The most fascinating thing about a tourist destination is that despite being a part of the earth, it is totally different from the places we come across on a daily basis. This is the main reason why people chose to head to the destinations which provide a different environment and experience as well as the opportunity to engage in learning and recreational activities. The Arches National Park in the state of Utah is considered to be such a place that provides plenty of options for its visitors to explore it from different perspectives and through different methods and make the most of their vacation time.
The park area was inhabited by Ancient Pueblo and Fremont people till seven centuries back. The Paiute and Ute tribes continued to inhabit the region after the Fremont and Pueblos. These tribes were spotted by the Spanish missionaries in 1775.
In the 19th century, the region was inhabited by European-Americans for a brief while.
National Park Service (NPS) came to know about the area after they were informed by a railroad passenger traffic manager, Frank A. Wadleigh. Frank had visited the Arches sometime in 1923 when he was invited by a prospector from Hungary.
Federal investigators arrived to the Arches to identify the exact area to be included in the monument. Several names given to parts of the Arches were changed by these investigators. NPS had been supporting the idea of the monument from the very beginning. During the tenure of Herbert Hoover as the President, a proclamation was signed which led to the establishment of the national park.
In 1938, additional features were added to the park area and facilities were built to enhance tourism.
The Arches National Park is one of the best recreational centers of Utah which offers a heartwarming experience to its visitors whenever they arrive here. There are so many things to see and do at the park that a whole day can be spent here in different pursuits without getting bored.
The easiest way to become familiar with the park and most of its features is to go for a self-guided auto tour through the roads of the Arches. The largest arches of the park are at the Windows Section. The Delicate Arch Viewpoint is also worth watching and while coming back from this point, visitors can stop at the Wolfe Ranch and look at the dwelling of people who used to reside here during the 19th century.
Visitors can obtain a permit for backpacking in the park from the visitor center, following which they can form a group of maximum of ten members and go for backpacking.
Another interesting way to spend your time in the park is by bicycling over the unpaved and paved roads. There are no dedicated lanes for bicycles as such and it is necessary for the visitors to remain alert for the motor vehicles and other bicycles passing by.
Canyoneering is one more recreational and adventurous activity of the Arches.
Visitors must obtain a permit for canyoneering only if they opt for Fiery Furnace route or wish to stay for the night in the backcountry.
Rock climbing is one more adventurous way to get intimate with the park. Visitors must obtain a permit if they are planning for an overnight stay in the backcountry.
Several local companies provide guided tours to the visitors, allowing them to gaze through the landscapes of the park and learn more about what they can comprehend by looking at the features of the park.
Apart from the guided tours, several ranger led programs also offer an insight into the history, geology, and characteristics of the park.
There are several easy, moderate, and long hiking trails in the park which allow the visitors to hike and explore the different features.
Since there are no restaurants, hotels, and lodges within the park premises, visitors must carry their food, water, and other supplies to the park.
There are a lot of restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, and gas stations at Moab that fulfill the requirements of the park visitors.
Park Timings and Charges
Arches National Park remains open 24 hours a day, throughout the year. The park visitor center remains open from 09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. and its closing time is extended from spring to fall. It remains closed on Christmas.
Entry charges differ according to the number and type of visitors with additional charges for activities inside the park. Specific charges are applicable for wedding, special events, and commercial photography within the park.
Educational tours to the park are granted fee waiver upon approval by the Southeast Utah Group Fee Coordinator.
The temperature of the park can soar up to 110 degrees during summers. Visitors must take necessary precautions and carry ample supply of potable water and other fluids to keep the body hydrated.
How to Reach
Arches National Park is located at a distance of 5 miles from the city of Moab, 110 miles from Grand Junction, 236 miles from Salt Lake City, 350 miles from Grand Canyon National Park, and 360 miles from Denver.
The nearest airports from the park are located in Salt Lake City, Moab, and Grand Junction.
The nearest Amtrak junction is at Grand Junction and Green River.
Visitors can reach to the park by buses running from Green River and Grand Junction.
Commercial vehicles are available on rent from all of the above mentioned cities and other destinations through different tour operators.
The events and people of the ancient period can be traced through the various remains. These remains are found through several scientific methods carried out by experts. One method is the excavation of a site through which artifacts and other remains and traces can be found, which allow us to know more about the culture and lifestyle of an era that passed away centuries before. Canyons of The Ancients National Monument is regarded to be one of those places where experts have found out various evidences of the early inhabitants of this place.
The area was first occupied by the Ancient Pueblo people since 750 AD. Known as the Developmental Pueblo era, the occupation of these people continued till 1100 AD. This era saw development in terms of water conservation techniques, pottery, etc.
The era that followed is known as the Great Pueblo era, from 1100 AD to 1300 AD, during which the population and the number of dwellings increased significantly. These people pursued the profession of either farming or hunting. They also followed the tradition of pottery.
