Category Archives: National Park

02-23-20 – Death Valley National Park


Death Valley National Park is an American national park that straddles the California–Nevada border, east of the Sierra Nevada. The park boundaries include Death Valley, the northern section of Panamint Valley, the southern section of Eureka Valley, and most of Saline Valley. The park occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts, protecting the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and its diverse environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, and the hottest, driest and lowest of all the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. Approximately 91% of the park is a designated wilderness area. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, a survivor from much wetter times. UNESCO included Death Valley as the principal feature of its Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve in 1984.

A series of Native American groups inhabited the area from as early as 7000 BC, most recently the Timbisha around 1000 AD who migrated between winter camps in the valleys and summer grounds in the mountains. A group of European Americans, trapped in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California, gave the valley its name, even though only one of their group died there. Several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams. The valley later became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies. Tourism expanded in the 1920s when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994.

The natural environment of the area has been shaped largely by its geology. The valley is actually a graben with the oldest rocks being extensively metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, warm, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean. Additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. The subduction uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes. Later the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, such as Lake Manly.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Valley_National_Park

01-03-20 – Gateway Arch National Park


Gateway Arch National Park, formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial until 2018, is an American national park located in St. Louis, Missouri, near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Gateway Arch and its immediate surroundings were initially designated as a national memorial by executive order on December 21, 1935, and redesignated as a national park in 2018. The park is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS).

The memorial was established to commemorate:
the Louisiana Purchase, and the subsequent westward movement of American explorers and pioneers;
the first civil government west of the Mississippi River; and
the debate over slavery raised by the Dred Scott case.

The national park consists of the Gateway Arch, a steel catenary arch that has become the definitive icon of St. Louis; a 91-acre (36.8 ha) park along the Mississippi River on the site of the earliest buildings of the city; the Old Courthouse, a former state and federal courthouse where the Dred Scott case originated; and the 140,000 sq ft (13,000 m2) museum at the Gateway Arch.

The Gateway Arch, known as the “Gateway to the West”, is the tallest structure in Missouri. It was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947 and built between 1963 and October 1965. It stands 630 feet (192 m) tall and 630 feet (192 m) wide at its base. The legs are 54 feet (16.5 m) wide at the base, narrowing to 17 feet (5.2 m) at the arch. There is a unique tram system to carry passengers to the observation room at the top of the arch.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_Arch_National_Park

12-28-19 – Cuyahoga Valley National Park


Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an American national park that preserves and reclaims the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio.

The 32,572-acre (50.9 sq mi; 131.8 km2) park is administered by the National Park Service, but within its boundaries are areas independently managed as county parks or as public or private businesses. Cuyahoga Valley was originally designated as a National Recreation Area in 1974, then redesignated as a national park 26 years later in 2000, and remains the only national park that originated as a national recreation area.

Cuyahoga Valley is the only national park in the state of Ohio and one of three in the Great Lakes Basin, with Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and Indiana Dunes National Park bordering Lake Michigan. Cuyahoga Valley also differs from the other national parks in America in that it is adjacent to two large urban areas and it includes a dense road network, small towns, four reservations of the Cleveland Metroparks, eleven parks of the Summit Metro Parks, and public and private attractions.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuyahoga_Valley_National_Park

12-24-19 – Indiana Dunes National Park


Indiana Dunes National Park is a United States National Park located in Northwestern Indiana, managed by the National Park Service. It was authorized by Congress in 1966 as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the name by which it was known until it was designated the nation’s 61st national park on February 15, 2019.[2] The park runs for nearly 25 miles (40 km) along the southern shore of Lake Michigan; it contains approximately 15,000 acres (6,100 ha). Its visitors center is in Porter, Indiana. Located in the park are sand dune, wetland, prairie, river, and forest ecosystems.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Dunes_National_Park

11-24-19 – Sand to Snow and Joshua Tree


I went for a wander intending to visit Sand To Snow National Monument, but found myself in a hike-in only situation controlled by The Wildlands Conservancy, and I wasn’t geared for a long hike that day, so I spent some time in The Wildlands Conservancy before setting off to the far more accessible Joshua Tree National Park.

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Sand to Snow National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in San Bernardino County and into northern Riverside County, Southern California. It protects diverse montane and desert habitats of the San Bernardino Mountains, southern Mojave Desert, and northwestern Colorado Desert. The national monument protects a total of 154,000 acres (62,000 ha), with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managing 83,000 acres (34,000 ha) acres, and the USFS−San Bernardino National Forest managing 71,000 acres (29,000 ha). It extends from around 1,000 feet (300 m) on the Coachella Valley desert floor up to over 11,000 feet (3,400 m) in the San Bernardino Mountains. Over 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of the national monument are within the San Gorgonio Wilderness area, which was designated by Congress in 1964. An eastern border in the Little San Bernardino Mountains abuts Joshua Tree National Park. A separate section expands the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness area to the northeast. 30 miles (48 km) of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail pass through the monument. The headwaters of the Santa Ana River, Whitewater River, Morongo Creek, and San Gorgonio River are within it. The park protects a significant wildlife corridor and landscape linkage between the San Bernardino National Forest/San Gorgonio Wilderness area, Joshua Tree National Park, and Bighorn Mountain Wilderness area.

