Winter in Lassen National Park

According to the National Park Peak Experiences publication, Lassen National park was first created after  the historic eruptions of 1915 and the efforts of Congressman John E. Raker to draw attention to the area and garner support for the park idea on a national level.   The park has continued to expand the over the years to include
winter favorites like Manzanita Lake and Sulphur Works with its popular ski area.

Shoe shoeing on Manzanita Lake at Mt. Lassen National ParkWinter activities in the park include snowshoeing, sledding, winter backpacking, cross country sking, snowboarding and nordic sking.  One of the most popular ways of enjoying the park in winter is snowshoeing and the park offers ranger-led snowshoe walks on Saturdays and Sundays, January through early April.  The snowshoes are provided and the walks start at 1:30 pm and usually last about 2 hours.  The best part about the walks is that they are free although the park ranger will ask for a suggested $1 donation for snowshoe maintenance.   The ranger will demonstrate how to put on the snowshoes and how to move around in them before the walk begins.  The park recommends coming prepared with snow boots, warm layers, water, lunch and/or snacks.

For those who have their own shoe shoes or are more familiar with walking on snow, several trails can be found at both the north and south entrances. The trails range from beginning to advanced levels and many of them have spectactular views.  The trail we tried this visit was the beautiful Manzanita Lake Snowshoe Loop at the north entrance.  This was a beginner trail with a distance of 1.5 mile round trip, although it definitely felt like it was longer.  Although the park states that the average time to complete the loop is 1.5 hours, you can definitely spend a lot longer exploring all the nooks and crannies and enjoying the wildlife and beautiful views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags.

Lassen National Park in Winter - Manzanita Lake
Manzanita Lake in the winter at Lassen National Volcanic Park

When planning your winter visit it’s important to note that Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway usually closes by mid-November for the winter season due to snow. Butte Lake, Warner Valley, and Juniper Lake roads close to vehicle traffic for the season due to snow around late October and usually reopen in late June or early July. Plowing on the park highway usually begins in early April and continues through late June.  For more details on winter activities in Lassen Nation and trail and road conditions, view the Lassen National Volcanic Park Peak Experiences Winter Newsletter or visit the Lassen National Volcanic Park Website.

Some National Parks Facts

  • Visitors to Lassen in 2014 – 432,977
  • Visitors to Yosemite in 2014 – 3,882,642
  • Total National Park Visitors in 2014 –  292, 800,082

The 10 Most Visited National Parks (2014)

  1. Great Smoky Mountains NP 10,099,276
  2. Grand Canyon NP 4,756,771
  3. Yosemite NP 3,882,642
  4. Yellowstone NP 3,513,484
  5. Rocky Mountain NP 3,434,751
  6. Olympic NP 3,243,872
  7. Zion NP 3,189,696
  8. Grand Teton NP 2,791,392
  9. Acadia NP 2,563,129
  10. Glacier NP 2,338,528

The 10 Most Visited Places of the National Park System (2014)

  1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area 15,004,420
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway 13,941,749
  3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 10,099,276
  4. George Washington Memorial Parkway 7,472,150
  5. Lincoln Memorial 7,139,072
  6.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area 6,942,873
  7. Gateway National Recreation Area 6,021,713
  8. Natchez Trace Parkway 5,846,474
  9. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park 5,066,219
  10. Grand Canyon National Park

Source – The National Park Service Website

Take a Ballroom Dance Cruise in Retirement

Have you been thinking about taking a cruise in retirement and also love to dance?  Why not consider taking a ballroom dance cruise?  Dances cruises are a great way to go on a cruise and with the ever increasing popularity of ballroom dancing with all ages of the population, more and more cruise ships are beginning to add programs and events that cater to the ballroom dancer, including theme cruises, lessons, dance parties and competitions.

Ballroom Dance CruisesMost ballroom dance cruises however, are organized by private dance companies that offer a series of dance lessons on the days the ship is at sea.  The private dance groups will provide professional dance instructors and experienced Gentlemen hosts for single people without partners.  Most groups offer a variety of lessons that may include Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, West Coast Swing, Samba, Salsa, Merengue, Night Club 2-step and Hustle. In order to participate in the lessons and be part of the ballroom dance cruise, you have to book your cruise with one of the companies offering a ballroom dance cruise as part of their group.

One such company is Sundancercruises.net who is organizing a Western Caribbean dance and golf cruise on February, February 27, 2016.  On this cruise, they’re offering private social dance parties with their own deejay music, mixers and more. They also provide two complimentary dance hosts per sailing for the single ladies! Their workshops are usually scheduled during the days at sea or around port times. On this particular cruise, they are planning at least 12 dance workshops. Tentative classes will be in Waltz, Foxtrot, Argentine Tango, Swing, Rumba, and Cha Cha.

Another dance company called Dancers at Sea also offers several different ballroom dance cruises through-out the year at many exotic places such as South America and Scandinavia to name a just a few.  Most of their workshops are held on the days at sea and include the best of traditional ballroom, latin, tango, hustle and swing.

Dancing at Sea is another dance company that specializes in production of Ballroom, Latin and Argentine Tango dance cruises, and is a cruise resource for special interest groups, event planners, production companies as well as private individuals.  They boast a dance ambiance that provide lots dance opportunities, dance instruction by the finest dance teachers and gracious hosts for their guest’s dancing pleasure.

Some cruise ships also offer ballroom dance cruises as part of their themed cruise offering.  Holland America has been offering the ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ Champions Cruises since Sept. 21, 2014 along with complimentary dance lessons with the ship’s dance pros.  You can also swing and sway across the Atlantic on the Crystal Symphony on their Ballroom @ Sea theme cruise which features dance lessons, celebrity instructors and more.

For more information about ballroom dance cruises, visit BallroomDancingCruises.com.  This website is resource for anyone interested in taking a ballroom dance cruise, , a latin dance cruise, a ballroom dance vacation or a ballroom dance camp.

Get your $10.00 National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass in time for the 100th Birthday Celebration

Even though the 100th Birthday of the National Park Service on August 25, 2016 will be one of the parks free days, if you’re 62 and older and still haven’t purchased your lifetime Senior Pass for a mere $10.00 you’re definitely missing out on a great deal.  You can use the Pass at 2000 Federal recreation sites across the nation, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and many National Forest lands.  With over 400 National Parks alone, you’re bound to find one in your vicinity or you can plan the perfect road trip.

The best way to purchase your pass is at one of the Federal recreation sites where you can get your pass for just $10.00 as long as you provide photo identification to verify that you are a US citizen or permanent resident over 62 years of age or older.  If you are unable to pick one up in person, you can obtain your Senior Pass through the mail for $20.00 but you must complete an application form and provide a copy of your proof of citizenship or residency.  The $20.00 fee  includes your pass and an additional $10.00 processing fee.  Still not a bad deal for a life-time pass. The National Parks Service no longer issues Golden Age Passports but if you already have one, these passes will continue to be honored according to the provisions of the pass.

The park website states that “the Senior Pass admits the Pass owner and any passengers traveling with him/her in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or the Pass owner and three additional adults where per-person fees are charged.”

On August 25th, 2016,  National Parks nationwide will be celebrating centennial events to celebrate 100 years and to welcome in the new century.  You can find a park near you at findyourpark.com where you can browse parks by State or search for a park.  More details about the National Parks Senior Pass and where you can go to purchase one can be found here.

Source – National Parks Service website