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.


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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Dreaming with Disney in Palm Springs

As I pushed open the bulls-eye red doors of a mid-century modern home nestled in a quiet neighborhood south of Palm Springs, California, my hands were shaking like an antsy, excited kid. With my head spinning, I walked into a dream world. I tried to comprehend I was in Walt Disney’s house, like a friend staying for the weekend. Until I saw myself in the mirrors of the front entry, I thought I might wake up from my dream. But no, Walt Disney’s Technicolor Dream House was mine to enjoy. Moments later, I walked through his house to discover his character, just like...

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Round Up the Kids and Giddy Up to South Dakota’s Black Hills

Looking for a vacation packed with family-sized adventure? Try the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Black Hills offer five national park sites, premier wildlife viewing, western history, hidden missiles, outdoor sports, scenic drives and cozy mountain cabins within an hour of Rapid City’s food scene. I keep returning, drawn to the pine forests dotted with granite spires, the buffalo herds grazing across the rolling prairies and the warm hospitality of the South Dakota people. South Dakota’s Black Hills and Badlands offer a week full of family-sized adventure, appealing to everyone from toddlers to Grandma and Grandpa. Outdoor enthusiasts use...

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Calling All Families to Discover Custer State Park

Roam alongside a herd of 1,300 grazing buffalo on the Wildlife Loop. Cruise a corkscrew with the top down along Needles Highway. Roast a marshmallow to toasty perfection at a campfire. Cast a perfect line into a shimmering lake teeming with trout. All of this and more is waiting for you in South Dakota’s mountain hideaway, Custer State Park. Custer State Park in South Dakota’s Black Hills offers the recreation, wildlife viewing and facilities that rival any national park. On my first visit, I completely underestimated the time we would want to explore Custer. After several trips I still...

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Cool History Kids Will Love in the Heart of South Texas

Think kids won’t appreciate the San Antonio Missions, a trip best left for history buffs? On a recent trip to San Antonio TX, my boys’ eyes flashed when they saw a diorama as big as a king-sized bed. In the portrayal of the Battle of the Alamo, real life action figures fought for their freedom against General Santa Ana and the Mexican troops. My boys circled the display and important figures like William Travis and Davy Crockett came to life as they discussed the obstacles and ultimate defeat of the legendary forefathers of Texas. The Alamo and the San...

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South Dakota Caves – Underground Frontiers for Families

Caves and kids? Yes, my kids love caves and one is “literally dying” to take a wild cave tour when he’s old enough. Cave tours offer kids a peak into an underground world where exploration and discovery happens daily. A large portion of the Wind Cave in South Dakota is still uncharted, like deep space or the deepest reaches of our oceans. To my son, a cave is an unlimited source of adventure as he plots his expedition to discover the next, new passage in an underground frontier. The Black Hills of South Dakota offers two caves within 31...

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Lodge Review: Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The sunrise at Badlands National Park begs for my attention as sunlight peeks through the window of my cabin. The serenade of the Western Meadowlark motivates me to climb out of my hand-crafted pine bed and brew a cup of coffee. As I slip on a flannel shirt and open the door, I find the perfect spot to celebrate the morning South Dakota-style, the back porch. To fully experience South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, I stayed in a Cedar Pass Lodge cabin. The quiet rock formations come alive as the sun breaks and a symphony of birds celebrate the...

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Discover South Dakota’s Badlands National Park for Family-Sized Adventure

Dad and the kids heard it: the mountains are calling. But as Mom, you’re not so sure. Is the vision of mama bear lumbering through your campsite keeping you away from the mountain vacation your family craves? Or is it Dad trying to find low gear while your minivan races down a mountain pass? I’ve got the perfect mountain destination full of inspiring views, quaint cabins and hikes the whole family will enjoy, without mama bear and Dad’s crazy mountain driving. The Badlands and the Black Hills of South Dakota offer five national park sites. The kids want to...

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17 Spots for Family Fun in San Antonio, Texas

Looking for a destination that your family will love? Try San Antonio, the top travel destination in Texas. I love the River Walk, the cultural history and the warm South Texas hospitality along with the museums, the Tex-Mex food and the theme parks. Since it’s all within a few hours drive from any major Texas city. Here’s why I visit as often as I can. It doesn’t matter what time of year, San Antonio, Texas is always picture-perfect. On a recent weekend away with my kids, I needed a few more days. San Antonio offers the newest UNESCO World...

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