Warm-Weather Parks You Need to Visit

National Park of American Samoa

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Tropical beach with sand and pebbles, and pointed peaks of Ofu Island. National Park of American Samoa (QT Luong)

National Park of American Samoa is not only one of the least visited national parks, but it’s also the only U.S. national park south of the equator.  And it’s the perfect place to shake off seasonal affective disorder.

Located on three different islands, this national park has coral reefs for snorkeling and lush rainforests for exploring. It’s also largely underdeveloped, making it desirable for those hoping to escape the crowds of it’s closest U.S. neighbor, Hawaii, which is a 5-hour flight away.

It may be a much longer trip than any of the other national parks, but this remote, jungle location will be well worth the visit.

Channel Islands National Park

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Coreopsis and chain of islands, Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island. Channel Islands National Park, California (QT Luong)

Often referred to as “The American Galapagos,” the Channel Islands make for a much easier trip. Only 40 miles off the California coast, this archipelago is comprised of five different islands: Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara.

Only accessible by boat, the Channel Islands offers diving, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and sea cave exploration. In fact, the island of Santa Cruz has the deepest sea caves in the world. Plus, winter is the best time for whale watching, as Pacific Gray Whales are active in this area between December and April.

The Channel Islands has several campsites available for intrepid travelers, but can also be an easy day trip from Los Angeles.

Joshua Tree National Park

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Round and triangular Boulders, Jumbo Rocks campground, sunset. Joshua Tree National Park, California (QT Luong)

Only two hours from Los Angeles, and with a plethora of outdoor activities, Joshua Tree is the perfect winter getaway for the adventurous traveler.

The unique desert landscape, which has relatively mild temperatures in the winter, is named for the strange and spiky yucca tree that pervades the landscape.

Visitors can choose to explore Joshua Tree via the park’s auto tour, which winds through the area’s high and low desert. If you prefer to stretch your legs, park activities range from day hiking and backpacking, geological tours, horseback riding, mountain biking, and rock climbing. The location is also perfect for stargazing and meteor showers.

Death Valley National Park

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Sun and sliding rock on the Racetrack, mid-day. Death Valley National Park, California (QT Luong)

Don’t let the name deter you. Death Valley is actually teeming with life, even in winter. And while the average temperature is 115 degrees Fahrenheit in August, the average temperature in January is a pleasant 67 degrees.

While the mountains may be topped with snow, the valleys remain warm and dry for visitors. In fact, the best time to hike in Death Valley is between November and March, before the dangerously hot temperatures arrive in the summer months.

The park also offers guided ranger tours and paleontology hikes, which feature a remote area of the park and must be booked ahead of time.

Biscayne National Park

Yellow snappers and soft coral. Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA.
Yellow snappers and soft coral. Biscayne National Park, Florida (QT Luong)

With the visitor center only an hour’s drive from Miami, Biscayne National Park is an easy getaway for ocean enthusiasts. The park, which is 95% water, is the perfect place to explore all that the Florida coast has to offer.

Campgrounds are available on Boca Chita and Elliot Key (the northernmost island of the Florida Keys), but much of the park can be explored by boat, kayak, or canoe. Plus, Biscayne has underwater trails for snorkelers and scuba divers, which explore the remains of old shipwrecks.

Wildlife watching is also an excellent activity for visitors, and manatees are known to frequent the warm and gentle waters of this Biscayne Bay.

From underwater adventures to dry desert landscapes, the national park system is filled with getaways that will help you escape the cold grasp of winter. Which park are you hoping to visit?

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Jersey Griggs is a wellness and travel writer for hire. This year, her winter escape plans include a trip to New Mexico, where she hopes to enjoy some sunshine and spring skiing. To learn more about Jersey, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

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5 Insider Tips to Visiting Yellowstone in the Winter

Have you been to Yellowstone National Park in the summertime? If so, you know it’s a popular place to be.

