As of today, there are 62 national parks in our amazing United States. Most of us will not get to see all of them, but visiting some ought to be on our bucket list if possible. As we all experience an unusual summer, we can’t think of a better way to feel somewhat “normal” than to get out and explore nature. As parks are still in the process of reopening, be sure to check to make sure your park is open and any restrictions or safety protocols have been enacted. What follows is information on three of the more well-known parks.
One of the most magnificent, and popular, is Yellowstone National Park. The park was established in 1872 when it was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. The building of the second transcontinental railroad, the Northern Pacific, was the main driving force in the creation of the park. In order for the railway to be successful, it was theorized that some sort of attraction would promote tourism and, therefore, profits. They found it in ‘’Colter’s Hell” named for a former member of the Louis and Clark expedition. We know it as the caldera in Yellowstone, which produces such wonders as Old Faithful. By the 1890’s the success of the park was also having a negative impact on the health of the park.
By this time, Yellowstone was the home of the only wild herd of buffalo left in America. It was only a matter of time before they became extinct. Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter who was a rising political star in Washington, teamed up with George Grinnell (founder of the Audubon Society) and labored long and hard to get permanent protection for the park. Eventually a bill was passed that protected the park, its wildlife, and its geysers. The same bill prohibited hunting which could incur a fine of $1000 (buffalo heads could fetch $1000 in London at that time) and jail time of up to two years.
Yosemite National Park was named as a national park in 1890. It was first discovered by settlers during the 1851 California gold rush. During that time, a group of white men were searching the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. They referred to themselves as the Mariposa Battalion. They were searching for Native Americans with the purpose of driving them onto reservations and off their traditional homelands.
Late in the day of March 27, they came to a narrow valley surrounded by towering cliffs from which cascaded a series of waterfalls, the tallest in North America, which dropped to the Merced River. A doctor named Lafayette Brunnell was overcome: “As I looked, a peculiar, exalted sensation seemed to fill my whole being and I found my eyes in tears with emotion”. The group leader, James D. Savage, was not so impressed; but was angry that the tribe had escaped. He set about destroying their homes and store houses. Before they moved on, Brunnell thought that they should give the place a name. Savage told Brunnell that the tribes name was Yosemite.
As it turns out, the Native American name for the valley was Ahwahnee (the place of the gaping mouth) and the tribe was known as the Ahwahneechees in honor of the valley. On the other hand, “Yosemite”, in their language, meant “they are killers”, probably referring to the Mariposa Battalion. One of Yosemite’s best viewpoints is Glacier Point.
Located on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, the overlook rises to an elevation of 7, 214 feet — with great views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Fall (a 317-foot waterfall) and Nevada Fall (594 feet).
Denali National Park, Alaska – may not be listed as one of our top 2 ‘park picks’, but it is considered the “ultimate dream destination” by many and certainly offers a big space for big dreams. Denali has more than 6 million acres of varied landscapes, including the tallest peak in North America. It’s no wonder that so many park lovers want to make the “last frontier” their next destination. Now that we’ve given you some information on three of the parks, that leaves only 59 more to go. You can find information about all the National Parks by visiting The National Park Service website.