6 National Parks to Visit This Fall

When is the best time to visit a national park? The answer: Fall. Once school is back in session and summer vacation is over, national parks become some of the best places to travel to. Not only have the crowds thinned out, but the weather tends to be more temperate, and costs for lodging, flights and car rentals drop as well.

All practicalities aside, the best reason to visit during the fall is of course for the scenery. Trees like maples, aspens, cottonwoods, oaks and dogwoods transform the landscape from shades of green to vibrant colors of red, yellow and orange.

Below, we’ve listed our top six national parks to visit this fall, but don’t worry if none of these are near you. The National Park Service has 61 designated national parks throughout the country. Click here to find one near you.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile stretch of road that runs through Virginia and North Carolina and coined America’s Favorite Drive by the National Park Service. With speed limits of 45 mph – and sometimes even slower – this scenic drive includes long-range vistas and up-close views of the rugged Appalachian Mountains.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will find Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain peak in the eastern United States, Linville Gorge, the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon, Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, and abundant biodiversity.

Pro tip: You can explore the area a variety of different ways like driving, camping, biking, hiking and RVing. Here’s a perfect 3-day itinerary.

56 Roanoke River Pkwy., Roanoke, VA 24014. Plan your visit.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 

If you love Aspen trees, the Rocky Mountains are going to rock your world. At higher elevations, the peak of fall colors known locally as the “gold rush” usually begins in late September and makes its way down to lower elevations in October.

The four best places to catch the changing colors here are Bear Lake Road, the Peak to Peak National Scenic Byway, the Cache la Poudre National Scenic Byway and the Colorado River Headwaters National Scenic Byway.

Pro tip: Fall colors aside, the Rocky Mountains are known for fantastic wildlife, including grazing elk, which can be seen at Horseshoe Meadow during dawn and dusk.

1000 Hwy. 36, Estes Park, CO 80517-8397. Plan your visit.

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

No trip to Washington is complete without a visit to Mt. Rainier, but missing the incredible colors that emerge during the fall would be a downright travesty. Don’t believe me? Check out the live National Park Service webcams!

At a striking 14,410 feet above sea level, Mt. Rainer is an active volcano with glaciated peaks that spawn five major rivers and over 100 waterfalls. For the coveted and spectacular fall colors, head to Reflection Lakes, where the mirrored water creates twice the abundance of red, yellow, green and orange.

Pro tip: Whether you have one day or four days, Mt. Rainier has plenty to see. Check here for recommended itineraries.

70002 SR Hwy. 410 E, Enumclaw, WA 98022. Plan your visit.

Zion National Park, Utah

Situated in southern Utah, Zion National Park is home to massive sandstone cliffs that range in color from cream to pink to red! During the fall, Zion National Park is like a painting come to life. The reds are bright, the yellows are golden-mustard and the oranges pop against the landscape.

Zion’s 146,597 acres of pure heaven can seem daunting to navigate, but the shuttle system makes getting around super easy. There are only two lines, the first is the Springdale Shuttle, which has nine stops in the town of Springdale. The second is the Zion Canyon Loop Shuttle that has 10 stops beginning in Zion Canyon Village and ending at the Temple of Sinawava.

Whether you have three days or just a few hours, Zion during the fall will leave you in awe of nature’s majesty.

Pro tip: Get there early because parking is limited and fills up quickly. And if you only have time to see one thing, make sure it’s the Narrows. To get there, take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the very last stop (Temple of Sinawava), walk one mile along the paved path and prepare to step into another world.

1101 Zion – Mount Carmel Hwy., Hurricane, UT 84737. Plan your visit.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley is most famous for the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire, which galvanized the environmental movement leading to the first Earth Day, the EPA’s establishment and the passage of the Clean Water Act.

As we have over 61 national parks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park rarely makes the top lists, but it earns a place here because the autumnal colors are out of this world. As native broad-leaf trees, which are influenced by the annual photoperiod (amount of daily sunlight) begin to see less sunlight, a transformation occurs. The weather turns cool, the nights become crisp and as a result, the sugar and red maple trees splash the park in red, yellow and orange colors.

Pro tip: The best place to find fall colors is at Brandywine Falls. The 65-foot falls are the embodiment of its name with cascading water dropping over rocks like wine spilling over tiered glasses. At the boardwalk, look closely at the Berea Sandstone. Careful inspection will reveal granules of sand dating back as far as 320 million years ago.