Summertime in Yellowstone means good weather, longer days, and pleasant temperatures. On the flip side, it also means crowded campgrounds, congested roadways, and lots of people.

In contrast, the winter months in Yellowstone are peaceful, uncrowded, and quiet. Plus, Yellowstone is just as beautiful, if not more so, under a fresh blanket of snow.

If you’d like to uncover the magic of wintertime in Yellowstone, read on to learn these five insider tips:

Cross Country Ski Around Mammoth Hot Springs

Try experiencing the quietude of Yellowstone National Park in winter from a pair of skis.

The trails around the Mammoth Hot Springs are perfect from exploring by Nordic ski or snowshoe. Just a five-mile drive from the Gardiner, Montana entrance and accessible from the road, Mammoth Hot Springs has a network of cross-country trails available for all skill levels.

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Mammoth Hot Springs/Jersey Griggs

The trails wander past the ethereal hot springs while offering breathtaking views of the park’s majestic beauty.

Pro Tip: The Upper Terrace Loop can be reached from the parking lot, while the rest of the trails must be reached by shuttle from the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

Soak in the Boiling River

A two-mile drive from Mammoth Hot Springs, the Boiling River is a natural phenomenon occurring when the Mammoth runoff combines with the Gardiner River.

The result? Glorious and natural hot springs perfect for soaking those aching bones and sore muscles. It’s a magical place made even more incredible when you’re able to witness the park’s wildlife, such as elk and bison, grazing nearby.

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Walk to Boiling River/Jersey Griggs

 

The Boiling River parking lot is a 0.5-mile drive from the Gardiner park entrance, followed by a ½ mile trail walk to the hot springs.

Pro Tip: Wear layers, and bring a towel, water shoes, and a big bottle of water.

Drive on Route 191

With an average year-round temperature of 30.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the town of West Yellowstone may not be the most enticing winter destination.

But as a popular winter gateway to Yellowstone National Park, the area around West Yellowstone is breathtaking.

From snow-covered treetops to glittering snowfields and sparkling, meandering rivers, Route 191 through Yellowstone is an incredible drive in the wintertime.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to visit Yellowstone on the cheap, consider flying to Salt Lake City. Flights are more affordable to bigger cities and West Yellowstone is a 4.5-hour drive from the Salt Lake City airport.

Backcountry Ski Near Cooke City

Backcountry skiing, a sport where skiers eschew the lift and hike up the mountain themselves, is becoming one of the hottest trends in the ski industry. As a result, more skiers are looking for unique places to escape the crowds and “earn their turns.”

Well, backcountry skiers should look no further than the northern region of Yellowstone National Park.  The small town of Cooke City is the gateway to every skier’s paradise—steep hills, fluffy snow, incredible vistas, and best of all, no lift lines.

Pro Tip: If you’re new to backcountry skiing, take an avalanche training course and equip yourself with the necessary safety gear. Or, consider taking a guided tour with a local company like Yellowstone Ski Tours.

Snowmobile to Old Faithful

Due to the park’s high volume of snow during the winter months, many of Yellowstone’s entrances and roads are closed. But for visitors who want to see Old Faithful’s geyser erupt, winter is the perfect time to get adventurous and try something new.

From mid-December to mid-March, Old Faithful can be accessed by either snowmobile or snow coach. The guided tour is not only an exciting adventure through the park, but is sure to be less crowded than the throngs of visitors in July.

Pro Tip: To book your snowmobile trip to Old Faithful, check out this list of guided tours, available at every open park entrance.

Winter in Yellowstone is an experience that should not be missed. From exciting outdoor adventures to peaceful moments within the park, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that is sure to be remembered. Which winter activity is calling your name?

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Jersey Griggs is a freelance travel writer for hire. Currently residing in Portland, Maine, Jersey previously lived in Bozeman, Montana, where she made frequent trips to Yellowstone National Park. An avid skier and lover of snow, she hopes to convince people that winter isn’t all that bad. To learn more, visit Jersey’s website or follow her on Twitter.