The Native American tribes occupied the canyons from 1300 till 1700, followed by the European and American settlements.
The first excavation of the canyons was carried out in 1928, while a restoration project was carried out in 1965, following which the canyons was designated as a national historic landmark and gained entry into the National Register of Historic Places.
The monument is currently administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The primary aim to establish this wing of the U.S. Department of the Interior was to protect the monument and enforce regulations to preserve its glory.
What to See
There are several interesting sites within the monument that entertain the tourists and researchers alike. These include:
It is one of the three wilderness study areas of the monument. Spread across an area of 9,156 acres, the elevation of this portion of the monument goes up to 1800 meters.
This is the second wilderness study area of the monument. It occupies an expanse of 12,721 acres, out of which 1,800 acres is located in the state of Utah. The highest elevation of this portion is 2000 meters.
Third wilderness study area of the monument, this part occupies an area of 11,357 acres, out of which 6,676 acres falls into the state of Utah. The highest elevation of this area is around 2000 meters.
Painted Hand Pueblo
This is a site that has not been excavated by the experts. The boulders found here carry pictographs that depict human hands, from which it derives its name.
Sand Canyon Pueblo
Built during the latter half of the 13th century, this dwelling consists of a total of 420 rooms, along with 14 towers and 90 kivas.
Anasazi Heritage Center
It is the visitor center of the monument equipped with interactive exhibits, theater, and a library.
Hiking, horse riding, boating, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, etc., are some of the popular recreational activities of the monument.
Best Time to Visit
The visitor center of the monument remains open on all days of the year, except for three national holidays. All visitors below 18 years of age and those having Federal Recreation Passes are granted free entry. Visitors of 18 and above are required to pay an entry fee of $3.
The monument is situated in a remote location, far from the civilization. Visitors of the canyon must carry ample supplies of water, sunscreen, first aid kit, medicines, and all other supplies necessary to stay and survive in this location.
Some of the wildlife of the park can be dangerous. Visitors must ensure that they keep a safe distance from these animals.
While watching the remains of the ancient era is a pleasing experience, visitors must not touch, move, push, or scratch the walls, rocks, doorways, etc.
Do not leave any traces of your visit at the monument. Carry a plastic bag with you to dispose off any waste.
How to Reach
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is located at 27501 Highway 184, Dolores, at a distance of approximately 9 miles from the city of Pleasant View.
Nature has bestowed us with many things priceless. One of the many gifts of nature is the wilderness and the wide landscapes covered with different forms of wildlife. It is needless to say that humans must always be in close contact with nature because it is what makes the world a better place to live in. Only when we become familiar with nature, we become appreciative of all its characteristics. Organizations across the world have recognized the importance of nature and all its friends and have established several parks for the people. Grand Teton National Park of Wyoming is one such establishment of National Park Service, a federal agency assigned with the task of administering all national parks of the U.S.A., which offers an exclusive experience of getting close to the nature and entertaining oneself through various sights and activities of the park.
The area currently occupied by the Grand Teton National Park was a habitat of Paleo-Indians as well as Native American tribes several centuries back. The first people to inhabit this park pursued hunting as an occupation. Various tools of that period were discovered during excavations, which date back to more than 11,000 years.
However, these hunters were migratory people who did not settle down for a long period in the park. When the first expedition of the area was led in the early 19th century, the group came across people belonging to the Shoshone people. These people also followed the same tradition as their predecessors, that of migrating after a short stay at the park area.
The Teton Range was first spotted by a member of Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1808, following which a number of maps were created to ascertain the geography of the park.
The main aim of the visits post this one was to collect fur from various animals, which led to a competition between the British and American companies to gain supremacy in the fur trade. Due to extensive hunting followed by a decline in the demand of beaver fur, companies started to wind up their operations in the Grand Teton Valley.
The first expedition of the park area sponsored by the U.S. government, known as the Raynolds Expedition, was sent during the 1850s. The exploration came to a standstill during the Civil War, after which a geological survey of the region was conducted in 1871.
The maximum number of inhabitants of the region for a long period went up to 60 people, consisting of homesteads. Ranchers continued to occupy the park area till the early years of the 20th century. In the same time, people started to visit the park area and roads of the park were renovated to provide easy access to the visitors.
As the number of tourists increased, guest ranches were built in the park to provide the visitors an authentic experience of how it feels to be a rancher.
During the late 19th century, Teton Range became a hotspot for mountaineers. By the 20th century, several climbing routes were known, encouraging the tourists to reach to the ascent of the peak.
The present day Grand Teton National Park was established under the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge in 1929. The adjoining Jackson Hole National Monument was combined with the park in 1950.
