Thursday, April 24, 2014

"U" is for Utah National Parks

"Delicate Arch" National Parks photo
Did you know that Utah is a treasure trove of National Parks? The state is home to five of them: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Zion.

Located in southeastern Utah, Arches must be a photographer's dream. A three-mile round trip hike is recommended to visit the famed "Delicate Arch". The Fiery Furnace hike requires a guide because of dead end paths and narrow passages. There's also Park Avenue, the one-mile walk through giant sandstone towers.

Capitol Reef National Park features a 100-mile long buckle in the earth's surface that goes from Thousand Lake Mountain down to Lake Powell. Erosion along the fold has created deep canyons and other interesting rock formations. When we were in Page, Arizona, I didn't realize as I took pictures of Lake Powell that I was also photographing part of the Capitol Reef National Park.
"Lake Powell" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Canyonlands National Park is east of Capitol Reef and west and south of Moab, Utah. It is said to feature some of the most challenging white water rapids in the world.

Zion National Park will be the subject of another post, and Bryce Canyon was the subject of my "B" National Parks.

What a fascinating trip it would be to visit all five of the National Parks of Utah at one time. It's on my bucket list.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"T" is for Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Prehistoric Swamp Mural
"Prehistoric Swamp Mural" on display, South Unit Visitor Center - National Parks Service photo
Theodore Roosevelt. As I write about the National Parks, the name of Theodore Roosevelt appears again and again. Roosevelt first came to the Badlands of North Dakota in 1883. He came to hunt bison but fell in love with the land and the rugged lifestyle of the West. This led to his investment in the Maltese Cross Ranch and later, the Elkhorn Ranch, 35 miles north of Medora.

"Badlands" National Park Service photo
The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is composed of three sections: the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. The Little Missouri River flows through the park which contains 110 square miles.

Roosevelt wrote articles and major works about his adventures and ranch life in the West. He served as President of the United States in 1901-09 when he did much to promote conservation policies.

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is high on my list of parks I would love to visit.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"S" is for Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

I haven't seen the giant sequoias in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks since the time we visited the Muir Woods. Last year, when we traveled to Glacier National Park, I was reminded of the sequoias while walking on the Trail of the Cedars there.  The giant red and black cedar trees in Glacier are old but not nearly so old as the giant sequoias. We are fortunate that the foresight of others saved the cedars as well as the giant sequoias from destruction.

When Congress established Sequoia and General Grant National Parks in 1890, they became the second and fourth in the National Parks System. Today, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are adjacent to each other in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains which rise as high as 14,494 feet within the parks. Besides the world's largest trees, the diverse terrain of the parks includes mountains, canyons, and vast caverns.

To learn more about the wonderful history of these parks, read the book, Challenge of the Big Trees on the park website.


"Giant Cedar" ©Mary Montague Sikes
"Trail of the Cedars" ©Mary Montague Sikes
cluster of sequoias

"Giant Sequoias" National Parks Photo

Monday, April 21, 2014

"R" is for Rocky Mountain National Park

"Colorado Rockies" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Several years ago, when we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, I was caught by surprise as I walked along a trail in the snow. It was late June, and I had not expected snow. Obviously, I was younger and more naive. Now, snow, no matter what season, in the Rockies fails to surprise me.

The trees along the trail we followed in the park were green and picturesque. I don't recall the name of the trail, but it parallels the North Fork Colorado River and provides views of unforgettable mountain scenery. The rugged mountain terrain provided me with many photographs and side stories for my book, Hotels to Remember. We entered the park, which is north of Silver Creek and Highway 34, at the Lake Grand entrance. Visitors to the park this year will find the scenic Trail Ridge Road closed due to floods in 2013. That breathtaking road ascends to 12,183 feet.

Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915. More than 300 prehistoric sites have been found there at high elevations, from 8,000 to 13,000 feet. Interesting that this is another area that has been home to a human population for about 10,000 years.
"Colorado Rockies in the Summer" ©Mary Montague Sikes

If you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this year, please check ahead of time about closed sections and roads under construction because of flood repairs. According to information on the park website, many bridges inside the park were washed out in the September 2013 floods.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Q" is for Quoin Island National Park in Australia

"Quoin Island" - Australian National Parks photo
Well, "Q" is a hard letter for National Parks in the United States. However, there is Quoin Island National Park in Australia. I've always wanted to travel "down under", so I can put this one on my bucket list.

Not a lot of information exists. It's located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Queensland, about 1210 miles northwest of Brisbane. The park was established in 1989 and might be likely to be part of an adventure tour for visitors to Australia. I would love to hear from anyone who has been a visitor to the island or nearby.