GoExploreNature's Passport


Member since:
11 September 2009

Icon_superoo_orangeSuperoo '12

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About Me & My Family

I’m a Los Angeles-based wife, mom & adventure guide to two young boys. I seek sanity from nature and am always trying to get the boys out in it, too. We love baseball games, road trips, animal encounters and family vacations to anywhere the mood takes us.
Our Family's Travel Personality
relaxed, independent
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Yosemite National Park
Websites I Like:

Reviews & Photos

62 Reviews

January 23 2013
0 families found this helpful
Mirror Lake | kids travel, kids activities
Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake,
Yosemite Valley,
Yosemite National Park,
"A Hike With Something for Everyone"
I love hiking just about anywhere in Yosemite. But what I love about the trail to Mirror Lake is that it offers a little something for everyone.

At 2 miles round trip and little-to-no elevation gain, it’s easily manageable with kids either in backpacks, on foot or even on bikes. For the younger crowd, there is plenty to do along the trail.

For starters, there are the trees and river running right alongside most of the trail. There are loads of rocks of all sizes for little ones eager to try bouldering. My kids also enjoyed seeking out the perfect walking stick from among the hundreds lying around. And then there were the amazing stacked rock sculptures we spotted directly across from the Lake.

And what is there for parents, you ask? If you visit when the water level is high enough (usually in the spring) and calm enough, you’ll catch some breathtaking reflections of the surrounding cliffs in the Lake. That and one of the closest views of Half Dome you’ll find anywhere in the park.

Just keep in mind that Mirror Lake is less of a lake and more of a pond for most of the year, so timing your visit just right is key. The trail can be hot and definitely crowded during the summer.

This hike could be completed in a hour or so, but I highly recommend you take your time. This is one of those spots that begs you to stop and enjoy the view. And don't forget to play along the way.

Practical Matters
• Trail is paved (it’s actually a wide vehicle-free road that’s also perfect for bikes)
• Estimated hike time is about an hour, but we found lots to do along the way & easily spent several hours including hike time & a picnic lunch
• Bathrooms can be found along the trail near Mirror Lake
• No concessions available along the route
• No picnic tables, either
• Summer visits can be crowded & hot, so plan to hit this one off-season
January 23 2013
0 families found this helpful
Lava Beds National Monument | kids travel, kids activities
Lava Beds National Monument
Lava Beds National Monument,
Hill Road,
"An Amazing Caving Adventure"
If you like having seclusion and quiet with your nature, Lava Beds is your spot. It’s remote – located in a corner of California that most people never visit. Most roads into the park wind through mountains and along rivers, making it an effort just to get there. Given the effort it takes to reach Lava Beds National Monument, I highly recommend leaving at least two full days for exploring, more if you prefer to take things at a slower pace.

The 45,000+ -acre Lava Beds National Monument features more than 700 caves – the highest known concentration of caves in the contiguous U.S. The caves were created by flows of smooth lava 10,500 to 65,000 years ago. Which means there’s a lot of cool geological stuff going on here.

There are dozens of developed caves of varying difficulties that you can explore on your own. Exploring caves can be exciting and rewarding, if you take proper precautions and use common sense. A few tips:
• Start at the Visitor Center where you can talk with a ranger to ensure you are properly prepared; you can pick up information about open caves & their difficulty levels, borrow flashlights, & purchase bump hats, batteries & cave maps
• Bring enough light – we each wore headlamps and carried a flashlight (bring batteries, too) & some caves still felt dark
• Long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes or boots are a must (even when it’s 100 degrees outside, cave temperatures are about 55 degrees)
• Wear a helmet; we used our bicycle helmets but the Visitor Center sells inexpensive “bumphats” if you forget yours at home
• Gloves & kneepads are recommended if you plan to visit more difficult caves
• Choose the right caves for your skill level; all four of us were able to explore the “least challenging” & “moderately challenging” caves, but that might not be the case for every family
• Stay on the trails & leave no trace of your visit; limit what you touch to just what you must to make your way along the trails

By the way, there’s more to do here than just explore caves. You can hike a trail, go bird watching, explore a battlefield, see a crater, and view Native American rock art (there’s more here than anywhere else in California!).
January 23 2013
0 families found this helpful
Humboldt Redwoods State Park | kids travel, kids activities
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Avenue of the Giants,
California 95571
"My Favorite California State Park"
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the third largest California State Park, encompassing nearly 53,000 acres – of which more than 17,000 are old-growth coast redwoods. The environment found within the park is unique to anywhere else on earth. The trees are indescribable and being surrounded by them … well, that’s just something I hope each of you has a chance to do someday.

