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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A World Heritage Site

 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a UNESCO world heritage Site as well as a national park of the United States of America. The park can be found just at the ridgeline of the amazing Great Smoky Mountains which are a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. North Carolina and Tennessee borders run through the centre of the park and it is one of the most popular and most visited National Parks throughout America today.

In 1934, the U.S. Congress was chartered; and in 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the park also. The land covers almost 522,420 acres which is a huge area to cover; and it is one of the biggest and most protected areas throughout the Eastern part of America. For visitors trying to get to the park, they will need to take highway 441 at Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee in North Carolina. Federal funds helped to pay for the park which is the first national park to do so. All other parks were not given money by the government but rather private or state funds.

History of the Park

The Cherokees used to live in the Great Smoky Mountains before the European settlers appeared. The region was solely the home of the Cherokees but during the 18th and the 19th centuries, the land became populated with settlers. Most of the settlers were able to live off the land and create a good home for them throughout the entire year.

All of the Native Indian tribes were removed forcefully in 1830 because of the President – Andrew Jackson. He was the one who signed the Indian Removal Act which started the forceful removal of all Indian’s and they were moved east of the park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Facts
Headlights emerging from a tunnel in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Most of the Cherokee left their homes, however, some didn’t and hide throughout the area in which they were led by the warrior Tsali. Some of the descendants do actually live in the Qualla Boundary today! However, the logging business grew considerably as other settlers appeared on the land. There was also the Little River Railroad constructed in the 19th century which was used to specifically move all of the timber from the remote regions of the park.

However, the cut and run style of the removal of the trees helped to destroy the beauty of the land. This lead to visitors and the locals to raise money for the preservation of the land; and even though the National Park service wanted to take this into their administration, they didn’t have the money to do so.

The land however didn’t have a park around it. Though, the American government offered two million dollars as well as five million coming from J.D. Rockefeller Jr.; and citizens from North Carolina and Tennessee came together to offer funds. Slowly, the park was formed but in doing so, the homesteaders in the mountain ranges were removed – evicted from the land, along with the loggers and miners.

Timber operations and farms were solely stopped in order to create and protect the vast areas of park also. Though the park didn’t become an international Biosphere Reserve until 1976; and it wasn’t until 83 when the park was known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Various Attractions throughout the Park

The park is certainly one of the biggest tourist attractions in this part of the country and does attract over 10 million visitors each year. However, there is a lot of income from tourism from the surrounding towns of:

Cherokee

Gatlinburg

Sevierville

Pigeon Forge

Townsend

Sylva

Bryson City

Maggie Valley

Hiking is a very popular activity in the park and there are over 800 miles of trails to take. The Appalachian Trial is certainly one of the most popular trails to take when it comes to hiking. Fishing and sightseeing are both very popular activities in the park also; and horseback riding and cycling are amazing to choose also. Though there are many things that visitors can do when they visit the park.

Famed Areas of the Park with Historical Ties

There are 4 historical districts and 1 archaeological district within the park that the National Park Service is going to be responsible for. They will maintain these 5 areas and there are 9 different historical places that are individual listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Information
Peaceful Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The historical listings are:

The Roaring Fork Historical District

The Cades Cove Historic District

The Noah Ogle Place

The Oconaluftee Archaeological District

The Elkmont Historic District

The 9 different individual listings are:

The Walker Sisters Place

The Alex Cole Cabin

The John Messer Barn

The Little Greenbrier School

The John Ownby Cabin

The Hall Cabin Which Is Located In Hazel Creek

The Tyson McCarter Place

The Oconaluftee Baptist Church

The Mayna Treanor Avent Studio

There are many EV’s found in the park – electric vehicles – this was announced in 2001 and these were offered by the TVA – the Tennessee Valley Authority. This was supposed to be a research project to help evaluate the performance in the mountain range and terrains with these vehicles.

The air pollution in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in fact one of the most polluted parks in America.There were almost 150 days which were considered to be unhealthy because of the air pollution found in the air of the park.

This is a new record and it is terrible because it is not expected to be found in a national park but it is. Though, even still this is considered to be a small problem there are many visitors that come to the park every year. It is a great park and one of the best in America today; and it does seem that everyone is doing all they can to try to preserve the park and land.

