Travel by Any Means Necessary

Tag: National Monument

Morning in Muir Woods

Light filtering through the trees at Muir Woods

Just outside the city of San Francisco lays a natural sanctuary waiting to be explored – Muir Woods National Monument. Nestled just a short drive away from the city, this verdant forest offered a peaceful retreat from the urban chaos. Join us on a morning hike through the towering redwoods and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.  On our recent trip to San Fransisco, we took one morning away from the city to immerse ourselves in the redwood forest.

As the first rays of sunlight peeked over the horizon, we began our journey to Muir Woods. The drive from San Fransisco was a bottleneck and I was worried we weren’t going to make it in time for our entry window into the park. Luckily we made it in time and we were able to relax, step out of the car, and fill our lungs with the crisp morning air, invigorating us for the adventure ahead.

Entering the towering redwoods, we were greeted by a symphony of bird songs and the gentle rustle of leaves. The sunlight filtered through the canopy, casting a soft glow on the forest floor. The scent of damp earth and pine needles enveloped us, transporting us to a world far removed from the city.

Looking up into the Redwoods at Muir Woods

We set off on the trail, following the winding path that meandered through the ancient forest. The towering redwood trees soared above us, their majestic presence a reminder of the passage of time. Each step brought us closer to the heart of the forest, where a sense of peace and tranquility reigned.

As we hiked deeper into the woods, the sounds of civilization faded away, replaced by the gentle murmur of a nearby stream. The cool, shaded trails offered respite from the morning sun, inviting us to slow down and savor the sights and sounds of nature.

Along the way, we encountered the remnants of a bygone era – fallen trees covered in moss, ferns flourishing in the damp undergrowth, and the occasional glimpse of wildlife darting through the foliage. These simple yet profound moments served as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living things.

Cathedral Grove in Muir Woods

Cathedral Grove

Reaching the iconic Cathedral Grove, we paused to marvel at the sheer size and beauty of the ancient redwoods that surrounded us. Their massive trunks stretched towards the sky, their branches reaching out like fingers to touch the heavens. Standing in their presence, we were humbled by the grandeur of nature.

As we made our way back to the trailhead, our hearts were full, and our spirits rejuvenated. The morning hike in Muir Woods National Monument had been a journey of self-discovery, a moment of quiet reflection amidst the chaos of everyday life. We left the forest feeling grateful for the opportunity to experience its beauty and serenity.

In the end, Muir Woods National Monument was not just a destination; it was a sanctuary for the soul, a place to reconnect with the natural world and find peace in its embrace. So, next time you find yourself in San Francisco, make sure to set aside a morning to explore this magical forest – you won’t be disappointed.

Morning in Muir Woods

Thank you for joining us on this virtual hike through Muir Woods National Monument. Remember to take only pictures, leave only footprints, and always respect the beauty and serenity of nature.

Thanks for stopping by! Check out our NEW Go See Do Explore Podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Jewel Cave

Jewel Cave Stairs

Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave Header

Jewel Cave was discovered in 1900 when two brothers felt cold air blowing out of a hole in a canyon. They opened the hole with dynamite and found a cave lined with calcite crystals, which is where Jewel Cave gets its name. Word of the cave reached Washington and Theodore Roosevelt named Jewel Cave a National Monument in 1908.

Up until 1956, only about 2 miles of the cave had been explored. Famous rock climbers Herb and Jan Conn explored Jewel Cave for twenty years and mapped out over 65 miles of the cave. Herb Conn wrote a scientific paper about airflow in the cave and based on pressure changes, he estimated that 95% of the cave has never been explored. With 209 miles of cave mapped, Jewel Cave is the 3rd largest cave in the world. Experienced cavers are still exploring the cave and finding new rooms and passageways that no other person is known to have explored.

Calcite Crystals in Jewel CaveIn 2021, Jewel Cave National Monument is undergoing elevator maintenance to resolve chronic problems with the elevators. The elevators are expected to reopen in the late fall. When planning this trip, I didn’t think we would be able to visit Jewel Cave because of this maintenance, but for now, the park service is offering a modified tour. This tour involves walking down (and then back up) a steep hill and the park service describes it as “moderate to strenuous”.

I’m not sure if people were staying away from Jewel Cave because of the elevator repairs or if this park just isn’t as popular as Wind Cave because it doesn’t have the “National Park” designation. Either way, we arrived around 9:30 AM and there were only a handful of other people on the tour with us. It was a much more relaxed experience and even though we only go to see one room of the cave, I enjoyed this tour a lot more than Wind Cave. If you only have time to tour one cave in the Black Hills, I recommend Jewel Cave.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument is located in the northeastern corner of Wyoming, only about an hour and a half away from Rapid City, South Dakota. Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on September 25, 1906, Devils Tower was the first National Monument in the world. The monument is a popular place for rock climbers as well as hikers and others who just want to see this unique geological feature for themselves.

When planning this trip, I originally wanted to visit Devils Tower on the way from Custer to Yellowstone, which would’ve had us arrive mid-morning on a Saturday. Then, I learned that the parking lot fills up early, especially on weekends, and it is not uncommon to have to wait a while for a spot. Since we had quite a bit of ground to cover that day, I decided it would make more sense to make it a day trip from the Black Hills, and that way we could also see Spearfish Canyon on the way back.

We left Custer after Chris got off work and arrived at Devils Tower around 5 pm. There were only a handful of people around and we had no trouble parking. The visitor center closes at 6 but I was happy to see that the passport stamp is outside so that if you arrived when the visitor center was closed, you would still be able to get a stamp. Because we wanted to see Spearfish Canyon before sunset, we didn’t have much time to explore the monument, but we did get to walk a little bit of the Tower Trail.

Roughlock FallsSince this was our last day in the Black Hills, I may have tried to cram too much in, especially with the three-hour round trip drive to Devils Tower. But, we did enjoy the GyPSy tour of the Northern Black Hills and the drive through Spearfish Canyon. The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive that follows a river that has cut through these high rock walls. Spearfish Canyon is an absolutely beautiful area that just blew me away! There are several places along the way to stop and enjoy the beauty of the canyon. We got out and stretched our legs at Roughlock Falls (left). Several scenes from Dances with Wolves were filmed in this area and maybe recognizable to fans of the film. We had planned to checkout Deadwood this day, but the road was closed for a parade or something so we just kept driving. I guess we will just have to come back with more time to explore the Black Hills!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Happy Independence Day!

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Wordless Wednesday: Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog

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