A Winter Solstice Ritual You Need to Know About

Located in the Northwestern part of New Mexico, there’s no denying that Aztec Ruins National Monument is a special place. But the name “Aztec Ruins” is a bit of a misnomer.

Early white settlers to the region believed that the ruins had been populated by the Aztec people—the nearby town and the ruins were named “Aztec” as a result.

It wasn’t until Earl H Morris began excavation in 1916, that the archeologist asserted the ruins did not belong to the Aztecs after all. The inhabitants of this village were actually the ancient Puebloan people, also known as the Anasazi.

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Early evening sunlight. (NPS)

It is believed that the ancient Puebloans began construction of the dwellings around 1100 A.D. Throughout the next couple of centuries, more structures were built and the ancient Puebloans continued to thrive.

Morris and his wife, Ann Axtell Morris, lived at the ruins and uncovered much of what is seen by visitors today. Most notably, they discovered the remains of the Great Kiva— an underground gathering place that was used for special ceremonies.

Much of the Great Kiva was rebuilt under Morris’ direction and today it is the largest kiva still in existence. The ½ mile walk around the Aztec Ruins ends at the kiva, and much of the park, as well as this unique sacred space, inspires awe and wonder in its’ visitors.

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Great Kiva (NPS)

An Ancient Solstice Ritual

Across the world, many ancient peoples marked the passing of the seasons by using architectural solar observations.

While we may never know the full story behind these solar observations, we do know that the Puebloans built their structures in alignment with the winter and summer solstices.

The north wall of Aztec West is aligned with the winter solstice in late December, while the east end is aligned with the summer solstice in late June.

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Looking through a window. (NPS)

When standing in front of the north wall on the winter solstice, the setting sun is aligned with the ancient structure. Here, viewers can witness the phenomenon of the pausing sun, which is where the word “solstice” is derived. In Latin, “Sol” translates to the sun, while “sisto” translates to stop.

As the earth is on an axis, and the sun appears to move from our standpoint, it is on the winter solstice that the sun will pause on its journey southward and begin to move northward. It will continue this journey until the summer solstice, at which point it will pause again, and move southward.

Presumably, the ancient Puebloans marveled as the sun stood still during the wintertime from this vantage point.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice Today

Visitors to the park will be able to stand in the footsteps of the ancient Puebloans and watch with wonder as the December sun sets in alignment with the north wall.

The National Park Service is hosting an event on Friday, December 21 and Saturday, December 22 to mark this celestial occurrence. Visitors must arrive by 4:30 p.m. to participate, at which time rangers will escort participants to the alignment location.

There will also be a ranger-guided program held before sunset at 3:45 p.m. and after the sunset, around 5:00 pm. During both of these programs, a ranger will be available to explain more about the park, the traditions of the Puebloans, and the astronomy of the winter sky in New Mexico.

Regardless of where you are on the winter solstice, it’s amazing to think that this is a solar occurrence that has been celebrated since ancient times. It’s even more incredible, that our national parks hold space for such traditions to carry on. How will you celebrate today’s solstice?

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Jersey Griggs is a freelance travel writer for hire. Residing in Portland, Maine, Jersey plans to celebrate the winter solstice with an outdoor bonfire and good company. To learn more about Jersey, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.

Introducing America’s Newest National Park: Camp Nelson

Five weeks ago, a new national park joined the ranks of our National Park Service system: Camp Nelson National Monument in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The park, located about 20 miles south of Lexington in Jessamine County, commemorates the African American soldiers who resided at Camp Nelson during the Civil War. 

Originally established as a Union Army supply depot in 1863, Camp Nelson also served as a military recruiting ground and training center, a hospital, and a refugee camp for fleeing slaves.