The park is one of the most frequented national parks by the tourists. On an average, 2.5 million visitors arrive to the park.
What to Do
Visitors are free to explore the park through guided and self-guided tours. The major recreational activities of the park include bicycling, backcountry camping, hiking, birdwatching, fishing, horseback riding, boating, snowshoeing, etc.
Seasonal ranger-led programs are also offered for children and adult groups.
A total of five visitor centers introduce the tourists to the park features and exhibit several artifacts.
The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center features a relief map of the park area, natural history exhibits, and plays an introductory video for the visitors.
The Colter Bay Visitor Center features a bookstore, exhibits, auditorium, etc.
Exhibits at the Flag Ranch Information Center provide information about the Greater Yellowstone Area and the John D. Rockefeller, JR. Memorial.
The Lawrence S. Rockefeller Preserve Center features unique sensory exhibits and offers ranger-led programs.
The Jenny Lake Ranger Station provides all the necessary information required for backpacking and climbing in the park area.
Eat, Drink, Collect
Visitors of the Grand Teton National Park can buy breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and beverages at the John Colter Cafe Court, Chuckwagon Restaurant, and Pioneer Grill of the Jackson Lake Lodge.
Visitors can buy ornaments, books, toys, maps, gifts, and other items from the bookstore operated by the Grand Teton Association.
How to Reach
The Jackson Hole Airport is located within the Grand Teton National Park and is served by three domestic air carriers.
Visitors can also reach the park by driving in their vehicles or hiring a private cab.
Monotony is nothing but a systematic chaos that creeps into our lives, rendering us unhappy with life. This monotony creates a halo of negativity in the long term and makes us grow into a troubled soul even if we are blessed with all the necessities, comforts, and luxuries. Therefore, it is necessary to kill monotony before it overpowers our existence. One easy way to end this monotony is to pack the bags and go on a destination that enchants our soul and helps us to revive and relax so that we can go back to the routine life with new found zest. One charming destination that can help kill the monotony is Navajo National Monument of Arizona, a protected landscape which is famous for its ancient cliff dwellings.
This national monument is famous for the cliff dwellings constructed by the Ancestral Puebloan people, who are sometimes referred to as the Anasazi people by the current occupants of Navajo. These people were largely dependent on agriculture for earning a livelihood. Crops grown by these people included cucurbits, maize, beans, etc.
The dwellings seen in the monument area were created to spare the land for agricultural purpose. Many of the dwellings were used as warehouses for storing farm yields.
These dwellings were abandoned during the latter half of the 13th century, the main reason being the “Great Drought” during this period. Another reason cited by the experts is the damage caused to the fertile land following the arroyo cutting.
A legend states that the inhabitants left the dwellings for a spiritual quest.
The abandoned dwellings were discovered in 1895 by two brothers from Colorado, who belonged to a ranching family. They were deeply interested in exploring the Kayenta region. Apart from discovering these sites, both of them contributed their efforts in the preservation and maintenance of the dwellings which together form the monument. Even before the monument was established, they had started working as a guide for the visitors and earning substantial income.
Navajo National Monument is spread across an area of 360 acres and consists of several places of historical and cultural significance. The two main structures of the monument include:
Betatakin is a dwelling where there were 120 rooms during the time it was built, out of which 80 rooms have survived while the remaining were destroyed. There is a kiva near this dwelling. It is believed that around 125 people occupied this dwelling.
It is said that this site was occupied during 1250 AD and was abandoned by the beginning of 14th century. A total of 150 people are believed to have resided in this dwelling, which is considered to be one of the best preserved ancient site of Southwest America.
Most of the dwellings are made of sandstone blocks supported by a mixture of mortar and mud. Many of the structures built in the base of these dwellings were destroyed by natural factors.
Timings and Activities
During the summers, beginning from the last week of May till the first week of September, the visitor center of the monument remains open from 08:00 a.m. to 05:30 p.m. During this period, both the campgrounds remain open for the visitors.
During the winters, beginning from second week of September till the third/last week of May, the visitor center opens at 09:00 a.m. and closes down by 05:00 p.m.
A museum in the visitor center and an area reserved for picnicking are two primary attractions of the monument.
Free tours to Betatakin are organized on a regular basis. The first tour begins at 08:15 a.m. is a 5 mile trip to the cliff and back. It can take anywhere between three to five hours.
The second tour begins at 10:00 a.m. and takes a minimum of three to four hours.
Visitors of the monument must make advance reservations for the Kate Seel hike and also obtain a permit from the visitor center for the same. A group of a maximum of 20 people is allowed for this tour.
There are no charges for entrance in the monument and the guided tours.
How to Reach
Navajo National Monument is accessible through road transport from nearby cities. It is located towards the end of the State Highway 564.
