Wool Car Blankets

May 14, 2014

Pendleton Wool Blankets National Parks Series

By Gabrielle.

I feel funny writing a post about blankets when the temperatures here are in the 90′s today, but I wanted to share these with you before I forget. And in reality, I end up using these types of blankets more often in the summer than I do in the winter.

I started looking into old-school wool blankets when my mom sent us a classic Pendleton blanket for Christmas. It’s the same one you can see on Ralph’s bed here. It’s the Badlands pattern, part of Pendleton’s National Parks series.

I was so excited about how gorgeous this blanket is, but I felt dumb too. For some reason, I assumed Pendleton was no longer making these blankets, and that I had to track them down at a flea market if I wanted one. But here they were on their website — the whole series! All totally classic. In fact, Pendleton has been making these National Parks blankets, in 100% wool, since the early 1900s!

Though I use them in several places, I think of these types of blankets as perfect for keeping in the trunk of the car. They fold up compactly so they don’t take up much space, the wool is water resistant, and they can really take a beating. I like them for last minute picnics, watching fireworks on summer nights, and if a cold front moves in, they even do a great job of keeping us warm. : )

But, the Pendleton blankets come with a big price tag. So I wanted to see if there was anything else out there that was more accessible, and I found some great options.

Woolrich Civil War Series Wool Blankets

Woolrich, another classic label, is also still producing traditional wool blankets, and at a lower price point than Pendleton. The Civil War series offers four designs that look like historical military blankets. The blankets are not 100% wool — they’re something like 85% wool and 15% nylon. But they’re certainly handsome. And they come in at about half of what the Pendleton blankets cost.

European Army Surplus Wool Blankets

Then, in my searches for military beds for the boys’ room, I happened upon some gorgeous European Army blankets, also in wool, that have a bargain price tag compared to both the Woolrich and the Pendleton blankets. I like this one from Italy, these two from the Czech Republic, and this one from Switzerland. I found French and German versions too, but I didn’t think they were as pretty. : )

Like I said, these are bargain priced — as low as $28!

Woolrich Allegheny Series Wool Blankets

Lastly, I noticed the Allegheny series by Woolrich. These are 100% wool, and I love the patterns, but I’m not as crazy about the blanket stitching around the edges. They’re in the same price range as the first Woolrich blankets I mentioned.

Tell me, friends, are you a fan of these types of wool blankets? Are you perhaps one of those lucky ducks who inherited a classic wool blanket from a grandparent or a great uncle? Or are you rolling your eyes and thinking: geez, Gabrielle, you must be the only person on Earth to not know that Pendleton is still making blankets? : ) Also, do you have any other sources I should know about?

P.S. — I suppose I find the National Parks blankets especially endearing because I grew up around National Parks and they continue to be some of my favorite spots to vacation. Do you have a favorite National Park?

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren May 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I actually just read a magazine article about Pendleton blankets recently and have totally been wanting one! This is so great to see other, less expensive options as well.
I love this travel blanket that is actually a thick, double brushed cotton flannel, but everyone who sees it is sure it is wool.

Washable is the name of the game in our house, so the cotton is a real selling point, although I am personally partial to wool :)

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2 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

You’re right — that totally looks like wool!

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3 Sasha May 14, 2014 at 5:03 pm

My aunt gave us a Hudson Bay blanket for our wedding. It is one of my most prized possessions. I love the look of it, but it’s pretty neat to have something with such a history around.

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4 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Gorgeous! I can see why it’s a prized possession.

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5 Amber May 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I bought a pendleton wool blanket for my bed last winter. I LOVE it, it’s warm but not too hot. I bought mine thru Land’s End, and waited until they offered the 40% off one item coupon (they offer it once a year before Christmas) and snapped it up. I couldn’t be happier with it!

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6 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm

That’s genius, Amber! Do they carry the whole Pendleton line? I’ll go check….

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7 Amber May 14, 2014 at 8:03 pm

The selection was pretty limited, but I only wanted the cream color, to go under the down comforter we have for the cold Chicago winters. It’s the perfect weight to use with just a sheet now that it’s warmed up a bit though.

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8 Jenny also May 14, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I have two twin sized Hudson Bay blankets packed away in my trunk. I think they were purchased by my paternal grandmother in Toronto 60+ years ago. We used them when I was a kid in southern California on our beds rarely because it wasn’t often cold enough to need them. Also I remember thinking they were very scratchy. I think it’s time to unearth them and see if they’ll work folded at the foot of be boys’ beds. But maybe I’ll wait til Fall for that.

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9 Jenny also May 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Oops. This was supposed to be a reply to Sasha, not Amber.

