Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River

Overview

Authorized in 1978, this 73-mile stretch of the Upper Delaware River is the longest free-flowing river in the northeast United States.  Forming the Pennsylvania-New York borderline, only 30 of its 55,575 acres are federally owned.  Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is one of 43 designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers, 10 of which are managed by the National Park Service (NPS).

Highlights

Zane Grey Museum, Roebling Aqueduct, fishing

Must-Do Activity

The Upper Delaware River is famous for year-round bald eagle viewing, Class I and II whitewater rafting, and fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye.  The NPS runs the Zane Grey Museum, which celebrates the “Father of the Western Novel” who lived in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania from 1905 to 1918 and loved fishing here (and throughout his worldwide travels).  It was in this house that the former dentist (Zane Grey) wrote many articles about his outdoor adventures, as well as his novels, including Riders of the Purple Sage (published in 1912).

Best Trail

There are six trails you are required to complete in order to earn your Upper Delaware Hikes patch from the NPS, ranging in length from the quarter-mile Minisink Battleground (Revolutionary War) to the three-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, which provides an excellent view of the river valley.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Within eyeshot of the Zane Grey Museum, the Roebling Aqueduct operated between 1848 and 1898 to allowed coal-laden canal boats to cross over the Upper Delaware River.  Its architect is better known for the Brooklyn Bridge, but this aqueduct was converted to a one-lane car bridge before being purchased by the NPS in 1980.

Peak Season

Spring through fall

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/upde/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All major roads paved, with Highway 97 in New York following the river for most of its length.

Camping

There are no NPS campgrounds, but many private ones along the Upper Delaware River.

Related Sites

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Pennsylvania-New Jersey)

Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

Minute Man National Historical Park (Massachusetts)

Explore More – Although they live in the Delaware River for most of their lives, what is the name of the sea in the Atlantic Ocean where eels migrate to spawn and die?

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Overview

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument outside Flagstaff, Arizona is worth a closer look than a drive-by on your way to Grand Canyon National Park.  As its name suggests, this thousand-foot high cinder cone is stained red as though in perpetual twilight.  Volcanic activity last occurred here in the year 1180 AD, but even though geologists consider this area dormant, it is just possible that a new cinder cone might start erupting at any time.

Highlights

Lava Flow Nature Trail, Bonito Lava Flow, Lenox Crater Trail, O’Leary Peak

Must-Do Activity

A 35-mile loop drive through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to neighboring Wupatki National Monument passes through ponderosa pine forest and sunflower-filled meadows on its way to an arid, rocky high desert region that is dotted with ruins.  From the road you can see the San Francisco Peaks rising to the west, as well as a series of cinder cones outside the monument’s boundaries.  Several of these mini-volcanoes are accessible by roads, including our favorite: S.P. Crater.

Best Trail

To experience the black cinders you have to get out of your car and hike through them, but take your time as the elevation is around 7,000 feet.  Lava Flow Nature Trail provides interpretive signs along a partially paved one-mile loop.  You cannot climb to the top of Sunset Crater, but you can summit nearby Lenox Crater on a steep one-mile trail.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Sunset Crater and the Bonito Lava Flow are especially eye-catching when viewed from atop 8,900-foot O’Leary Peak, accessible by hiking to a fire lookout tower in adjacent Coconino National Forest.  The awe-inspiring vista will make you glad that movie producers were stopped from dynamiting Sunset Crater in 1928.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/sucr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$25 per vehicle, which also covers entrance to neighboring Wupatki National Monument.

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

The U.S. Forest Service runs the Bonito Campground across from the Sunset Crater visitor center from May through October.  Dispersed camping is allowed in portions of Coconino National Forest.

Related Sites

Wupatki National Monument (Arizona)

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (Idaho)

Capulin Volcano National Monument (New Mexico)

Explore More – How many millions of years of volcanic activity have occurred in the area around Flagstaff, Arizona?

