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National Parks

National parks of the United States and Canada
by

Katie Irwin

on 24 February 2011

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Transcript of National Parks

By: Katie Irwin “A national park is a reserve of natural or semi-natural land, declared or owned by a government, set aside for animal safety and/or human recreation and enjoyment, and protected from most development.” Glacier Yellowstone Glacier Grand Canyon Zion Banff Hawaii Volcanoes Lake Tahoe Arches Mount Rainier Jasper Glacier Grand Canyon Jasper Yellowstone Hawaii Volcanoes There are more than 148 million acres in the National Park System in the United States and Canada. Because of the huge area made up by the U.S. and Canada, you will of course find that the national parks are not all the same. There are unique landforms according to where the park is located, due to the varying physical geography of the region. Although they all have one-of-a-kind characteristics, the national parks are similar in some ways. They have plentiful wildlife and beautiful natural phenomena. jansonmedia Mountains, islands, and ocean combine to form the beautiful Acadia National Park. It is located in Maine on the rugged, rocky coast. Acadia is the only United States National Park in New England. It covers most of Mount Desert Island and other coastal islands, encompassing more than 47,000 acres. It is one of the smaller national parks of the country, but it has around 3 million visitors per year. This national park has a lot of variety. It includes mountains, an ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. There are freshwater, estuary, forest, and intertidal habitats. A magical place is formed by the rocky coastlines, granite mountains, lakes and ponds, moss and evergreen, crashing waves, and abundant wildlife mixed with local character and seafood. There are over 20 mountains on Mount Desert Island that were all pushed up by earth’s tectonic and volcanic forces many, many years ago. They would be even taller than they are today if it were not for the huge glaciers that sheared off their tops. The glaciers left behind the elongated mountains and lakes we see today. The moving ice also caused the “bald” summits of most of the mountains of the park by scraping off the vegetation and leaving the beautiful pink granite underneath. Cadillac Mountain is one of these mountains and is the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard. Its pink granite summit is one of the first places in the U.S. to see the sunrise. The climate of Acadia National Park is determined by its latitude and marine influence. The temperatures are more moderate than those of inland Maine, and there is a lot of precipitation. Spring can be foggy with temperatures ranging between 30 and 70 degrees. Summer daytime temperatures range from 45 to 90 degrees. In the fall, temperatures can be in the low 70’s during the day and freezing at night. Because of the coastal location, Acadia’s snow and weather conditions can change rapidly in the winter. The park is great for many activities. These include bicycling, bird watching, fishing, hiking, boating, rock-climbing, and swimming. Carriage rides are also available because miles of carriage roads were originally built by Rockefeller, Jr. http://www.visitbigbend.com/map2010/index.php#point100083 video at:
http://www.acadiainfo.com/ Big Bend National Park is located in Texas along the Rio Grande River, which forms the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. The park gets its name from the “big bend” in the international border that it preserves. It covers 801,163 acres, and it is one of the largest, most remote, and least-visited national parks in the lower 48 United States. Big Bend includes mountain, desert, and river environments. Along the 118 miles of river that form the southern park boundary, there are also the Santa Elena, Mariscal, and Boquillas canyons. The Rio Grande, winding through part of the Chihuahuan Desert, cut these canyons to have nearly vertical walls, which are made primarily out of limestone. The land contains stories of oceans rising and falling, continents colliding, and millions of years of volcanic turbulence. Big Bend National Park has an extreme climate. It is dry and hot in the late spring and summer, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees in the day in the lower elevations. The park usually has mild winters, but sometimes there are sub-freezing temperatures. There is a wide variation of moisture and temperature throughout the park because of the range in altitude. The elevation is about 1,800 feet along the river, and it’s 7,832 feet at Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains. Because of this variation, there is great diversity in plant and animal habitats. There are even some species in Big Bend National Park that are found nowhere else in the U.S. such as the Chisos Oak. The main attractions of Big Bend are hiking and backpacking trails. Bird watching is also an activity possible at this national park. Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona and is one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The park covers 1,902 square miles. The Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, lies within the park. It is a mile at its deepest and 18 miles at its widest. The Grand Canyon was created by millions of years of natural erosion. It is not the deepest canyon in the world, but it is known for its overwhelming size. When President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903, he exclaimed, "The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison--beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see." It was not made a national park until 1919. Popular activities to participate in at the Grand Canyon National Park include hiking, horseback riding, and even taking rafting trips. Nearly 5 million people view the Grand Canyon each year. Many see it from overlooks along the South Rim, the most accessible part of the park. The North Rim, directly across the canyon from the South Rim, has fewer visitors. The North Rim is a thousand feet higher than the South Rim and is much less accessible. The Inner Canyon includes everything below the rim. Each section has different climate, vegetation, and experiences. The North Rim is the coldest and the wettest. It receives up to 26 inches of precipitation a year while the South Rim only receives around 16 inches of precipitation a year. The Inner Canyon is the closest to a desert. The lower you descend, the hotter and drier it becomes. The floor of the canyon, about a mile below the North Rim, is about 35°F hotter than the temperatures above. The Grand Canyon is geologically significant because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. It is also a spectacular example of erosion. The Colorado River rushes at the bottom of the canyon, about 1,850 feet above sea level. Scientists still haven’t agreed on the how’s and why’s of the creation of the Grand Canyon, but there is always one constant, the Colorado River. It always was and always will be a stimulus to change in the canyon. Hawai’i Volcanoes National park was established in 1916. It is the number one tourist destination in Hawaii. The park covers 505.36 square miles of land and encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Mauna Loa to the sea. The park encompasses two active volcanoes: Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive volcano. The park has diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. It is said that this national park displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution- that a bare land was thrust from the sea and covered with unique ecosystems. The park is a sacred place for Native Hawaiians because they believe the goddess Pele lives in Kilauea. Kilauea has been erupting since January 3rd, 1983, and Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. As of January 1994, 491 acres of new land have been created on Hawaii’s Big Island because of the lava of Kilauea. Island weather is unpredictable, and the temperature varies by elevation. At Kilauea’s summit (4,000 feet), the weather varies daily and may be rainy and chilly any time of the year. The temperatures there may be 12 to 15 degrees cooler than at sea level. The coastal plain at the end of Chain of Craters Road, where lava enters the ocean, is often hot, dry, and windy with the possibility of passing rain showers. Mammoth Cave National Park is located in central Kentucky. It was established as a national park in 1941. This park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. It is open year round with the highest visitation in June, July, and August and the lowest in January. The park is situated on the Mammoth Cave Plateau and contains an area of karst (an area of limestone terrain characterized by sinks, ravines, and underground streams) of international importance. The core area is a dissected plateau (a plateau area that has been severely eroded so that the relief is sharp) called the Chester Upland, made up of sandstone-capped ridges which protect the underlying caverns, separated by limestone valleys pitted with sinkholes. Beneath the sandstone-capped ridges of Mammoth Cave National Park lies the most extensive cave system on Earth. After 4,000 years of on and off exploration, the full extent of this water-formed labyrinth remains unknown. There are more than 390 miles of passageway already explored, and new discoveries and connections add several miles to this number each year. Geologists estimate that there could be as many as 600 miles of yet undiscovered passageways. The formation of Mammoth Cave is said to have begun millions of years ago by the dissolving action of mildly acid groundwater on beds of limestone, which created underground passages. Eventually, the water dropped, leaving the passages dry except for surface water entering the cave from above and underground streams that eroded the passages even more. Aboveground there are sinkholes and hiking trails through wooded areas. Boat trips are available on the Green River. Mammoth Cave holds the world’s most diverse cave ecosystem. Around 130 forms of life can be found in Mammoth Cave. Most are small. Some use the cave as only a haven, but others can live nowhere else. In this area of Kentucky, summers can be very warm with average temperatures in the upper 80s, but cool evenings are possible. For