Top Outdoor Attractions in Touchmark States

As summer begins drawing to a close, you may feel compelled to spend as much time outside in as many awe-inspiring locations as possible. Always striving to be HELP{FULL}, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful outdoor attractions within a day’s driving distance of each Touchmark community.

Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park

Image of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park, and just a few hours away from Touchmark at Wedgewood. Every year millions of people travel to Banff to explore the breathtaking mountain scenery, crystal clear lakes, and enchanting forests. The park offers exciting activities all year round, including boat tours, dog sledding, bird watching, golf, museums, and much more. Travelers of all activity ability can find something fun to do at Banff National Park, making it a memorable trip for anyone and everyone.

Bonus: Strap in for an otherworldly adventure atop the largest accumulation of ice south of the Arctic Circle. See a variety of different landmarks and top it off with a ride on the Ice Explorer over the ancient landscape of the Columbia Icefields. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Arizona

Coconino National Forest

Image of Cathedral Rock in the Coconino National Forest.

Known as one of the most diverse National Forests in the country, Coconino offers something for everyone. The geography of the park boasts the famous Sedona red rock peaks and canyons, Ponderosa pine forests, high desert land, and even alpine tundra. Visitors can hike through the forests, wade in lazy creeks, take helicopter tours over red rock formations, or go on white-knuckle, off-road 4×4 rides.

Bonus: Stop by Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona to sign up for one of many exciting ridealong tours, including ancient ruins with hieroglyphs from the Hopi and Sinagua tribes, Mystic Vista and other famous vortex sites, or Coyote Canyons chockfull of native wildlife sightings.

Idaho

Sawtooth National Forest

Image of hot springs in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho.

Covering more than two million acres of land, the Sawtooth National Forest is a beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys. A close neighbor to Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village, the Sawtooth is a fun day trip for any nature lover. The forest is home to four of Idaho’s beautiful scenic highways, which makes sightseeing easy and fun. While there are things to do all year round, Sawtooth is known for its winter activities. Its peaks and valleys make for amazing skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Bonus: If you’ve worked up and appetite, head to Limbert’s at Redfish Lake Lodge for fresh elk and trout entrées.

Montana

Glacier National Park

Image of Perito Moreno Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Located on the northern tip of Montana along the Canadian border, Glacier National Park is the gem of Montana. Glacier has a long, rich Native American history, perfect for the history buff and the outdoor adventurer. Contained within the borders of the park is the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, a largely preserved ecosystem that is almost completely untouched. Visitors will see almost the exact same view that European explorers saw when they first entered the region. The main attractions for outdoor enthusiasts are the many beautiful lakes and waterways within Glacier. Lakeside camping and hiking, kayaking, historical sightseeing, and stargazing are just a few of the breathtaking attractions in the park.

Bonus: Make your way over to Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 52-mile scenic highway through the park which crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. You might catch a glimpse of mountain goats, bears, moose, and other wildlife!

North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Image of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Just two hours away from Touchmark on West Century, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is not only a beautiful sight but also a historic landmark. Before becoming president, Roosevelt fell in love with the rugged terrain and bought two ranches in the surrounding area. After his death, the park was established to celebrate his life and love of the North Dakota landscape. While visiting the park, you can overlook the Painted Canyons, explore Roosevelt’s ranch, or take scenic drives to see the beautiful rock formations and wildlife.

Bonus: Visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and step back into the time of the Wild, Wild West! Learn about real-life cowboys and horses of the past and present, go on a horseback tour, and maybe catch a glimpse of a rough-and-tumble-style wedding.

Sheyenne National Grassland

Coming in at over 70,000 acres of land, the Sheyenne National Grassland is the largest and only National Grassland in the prairie region of the United States. Visitors can participate in many activities, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and sightseeing. Exploring the Grassland will lead you through bubbling creeks, historic bridges, a pioneer cemetery, and an old fire tower.

Bonus: Keep an eye out for the rare Dakota skipper and regal fritillary butterfly, two endangered species present only in North Dakota’s grassland.

Oklahoma

Natural Falls State Park

Image of waterfalls in Natural Falls State Park, Oklahoma.

Located near the Oklahoma/Arkansas border and only two hours from Touchmark at Coffee Creek, Natural Falls State Park is a fun day trip for those near Oklahoma City. The park’s main attraction is the 77-foot waterfall that cascades down fern covered rock formations. Railed and well-maintained trails allow visitors to look at every angle of the falls. The dense greenery offers fantastic flora and fauna, and cool forest trails. For those looking for a weekend, overnight trip, the park even offers several yurts to stay in.