15610 Vaughn Rd., Brecksville, OH. Plan your visit.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Known as the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park in Maine is one of the top 10 most visited parks in the United States. Established in 1916, Acadia National Park is 49,052 acres of woods that roll on down to meet with the Atlantic Ocean. As the easternmost territory in the United States, Acadia is also one of the first places to catch the sunrise.

As for those bright fall colors, look no further than Park Loop Road, a 27-mile stretch that begins at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and connects to lakes, mountains, forests and the famous rocky coast.

Pro tip: Skip the stress of traffic and limited parking by using the free Acadia Shuttles.

25 Visitor Center Rd., Bar Harbor, ME 04609. Plan your visit.

Whether you’re the type to stroll idly through nature and gently observe its natural wonders or the type to seek out the highest peak and hike your way to the top, each of these national treasures has an abundance of things to do and see.

Today – August 22 – is the day Black women’s wages finally catch up

The wage gap between women and men in the United States is persistent and unacceptable. 

Women in the United States today still make $500,000 to $1.2 million dollars less than their male co-workers over the course of their lifetimes. On average, women make only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. 

Every year, advocates, politicians and the media draw attention to Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day highlights how many days into the new year women must work in order to catch up to their male counterparts. In 2019, that day fell on April 2.

Unfortunately, April’s Equal Pay Day tells an incomplete story because it looks at women in general. When you disaggregate for race, we can see that the disparity is even greater for women of color, who are paid significantly less than their white counterparts. The truth is that Black women only make 61 cents and Latinas only 53 cents for each dollar made by a white man.

In fact, today – August 22, 2019 – is Equal Pay Day for Black women, the day that their wages catch up to white, non-hispanic men who do the same work. Let that sink in for a minute: it takes more than eight months for Black women’s wages to catch up to their white, male co-workers. And more than four months for their wages to catch up to their white female co-workers. Latina women on average won’t catch up till they’ve worked almost an entire extra year!

That’s why, today at CREDO, we want to recognize August 22 as another Equal Pay Day and call attention to the women of color who are paid far less than white men and white women.

While the Trump administration, Republicans in Congress and corporate America continue to fight pay equity, CREDO and our members will continue to fight for equality and lift up the voices of women who deserve equal pay.

CREDO Tip: 6 ways to protect your privacy on public WiFi

Using public WiFi – at a cafe, the airport or a hotel lobby – is a free and easy way to get online (and save your mobile data) when you’re not at home or work. You can play games, watch videos or read the news.

But any activity that involves more personal information – like checking your email or viewing your bank account – can put you at risk of privacy invasion or identity theft.

To protect yourself when you log onto a public WiFi hotspot, here are six steps you can take. 

1. Don’t access any sensitive data on a public WiFi connection

Don’t log into your bank’s website and check your balance when you’re at the airport cafe. Don’t go to your credit card’s website to pay your bill when you’re in the hotel lobby. Don’t shop online. The risk is not worth the convenience.

2. Use a VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) provides a secure channel for all the information traveling back and forth from your device. It’s by far the best way to ensure privacy on a public WiFi network.

When you use a VPN app on your phone or computer, you don’t connect directly to the websites you visit, you connect first to the VPN’s servers, which routes you to the sites. Your communication is secured with a variety of encryption technologies, so no one can see your online activity.

Of course, the VPN provider can see your activity, so you should look for a VPN app with a no-logging policy, which means that the provider won’t store a record of what you do online. You should also look for a VPN that charges for its service (most are around $10 a month). VPNs are expensive to operate, and you don’t know how free VPNs support themselves – maybe they do it by selling your data.

A VPN is easy to use. Just switch it on, and it will secure all your internet activity on your device, whether you’re using a web browser or an internet-connected app like Facebook.

Here is CNET’s 2019 list of 10 good VPN apps for your phone. All of them charge a monthly fee.

You can also read about some VPN recommendations on our previous blog post 3 Ways to Boost Your Privacy on an Android Phone.

3. Watch out for fake WiFi networks

Only use WiFi networks that are operated by the location you’re visiting. Be alert to and avoid networks that have names similar to legitimate networks, like “Free Airport WiFi” or “Public WiFi.” Ask an employee the name of the location’s network and use that one.

If you connect to one of these “honeypots,” as they’re known, everything you do online can be monitored by the person who set up the fake network. These networks can also be used to distribute malware, which is a threat to your personal information.

One red flag is a very slow public WiFi network. There’s a chance the network is slow because it’s fake. You haven’t connected to the legitimate WiFi router or you’ve connected to a device that’s posing as the legitimate router. The speed is slow because your data is being routed through that device, which is skimming your data as it passes through.

