At 8pm as I type this, the temperature at Furnace Creek in Death Valley is 100F with 5% humidity. The overnight low is 80, and the high tomorrow is 113. So why then, would we want to visit mid-August?
1. Timing – off season there are less crowds. cheaper rooms, and more vast desert to yourself. The night is also warm for exploring – just be aware of wildlife you may encounter!
2. High elevations – won’t be as hot, so you can explore there during the day!
3. The hottest place in the US. Who wouldn’t want to experience it, for a minute or two?
Check back next week as we review our whirlwind weekend trip from Vegas to Los Angeles, visiting 4 NPS sites along the way!
National Mall and Memorial Parks – so many stamps!
Last week I had the chance to visit DC, 11 years after I first lived in the area, and 9 after I left. It was the week leading up to Memorial Day, so the city was bustling with school field trips, tourists, and of course, workers in suits. The stage was set for the annual PBS Memorial Day concert on the Capitol Lawn (filmed Sunday evening, dress rehearsal Saturday). The summer heat suddenly appeared after weeks of cold rain, with daytime temperatures in the mid 80’s, but thankfully – no humidity. Summer gets pretty muggy, which is why the spring and fall seasons are so popular. Winter can be beautiful, especially the peace and calm right after a snow storm, but it’s really only accessible if you are staying downtown. Roads and the metro are a nightmare for a while after snow.
Walking along the National Mall was one of my favorite activities on a day off. It is such a peaceful green space in the midst of a busy city, with so many monuments to visit. Back in 2005/2006, the Washington Monument was closed for renovations. It reopened in 2007 just before I moved away. It’s a wonderful, extremely popular, view of the National Mall and monuments. Timed entry tickets are FREE the day of so get to the visitor center by 8:30am daily to try to get one, or you can pay a fee to reserve online in advance (limited supply here).
Many of the National Mall and Memorial Parks passport stamps can be found at the Washington Monument bookstore, which is not attached to the actual monument but on the east side. Other bigger memorials (Jefferson, Lincoln) that have gift shops will also have a passport cancellation on site. For me, I was thankful for the trove of stamps at the Washington Monument bookstore. I had visited all of these sites in DC well before I bought my first passport book, and due to my limited time this visit, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to each monument for the stamps.
Getting to the National Mall is easy by metro, if you are willing to walk a little bit. Take the red line to Farragut North or Metro Center and walk in from the White House, take the Orange/Silver/Blue Line to Smithsonian, Federal Triangle or even Foggy Bottom, or the Green/Yellow line to L’Enfant Plaza.
In celebration of the NPS centennial, Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego is hosting special events all summer, in partnership with the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation (CNMF) and Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy (CNMC). Many of these events are after-hours and extremely special, since the park normally closes at 5pm. Visitors have a chance to experience sunset from the park, one of the best vantage points of San Diego (in my opinion).
Extended hours on Memorial Day, Monday May 30th. 12pm-8pm. Check out the Open Bunker Day and a special Ranger guided sunset walk!
Sunset Yoga in the Park, sponsored by the Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy. Join Cabrillo’s resident yoga instructor for an all-levels sunset yoga classes overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.