When the Mormons came through this area of Utah, they named it after two of the most sacred places in their religion: the residence of God in the heavens and the Temple Mount area of Jerusalem. Many of the park’s landmarks would earn their names based on the religious teachings of this Mormon settlers who felt this little slice of Utah was their piece of heaven on earth. With its beautiful colors, breathtaking views and magnificence wild life, it is easy to see how someone might mistake Zion National Park for a sacred place. This earthly paradise became the first of Utah’s six national parks, allowing visitors the world over to experience the natural wonders of Zion and Kolob. These labyrinthine canyons seem intimidating, but they belie the cool, calm forests and river beds that mark the canyon floors. Zion could very well be Utah's own Garden of Eden.
Today, roadways that can only be classified as engineering marvels make it much easier for visitors to access Zion than when pioneers in Conestoga wagons crossed Utah’s rocky landscape in the hopes of making the area into something resembling civilization. Of course, Zion can still offer challenges for those outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike the canyons, scale its walls or float down its rivers. Much like when the first people entered it some 10,000 years ago, Zion is still a place of awe and wonder.
Much like the story of how the canyon was formed, the story of how the Grand Canyon became a national park is a long one, full of twists and turns. The story of this national park involves three presidents, and nearly 40 years of unsuccessful campaigning in Congress and elsewhere. The dazzling colors and scenic views of the canyon have inspired art, architecture and literature. It has become a symbol of America and it’s natural wonders. Teddy Roosevelt once called the canyon “the one sight which every American should see.” Grand is more than just a testament to the size of the canyon; it is the canyon’s legacy.
The creation of this park would bring together a wide variety of people from different backgrounds to conserve a place of land that not only symbolizes the larger beauty of Maine but the natural wonders of the United States. Acadia also brought the national park idea back east, showing that this side of the country had natural wonders just as worthy of preservation as the unique landscapes of other parts of the country. While not the largest park by far, Acadia draws a number of visitors each year, partially thanks to its New England location and proximity to a great deal of the country's population. Today, Acadia showcases the rugged coast of Maine and preserves its historic beauty.
The story of Denali is the story of Alaska and to a larger extent all American frontiers. It began life as the hunting ground of Native American tribes, soon found itself overrun by peoples of European descent attempting to tame its wild and now is working to reconcile its future with its past. Denali has been a national park longer than Alaska has been a state, but it still keeps the Alaskan wilderness as untouched as it appeared when the first miners, missionaries and merchants first appeared in the shadow of the high one.
In fact, the last time this mountain erupted was the year before it received its national park designation. Before that, it erupted three times in one year after an estimated 27,000 years of dormancy. While hot lava may have spewed from its top more than a century ago, today Lassen Peak is known as the area that receives the highest known winter snowfall amounts in the entire state of California. While not the most famous of the nine national parks located in the state of California, Lassen Volcanic National Park might be the state's most explosive.
Haleakala brings together the duality of Hawaii: the devastation and barren land created by the eruption of volcanoes as well as the flourishing tropical paradise that thrives on soil created by rich volcanic rock. It embodies the death and rebirth created by these fire-spewing mountains, providing modern-day humans a place to not only study the wonders of our own world but to prepare for travel to other planets. This national park highlights what makes Hawaii an American paradise.
Once joined with its sister park on Maui, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is not only an important location for the study of geological and volcanic phenomena but a historic site giving modern-day researchers insight into the ancient peoples who once called this state home. Today, scientists, park rangers and native Hawaiians come together to educate millions of visitors each year about the historical, cultural and scientific importance of this site. Tourists may find that nothing can compare to the majestic sight of molten hot lava erupting against the backdrop of the night sky, as if Pele herself were beckoning them to follow her into the unknown.
It took millions of years to create the Rocky Mountains, but the are has only been a national park for 100 years. Even so, this region has become so entrenched in the American consciousness it has become a symbol of the country's nature, beautiful and wild, serene and challenging. It was created through the cooperation of people from vastly different backgrounds - a former president, a lawyer, a mountainman, a famed naturalist and the head of the U.S. Forestry Service. Their efforts have preserved this area not only as an important landscape but as an American icon.
Glacier National Park captures not only the beauty of Montana but the magnificence of the American frontier, a national park where visitors can step back in time to the days of early settlers in log cabin, fur trappers in lean-to huts and Native American tribes following bison and caribou across the forests and mountains. For more than 100 years, visitors have been coming to this park to get a glimpse of one of the world’s last wildernesses. Glacier’s wild beauty and environmental importance truly make this park the crown of the continent.
Work is still being done to unravel the many mysteries at Mesa Verde National Park, most of them centered around the ancient cliff dwellers who once called the area home. Ancestors of many of modern day Native American tribes including the Taos, Acoma, Zuni and Hopi, these Puebloan people are an integral part of American history. The place they left behind has stood for more than a thousand years and continues to be preserved as one of America’s most mysterious national parks.
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