Tips and Tools To Make Your 2017 Summer Great

Tips and Tools To Make Your 2017 Summer Great

March 3, 2017 / By Katie

Spring is rapidly approaching, but it can be hard to feel that way some days. Here in Colorado, March is the snowiest month of the year with April coming in as the 3rd snowiest, so the majority of winter is yet to come. For that reason, I have to remind myself that summer is on its way and that now is the time to make plans.

With our growing population and technology making it easier for people to make reservations for camping spots and hotels, it’s best to think ahead and make your plans for the upcoming summer now. If you’re lucky, you may live somewhere with ample outdoor accommodations. If you plan to travel or live somewhere like Colorado, you run the risk of missing out on your most ideal location if you wait until the weather warms up. Some campgrounds book up months in advance, especially around holidays and big events.

There are of course holiday weekends that are popular for outdoor activities, such as Memorial Day and the 4th of July, which are notoriously hard to find accommodations for. There may be local events in your state such as fairs or festivals. There are also events like the Perseid and other Meteor showers, which are best observed from locations far from city lights, which means that people will be competing for campgrounds found in the darkest locations. In 2017, we will have a rare opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, something that has not happened in the United States for 26 years.

Here are some resources that have been invaluable to Chris and I when it comes to planning our summer trips.

Camping, Hiking, and Bicycling Resources

There are guide books for every state and different regions, that will help you learn about camping and hiking near you or your destination. These are great resources for sure, and although I can’t tell you what will work best for you, I lean toward guide books that have a lot of pictures because I like to see whether the landscape fits what I’m in the mood for and whether the location has something unique to offer.  Guidebooks however, are no longer my main source of information when it comes to camping and hiking.

The “Allstays Camp and RV” app is a great resource for finding camping accommodations of all kinds, and more. You can buy it for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store, as well as Google Play for Android. That may seem a bit pricey for an app, but Chris and I have gotten so much use out of it that it’s been well worth the money.

The app includes information on more than 30,000 campgrounds throughout the United States and Canada and allows you to filter these locations for specific types of campgrounds such as: National and State Parks and Forests, BLM campgrounds, KOA and private campgrounds, Walmart and Costco overnight parking, as well as primitive hike-in/bike-in/boat-in campgrounds. It includes directions, reviews, open-season dates, official website links, campground features, reviews, and photos.

There are features that will help during the drive to your destination as well. You can search for gas stations, truck stops with amenities, and rest areas. If you’re travelling in an RV, you can search for dump stations, propane suppliers, and RV businesses (which may come in handy of you run into trouble and need repairs). Another thing that can be useful to keep you out of trouble when travelling in an RV is knowing where there are covered bridges, low clearance locations, and steep road grades, all of which filterable in the app.

When Chris and I travelled from Anchorage, AK to Denver, CO we used this app more than any road atlas, or any other resource for that matter.

When it comes to hiking or bicycling, the AllTrails app is amazing. It’s also free! You can view trails near you at a glance, browse the entire map, or search for trails by name or near a particular city or park. You can filter your search by “best” or “nearby,” difficulty, star rating, trail length, activity, or things to see, and by suitability for dogs, kids, or wheelchairs.

Once you find a trail you’re interested in, you can look at a description of it, what activities it accommodates, how heavy the usage is, and what months it’s accessible or best used. You can check out user reviews and photos too. A map of the trail is viewable in topographical, road, and satellite versions, along with an elevation profile. You can even get directions to the trailhead right from the app.

Resources for Meteor Showers and Star Gazing

When it comes to stargazing, the most important thing is finding a location with a dark night sky, shielded from the light pollution of urban areas. Even small towns can put off enough light to greatly reduce star visibility.

The Dark Site Finder website will help you find locations throughout the world with the least light pollution.  Use this website in conjunction with the AllStays app and you can find the best accommodations for night sky viewing.

