Catherine Parker, National Parks TravelingMom

Catherine Parker, National Parks TravelingMom

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel with only two states left in her quest of seeing all 50. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn’t a major North American airport that she hasn’t landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting national parks, historic sites and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas, dividing her time between writing and restoring a 95-year-old house. She shares her life with her three kids, her husband, two cats, a dog and six backyard chickens.


A Kids’ Guide to Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park

As I peer over the edge of Bryce Amphitheater, the ghostly figures marching in the mist of an afternoon shower haunt me. Hoodoos, the rock formations that resemble draped human forms, dominate the landscape in the highest concentration in the world at Bryce Canyon National Park. Coupled with an audience of young evergreen pines dotting the landscape, Bryce Canyon National Park offers dramatic hiking, cozy cabins and horseback rides that families will rave about all the way home.   Explore Southern Utah’s geologic technicolor show where the delicate pink of a sunrise rusts into vermillion then fades into sunset...

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Explore Like a Kid in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park inspired me to sing The Sound of Music’s The Hills are Alive at the first glance of Mount Olympus from the alpine wildflower meadow at Hurricane Ridge. Along its trails, we hiked in a seemingly fairytale world of giant trees dripping in moss on a land covered with fern. My heart beamed seeing my kids’ excitement when we discovered tiny tide pools teeming with marine life. On a recent cross-country trek with my three kids, I found all this in farthest northwest corner of the continental United States in a wilderness that meshes three different ecosystems....

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Sizzling Sunsets at Grand Canyon’s South Rim

The Grand Canyon–an American icon as big as the canyon itself, finds its way onto every southwest road trip itinerary. Visitors from around the globe stand at the edge of its majestic landscape letting their eyes wander from the rim to the river. Gazing at the desert-hued layers that resemble a Native American blanket defines the spirit of the West and has been my family’s favorite for years.   Each time I visit the Grand Canyon I see a new facet, a new viewpoint. My love affair with the top 10 national park never seems to end. During my most...

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Lake Quinault Lodge Historic Lodging near Olympic National Park

Looking for an idyllic lodge perched over a shimmering lake nestled in a majestic forest with cool summer temperatures and lots of activities for the family? During a recent visit to Olympic National Park in Washington, I stayed at Lake Quinault Lodge and found all that. Featured on the PBS series, Great Lodges of the National Parks, this historic lodge features family activities that kids will love along with all the quaint details that Moms crave. Lake Quinault Lodge sits on the shores of Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Forest, a stone’s throw from Olympic National Park. With...

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Glamping on San Juan Island at Lakedale Resort

Kids love camping! To them it’s a playground in the woods with s’mores. They’re ready to go, but like a lot of Moms, you need a roof, a real bed, some electricity and a bathroom with hot water to enjoy yourself. I completely understand. What if I could give you all that, would you consider it? What if I told you this campsite had a chandelier? Yes, that’s right, a chandelier in your cabin and someone will bring a fleece-lined toe warmer just before bedtime. It’s glamping and it’s not the camping you remember from scouts. As I sit...

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Farm to Table Goodness at North Fork 53 in Nehalem, Oregon

As I drive up the gravel road, a woodland fairy ducks under a mushroom cap. I stop in front of the 1930s Oregon farmhouse and take a moment to roll down my windows. As I breath deeply, the faint fragrance of lilies floats into my car while the sound of a trickling stream fills my ears. A night in a farm-to-table bed and breakfast awaits and by the look of the gardens, I will sample vegetables of every color. North Fork 53, an organic bed-and-breakfast in Nehalem, Oregon, is named after the North Fork River that runs next to the...

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Hotel Review: Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Bend, Oregon

The volcanoes of central Oregon lured me to Bend, then my night at Riverhouse on the Deschutes lulled me to sleep. My newly renovated room at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes offered a riverside view from my private balcony–perfect for early morning coffee. With all the outdoor adventures located around Bend, Oregon, the Riverhouse on the Deschutes is the ultimate base. We stayed here in June and discovered the newly renovated rooms offer sophisticated, modern details with a convenient location perfect for family travelers. Centrally located on a major route, the Riverhouse on the Deschutes offers quick access to...

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Fiesta San Antonio — Spring Break Texas Style

As most cities silently slumber, deep in the heart of Texas San Antonio shifts into celebration mode for Spring Break. Fiesta San Antonio is a 10-day long celebration that has hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets for a couple of the largest parades in the country. Add the foodie festivals and the crack of cascarones, or confetti-filled eggs, and you have the recipe for family fun. Looking for a sunny spot to thaw the winter chill for Spring Break? Try San Antonio. It has been a favorite of mine for years with its picture-perfect River Walk, world-class...

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Mount Rushmore — The Must Do in South Dakota’s Black Hills

Perched high above the Black Hills of South Dakota, four of the United States’ most distinguished presidents look westward to the horizon. What began in 1925 as a tourist attraction grew into the most visited national monument outside of Washington, D. C. and New York City. As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, Mount Rushmore has its own celebration–October 2016 marks the memorial’s 75th anniversary. Carved into the hardest and finest-grained granite found in the Black Hills of South Dakota, presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln survey the land towards the westward horizon. What...

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Hotel Review: Cousins Country Inn The Dalles Oregon

Reconnect as a family and share a weekend hiking to a hidden waterfall, snacking on cherries along Oregon’s Fruit Loop and cutting lavender from a field that hums with honey bees busy at work. I found all of this nestled along U.S. Route 30 that meanders through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, one of the best scenic routes in the country. Driving U.S. Route 30 through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in northern Oregon is tops for scenery. A leisurely drive to-or-from Portland that offers waterfalls, orchards and lavender fields. On my recent road trip,...

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