The Alaskan panhandle has long been known for its picturesque scenery and rainy climate. The mainlands and islands that make up this section of the state have long been connected by canoes, kayaks, boats and ferries. More recently, cruise ships have become common sights in these waters as visitors travel north to take in the regal beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. Long dominated by native peoples, this area was first explored by the French and British, claimed by Russia and then purchased by the United States. While whale breaches dominated the sea, glaciers dominated the lands, leading early conservationists to champion the area’s preservation after their own exploration of its natural wonder. This area would eventually become known as Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
For thousands of years, this area of Alaska has been in a constant cycle of growth, retreat and rebirth as glaciers continue to shape the area. Because of its unique environment, the park has been preserved not just as a national park but a marine park, wilderness preserve, a biosphere reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Researchers also use the park as a living laboratory to see how glaciers have and continued to shape the earth. More than that, it is a sacred place to the native peoples who have long called this area home and relied on his natural wealth for their survival. The story of Glacier Bay is one of survival against all odds
On Dec. 2, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the creation of seven national parks, all of which were located in Alaska. Gates of the Arctic became the first sheerly based on the alphabet, and became the second park established in the state after Denali. Today, Alaska is home to eight total national parks and is second only to California in the number of national parks by state. Remote and often hard to access, Gates of the Arctic has the dubious honor of historically being the least visited national park but is also the second largest of all the national parks - all the more reason to visit this amazing landscape.
The park conserves the Biscayne Bay region, stretching from Miami down the southern tip of Florida to Homestead and then out to seat at Elliot Key, the northernmost of the Florida Keys. An ecosystem linked to that of Florida’s famous Everglades, the area preserves both an important south Florida ecosystem as well as a piece of Florida history with human habitation dating back at least 10,000 years ago. This water wonderland has brought together native peoples, presidents, millionaires, pirates, farmers, researchers, exiles and outdoorsmen over the years. Rainbow colored fish and coral lie beneath the crystal blue waters and emerald islands
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