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National Parks &
National Monuments

The Parks of Canada & USA


After many years of travelling, it became obvious that I had visited a great many National Parks and Monuments both in Canada and the United States. Some Parks I've visited more than once. Growing up with Banff National Park only 65 miles west of Calgary, I didn't really appreciate the concept of National Parks. Banff was just there - a place for us to go swim and ski - and as we got older - party!! It wasn't until I started doing road trips that I truly came to appreciate the National Parks.

I've been within 30 minutes of a half dozen National Parks (and countless Monuments) and didn't take the time to visit. I don't think I'll be adding visiting every National Park in the Country to my "bucket list", but the next time I'm close to a one, I am definitely not going to pass it by. I'll certainly pay closer attention to what is along my route. I do, however, think it's about time I recorded the National Parks and Monuments I have visited or driven through before old age settles in and I forget everywhere I've been!

Canadian National Parks

Canada currently has 36 National Parks and 8 National Park Reserves managed by Parks Canada. Canada’s first National Park, located in Banff, was established in 1885 followed by Glacier National Park and Yoho National Park in 1886. Tourism and commercialization dominated early park development, followed closely by resource extraction. The newest National Park is Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories, established August 22, 2012. Parks Canada

United States National Parks

The United States currently has 59 National Parks operated by the National Park Service. The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 (decommissioned in 1895), and then Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park in 1890. The newest National Park is Pinnacles National Park, California, established January 10, 2013. National Park Service

United States National Monuments

In addition, well over 100 National Monuments across the United States have been established under the Antiquities Act of 1906. A National Monument is a protected area that is similar to a National Park except that the President can declare the area to be a National Monument without the approval of Congress. The First National Monument, established September 24, 1906, was Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Although most National Monuments are managed by the National Park Service, they can be managed by other federal agencies including US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).



Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, established on November 12, 1971, is located 5 miles north of Moab, Utah. It preserves over 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch.

Forty-three arches have collapsed due to erosion since 1970. Arches National Park

This wall of petroglyphs is located in Arches National Park, near Wolfe Cabin just off the Delicate Arch trailhead. The stylized horse and rider surrounded by bighorn sheep and dog-like animals is typical of Ute Indian art work. These petroglyphs were carved sometime between A.D. 1650 and 1850.

Millions of years of erosion have led to the creation of the arches. The arid ground has life-sustaining soil crust and potholes, natural water-collecting basins. Other geologic formations are stone columns, spires, fins, and towers.

Arches National Park was used as one of the filming locations for the 1965 biblical film, The Greatest Story Ever Told and the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


Double O Arch

The Organ

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, established on January 25, 1939, is located about 30 miles south-east of Wall, South Dakota. It protects sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. Wildlife includes bison, bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets, and swift foxes. Badlands National Park

For 11,000 years, Native Americans have used this area for their hunting grounds. Long before the Lakota were the little-studied paleo-Indians, followed by the Arikara people. Their descendants live today in North Dakota as a part of the Three Affiliated Tribes. Archaeological records combined with oral traditions indicate that these people camped in secluded valleys where fresh water and game were available year round.

A great change came to the area toward the end of the 19th century as homesteaders moved into South Dakota. The United States government stripped Native Americans of much of their territory and forced them to live on reservations triggering a series of conflicts, wars, standoffs and massacres leaving thousands of people dead.

Wounded Knee Massacre

The Wounded Knee Massacre, on December 29, 1890, was the last major clash between Plains Indians and the United States Military. By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 wounded. Wounded Knee is not within the boundaries of Badlands National Park but it is an important part of the Park's history and the area it preserves. Wounded Knee is located approximately 45 miles south of the Park on Pine Ridge Reservation.


Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park, established in 1885, was the second National Park in North America. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was the first. Banff National Park is 65 miles west of Calgary. The towns of Banff and Lake Louise are the two main commercial centres in the Park. Banff National Park

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks - consisting of Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks and Hamber, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Robson Provincial Parks, were declared a World Heritage Site in 1984.


Castle Mountain

Two Jack Lake

West of Banff National Park, the Trans Canada Highway winds its way through Yoho National Park, Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park on its path to the Pacific Coast. Unfortunately, for these three Parks, most visitors (myself included) are only "passing through".

Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Yoho National Park, established in 1886, is attached to Banff National Park and begins at the Alberta/ B.C. border about 60 miles west of Banff. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks - consisting of Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks and Hamber, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Robson Provincial Parks, were declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Yoho National Park


Emerald Lake

Glacier National Park, British Columbia

Glacier National Park, established in 1886 is about 50 miles east of Revelstoke, B.C. The Rogers Pass, on the Trans Canada Highway, can receive up to 56 feet of snow over the course of a winter. Snow sheds at the pass protect the highway from avalanches. The Park's 131 glaciers are some of the most studied glaciers in North America. Glacier National Park


Rogers Pass

Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia

Mount Revelstoke National Park, established in 1914, is located in the Selkirk Mountains adjacent to the City of Revelstoke. The Park contains part of the world's only temperate inland rain forest. It also protects a small herd of the threatened mountain caribou. Mount Revelstoke National Park


Revelstoke, B.C.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

Bruce Peninsula National Park, established in 1987, is located on Bruce Peninsula about 12 miles south of Tobermory, Ontario. The Park is located on part of the Niagara Escarpment. Bruce Peninsula National Park

The Niagara Escarpment forms the backbone of Bruce Peninsula It runs from near Rochester, New York, to Tobermory, then on to Manitoulin, St. Joseph Island, and other islands located in northern Lake Huron where it turns westwards into the Michigan and Wisconsin finally ending northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.


Georgian Bay Shoreline

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, established September 15, 1928, is located in southwestern Utah about 90 miles east of Cedar City, Utah. Bryce Canyon is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. Bryce Canyon National Park

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The Park receives relatively few visitors largely due to its remote location. Rim Road, the scenic drive that is still used today, was completed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.