4. Enable two-factor authentication

If you do visit websites that require a password – your banking site or any other site that holds your private information – enable two-factor authentication (2FA) if the site offers it. In fact, you should probably enable two-factor authentication on most sites that offer it, like your bank, social media accounts and email provider.

In addition to your password, 2FA requires that a second element be entered before you can log into a site. For example, if you enable 2FA on your bank’s site, your bank will email you a code or text one to your phone that you’ll enter to complete your log in.

If you use 2FA, hackers can’t log into your bank account or credit card account even if they do manage to steal your password. In turn, you can be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate website, not a fake site, because you’ve received your code.

5. Keep your OS up to date

Operating system updates deliver new features to your phone but they also deliver new security measures that protect you from cybercrime.

Yes, it can take time to install these updates. But don’t postpone them for too long. You may place yourself at risk. When your Android or iPhone notifies you that an update is available, install it as soon as you can.

6. Avoid sites that don’t use encryption

Public WiFi is more secure than it used to be because encryption is now widespread on the internet. Google, for example, says almost 95% of traffic on its Chrome browser is encrypted. That little padlock icon and the “https” you see in front of most URLs means any data sent between you and the websites you visit is protected from malicious actors.

But this doesn’t mean you’re always safe. Some older mobile devices don’t support encryption. Even on a modern mobile device, it’s often hard to see if a URL is accompanied by “https” – or impossible, since many apps don’t display URLs at all.

And although the majority of websites are now encrypted, many still are not, even popular sites. Google reports that of the busiest 100 non-Google sites on the internet, which account for around a quarter of all website traffic worldwide, only 90 default to HTTPS encryption.

Victory: House passes historic $15 minimum wage bill

FightFor15

Victory! Thanks to more than 54,000 CREDO members, as well as our allies in the workers’ rights movement, organized labor and dozens of progressive groups, the House recently passed historic legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, despite six corporate Democrats and nearly all Republicans voting against the bill.

If enacted into law, the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 would immediately bump the minimum wage, and gradually raise it to $15, while ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. Preschool teachers, fast-food workers, bank tellers and working parents – millions of Americans would benefit immediately, some by as much as $3,500 a year

And no one would benefit more from raising the minimum wage than women, and people of color, who disproportionately hold low-wage jobs due to institutional sexism and racism. Forty percent of Black workers and 34% of Latinx workers would see a pay increase under this legislation. And nearly 56% who would get a raise are women.

Despite this, six Democrats – Reps. Anthony Brindisi, Joe Cunningham, Kendra Horn, Ben McAdams, Kurt Schrader and Xochitl Torres Small – sided with Donald Trump and the vast majority of Republicans by voting against working people.

Town halls are not the answer, DNC must sanction an official climate debate

The U.S. just roasted in nationwide heatwave, Europe suffered its hottest June and July on record, and America’s heartland spent months underwater during planting season this year. It’s clear we are in a climate crisis. And this crisis deserves the undivided attention of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

We need a climate debate. Voters need to hear more than a one-off question on the Green New Deal, they need to hear what actual solutions the candidates are offering to reduce emissions before we hit the 2030 “point of no return.” 

Over 225,000 activists who recently signed a petition organized by CREDO and dozens of environmental and progressive groups agree. Democratic voters want a climate debate, too — polling shows it’s supported by 64 percent of primary voters with only 11 percent opposing it. Voters care about climate change, with 72 percent of Democratic primary voters saying it was an important 2020 issue, so we need to hear the candidates’ answers to this crisis.

But what about the climate forums and climate town halls recently announced? To put it simply, these will probably be ignored by voters. Events like those are long, tedious, and require a huge amount of time for viewers to hear from each candidate. Most people will not watch them and will learn what was said through the filter of the media and soundbite.

Read more of Jelani’s op-ed at The Hill.

Victory: Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta resigned

Alex Acosta Resign

Activism works. Thanks to sustained pressure by CREDO and our allies, including CREDO members who generated more than 170,000 petition signatures, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resigned this July.

Before his tenure as Trump’s labor secretary, Acosta worked as a federal prosecutor on the case of billionaire sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein who is accused of sexually abusing and trafficking dozens of underage girls – many as young as 14-years-old. Acosta arranged for a sweetheart plea deal to shut down the investigation and allow Epstein to spend just 13 months in a county jail. He also worked out a secret deal that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes, ensuring that other wealthy child abusers never faced prosecution.