Here at Chimani, we think Camp Nelson is a great addition to the National Park Service system. Here are the reasons we think it’s worth a visit.

It’s Nature and History Combined

With 380 acres of land, a network of trails, a Civil War museum, and reconstructed barracks, Camp Nelson has something to offer nature lovers and history buffs alike.

Set amid the rolling hills of pastoral Kentucky, Camp Nelson offers five miles of hiking trails within the park boundaries. Along the way, walkers can witness military earthworks and fortifications, created in defense of the camp, and historical information marked by interpretive signs.

Fort Jones Overlook Trail is the longest hike at 2.3 miles, where hikers can ascend thick woods to reach an overlook of Hickman Creek Valley. An extension trail leads hikers to Camp Nelson National Cemetery, a burial ground adjacent to the national park.

And for history buffs, Camp Nelson aims to give an accurate glimpse into the complete lives of members of the United States Colored Troops and their families, not just during the war, but before and after as well.

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The Oliver Perry “White House”, the only existing Civil War structure on the property, serves as a Civil War museum. The historic house features a short film about the history of the camp and has several Civil War Era artifacts on display. The park also has reconstructed barracks that depict life as a Union Army Soldier for the thousands of troops stationed at Camp Nelson.

It Was a Refugee Camp for Slaves

Although the state of Kentucky initially declared neutrality at the start of the war,  it fell under Union control in 1862. As such, Camp Nelson became a refugee camp for thousands of slaves fleeing Confederate states.

In 1864 Congress passed an act that guaranteed freedom to slaves who enlisted in military service. As a result, 5,000 African American men enlisted in the Union Army at Camp Nelson. However, these same men were often accompanied by wives and children, who were not eligible for emancipation and were ordered out of the camp in the fall of 1864.

Without proper food and shelter, over a hundred family members perished, resulting in an outcry throughout the camp. To rectify the situation, the Union Army created the Camp Nelson Home of Colored Refugees in January 1865, which housed and protected the wives and children of enlisted soldiers.

A couple of months later, Congress went as far as emancipating the family members of any African American male who enlisted in the United States Colored Troops, creating a safe haven at Camp Nelson for fleeing slaves.

In recognition of this, Camp Nelson has been named a part of the National Underground Railroad Network by the National Park System—solidifying the site as an educational opportunity for those looking to understand more about slaves who escaped to freedom.

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It Was Named a National Monument

National monuments fall within the general category of national parks, except that a presidential order is required to create a monument. A national monument must also meet the criteria listed in the Antiquities Act, meaning that the location has objects and artifacts that are history or science-related.

As a pre-existing historic landmark, Camp Nelson met these standards, and its history has been well-preserved due to its rural location. Other Union supply depots were located near larger northern cities, and as a result, their surroundings and archeological resources disintegrated over time.

In fact, the well-preserved grounds at Camp Nelson largely contribute to the previous landmark’s new status as a monument. The Presidential Proclamation that established Camp Nelson as a national monument claimed: “the site is one of the best-preserved landscapes and archeological sites associated with United States Colored Troops recruitment and the refugee experiences of African American slaves seeking freedom during the Civil War.”

It’s clear that Camp Nelson has something for everyone—history, nature, and an opportunity to glimpse into our country’s past. Tell us what you’re most looking forward to about visiting Camp Nelson National Monument!

America’s Parks Reveal a Different Kind of Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving is a hectic day in America. Across the country, people are traveling, cooking, and making last minute trips to the grocery store.

But as we busy ourselves preparing for tomorrow’s feast, we ought to take a moment of pause to ask ourselves—what does Thanksgiving mean to us? The answers are sure to be varied.

As school children, we are often taught about the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, where colonial settlers and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast in a day of abundance and thanks. And many of us recognize Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to practice gratitude and to be with family.

But did you know that the first Thanksgiving, at least by history’s standards, took place near Jacksonville, Florida? Or that a collective group of indigenous people in North America celebrate Thanksgiving every day?