Bonus: The 77-foot waterfall, called Dripping Springs, was the filming location for the 1974 movie that made us all cry, Where the Red Fern Grows. See if you can spot the famous backdrops from infamous scenes!

Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

Image of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

Located in south-central Oregon, Crater Lake is one of Oregon’s most treasured attractions. The famous cerulean blue water has been welcoming travelers for over 115 years. Visitors have many activities to choose from while exploring the lake and Crater Lake National Park. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, lovely campgrounds, and unlimited fishing.

Bonus: Stand in the center of the crater on Wizard Island! Tours will take you there and back via boat and give you plenty of time to explore, hike, fish, or swim. If you are interested in hiking to the summit of the island, we recommend taking the morning tour as opposed to the one in the afternoon.

Mount Hood National Forest

Just a quick, hour-long drive from Portland, Oregon, the shorter list would be what you can’t do on Mount Hood. Mount Hood National Forest offers unparalleled hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Historical Timberline Lodge is a National Landmark, and known for its beautiful views, architecture, and fluffy St. Bernards. Mount Hood is also located only minutes off Oregon’s notorious Columbia River Gorge. Cities along the Columbia are known for their intriguing history and delicious foodie scene.

Bonus: Stop at Frog Lake in the late summer and early autumn to see literally millions of tiny frogs hopping around the lake or sometimes dried-up lakebed. Just be careful not to step on any of them, as they are everywhere!

South Dakota

Black Elk Peak

Image of Black Elk Peak, South Dakota.

If you truly want to feel like the king or queen of the world, you must make a beeline to Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills National Forest near Mount Rushmore. It is the highest point in the entire country east of the Rocky Mountains at 7,242 feet and provides stunning 100-mile views from the summit.

Bonus: Several trails lead to the summit, but the Harney Peak Trail Number 9 (Southern Approach Hiking Trail) is the most frequently climbed and is likely the easiest route up. Set out from the Sylvan Lake Day Use area and prepare for about a four- or five-hour trek roundtrip through granite towers and pristine lakes.

Badlands National Park

History and geology buffs, come round! The striated plains and pinnacles throughout Badlands National Park are downright awesome. These views allow us to see the true power of Mother Nature and her ability to transform.

Bonus: In addition to many hiking trails, Loop Road takes you through the park and allows you to absorb the scenery from your vehicle. There are many viewpoints at which you can stop, stretch your legs, and snap photos.

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Image of wildflowers at the base of Mount Rainier, Washington.

A short drive for the folks at Touchmark at Fairway Village, Mount Rainier is a sight to behold year round. Snow-capped trails in the winter give way to flower-laden meadows in the spring and summer. Most of the trails are accessible during the majority of the year and don’t require any hiking equipment.

Bonus: If wildflowers make you swoon, start off at the Paradise Area with an elevation of 5,400 feet. During the summer and early autumn, this area explodes with native flower species, butterflies, and honey bees.

Mount Spokane State Park

Only an hour away from Touchmark on South Hill, Mount Spokane State Park is a beautiful day trip destination that everyone can enjoy. As one of the largest state parks in Washington, Mount Spokane offers hundreds of miles of trails, activities for every season, and spectacular wildlife viewing.

Bonus: Summit Road is perfect as a lower impact or even drivable adventure. Drive to the top and take in the views, stop at the Vista House with a view of six different lakes, and walk easy trails around the summit.

Wisconsin

Apostle Islands

Image of the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin.

The Apostle Islands are an idyllic collection of 22 islands located on the coast of Lake Superior. The National Lakeshore offers provides the opportunity for a plethora of water sports, bird watching, and cave exploring, but is first and foremost (surprisingly) a botanist’s dream. Within the lakeshore, over 800 plant species can be found; many of which are endangered, threatened, or uniquely native to Wisconsin.

Bonus: These islands have a rich geological history. Glaciated several times independently, you will find rock formations, mineral deposits, and other natural wonders not typically found all in one spot. Maritime Forest, Sandscape (includes beaches, sandspits, cuspate forelands, and tombolos), and Maritime Cliff State Natural Areas are all ready for exploration within the Lakeshore.

Touchmark Founder and Chairman wins Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2018 Award

We are honored to share the news that Touchmark Founder and Chairman Werner G. Nistler, Jr., has been selected as the winner of the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2018 Award in the Lifetime Entrepreneur category in the Pacific Northwest! Accompanied by his wife Colleen, family members, and Touchmark CEO Marcus Breuer and his wife Emily, Werner received this well-deserved recognition Friday night at an exciting gala event in Seattle.