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Badlands National Park

Thousands of acres protected

 

The Badlands Park is located in South Dakota and is considered to be a National Park. There are over two hundred thousand acres of protected land within the park which consists of spires, a grass prairie, eroded buttes, and pinnacles. The largest undisturbed grass prairie is located here and the National Park Service manages the entire park.

There is an area – the Badlands Wilderness program – which protects up to sixty four thousand acres of land within the park. This is a wilderness area which helps to protect the most endangered mammals throughout North America. This is also where the Black footed ferret is homed, and the wilderness is also where the animal was reintroduced to the park.

There is a second area called the Stronghold Unit – this is an area which is managed with the National Park Service as well as with the Oglala Lakota tribe. In this area, there is an 1890’s site Ghost Dances which is a former gunnery range and bomb range for the US Air Force. The Red Shirt Table is at the highest point of the park at over 1000 meters.

Badlands National Park Facts
Badlands National Park Prairie

The History of Badlands National Park

Native Americans for almost eleven thousand years were seen in the national park. They mostly used the area as hunting grounds; and many of the Native Americans who lived in the park, still has descendants there throughout North Dakota today. They are the Three Affiliated Tribes which play a huge part throughout the State.

There has been evidence to show that Native Americans used the park for game and fresh water activities which is possible all year round. However, in the late 19th century, the American government removed the Native Americans of their land and in fact a lot of the territory was reduced. This forced the Native Americans to live on reservations.

The White River Badlands is certainly a unique and amazing area and the history is very rich also. This area has become a huge paleontological site as there are so many different artefacts that can still be found here and it’s still an area which is being explored. There were many fossilised bones, shells from turtles and seashells found in the area.

Researchers exploring the site believed the area had been under water and it was; and the many bones that were found were that of creatures which are extinct. The exploration of the area began during the 1840’s and over the years, traders and trappers went to the area also. There were many fossils which were found in the area and collected and many were loved because there are so many different animals to find including a fossilized jaw fragment. This fossil was collected by Alexander Culbertson who was a member of the American Fur Company.

In 1846, this fossil jaw fragment was taken to Dr. Hiram A Prout – a leading physician – who wrote and published a paper; apparently he claimed the jaw fragment came from a Paleotherium which was published in the American Journal of Science. However, this helped to bring more and more people to the Badlands and it soon became a huge fossil hunting ground. Within a short space of time, there were dozens of fossils found throughout the White River Badlands.

From 1849 through to 1854, Dr. Joseph Leidy published numerous papers about the many and different North American fossils found. There are more than 84 distinct species which were discovered in the area. Almost 77 of the species found were from the White River Badlands and it helped to create a bigger storm over the area and it became an interesting area to explore.

Over the years, professors visited the area in order to find a better method of extracting the fossils and keeping them intact during the entire process. Since 1899, almost every year, the South Dakota Schools of Mines have sent the best researchers to the White River Badlands to work in the area and find fossils. Since then, there have been many fossils found and it has proven to provide a glimpse of the life found there from millions of years ago.

Badlands National Park Information
Colorful rocks in Badlands National Park

The Homestead of Badlands

Before the American Civil War, the American homestead formed. For many years there were only a few people heading to the area, however, when the 20th century rolled around, things changed. There were more and more people travelling to the area, many farmers came from Europe and the eastern part of America to try to create a living from the area. Almost 65ha. of land was taken for each homestead and there were hundreds of farmers who moved to this land. However, this wasn’t big enough pieces of land to offer a family to get enough support to feed the family.

It was in 1916 when the area of land for each homestead was increase to around 260 hectares of land. This was a much improved size and this offered a chance for crops to grow and cattle to graze through the land. For most settlers however, they found a lot of trouble during the 1930’s because there were grasshoppers and all sorts of events happening that it caused the settlers to move.

All of the homes were left abandoned by the settlers. However, not all settlers left the area; some actually remained and even today, there are still people who live there and who raise wheat and ranch.

The Indian Reservation

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was taken over by the US Army Air Force; this was due to the war that broke out and almost 340,000 acres of land was taken from the reservation. The area was used for gunnery ranges from 1942 all the way through to 1945; and even after the war, the bombing range was used by the South Dakota National Guard as an artillery range.

A lot of the land was turned over to the National Park Service in 1968 because it was no longer used. The Park is beautiful and mysterious.