Intense pressure by CREDO members and our allies ensured this victory. On July 10, just two days before Acosta resigned, CREDO, along with our allies at UltraViolet, MoveOn and the American Federation for Teachers, projected “Acosta endangers women and girls,” “Acosta enables child sex trafficking,” and “#AcostaMustGo” on the side of the Department of Labor building in Washington, DC:

Photo credit: Ultraviolet

Acosta had no business being secretary of Labor, and he clearly had no interest in defending the rights of the vulnerable – his priority was protecting the powerful from the consequences of their actions, however immoral. 

Thank you to our members and allies who raised their voices to ensure that someone who shielded a serial child abuser from justice has no place in our government.

AT&T is making millions from Trump’s racist deportation agenda

Donald Trump is ramping up his attacks on immigrant communities more than he ever has before. His deportation regime is holding human beings in concentration camps, executing mass raids on immigrant families and communities, and forcing millions of people to live in fear every single day. 

And corporate America is cashing in. Well-known consumer brands like Comcast and Microsoft are profiting from lucrative contracts with Customs and Border Protection, the agency dehumanizing immigrants, jailing children in cages without basic needs and tearing families apart.

In fact, telecommunications giant AT&T made more than $1.8 million from CBP’s fascist deportation agenda, including $1.3 million since Donald Trump took office, according to data from the Federal Data Procurement System and Data compiled and analyzed by Alex Kotch at Sludge.

The many services AT&T has provided CPB since 2014 includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in telecommunications network management, computer equipment and software, internet and IT services and support, and wireless communications – all supporting the agency conducting attacks on immigrant communities.

Here at CREDO, we are appalled by AT&T’s complicity as a profiteer in Trump’s racist agenda – but we’re not surprised. AT&T has a long history of cozying up to Trump and right-wing politicians to line its corporate pockets:

At CREDO, we will never align ourselves with Trump and right-wing politicians or compromise our progressive values for profit. In fact, we are actively mobilizing our members to fight back against Trump’s racist immigration policy. And through our members who use our mobile phone and energy services, we have donated millions to progressive civil rights groups, like the ACLU, Detention Watch Network and Cosecha, who are fighting for immigrant rights.

If you’re not already a CREDO member and would like to switch to the mobile and energy company that is fighting Trump’s hateful agenda, donates $150,000 to progressive groups every month and shares your progressive values, please check out CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy today.

Our July grantees Planned Parenthood Action Fund, She the People and Transgender Law Center thank CREDO members for their support

A blue image with text saying "Thank you from our grantees" next to a photo of people at a rally holding signs and a rainbow flag

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible organizations. Those small actions add up – with one click, they help fund groups fighting for reproductive freedom, empowering progressive women of color and protecting the rights of transgender people. In July, over 58,000 CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, She the People and Transgender Law Center.

These donations are made possible by CREDO customers and the revenue they generate by using our products and services. The distribution depends entirely on the votes of CREDO members like you. And for that, our July grant recipients thank you.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund
$80,081

“Together with supporters like CREDO members by our side, Planned Parenthood Action Fund will never stop fighting to protect access to reproductive health care for all people – no matter what.” – Planned Parenthood Action Fund

To learn more, visit https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/

She the People
$36,459

“Thank you for your contribution to She the People! The support of CREDO members like you is critical to winning a racial, economic and gender justice agenda. Together we can build a multiracial inclusive coalition led by women of color.” – Aimee Allison, Founder, She the People

To learn more, visit https://www.shethepeople.org/ 

Transgender Law Center
$36,459

“TLC extends our sincere gratitude to CREDO members. Your support means the world to us and is a powerful stance for the dignity and leadership of trans and gender nonconforming communities. Now more than ever, we cherish fierce supporters like you.” – Kris Hayashi, Executive Director

To learn more, visit https://transgenderlawcenter.org/ 

Now check out the three groups we are funding in August, and cast your vote to help distribute our donations

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy and join our movement.

Vote to fund Democracy for America, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Rainforest Action Network this August

Every month, CREDO members vote to distribute $150,000 between three great progressive organizations. This August, you can help groups empowering the progressive movement, standing up for workers’ rights and fighting for climate justice by casting your vote for Democracy for America, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Rainforest Action Network.

Democracy for America

Democracy for America is a member-driven, people-powered progressive political action committee with a 1 million–strong community committed taking on income inequality, money in politics and structural racism.

DFA is helping to build the progressive grassroots movement to take our democracy back from corporations and the wealthy few. Support from CREDO members will help fund the great work it does to elect progressive candidates and win progressive legislative change while staying authentic to its progressive values. 