Among many of the historical landmarks that exist in the United States of America, some are the residences that were owned by famous personalities who hold a prominent position in the books of history, intellectual discussions, posters, archives, etc. One such personality from America who has always been alive even after his death is Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous architect, writer, interior decorator, and educator whose works still inspire people today. Along with his works and philosophy, he left for us his home and studio known as Taliesin in the state of Wisconsin, a legacy that has become a symbol of the heights of excellence and the unparalleled talent this person possessed.
Before moving in to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright used to live with his wife in Oak Park in Illinois. It is said that he moved to Wisconsin after his wife came to know about his affair with a client.
The valley where this home and other structures are constructed was settled earlier by his maternal family, who had started an educational institute in 1887. Frank had been a regular visitor of this valley ever since he turned eleven.
Many years later, Wright turned up to the valley for shelter and decided to construct his home in the hills, as he had always been in love with this place. He had implemented his philosophy of organic architecture, using local materials to create many parts of the house.
Wright moved into his house along with Mamah Borthwick Cheney (with whom he was having an affair) after the Christmas of 1911. Three years later, a servant employed by the family killed Mamah and her children as well as four others who were working with Frank. The servant had also set the living quarters to fire before chopping off the victims with an axe. Frank was in Chicago while all this happened.
Two co-workers were able to survive this killing spree. The assassin, Julian Carlton, had been hiding in the furnace of the house. He was left unharmed by the fire. He was arrested and put in jail where he breathed his last six weeks after the incident.
Following the last rites and other formalities, Wright decided to rebuild the portion that was destroyed by fire. He renamed this part as Taliesin II. A few years later, this portion was again destroyed by a fire that broke out as a result of lighting storm while Wright was inside the house. Frank rebuilt the damaged portion again and renamed it as Taliesin III.
Frank continued to reside at this house and gradually acquired the plot of land surrounding the house. For most of the time, he continuously experimented with the house, altering its design and hiring apprentices for assistance. He also initiated a movement known as the Deco Decorative Movement, inviting artists to stay and implement their thoughts and suggestions for the beautification of the estate.
Frank constructed his winter home in Arizona in 1937 and continued to experiment with both the houses alternately. It was in this house where he designed some of the most memorable and noteworthy structures such as the Guggenheim Museum, Fallingwater, Johnson Wax Headquarters, etc.
In the meantime, Frank had married for the third time in his life. He and his wife Olgivanna established the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in 1940. When Frank died in 1959, the ownership of both the houses along with his archives were transferred to the foundation.
The restoration work of the estate is administered by a nonprofit organization known as Taliesin Preservation, Inc. Ever since this organization was formed, millions have been spent to restore and stabilize this estate. As the estate was more of a laboratory for inexperienced students and Frank himself, it was never considered to be kept in a specific style using strong foundations, which would enhance its life and durability.
What to Do
Several tours revolve around the interior and exterior of the estate and surrounding gardens. Visitors can opt for the Estate Tour, Highlights Tour, House Tour, Hillside Studio and Theater Tour or group tours. It is advised to make advanced reservations for the tours.
Apart from the tours, visitors can enroll for one of the many family, youth, adult, and senior citizen programs and children camps organized by the administering authority, Taliesin Preservation, Inc.
The Visitor Center of the estate can be rented by organizations for organizing meetings, seminars, presentations, and other events.
Eat, Drink, Collect
The Riverview Terrace Cafe, situated in the visitor center of the estate, serves lunch to the visitors from 11:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. on weekdays and brunch during the same time on weekends. This schedule is followed for the months of May through November.
Dinner is served on Tuesday through Friday from 04:30 p.m. to 08:00 p.m. between June 9 – October 31.
Visitors of Taliesin Estate can purchase home accessories, apparels, jewelry, books, gift items, stationary products, and several other collectibles from the Taliesin Bookstore at the visitor center.
The Taliesin Estate is open for visitors from 09:00 a.m. to 05:30 p.m. for the months between May through October. During the months of April and December, the estate is open for the visitors from 10:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. on weekends and on Fridays after Thanksgiving Day.
The estate remains closed from December till March.
How to Reach
The Taliesin Estate is located at a distance of 2 miles from the Spring Green Village. It is easily accessible through road from nearby counties and states.
America has always been a favorite spot for tourists from different parts of the world only because it offers a wide variety of recreation spots to choose from. One prominent recreation center of America is the Haleakala National Park, located in the states of Hawaii, which has been known for entertaining visitors through its magnificent features.
The current day park that visitors see was initially regarded as a part of the Hawaii National Park. It was separated from the latter and established with its current name in 1961.
A legend associated with the park describes that the park is the place where a demigod held the sun as a prisoner, so that the length of the day could be increased, hence the name Haleakala or “house of the sun”. Haleakala is also the name given to the dormant volcano to the east of the island, which erupted for the last time centuries ago.