Stonewall National Monument

Overview

A raid by New York City police officers at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969 was not out of the ordinary, but the response by its patrons secured its place in history.  At the time, it was illegal to serve alcohol to homosexuals, so the Stonewall Inn was operated by the Mafia as a “private” club.  The police raid resulted in six nights of civil rights protests outside the bar around Christopher Park, gathering approximately 2,000 supporters on the second night.  It was not the first gay pride protest in America, but it did have a lasting impact with more than a thousand LGBTQ groups forming in the following year.

Highlights

Christopher Park, George Segal sculpture

Must-Do Activity

In 2016, President Obama designated Stonewall National Monument in Christopher Park, across the street from the Stonewall Inn.  During the summer, park rangers are on site approximately 11-1 and 3-4 every day, but we were told it is best to call beforehand to verify.  The Stonewall Inn is still a business and not owned by the National Park Service (NPS), so nobody under age 21 is allowed in. 

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

A sculpture by George Segal entitled Gay Liberation Monument was commissioned in 1979, but not installed in Christopher Park until 1992 due to public opposition.  It depicts two standing men and two seated women comforting one another in their shared struggle for acceptance.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/ston/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Roads are heavily trafficked and there is no designated parking so we recommend you take the subway.

Camping

None

Related Sites

Women’s Rights National Historical Park (New York)

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site (Arkansas)

César E. Chávez National Monument (California)

Explore More – The original bar closed following the protests, so when did the current iteration of the Stonewall Inn open?

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Overview

The arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts began manufacturing guns during the American Revolution and became the first National Armory in 1794.  For nearly 200 years it served its purpose before being donated by the military for the creation of Springfield Technical Community College in 1967.  The National Park Service (NPS) maintains a museum and former officer’s quarters on 55 acres at the back of the gated campus.

Highlights

Museum, film, Organ of Muskets

Must-Do Activity

Start your visit with the 14-minute film, then peruse the two halves of the museum, one side dedicated to weaponry and the other to industry.  Watch the scale model of the Blanchard Eccentric Lathe as it demonstrates the shaping of wood to match a metal template.  This technology was first introduced here and is commonly used today to create keys, furniture, and baseball bats. 

Best Trail

There are no trails, but you can walk the sidewalks around the brick buildings that once housed the armory and are now the campus of Springfield Technical Community College.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The “Organ of Muskets” inspired the 1845 anti-war poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a Harvard professor with his own NPS site. 

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/spar/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Follow street signs from Interstate 91 exits to the main gate for Springfield Technical Community College then back to the free parking lot by the NPS museum.

Camping

Granville State Forest is located 20 miles west of Springfield, Massachusetts on Highway 57.

Related Sites

Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site (Massachusetts)

Minute Man National Historical Park (Massachusetts)

Coltsville National Historical Park (Connecticut, authorized in 2014 but remains unfunded)

Explore More – Who was the Springfield Armory employee who invented the M 1 rifle used throughout World War II?

Tupelo National Battlefield

Overview

Two cannons and a monument mark this one-acre (less than a football field) National Park Service (NPS) site surrounded by the city of Tupelo, Mississippi.  The park was established in 1929 to memorialize the battle of July 14, 1864, when the Union army drove off Confederate troops trying to disrupt General William T. Sherman’s railroad supply line at the historic town of Harrisburg. Located only one mile off the Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo’s own Elvis Presley probably visited this park as a child.

Highlights

Cannons

Must-Do Activity

Unlike other NPS sites, Tupelo National Battlefield provides much easier access to a car wash and a Walmart store.  Its visitor center is combined with the one for the Natchez Trace Parkway just outside Tupelo.  The city of Baldwyn, Mississippi runs an interpretive center (with a small admission fee) that also commemorates a Confederate victory on June 10, 1864 at Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site.   

Best Trail

There is a sidewalk on two sides of the one-acre park.

Instagram-worthy Photo

This is one of the smallest units in the NPS system, but from one angle, Tupelo National Battlefield looks like many larger Civil War parks.

Peak Season

“They get about a week of spring then the summer is blistering.” –Jason Isbell from the song “Tupelo”

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/tupe/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved, with street parking available.

Camping

Tombigbee State Park offers camping about 10 miles from Tupelo.

Explore More – What does the T. stand for in General William T. Sherman’s name?