Exploring the Parks
The Brooks Range is the northernmost portion of the Rocky Mountains, extending over 700 miles from the Bering Sea to the Canadian border. Steep, rocky slopes and glacier-carved valleys dominate this vast, rugged landscape along the east-to-west running Continental Divide. The Brooks Range is nearly entirely protected and open for all to enjoy.
Plant yourself -- leaning into the wind, of course -- on the open prairie near South Pass City, Wyoming, and you can quickly envision the setting that faced Conestoga-riding emigrants more than a century ago in their exodus to the West Coast. Endless miles of sagebrush, the Wind River Range looming ever-present to the north, a boundless sky dotted here and there with distant rainstorms.
"Chatham." That one word captures a rich and poignant chapter of American history spanning nearly 250 years.
Deep in West Virginia, the New River has cut a 1,000-foot gorge that, in places, froths with whitewater. Its V-shaped mountainsides are covered in trees. Outcrops of Nuttall sandstone packed with quartz, the gorge’s bones, show near the tops of the cliffs.
A slice of the Old West is preserved at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana. The following high-definition video of the historic site was taken by Skyworks, a British company that specializes in aerial filming, using a specially equipped helicopter.
Aztec has nothing to do with the Aztecs of Mexico and Central America. But it does have everything to do with Ancestral Puebloans. It may be one of many places people from Chaco moved to when Chaco was abandoned. Occupation here began in about the late 1000's and flourished until around 1130. By the late 1200's, this settlement was abandoned as so many others had been. As is the case elsewhere, no one knows why.
Hugging the coast of California, Golden Gate National Recreation Area might on first blush come across as a human-congested landscape, but there are places you can go that speak to the purely natural side of the park, as this video shows.
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site recently hosted its 32nd annual Fort Union Rendezvous that takes place each year during the third weekend in June. This year’s event commenced Thursday with Kids Day in the fort courtyard. Activities throughout the weekend included demonstrations of pottery making, gunsmithing, blacksmithing, bow making, flintlock firing, and frontier cooking. Muskrat skinning and brain tanning were offered for the strong of heart.
With The Wilderness Act's 50th birthday being celebrated throughout the year, various units of the National Park System are taking pride in their backyard wilderness areas. In a new video produced by the National Park Service, the Saguaro Wilderness Area in Saguaro National Park is showcased.
Canyonlands National Park is divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers into three distinct districts. Needles, Island in the Sky, and the Maze. There are no roads connecting them because the rivers and some very deep ditches are in the way. Island in the Sky is about a two-hour drive north of the Needles. The Maze is another matter. It can be reached only via a very long and circuitous route.
It’s hot here. Welcome to the beginning of summer in the Southwest. Two days ago it was raining and near freezing and I was complaining about it at Mesa Verde and now it’s sweat time. But those rains have turned the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park into a veritable flower garden. Everywhere I look there are blooms.
Fontana Lake, which ebbs along the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, is a watery aspect to the park that might get lost among the forests and mountains. But it offers a rich recreational side to the park, as this video shows.
Mesa Verde is an old friend. I’ve been here many times. But I still have lots more to see. It’s one of those places where you could spend a lifetime and still miss some of it.
It’s a long, rough and dusty road from anywhere to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. But, boy, is it worth the trip! The fact that it’s such a rough trip may have a lot to do with determining the kind of people who come to visit this place carved out of the high desert of northwestern New Mexico. Unlike visitors to so many other parks, these folks have a certain quality about them that hit me right off the bat.
The Niobrara River flows eastward 535 miles from the high plains of Wyoming to its confluence with the Missouri River in northeastern Nebraska. Over its course the river cuts through nearly the entire width of northern Nebraska, much of which is in the state’s scenic Sandhills region. Unlike most rivers that are fed by rainwater runoff, nearly three-quarters of the Niobrara’s flow is the result of groundwater from the vast Ogallala Aquifer.
El Morro National Monument is one of the little gems in the crown jewels of our national parks, and even though it may not be as noticeable as its bigger cousins, it is precious just the same.
Over the years the two of us have visited numerous Civil War battlefields, memorials, monuments, and museums (sometimes referred to as “the cannonball circuit”), but none better than Shiloh National Military Park. Shiloh is a world apart from better-known and much busier Gettysburg. It is a superb place to walk, bike, and simply linger during an exploration of the site of this important battle during the early part of America’s Civil War.
Aggtelek National Park in Hungary is truly a unique park, with a sprawling and surprising cave system, an equestrian center, and miles of hiking and biking trails. Dan Swartz, a marketing assistant for the park, provided the following overview for Traveler readers.
Visiting Gates of the Arctic National Park is not easily done, but if you make the effort, the payoff is outstanding.
In less than a minute I had crossed Laughing Bird Caye National Park, a tiny sliver of sand, coconut palm trees and a tangle of mangrove along the Belize Barrier Reef in the Caribbean Sea.
Happy Holidays, everybody! It’s almost the end of the year and after digging up some extra vacation days from beneath the couch cushions, I decided to take a mid-December road trip to Big Bend National Park
Pinnacles National Park took 125 years to become the nation’s newest designated parkland. But it took immensely longer for the mountains to arrive at the present location 40 miles southeast of Salinas, California.