of which date back two billion years.
* Be a VIP: Check out a list of volunteer opportunities at http://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
* Cycling: Set your own pace and stop to take in the view. One of the newest bike trails was charted at New River Gorge where more than 1,400 Boy Scouts and leaders donated 78,544 man hours to carve out a 12.8-mile mountain bike trail. Other popular bike trails include Acadia which has 45 miles of old carriage roads, Canyonlands, home of the 103-mile White Rim Road loop, and the C&O Canal and its 184-mile long towpath.
For more information, check out www.nps.gov