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The giant saguaro cactus is the universal symbol of the American west and are found in a relatively small area in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The park is divided in to two districts to the east and west of Tucson. Drive though the park at sunset to experience the beauty of the towering saguaros silhouetted against mountains rising above broad valleys.
The Teton Range rises nearly a mile above Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the valley below the eastern face of the mountains. A dozen of its peaks are over 12,000 in elevation and with no foothills to obscure the view they can be seen reflected in the large lakes at their base. There is no more spectacular and iconic view any where in the Rockies.
Grand Canyon National Park is really two parks in one. The North Rim which is nearly a thousand feet higher than the South Rim is only accessible in summer. Standing ten miles north of the Colorado River, the view from the rim is of long side canyons and the towering buttes they have carved. The South Rim stands a mile above the Colorado with vertigo-inducing views of the colorful rock layers that record a billion years of the Earth’s geological history.
Glacier National Park in Montana was established in 1910. In 1932 it was linked to Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park to form the world’s first International Peace Park. The parks are renowned for their glacier-carved mountains and deep lakes. Here at the narrowest point in the Rocky Mountains, ecosystems from the Pacific Northwest, the northern forests and the Great Plains converge to form a unique community of plants and animals found no where else in North America.
Despite the name, Utah’s Bryce Canyon is not a canyon but an amphitheater created by erosion on the eastern edge of a high plateau. The erosion of the soft rock has left a spectacular array of red, orange and white hoodoos below the rim of the plateau.
Carved by the North Fork of the Virgin River, Zion Canyon in Utah is fifteen miles long and up to a half mile deep. The bottom of the canyon is filled with stream-side vegetation and many hiking trails lead into side canyons with hanging gardens and waterfalls.
Yellowstone in Wyoming is America’s first national park and nowhere in the world is there a larger concentration of geothermal features. In addition to the geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles, the park abounds with wildlife including moose, elks, bison, bears and wolfs.