10 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Treasure! They sound perfect for the foot of the bed.

11 fanny May 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

I collect wool blankets and have the very same Swiss Cross shown in your photo! I would also highly recommend Faribault Woolen Mills blankets.

It is an old company from right here in Minnesota and they have been making their lovely blankets and scarves here for decades. No self respecting Minnesotan would be caught without one. I am hoping one day a Swan Island blanket will find it’s way into my collection.

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12 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Thanks for the recommendation, Fanny. That first vintage photo on their site is wonderful — and the blankets look good too!

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13 HDH. May 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

My source for gorgeous 100% wool blankets is Scotland! For sale in half the shops in Edinburgh! Had a very difficult time choosing just one.

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14 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Hah! Sounds like a good excuse for a trip.

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15 Christy@SweetandSavoring May 14, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Oh I how love the European military blankets! I think the Czech is my favorite, but it’s so hard to decide. Thanks for giving me something else to suggest to my mom for my birthday next month :)

I love national parks, too, but since I’ve always lived on the East Coast, I haven’t been to that many of them! Just Shenandoah in Virginia, the Everglades in FL, Acadia in Maine- oh! And Hawaii Volcanoes National Park :) Hoping to revisit Acadia this summer.

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16 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Too funny! I do love National Parks, but I haven’t been to a single one that you mention. : ) That’s okay. It’s nice to know there’s plenty of world left to explore.

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17 Traci May 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Not familiar with these types of blankets, but they look warm, stylish, and durable. I love the Swiss cross design.

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18 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Durable is the perfect word for them.

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19 Nora May 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Last summer we drove from PDX (through Pendleton!) to Yellowstone then to Tetons, then to Bryce and then Zion. I loved them all but I guess I was blown away by the surreal landscape of Bryce and then the absolute grandeur of Zion. We plan to visit Badlands and Arches some day. Then we drove to Park City and then the entire I84 home in 12 hours. Saw a whole lot of big empty spaces. Amazing. Oh, and almost got St. George too!
PS Pendleton blankets are sold in Made in Oregon shops that will ship to you.

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20 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Your comment makes me want to hit the road and take a tour of all the Western parks. What a dream!

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21 Victoria May 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I bought a Hudson Bay blanket from Sierra Traders. It’s pink and cream, not the traditional colors, but I love it. I slept under various weights of down comforters for years, but lately, I had been waking up in the night in a sweat. I read wool breathe better than down, and sure enough, no more night sweats. Problem solved!

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22 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Good to know! I’ve never tried one as my main blanket.

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23 Lauren May 14, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Growing up we had a gorgeous wool blanket my parents purchased in East Berlin in 1988. I love this blanket and was annoyed to see my sister had taken it home with her. But since my sister lives in Wisconsin, chooses not to own a car, and uses the blanket to cover her two kids in a bike trailer in Madison in winter, I think she needs it more than I!

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24 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Holy moly. Your sister sounds hardcore! I think she’s definitely earned that blanket. (And crossing my fingers you find one you like just as well!)

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25 Anna May 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Whenever we travel we always try to just buy three things: a Christmas ornament, a book that has something to do with our place of travel and a piece of art (but only if we find something we love). When we were on a trip to Glacier National Park I couldn’t resist buying the Pendleton Glacier Park one. I love that I got it at the actual park and I totally count it as art! It now resides at the foot of our bed in our Airstream ready for future travels!

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26 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Your travel souvenir tradition is genius. I think I need to copy you.

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27 Ellie May 14, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I wish my wool blanket was pretty, but it was only 5$ in a second hand store and it is the best on grass as cotton feels cold and humid. I wash it in the washing machine. It also the only thing that made me comfortable at night after I gave birth to my twins.

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28 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:28 pm

$5 wool blanket? The price makes it beautiful!

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29 Ellie May 15, 2014 at 8:17 am

Exactly!

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30 Melody May 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm

My parents had one they bought during a vacation years ago… I recently asked my Mom what happened to it. She said my brother cut it up and used it as rags!

I have wanted the Glacier one for awhile now to replace it.

I live in MN. We have FairbaultMill.com here. Check them out -although they are expensive too.

I love your blog!

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31 Design Mom May 14, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Oh no! Poor little blanket all cut up into rags. The Glacier is good-looking, a great choice for a wishlist.