Like anything in life, Thanksgiving is sure to mean something different to everyone. Here are two national parks that shed a different light on our traditional Thanksgiving holiday.

Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve

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Situated near the St Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve has 46,000 square acres of wetlands, dunes, and trails for national park visitors.

The Theodore Roosevelt Area, donated by conservationist Willie Browne, offers both land and water trails for those seeking adventure in the outdoors, including the opportunity to rent kayaks for waterway exploration.

The history of Timucuan is equally interesting. The Timucua tribe first met Europeans in 1562, when they came across French explorers on the river. A mere three years later, the Spanish followed.

In his book, a Cross in the Sand, historian Michael Gannon asserts that the first Thanksgiving occurred 40 miles south of the Timucuan Preserve in St. Augustin, Florida. The Spaniards arrived on the Floridan shore to much fanfare, while members of the Timucua tribe looked on. After holding a Catholic Mass, the Europeans shared a meal with the locals, which consisted of garbanzo beans and salted pork stew.

This historical anecdote means that the first Thanksgiving, or at least a version of it, occurred almost 60 years before the pilgrims dined at Plymouth Rock.  It’s another example of the meeting of two cultures and the breaking of bread. And just think, if history had gone differently, we might be eating pork and garbanzo beans tomorrow instead of turkey and cranberry sauce.

Fort Stanwix National Monument

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Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, New York, was a military fortress employed in not one, but two 18th century wars. Today, the fort appears much the same as it did in the 1700s, with guided tours, trails, and park rangers dressed in Continental uniform.

Originally built by the British in 1758, Fort Stanwix was first used during the French and Indian War, and was later reclaimed by Colonial Troops during the Revolutionary War.

The history of the park is also entwined with the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of six Native American tribes who joined forces to live in peace. The Confederacy referred to themselves as the Haudenosaunee and included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.

Although England managed to secure allegiance with the Six Nations, this neutrality did not last long. Colonists continued to encroach on the agreed upon boundaries and the Revolutionary War destroyed the land, villages, and culture of the Six Nations. Unfortunately, this same story is often repeated throughout history and is one of the reasons Thanksgiving can be a controversial subject with varying viewpoints.

However, the Haudenosaunee do celebrate Thanksgiving, not only as a day in November but as a daily practice.  The Haudensosaunee Thanksgiving Address is a “greeting to the natural world,” honoring all living things, including the earth, stars, and moon. The Thanksgiving Address is a beautiful expression of unity and demonstrates the importance of gratitude, not only on holidays but every day.

No matter what Thanksgiving means to you, or how you recognize it, Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates coming together and practicing gratitude. We’re thankful for a lot here at Chimani, and the beauty and history preserved in our National Parks are high on the list. What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

You can learn more about Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve and Fort Stanwix National Monument on the Chimani website.


Jersey Griggs is a travel writer for hire. A certified yoga instructor and an outdoor enthusiast, Jersey loves to ski, camp, and hike in national parks near and far from her home base of Portland, Maine. When not writing, she is certainly doing something outside with her husband and dog. To learn more, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.

3 Parks That Prove Why Your Vote Matters

In today’s current political climate, the midterm elections are as important as ever. And for national park advocates, voting can have an impact on the parks that we all enjoy.

National parks receive millions of visitors each year, requiring funding that can be secured by candidates that support conservation. And it’s not just iconic national parks like Yosemite or Yellowstone that hang in the balance. National memorials, monuments, and historical sites are parks that can be preserved and protected with your vote.

In honor of tomorrow’s Election Day, we’re highlighting 3 national parks that epitomize our democracy and prove that your vote matters.

1. Constitution Gardens Memorial

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The Constitution Gardens is a 52-acre park located within the National Mall in Washington D.C. Flanked on either side by the Vietnam War and World War II Memorials, Constitution Gardens is an urban respite, filled with lawns, walking paths, and benches that surround a serene, manmade lake.