In 2016, Chris and I knew we wanted to watch the Perseid meteor shower, but we put off making our reservations until late summer.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a highly regarded stargazing location in Colorado. It has some of the darkest skies in the state as well as beautiful campgrounds and hiking trails. It was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015. As stated on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison website, because the park is a haven from light pollution, up to 15,000 stars can be seen from the park. In contrast, fewer than 500 may be seen from urban locations. The park hosts various astronomy events such as evening walks in the summer months and an astronomy festival, which takes place in June. In 2017, the festival will take place June 21-24.

Naturally, Black Canyon of the Gunnison was our dream spot for watching the meteor shower, but by the time we sat down to make plans, the reservable camping spots within the park were booked. We could have taken a chance at a first-come-first serve spot, but those are limited, and the park was a good 4 hours from home. Leaving after work on a Friday put us there pretty late and we didn’t want to risk not having a predictable home for the night.

Using the Dark Site Finder website, and the Allstays app, we were able to find the Elk Creek Campground in Gunnison, CO, about an hour from Black Canyon, on the shores of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, and under some of the darkest skies in the state. We had spectacular views of the meteor shower and were absolutely thrilled with our location.

The Perseid meteor shower is a popular one to watch because it has a high rate of meteors per hour. It reaches its peak around August 12th or 13th each year. For 2017, the waning gibbous moon will interfere with visibility of the fainter meteors, but with a forecast 80 meteors per hour, it’s sure to still be quite a show.

There are plenty of other meteor showers and celestial events as well. In-The-Sky.org lets you search for events by date and location and gives forecasts for upcoming events. SeaSky.org is a very user friendly site with space news, an astronomy reference guide, and an Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events. SkyandTelescope.com is another great resource filled with education resources, stargazing product information, and tons of news about the cosmos.

Great American Eclipse of 2017 Viewing Resources
  • We will have a chance to witness a rare event this year. On August 21st, a total solar eclipse will be visible from Oregon to Georgia. The last time a total eclipse was visible for this much of the United States was in 1918. There have been other total eclipses visible in the United States since then, but they are usually only visible or partially visible for small portions of the country. The last total eclipse to be visible for any portion of the US states occurred in 1991.

A few interesting facts about Total Eclipses:

  • A total eclipse may last as long as 7 minutes and 31 seconds, but they are usually much shorter
  • The closer you are to the path of totality, the longer the eclipse will last from your vantage point
  • The longest duration of the 2017 eclipse is forecast to range between 2 minutes and 2 minutes and 41 seconds along the center of totality.
  • In 1973, a jet followed the path of a total eclipse, extending the totality to 74 minutes
  • The shadow of the moon during a total eclipse can move 1/3 of the way around the planet within a few hours

To have the best view of the 2017 eclipse, you will want to be in a location along the path of totality. Here is a Nasa.gov Map showing the path of the moon’s shadow during the eclipse. You will have a view of the eclipse anywhere between the two red lines, but the closer to the blue line between them, known as the center of totality, the longer your viewing time will be. They have detailed downloadable maps of each state that will see the eclipse.

GreatAmericanEclipse.com is another great resource for information on where and when to watch the eclipse and tips to give you the best chance of having a good view. They also have eyewear and solar viewing binoculars for sale. They recommend being flexible and staying near highways that will allow you to move to a new viewing location should the clouds move in. Check your weather and choose some alternative locations that you can move to quickly if the weather turns on the morning of or within hours of the eclipse.

Total eclipses happen on Earth once every 18 months on average. The locations where they are visible are limited and are different with each one, so your chances to see them are very few and far between. Because this eclipse will stretch the length of the contiguous United States, it is an event that is relatively accessible to a lot of us. It is an event that will last in the memory of our country for quite some time. It’s worth being a part of if you can.

So, set some time aside in the coming weeks and make some plans. Find some great places to camp or new trails to explore. Route a road trip, short or long. Make some camping reservations or find some free BLM sites to visit. Plan to watch the stars or find a place to watch the solar eclipse. Whatever it is you’re into, try to plan ahead and make the best of your summer.