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32 Kari May 14, 2014 at 11:58 pm

My 10-year-old son just moved out of the bunk room he shared with his little brother and took over the guest room. After scanning Pinterest for hours together, he decided that he’d like his room to feel like an old scout camp–maps on the walls, blue-ticking sheets and a big wool camp blanket on the bed. He requested a red stripe, and when we found that Swiss Army blanket on amazon, it won him over–we are of Swiss ancestry and visited last summer, so it gets extra points.
It got here just a few days ago and it’s lovely. Super heavy and soft. It’s been hanging out (literally) over the fence in the backyard to let the sun freshen it up a bit, but there’s something about that it’s-been-packed-away-forever smell that is all kinds of nostalgic. (And my son declares the smell to be “campy” so we’re good.)
Love the Pendletons. I also thought they were throwbacks, vintage only–just discovered they were still in production during our search for my son’s room. Sadly, Grand Teton (my favorite park and blanket) has been discontinued, so I’ll have to keep my eyes pealed at the flea markets after all.

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33 Cathy Hunter May 15, 2014 at 6:57 am

I grew up in rural Maryland and knew nothing about Pendleton blankets until I went to college. My grandfather, who lived in SLC, sold Pendleton blankets. And I became the proud owner of one when he gave it to me for my freshman year in the BYU dorms in 1956.

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34 Torey May 15, 2014 at 7:44 am

We are lucky to have a Pendelton outlet in our state. Pretty sure you can get great deals on blankets there. I know you can buy some of their fabric by the yard for a song.

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35 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Now I have to know: Where do you live? Where is the Pendleton outlet?

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36 stacey May 16, 2014 at 10:30 am

There is (or was) a Pendleton outlet at the Shasta outlets in northern California. There is great camping around there too, might be a fun summer trip. Plus its only about 4.5 hours north of Oakland. If you do go, make sure to stop at the Olive Pit in Orland. Best local olives and oil around!

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37 Christina May 15, 2014 at 7:45 am

MacAusland’s Woolen Mills on Prince Edward Island, Canada (ie. Anne of Green Gables land) makes wool blankets to order for a very reasonable price, and they are the softest blankets you have ever felt. Their ordering is a little weird, so it is best to call them, but you can get whatever colour combinations you want, even checkerboard!

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38 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:33 pm

A custom wool blanket? I would be way into that. Thanks for the link!

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39 Angela Adlich May 15, 2014 at 8:20 am

I always thought wool was scratchy? Are the blankets comfortable to sit on or are they kind of scratchy? Thanks!

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40 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Some definitely are scratchy. But others are super soft (picture a merino wool sweater). In my experience, they seem to get better with age and use.

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41 Katie May 15, 2014 at 9:21 am

I have an army green wool blanket from my grandfather. It is perfect for picnics, and we use it for this often. We keep it in the car and, although we’ve thankfully never needed this, it also give me peace of mind that it would be a warm, water resistant option if ever needed in an emergency situation.

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42 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I agree. I feel comforted (and more spontaneous) knowing a blanket is in the car as well.

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43 Hilary May 15, 2014 at 9:26 am

We love Pendelton. Being from New Mexico originally we always had the Chief Joseph pattern, and it has become a common wedding gift. But we all love them so much that we have a His and Hers, and one for each child!

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44 Ann May 15, 2014 at 10:16 am

I geeked out when I read this post. We are lucky to have a Pendelton store near us. They have awesome beach towels too!

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45 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I’ve never been to a Pendleton store. And I had no idea they made beach towels!

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46 Staci May 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

We live in Minnesota and after reading the story of the fairbault mill I had to have one…I love the look of it.

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47 Britta May 15, 2014 at 11:41 am

If any one reading this is in Utah, Smith & Edwards in Ogden has great wool blankets in it’s army surplus section. My husband says they are great to keep in the car or to keep around for emergencies because wool, unlike other fabrics, can still keep you warm even if it’s wet.

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48 Stacey May 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

My dad found a vintage Hudson Bay blanket when he was cleaning out an old farm house and he had it cleaned and gave it to me, knowing I have been wanting one for ages. It’s amazing, and warm without being heavy (we live in the Sacramento Valley, and even though everyone thinks California is warm all the time, it’s not, and this blanket is perfect). I love Hudson Bay and Pendleton, and have plans to buy several of each, as anniversary gifts with my husband (the traditional gift for year 8 is wool and year 13 is fur or textile, these are textiles, right?!). I also bought one of the crib blankets for my girl when we found out what we were having! She loves it!

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49 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

How neat! Makes me curious about other treasures he found in the old farm house. : )

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50 Stacey May 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

buckets of old insulators that were used on telephone poles, a lovely set of china and a TON of mouse poop, ha.

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51 cathy May 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Yes, I love these blankets. I grew up on an Indian Reservation and the blankets were very much used there. I have a vintage woolrich that is one of my prize possessions! Keep me away from Pendleton stores!

