National Parks In The Southwest
In the broad sense, the Southwest United States is home to 63 national parks, though some carry the moniker of trail, site, or monument. Those terms are more fitting for caves, famous treks, small features of unique beauty, or places of historical significance. This article presents some of the most popular national parks in the Southwest.
Let’s begin with Utah because it has five “mighty” national parks: Zion, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Arches. Nowhere in the world can you see such interplanetary diversity, all within two to three hours’ drive of each other. The magnificent cliffs and reddish mountains of Zion will dwarf you, the other-worldly hoodoos of Bryce will mesmerize you, the orange sandstone arches of Arches National Park will thrill you, the canyons and buttes of Canyonlands will humble you, and the rocky ridges and rock domes of Capitol Reef will inspire you. Hotels are restaurants surround Utah’s national parks to accommodate the beauty seekers.
One of the most famous national parks in the Southwest is Grand Canyon. Earth does boast longer and deeper canyons, but none is as popular as the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. The colorful layers of rock provide good study and contemplation for geologists, and the vivid colors and windy canyons are awe-inspiring for tourists. Eighteen miles wide at some spots and over one mile deep, this canyon houses some of the earth’s oldest rocks. Hiking down to the bottom is a great feat, but do not try it on one day, especially in the typical heat of 110 degrees. A special team of rangers is employed to rescue the dehydrated and heat-exhausted.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has the distinction of beauty and rarity both above and below ground. Above ground are deep rocky canyons, desert animals, high ledges of ancient seas, and flowering cactus. Below ground are 120 caves which were formed from the dissolution of limestone by sulfuric acid over many years.
The Aztec Ruins are remnants of the ancient Pueblo people. Huge homes built 900 years ago still stand, allowing visitors to see the original construction materials and imagine the lives of these American Indians.
One of the most visited national parks in the Southwest is Yosemite. It is known as the Disneyland of national parks because of its many offerings for families with children. Yes, there are some long lines to wait for it, too. For the adventurous, Yosemite provides a few grueling hikes to challenge the athletic.
Joshua Tree National Park lies in Southern California, straddling the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. The twisted, bristled Joshua Trees are ubiquitous, and the scenery is rugged, rocky, and desert landscape. Hidden Valley hides many hiking trails through its boulders.
Redwood National park includes miles of beaches, grasslands, and forests, along with the coast of Northern California. And Sequoia National Park stands more inland toward the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. It’s known for the giant Sequoia trees, especially the famous General Sherman Tree who overlooks the forest. A felled, giant Sequoia has been cut into a tunnel to allow cars to pass through.
Great Basin National Park, in eastern Nevada, includes “wild-west” desert and much of the South Snake Mountains. Tough-guy retreats are often held near the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, and Lehman Caves glisten with stalactites. Desert wildlife, including bighorn sheep, is prevalent.
These are just some of the national parks in the Southwest United States. The other cool places are monuments, forests, trails, and historical sites.
National Parks In The Southwest
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