Touchmark Founder and Chairman Werner G. Nistler Jr., winner of the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2018 Award in the Lifetime Entrepreneur category in the Pacific Northwest.An independent panel of judges selected Werner. The award recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

This is a tremendous honor for Werner and a great tribute to his life’s work, most of which has been focused on creating and nurturing Touchmark. In his acceptance speech, Werner acknowledged the people of Touchmark. He also said everyone is an entrepreneur in one way or another, for he believes everyone is driven by passions and perseverance to make the world better. He then went on to share two statements that have always resonated with him:

  • “I worked so late last night I met myself coming to work this morning.”
  • “Everyone knows how often we have failed, but only God knows how often we have tried.”

What’s next?

As a Pacific Northwest award winner, Werner is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 National Awards. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 10, 2018. The awards are the culminating event of the Strategic Growth Forum®, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies.

Since 1986, EY has honored entrepreneurs whose ingenuity, spirit of innovation, and discipline have driven their companies’ success, transformed their industries, and made a positive impact on their communities. Now in its 32nd year, the program has honored the inspirational leadership of such entrepreneurs as:

  • Howard Schultz of Starbucks Corporation
  • Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc.
  • Jodi Berg of Vitamix
  • Robert Unanue of Goya Foods
  • Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn
  • Andreas Bechtolsheim and Jayshree Ullal of Arista Networks
  • Hamdi Ulukaya of Chobani

Prior accomplishments

Werner now joins these well-known entrepreneurs. In addition to Touchmark, Werner has developed other enterprises:

  • Formed Computran, a medical records technology company and batch-basis service bureau that captured physician orders for medications and treatments, reducing medical errors. Computran grew to serve 700 nursing centers across the country whereupon Werner sold the company to Beverly Enterprises, the largest nursing center chain in the U.S.
  • Developed the Dakota Enterprises office building in Beaverton, Oregon, which now serves as Touchmark’s company headquarters.
  • Purchased, operated, and sold seven nursing centers.
  • Purchased a radio station in Billings, Montana, and brought it back to life. Today it operates under ESPN, http://www.espn910.com.
  • Helped lead the formation of the Beaverton Banking Company, a state-chartered bank, and served as Chairman of the Board at age 34. (The bank merged with Valley National Bank of Forest Grove before selling to U.S. Bank.)
  • Formed Dynatran, the desktop version of Computran, which he sold to Omnicare, the provider of pharmacy services to long-term care providers.
  • Served for approximately 10 years on the Board of Directors of Capital Pacific Bank before its recent sale.
  • Developed custom homes and owned office buildings.

Extremely humble, Werner quietly lives his deep faith every day. He gives back to the community in many ways, sharing his time and expertise on boards and making countless charitable contributions. He also continues to serve on the board of the Touchmark Foundation, which he started.

Other accomplishments include completing 58 marathons (including the New York City and Boston marathons). Also, last fall, he was inducted into the University of North Dakota Accounting Hall of Fame.

Our congratulations to Werner on this notable and impressive distinction! 

An active mind is a healthy mind

crossword puzzle and pencils

As we age, we often think about a decline in physical health and how we can work to keep our bodies active. But just as important as maintaining physical health is the health of our brains.

When we’re young, we are continuously learning. At some point in life, we become primarily a user of mastered skills and abilities and no longer engage the brain to acquire new abilities. Most of what we do are things we are familiar with. We apply skills unthinkingly and tend to look for nonstressful paths to things. But this can be detrimental to mental health.

A lack of challenging activities combined with the gradual shrinking of the brain’s volume with age can lead to brain cell damage and an acceleration of natural cognitive decline.

Fortunately, many of the ways we work to keep our bodies healthy also apply to enhancing brain health. These include staying physically active, following a healthy diet, and engaging in regular mental and social activity.

According to a clinical trial presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, this combination is proven to slow cognitive decline. Slowing this decline can help keep memory language skills, perception, reasoning, and judgment strong—plus keeps brain cells healthy to fight off dementia.

Activities that challenge the brain are key. This can include reading the news and discussing it with others, learning a new skill, taking a class, or playing stimulating games. Helpful online resources for keeping your brain active can be found at the following sites:

Additional steps you can take to keep your mind sharp as you age include controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels, getting sufficient amounts of sleep, and avoiding excessive smoking or drinking.

It’s important to remember that while occasional memory lapses are normal, significant memory loss is not a regular part of aging, and any cognitive changes noted should be discussed with your doctor.

Staying active in the winter season

It may be cold outside, but that doesn’t mean your exercise routine has to come to a halt for the next several months. Keeping up with exercise can help prevent weight gain and maintain routines so that you don’t have to start over again next spring.

