National Parks | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Grand Canyon

    Deeply American: Bryce, Grand Canyon & Zion

    Today the Grand Canyon celebrates its 100th anniversary! So, let’s hear it for the redrock, white and blue! A vacation that dips and winds through the amazing canyons of our <a href="" target="_blank">premier national parks</a> is about as all-American you can get. Leisure travelers have visited the Grand Canyon since the 1890s. Bryce and Zion opened their gates not long after. If you’re of the generation that remembers making a too hot, too long minivan trek to these parks (“It’ll be fun,” Dad insisted), you can rest assured that that’s one travel tradition Classic Journeys has put to rest.<br><br><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000012BoP" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>First, get it out of your head that if you’ve seen one canyon, you’ve seen them all. Not true…and it’s why a well-coordinated visit to these<a href="" target="_blank"> three natural wonders</a> is a major revelation. Immersive explorations with an expert local guide put you in touch with areas most visitors miss because they don’t stray far from the car park. As Marcia, one of our guides loves to say, “It’s all about erosion, but I promise it won’t wear you down!”<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Zion" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oWeX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank">Bryce</a>, for example, is famous for its hoodoos. They’re those spindly needles of sandstone with boulders balanced on top that tended to cause a lot of trouble for Wile E. Coyote. Sighting one of them would be enough to knock your socks off, but there are hundreds and hundreds tightly clustered in a canyon that looks like the set for a high-speed Star Wars chase. Wandering among them is one of the most inspiring walks you’ll ever take.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Bryce Hoodoos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oWec" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank">The Zion Canyon Narrows</a> couldn’t be more different. Known as a slot canyon, it’s slender, smooth and sinuous. At the narrowest point, it’s only about 20 feet from wall to wall, but it’s 1,300 straight up to the narrow slit of sky you can see. Where Bryce overwhelms with wind-carved complexity, Zion is a streamlined canyon sliced deep by the Virgin River.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Zion Narrows" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oWeh" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank">The Grand Canyon</a> has a river, too. But in many spots, the Colorado flows so far below that it barely registers as a thread of silver. The rim’s the place to be to enjoy the technicolor show that plays all day from sunrise until the last drop of purple and red disappear at nightfall. The trails are wonderful, and it’s not too shabby that you can enjoy this particular canyon from the terrace of your lodge with your beverage of choice in hand.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Grand Canyon and Colorado River" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oWem" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Along the way and at ground level, you’ll also walk (or if you’d like, sand surf) in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. And one of your trails offers a look at Ancestral Puebloan ruins that are more than 950 years old.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Horseback Riding in Grand Canyon" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oWer" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>These canyons are as deeply carved in the American spirit as they are in the rusty red rock of our continent. For a vacation that’s closer to home and near and dear to our homegrown traditions, you can’t do better than <a href="" target="_blank">Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon</a>.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Bryce" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y4Gs&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oWf1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a>

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  • Stream in Bryce Canyon

    National Parks By the Numbers

    <h2>National Park Statistics in Honor of the 100-Year Anniversary</h2> <p>It officially began in 1872, when Yellowstone became the world’s first national park, followed by the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916 to care for and protect the land. Today, the national park statistics reveal a vast aray of land, species and mementos for the whole family to enjoy. Comprised of 410 sites and more than 84 million acres, the National Park System (NPS) has an awful lot to offer. You could spend many a family vacation exploring the 18,000 trails throughout our country’s park system.</p> <p>The NPS protects at least 247 species of threatened or endangered plants and animals. And more than 75,000 archeological sites, including nearly 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures. There are over 167 million museum items, including George Washington’s inaugural coat.</p> <p>It’s no wonder so many people visit the parks with so much to see and do. Rangers didn’t start keeping attendance records until 1904; 120,000 visits to America’s 11 national parks occurred that year. In 2015 alone, a record-breaking 307.2 million people visited a NPS visitor center and/or contact station! Here’s the lowdown on a few of our favorites:</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Bryce Canyon National Park" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lG&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oA7" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><b>Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah</b></a></p> <p><b>Established:</b> 1928 with 21,997 people visiting in the following year; more than 1.7 million visitors in 2015</p> <p><b>Size:</b> 56.2 square miles consisting of crimson colored hoodoos, or spire-shaped rock formations.</p> <p><b>Wildlife:</b> View over 100 species of birds and more than 1000 plant species. Rocky Mountain elk, Utah prairie dogs and North American porcupines are just some of the dozens of mammals.</p> <p><b>Must see:</b> Bryce Amphitheatre is a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lG&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oAC" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><b>Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona</b></a></p> <p><b>Established:</b> In 1919, when it received 37,745 visitors; more than five million visitors in 2015</p> <p><b>Size:</b> 1,902 square miles; more than 1.2 million acres</p> <p><b>Wildlife:</b> You’ll see over 1,737 known species of vascular plants and 167 species of fungi alone. With more than 90 species of mammals, this park is home to Bighorn sheep, canyon bats, elk, mountain lions, mule deer, raccoons, coyotes and more. Yet, the most dangerous animal in the park is the rock squirrel because every year, dozens of visitors are bitten when they try to feed them. (So don’t!)</p> <p><b>Must see:</b> The Canyon, sliced by the Colorado River, is enormous. For its entire 277 miles, it averages 4000 feet deep. At its deepest point: 6,000 feet. At its widest: 18 miles.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Zion National Park, Utah" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lG&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oAH" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><b>Zion National Park, Utah</b></a></p> <p><b>Established:</b> 1919 when it saw a mere 1814 visitors; 3.6 million visitors in 2015</p> <p><b>Size:</b> 229.1 square miles</p> <p><b>Wildlife:</b> It protects 8 species of fish, 44 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, 78 mammals and 291 species of birds. It’s also a critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl, classified as threatened on the federal level. Petite kangaroo rats, bighorn sheep, mule deer, foxes, rocks squirrels and more are some of the mammals you may bump into at Zion National Park. There are more than 900 kinds of plants, too. From soaring firs and cottonwoods to prickly pears and yucca, it’s a feast for the eyes.</p> <p><b>Must see:</b> 2,000-foot Navajo Sandstone cliffs, slopes adorned with pine and juniper trees, waterfalls and vibrant hanging gardens.</p> <p>The National Park Service turns 100<sup> </sup>on August 25<sup>th</sup>. Here’s to 100 more years of safeguarding America’s precious landscape!</p>