In 1980, a part of the park was given the designation of an International Biosphere Reserve.
The park occupies an area of 33,265 acres and is divided into two sections. The first section is the Summit Area, which is famous for the Haleakala Crater. This crater is two miles wide, 790 meters deep, and spreads over around seven miles in length. Inside the crater, several features of a dormant volcano have been discovered. There are three cabins near the crater that must be reserved in advance by the tourists.
Visitors gather in large numbers at the summit just to watch the sunrise and sunset; two beautiful scenes offered by this place. The fauna of this stretch of the park is equally distinctive with native species from America, along with the species of plants from Australia, Japan, and Himalaya mountain range.
Other than watching the sunrise, sunset, and the widespread forests, visitors also find the summit area to be a perfect spot for amateur astronomy, a task encouraged by the merchants in the vicinity who provide telescopes and binoculars on rent. A near extinct specie of Hawaiian Geese can also be spotted in the park.
The second half of the park has been named Kipahulu section, which is accessible through the Hana Highway. A part of this section is closed for the visitors as a measure to preserve the flora and fauna. The best features of this section of the park are several pools where visitors can take a dip and spot native species of freshwater fish.
Other Features and Facilities
There are three visitor centers in the park that provide the required assistance and information to the park visitors. All the visitor centers of the park are open throughout the year according to the availability of the staff.
The visitor centers showcase exhibits and provide posters, books, maps, and other informational resources to the visitors at a nominal price.
Ranger led programs, walks, hikes, and other activities keep the visitors engaged and informed about the history and characteristics of the park.
There are two campgrounds within the park area, which can accommodate 50 and 100 persons respectively.
Another attraction of the park is the Haleakala Observatory, also known as the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing observatory, administered by the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Hawaii.
There is an outlet known as the Crater Coffee, which serves basic snacks and beverages including tea, coffee, etc.
Student groups can visit the natural laboratory of the park and learn more about the geology and other factors that make the park a distinctive and worthy place to be at. These student groups are granted waiver on entry fee.
A walk to the shore allows the visitors to watch whales, turtles, fishes, seabirds, dolphins, and other aquatic wildlife.
Tourists must bring accessories such as sunglasses, raincoats, sunblock, mosquito repellent, food, comfortable and sturdy shoes, swimming gear, and other items required for expedition.
Summit area is located at a higher altitude as compared to the Kipahulu section. Tourists must ensure that they are in a healthy state to face the challenges caused by the altitude.
There is no gas station inside the park and tourists must fill in their vehicles with adequate gasoline and ensure that the vehicle is fit for driving in the park roads.
Tourists arriving at the park have to purchase a recreational pass issued by the authorities which cannot be transferred to another person. Other charges are applicable according to the type of the visitor group and commercially organized tours.
How to Reach
Haleakala National Park is accessible only through private or rented vehicles, as no public transport modes serve this part of the island. People with a passion for adventure, usually cycle all the way to the summit. The route that leads to the path is not an easy path to tread on. Tourists opting to take this route must be prepared to face the extremities of the climate.
One of the best things about planet earth is that it is full of places with historical significance. So, despite all the advancements in the construction practices and development of landscapes for different purposes, some remains of the past exist to remind us of an era that passed away and the people who were associated with these historical places. There is a long, long list of such places which occupy an important place in the books of history and minds of the people, one of them being the Threefoot Building in the state of Mississippi.
Threefoot Building dates back to 1929. It was constructed by a Jewish-German family, which migrated to America during the 19th century. Known as the Dreyfuss family, they changed their last name to Threefoot as a translation of their original last name.
As a family involved in business, Threefoot’s wealth increased enormously by the beginning of the 10th century. The company constructed the present day building in the 22nd Avenue of downtown Meridian. Construction was completed by 1929. In the same year, the stock market crashed, followed by the Great Depression, which led to the closure of business operations of the family.
The ownership of the building went to different organizations before being gradually abandoned in the 1990s.
The ownership of the building was in the hands of a real estate developer till 2006 when it was acquired by the city of Meridian. A renovation of this historical building was planned in 2009 by the Historic Restoration, Inc. (HRI), from New Orleans.
A parking garage was inaugurated in downtown, following which the authorities decided to convert the historical building into a 125 room hotel. Following several problems and disputes arising for this pursuit, the plan to renovate Threefoot Building was finally abandoned, with a statement by the City Mayor that the city and HRI would devise a new plan to renovate the building somewhere down the line.
The building, with a total of sixteen storeys, is currently the tallest building of the city. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated as a state landmark in 2008.
Threefoot Arts Festival
The influence of this building in the landscape and history of Meridian led to the inception of Threefoot Arts Festival in 2002, an annual event during which works of local artists were showcased in a building located close to Threefoot Building. This festival was held in the month of October with free admission to everyone.
