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National Parks Best Idea Ever
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National Parks Best Idea Ever
  Arizona Travel News ( Press Release )

National Parks: 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Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Yellowstone National Park Act on March 1, 1872, the park was "reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale, and dedicated and set apart as a public park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."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 world-class destinations."
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 still permitted.
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 National Park.
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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