Sunday, April 22, 2012

U.S. National Park Week: Part 2

From April 21-29, 2012, it's National Park Week in the U.S.A. That means you get free admission at all national parks plus special discounts at selected parks.

We had planned to visit one of the most famous national parks, Yellowstone, last summer. I even made reservations a whole year in advance for hotel rooms with a view of Old Faithful. But fate stepped in and sent us packing halfway around the world instead. Thank goodness the lodge had a very generous cancellation policy. In Part 1, I covered our visits to parks in Washington State, Colorado and Maine. Now, on to the rest!

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Big Island, Hawaii - 2010
This was a place of refuge for the ancient Hawaiians who broke sacred laws. It is an amazingly way cool historical place.

My favorite memory is asking my then 5-year-old how did she think they lifted up the massive rocks to build the tall wall. I thought she'd reply, "Magic," or "Fairies." Instead, she said, "An inclined plane." Thank you Sid the Science Kid!

Ki'i (carved wooden images) made out of ohia wood

Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii - 2010
Here's your chance to visit a live volcano. See the red glow and gasses coming out of Halema'uma'u Crater while standing on the deck of the Jaggar Museum. At night, view lava flowing down the mountain. Explore the cavelike Thurston Lava Tube hidden under the jungle growth and hike the aptly named Devastation Trail where you can observe plant life reestablishing itself after a 1959 eruption.

Visiting the home of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes

Modern day lava flows across the old Chain of Craters Road.

Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii - 2010
The landscape changes as you start at sea level, pass Hosmer Grove, and drive up to an elevation of 10,023 feet at the top of Haleakala. Some people even watch the sun rise at the summit then bike down the twisting road.

Missing summit near the top of Haleakala

Alien forest in Hosmer Grove gives way to
native Hawaiian shrubland

I spent many childhood summers nearby in Lake Isabella, but I somehow never made it to this park until last year. Giant trees, the Crystal Cave, and a canyon that's about 8,200 feet deep (2200 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon) all call for your attention.

Pausing for a moment before descending to the bottom of Kings Canyon
to hike Zumwalt Meadow

Driving through Tunnel Log — How much more touristy can you get?


  1. These parks I've visited =) Haleakala is one of our favorites. You kinda have to do the drive through tunnel log while you're there and the picture with the General Sherman tree. Great shots! I hope you get to visit Yellowstone when you get back.

  2. More awesome pics. The tree driving through the car tunnel reminds us of just how small we are compared with mother nature.


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