Apart from the art exhibits, several live events by various artists were a part of the show. Local and national companies sold food and beverages while other business establishments of the city offered various schemes and discounts to the visitors.
Threefoot Arts Festival was merged with Arts in the Park Festival in 2009. It is held in the first weekend of April every year since 2011.
Meridian is an old city with many other historical structures and places. Union Hotel, Lamar Hotel, E.F. Young Hotel, East End Historic District, West End Historic District, Highlands Historic District, Merrehope Historic District, Poplar Springs Historic District, etc., are some of the landmark sites of the town which must be visited during a trip to Meridian.
Meridian Museum of Art is another historical landmark of the state. Inaugurated in the 1970s, this museum features several rotating exhibits and offers several educational programs for adults and students alike.
Highland Park, the site of a museum, Highland Park Dentzel Carousel and Shelter Building, is one more place of interest for the tourists.
Restaurants and Shopping Outlets
Bonita Lakes Mall, a shopping mall spread over an expanse of 58,910 square meters, is the place where tourists will find a lot of restaurants, specialty shops, department stores, etc.
How to Reach
Threefoot Building is located at 601 22nd Avenue, Meridian. Being in the middle of the city, it is easily accessible through public as well as private modes of transportation.
There is always a place near a city that is frequented by people in a pursuit to rejuvenate and relax with their companions or alone. This place is recognized as an important landmark owing to its significance in the lives of people and to the identity of the state where it is located. It features some unique characteristics which in turn attract more and more people for its exploration. The Crater Lake National Park in the state of Oregon, United States, is a fine example of such a distinctive place that has the potential to amuse the visitors and deliver an experience of a lifetime, as they become familiar with its various characteristics.
Crater Lake National Park surrounds the area that was earlier occupied by Mount Mazama, a volcano, of which only reminiscences can be found in the form of a caldera (crater).
The destruction of this volcano was witnessed by the early inhabitants of the current park area. Legends related to this volcano continued to pass through various generations of these inhabitants. One legend states that the destruction occurred as a result of the Chief of the Above and the Below World engaging in a battle, following which Mount Mazama, the home of the latter erupted and created the crater.
The lake was later visited by a group of three who were looking out for gold mines in the region. As they came across the lake, they were baffled by the aura created by it and decided to name it the “Deep Blue Lake” while the point where they stood at this moment was named Discovery Point. Locals did not abide with the name given by these gold prospectors and continued to call it the Crater Lake.
The movement to establish a National Park at the lake site was initiated by William Gladstone Steel. He teamed up with a geologist and surveyed the lake on a boat. They measured the depth of the lake at various points. Upon measuring the depth from more than a hundred points, they came to know that the deepest point of the lake was at 608 meters.
Recognizing their efforts, the then-President Theodore Roosevelt established the Crater Lake National Park in 1902. The first establishment of the park was Crater Lake Lodge, inaugurated in 1915.
The park is spread over an area of 183,225 acres and is currently administered by the National Park Service (NPS). It registers more than 400,000 visitors every year.
Following the eruption and other geological activities, the park got some unique characteristics, including the:
In the ancient period, the wind carried ash and pumice to this area and resulted in the formation of a very thick layer (60-90 meter) of deposits. It is believed that in the later period, this surface was washed away by erosion though tall spires and pinnacles still remain at the site.
Remains of an extinct volcano in the form of a volcanic plug can be seen, formed due to the solidification of lava in the neck of the volcano.
It is classified as a shield volcano.
Another shield volcano of the park, this one can be spotted towards the northeast of the park.
Rim Drive is the passageway to drive around while exploring the beauty of the surroundings.
What to Do
The park offers many recreational activities for the visitors. Hiking, boating, swimming, ranger led programs, trolley tours, camping, etc., are some of the options to choose from as one embarks on his journey into the wild.
The Steel Visitor Center and the Rim Visitor Center introduce the visitors with the park features and provide necessary information before they begin their exploration.
The park offers educational programs for school groups, which help the teachers and students learn more about the features and geology of the park.
Visitors can organize events such as weddings, rallies, sports events, picnics, etc., after obtaining the necessary permits from the administering authorities.
Eat, Drink, Collect
Visitors can buy lunch, snacks, and beverages from the Rim Village Cafe and Gifts, Annie Creak Restaurant, Mazama Village Camper Store, and the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room.
Lodging is available at the Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Cabins.
Visitors can buy gifts, books, and other supplies from the Steel Information Center, Rim Village Visitor Center, Annie Creek Gift Shop, Mazama Village Camper Store, and the Rim Village Cafe and Gifts.
Timings and Entrance Fee
The park remains open throughout the year though various facilities and roads are closed down during winters.