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Tips and Tools To Make Your 2017 Summer Great

March 3, 2017 / By Katie Hnatik

Spring is rapidly approaching, but it can be hard to feel that way some days. Here in Colorado, March is the snowiest month of the year with April coming in as the 3rd snowiest, so the majority of winter is yet to come. For that reason, I have to remind myself that summer is on its way and that now is the time to make plans.

With our growing population and technology making it easier for people to make reservations for camping spots and hotels, it’s best to think ahead and make your plans for the upcoming summer now. If you’re lucky, you may live somewhere with ample outdoor accommodations. If you plan to travel or live somewhere like Colorado, you run the risk of missing out on your most ideal location if you wait until the weather warms up. Some campgrounds book up months in advance, especially around holidays and big events.

There are of course holiday weekends that are popular for outdoor activities, such as Memorial Day and the 4th of July, which are notoriously hard to find accommodations for. There may be local events in your state such as fairs or festivals. There are also events like the Perseid and other Meteor showers, which are best observed from locations far from city lights, which means that people will be competing for campgrounds found in the darkest locations. In 2017, we will have a rare opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, something that has not happened in the United States for 26 years.

Here are some resources that have been invaluable to Chris and I when it comes to planning our summer trips.

Camping, Hiking, and Bicycling Resources

There are guide books for every state and different regions, that will help you learn about camping and hiking near you or your destination. These are great resources for sure, and although I can’t tell you what will work best for you, I lean toward guide books that have a lot of pictures because I like to see whether the landscape fits what I’m in the mood for and whether the location has something unique to offer.  Guidebooks however, are no longer my main source of information when it comes to camping and hiking.

The “Allstays Camp and RV” app is a great resource for finding camping accommodations of all kinds, and more. You can buy it for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store, as well as Google Play for Android. That may seem a bit pricey for an app, but Chris and I have gotten so much use out of it that it’s been well worth the money.

The app includes information on more than 30,000 campgrounds throughout the United States and Canada and allows you to filter these locations for specific types of campgrounds such as: National and State Parks and Forests, BLM campgrounds, KOA and private campgrounds, Walmart and Costco overnight parking, as well as primitive hike-in/bike-in/boat-in campgrounds. It includes directions, reviews, open-season dates, official website links, campground features, reviews, and photos.

There are features that will help during the drive to your destination as well. You can search for gas stations, truck stops with amenities, and rest areas. If you’re travelling in an RV, you can search for dump stations, propane suppliers, and RV businesses (which may come in handy of you run into trouble and need repairs). Another thing that can be useful to keep you out of trouble when travelling in an RV is knowing where there are covered bridges, low clearance locations, and steep road grades, all of which filterable in the app.

When Chris and I travelled from Anchorage, AK to Denver, CO we used this app more than any road atlas, or any other resource for that matter.

When it comes to hiking or bicycling, the AllTrails app is amazing. It’s also free! You can view trails near you at a glance, browse the entire map, or search for trails by name or near a particular city or park. You can filter your search by “best” or “nearby,” difficulty, star rating, trail length, activity, or things to see, and by suitability for dogs, kids, or wheelchairs.

Once you find a trail you’re interested in, you can look at a description of it, what activities it accommodates, how heavy the usage is, and what months it’s accessible or best used. You can check out user reviews and photos too. A map of the trail is viewable in topographical, road, and satellite versions, along with an elevation profile. You can even get directions to the trailhead right from the app.

Resources for Meteor Showers and Star Gazing

When it comes to stargazing, the most important thing is finding a location with a dark night sky, shielded from the light pollution of urban areas. Even small towns can put off enough light to greatly reduce star visibility.

The Dark Site Finder website will help you find locations throughout the world with the least light pollution.  Use this website in conjunction with the AllStays app and you can find the best accommodations for night sky viewing.

