1. Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier is a glacier about 12 miles (19 km) long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles (19 km) from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska. The glacier and surrounding landscape is protected as the 5,815-acre Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated unit of the Tongass National Forest.
Originally known as Sitaantaagu ("the Glacier Behind the Town") or Aak'wtaaksit ("the Glacier Behind the Little Lake") by the Tlingits, the glacier was named Auke (Auk) Glacier by naturalist John Muir for the Tlingit Auk Kwaan (or Aak'w Kwaan) band in 1888. In 1891 it was renamed in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall. It extends from the Juneau Icefield, its source, to Mendenhall Lake and ultimately the Mendenhall River.
The Juneau Icefield Research Program has monitored the outlet glaciers of the Juneau Icefield since 1942, including Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier has also receded 1.75 miles (2.82 km) since 1958, when Mendenhall Lake was created, and over 2.5 miles (4.0 km) since 1500. The end of the glacier currently has a negative glacier mass balance and will continue to retreat in the foreseeable future.
2. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means "the place where water runs through rocks." Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí (advertised as "Hasdestwazi" by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department), or "spiral rock arches." Both are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
Oneonta Gorge, Oregon
The Oneonta Gorge is in the Columbia River Gorge in the American state of Oregon. The U.S. Forest Service has designated it as a botanical area because of the unique aquatic and woodland plants that grow there. The basalt walls are home to a wide variety of ferns, mosses, hepatics and lichens, many of which grow only in the Columbia River Gorge.
Oneonta Gorge Creek Bridge on the Historic Columbia River Highway
Oneonta Creek runs through the gorge. There are four major waterfalls on the creek. Middle Oneonta Falls can be seen clearly from a footpath and is very often mistaken for the upper or lower falls. The lower gorge has been preserved as a natural habitat, so there is no boardwalk or footpath through it as such. Thus, Lower Oneonta Falls can only be seen by walking upstream from the creek's outlet at the Historic Columbia River Highway. To get to a vantage point where the entire lower falls is visible can require wading through water that in some places can be chest-deep, depending on the season and the relative amount of snow-melt. The upper falls are about 1 mile upstream from the middle falls and require scrambling up the creek or climbing down a canyon wall to view. The fourth falls which is "Triple falls" can be seen from a vantage point on the upper trails in the canyon.
4. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
The Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness is a U.S. Wilderness Area located in the Elk Mountains of central Colorado. The 181,535-acre (734.65 km2) wilderness was established in 1980 in the Gunnison and White River national forests. Within its boundaries are 100 miles (160 km) of trails, 6 of Colorado's fourteeners and 9 passes over 12,000 feet (3,700 m). The wilderness is named after the two peaks known as the Maroon Bells as well as Snowmass Mountain.
5. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park is a national park in the USA about 68 statute miles (109 km) west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The park preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated of the Florida Keys. The archipelago's coral reefs are the least disturbed of the Florida Keys reefs.
The park is noted for abundant sea life, tropical bird breeding grounds, colorful coral reefs and legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures. The park's centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, and is composed of over 16 million bricks. Dry Tortugas is unique in its combination of a largely undisturbed tropical ecosystem with significant historic artifacts. The park is accessible only by seaplane or boat and averages 60,000 visitors each year. Activities include snorkeling, picnicking, birdwatching, camping, scuba diving, saltwater fishing and kayaking.
6. Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park is located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park's unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.
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