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Sequoia National Park

With the largest trees in the world

 

Sequoia National Park is found in Visalia, in the American State of California. It was first established in 1890, on the 25th of September and the park stretches across a vast length of almost 404,000 acres. It is one of the largest National Parks in American and in fact the world also; though it is world famous for its amazing giant sequoia trees the park has.

This will include the General Sherman tree which is one of the largest trees in America and on Earth also. The Giant Forest is the location in which the Sherman tree grows; and there are also another four of the world’s biggest trees that grow in the forest also.

The Geology of the Park

The park does hold a rather large area of longest mountain range found in America today. This is the Sierra Nevada and this is in fact the tallest mountain range – the Mount Whitney, which is almost 4420 meters above sea level so it’s a large range. However, the canyons and mountains across Sierra Nevada including the park, is going to be created of granitic rocks. This really means there is a combination of monzonite, diorite and granite mixed into the rocks of the mountains.

Most of the caves found in the park are going to be solution caves which are actually dissolved from marble. Marble rocks are lime stone but it has been changed due to the pressure due to formation and the heat also. There are at least 240 known caves in the park but there could be many more; some predict that there are hundreds more out there that have yet to be discovered.

Sequoia National Park Facts
Passage carved into the trunk of a redwood

Lilburn Cave is the longest cave in the park and in California also as this stands at almost 32 kilometers or 20 miles in length. There have also been newly found caves which are not open to the public. The caves are still very much unexplored so these are only open to specialists who will come to study the cave’s geology however there is only one cave open to the public.

Crystal Cave is going to be the only cave available to visit and it is around 5 and a half kilometers in length (3.4 miles). What is more, the Crystal Cave is amazingly preserved even though it receives a huge amount of visitors each year. Though, Crystal Cave has been well known since 1918; as on the 28th of April of the same year, was when the cave was discovered. The only way to get to the cave however, is for the visitors to take the guided tour though it does have a good temperature of around 9 degree Celsius.

New caves in the park are usually found a few times a year. Mostly it’s just one found each year but since 2003, there have been a further 17 new caves found. One of the most recent cave findings was in 2006; in September, the Ursa Minor cave was discovered. Though, each cave is valued in terms of their features, their beauty and endemic cave life also. This is done by scientists and can help to determine whether a cave can be safe to visit or not.

The Sequoia National Park Attractions

There are many different activities and attractions to choose from when visiting the park including back packing, camping, hiking and fishing. Though, there are also a lot of different attractions to visit while in the park.

The Sherman Tree Trail; this is a great trail to take because it’s under a mile for the entire roundtrip and it leads exactly to the General Sherman tree. It is an easy trek to make and it will be very fun to take the family along also. Getting a picture of the General Sherman Tree would be amazing.

The Tunnel Log; this is a great tunnel which leads from a lovely but fallen giant sequoia tree. The tree in which the tunnel goes through is almost 84 meters in length (275 feet) and a massive 6.4 meters in width (21 feet) also. This tree fell in 1937 though it wasn’t cut down or damaged in any way; it was all down to nature. In 1938, a specialized crew cut through the trunk of the tree – almost 2 meters tall and 5 meters in width to create a way through to the road.

Sequoia National Park Landscape
Mineral King, Sequoia National Park.

Tokopah Falls; this is a lovely trail which starts near the Marble Fork Bridge, this is next to the campground. This is a short 1.7 miles walk along the Marble Fork but there are some amazing sights of the waterfall and granite cliffs.

Crescent Meadow; this is a very small but beautiful meadow. This is found in the Giant Forest region.

Moro Rock is a great dome found near the centre of the park. It is a granite dome and found right at the heart of Moro Creek; visitors will be able to locate this somewhere between the Crescent Meadow and the Giant Forest.

The Camp Grounds. The camp grounds are a great place to stop in at if visitors wish to stay overnight. There are actually a lot of different grounds to camp out in including the foot hill areas. The three foot hill areas are Buckeye Flat, South Fork and Potwisha; though there are others which include Cold Springs, Atwell Mill, Dorst Creek and Lodge Pole though the amount of these camp sites can vary.

The Giant Forest Museum. This is a great place to visit because there is a lot of information about the park here. Visitors can find out a lot of information about the giant sequoias found throughout the national park. There is also a lot of information about the human interaction with the park and the history surrounding the park. This museum was built in 1928 and ever since, it has had many visitors discovering the history behind the park.

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