National Parks

By on 20/08/2014

National parks in the USA are overpowering in every way: in terms of the number, their size, distinct characteristics and significant features, inspiring views and their capability to enthuse marvel. There sure is a lot of exploring and Uptown Times have chosen 6 of USA’s 59 national parks to review in this post.

GrandCanyonGrand Canyon National Park: The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arizona is a 277-mile massive network of terraces, pinnacles, chasm, buttes and mesas. The nature-sculpted canyon, rock faces and geological temples that have been caused due to the erosion of the Colorado River took over two billion years to shape. While you may have seen a zillion photos of the Canyon, it will still leave you in awe when you see it in real. The colors are truly breathtaking and shift with the angle of the sun.

The landscape is also life to diverse wildlife, which includes prey birds and large mammals like the bald eagle, California condor, bighorn sheep, golden eagle, Peregrine falcon, mountain lion, coyote and elk. The splendor of the Grand Canyon is not only due to its dramatic scenery and arrangements but is because of the tale that every ancient rock deposit in the canyon tells.

Visitors can take pleasure in day hiking through many fascinating tracks, such as the Bright Angel or the North Kaibab trails. The Inner Canyon offers a silent and pensive encounter with nature. More invigorating options are cycling and white water rafting or an exciting mule ride or view of the canyon from a helicopter. For those who are interested in geology and moon walks, ranger programs are free. Only 3 hours away from Grand Canyon is Antelope Canyon, which is a slot canyon and is also worth a visit.

Size: 1,904 square miles

Tourists: 4.4 million annually

Not to be Missed: The Grandview Trail on the South Rim, a 6-mile loop to Horseshoe Mesa’s is almost certainly the easiest way to enjoy the park while the 18-mile round-trip Bright Angel Trail that passes Phantom Ranch’s dorm-style room’s enroute to the Colorado River is the tricky trail to explore the area.

Creature Feature: Mules that provide relief as rides to help rest your sore feet after all the hiking.

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Glacier_BayGlacier National Park: Located in Flathead, Montana, the national park deserves to be explored extensively. This is truly a hikers paradise with over 700 miles of glacier trails that are covered with mountain peaks, lush green trails, glacier carved valleys, pristine forests, diverse flora and fauna, alpine meadows, crystal streams of water and breathtaking waterfalls.

If planning to engage in deep-forest activities, beware of grizzlies who find it an ideal dwelling location. The largest water body in the park, Lake McDonald ensures some spectacular views of the area. Alternatively, a 400-meter boardwalk ensures deep exploration into ancient rainforests.

The Glacier National Park includes sections of two mountain ranges, which provide tourists with spectacular views of one of the world’s most active avalanche areas. Moreover, the abundant wildlife viewing options ensures the park into being one of nature’s most beautiful creations.

Size: 1,584 square miles

The Easy Way: By Car, the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, which crosses the Continental Divide and traces craggy cliffs or by foot, the 2.5-mile St. Mary Falls trail that reaches two cascades

The Hard Way: The rigorous nine-mile Siyeh Pass

Creature Feature: Cougars, lynx and grizzly bears

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Yellowstone NationalYellowstone National Park: Declared in 1807, Yellowstone National Park is the first park to receive the national park status and this was dedicated by President Ulysses S. Grant. The park is spread over an area of 2,219,748 acres in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The geothermal phenomena and wildlife wonder is almost about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined and is home to half of the world’s geysers.

The park roads close in fall and winter, making spring and summer the best time to visit. Old Faithful, a cone geyser, greets tourists with its jovial upward stream of water. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is a V-shaped canyon that is shaped and reddened by an aggressive caldera eruption 600,000 years ago. This is the point that offers the best location to sight splendid falls and alpine lakes in Yellowstone.

Embark on a day hike or cycle along scenic trails, ski in winter or fish for trout. Wildlife teams in the park and tourists can often see elk herds, bison, black bear, moose, river otters, grizzly bears and bighorn sheep.