spring and fall, it can be kind of cool. In the winter, there is a moderate amount of snow, and highs average in the low to mid 40s. The wettest seasons are spring and summer, and the driest is the fall. The average annual precipitation is 48 inches, including an average snowfall of 13.7 inches. Temperatures in the cave remain constant at 54° F, and relative humidity stays at 87 percent. Also, the cave is equipped with electric lights. Activities popular at Mammoth Cave National Park include caving, hiking, backpacking, bird watching, camping, nature walks, boating, fishing, and horseback riding. Yellowstone National Park is located primarily in Wyoming, but it extends into Montana and Idaho. About 96 percent of the land area of Yellowstone National Park is located within the state of Wyoming. Another 3 percent is within Montana, with the remaining 1 percent in Idaho. The park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It covers 3,468 square miles. Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, being established in 1872. The park is located at the headwaters of the Yellowstone River. It sits on the Yellowstone Plateau, at an average elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level. The plateau is surrounded on nearly all sides by mountain ranges of the Middle Rocky Mountains. The park is comprised primarily of high, forested, volcanic plateaus that have been eroded over the millennia by glaciers and stream flow and that are flanked on the north, east, and south by mountains. Rivers and lakes cover 5 percent of the land area, with the largest body of water being Yellowstone Lake at 87,040 acres. Forests comprise 80 percent of the land area of the park, and most of the rest is grassland. Yellowstone National Park has lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges. Yellowstone National Park is known for its wildlife and many geothermal features. Yellowstone has the most geysers of anywhere in the world, bubbling mudpots, brilliant turquoise hot springs, wisps of smoke emerging from hillsides, rushing waterfalls, steep canyons, steaming creeks, a huge lake, and abundant wildlife. The park rests on one of the largest active volcanoes in the world. Half of the world's geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Some people might not realize that along with the famous geysers, Yellowstone also has a volcano. Scientists estimate that it is one of the largest volcanoes in the world, and so far it is the largest volcano in North America. The Yellowstone Volcano does not look like the popular image of a volcano. Instead of being a conical mountain, it is a large depression in the ground like a cauldron. This is known as a caldera. It is very difficult to see the actual shape because it is covered with trees and has eroded over thousands of years. The cause of all this geothermal activity is a hot spot beneath Yellowstone. A hot spot is a persistent plume of hot material rising through Earth's mantle. This rising plume delivers heat to the area, causing forces in the crust that produce earthquakes but rarely produce a volcanic eruption. There are approximately 2,000 earthquakes annually. These are usually extremely small though. The most recent volcanic eruption at Yellowstone occurred about 70,000 years ago. But the magma system underneath the park has produced some of the largest volcanic eruptions in Earth's history- eruptions so large that they have been called "supervolcanos". One of these eruptions produced the caldera that measures about 45 by 30 miles. Aside from the volcano, Yellowstone National Park is very well known for its other geothermal features. Yellowstone has over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers. Also, it has one of the world's largest petrified forests. It has over 290 waterfalls too. Among the geothermal features found in Yellowstone are numerous geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and hot spring terraces. Hot springs are pools of hot water that have seeped to the Earth's surface to form small ponds. A hot spring terrace is a beautiful terrace formed by the dissolved limestone in the hot water reaching the surface solidifying. Mudpots are hot springs that do not have much water. The acidic water in the mudpots causes rock to turn into clay, which mixes with the hot water to form mud. The mud bubbles and pops as hot steam from below is released into the air. A geyser is a hot spring that erupts periodically. Old Faithful is a very famous Yellowstone geyser. Reaching a height of 106-184 feet, Old Faithful eruptions are predictable to within 10 minutes. Predictions are based on findings that Old Faithful will erupt 65 minutes after an eruption lasting less than 2.5 minutes or 91 minutes after an eruption lasting more than 2.5 minutes. In addition to the geothermal features, there are around 1,000 miles worth of hiking trails. Yellowstone’s climate is one of cold winters and moderate summers. Most of the park is above 7,500 feet and the weather is unpredictable. Precipitation ranges from 10 inches at the north boundary to 80 inches in the southwest corner. Yellowstone has abundant wildlife, with 7 species of ungulates (bison, moose, elk, pronghorn), 2 species of bear and 67 other