America’s national treasures
In 1872, Yellowstone became America’s first national park, an area so special it had to be preserved for future generations. As more and more areas were designated, America’s National Park Service was born and today it protects more than 84 million acres of the great outdoors. Here’s just some of the incredible things you can experience in these beautiful places.
America’s national parks are full of amazing sights.
Lying on an active volcano, Yellowstone is alive with bubbling mud pits and spouting geysers. Old Faithful is the most famous, erupting around 17 times a day, shooting gallons of steaming water high into the air.
Then there’s the mighty Grand Canyon. Nothing will ever prepare you for the moment you first peer over the edge of this gorge carved by the Colorado River. At around a mile deep and 18 miles wide, it’s simply immense and the colours of the rock are incredible.
On the Pacific coast it’s possible to see the tallest trees on earth and America’s deepest lake at Redwood and Crater Lake National Parks. The giant redwood trees can soar to heights of more than 300 feet, whilst Crater Lake’s deep-blue waters plunge to a depth of 1,943 feet.
Mighty rock formations
Utah’s national parks contain some of the most magnificent rock formations you’re ever likely to see. Zion boasts huge sandstone cliffs in shades of pink and cream, whilst Bryce Canyon is known for its hoodoos. These skinny red-rock pillars, some 10-storeys tall, can be admired from scenic viewpoints, or there are walking trails if you’re feeling more adventurous.
Arches National Park is spectacular at sunrise and sunset. It contains more than 2,000 sandstone arches in vibrant shades of orange and red. There are plenty of hiking trails on offer, including one to Delicate Arch, the park’s most iconic sight.
Virtually untouched by light pollution, America’s national parks offer unbeatable views of the night sky. Wrap up against the cool night air and head outside to gaze at thousands of stars, planets and maybe the Milky Way. National parks such as Canyonlands and Capitol Reef have been officially certified by the International Dark-Sky Association and sometimes offer organised stargazing events.
Step back in time and head to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. The Ancestral Pueblo people once called this place home, and there are thought to be around 5,000 archaeological sites in the park. The well-preserved cliff dwellings are fascinating. Most are small with just one to five rooms, but the largest, Cliff Palace, has over 150 rooms.