Originally established in 1976 to celebrate America’s 200th birthday, the memorial is located on a small island, accessible by a footbridge. Here, visitors can find stones that inscribe the names of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. In addition to the memorial, the National Park Service hosts an annual naturalization ceremony in the Constitution Gardens, celebrating and welcoming immigrants who have recently become U.S. citizens.

The Constitution Gardens Memorial serves as a reminder of the founders of our country, who drafted the democratic ideals of our nation and believed in our rights as voters. To learn more, visit the Chimani website.

2. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail

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The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail is an iconic stop in our nation’s voting history. This historic site in Alabama marks the 54-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, following the steps of civil rights activists who marched to support the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The march, which began in Selma, grew to 25,000 participants and culminated in Montgomery, where marchers congregated to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “How Long, Not Long” speech. The Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory voting laws and created equal voting rights for African Americans, was signed five months later by President Lyndon Johnson.

Today, visitors can follow the signs that highlight notable stops in the march and key moments in the civil rights movement, including the Selma Interpretive Center, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Alabama State Capitol.

This historic trail is a meaningful reminder of how, not too long ago, voting was a privilege for some and not a right for all. To learn more, visit the Chimani website.

3. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

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Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, located in the rugged wilderness of Maine’s north woods, is 86,000 square miles of preserved forest, streams, lakes, and mountains. In fact, Mount Katahdin boasts the highest peak in Maine at 5,269 feet and marks the end of the famed Appalachian Trail.

In addition to hiking and camping, this federal parkland offers visitors the chance to cross-country ski, canoe, mountain bike, and hunt within the solitude and beauty of the park. Named a national monument in 2016 by President Barack Obama, this land is now protected from drilling, mining, and logging operations that could destroy its rustic beauty. To learn more, visit the Chimani website.

However, just as a presidential order has the power to create a national monument, it is being used to reduce them as well. National parks may not be protected forever. This means that voting for elected officials who support conservation can be instrumental in preserving public lands for us and for future generations. 

From our founding fathers to the civil rights movements, to modern politics—the National Park System is intrinsic to our democracy. Researching and voting for candidates in congressional, state, and local elections make a difference and will allow for your voice to be heard. So be sure you hit those polls tomorrow and GO VOTE!

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Jersey Griggs is a travel and outdoor recreation writer for hire. A certified yoga instructor and a lover of all things outdoors, Jersey loves to ski, camp, and hike in national parks near and far from her home base of Portland, Maine. When not writing, she is certainly doing something outside with her husband and dog. To learn more, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.

On and Off the Trail in Acadia: Brook Trout Fishing in Acadia National Park

A good friend of mine – and an incredible fly angler – once told me a story he called the evolution of the fly fisherman:

When someone first learns to fish using a fly rod (and the same probably holds true of a spinning rod as well) they’re hell bent on catching a fish, no matter what kind. Then they’re similarly focused on catching as many fish as humanly possible and before too long the largest fish, who’s size they of course will embellish over time. As the angler acquires skill, he or she then looks to catch the smartest fish, or, without judging the intellect of fishes, at least the more difficult fish to catch. But after these stages, the angler looks to catch the eternal fish, by which I mean that the act of fishing has become more important than the result and, more importantly, that the angler has become focused on the conservation of fish and the ability of future generations to engage with fishing.

I love that story. Especially when he tells it I’m transported immediately to the scene of Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) instructs Danny (Ralph Macchio) on the proper techniques of waxing cars … “wax on, wax off.”

Well your grasshopper here isn’t sure where he sits in this particular evolutionary chain of being – likely somewhere between the big fish and the smart one, although I remain skeptical that there are such defined stages along the road toward Zen master angler.

Because I am a resident of the hamlet of Bar Harbor here on Mt. Desert Island, with a job that limits the amount of recreational time at my disposal, and because that time constraint limits me to fishing in the waters of Acadia National Park (poor, poor baby), the big fish just isn’t much of a possibility at all.

