Natural Wonders of the United States,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=873648&pid=873647&uts=1272047328

Explore America: Natural Wonders

Yosemite National Park, one of the first wilderness parks in the United States, is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.Located in Central California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park encompasses an incredible 1,170 square miles of breathtaking natural splendor. Ranging in altitude from 2,000 feet to more than 13,000 feet above sea level, it's hard to believe that Yosemite is just hours from bustling cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Reno. Though the pristine environment of Yosemite is passionately protected, the Park offers a host of year-round conveniences and guest services so that visitors can make the most of their experience while still observing a respect for the park.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

At over 1 billion years old,The Blue Ridge is the oldest mountain range in the U.S. and among the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Within the Blue Ridge province are two major national parks: the Shenandoah National Park in the northern section and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the southern section. The Blue Ridge range also contains the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile long scenic highway that connects the two parks and is located along the ridge crestlines along the Appalachian Trail. The Blue Ridge Parkway has been dubbed "America's Favorite Drive." Celebrating its 75th birthday in 2009-10, the Blue Ridge Parkway has become the National Park Service's biggest attraction.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

This is the third-largest National Park in the Continental U.S. and the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. The 1.5-million-acre park boasts rare and endangered species living in a variety of habitats. It is designated as a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance. There are four visitor centers, miles of hiking and biking nature trails, and excellent flats fishing. Concession operators offer guided boat tours from the Gulf Coast and Flamingo areas of the park. Other amenities, located in different locations around the park, include a full-service marina, boat launching ramps, motor and non motorized boat rentals, and camping facilities.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

Fittingly called the Crown of the Continent and Backbone of the World, Glacier National Park has a truly dramatic presence. Encompassing over one million acres, the park is home to rolling foothills, majestic mountains, wild meadows, clear rivers, stunning waterfalls and striking rock faces. With the largest intact ecosystem in the temperate zone, Glacier is home to 730 miles of maintained trails and the celebrated Going-to-the-Sun Road which takes visitors through the heart of the park. An added bonus: this year Glacier is celebrating its Centennial and hosting more than 100 events to mark its 100th birthday.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

Just east of Grand Junction, CO stands the largest flattop mountain in the world: Grand Mesa. At an elevation over 10,000 feet high, Grand Mesa stretches over 40 miles in length, encompassing a total area of approximately 500 square miles. Sometimes referred to as an "island in the sky", Grand Mesa is home to over 300 lakes which provide drinking and irrigation water to the valleys below. The Mesa is covered in pine trees with stands of aspen trees that turn to a brilliant golden shade in the fall. A wide variety of wildlife roam the Mesa, including moose, elk, deer, bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and foxes. Recreation opportunities on Grand Mesa abound; depending on the season, enjoy hiking, biking, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, skiing (downhill and cross country) and snowshoeing.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park preserves a spectacular landscape rich with majestic mountains, pristine lakes and extraordinary wildlife. The abrupt vertical rise of the jagged Teton Range contrasts with the horizontal sage-covered valley and glacial lakes at their base, creating world-renowned scenery that attracts nearly four million visitors per year.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

Kilauea Volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is what the Big Island is most famous for. It is one of the world's most active volcanoes, erupting continuously since 1983. On any given day, it produces 250,000-650,000 cubic yards of lava. While here, visitors can also catch spectacular views of other natural wonders: Maunaloa, the most massive mountain in the world, and Maunakea, the tallest sea mountain in the world.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America and offers more than 70 miles of rugged river country. In 1975, Congress established the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in west central Idaho and northeastern Oregon. Consider exploring this remote canyon in a jet boat or raft, or try a hike or trail ride. Nez Perce Indian petroglyphs and pictographs can be found in the caves and on rock walls in the canyon. Hells Canyon is accessible from Lewiston to the north, White Bird (Pittsburg Landing boat launch site) and Hells Canyon Dam to the south. Outfitters offer jet boat trips from both Lewiston and White Bird and float trips from White Bird and Hells Canyon Dam.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

With over 365 known miles of cave passageways, Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave. Besides its spectacular size, Mammoth Cave has an almost surreal beauty to behold while hearing remarkable stories of human history, 350 million-year-old rocks, and the cave's fascinating animals adapted to life in the dark. Designed with all visitors in mind, you'll find activities suiting a wide variety of needs and interests including cave trips, nature walks, campfire programs and slide presentations. Most tours are designed for a mixed audience.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

One of the largest state parks, 26,000 acres amid scenic landscape of Palo Duro Canyon. On the tabletop expanse of the Texas High Plains, a branch of the Red River has carved the incredible spires and pinnacles of Palo Duro. Walls plunge almost a thousand feet to the canyon floor, exposing brilliant, multicolored strata. Camping, picnicking, rest rooms and showers, horseback riding and hiking trails. Also, souvenir shop, interpretive center and amphitheater where shows are staged during the summer season. Three restored cabins are located on the canyon rim.

Explore America: Natural Wonders

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