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BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK :: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK :: LAKE POWELL :: MONUMENT VALLEY :: MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK :: OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK :: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK :: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Situated in the heart of Utah's Canyon Country, Bryce is a collection of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters on the eastern slope of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Over the millennia, forces of nature carved limestone into thousands of whimsically colorful spires, arches, and mazes called "hoodoos." The national park is home to 59 species of mammals—mule deer, elk, antelope, gray fox, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and marmots, while turkeys, red-tailed hawks, eagles, and owls are among the 175 species of birds that call Bryce home. Horseback riding, photography, and hiking are popular activities here, while Sunrise Point, Queen Victoria (one of the most impressive hoodoos in the park), Inspiration Point, and Natural Bridge are must-see highlights.
Carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, it's easy to understand why this mile-deep, 15-mile-wide gorge is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Situated in northwestern Arizona, the sheer force of nature here reveals billions of years of geological history, with towering buttes and mesas, and a fascinating spectrum of colors. Of the many highlights, the most popular are dramatic views from the Rim, flightseeing over the canyon, whitewater rafting, fishing, mule rides down into the canyon, and wildlife viewing. The park is home to 75 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds, including California condors, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, bats, coyotes, skunks, beavers, raccoons, foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, and desert bighorn sheep.
Straddling the Utah/Arizona border, Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made reservoir in the United States. Its sparkling, clear blue waters contrast the surrounding red-rock canyon walls and sandy beaches, creating one of the most desirable outdoor playgrounds in the "high desert" of the American Southwest. Swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, waterskiing, hiking, and flightseeing are just a few of the popular activities here. There are also a number of must-see attractions, including dramatic Antelope Canyon with its stunning sandstone slot canyons; the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; Rainbow Bridge, the world's largest known natural bridge; and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, famous for its colorful swirls running through the sandstone formations.
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The face of the Old West, Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border is a magical landscape of freestanding monoliths that rise imposingly from the desert floor. Situated within the Navajo Nation Reservation, the valley's unforgettable red landscape has been an object of fascination for Hollywood since the 1930s, serving as backdrop for countless movies and TV shows. Names like the Mittens, the Thumb, Three Sisters, Totem Pole, Camel Butte, and Elephant Butte indicate the formations the sandstone has taken under the powerful forces of nature and time. Monument Valley may appear a desolate badlands but more than 100 archaeological sites, ruins, and petroglyphs pre-dating the 1300s prove it was a place the Ancestral Puebloans once called "home."
An active volcano located in Washington, Mount Rainier National Park offers spectacular scenery and a chance to experience the peace and serenity that comes from exploring nature. The park has 260 miles of maintained trails, giving guests an opportunity to discover old-growth forests, lakes, subalpine streams, fields of wildflowers, waterfalls, and glaciers. For those who do not wish to hike, there are scenic drives with stunning beauty. Other activities include bicycling, ranger-led talks and guided nature walks, boating, and climbing.
With three ecosystems-subalpine, coastal, and forest-and almost one million acres of wilderness, Olympic National Park is a treasure trove of spectacular beauty. It contains a large diversity of plants and animals, Pacific Ocean beaches, glacier-capped peaks, and amazing rainforest valleys. Visit the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the most impressive examples of temperate rainforests in the world, and see the giant conifers as well as the various mosses, plants, and ferns that vie for room on the forest floor. Explore the wildflower-covered mountain meadows at Hurricane Ridge or walk along the shores of Lake Crescent. Throughout the park, there many hiking trails, so visitors can explore this majestic area.
The world's first national park, Yellowstone is a geologic wonderland—and one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The Wyoming park is home to about half the planet's hydrothermal features and countless jaw-dropping attractions, including predictable Old Faithful geyser; the impressive Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with its Upper and Lower Falls; Yellowstone Lake, the largest high-elevation natural freshwater lake in the country; the other-worldly Mammoth Hot Springs; and Old Faithful Inn, a masterpiece of rustic log architecture. With 1,100 miles of trails, getting back to nature is easy...and so is spotting resident wildlife such as grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, bison, elk, moose, deer, mountain goats, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, and bald eagles.
A national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yosemite is internationally renowned for its spectacular granite formations, crystal-clear streams and lakes, three of the world's 10 tallest waterfalls, and three separate groves of ancient Giant Sequoias. Over 800 miles of hiking trails wind through biologically diverse terrain and past must-see attractions like Tunnel View, Mirror Lake, Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Sentinel Dome, Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows. Popular activities include all manner of outdoor adventure; bird watching for great horned owls, peregrine falcons, and California condors; and nature hikes to search for resident foxes, coyotes, black bears, pikas, badgers, mountain lions, bobcats, and porcupines.
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