Entry fee differs according to the number of visitors in a group and vehicles brought by the visitors.
How to Reach
The nearest airport from the park is located at Medford and Klamath Falls from where cars are available on rent.
The nearest railway station from the park is located at Klamath Falls.
The only way to reach the park is through rented or private vehicles, as no public transport modes are available from the nearby cities.
As the roads inside the park are curvy, visitors are advised to concentrate on the road while driving and be prepared to face sudden climatic changes, including snowstorms.
Antiquity and beauty are two sides of the same coin. The more older a place becomes, the more beautiful it looks even if it is in a state of ruins. This happens because the phenomenon of time adding layers of antiquity to a place does not happen everyday and in every corner of the world. And the places where this phenomenon happens become a center of attraction, such as the Mesa Verde National Park of Colorado, which greets the visitors with its unique features and acts as a gateway to the period when it was inhabited by people, just like us.
Mesa Verde was inhabited by Modified Basketmakers, Developmental Pueblo, and Great Pueblo people between 550 AD to 1300 AD. Basketmakers were responsible for introducing pottery, which replaced the woven bags as well as arrows and bows, which replaced the tools used earlier. This helped the people hunt easily and collect animal hide and other parts for various purposes. People used to live in put houses constructed over the rim.
The era of Developmental Pueblo saw the construction of stone buildings in close distances. The kivas were built alongside the towers which were primarily used as an observation and lookout center. People improved in the skill of pottery and utensils of different shapes and sizes were made for domestic purposes. Designer utensils became a fad of the era.
The Great Puebloe Period lasted from 1100 AD to 1300 AD, and most of the cliff-dwellings at the park were constructed during this period. Made out of hard sandstone and adobe, many of the houses were similar to each other; differences emerging primarily due to different topography of each house.
As much as 100 people are believed to have occupied the Mug House, a typical building of the park which consists of 8 kivas and 94 rooms. The phase saw unparalleled progress in construction techniques. Motifs believed to be of religious significance are also seen in the dwellings.
The inhabitants evacuated Mesa Verde due to climatic changes and increasing population. Following the evacuation, the area became the hunting ground for Native American tribes though any evidence that suggests occupation of the dwellings for residential purposes was never found.
Two explorers and missionaries from Spain arrived to the region in 1776. They were unable to notice the stone village below the plateau which was covered with green trees.
The area encompassing the current park region was occupied by the people belonging to the Ute tribe. They did not occupy the old dwellings, as they considered these to be sacred sites.
The exploration of the region by American people began in 1870s, followed by visits of photographers, geologists, journalists, etc. Gradually, people came to know about the existence of the ancient village. Many of the artifacts found from the ruins were sold off to the Historical Society of Colorado and some of them were retained by Richard Wetherill, one of the two cowboys who initially explored the ruins.
Richard Wetherill, along with his family and friends, invited a Swedish explorer who took deep interest in photographing the site and gathering artifacts and information. Following his exploration, he decided to send the artifacts to Sweden. When people came to know about this event, they became concerned about the preservation of the site.
The movement to protect the cliff dwelling of Mesa Verde was initiated by Virginia McClurg, a journalist from New York Daily Graphic, who managed to gain support of more than two lac women for the cause. The Colorado Cliff Dwellers Association was formed as a result of this movement with an aim to retain as much artifacts as it can and spread awareness regarding the significance of the dwellings and its inhabitants.
After several decades, Mesa Verde was declared as a National Park under the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Many of the sites were stabilized to present further damage, and infrastructural facilities were added for the ease of the visitors.
The park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and designated as a World Heritage Site in 1978.
What to Do
There is no shortage of things to be done at the Mesa Verde National Park. The Visitor and Research Center at the entrance is where the visitors get to learn about the culture of lifestyle of Ancestral Puebloan people through its exhibits and collections.
A visit to the Cliff Palace, Balcony House, Long House, Spruce Tree House, and other ancient as well as modern structures is a must. On days when the park is bustling with visitors, people are asked to opt for a single tour, either of the Cliff Palace or the Balcony House.
Birdwatching is a popular activity of the park and so is hiking and cross-country skiing. The park authorities organize several programs and tours on a regular basis that help the visitors to interact with the rangers and other visitors of the park.
Eat, Drink, Collect
The Far View Terrace and Marketplace offers Native American and Southwestern cuisines along with a variety of pizzas and burgers.
The Spruce Tree Terrace offers salads, sandwiches, and burgers to the patrons.
The Metate Room offers various options for lunch and dinner to the patrons.
The Knife Edge Cafe serves only breakfast from 07:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. during summer season.
Visitors can purchase books from the bookstore at Chapin Mesa Museum and Far View Visitor Center. Gifts and collectibles can be purchased from the stores located at the Far View Lodge and Spruce Tree Terrace.
