US National Parks
The United States has 58 national parks that are controlled by the National Park Service. This part of the U.S. Department of the Interior was established in 1916. The National Park Service has 20,000 employees and over 140,000 volunteers who help preserve America's most beautiful and important natural resources, the national parks!
Despite its name, the star of Bryce Canyon National Park isn't actually a canyon. It's a group of mountains full of "hoodoos," or structures formed by erosion, a combination of water and wind damage. These forces ate through the rock over thousands of years. Now Bryce Canyon has windows, paths and caves within its beautiful orange rock.
As deep as 1,985 feet in the center, Crater Lake in Southern Oregon is America's deepest lake. Mount Mazama erupted in the year 4860 BC, destroying itself. The eruption was so great that it spread ash as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Nevada. The center of that old volcano filled with water, creating Crater Lake.
Straddling Nevada and California, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Death Valley National Park is the hottest and driest park in America. One attraction, Badwater, is 282 feet below sea level. The oldest stone in Death Valley is 1.7 billion years old and comes from a time when Death Valley was a lake.
An area of wetland and swamp that covers one and a half million acres in Florida, Everglades National Park is one of America's biggest. A wetland is the area where water meets ground, and it is packed with animals from both worlds. Vulnerable to weather, part of the park was shut down in 2005 after Hurricane Wilma and it took six months to re-open.
Perhaps America's most remote national park, Glacier Bay National Park has no roads leading to it. Nevertheless, 400,000 people come every year by boat and air to see the magnificent glaciers near Juneau, Alaska. A glacier is a slowly-moving river of ice and the world's second biggest source of fresh water.
Formed by the Colorado River and found in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of the oldest national parks in America and owes a lot to Teddy Roosevelt, who saw the canyon as a national treasure. Going layer by layer in its orange rock, scientists can learn about every period of weather and history going back over 2 billion years.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. A great variety of elevation gives this national park over 10,000 species of plant and animal life. Hiking the Appalachian trail is a favorite activity here and 9 million visitors experience it every year, which is double the attendance of any other national park.
Hot water bubbles up from deep within the Earth at America's smallest national park. It collects in pools, called hot springs. For thousands of years, medicine has been advocating the use of hot water therapy for various ailments. Americans have been coming to Hot Springs National Park for over 200 years to enjoy its benefits.
Located in Mount Rainier National Park, Mount Rainier is a 14,000 foot-tall volcano in Washington State and the highest point in the Cascade Range. It is surrounded by America's heaviest glacier and topped by a blanket of clouds that always hides the mountaintop. Every year, 10,000 people set out to climb it and about 25% achieve their goal.
At Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park, there is a forest of trees that are so old, they've been turned to stone. Not only do visitors get to enjoy Arizona's colorful desert, they can wander around that strange “forest." The petrifying process happened over millions of years, and the forest dates back to the time of the dinosaurs.
Shenandoah National Park showcases the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River of Virginia. The park also features 101 and miles of the famous Appalachian Trail, which, at 2,000 miles long, is the longest trail in the United States. US President Herbert Hoover had a retreat at Shenandoah.
Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park and a center for "geothermal," or volcanic activity. Here, visitors can watch Old Faithful Geyser, which shoots 8,000 gallons of water 1,000 feet in the air every hour and a half. Yellowstone, nestled mostly in Wyoming, contains half the geothermal surface activity on the planet, and two-thirds of the world's geysers.
Yosemite is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. From Yosemite valley, visitors have great views of El Capitan, a granite mountain, and Half Dome, which has a vertical face. In addition to mountains, fans of Yosemite like famous photographer Ansel Adams love the meadows and Bridalveil Falls.
Utah's Zion National Park is located in the southern region of the state. It consists of Zion Canyon and the desert around it, which houses over 400 types of animals. The first Native Americans settled in the canyon 8,000 years ago.