In 2016, Chris and I knew we wanted to watch the Perseid meteor shower, but we put off making our reservations until late summer.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a highly regarded stargazing location in Colorado. It has some of the darkest skies in the state as well as beautiful campgrounds and hiking trails. It was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015. As stated on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison website, because the park is a haven from light pollution, up to 15,000 stars can be seen from the park. In contrast, fewer than 500 may be seen from urban locations. The park hosts various astronomy events such as evening walks in the summer months and an astronomy festival, which takes place in June. In 2017, the festival will take place June 21-24.

Naturally, Black Canyon of the Gunnison was our dream spot for watching the meteor shower, but by the time we sat down to make plans, the reservable camping spots within the park were booked. We could have taken a chance at a first-come-first serve spot, but those are limited, and the park was a good 4 hours from home. Leaving after work on a Friday put us there pretty late and we didn’t want to risk not having a predictable home for the night.

Using the Dark Site Finder website, and the Allstays app, we were able to find the Elk Creek Campground in Gunnison, CO, about an hour from Black Canyon, on the shores of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, and under some of the darkest skies in the state. We had spectacular views of the meteor shower and were absolutely thrilled with our location.

The Perseid meteor shower is a popular one to watch because it has a high rate of meteors per hour. It reaches its peak around August 12th or 13th each year. For 2017, the waning gibbous moon will interfere with visibility of the fainter meteors, but with a forecast 80 meteors per hour, it’s sure to still be quite a show.

There are plenty of other meteor showers and celestial events as well. In-The-Sky.org lets you search for events by date and location and gives forecasts for upcoming events. SeaSky.org is a very user friendly site with space news, an astronomy reference guide, and an Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events. SkyandTelescope.com is another great resource filled with education resources, stargazing product information, and tons of news about the cosmos.

Great American Eclipse of 2017 Viewing Resources

We will have a chance to witness a rare event this year. On August 21st, a total solar eclipse will be visible from Oregon to Georgia. The last time a total eclipse was visible for this much of the United States was in 1918. There have been other total eclipses visible in the United States since then, but they are usually only visible or partially visible for small portions of the country. The last total eclipse to be visible for any portion of the US states occurred in 1991.

 

A few interesting facts about Total Eclipses:

  • A total eclipse may last as long as 7 minutes and 31 seconds, but they are usually much shorter
  • The closer you are to the path of totality, the longer the eclipse will last from your vantage point
  • The longest duration of the 2017 eclipse is forecast to range between 2 minutes and 2 minutes and 41 seconds along the center of totality.
  • In 1973, a jet followed the path of a total eclipse, extending the totality to 74 minutes
  • The shadow of the moon during a total eclipse can move 1/3 of the way around the planet within a few hours

To have the best view of the 2017 eclipse, you will want to be in a location along the path of totality. Here is a Nasa.gov Map showing the path of the moon’s shadow during the eclipse. You will have a view of the eclipse anywhere between the two red lines, but the closer to the blue line between them, known as the center of totality, the longer your viewing time will be. They have detailed downloadable maps of each state that will see the eclipse.

GreatAmericanEclipse.com is another great resource for information on where and when to watch the eclipse and tips to give you the best chance of having a good view. They also have eyewear and solar viewing binoculars for sale. They recommend being flexible and staying near highways that will allow you to move to a new viewing location should the clouds move in. Check your weather and choose some alternative locations that you can move to quickly if the weather turns on the morning of or within hours of the eclipse.

Total eclipses happen on Earth once every 18 months on average. The locations where they are visible are limited and are different with each one, so your chances to see them are very few and far between. Because this eclipse will stretch the length of the contiguous United States, it is an event that is relatively accessible to a lot of us. It is an event that will last in the memory of our country for quite some time. It’s worth being a part of if you can.

So, set some time aside in the coming weeks and make some plans. Find some great places to camp or new trails to explore. Route a road trip, short or long. Make some camping reservations or find some free BLM sites to visit. Plan to watch the stars or find a place to watch the solar eclipse. Whatever it is you’re into, try to plan ahead and make the best of your summer.


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