National Day Laborer Organizing Network

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network creates strategic campaigns for justice to improve the lives of day laborers, migrants and low-wage workers. The organization builds leadership and power among those facing injustice so they can challenge inequality and expand labor, civil and political rights for all. 

Funding from CREDO members will help further NDLON’s work of lifting up the voices of, and building the leadership and power of, immigrant communities to create progressive social change.

Rainforest Action Network

Rainforest Action Network preserves forests, protects the climate and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.

Support from CREDO will strengthen RAN’s organizational capacity to push systemic institutional change and help the organization exert public and inside pressure on corporations, banks and other institutions to stop environmentally destructive practices. 

Your vote this month will determine how we divide $150,000 in donations among these three progressive groups. Be sure to cast your vote to support one, two or all three by August 31.

CREDO members who use our products and services everyday are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy and join our movement.

Rein in data collection by your Android apps

Illustration of a cell phone with a bank vault lock in the center of the screen

The apps on your phone know a lot about you. Some track your location or know what websites you visit and what you view there. Others collect your personal information like your age, gender, email, phone number and address. If you’re concerned by apps collecting a lot of personal information about you,  there are ways you can limit – if not entirely halt – this data collection.

The fact that apps are collecting your personal data probably does not come as a surprise. The recent news that Russian-owned FaceApp collected and now owns access to 150 million faces and names should concern everyone. 

But what may come as a surprise is that when you install an app, you also give it access to your personal information by agreeing to a long list of terms and conditions that you probably didn’t even read – nine out of 10 people don’t.

Another surprise: Your personal information is probably being aggregated by companies like Google and Facebook to build a disturbingly accurate profile of you – your shopping habits, socioeconomic standing or political viewpoints – and used to target you with ads, rate your credit and send you political messages.

It’s called surveillance capitalism and while it seems difficult to opt-out of much of this data collection if you want to use popular phone apps, there are some steps you can take to limit the personal information that these apps collect. Here’s how to do that on an Android phone.

Control the apps that access your information

A lot of apps need access to certain information in order to work. For example, a navigation app needs access to your location. But a lot of apps want permission or access to unrelated data or information. Why does a flashlight app want access to your photo gallery?

You can control these permissions and block apps from accessing information they don’t need. Open Settings, then open Apps or Application Manager (depending on your device). Tap the app you want to check, then tap Permissions. This will show what information the app is accessing. Turn off any permissions that don’t look right. Why does that calculator app want to access your contacts? Turn it off.

There’s a useful app called Lumen Privacy Monitor, created by the International Computer Science Institute at U.C. Berkeley, which analyzes app traffic on your device and gives you control of it. Lumen shows how your apps communicate with tracking services and what personal information they’re collecting. It lets you block transmission of information by individual apps and configure app permissions to better control your personal data.

Opt out of ad personalization

Every Android device comes with a unique advertising ID. It’s an anonymous identifier that enables Google to recognize your device, watch your activity and send you targeted ads. You can easily opt out of this ad personalization. You’ll still be tracked by Google but you’ll see random ads. Open Settings and tap Google. Then tap Ads and toggle on Opt Out of Ads Personalization.

You can also reset your advertising ID. Open Settings and tap Google. Then tap Ads and then reset advertising ID. Tap OK when the confirmation box appears. This will remove all the data that has been collected by the apps on your phone. New data will be collected under your new advertising ID, so if you really want to be elusive, you should reset your advertising ID often.

Stop location tracking

A lot of apps track your location. A lot of apps – rideshare apps, navigation apps or weather apps – won’t work if they can’t track your location. 

If you want to stop location tracking anyway, open Settings. Tap Security & location, then tap Location. This will open the Location screen, where you can toggle off location tracking.

Google also pays very close attention to where you are and where you’ve been. Want to see how close? Open Google Maps (this is easiest on your PC) and click the three horizontal lines at the top left to open the dropdown menu. Click Your timeline and you can view a map of everywhere you’ve been since you opened a Google account. It is very difficult to stop Google from tracking your location. Although it can be done.

In addition to the steps above, you can take one more step: Switch to CREDO Mobile [link], the only carrier that cares about your privacy as much as you do. Here at CREDO, we take our members’ privacy rights very seriously, and we have a long record of fighting for them. Unlike other carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, who sell their customers’ private data for profit – your data is not for sale at CREDO. No amount of money will ever change that. Learn more about how we fight for our members’ privacy rights here.