Dinosaur National Monument offers a lifetime of places to explore. Depending on your interest and time, you can discover dinosaur fossils, Native American rock art, homesteader cabins, early 20th century ranches, remote canyons, dramatic vistas, peaceful rivers or windswept peaks. Some places are easily accessible from the monument’s roads, while others may require extended hikes or river trips. Looking down hundreds of feet to the Green River as it curls past narrow canyon walls, you’ll know it was worth the exercise. Photo by National Park Service.
As you enter Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, Moro Rock looms overhead, thousands of feet above the highway. This large granite dome is a spectacular geologic feature that can be enjoyed from above or below. A concrete and stone stairway leads over 350 steps to the summit where views open up from the foothills and San Joaquin Valley to the west, to deep into wilderness to the east. View from the top of Moro Rock by Cheryl Dickinson (www.sharetheexperience.org).
2,250 feet down, at the base of the Painted Wall – the tallest cliff in Colorado – the Gunnison River thunders through Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. You can actually hear the river roaring from the canyon rim. Several trails and overlooks along the rim offer stunning views of dramatic drops and the distant river. There are no maintained or marked trails into the inner canyon. Routes are difficult to follow, and only individuals in excellent physical condition should attempt these hikes. Photo by Nancy Danna (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Many mountains and streams go unnamed on maps of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve in Alaska. The wilderness is vast and untamed, forcing the people who explore this gorgeous landscape to depend on themselves. Maintaining its wild and undeveloped character, the park offers opportunities to experience both quiet solitude and thrilling recreation. Photo by National Park Service.
When describing glaciers in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, superlatives are hard to avoid. Within our largest national park exists the nation’s largest glacial system, with rivers of ice flowing dozens of miles through majestic mountains. In summer, runoff from glaciers swells rivers and precipitates an explosion of green. From the ground and the air, it’s an epic sight. Photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service.
The name Observation Point mildly describes the epic view from this overlook at Zion National Park in Utah. More than 2,000 feet below, the North Fork of the Virgin River winds through the lush canyon, curving around the dramatic fin of Angels Landing. If the elevation gain of the hike there doesn’t take your breath away, then the view surely will. Photo by Leslie Poole (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s Flag Day! On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.“ Changes have been made to the original design as our nation grew, but the Stars and Stripes remains a proud symbol of our country. Here it is flying near the highest place in the United States – Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Photo by Jerome Ginsberg (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There are no live dinosaurs today at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, but there are other surprises. For most of its length, the Ruple Point Trail crosses a rolling terrain filled with sagebrush and juniper. Near the end of the trail, a short descent suddenly reveals breathtaking views of Split Mountain Canyon and the Green River 2,500 feet below. It’s a great reward at the halfway point of this 9.5 mile hike. Take plenty of water! Photo by National Park Service.
One of the most spectacular geologic features on Earth, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona never fails to impress. Carved over the course of millions of years, the canyon averages 10 miles in width and 1 mile in depth. Resplendent with colorful layers and rugged textures, you’ll never forget your first sight of this incredible place. Photo by W. Tyson Joye, National Park Service.