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52 Jenny May 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Military surplus stores are great places to get the Swiss blankets. I picked up a couple for cheap, like $20 ish at the surplus store in Ogden and they are warm and look gorgeous in my boys’ room but they are not cozy and snuggly. I think I’ve seen Hudson Bay blankets on Sierra Trading Post.

Pendletons are my favorite, by far.

The Tetons is my favorite National Park right now and I am counting down until we go back this summer.

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53 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

$20? Fantastic!

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54 Nina May 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm

A blanket in the trunk of the car is a necessity. We have one of those cotton blankets from Mexico in our trunk. Not quite as stylish, but it does the job. I’ve always loved the Pendleton blankets, but I can’t take that price tag. Too much! The Woolrich and Army options you presented are super! I just might have to replace the blanket from Mexico! Thanks

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55 Barchbo May 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

My parents have had the Woolrich Civil War artillery blanket for as long as I can remember. My dad was in the artillery in Viet Nam – I bet that is why he has it! There is a Gettysburg pattern also and that is where he went to college. I want to get it for him.

This whole post makes me bummed out that I live in Texas where there is so little need for blankets.

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56 Design Mom May 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm

So cool! I hope you get to inherit your Dad’s blanket.

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57 Sara May 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

I have been obsessed with these type of wool blankets since I came across them (just like the Swiss one you pictured) in Switzerland 3 years ago where they were beautifully folded onto wooden benches at tables in a gorgeous outdoor seating area at a lodge/restaurant in the Alps. When I got back home to the US, I searched and realized how naive I was not to realize the price tag on the similar Pendleton and Woolrich blankets! Thanks for this great post and sources for beautiful wool blankets at a variety of price points!

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58 Adrianne May 17, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Love these! Especially since I grew up near the real Pendleton, Ore. Yup, it’s a place.

I used a fleece version of the Hudson Bay striped blanket in my five-year-old’s new bedroom and love it. I appreciate the wool originals but wasn’t ready to put something heirloom-worthy in there. Pics of his blanket and summer-camp-Moonrise-Kingdom-cub-scout bedroom here: http://bennettwilliams.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/masons-bedroom/.

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59 MarT May 18, 2014 at 6:32 am

The felted Pendleton blankets are fantastic. They are meant to be heirlooms, even though they are quite durable. I live in the Pacific Northwest and they are used as wedding and graduation presents in the Native community here. I have seen couples wrapped in their new blanket after their ceremony. I would probably use army surplus for my car over the two that I have.

Pendleton rotates the less popular/well-known National Park blankets in and out of their annual offerings.

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60 Lissy May 18, 2014 at 11:39 am

In our family Pendelton blankets have been given as wedding presents, presented at baby blessings, 1st birthdays, 8 year old baptisms, school graduations, draped over coffins at funerals and shawls worn at pow-wows. A few years back my dad received a stack of beautiful wool blankets from his mothers house after she passed. They were woven by Utah Woolen Mills in the early 1900′s made by the sheep his family use to herd. Such a treasure.

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61 Lissy May 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

Oh and there’s a Pendelton outlet in St. George Utah! :)

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62 Lisa May 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

We must be kindred spirits… :)

I inherited a Hudsons Bay blanket from my great-grandparents and it is literally the only object besides my wedding ring that I would grab as my house burned down. It is like nothing else on a cold winter night.

I also love the Pendelton blankets; we have a Pendelton store about 15 minutes from our house and my husband scratched his head when I told him the only thing I really wanted for my birthday was a blanket from there. In July. :)

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63 Yvette May 20, 2014 at 12:22 am

These are a wonderful bargain! Thank you for sharing them. I have been searching for blankets like these for the kids’ beds as their room is a national park/camping theme. Now I don’t have to break the bank.
Camping in the national parks is a big thing for our family. We’ve done Yellowstone a few times, Grand Teton, Sequoia, Redwood National and State Park, Crater Lake, and Olympic. Hard to pick just one because each park has so many amazing attributes. Yellowstone is probably our “special family place.” The Tetons just blew us away and we cannot wait to return. The pure blue of Crater Lake puts Lake Tahoe to shame. There is nothing that makes you feel like a tiny little speck like the giant sequoias and majestic redwoods. Olympic and all of its variety and beauty are my other favorite. Rialto Beach and Crescent Lake hold special places in my heart. Now that you are in the East Bay you can easily make a short trip to Sequoia NPand Kings Canyon NP. We have a family tradition of buying an ornament, a magnet, and a book for the family. I got sick of buying cheap toys the kids get bored of. Therefore they started doing the passport series a few years ago. They also get a t-shirt. When the shirts are outgrown I tuck them away. Someday each of our kids will have a t-shirt quilt of all their travels and hopefully a lifetime of memories to go with it :).

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