As we are all busy with our everyday routines including our fast paced jobs, it is good to have a relaxing outdoor adventure. The top 5 visited national parks in 2016 are as listed below;
- Great Smoky Mountains
No. of visitors (2016): 11,312,785 people
Borders: Tennessee and North Carolina
The effort to build the national park began in 1920s and was completed in 1934 under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. This place has since been part of the International Biosphere Reserve and designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park preserves 78 historic structures that once belonged to the Appalachian communities. Furthermore, it contains five historic districts and nine individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places. The highest peak of this national park is the Clingman’s Dome with an elevation of 6,643 feet.
It is home to 66 species of mammals, over 240 species of birds, 43 species of amphibians, 60 species of fish, and 40 species of reptiles. However, the most symbolic is the black bear where its population is densest within the area of the mountain range. Not only that, it is also contains over 130 species of tress among the canopies of the cove hardwood forest; 1,600 species of flowering plants including 100 species if native shrubs; over 450 species of non-vascular plants and 2,000 species of fungi.
- Grand Canyon
No. of visitors (2016): 6,000,000 est.
“Elevation is 2,600 feet with a total of 277 miles in length and 18 miles in width. The Canyon’s age is disputed but is commonly thought to be 5 to 6 million years old.”
The major proponent of the canyon’s preservation was President Theodore Roosevelt. It became an official monument in 1908 and a national park in 1918. The activities that visitors in the area can do include sightseeing, rafting, hiking and running. However, for those who would want to engage in some more adventurous activities include helicopter tours which they can board in Boulder, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Grand Canyon National Airport. However, the aircraft is no longer allowed to fly within 1500 feet of the rim due to a previous plane crash. Camping is also restricted to established playgrounds; one of the largest site is found within the northern rim by Kaibab National Forest.
In 2007, the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk was opened in the Grand Canyon West. It costs $85 that includes a tour package and an admission to the skywalk. And in 2016, sky diving was made possible when operations opened at the Grand National Park Airport on the southern rim.
- Yosemite National Park
No. of visitors (2016): 5,028,868
Covers an area of 747,956 acres and an elevation of 2,127 to 13,114 feet. It contains 20% of the entire 7,000 plant species of California.
The name Yosemite was given by Dr. Lafayette Bunnell. It means “killer” in Miwok referred to the original tribe that was driven out of the area, but before then, the area was called Ahwahnee which means “big mouth”. One of the first notable effort to protect the park from development was of Galen Clark and company, ultimately leading to the signing of Yosemite grant by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. It is known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers and biodiversity; it is designated as 95% wilderness. It has been placed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
- Rocky Mountains
No. of visitors: 4, 517,585 people
Border: It stretches more than 3,000 miles covering the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, and the states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico in the United States of America.
The highest peak is found in Colorado and is named Mount Elbert; standing at an enormous 1,440 feet elevation above sea level.
The mountain range has been a home for wildlife, however, due to human settlement, most of their population have declined and their statuses are unknown due to incomplete information. The mountains host different national park such as the Pikes Peak, Royal George, Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park and Sawtooth National Recreation Area in the United States. Meanwhile, the Canadian counterparts are the Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park and Yoho National Park.
These parks are popular destinations for hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding.
- Zion National Park
No. of visitors: 4,295,128 people
It is a 590-sq. km. park with the highest elevation of 8,726ft. at Horse Ranch Mountain.
It was in 1909 that President William Howard Taft named it as a national monument to protect the area, and originally called “Mukuntuweap National Monument”. However, it was later changed to Zion in 1918 by the newly established National Park Service. It was officially recognized as Zion National Park in 1919 as established by the US congress. Geographical features of the park include Virgin River Narrows, Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, Angels Landing, The Great White Throne, Checkerboard Mesa, The Three Patriarchs and Kolob Arch.
The park has four life zone: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. With these, the park contains 289 species of birds, 75 species of mammals and 32 species of reptiles.
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