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  • North Rim of the Grand Canyon

    Exploring our Country's National Parks

    <h2>Unraveling the history of America’s National Park System</h2>   <p><a href="" target="_blank">The National Park Service (NPS) provides care and protection to North America’s national parks</a>. Through government employees, volunteers and partners, wildlife areas are preserved and safeguarded for the more than 275 million people who visit each year. And something special is on the horizon for NPS; on August 25<sup>th</sup>, 2016, it will celebrate its 100<sup>th</sup> year of service.</p> <p>President Woodrow Wilson first signed the act creating the NPS in August of 1916. The “Organic Act” states that the fundamental purpose of the NPS “is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The Park Service also “cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.”</p> <p>To date, more than 400 national parks are tended to, covering more than 84 million acres. Thriving parks help to revitalize surrounding communities and preserve and celebrate neighboring history and heritage, while offering natural spaces for kids, families and individuals to be active in nature. And for many, time spent in nature is time soothing the soul.</p> <p>In 1920, visits to national parks and contact stations capped out at 1 million annually, and it continues to grow. Can you guess how many visitors were logged last year? 307.2 million! The NPS currently employs more than 20,000 permanent, temporary, and seasonal workers.</p> <p>So what is protected inside these special places? More than 247 species of threatened or endangered plants and animals, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, the world’s largest carnivore (the Alaskan brown bear), the planet’s largest living things (giant Sequoia trees) and much, much more.<br><br><img alt="Bryce Canyon National Park" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lK&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oAb" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Bryce Canyon National Park, situated in Bryce Canyon, Utah, in southwestern Utah, is considered a small national park compared to its counterparts — it’s 55.99 square miles.</a> It became a national park in 1928, named after the Mormon Pioneer Ebenezer Bryce. Renowned for its fascinating geology, a string of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in south-central Utah, and the world’s largest assortment of crimson-colored hoodoos (spire-shaped rock formations). It’s been described as a “forest of stone.”</p> Visitors can hike, bike, snowshoe or ride a horse — <a href="" target="_blank">kids love to explore the out-of-this-world landscape</a>. Flanking the rim are pine, fir and spruce forests and high elevation meadows. This area possess some of the world’s best air quality, approaching 200 miles of visibility, one can see a panoramic view of three states — not to mention abundant fauna. <p>Grand Canyon National Park Located in Grand Canyon Village, Arizona, was originally granted Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and subsequently as a National Monument. Grand Canyon didn’t attain National Park status until 26 years later.</p> <p>There are two public areas of Grand Canyon National Park, the North and South Rims. At 7,000 feet above sea level, the Grand Canyon South Rim is the most accessible section of the park, with numerous places where visitors can pull over to admire the views. The canyon itself is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, with exceptional mixtures of geologic color and erosional form adorning the edges.</p> <p>At Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah, you can follow the same paths ancient natives and pioneers had been known to walk. Gawk at the colossal cream, pink and red sandstone cliffs or spend time captivated by the wide array of plants and animals. Human use on the park landscape dates back to at least 6,000 B.C. and has been studied extensively. Utah’s first national park is known as the most “user friendly” because of it’s unusual blend of elevation, wide open and level spaces, slot canyons, pleasant year-round temperatures and sprawling river valley.</p> <p>Breathtaking scenery, astonishing wildlife and magnificent forests all have played vital roles in our national parks natural 100-year heritage. The benefits of the National Park Service are exponential: preserve vital wildlife habitat, facilitate social interactions imperative to maintaining community togetherness and pride, improve moods, reduce stress, enhanced sense of wellness after leisure activities. Parks are a necessity in the rapid developing American landscape, and provide vegetative counterparts to manufacturing and development, offering balance to America’s sprawl.</p>

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