A Natural Bridge

California Coastal National Monument, California

The California Coastal National Monument, created by President Clinton on January 11, 2000, is located along the entire coastline of California. The creation of the monument ensures the protection of all islets, reefs and rock outcroppings from the coast of California to a distance of 12 nautical miles. The Monument is managed by the BLM. California Coastal National Monument


Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, established on April 1, 1931, is located on the Navajo Nation about 1 mile from Chinle, Arizona. It preserves ruins of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area. None of the land is federally owned. The Monument is cooperatively managed by the Navajo Nation and National Park Service. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

White House Ruins stands out as the sun reflects off the white plastered walls. These ruins were built by the Anasazi people, Navajo for "the ancient ones." This is the only place where non-Navajos may hike unescorted into the Canyon. The National Park Service has improved an old Anasazi trail from the Canyon's edge to its bottom.


White House Ruins

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, established September 12, 1964, is located in southeastern Utah about 30 miles southwest of Moab. The park preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. Canyonlands National Park

The park is divided into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Rivers. The Island in the Sky district is a broad and level mesa between the Colorado and Green rivers with many overlooks. The Needles district is located east of the Colorado River and is named after the red and white banded rock pinnacles which dominate it. The Maze district is located west of the Colorado and Green rivers and is one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the United States.

Newspaper Rock

The first carvings at the Newspaper Rock site were made around 2,000 years ago. The petroglyphs were carved by Native Americans during both the prehistoric and historic periods. The drawings on the rock include pictures of deer, buffalo, and pronghorn antelope, riders on horses.


Newspaper Rock

While precisely dating the rock carvings has been difficult, surface minerals reveal their relative ages. The pictures at Newspaper Rock were inscribed into the dark coating on the rock, called desert varnish. Desert varnish is a blackish manganese-iron deposit that gradually forms on exposed sandstone cliff faces owing to the action of rainfall and bacteria. The ancient artists carefully pecked the coated rock surfaces with sharpened tools to remove the desert varnish and expose the lighter rock beneath. The older figures are themselves becoming darker in color as new varnish slowly develops.

The Great Gallery

The Great Gallery is a product of a nomadic group of hunter-gatherers predating the Fremont and Ancestral Puebloans. The panel itself measures about 200 feet long and 15 feet high. It contains about 20 life-sized anthropomorphic images, the largest of which measures over 7 feet tall.


The Great Gallery

Island in the Sky

Needles District Rock Pinnacles

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, established December 18, 1971, is located in south-central Utah about 10 miles east of Torrey, Utah. It is 100 miles long but fairly narrow. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone that look somewhat like the United States Capitol building. Capitol Reef National Park

The park is filled with canyons, cliffs, towers, domes, and arches. The Fremont River has cut canyons through parts of the Waterpocket Fold, but most of the park is arid desert country. The first paved road was constructed through the area in 1962. Today, State Route 24 cuts through the park traveling east and west between Canyonlands National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, but few other paved roads invade the rugged landscape.

Capitol Reef encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the earth's crust that is 65 million years old. In this fold, newer and older layers of earth folded over each other in an S-shape. This warp, probably caused by the same colliding continental plates that created the Rocky Mountains, has weathered and eroded over millennia to expose layers of rock and fossils.

The park is filled with brilliantly colored sandstone cliffs, gleaming white domes, and contrasting layers of stone and earth. The fold forms a north-to-south barrier that even today has barely been breached by roads. Early settlers referred to parallel, impassable ridges as "reefs", from which the park gets the second half of its name.


Fruita School

Fruita

Mormons settled the Fremont River valley in the 1880s and established Junction (later renamed Fruita). Fruita prospered. In addition to farming, lime was extracted from local limestone and uranium was extracted early in the 20th century. In 1904 the first claim to a uranium mine in the area was staked. The resulting Oyler Mine in Grand Wash produced uranium ore.

By 1920 the work was hard but the life in Fruita was good. No more than ten families at one time were sustained by the fertile flood plain of the Fremont River and the land changed ownership over the years. The area remained isolated. The community was later abandoned and some buildings were restored by the National Park Service.

Fruita Petroglyphs

The Petroglyphs pullout is about a mile east of the Visitors Center. These Petroglyphs are from the Frémont people who lived throughout Utah and adjacent areas of Idaho, Colorado and Nevada from 700 to 1300 AD. The culture was named for the Fremont River and its valley in which many of the first Fremont sites were discovered.


Castillo De San Marcos National Monument

Castillo De San Marcos National Monument, established October 15th, 1924, is located in St. Augustine, Florida. The Fort, built in 1672, served for 205 years under four different flags. The Monument is managed by the National Park Service. Castillo de San Marcos

Possession of the Fort has changed six times, the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America (Spain and the United States having possession two times each). Castillo De San Marcos was involved in sieges with the British while under Spanish command, the American Revolution under Britain, the Civil War under the Confederacy, and the Seminole Wars and the Spanish-American War under the United States.

The Monument site consists of 20.5 acres and includes a reconstructed section of the walled defense line surrounding the city of St. Augustine incorporating the original city gate. It is the oldest masonry and only extant 17th century fort in North America. It is an excellent example of the "bastion system" of fortification.


Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom. National Park Service

The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot caldera that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. At 1,943 feet the lake is the deepest in the United States. The lake is 5 by 6 miles across, with a caldera rim ranging in elevation from 7,000 to 8,000 feet.

The caldera was created in a massive volcanic eruption. Since that time, all eruptions on Mazama have been confined to the caldera. Eventually, the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and form a lake. There are no streams or rivers flowing in to our out of the lake.