Morefield Campground is the place where you can purchase grocery, gasoline, and other supplies needed during exploration of the park and camping.
How to Reach
The park is accessible through road transport only. The roads are narrow and steep and people driving their vehicles must ensure that it is kept in a good condition with optimum levels of gasoline.
The nearest airport from the park is located in the city of Cortez, followed by the airport at Durango. Visitors can rent vehicles from both the airports upon arrival.
There are more wonders in the world than those we know about. Located in a uninhabited place, far from the streets and neighborhoods of the modern day civilization, there are some sites that have been there for ages, hiding from the chaos of urban lifestyle, in a reclusive state. These sites are more than just what we usually call beautiful or breathtaking. Adjectives come to a standstill and expressions condense into nothingness when we witness the features of a place as unique as Carlsbad Caverns National Park of New Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site administered by National Park Service (NPS) of the U.S.A.
The park is famous for its 117 caves, of which only three are open for public viewing. The most developed cave of the park, Carlsbad Caverns, were discovered by James Larkin White, also known as Jim White, a park ranger employed with the NPS. Although Jim White had been exploring the caves, whoever he told about the same would not believe his words.
White continued to explore the caves and gave different title to each cave he came across. Later, the authorities came to know about the existence of the caves, following which the then-President of America, Calvin Coolidge decided that the caves must be designated as a national monument.
Conceived by Coolidge, the idea passed through various stages before it was finally accepted by the Congress in 1930, thus establishing the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which would be administered by NPS.
A new method of exploring the interior of the monument was introduced in 1985, which helped the explorers to discover two rooms named as “The Spirit World” and “Balloon Ballroom”.
Many of the rooms have been named by various explorers. These rooms were discovered during a period of several decades. The most prominent ones include:
Bell Cord Room
The room was named after the stalactite passing through the ceiling, appearing like a rope hanging from a campanile.
Most of the bats have made this cave their shelter, thus the name. It is a large passage which is directly connected to the entrance corridor.
Lake of The Clouds
Located just above the Lake of the Clouds, it was discovered in 1982 and is named after a myth about the existence of a world located in the sky that is accessible through a rainbow.
This chamber was named after the castle-like formations seen by the explorers.
Half of The White Giant
This room houses a large stalagmite and is included in the wild-cave tour led by the park rangers.
Other sections named by the explorers/rangers include the Guadalupe Room, New Mexico Room, Queen’s Chamber, The Rookery, Talcum Passage, etc.
What to Do
Visitors of the Carlsbad National Park have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to the exploration of the park from different perspectives and moods.
Visitors can opt to explore the caves through ranger-led tours, covering spider cave, slaughter canyon cave left hand tunnel, and other parts that require serious efforts to be explored and innate desire to watch and appreciate the natural formations found inside.
There are several backcountry caves that remain open for the visitors throughout the year, accessible after requisite permits from the authorities. However, visitors must remember that passing through the vertical sections of these caves is possible only if they are experienced enough with the rappelling gear and ropes.
Hiking is another popular activity pursued by the park visitors. There are no restrictions for hiking across the various trails during the day, but visitors planning to stay overnight are required to obtain a free permit. Campfires are prohibited, and it is necessary to carry necessary supplies including potable water.
The Caverns Historic District is a complex consisting of several buildings constructed during a span of three decades.
The Rattlesnake Springs Historic District is another must watch section of the historical park area. Like the Caverns Historic District, this portion is also known for several ancient structures. It is also designated as a picnic area for the tourists, offering a beautiful view of the landscapes and various wildlife habitats. Around 500 species of birds have been recorded here so far, making it a heaven for bird lovers.
Eat, Drink, Collect
There is a lunchroom inside the Big Cave, where visitors can buy and eat munchies though they must not carry it anywhere else. The visitor center of the park is inclusive of a cafe where visitors can buy snacks, meals, and beverages at a nominal price.
Other restaurants and stores can be found near the park entrance.
The gift shop at the visitor center sells collectibles, books, photographs, etc.
Timings and Entry Fee
The entry fee for the caves is $6 per person. Entry to all the visitors below the age of 15 is free. A ticket is valid for three days from the purchase day. Additional charges are applicable for ranger-guided tours.
Entry to the park is free on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, National Park Week, National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day Weekend, and National Park Service Anniversary.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park remains open throughout the year, except on the day of Christmas.
Entry to the caverns is open till 02:00 p.m. and 03:30 p.m. through natural entrance and elevator, respectively. The entrance time is extended by one and a half hours for both the entrance points during summer season.
The visitor center remains open from 08:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. and the closing time is extended by two hours during summer season.
How to Reach
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is accessible through New Mexico Highway 7. Tourists can travel in hired vehicles or board Greyhound or TNM&O bus lines. The nearest airport is located at El Paso.