If you only have one day to explore Humboldt Redwoods State Park (as was the case for us), don’t panic. To make the most of it:
• Take an auto tour along the Avenue of the Giants (the scenic route through the park), which features eight stops along the 32-mile route
• Stop in at the Visitor Center
• Hit the trails – there are more than 100 miles of them in the park
• Take advantage of an interpretive program such as a nature walk, junior ranger program, campfire programs & more (usually limited to the summer months)

Practical Matters
• Humboldt Redwoods State Park is open year-round. The Visitor Center is open every day except Thanksgiving & Christmas: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through October, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through March
• Humboldt Redwoods State Park does not charge an entrance fee & there is no admission fee for the Visitor Center
• Pick up a brochure for the auto tour of the Avenue of the Giants at the north & south ends of the Avenue or at the Visitor Center
• There are small general stores with snacks & supplies located in several small towns within the park
• Camping fees vary from $20/night at environmental camps to $35/night at family campgrounds (additional day-use fees may apply)
kids travel, kids activities
View 1 photo
January 23 2013
0 families found this helpful
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park | kids travel, kids activities
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
24898 Hwy. 89,
California 96013
"One of California’s Hidden Nature Gems"
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park certainly isn’t easy to get to. It sits on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range, between Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak.

The park’s centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls. Although it isn’t the highest or largest waterfall in the state, it’s arguably the most spectacular. Why? Because the water isn’t just flowing from the creek that feeds it from above. It’s actually flowing through the surface of the rocks behind, fed by an underground river. Which makes it ultra wide and produces a flow of some 100 million gallons of water a day, year round.

The main draw here is the short trail to the base of Burney Falls. A few tips for visiting with kids:
• The trail is a bit steep, making it tough on little legs on the return (totally doable, just be prepared)
• If you only have a few hours, skip the other trails & spend your time on the rocks in front of Burney Falls – the view is breathtaking
• Summer visits to the park can be hot & crowded, but temperatures in the canyon at the base of the falls are usually cool & misty

OtherPark Features
• Visitor center, which includes displays of wildlife through the seasons, plus a short film on the history of Burney Falls
• There are five miles of hiking trails
• Fun family “Discovery Quest” invites visitors on a park treasure hunt; answer 14 questions to earn a patch
• Water activities such as fishing, swimming & boating are popular on nearby Lake Britton (as is fishing at Burney Creek)
December 17 2012
2 families found this helpful
Will Rogers State Historic Park | kids travel, kids activities
Will Rogers State Historic Park
1501 Will Rogers Park Road,
Pacific Palisades,
"State Park With Room to Run"
The 3-mile Inspiration Loop Trail is our favorite family hike at Will Rogers State Historic Park. The trail is a wide, stroller-friendly dirt fire road; popular with dogs, horses and mountain bikers alike. Some portions have a severe drop off on one side, so be especially mindful of little hikers. From Inspiration Point, you can see the Los Angeles Basin from downtown to the ocean.

If you’ve got a pint-sized runner in the family (and we do!) you’ll want to hit the expansive grassy areas found near the parking lot.

Other tips:

• Poison oak is plentiful in these parts, so keep hands away from native plants
• Some portions of the trail are open and sunny and can be especially hot on warm days; bring plenty of water and wear a hat and sunscreen
• Great spot for wildflower lovers come spring
• Restrooms can be found in the parking area
• Parking is $12; free with a California State Parks Pass
• Plenty of picnic tables available (even shady ones!), some with access to charcoal grills
• Expansive grassy areas are popular with families & a great place to play, fly a kite, have a picnic or just run around
• Will Rogers SHP grounds also feature ranch house tours, polo matches, horseback riding lessons and trail rides