Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service
By Molly • August 22, 2016
On August 25th in 1916, with great foresight, Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service into existence. It was this act that created the famous mission statement of the National Park Service: “To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” In celebration of the Park Services 100-year anniversary, here’s a list of a few of our favorite parks in the Southwest United States!
Canyonlands National Park
Boasting over 512 square miles and three separate districts, Canyonlands National Park provides endless opportunities for exploration and hiking. The National Park contains jutting cliffs, the mighty Colorado River, and canyons so deep light rarely reaches the bottom. Those in search of big views and accessible viewpoints can visit the Island in the Sky District for sweeping vistas of nearly the entire park. If you’re in search of some solitude, check out the Maze District for some one-on-one time with nature. The Maze is the least visited area of the park and one of the most difficult to reach places in the lower 48. The third district is called the Needles and is named as such for all of the sandstone spires that create the canyons. Canyonlands is best described in the words of the infamous Edward Abbey – “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere.”
Arches National Park
With its close proximity to the town of Moab, UT Arches provides excellent opportunities for both day and weekend trips. There are over 2,000 arches within the park and nearly endless trails to explore. The arches have been chiseled out of the rock throughout time by wind and water, creating spectacular geological formations. Many arches can be seen from a vehicle or on a quick hike off from the road. Arches is famous for its dark and clear nights which provide breathtaking star gazing that only the desert can offer!
Petrified National Forest
Located in eastern Arizona, Petrified National Forest is an incredible gem in an unforgiving landscape. Famous for it’s different types of fossils, most of them being trees from the late Triassic period, this national park is also home to incredible geological formations and colorful badlands. Early inhabitants left behind about 600 known ruins spread throughout the park. This park is a spectacular place that is a reminder of how different life has been throughout the ages.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is located in Southwest Colorado and was founded in order to protect the archeological sites of the Ancestral Puebloan people who called the area home. The sites in the area are some of the most well preserved in the country and the beautiful canyons and sweeping vista provide an awe-inspiring backdrop. The park is spread out over 52,485 acres and contains over 5,000 different ruins, including Cliff Palace which is thought to be the largest in North America. Visiting the park on a guided trip will make it less overwhelming and ensure you see the best that the park has to offer!
Woodrow Wilson was right – these national parks may have been America’s best decision. With technology and innovation ushering us into a new age, nature and access to the outdoors are imperative for current and future generations. We love our parks and the freedom that they give us, and we thank them for the century of access that we have been given. While you’re out and visiting Canyonlands and Arches, take a float on the infamous Colorado River! Tour Mesa Verde with us and our knowledgeable guides for the best experience you can receive. If you plan on joining us for the Salt season next spring, stop by and check out the Petrified National Forest. To support and learn more about the National Park Service, visit their website here!