1) Yellowstone National Park
There are fewer than 1,000 geysers in the whole world and over 500 of them are located in Yellowstone National Park. That is the highest concentration of geysers on the planet! Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks' area is roughly half the size of New Zealand.
Yellowstone Park experiences about 2,000 earthquakes a year. There are over 290 waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. The most famous is probably Lower Falls, a favorite subject of Ansel Adams' works. Larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
2.2 million acres total. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-altitude lake above 7,000 feet in North America. More than 2,400 miles of streams flow through Yellowstone, providing some of the best fly-fishing in the world.
The ground at Yellowstone emits about 5 gigawatts of energy, which is equivalent to the amount of energy it takes to provide a city of two million people with power. Yellowstone is the world's first national park. 96% of the park's area lies within the state of Wyoming, 3% in Montana, and 1% in Idaho.
Yellowstone National Park includes an active volcano! Yellowstone Park is home to two endangered species; the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) and the Whooping Crane (Grus americana).
Yellowstone got its name from the Native Americans who used to call it “Mi tsi a da zi” which simply means “Rock Yellow River”. They called it this because of the yellow-colored cliffs made of rocks that line the northern region.
This was eventually translated into “Yellowstone” by the French fur trappers and thus, a name was born. The park is best known for its geothermal features that can be found all over the park. The internal heat coming from the earth is the closest to the surface in this area than it is anywhere else in the world and this is what causes these “Hot Spots. Old Faithful erupts approximately every sixty-five minutes and each eruption lasts for about four minutes.
2) Bryce & Zion National Parks
The 287-foot-long (87.6-meter-long) Kolob Arch, perched high on a canyon wall in the park's backcountry, is one of the world's largest freestanding natural arches.
During the summer or fall, you may see a tarantula crossing a road or trail in Zion National Park. But don't be frightened-- tarantulas are actually amazing arachnids--gentle, basically harmless creatures that have suffered a bum rap.
California Condors, which were released in Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona, in the late 1990s, are increasingly being sighted in Zion National Park. Bryce Canyon National Park has a 7.4 limiting magnitude night sky! In most rural areas of the United States, 2500 stars can be seen on a clear night.
At Bryce Canyon, 7500 stars can be seen twinkling in the void! Bryce has some of the world's cleanest air, offering views of three states and visibility of up to 200 miles. Paiute Indian history says the colorful hoodoos were "Legend People" who were turned into stone by the trickster god Coyote.
In Bryce, the "canyon" is formed by a process of freezing and thawing, rather than as the result of a river. This process is called "ice wedging". The word “Zion” is Hebrew. It means “a place of peace and relaxation.” Zion's Virgin River has four native fish species with great names: Virgin River Spinedace, Speckled Dace, Flannelmouth Sucker, and Desert Sucker.
At Weeping Rock, the water that emerges took 1,000 years to travel through the rock from a spring. The Olympic torch passed through Zion on its way to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games.
3) Black Hills, SD
Wind Cave National Park was the first cave in the U.S. to be designated a national park. It is actually a system of complex caves, covering more than 28 acres of caves, grasslands and pine forests. Harney Peak (elev 7,242 feet) in the Black Hills is the highest point east of the Rockies in the United States.
Legend has it that the tradition of spreading saw dust on the floors of bars and saloons started in Deadwood, South Dakota due to the amount of gold dust that would fall on the floor.
The saw dust was used to hide the fallen gold dust and was swept up at the end of the night. Drilling began on the four faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 1927. Towering 6,200 feet, the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall. Creation of the Shrine to Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere $4 million, though it's now deemed priceless.
The Crazy Horse mountain carving now in progress will be the world's largest sculpture (563' high, 641' long, carved in the round). It is the focal point of an educational and cultural memorial to and for the North American Indian. The gigantic Crazy Horse is the world's only mountain carving in progress.
The George S. Mickelson Trail, in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, was completed in September of 1998. The trail follows an abandoned railroad bed, is 109 miles long and contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels. Black Hills; Yes there really is a secret 50 ft. tunnel behind Mt. Rushmore, maybe not such a secret now. But the "Hall of Records" was originally envisioned to store important US documents and other artifacts.
Mount Rushmore's Thomas Jefferson was originally started on George Washington's right. However, after 18 months they realized that it was not working. Jefferson's face was dynamited off and carved on the other side. No one died while building Mount Rushmore! Over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved by using dynamite. Dynamite blasts removed approximately 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain.
The erosion rate of Mount Rushmore National Memorial is estimated by geologists at 1 inch every 10,000 years! It should be around for many years to come.
Your friendly travel experts, Austin Adventures