Gyms and fitness clubs often have a variety of options for keeping you active until the weather warms up.

However, for those who prefer to exercise outside, whether it’s walking, running, or biking, there are some important tips to keep in mind to stay safe and healthy during colder weather:

Be aware of the temperature. While exercising outside is still safe in the winter, if the temperature or wind chill dips too low, you could be at risk, especially on areas of exposed skin.

Dress in layers. You will likely warm up as you continue to work out, but it’s important to stay at a comfortable temperature from start to finish. Dressing in layers makes it easy and safe to adjust your temperature by simply peeling off clothing.

Keep an eye out for slippery conditions. Even when it seems clear outside, the ground could be frozen with patches of black ice. Always be aware of your footing, and if it seems unsafe or not dry enough, stay inside.

Stay hydrated. In colder weather, sweating is not as obvious as it is in the summer, and many people don’t consider the risk of dehydration. But it’s still a potential danger in the winter.

Start small. Though you may be able to walk great distances in the summer, your body’s abilities can be different in the cold. If you overestimate your ability and need to stop, your body temperature may drop, increasing your risk of hypothermia. Start out with shorter distances or less intensity and gradually increase your distance.

With a little planning and caution, winter exercising can be rewarding and fun, and it’s a great way to maintain activity levels throughout the year.

A New Year for getting in shape

For many, the start of the new year means a new commitment to getting in shape. But even if exercising is already part of your life, there may be changes or adjustments you can make to take your workouts to the next level.

While any physical activity is beneficial, a varied exercise routine can provide a full and healthy lifestyle and even help prevent or delay certain health conditions. If you already have an exercise routine, now is as good a time as ever to evaluate your routine and find ways to diversify your workouts.

For those who do not work out regularly—and for those who do, as well—consider all the ways you can exercise your body and mind, from stretches, cardio, and strength training, to working on balance, brain activity, and more! In addition to different types of workouts, adding more weight, longer times, and more resistance can also help make you stronger and healthier.

  • Strength training can increase lean muscle mass and kick-start your metabolism.
  • Balance exercises can help improve the ability to control and maintain body position as well as reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.
  • Stretching can make everyday activities such as getting dressed and reaching for items on a shelf much easier.
  • Cardio exercise builds up endurance and can help prevent heart disease and other serious conditions.
  • Brain exercises keep your mind sharp and can protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

To find out which exercises are most appropriate for your goals and abilities, set up a fitness consultation or a personal training session. Or just check out a new class one day!

Maintaining healthy habits during the holidays

The holidays are a time of gathering with friends and family to show gratitude, share a meal, and spend quality time together. In the midst of celebrating, it’s easy to let healthy habits slip and find ourselves indulging in sweets, drinks, and heavy meals.

But there are easy ways to maintain healthy habits during this busy time and still enjoy all that the holidays have to offer. Here are some tips for continuing the diet and exercise routines established throughout the year at special meals or holiday parties:

Find balance. If you overindulge on one meal, eat lighter on the next. Consider following the 80/20 rule: eat healthier foods for 80 percent of the day and enjoy a special meal or dessert for 20 percent of the day.

Eat until satisfied, not full. By sticking with normal-sized portions, you can enjoy the delectable treats of the season without overeating. If you’re still feeling hungry after 20 minutes, it’s OK to go back for seconds.

Choose your favorite treats. If pie is your favorite dessert, have a slice! But avoid piling other types of desserts on your plate just because they’re available.

Stick to your exercise routines. Even with a busier schedule during the holidays, it’s especially important to continue with regular exercise schedules to balance out the extra calories.

Don’t get discouraged! If you overindulge, simply get back on track. Try to reduce your intake as the holidays wind down to get back into your normal routine. Add more exercise if possible to burn more calories.

Being mindful about your approach to eating during the holidays can help make it a happy and healthy season whose effects you won’t have to worry about in the new year!

Enhance wellness through lifelong learning

You’re never too old to learn something new. These days, learning a new skill and keeping the brain active has never been easier for older adults. A study by the Rush Memory and Aging Project showed that seniors who are cognitively active were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia than those who did not exercise their brains.

In addition to stimulating the brain and helping to enhance intellectual wellness, these pursuits are often social endeavors that can provide as sense of involvement and belonging in the community as well as helping to avoid feelings of isolation.

There are many excuses people use to keep themselves from learning new things, such as it’s not worth the effort, it’s too expensive, or it’s too hard. But educational opportunities are more abundant than you might realize, both in your community and in the digital world.

