Shake off the Winter Blues by Taking in some Greenery

Figure 1: A creek in a Missouri State Park.

Figure 1: Missouri State Park creek. Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

I don’t know about you, but I am suffering from severe cabin fever. I am craving the great outdoors and some green. So, I thought there would be no better topic than our wonderful national and state parks here in the Midwest.

We have heard of the benefits of enjoying the great outdoors. Many of us lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle. We sit at work, and we sit at home. If we are lucky, we may have time for a walk or a few minutes at the gym. Spending a little time outside can do a world of good to help reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing1. Thinking of getting away for the weekend or planning a vacation? Why not try a little R&R at some of our county’s greatest treasures (Figure 1)? First up, Porcupine Mountain State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Figure 2: Porcupine Mountain State Park

Figure 2: Porcupine Mountain State Park. Photo courtesy of www.stateparks.com

Porcupine Mountain State Park (Figure 2) in Michigan is one of the few wilderness areas left in the area. The wonderful, secluded lakes, flowing rivers, and thick forest will make you forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With lodges, cabins, and wilderness campgrounds, there is a lifestyle for everyone. You can ski, canoe, hike, fish, bike, swim, or just relax and read a book. The park follows the Leave No Trace ethics, so be sure to check out the manual before a visit. Learn more and make reservations.

Figure 3: Turkey Run State Park.

Figure 3: Turkey Run State Park. Photo courtesy of www.turkeyrunstatepark.com

Turkey Run State Park (Figure 3) in Indiana is another treasure. It is definitely a family friendly park with playgrounds, nature center and planetarium, swimming, and horse-back riding. They have wonderful trails that wind through sandstone ravines and old forest, and with both camping and an inn, you’ll be comfortable whether you prefer a sleeping bag or a pillow-top mattress. Learn more.

Figure 4: Lake Hope State Park.

Figure 4: Lake Hope State Park. Photo courtesy of www.stateparks.com

If you are in the Ohio area, check out Lake Hope State Park (Figure 4). This park is great if you have kids or want to try camping, but have little to no equipment. They have a lodge and cottages along with the campground. No tent? No problem. This park does tent rentals. Give camping a try. You may find how relaxing it is. They are full family friendly with playground and pet friendly sites. They offer a variety of activities like swimming, horse-back riding, boating on their 120-acre lake, fishing, hiking, biking, and nature programs. Interested in some history? They have fossil beds and historic programs too. Learn more and make reservations.

There are so many more we could talk about. To find more wonderful parks, visit www.midwestliving.com for the top 35 parks in the Midwest. If you are looking for one a little closer to home or maybe one as far away as possible, check out www.nps.gov for a map of Midwest Parks or www.nationalparks.org for parks nationwide.

If you do decide to go on an adventure be sure to plan ahead. Check the park’s website to see if it is a designated wilderness area, park rules and regulations, and visit recommendations. There are also a few things that I would be sure to pack as well. Good socks and shoes are a must. I hope you take to the trails or bike or something that gets your blood pumping and your feet moving. See the sites, and a good pair of shoes and socks will keep your feet as happy as you are. Bug spray and some flashlights are also very handy. Check the weather in the area and dress accordingly. Nothing can ruin fun like an unplanned rain shower. If there is a possibility of rain, bring indoor games or warm, water-resistant clothing.

Figure 5: Missouri trails.

Figure 5: Missouri trails. Photo courtesy of www.bolivarmonews.com

The last thing I would say is about cellphones. Bring them in case of an emergency, but think about turning them off. Cut yourself off from the hub bub and just enjoy nature (Figure 5). If you use it for a camera, as I like to, try to remember to enjoy the moments and not just capture them.

I hope as spring and summer approach, you take the time to enjoy these and other wonderful places. Maybe we’ll meet while on the trails. See you back on March 4 for our next post.

  1. http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/795/files/health_benefits_081505.pdf
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