Sure, our lakes and ponds have some big, beautiful land-locked salmon and brook trout, but I’m of the persuasion or the perversion that streams are where my boots should be. I don’t much care for fishing on ponds unless they are frozen and there is beer and fire.

But my real passion is fishing in creeks with tiny, dry flies and stalking if not always catching native brook trout. These are what might you call smart fish, although I may have taken an errant turn on the evolutionary tree branch toward just very small fish.

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(Undisclosed location where brook trout can be found … with patience)

Though I’m hesitant to tell you about them all for fear you might spoil my tranquility, you should know that Acadia is crisscrossed with many such creeks that hold brook trout. There are about 46 watersheds on Mount Desert Island that feed these small streams as they make their way to Frenchman Bay in the east or Blue Bill Bay toward the West or the major ponds and lakes at the island’s center where most of you should focus your fishing.

But to those who are ready to brave the bugs and are comfortable with spending some time untangling line from the surrounding wilds that will without a doubt toy with your patience, consider these small streams. Consider Hunters Brook near Seal Harbor where the fish are especially plentiful in a last, large pool before the ocean. This is perhaps the one spot on the island where you can pretend to play Paul Maclean of River Runs Through It, with your epic false casts and all. Or consider Duck Brook right in Bar Harbor where there is one pool that I know holds a 10-inch trout. Be kind if you catch him – be sure you’re using a small hook (size 20 or smaller) where you’ve pinched the barb flat and, remember, this is a grandfather, monster fish where MDI inland fishing is concerned, don’t handle him with dry hands or keep him out of the water while you fumble with your iPhone to grab a picture. No one will be impressed, I promise.

Eventually, you will tire of these spots. I have. But I’ve developed a new approach to my fishing that will keep me interested for the foreseeable future. I’ve taken up the personal challenge of hunting these brook trout with the goal of catching said fish at the highest altitude, shooting for the pools furthest from where the stream hits the ocean, nearest the creek headwaters. Just yesterday I caught a fish about 20 yards downstream from the carriage road bridge on Jordan Stream – a new record for that stream. It was a mighty, three-inch brook trout who went after my caddis fly with the gusto of something very vicious or very hungry.

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(Beautiful brook trout in Hunters Brook)

Here’s the thing: this kind of fishing isn’t for everyone. For the true beginner, I’d suggest searching for more open spots where you can find rhythm and shape in your cast and have better chances at finding that first fish. I’ve you’re driven toward the large or the many, you will be frustrated on these streams. But if you like getting to places in Acadia where not too many people have been, if you’re intrigued by the idea of understanding fish behavior and like cataloguing that behavior, if you can appreciate beautiful colors and attributes in the small as well as the large, I’d highly suggest bringing your rod and taking a detour upstream. Hope to see you there or, better yet, know you are enjoying a similar kind of experience elsewhere on MDI.


Darron Collins is a 1992 graduate of College of the Atlantic (COA) and, in July 2011, became the seventh president of COA and the first alumnus to hold that position. Prior to coming back to COA, Collins had been managing international and domestic projects at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for a decade. After four years of work in the Amazon Basin, he was asked to lead the organization’s strategic planning process. Then, during the later half of his career at WWF, Darron served as managing director for the Amur-Heilong Ecoregion—an area the size of Alaska, encompassing parts of Russia, Mongolia, and China—and as senior advisor to the organization’s CEO.

A native of Morris Plains, New Jersey, Collins is an avid fly-fisherman, cyclist, hiker, and trail runner. In the summer of 2015 Collins climbed 40 named peaks on Mount Desert Island in one single 27-hour expedition and continues to design and execute endurance adventures annually. He lives in Bar Harbor, Maine with his wife, Karen, their two daughters Maggie and Molly, and their black Lab named Lucy.