  • Libraries, senior centers, and local retirement communities likely offer courses or seminars—and often at no charge. These offerings may be held in partnership with local colleges and provide a more convenient way to access an in-depth look at a favorite or new subject.
  • Local colleges and universities may offer the opportunity for waived tuition or scholarships for older adults pursuing either credit or noncredit courses.
  • Auditing a course provides the social and intellectual benefits without the stress of exams, homework, and high costs.
  • Online courses are convenient for getting access to information without having to leave your home. And they can still provide the social benefits of an in-person class through online discussions.

Growing our minds and learning something new doesn’t have to end with retirement. Find what interests you and pursue greater knowledge!

Exercise for adapting needs

As we get older, certain conditions, injuries, or simply the effects of time may keep us from moving the way we once did.

Aging bodies have different needs. Some of the activities you may have once enjoyed as exercise may no longer be feasible. But learning to adapt to these changes can help keep exercise an important and effective part of your life.

Staying active is essential for maintaining or improving your well-being. In addition to reducing the risk of falls and cardiovascular conditions, physical activity helps release endorphins to relieve stress, boost self-esteem, and improve moods.

  • Focus on balance. Be sure to incorporate balance exercises like tai chi or Pilates into your routine for a low-impact workout with significant results.
  • Take a seat. Chair yoga and other seated exercises can still provide tremendous benefit and are ideal for those who are unable to stand for prolonged periods of time, or get down onto the floor.
  • Dive in! Aquatic exercise is easy on joints while helping to strengthen the core, legs, and back. Water-aerobics classes can also help enhance cardiovascular health.
  • Think outside the gym. It’s easy to incorporate walking and stretching into everyday life. A stroll through a mall or museum, a dance class, or spending time in the park with grandchildren are all ways to get moving without even feeling like you’re exercising.

No matter your abilities or strengths, the most effective type of exercise is one that you enjoy. To successfully incorporate workouts into your daily routine, consider which activities make you happy and which you’ll look forward to doing each day.

Keep tabs on your health using modern technology

Today’s technology has made many parts of our lives more convenient. In our phones and tablets, we can carry books, movies, games, notes, maps, and so much more. Some of these new innovations can even help us keep in tune with our bodies and minds by monitoring our health and stimulating different aspects of our wellness:

  • Fitbit or other wearable technology: These small bands can track your steps, heart rate, calories, sleep quality, and overall activity level. They are a great motivational reminder to help you meet your fitness goals each day.
  • Activity tracking apps: Monitoring your steps and exercise doesn’t necessarily require another piece of technology. Apps like Map My Run, Strava, and MyFitnessPal can also log workouts, calories, and overall health.
  • Luminosity and other brain games: Many of these games are free to download and offer fun and stimulating games to keep your brain active. They can also track your progress and potentially show any areas of decline.
  • Skype or Facetime: Social interaction is important for everyone, but especially for seniors, who are often prone to feelings of isolation. These video chatting tools can substitute face-to-face interactions with grandchildren and other loved ones when an in-person visit isn’t always practical.
  • Medication tracking apps: A daily pill box can still get the job done, but apps like Medisafe or Pill Monitor can provide visual reminders of which pills are needed as well as alarms to help you take them at the same time each day.

While using apps and other technology can sometimes seem daunting for older adults, most are built to be intuitive and user-friendly. Determine which ones would be most helpful in your life and start embracing the power of technology!

Breathing toward a better life

Breath is essential to life. Each person will take about half a billion breaths in their lifetime, most of which are taken without thinking. But focusing on the breath and bringing awareness to it can be a valuable tool in connecting the mind and body.

Our thoughts are connected to our breath, and can be used to influence the way the body behaves through simple exercises. A deep breath tells the body to calm down and encourages full oxygen exchange to keep the heartbeat steady.

For example, stressful thoughts trigger the release of “fight or flight” hormones that then increase blood pressure and heart rate and constrict blood vessels. Deep breathing can reverse this response by increasing blood flow and oxygenation to organs and muscles, thus reducing the damage caused by stress.

The benefits of a regular practice of deep breathing can include:

  • Reduce anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Lower/stabilize blood pressure
  • Increase energy levels
  • Relax muscles

Practicing deep breathing doesn’t have to be complicated. To try, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. Breathe in through the nose, slowly, allowing the chest and abdomen to expand. Then breathe out slowly through the nose or mouth.

You may find it comforting to close your eyes or even to focus on a word or phrase to help you relax. Many also combine deep breathing with practices that promote it, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, or repetitive prayer.

A daily practice of deep breathing is one of the most effective tools for enhancing your health and producing long-term benefits. Try to practice for 15 – 20 minutes each day. Over time, these techniques can become more natural for your body and breathing will be more effective.