In a little less then a week I get to go do what I love and run around some National Parks for a bit! I got a pretty cheap flight into Grand Junction, Colorado and am going to be cruising around and visiting a bunch of parks I haven’t been to before. See which parks I’ve been to in the past in my National Parks Guide.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
– Never visited before [Number 23 on my list]
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a United States National Park located in western Colorado. The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile (5 m/km) through the entire canyon, making the 5th steepest mountain descents in North America. In comparison, theColorado River through the Grand Canyon drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile (1.4 m/km). The greatest descent of the Gunnison River occurs in the park at Chasm View dropping 240 feet per mile (45 m/km). The Black Canyon is so named on account of its steepness which makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate very far down the canyon. As a result, the canyon walls are most often in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black. At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 feet (12 m) across at the river. The extreme steepness and depth of the Black Canyon formed as the result of several geologic processes acting together. The Gunnison River is primarily responsible for carving the canyon, though several other geologic events had to occur in order to form the canyon as it is seen today.
Mesa Verde National Park
– Never visited before [Number 24 on my list]
Mesa Verde National Park is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States. The park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, to protect some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world, or as he said, “preserve the works of man”. It occupies 81.4 square miles (211 km2) near the Four Corners and features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancestral Puebloan people, sometimes called the Anasazi. There you can find over 4,000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people.
The Anasazi inhabited Mesa Verde between AD 600 to 1300, though there is evidence they left before the turn of the century. These people were mainly subsistence farmers, growing crops on nearby mesas. Their primary crop was corn, which was also the major part of their diet. Men were also hunters, which further increased their food supply. The women of the Anasazi were famous for their elegant basket weaving. Anasazi pottery is just as famous as their baskets; their artifacts, even today, are highly prized. Since the Anasazi kept no written records, their artifacts are the only link to understanding their interesting culture.
Capitol Reef National Park
– Never visited before [Number 25 on my list]
Capitol Reef National Park encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the earth’s crust that is 65 million years old. It is the largest exposed monocline in North America. In this fold, newer and older layers of earth folded over each other in an S-shape. This warp, probably caused by the same colliding continental plates that created the Rocky Mountains, has weathered and eroded over millennia to expose layers of rock and fossils. The park is filled with brilliantly colored sandstone cliffs, gleaming white domes, and contrasting layers of stone and earth.
The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building, that run from the Fremont River to Pleasant Creek on the Waterpocket Fold.
The fold forms a north-to-south barrier that even today has barely been breached by roads. Early settlers referred to parallel, impassable ridges as “reefs”, from which the park gets the second half of its name. The first paved road was constructed through the area in 1962. Today, State Route 24 cuts through the park traveling east and west between Canyonlands National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, but few other paved roads invade the rugged landscape.
The park is filled with canyons, cliffs, towers, domes, and arches. The Fremont River has cut canyons through parts of the Waterpocket Fold, but most of the park is arid desert country. A scenic drive shows park visitors some of the highlights, but it runs only a few miles from the main highway. Hundreds of miles of trails and unpaved roads lead the more adventurous into the equally scenic backcountry.
Arches National Park
– Last visited in 2008 [Number 20 on my list]
Arches National Park is a U.S. National Park in eastern Utah. It is known for preserving over 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations.
The park is located just outside of Moab, Utah, and is 76,679 acres (31,031 ha) in area. Its highest elevation is 5,653 feet (1,723 m) at Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 4,085 feet (1,245 m) at the visitor center. Forty-three arches have collapsed due to erosion since 1970. The park receives 10 inches (250 mm) of rain a year on average.
Administered by the National Park Service, the area was originally created as a National Monument on April 12, 1929. It was redesignated as a National Park on November 12, 1971.