Saguaro National Park, USA

Saguaro National Park, USA

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The iconic Saguaro cactus is the very embodiment of the Southwest, and indeed, the desert itself. The unique adaptations that vegetation comes up with for desert survival make some of the most interesting, unusual, and beautiful plants in the country. Wildflowers such as striking gold poppies and desert marigolds, red and pink penstemons, purple lupines, and orange globe mallows add welcome splashes of color. Seeing a blooming cactus is a special treat: ocotillos, chollas, and prickly pears all have vibrant, fragrant blossoms, as of course do the saguaros themselves. Saguaro National Park is split into two sections—the Tucson Mountain District sits west; the Rincon Mountain District sits east; and the city of Tucson and its 1-million residents sits in between the two. While the two sides of the park bare the same name and share likeness in desert landscape, they are quite different in terms of nuance.

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credit: Max Goldberg



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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located on the Island of Hawai’i, 96 miles from Kailua-Kona and 30 miles from Hilo. Founded in 1916, the Park encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea. Here you’ll find 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforests as well as a museum, petroglyphs, a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea which has been erupting since January 3rd, 1983. The extraordinary natural diversity of the park was recognized in 1980 when it was named a World Biosphere site by UNESCO and in 1987 when the park was again honored as a World Heritage site.

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Yosemite National Park 2016

Yosemite National Park 2016

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Located in central California, Yosemite National Park was established in 1890. It is managed by the National Park Service, covers an area of 747,956 acres and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. About 3.8 million people visit Yosemite each year: most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley.

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Spectacular Mesa Verde National Park

Spectacular Mesa Verde National Park

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Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. They chose Mesa Verde as their settlement 1,400 years ago, establishing small pithouses (large holes in the ground with a wooden roof overhead) on the mesa tops. Today, Mesa Verde National Park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde is UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the southwestern corner of the state of Colorado.

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Natural Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Natural Rainbow Bridge National Monument

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Rainbow Bridge is the largest natural bridge in the world at 290 feet (88 meters) tall and 270 feet (83 meters) across. The bridge has been formed by erosion of the sandstone by water flowing from Navajo Mountain towards the Colorado River. The bridge can be reached by a two-hour boat ride on Lake Powell from either of two marinas near Page, Arizona. It is located in one of the most rugged and remote regions of the United States, it was discovered in 1909 by an expedition that set out to find the great stone arch rumored by the Native Americans.

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