Purity from Violence

National Park Service pretty well describes the lake but how do you describe the feeling you get viewing it? I think of one word - pure. Crater Lake today was a photographers paradise and I saw several photographers with some pretty sophisticated equipment. Today there were no clouds in the sky and no wind.

Ribbon in the Sky

The water was extremely clear and calm - in fact so much so that it was hard to tell where land ended and reflection began. One of my pictures looked very strange because of this. I get the feeling that I could stand on the rim for weeks on end and never be able to recreate the same set of circumstances to get the same effect. The sky and water were almost the same colour contributing to the strange effect.

Fossilized Steam

Out of the Ashes. A specific series of events allowed nature to sculpt the rocky spires in this river valley. Over thousands of years, erosion has carved away the softer ash and pumice, exposing these mysterious formations.


Wizard Island

Plow Cuts

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument, established on May 2, 1924 by President Coolidge, is about 24 miles southwest of Arco, Idaho. The Monument represents one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. The area is managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the BLM. Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument, spanning 618 miles, encompasses three major lava fields. All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet. There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features.


Spatter Cone

Scoria Field

Devil's Orchard

Devils Orchard is a group of lava-transported cinder cone fragments (also called monoliths or cinder crags) that stand in cinders. They were once part of the North Crater cinder cone but broke off during an eruption of lava.


Trees of Devil's Orchard

Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park, established October 31, 1994, is the hottest, lowest, and driest place in the United States. Temperatures in the Valley can reach 130°F in the summer, to below freezing in the winter. Death Valley holds the world record for highest temperature ever recorded - 134°F on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek. Death Valley National Park

The National Climatic Center reports that Death Valley's temperature reaches 90°F approximately 327 days a year while freezing temperatures occur approximately 11 days each year. The lowest temperature on record is 15°F. Annual precipitation is about 2 inches.

Located on the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. Millions of years ago, there was an inland sea where Death Valley is today, but as the area turned to desert, the water evaporated, leaving behind the salt. From Dante's View at 5,500 feet above sea level one can see the central part of Death Valley, Badwater Basin, which is the lowest dry point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.

The Racetrack Playa

The Racetrack Playa, is a scenic dry lake located in the northern part of the Panamint Mountains. Scattered across the extraordinarily flat surface of Racetrack Playa, far from the edges of the surrounding mountains, are large chunks of dolomite, some up to 705 lbs.

The "sailing stones" are a geological phenomenon. Behind many of the stones you'll see grooved trails. Some are short, some long, some straight, some curvy. The tracks have been observed and studied since the early 1900s, however, no living person has ever witnessed these amazing rocks in motion, making them the target of scientific speculation and investigation as well as old-fashioned tall tales of the desert.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

These dunes, located in central Death Valley near Stovepipe Wells, are the best known and easiest to visit in the Park. Although the highest dune rises only about 100 feet, the dunes actually cover a vast area. These dunes have been used to film sand dune scenes for several movies. In 1977 Death Valley was as a filming location for Star Wars, providing the setting for the fictional planet Tatooine.

The largest dune is called Star Dune and is relatively stable and stationary. The depth of the sand at its crest is 130-140 feet but this is small compared to other dunes in the Park that have sand depths of up to 600-700 feet deep.


Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, establishment on May 11, 1910, is located about 30 miles northwest of Kalispell, Montana. The Park is adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. The two parks are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, and were designated as the world's first International Peace Park in 1932. The Parks were designated as World Heritage sites in 1995. Glacier National Park


Grinnell Glacier

Saint Mary Lake

The Glaciers

Between 1850 and 1979, 73% of the glacial ice had melted away. Of the estimated 150 glaciers which existed in the park in the mid-19th century, only 25 active glaciers remained by 2010. Scientists studying the glaciers in the park have estimated that all the glaciers may disappear by 2020 if the current climate patterns persist.

The Water

The park contains a dozen large lakes and 700 smaller ones. Lake McDonald on the western side of the park is the largest. Some of the lakes, like Avalanche Lake and Cracker Lake, are colored an opaque turquoise by suspended glacial silt, which also causes a number of streams to run milky white.

Two hundred waterfalls are scattered throughout the park. The largest falls include McDonald Falls and Swiftcurrent Falls. One of the tallest waterfalls is Bird Woman Falls, which drops 492 feet from a hanging valley beneath the north slope of Mount Oberlin.

Glacier National Park is dominated by mountains which were carved into their present shapes by the huge glaciers of the last ice age. There are six mountains in the park over 10,000 feet in elevation, with Mount Cleveland, at 10,466, feet being the tallest. The Park spans the Continental Divide. Appropriately named, Triple Divide Peak sends waters towards the Pacific Ocean, Hudson Bay, and Gulf of Mexico watersheds.

Plants and Animals

Virtually all the plants and animals which existed at the time European explorers first entered the region are present in the park today. Beargrass, a tall flowering plant, is commonly found near moisture sources, and is relatively widespread during July and August. Wildflowers such as monkeyflower, glacier lily, fireweed, balsamroot and Indian paintbrush are also common.


Beargrass

Going-to-the-Sun Road

After the Park was well established and visitors began to rely more on automobiles, work began on the 53 mile long Going-to-the-Sun Road. The road, completed in 1932, officially received its name, “Going-to-the-Sun Road” during the 1933 dedication at Logan Pass.

The Road bisects the Park and passes over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Up to 80 feet of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as Big Drift. The road is generally open from early June to mid October, with its latest-ever opening on July 13, 2011.


Big Drift

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. It takes about ten weeks, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet of the road per day. On the east side of the continental divide, there are few guardrails due to heavy snows and the resultant late winter avalanches that have repeatedly destroyed every protective barrier ever constructed.


Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is in the Alaska panhandle west of Juneau. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the area around Glacier Bay a national monument under the Antiquities Act on February 25, 1925. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act enlarged the national monument on December 2, 1980 and in the process created Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in order to protect a portion of the Alsek River and related fish and wildlife habitats.

Glacier Bay became part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, was inscribed as a Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and in 1994 undertook an obligation to work with Hoonah and Yakutat Tlingit Native American organizations in the management of the protected area. In total the park and preserve cover 5,130 square miles. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, established February 26, 1919, is approximately 55 miles north of Williams, Arizona. It was named a World Heritage Site in 1979. The Park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Grand Canyon National Park

The primary public areas of the park are the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon itself. The rest of the park is extremely rugged and remote accessible mainly by pack trail and backcountry roads.

The canyon itself was created by the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, causing the Colorado River system to develop along its present path.


Grand Canyon

Grande Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, established on September 18, 1996, is located in southern Utah between the towns of Page, Arizona and Torrey, Utah. It protects about 1,880,461 acres of land and is managed by the BLM as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Burr Trail

The Burr Trail Scenic Backway is a 68-mile backcountry gravel road route extending from the town of Boulder, Utah, through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, into Capitol Reef National Park, and then to the community of Bullfrog in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Burr Trail


Burr Trail

The Burr Trail is named after John Atlantic Burr, a homesteader and rancher who was born in 1846 aboard the SS Brooklyn somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Burr and his family lived in Salt Lake City before moving south to establish the town of Burrville, Utah, in 1876. John Burr soon developed a trail, known as the Burr Trail, to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges and to market.


Metate Arch - Devil's Garden

Flowering Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)

Political Agenda & Controversy

President Bill Clinton designated the area as a National Monument using his authority under the Antiquities Act, at the height of the 1996 presidential election campaign. The Monument was riddled with controversy from the moment of creation. First, the Declaration Ceremony was held at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and not in the state of Utah. To add insult, the Utah congressional delegation and State Governor were notified only 24 hours in advance.

Local officials and Congressman Bill Orton objected to the designation of the Monument, questioning whether the Antiquities Act allowed such vast amounts of land to be designated. However, United States Supreme Court decisions have long established the President's discretion to protect land under the Antiquities Act, and several lawsuits were dismissed by federal courts.


Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, established February 26, 1929, is about 13 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming and about 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. The 310,000 acre Park includes the major peaks of the 40 mile long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th century French speaking trappers—les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicized and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet, Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range.


The John Moulton Barn and Teton Range

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Great Basin National Park, established October 27, 1986, is located about 68 miles east of Ely, Nevada near the Utah border. The Park derives its name from the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. Topographically, this area is known as the Basin and Range Province. Great Basin National Park

Bristlecone Pines

The Great Basin Bristlecone is Nevada's State Tree. The pines are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known. The maximum recorded age is 4,844 years.

In this stressful, windswept environment, where ice particles driven by winter winds carve and polish the wood of the trees, these pines cling to life for thousands of years.


Bristlecone Pines

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves, discovered by Absalom Lehman in 1885, is a beautiful marble cave ornately decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and over 300 rare shield formations. The cave is located at the base of 13,063 foot Wheeler Peak. Lehman Caves was originally protected as a National Monument on January 24, 1922 and combined with the National Park in 1986. Lehman Caves National Monument


Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, established on June 15, 1934, is adjacent to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The Park was named as a World Heritage Site in 1983. It is is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a division of the Appalachian Mountain chain. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Before the arrival of European settlers, the region was part of the homeland of the Cherokees. Frontiers people began settling the land in the 18th and early 19th century. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, beginning the process that eventually resulted in the forced removal of all Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River to what is now Oklahoma. Many of the Cherokee hid in the area that is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Oconaluftee Overlook

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park , Hawai'i

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, established August 1st, 1916, is on the island of Hawai'i about 30 miles south of Hilo. It encompasses two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world's most massive subaerial volcano. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park was name a World Heritage Site in 1987. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawai'i. It is the largest subaerial volcano in both mass and volume, and has historically been considered the largest volcano on Earth. Mauna Loa Volcano is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it is on the Decade Volcano list - a list of 16 volcanoes in the World with the greatest likelihood of causing great loss of life and property if eruptive activity resumes. Decade Volcanoes

Kīlauea

Kīlauea was traditionally considered the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pelé, and Hawai'ians visited the crater to offer gifts to the goddess. In 1790, visitors were caught in an unusually violent eruption. Many were killed and others left footprints in the lava that can still be seen today.


Puʻu ʻŌʻō

Living with a Volcano

This home was consumed by lava shortly after the July 24, 2010 picture was taken in Kalapana, Hawai'i. Lava is a fact of life in Kalapana, about 20 miles from the Big Island's Kīlauea volcano, known for its lazy streams of fluid rock. Situated within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Kīlauea may be the only volcano in the world with a drive-in caldera.

Kīlauea has been oozing smooth pahoehoe lava since 1983. Speaking of Kīlauea, volcano expert Steve O'Meara told National Geographic News in 2003, "There are few places on Earth where humans can walk alongside a lava flow." The eruption oozed enough lava in its first 20 years to pave a road to the moon five times.


Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park, established on September 14, 1907, is located about 180 miles west of Edmonton, Alberta. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks - consisting of Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks and Hamber, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Robson Provincial Parks, were declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Jasper National Park

The name Jasper comes from Jasper Hawes who worked for the North West Company in the early 1800s. He would lend his name to the fur trade post known as Jasper House, and later the town and the entire National Park. The town of Jasper is the main commercial centre in the Park.

Columbia Icefield

The Columbia Icefield is astride the Continental Divide. It is 325 to 1,200 feet deep and receives up to 275 inches of snowfall per year. The Athabasca River, North Saskatchewan River, and tributary headwaters of the Columbia River originate in the Columbia Icefield. The Icefield feeds eight major glaciers, including: Athabasca, Castleguard, Columbia, Dome, Stutfield, and Saskatchewan.


Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota

Jewel Cave National Monument, established February 7, 1908, is located approximately 13 miles west of Custer, South Dakota. Jewel Cave is currently the third longest cave in the world, with just over 166 miles of mapped passageways. It is managed by the National Park Service. Jewel Cave National Monument

Frank and Albert Michaud, two local prospectors, discovered the cave in 1900. The cavern was lined with calcite crystals, which led them to name it "Jewel Cave." Jewel Cave contains all the common types of calcite formation. It also contains a very rare formation called a hydromagnesite balloon created when gas of an unknown source inflates a pasty substance formed by the precipitation of the magnesium carbonate hydroxide mineral.


Hydromagnesite Balloon

Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park just south of Twenty Nine Palms, California, straddles Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The Park was named a National Monument in 1936 and was declared a National Park on October 31st, 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act. Joshua Tree National Park
The park covers a land area of 1.2 million square miles and includes parts of two deserts, each with an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. There is no real boundary line between the two deserts, just a gradual change in elevation, with representative plants of each desert beginning to dominate.
The Mojave Desert is high and cooler and marked by the presence of yucca trees - especially the Joshua Tree. The Colorado Desert is dominated by flats of creosol bush and interrupted by scatterings of ocotillos, ironwood, palo verde, chuparosa, and smoke trees. The only palm native to California, the California Fan Palm, occurs naturally in five oases in the park, rare areas where water occurs naturally year round and all forms of wildlife abound.

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

Kootenay National Park, established in 1920, is located in southeastern British Columbia, adjacent to the Town of Radium. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks - consisting of Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks and Hamber, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Robson Provincial Parks, were declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park was created as part of an agreement between the Province of British Columbia and the Canadian Federal Government to build a highway. A strip of land 5 miles wide on each side of the newly constructed Banff-Windermere Highway was set aside as a National Park. Because of the relatively small width of the Park many of the Park's attractions are situated near the road and are easily accessible.

The Park's main attractions include Radium Hot Springs, Olive Lake, Marble Canyon, Sinclair Canyon and the Paint Pots. The hot springs pool temperature ranges from 95°F to 117 °F. The Paint Pots are a group of iron-rich cold mineral springs which bubble up through several small pools and stain the earth a dark red-orange colour. The Paint Pots were a major source of the ochre paint pigment for a number of First Nations groups prior to the 20th century.


Paint Pots

Sinclair Canyon

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park started as two separate national monuments designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 and declared a National Park on August 9, 1916. The dominant feature of Volcanic National Park is Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southern-most volcano in the Cascade Range.

1915 - 1921

Starting on May 19th, 1915 and lasting until 1921, a series of eruptions occurred on Lassen Peak. These events created a new crater, and released lava and a great deal of ash. Fortunately, because of warnings, no one was killed, but several houses along area creeks were destroyed. National Park Service - Lassen Volcanic National Park

There are four shield volcanoes in the park - Mount Harkness, Red Mountain, Prospect Peak, and Raker Peak. All of these volcanoes are topped by a cinder cone volcano. Lassen Park Map

Hanging on the Edge

Highway 89 passes through the Park from north to south. Fortunately the drop off was not on my side of the road. I even had a bit of a problem getting out of the car and standing on the edge to get the picture. I thought my knees would give out.

Reading Fire

A series of thunder storms produced a number of lightning strikes which ignited the Reading Fire on July 23, 2012 approximately one mile northeast of Paradise Meadows. After burning 28,079 acres the Reading Fire reached 100% containment on August 22, 2012. No structures were lost during this fire. Reading Fire

Hot Rocks

Following the 1915 eruptions, local residents discovered several massive hot rocks resting in the valley miles from the volcano. Careening down the mountainside, hot lava rocks touched off a snow avalanche. The avalanche carried this 300-ton rock five miles from Lassen Peak to this location, where it settled, sizzled, and cooled.


Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, established January 29, 1879, is located about 63 miles southeast of Billings, Montana. It preserves the site of the June 25 and 26, 1876, Battle of the Little Bighorn, near Crow Agency, Montana. The Monument is managed by National Park Service. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

The Monument serves as a memorial to those who fought in the battle: George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry and a combined Lakota-Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho force. The first memorial on the site was assembled by Captain George K. Sanderson and the 11th Infantry. They buried soldiers' bodies where they were found and removed animal bones. Markers honoring the Indians who fought at Little Big Horn, including Crazy Horse, have been added to those of the United States troops. On Memorial Day, 1999, the first of five red granite markers denoting where warriors fell during the battle were placed on the battlefield for Cheyenne warriors Lame White Man and Noisy Walking.

Custer National Cemetery, on the battlefield, is part of the national monument. Established in 1886, it was officially closed to further non-reservation interments in 1978. Within it there are approximately 4,900 interments, with about 100 reserved spaces for veterans or their spouses, who have burial plots. Cremains are still accepted for scattering in the cemetery, however these do not have markers.


Custer National Cemetery

The battle, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull.

Custer's Last Stand

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, which occurred on June 25 and 26, 1876, and commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. Battle of Little Bighorn


Charlie M. Russell 1903 - The Custer Fight

The United States Seventh Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the Seventh Cavalry's companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total United States casualty count was 268 dead and 55 injured. Although statistics vary, it was reported by Sioux Chief Red Horse in 1877 that the Native American suffered 136 dead and 160 wounded during the battle.


Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier National Park, was established March 2, 1899 by President William McKinley. It is located about 55 miles southeast of Seattle, Washington. The entire Park was designated a National Historic Landmark District on February 18, 1997. Mount Rainier National Park

Decade Volcano List

Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it is on the Decade Volcano list - a list of 16 volcanoes in the World with the greatest likelihood of causing great loss of life and property if eruptive activity resumes. Although Mount Rainier is considered an active volcano, as of 2010 there was no evidence of an imminent eruption. Because of its large amount of glacial ice, an eruption could be devastating for all areas surrounding the volcano. Decade Volcanoes

Mount Rainier is located in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. With 26 major glaciers and 36 sq miles of permanent snowfields, Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. The summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each more than 1,000 feet in diameter.


Mount Rainier

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, established August 27, 1982, is located about 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington. The Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied. The Monument is managed by the US Forest Service. Mount St. Helens National Monument

Mount St. Helens Volcano

Mount St. Helens is located in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed. 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. An earthquake caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit by 1300 feet, replacing it with a 1 mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater.

Significant activity continued on Mount St. Helens from 1980 to 2008. On January 16, 2008, steam began seeping from a fracture on top of the lava dome. Scientists suspended activities but the risk of a major eruption was deemed low. By the end of January, the eruption paused. No more lava was being extruded from the lava dome. On July 10, 2008, it was determined that the eruption had ended.


Mount St. Helens

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument, established April 16, 1908, is located about 45 miles west of Blanding, Utah. It features the second largest natural bridge in the world, carved from the white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation. The Monument is managed by National Park Service. Natural Bridges National Monument


Owachomo Natural Bridge

The three bridges in the Park have Hopi names - Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu. A natural bridge is formed through erosion. A stream undercuts the walls of rock creating a bridge. The stream then flowing underneath the bridge, continues to enlarge the bridge's opening. Eventually, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the Monument.

Horsecollar Ruin

Horsecollar Ruin is an Ancestral Puebloan ruin visible from an overlook a short hike from Bridge View Drive. The site was abandoned more than 700 years ago but is in a remarkable state of preservation, including an undisturbed rectangular kiva with the original roof and interior, and two granaries with unusual oval shaped doors whose shape resembles horse collars.


Horsecollar Ruin

Navajo National Monument, Arizona

Navajo National Monument, established March 20, 1909, is located high on the Shonto Plateau about 30 miles west of Kayenta, Arizona. It protects three of the most intact cliff dwellings of the ancient Kayenta Anasazi, circa 1250 - 1300. The Monument is managed by National Park Service. Navajo National Monument

Inscription House

Inscription House consists of about 74 living quarters and granaries and only one kiva. The site was occupied around 1274 A.D. Inscription House is closed indefinitely because of urgent stabilization needs and the desire of the local people for privacy.

Kiet Siel

Kiet Siel meaning "Broken House" in Navajo, is a well preserved cliff dwelling of the ancient Anasazi people. The site was first occupied around 1250 A.D. At its peak, Kiet Siel had more than 150 rooms and 6 kivas.

Betatakin

Betatakin means "House Built on a Ledge" in Navajo. It is smaller than nearby Kiet Siel, with about 120 rooms and only one kiva. Betatakin was built between 1267 A.D. and 1286 A.D. in an enormous alcove measuring 452 feet high and 370 feet across.


Betatakin

North Cascades National Park, Washington

North Cascades National Park, established October 2, 1968, is located about 45 miles east of Sedro-Woolley, Washington. The portion of the Park that connects with the Canadian border was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 10, 1989. North Cascades National Park

The park features rugged mountain peaks and protects portions of the North Cascades Range. The North Cascades are predominantly non-volcanic, but include the stratovolcanoes Mount Baker, Glacier Peak and Coquihalla Mountain, which are part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes.

The Cascade Range extends from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. The formidable mountains in North Cascades National Park are reflected by names like Mount Despair, Mount Triumph, Mount Challenger, Mount Fury, and Mount Terror.


Mount Luna (left) & Mount Fury (right)

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, established June 29, 1938 by President Roosevelt, is located on the Olympic Peninsula, about 20 south of Port Angeles, Washington. The Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1981. Olympic National Park

Temperate Rainforest

The western side of the park is mantled by a temperate rain forest, including the Hoh Rain Forest and Quinault Rain Forest, which receive annual precipitation of about 150 inches, making this perhaps the wettest area in the continental United States.

Coastline

The coastal portion of the park is a rugged, sandy beach, dotted with sea stacks, along with a strip of adjacent forest. It is 60 miles long. The beach has unbroken stretches of wilderness ranging from 10 to 20 miles. While some beaches are primarily sand, others are covered with heavy rock and very large boulders.


Ruby Beach

Glaciated Mountains

Within the center of Olympic National Park rise the Olympic Mountains whose sides and ridgelines are topped with massive, ancient glaciers. The western half of the range is dominated by the peak of Mount Olympus, which rises to 7,965 feet.


Hurricane Ridge Visitor Centre

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, established April 13, 1937 by President Roosevelt, shares a border with Mexico and is located in Pima County, Arizona about 25 miles south of Ajo. The Park is managed by the National Park Service. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The park is the only place in the United States where the Organ Pipe Cactus grows wild. Along with Organ Pipe, many other types of cacti, as well as desert flora grow here.

Land for the Monument was donated by the Arizona state legislature to the federal government during Prohibition knowing that the north-south road would be improved and make contraband alcohol easier to import from Mexico.

On August 9, 2002, Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed by a suspected Mexican drug smuggler during a United States Border Patrol operation. The visitor center has been named in his honor.


Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park, established on December 9, 1962, is about 26 miles east of Holbrook, Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the park covers about 146 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. Petrified Forest National Park

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, fallen trees that lived about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name. The Painted Desert extends roughly from Tuba City southeast to past Holbrook and the Petrified Forest National Park. The desert is about 120 miles long by about 60 miles wide.

The Teepees

Rock strata exposed in the Tepees area of the park belong to the Blue Mesa Member of the Chinle Formation. The colorful bands of mudstone and sandstone were laid down during the Triassic, when the area was part of a huge tropical flood plain.


