A pristine ecosystem ranging from the Teton Range to Jackson Hole in Wyoming, America’s twentieth national park is only 10 miles south of Yellowstone and, along with the many surrounding national forests, makes up part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Animals and plants living here since prehistoric times still make this part of Wyoming their home and humans have called the area home for some 11,000 years, ranging from Paleo Indians to Shoshone hunters to fur traders, mountain men, early settlers, mountaineers and even one of the richest men in America who used his private fortune to help establish this national park in 1929. Grand Teton National Park is named for the tallest peak in the park and the Teton Range, but so often it is pictured alongside three of its compatriots: Middle Teton, South Teton and Mount Owen.
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.
In addition to the nearly 3.4 million tourists who come from around the world to tour Yellowstone, the park is also home to researchers and biologists. These scientists are working to study the volcanic and geothermal energy of the park as we ll as preserving the animal and plant life that dwells within.
From a valley that reshapes its trees into strange formations to a desert where rocks seem to magically move to some of the strangest colored waters in the world to the giant remnants of lost ancient civilizations, North America is home to some unique sites. In addition to those man-made wonders, the varied landscape of this region ranges from the wintry, dense forests of Canada to the diverse ecosystems of the U.S. to the Mexican desert, coastal Caribbean islands and dense jungle of Central America help make it an awe-inspiring place to visit.
Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
Rediscovered in 1989, the cave is located within Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve and in order to get a look inside, visitors must swim in and then wade through water for nearly three-fourths of a mile. Once inside, visitors can see remnants left behind by the ancient Maya, who researchers believed used this cave either as a burial ground of a place for sacrificial victims. Several skeletal remains have been discovered - and permanently left - in the cave that are believed to be thousands of years old. Of the 14 bodies discovered, the most famous is the Crystal Maiden.
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