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Joshua Tree National Park is an American national park in southeastern California, east of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, near Palm Springs. The park is named for the Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) native to the Mojave Desert. Originally declared a national monument in 1936, Joshua Tree was redesignated as a national park in 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act. Encompassing a total of 790,636 acres (1,235.4 sq mi; 3,199.6 km2)—an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island—the park includes 429,690 acres (671.4 sq mi; 1,738.9 km2) of designated wilderness. Straddling the border between San Bernardino County and Riverside County, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains traverse the southwest edge of the park.

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Source: Wikipedia

10-23-19 – Dry Tortugas National Park


Dry Tortugas National Park is a national park in the United States about 68 miles (109 km) west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The park preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated of the Florida Keys. The archipelago’s coral reefs are the least disturbed of the Florida Keys reefs.

The park is noted for abundant sea life, tropical bird breeding grounds, colorful coral reefs, and legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures. The park’s centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. Fort Jefferson is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, and is composed of more than 16 million bricks. Among United States forts it is exceeded in size only by Fort Monroe, Virginia, and Fort Adams, Rhode Island. Dry Tortugas is unique in its combination of a largely undisturbed tropical ecosystem with significant historic artifacts. The park is accessible only by seaplane or boat and has averaged about 63,000 visitors annually in the period from 2008 to 2017. Activities include snorkeling, picnicking, birdwatching, camping, scuba diving, saltwater fishing and kayaking.

Dry Tortugas National Park is part of the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, established by UNESCO in 1976 under its Man and the Biosphere Programme.

10-21-19 – Coopertown Airboat Tour


As you travel down US 41, 11 miles west of the Florida Turnpike, through the heart of Florida’s Everglades, you will come across a friendly little town known as Coopertown.

Coopertown, itself, is home to a population of 8 human residents, a restaurant known for its down-home style frog legs and gator tail, an educational center and the entry point to guided airboat tours into the “real” Florida Everglades aboard the Coopertown Airboat fleet.

Today, the Kennon family, direct descendents of the Coopers, run the Coopertown Original Airboat Tours. The Coopertown Airboat fleet consists of seven airboats in operation, the largest airboat has a seating capacity of 24 people. The smaller two-seater has been hired for movie and documentary filming and fashion photo shoots for clients from all over the world.

10-21-19 – Everglades National Park


Everglades National Park is an American national park that protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades in Florida. The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River. An average of one million people visit the park each year. Everglades is the third-largest national park in the contiguous United States after Death Valley and Yellowstone. UNESCO declared the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve in 1976, and listed the park as a World Heritage Site in 1979, while the Ramsar Convention included the park on its list of Wetlands of International Importance in 1987. Everglades is one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.

Most national parks preserve unique geographic features; Everglades National Park was the first created to protect a fragile ecosystem. The Everglades are a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river flowing 0.25 miles (0.40 km) per day out of Lake Okeechobee, southwest into Florida Bay. The park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. Thirty-six threatened or protected species inhabit the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee, along with 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles. The majority of South Florida’s fresh water, which is stored in the Biscayne Aquifer, is recharged in the park.

Humans have lived for thousands of years in or around the Everglades. Plans arose in 1882 to drain the wetlands and develop the land for agricultural and residential use. As the 20th century progressed, water flow from Lake Okeechobee was increasingly controlled and diverted to enable explosive growth of the South Florida metropolitan area. The park was established in 1934, to protect the quickly vanishing Everglades, and dedicated in 1947, as major canal building projects were initiated across South Florida. The ecosystems in Everglades National Park have suffered significantly from human activity, and restoration of the Everglades is a politically charged issue in South Florida.

10-20-19 – Biscayne National Park



Biscayne National Park is an American national park in southern Florida, south of Miami. The park preserves Biscayne Bay and its offshore barrier reefs. Ninety-five percent of the park is water, and the shore of the bay is the location of an extensive mangrove forest. The park covers 172,971 acres (270.3 sq mi; 700.0 km) and includes Elliott Key, the park’s largest island and northernmost of the true Florida Keys, formed from fossilized coral reef. The islands farther north in the park are transitional islands of coral and sand. The offshore portion of the park includes the northernmost region of the Florida Reef, one of the largest coral reefs in the world.

Biscayne National Park protects four distinct ecosystems: the shoreline mangrove swamp, the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, the coral limestone keys and the offshore Florida Reef. The shoreline swamps of the mainland and island margins provide a nursery for larval and juvenile fish, molluscs and crustaceans. The bay waters harbor immature and adult fish, seagrass beds, sponges, soft corals, and manatees. The keys are covered with tropical vegetation including endangered cacti and palms, and their beaches provide nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles. Offshore reefs and waters harbor more than 200 species of fish, pelagic birds, whales and hard corals. Sixteen endangered species including Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies, smalltooth sawfish, manatees, and green and hawksbill sea turtles may be observed in the park. Biscayne also has a small population of threatened American crocodiles and a few American alligators.

