It is called the river of grass, a large wetland that has earned numerous preservation and conservation designations as well as redefined what types of land are considered for national park status. It is the third largest national park in the contiguous United States, but despite this, it only contains 20 percent of the original swampland for which it is named. This park is home to 36 threatened and protected species. It contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere and despite its size and serves as one of the most important watersheds for the state of Florida. It is the only location in the world that has been selected as an International Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site and Wetland of International Importance. There is simply nowhere on earth like Everglades National Park.
Before Everglades National Park, the basis for creating national parks was focused on preserving unique geographic feature. The creation of Everglades, however, was to preserve a unique ecosystem that supports tropical wading birds, crocodiles, alligators, manatees and panthers. While the park is thought of as a wetland, there are a variety of ecosystems within it that keep the delicate balance of nature the park is known for. Thought an eyesore by some early Floridians, researchers and scientists are only now starting to see the fruits of efforts to restore this habitat after it was nearly eradicated completely. Of course, issues ranging from non-native species to fires to rising sea levels and urban encroachment still pose a danger to this amazingly diverse national park.
Those wanting to get out of the heat of the American southwest might want to check out this underground gem. Carlsbad’s underground is usually around 56 degrees, even when the surrounding New Mexico desert is reaching the 100s. While the most popular activity here is touring the caves underground, Carlsbad is also a haven for bats and those wanting to catch a glimpse at the night sky. While caves are features in many national parks, Carlsbad is one of only three where the cave is the main focus point and the second national park designated primarily around a cave. It also remains the only national park in New Mexico. This park has also received international attention and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While mountains dominate the sky of Grand Teton, much of this park is covered in rivers, lakes and valleys created through millions of years worth of glaciation. The park is home to some of the most ancient rocks found in any national park in the country, giving us a deeper understanding of how the earth and early America was formed. Its ancient plantlife and animals whose ancestors have grazed here for thousands of years make Grand Teton a great place to see how America was before Europeans and even early Native Americans came into this wilderness to make it their home. Humankind still tries to conquer Grand Teton, scaling its mountains and traversing its backwoods. The story of Grand Teton is a story of sheepeaters and fur trappers, of ancient rocks and Rockefellers, a story of the wild American west.
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