Girding Our Loins for Colorado’s National Parks

*Thanks to Hanes for sponsoring this post*

Colorado has 4 distinctly awesome national parks.  I saw 3/4 of them in 1987 when my folks drove my brother and me from Nashville in a two-toned ’83 Suburban, and I’ve wanted to go back with my own family and explore the diverse national parks of Colorado ever since.  We finally went this summer.

Of all the parks we were slated to see, I was most excited about returning to Mesa Verde National Park.  It’s my mom’s favorite of all the national parks, and given my bride’s spending several years as an archeologist, I figured she’d enjoy a bunch of cliff dwellings built by Native Americans several hundred years ago, too.

But the chief reason I wanted to return?  Is what we did not do in 1987:  the strenuous hike and climb to Cliff Palace.  My mother wasn’t interested when we came in the ’80s; I was.  I remained interested for years; I may have held what mental health specialists would label “a grudge” about it.

Here’s a snapshot I took of Cliff Palace with my Kodak Disc camera from an observation point above it, because I wasn’t allowed to climb down for a closer, better picture:

The ink to the right of the photo has faded from 30 years of weeping and regret.

Here’s a picture from 2018, taken inside Cliff Palace, instead of from another zip code, staring at it longingly:

Not pictured:  weeping and regret.

On July 4th, we awoke at sunrise to meet our park ranger for the 8am hike.  We were 45 minutes early.  Someone in my family was exceedingly excited.

I was ready to take my 3 children of 8, 9, and 11 on the quest I so badly wanted to go on at 12.  I knew we’d be okay for this adventure, because we’d done something we didn’t know to do in 1987:  we girded our loins in the official apparel of the National Park Foundation, Hanes! Specifically, we wore Hanes Comfort Flex Fit® undergarments.  I mean, it’s no wonder my parents had great trepidation about climbing up 100 stone steps, scaling several wooden ladders, and hiking on a narrow ledge at 7,000′ of elevation in 1987; their loins weren’t girded!

Here I am in my Hanes Protect Our Parks T-shirt, sitting inside an alcove on the side of a cliff, listening to our park ranger brief us on what we’re about to experience when we get inside Cliff Palace, the beautiful structure seen behind him, that I’m about to enter after hiking and climbing to it, instead of watching others from an observation deck with a handrail:

And here’s my face of exuberance, having just crawled my way out of a dark, narrow passageway, where I could get pictures like this one, where nary a tear nor a regret flows:

Not content to experience only one strenuous hike + climb into a cliff dwelling, we saw Balcony House in another ranger-led hike that required advanced reservations, and it was even more daunting, which was like kicking my childhood disappointment in the teeth.

Here’s my 9-year-old boy, climbing winding stone steps carved hundreds of years ago:

When we weren’t at Mesa Verde, we stayed active and protected our tops from the elements in our gear.  Like when we sledded down sand dunes at nearly 40mph at Great Sand Dunes National Park:

In addition to being good at identifying prehistoric peoples’ culinary habits by looking at their poo, my bride is also known to sew pretty well (and teach others to do the same), so she personalized our Hanes Kids’ Nano-T® t-shirts and EcoSmart® Full –Zip Hoodie sweatshirts for both kids and adults with special patches we got from the National Park Service!

Here she is modeling hers (complete with American flag and National Park Geek patches) outside our yurt the morning before exploring Mesa Verde:

Here are my daughters, working on their junior ranger workbooks at Great Sand Dunes:

And here’s my smallest, showing us where she wants to add her newest junior ranger patch to her new t-shirt:

The park rangers loved that we were wearing clothing from the Hanes + National Park Foundation partnership and that we’d personalized the hoodies and t-shirts with their patches.

Another great place for comfortable, eco-friendly Hanes hoodies (30% less water used on HBI branded products!) is at 12,000′ feet, in the tundra, where the cool winds howl through Rocky Mountain National Park:

And atop the steep 3,000′ cliffs of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, soft hoodies protect children from wind and sun:

I couldn’t be happier about partnering with Hanes for this post.  I’ve loved their aptly-named Men’s Comfort Flex Fit® Ultra Soft Boxer Briefs for a while, which are amazing for hiking anywhere warm (did I mention I live in Atlanta?), and this collaboration with the National Park Foundation (Hanes is supporting the parks!) gives our family even more reason to endorse it as a brand, as we sport their graphic t-shirts collection honoring our favorite parks!  They sent us clothes to test and model for this post, along with compensation, but the opinions and experiences were all ours. And most importantly, they’ve allowed me to move past my 30 years of FOMO and forgive my folks for their apprehension in 1987, as clearly, the issue was lack of proper clothing.


**If you and your family want to look as good as I do in these Hanes tees, use this discount code: DADDISCOUNT (valid from 7/30 – 9/1) to BOGO 50% Off + get free shipping on these awesome National Park T-Shirts!**


  1. thanks, this is very helpful

  2. Pingback: 10 days in Colorado's National Parks - Dadcation

  3. Pingback: 4 National Parks in northern California - Dadcation

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