The people of the Glades culture inhabited the Biscayne Bay region as early as 10,000 years ago before rising sea levels filled the bay. The Tequesta people occupied the islands and shoreline from about 4,000 years before the present to the 16th century, when the Spanish took possession of Florida. Reefs claimed ships from Spanish times through the 20th century, with more than 40 documented wrecks within the park’s boundaries. While the park’s islands were farmed during the 19th and early 20th centuries, their rocky soil and periodic hurricanes made agriculture difficult to sustain.

In the early 20th century the islands became secluded destinations for wealthy Miamians who built getaway homes and social clubs. Mark C. Honeywell’s guesthouse on Boca Chita Key that featured a mock lighthouse was the area’s most elaborate private retreat. The Cocolobo Cay Club was at various times owned by Miami developer Carl G. Fisher, yachtsman Garfield Wood, and President Richard Nixon’s friend Bebe Rebozo, and was visited by four United States presidents. The amphibious community of Stiltsville, established in the 1930s in the shoals of northern Biscayne Bay, took advantage of its remoteness from land to offer offshore gambling and alcohol during Prohibition. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Central Intelligence Agency and Cuban exile groups used Elliott Key as a training ground for infiltrators into Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

Originally proposed for inclusion in Everglades National Park, Biscayne Bay was removed from the proposed park to ensure Everglades’ establishment. The area remained undeveloped until the 1960s, when a series of proposals were made to develop the keys in the manner of Miami Beach, and to construct a deepwater seaport for bulk cargo, along with refinery and petrochemical facilities on the mainland shore of Biscayne Bay. Through the 1960s and 1970s, two fossil-fueled power plants and two nuclear power plants were built on the bay shores. A backlash against development led to the 1968 designation of Biscayne National Monument. The preserved area was expanded by its 1980 re-designation as Biscayne National Park. The park is heavily used by boaters, and apart from the park’s visitor center on the mainland, its land and sea areas are accessible only by boat.

09-16-19 – Dinosaur National Monument


Dinosaur National Monument is a United States National Monument located on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains on the border between Colorado and Utah at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. Although most of the monument area is in Moffat County, Colorado, the Dinosaur Quarry is located in Utah just to the north of the town of Jensen, Utah.

The nearest communities are Jensen, Utah, and Dinosaur, Colorado. The park contains over 800 paleontological sites and has fossils of dinosaurs including Allosaurus, Deinonychus, Abydosaurus (a nearly complete skull, lower jaws and first four neck vertebrae of the specimen DINO 16488 found here at the base of the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation is the holotype for the description) and various long-neck, long-tail sauropods. It was declared a National Monument on October 4, 1915. In April 2019, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Dinosaur National Monument an International Dark Sky Park.

The rock layer enclosing the fossils is a sandstone and conglomerate bed of alluvial or river bed origin known as the Morrison Formation from the Jurassic Period some 150 million years old. The dinosaurs and other ancient animals were carried by the river system which eventually entombed their remains in Utah. The pile of sediments were later buried and lithified into solid rock. The layers of rock were later uplifted and tilted to their present angle by the mountain building forces that formed the Uintas during the Laramide orogeny. The relentless forces of erosion exposed the layers at the surface to be found by paleontologists.

The dinosaur fossil beds (bone beds) were discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist working and collecting for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He and his crews excavated thousands of fossils and shipped them back to the museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for study and display. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the dinosaur beds as Dinosaur National Monument in 1915. The monument boundaries were expanded in 1938 from the original 80-acre (320,000 m2) tract surrounding the dinosaur quarry in Utah, to its present extent of over 200,000 acres (800 km²) in Utah and Colorado, encompassing the spectacular river canyons of the Green and Yampa.

The plans made by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on a ten-dam, billion dollar Colorado River Storage Project began to arouse opposition in the early 1950s when it was announced that one of the proposed dams would be at Echo Park, in the middle of Dinosaur National Monument. The controversy assumed major proportions, dominating conservation politics for years. David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club, and Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society led an unprecedented nationwide campaign to preserve the free-flowing rivers and scenic canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers. They argued that if a national monument was not safe from development, how could any wildland be kept intact? On the other side of the argument were powerful members of Congress from western states, who were committed to the project in order to secure water rights, obtain cheap hydroelectric power and develop reservoirs as tourist destinations. After much debate, Congress settled on a compromise that eliminated Echo Park Dam and authorized the rest of the project. The Colorado River Storage Project Act became law on April 11, 1956. It stated, “that no dam or reservoir constructed under the authorization of the Act shall be within any National Park or Monument.” Historians view the Echo Park Dam controversy as signaling the start of an era that includes major conservationist political successes such as the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.