The Teepees

Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

Prince Albert National Park, established March 24, 1927, is located 120 miles north of Saskatoon. Waskesiu, meaning "red deer" or "elk" in the Cree language, is the only town within the Park. The Park combines recreational and nature experiences. Prince Albert National Park

Grey Owl

The park contains the cabin of naturalist and conservationist Grey Owl, on Ajawaan Lake. The Dominion Parks Service hired Grey Owl, Archibald Stanfield Belaney (1888-April 13, 1938) as the first naturalist. He wrote of wilderness protection: Pilgrims of the Wild (1935), Sajo and the Beaver People (1935) and Empty Cabin (1936).


Grey Owl's Cabin

Redwood National and State Parks, California

The Redwood National and State Parks, established January 1, 1968, are located in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties along the coast of northern California. The Parks protect 45% of the remaining old-growth redwoods. Redwood National and State Parks were declared a World Heritage Site on September 5th, 1980. Redwood National and State Parks

Comprised of Redwood National Park and Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks, the combined Parks contain 133,000 acres. Administered jointly by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation for the purpose of cooperative forest management and stabilization of forests and watersheds, the Redwood National and State Parks form one of the most significant protected areas of the Northern California coastal forests.

In 1850, old-growth redwoods covered more than 2,000,000 acres of the California coast. The northern coast attracted many lumbermen and the giant trees were harvested for booming development in San Francisco and other places on the West Coast. After many decades of unrestricted clear-cut logging, serious efforts toward conservation began.

By the 1920s the work of the Save-the-Redwoods League, founded in 1918 to preserve remaining old-growth redwoods, resulted in the establishment of Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. By the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968 nearly 90% of the old-growth redwoods had been logged. In less that 70 years, 1800 years of growth was destroyed.


Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Saguaro National Park, established October 14, 1994, is divided into two sections - the first approximately 20 miles east of Tucson and the second approximately 15 miles west. The total area is 91,442 acres. Saguaro National Park
The Park conserves fine tracts of the Sonoran Desert, including the Tucson Mountains in the west and the Rincon Mountains in the east. Besides Saguaro, many other kinds of cactus, including barrel, cholla, and prickly pear, are abundant in the park.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Sequoia National Park, established September 25, 1890, is in the southern Sierra Nevada, about 35 miles east of Visalia, California. The Park contains the highest point in the contiguous 48 States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet. Sequoia National Park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park. The two are administered by the National Park Service jointly. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The General Sherman Tree

The General Sherman tree is about 2,500 years old and measures 32.7 feet in diameter. It is located in the Giant Forest section of Sequoia National Park. The tree was named after General William Tecumseh Sherman. By volume, it is the largest known living single stem tree on Earth.


General Sherman

The Giant Forest

The Giant Forest, famed for its giant sequoia trees, is within Sequoia National Park. The Giant Forest is the most accessible of all giant sequoia groves. Five of the ten most massive trees on the planet are located within the Giant Forest. The giant sequoia tree is the most massive species of tree on earth, and one of just five tree species documented to grow to 300 feet in height (the others are Coast Redwood, Eucalyptus Regnans, Douglas Fir, and Sitka Spruce). It is also among the longest lived of all trees on the planet.

Kings Canyon National Park, California

Kings Canyon National Park, established March 4, 1940 is in the southern Sierra Nevada, about 40 miles east of Fresno, California. It incorporated General Grant National Park established in 1890. The Park is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park. The two are administered by the National Park Service jointly. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks


General Grant

The General Grant Tree

The General Grant tree is 1,650 years old, measures 34.2 feet in diameter, and is the largest giant sequoia in the General Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park. The tree was named after General Ulysses S. Grant and President Coolidge proclaimed it the "Nations Christmas Tree" in 1926.

Giant Sequoia National Monument, California

The Giant Sequoia National Monument, established by President Clinton on April 15, 2000, is located in the southern Sierra Nevada in eastern central California. It is administered by the US Forest Service and includes 38 of the 39 Giant Sequoia groves that are located in the Sequoia National Forest.

The Giant Sequoia National Monument includes one of the ten largest sequoias, the Boole Tree, which is 269 feet high with a base circumference of 112 feet. The Tree is in the Converse Basin Grove. The National Monument is in two sections. The northern section surrounds General Grant Grove and other parts of Kings Canyon National Park. The southern section, is directly south of Sequoia National Park. Giant Sequoias National Monument


Boole Tree

The Generals' Highway

The Generals' Highway is a 32 mile highway connecting State Route 180 and State Route 198 through Sequoia National Park. It is named after the most famous giant sequoia trees, The General Sherman and The General Grant. The highway is notoriously steep, narrow, and winding, especially its southern section. This section also consists of numerous switchbacks, and has a speed limit of 10 mph.


Generals' Highway

Tonto National Monument, Arizona

Tonto National Monument, created October 21, 1907, is located in the Tonto National Forest about 30 miles north of Globe, Arizona. The District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The Monument is managed by National Park Service. Tonto National Monument

Situated within rugged terrain in the north eastern part of the Sonoran Desert, these well preserved cliff dwellings were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries by the Salado culture. The cliff dwellings were constructed of mud and rocks within natural recesses in siltstone hills surrounding Tonto Basin.


Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Utah

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, established on November 9th, 2000 by President Bill Clinton, is located about 72 miles west of Page, Arizona, immediately south of the Utah State line. It protects the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon. The monument is administered by the BLM. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

The Vermilion Cliffs are steep eroded escarpments consisting primarily of sandstone, siltstone, limestone, and shale which rise as much as 3,000 feet above their bases. These sedimentary rocks have been deeply eroded for millions of years, exposing hundreds of layers of richly colored rock strata.


Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, established on March 1, 1872, is located about 57 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming. The Park also extends into Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone was the first National Park in the world. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1978. Yellowstone National Park

Supervolcano

Yellowstone is actually a massive caldera of a supervolcano. The Yellowstone Caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America. It has been termed a "supervolcano" because the caldera was formed by exceptionally large explosive eruptions. The magma chamber that lies under Yellowstone is estimated to be a single connected chamber, about 37 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 3 to 7 miles deep. The current caldera was created by a cataclysmic eruption that occurred 640,000 years ago. This eruption was more than 1,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Canyons and Rivers

Three deep canyons are located in the park, cut through the volcanic tuff of the Yellowstone Plateau by rivers over the last 640,000 years. The Lewis River flows through Lewis Canyon in the south, and the Yellowstone River, in its journey north, has carved two colorful canyons, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The Continental Divide runs diagonally through the southwestern part of the Park. The origins of the Yellowstone and Snake Rivers are near each other but on opposite sides of the divide. As a result, the Snake River flows to the Pacific Ocean and the Yellowstone flows to the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Mexico.


Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Earthquakes

Yellowstone experiences thousands of small earthquakes every year, virtually all of which are undetectable to people. A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck in 1959. Twenty-eight people were killed, and property damage was extensive. The earthquake caused some geysers in the northwestern section of the park to erupt. A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck inside the park on June 30, 1975, but damage was minimal.

Seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park continues and is reported hourly by the Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. Swarms of earthquakes are common. For three months in 1985, 3,000 minor earthquakes were detected. In December 2008 and again in January 2010, over 250 earthquakes were detected. A recent swarm of 130 earthquakes struck between September 10th and September 15th, 2013.

Geysers and the Hydrothermal System

The most famous geyser in the Park is Old Faithful Geyser, located in Upper Geyser Basin. A study that was completed in 2011 found that at least 1283 geysers have erupted in Yellowstone. Of these, an average of 465 are active in a given year. Yellowstone contains at least 10,000 geothermal features altogether.


Orange Spring Mound

Old Faithful

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, established October 1, 1890, is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 50 miles east of Sonora, California. The Park protects three Giant Sequoia Groves, five of the world's highest waterfalls, and a combination of high mountains and deep valleys. Yosemite National Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Grant

Concerned by the effects of commercial interests, prominent citizens including Galen Clark and Senator John Conness advocated for protection of the area. A Park Bill was prepared with the assistance of the General Land Office in the Interior Department. The Bill, creating the Yosemite Grant, passed both houses of the 38th United States Congress, and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864. The precedent setting legislation (which may have seemed trivial at the time, especially as it was enacted during the height of the Civil War) was the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use. The concept led to the creation of National Parks later in the 19th Century.


Yosemite Valley

El Capitan

Giant Sequoia Groves

The park has three groves of ancient Giant Sequoia - The Mariposa Grove, The Tuolumne Grove, and The Merced Grove. Ozone Pollution is causing tissue damage to the massive Giant Sequoia trees in the Park. This makes them more vulnerable to insect infestation and disease. In addition, since the cones of these trees require fire-touched soil to germinate, historic fire suppression has reduced these trees' ability to reproduce. The current policy of setting prescribed fires is expected to help the germination issue.

The Mariposa Grove

The Mariposa Grove, at the southern entrance to the Park, has several hundred mature trees.

Famous trees found in the Mariposa Grove include The Fallen Monarch, The Bachelor and Three Graces, The Grizzly Giant, The California Tunnel tree, The Faithful Couple, The Clothespin tree and The Galen Clark tree . Mariposa Grove


The Bachelor and Three Graces

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, established November 19, 1919, is located about 1 mile east of Springdale, Utah. It protects mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in July 07, 1987. Zion National Park

Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the Park's unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Notable geographical features of the park include Virgin River Narrows, Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, Angels Landing, The Great White Throne, Checkerboard Mesa, The Three Patriarchs and Kolob Arch.

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

The east side of the Park is served by Zion-Mount Carmel Highway (a portion of State Hwy 9 Utah) which passes through a 1.1 mile long tunnel and ends at Mount Carmel Junction. Work on the highway started in 1927 and was completed in 1930. The tunnel has six large windows cut through the massive sandstone cliff.

Checkerboard Mesa

Checkerboard Mesa is on the east side of the Park. The horizontal cross-bedding in the sandstone arises from the way the sediments were laid down - a set of beds was partially eroded, then filled by the next, overlying set. The vertical grooves come from cracking related to the slowly changing pressures on the rock as it was buried and exhumed.


Checkerboard Mesa

National Parks and Monuments Links

Parks Canada
This site provides information about Canadian National Parks, National Historic Sites, and National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada.

National Park Service
This site provides information about US National Parks and National Monuments together with extensive historical information including Battlefields and Military Parks, Cemeteries, and Recreational Areas managed by the National Park Service.

US Forest Service
The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. This site provides information relating to the areas under its management together with news and related current affairs.

Bureau of Land Management
The BLM's National Conservation Lands include 19 National Monuments. This site provides information about the Monuments including maps and directions, visitor activities and fees.

National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Properties listed include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service.

Wikipedia - List of Canadian National Parks
This is a list of National Parks of Canada. The list also includes four National Marine Conservation Areas, one National Landmark, and three future Parks. It also has some external links.

Wikipedia - List of US National Parks
This is a list of the 59 National Parks in the United States which are operated by the National Park Service. It also has some external links.

Wikipedia - List of US National Monuments
This is a list of the 108 National Monuments in the United States together with information as to the managing authority and location of the Monuments. It also has some external links.

Wikipedia - List of World Heritage Sites
This is a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Americas (North America, Central America, South America). It provides site location, criteria, area and description. It also has some external links.


 

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