National Parks Best Idea Ever
Utah Travel News ( Press Release )
One of the Best Ideas in the World
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA: July 21, 2003 - The decision in 1872 to create the world's first
national park - Yellowstone - was remarkably progressive at the time.
Some 130 years later, the 2.2-million acre park looks pretty much the
same, and that was the whole idea. Several generations have benefitted
from the foresight of those who saw the potential of this magical place,
where water, steam and mud seemed to bubble up straight from the center
of the earth.
When President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Yellowstone National
Park Act on March 1, 1872, the park was "reserved and withdrawn from
settlement, occupancy, or sale, and dedicated and set apart as a public
park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."
Probably no one involved with that simple act could have predicted that
the idea of a national park would take hold around the world. Today in
the U.S., there are almost national parks, monuments, memorials,
historic sites, battlefields and seashores. There are hundreds of other
national parks throughout the world.
Each destination has been designated a national park, monument,
memorial, battlefield, seashore or historic site for a different reason.
Those reasons include distinctive geology, significant cultural history,
rare or wonderful wildlife or sheer beauty. But without exception, each
location is unlike any place in the world, which is why national parks
are truly world-class destinations.
Lodges, restaurants and other concessions in many national parks are
operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Xanterra has long been committed
to working in partnership with the National Park Service to preserve and
protect the country's national parks.
"It is our first priority to help the National Park Service make sure
that we do everything we can to protect these national treasures," said
Judi Lages, vice president of sales and marketing for Xanterra. "We
deeply believe that it is a privilege to live and work in these
Below are some brief descriptions of selected distinctive features of
several national parks:
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places in the world. The
vast park's remarkable geography includes Telescope Peak, rising 11,049
feet above sea level. Only 15 miles away is the lowest point in the
Western Hemisphere - Badwater Basin salt pan at 282 feet below sea
level. The weather varies as much as the landscape in this 3.3 million
acre park. The highest recorded temperature was 134 degrees Fahrenheit
in July 1913. That same year, the park's lowest recorded temperature -
15 degrees Fahrenheit - occurred in January. Despite the park's
sometimes harsh climate, it is home to more than 970 species of plants.
Yellowstone National Park
There's truly no other place on Earth quite like Yellowstone National
Park. With 10,000 thermal features such as geysers, hot springs,
fumaroles and mudpots, this vast park is home to half of all the earth's
geothermal features and 75 percent of the planet's geysers.
Grand Canyon National Park
A World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied
geologic landscapes in the world. It represents three of the four
periods of geological time, is considered one of the finest examples of
arid-land erosion in the world, contains several major ecosystems
including three of the four desert types in North America and is home to
threatened and endangered plants and animals. Additionally, the park
contains more than 2,600 prehistoric ruins. Many of the buildings and
structures along the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are now on
the National Register of Historic Places. The park was first protected
in 1893 as a forest reserve in which mining, logging and hunting were
Everglades National Park
No other place in the world combines a subtropical climate, a shallow
river and an incredibly diverse and rare plant and animal system.
Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the
U.S. and is home to many rare and endangered species including the
Florida Panther, West Indies Manatee and North American Crocodile. The
park has been designated a World Heritage Site, an International
Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance.
Crater Lake National Park
This Oregon lake was created more than 7,000 years ago with the eruption
and collapse of Mt. Mazama. The incredibly blue lake features some of
the clearest water found anywhere in the world and is six miles wide and
1,943 feet deep. It is the deepest lake in the United States and the
seventh deepest in the world. Created in 1902, Crater Lake National
Park is the fifth oldest national park in the country.
Bryce Canyon National Park
People come from around the world to view this park's world-famous
"hoodoos," bizarrely shaped spires that protrude from the floor of the
2,000-foot canyon. Hoodoos are formed when ice and rainwater wear away
the weakened limestone in the canyon. This park is comprised of three
climatic zones - spruce/fir forest, ponderosa pine forest and pi¤¤on
pine/juniper forest - and is home to more than 100 species of birds.
Zion National Park
Mormon pioneers in the 1860s gave this park the name "Zion," an ancient
Hebrew word that refers to a place of refuge. This breathtaking park
offers scenery unlike anything else in the world. Its sandstone cliffs
are among the highest in the world, and the park is home to one of the
last free-flowing river systems on the Colorado Plateau. With more than
800 native species, Zion National Park has one of the richest plant
systems in Utah. More than 75 species of mammals, 271 bird species, 32
species of reptiles and amphibians and eight fish species live in Zion
Petrified Forest National Park
This 93,533-acre park is best known for one of the world's largest
concentrations of petrified wood. Visitors also come to view the park's
petroglyphs and pictographs, some of the Southwest's best-preserved
examples of the drawings of the area's ancient inhabitants. Although the
meaning of many of these rock carvings and paintings has been lost,
scientists now believe that some of the park's sites were used by their
ancient artists as solar calendars to track the yearly movement of the
sun across the sky. The petrified trees found in the park are from the
Triassic Period 200 to 250 million years ago. Dead trees were carried by
rivers and eventually deposited on the flood plain adjacent to the
water. While most trees decomposed, a few were buried by volcanic
sediment before they could decompose. Ground water dissolved silica from
the ash and carried it through the log. This solution replaced the cell
walls and crystallized the logs.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Called America's "Shrine of Democracy," no other structure in the world
symbolizes the country's struggle for independence like Mount Rushmore
National Memorial. Completed in 1941, the 60-foot sculptures of
Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and
Abraham Lincoln were created to memorialize the birth, growth and
development of the first 150 years of the United States.
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