October And A National Park Senior Pass: 5 Colorful Places
It’s October and fall has settled in for real: it’s great time to get in a final outdoor fix at a National Park facility before your nose gets frosty, your fingers blue, and well um…your under-quarter under the weather so to speak. Aaaand, goody goody gumdrops, you’ve got your orange-flowered Senior Pass rarin’ to go.
So, it’s color of every kind and
October and a National Park Senior Pass 5 ways…
The adventure begins:
#1 John Day Fossil Beds National Monument OR
Wheel your trusty dusty jalopy along a remote highway in eastern Oregon to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
Trust me, it’s out there. In fact, you may be cruising along in no man’s land on Highway 26 and find yourself smack in the middle of it.
There’s not much in the way of “foliage”, but color? Yeppers. All year round.
Fossils abound at John Day. If the weather has closed in, give yourself a break and beetle into the Visitor Center, to get your fill of extinct—and undoubtedly colorful—creatures.
Now, John Day won’t cost you, but camping will. Use your Senior Pass at the Ochoco Divide Campground on Highway 26 or Idlewyld Campground on the Burns/John Day road. Both are USFS facilities.
Just don’t delay, though. By October, it’s gonna be getting chilly out there. Doublecheck that the campgrounds haven’t closed for the winter?
One more thing…keep your pooch near you at all times if you camp. A surround-sound coyote chorus might just entertain you as darkness settles. Experience…
Local color perhaps?
Want local color while you’re tootling along Highway 26? Mosey around the town of John Day, take photos of ghost towns en route, scan the horizon earnestly for a homemade pie diner. Ever seen a real cowboy sidle up to a bar on a horse? Now’s your chance…
If you’re looking to combine John Day with other locations in eastern Oregon, consider Steens Mountain, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, and BLM’s campground at Chickahominy Reservoir. All 3 give a break to National Park Senior Pass holders.
October and a National Park Senior Pass
#2 White Mountain National Forest NH
Maybe you only half-remembered that your splashy Senior Pass will substitute for a parking permit at federal trailheads?
Before fall foliage finishes up for the season (early October), drive across NH on the Kancamagus Highway (the Kanc, for short) and take a break on a forest trail. You’ll find ponds, waterfalls, mountains, and leaf-peepers’ color.
If you’ve planned on north-south instead, blast your eyes with color right next to I-93 at Franconia Notch. Dose up on opportunities to park, drive, hike, and dawdle.
Need camping in the Whites?
There are plenty of US Forest Service campgrounds in the White Mountain National Forest. Kaching! Kaching! USFS campgrounds offer 50% discounts to National Park Senior Pass holders.
#3 Antietam National Battlefield MD
Have a walk (or a drive if you’re not up to it) and feel the trudging of troops underneath your feet, the sorrow of battle, the noise of cannons, the blood spilled in the carnage of the Civil War.
It all still lingers there, in my experience.
Antietam National Battlefield is a place for thoughtfulness and for becoming attuned to what still lingers in the fields and woods, leftovers from the terrible day that saw more casualties than any other single day in the Civil War.
Antietam National Battlefield will ask for your Senior Pass at entry.
More thoughts on Antietam: Exit and Explore Antietam National Battlefield MD.
#4 Yellowstone National Park WY
You’ll want to dress warmly (and observe Park road closure dates), but fall in Yellowstone is a great time to check out the geysers, gorges, and bubblers of every description and color.
#5 Shenandoah National Park VA
The creatures of the woods will be preparing for hibernation, while you take advantage of fall tootling along spectacular Skyline Drive. You’ll flash your Senior Pass at the entry booth and enter a color wonderland.
Stretch your legs at the many viewpoints or along a segment of the Appalachian Trail. Campgrounds stay open until late fall (but check the NPS site for seasons); natch, another chance to deploy the benefits of your orange-cactus-flowered sidekick.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Include the Blue Ridge Parkway in your drive.
Honorable Mention for October and A National Park Senior Pass:
Homestead National Monument of America NE
This one doesn’t require a fee for entry, but October’s a perfect time for a visit: drive around the prairie and take stock of the USA’s intrepid forebears. Contemplate that the country was still being settled by non-Natives while Europe was already largely urbanized.
If you had homesteading ancestors, learn all you can about the homestead movement so you can spend the colder months researching your family tree.
Photo credits, October and a National Park Senior Pass. Featured image and top…John Day Ranger Walk: Public domain, by National Park Service. John Day Painted Hills: NPS photo/Scott Ritner. Lower Falls Scenic Area, White Mountain National Forest: CC BY 2.0 by rickpilot_2000 via Flickr. Antietam Cannon with fall colors: Public Domain by NPS. The cornfield, Antietam National Battlefield: CC BY 2.0 by David McSpadden via Flickr. Sunrise, Upper Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone: NPS/Neal Herbert. Skyline Drive: Public Domain by tpsdave via Pixabay. Palmer-Epard Cabin under a blue sky: Credit: NPS/Mel Mann.