Size: 3,470 square miles

Not to be Missed: The two loop roads connect most of the park places of interest from Old Faithful to the Tower Fall

Creature Feature Lamar Valley is “America’s Serengeti” for a reason

Avoid Peak times at Artist Point

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Great Smoky Mountains National ParkGreat Smoky Mountains National Park: The 520,000-acre national park is probably America’s most frequented national park. The World Heritage Site is located on the Blue Ridge Mountains and is jointly contributed by Tennessee and North Carolina governments. The park has over 800-miles of trails where extensive wildlife including black bears, bobcats, falcons, wild turkeys, grouse, juncos and white tailed deer’s can be spotted. The park is also known as the wildflower national park as it allows the eyes to witness some of the most beautiful wildflowers located around waterfalls. For the ultimate hiking experience, traverse the Appalachian Trail from east to west or embark on the strenuous trek to Clingmans Dome that will reward tourists with spectacular 360-degree views of the hazy Great Smoky Mountains. A visit to the park ensures picnics, wildlife watching, hiking and scenic drives to visitors.

Size: 814 square miles

Tourist: About 9 million per year

Not to be Missed: Charlie’s Bunion Cliff, which is a 9-mile round trip from Newfound Gap and offers far reaching panoramic views. The Cades Cove Loop Road does not allow cars on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, but is accessible on two-wheelers. If you have a car, drive uphill 6643 feet to visit Clingmans Dome for some amazing views.

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Yosemite National ParkYosemite National Park: Located in the counties of Madera, Mariposa and Tuolumne in California, the Yosemite National Park spans an area of 761,579 acres. The park is also popularly nicknamed as ‘temple of nature’ and it greets visitors with nearly over 500 ancient giant sequoia trees at the entrance.

These primordial groves share the scenery with fierce granite cliffs, over 300 lakes, mountain meadows, hanging valleys, deep u-shaped valleys and five of the highest waterfalls. Unfortunately, time will only allow you to see a small section of this ancient park and after your first visit you will surely long for more.

Take a steep trail trek to Mist Trail and ascend rocky cliffs for worthwhile views. Bikers, skiers and wildlife seekers would love to take a field day in Yosemite’s grand geographic structures and diverse flora and fauna.

The giant trees interweave pathways with wild irises, delicate white wild flowers, lavender lupines and the meadows are a residence to mule deer’s, black bears, coyotes, raccoons, foxes and skunks a. The best time to visit the park is in late May when mountain snow melts and keeps flowing down.

Size: 1,169 square miles.

Tourists: 3.2 million a year with most residing in the 7-mile long Yosemite Valley

Not to be Missed: The trail to Vernal Falls delivers some worthy views and is the easier hike option. If you’d like to drive, take the Tioga Road that takes you 39-miles uphill to the Tuolume Meadows which is a valley amid lush peaks. The hardest way to explore the area is by climbing El Capitan, while the smartest way is to hike 2.2 miles up the Sentinel Dome for a 360 degrees view.

Creature Feature: Black bears, mule deer and mountain lions

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Olympic National Park: Situated in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, the park occupies an area of nearly a Olympic National Parkmillion acres, bounded by three climactic zones and thus often referred to as 3-parks-in-1.

The different zones are glaciated Olympic Mountains and sub-alpine meadows on one side, rushing rivers on temperate valleys and forests on the other and the rugged Pacific shores on the outer arch. This wildlife and UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve is habitat to diverse flora and fauna that is as wide-ranging as its three climates.

When visiting, don’t forget to soak in hot springs, walk through the soaking rainforest floor, visit the 200-century old alpine glaciers and watch the sun’s rising and setting from the parks uninterrupted 73-mile Pacific coast.

The park can be visited throughout the year. During the rainy seasons, the rainforests would be too wet to traverse upon and you are better off visiting the dry coastline. Alternatively, in winters when the glacier fed lakes are too cold, visit the hot springs. This is one park that seems to have almost everything.

Size: 1,442 square miles

Not to be Missed: Hurricane Ridge is an easy viewing platform to witness craggy Olympics (West) and forested hills (south). The difficult way is to launch at La Push to row the deceitful Pacific to look for hidden coves, otters, seals and bald eagles.

Creature Feature: Traverse the East Fork Quinault River Trail to view elks and bears.

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 What national parks do you love to visit? Let us know in the comments section below.

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