mammals, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish, and of course the gray wolf. There are over 1,100 species of native plants, more than 200 species of exotic plants, and over 400 species of thermophiles. Yosemite National Park is located in east central California. It is one of America’s most popular national parks with over 3.7 million visitors each year. It encompasses 761,268 acres and is about the size of Rhode Island. The elevation range is from 2,127 to 13,114 feet . The park reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain with spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Eighty-nine percent of Yosemite is designated as wilderness area. Even though the Yosemite Valley makes up only one percent of the entire park, it attracts the vast majority of tourists to Yosemite due to its incredibly breathtaking features. Yosemite Valley is the centerpiece of the park, sprayed by thousand-foot waterfalls and framed by monumental granite spires. The 1,430-foot Upper Yosemite Falls is one of the world's five highest waterfalls. On the western side of the valley is El Capitan, a 3,000 foot high granite formation that has attracted thousands of rock climbers for decades. On the eastern side of the valley is Half Dome, which is a granite structure 4,737 feet high that looks as if an entire mountain has been cut in half. It is said that about 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in the formation of deep, narrow canyons. Many, many years ago, glaciers with a thickness reaching 4,000 feet moved through the Yosemite Valley and cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley we see today. Yosemite has a wide variety of wildlife. Of California’s 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% within Yosemite. Since Yosemite National Park has an elevation that ranges from 2,000 feet above sea level to over 11,000 feet in some portions, the plant life is varied. In the lower parts of the park, ponderosa pine, white firs, Douglas firs, giant sequoia tree, and different types of oak are found. As you travel higher up in Yosemite, you are more likely to find lodgepole pines, western white pines, and red fir trees. At the highest points the trees are smaller, with hemlocks and white-bark pines growing until the tree line is reached, where no trees grow due to the elevation. Only four trees, which are also California giant sequoias, are bigger than Yosemite's 2,700-year-old Grizzly Giant tree. In Yosemite, animals such as California bighorn sheep, cougars, black bears, coyotes, mule deer, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and great gray owls make their homes. The weather at Yosemite National Park is generally unpredictable due to the nature of the terrain, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains capable of causing quick changes. Yosemite has a Mediterranean climate, which means that most precipitation falls during the mild winter, and the other seasons are nearly dry with less than 3% of precipitation falling during the long, hot summers. Yosemite receives most of its precipitation in the months of January, February, and March. Summers are warm and dry. During spring and fall, warm, sunny days can suddenly become stormy. Popular activities of the park include bird watching, fishing, photography, rafting, swimming, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and rock climbing. However, mountain biking is not allowed at Yosemite. Also, 750 miles of hiking and backpacking trails are available. Glacier National Park is located in Montana, bordering the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. This national park has pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. The park is bordered on the north by Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, and the Flathead Provincial Forest and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1,000,000 acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. It is thought that the mountains of Glacier National Park began forming 170 million years ago when ancient rocks were forced eastward up and over much younger rock layers. These mountains were carved into their present shapes by the huge glaciers of the last ice age which have largely disappeared over the last 12,000 years. Of the 150 glaciers that existed in the park in the mid-19th century, only 25 active glaciers remained by 2010. Scientists studying the glaciers in the park have estimated that all the glaciers may disappear by 2030 if the current climate patterns continue. The current shapes of the Lewis and Livingston mountain ranges and positioning and size of the lakes of the park show evidence of massive glacial action that carved U-shaped valleys and left behind moraines (accumulated earth and stones deposited by a glacier) that confined water to create lakes. The park contains a dozen large lakes and 700 smaller ones, but only 131 lakes have been named. Glacier National Park has many climates and microclimates because it is on the Continental Divide and has more than 7,000 feet in elevation variance. It is an alpine system, so average temperatures usually drop with an increase in elevation. The eastern side tends to have higher winds and more sun. The western side of the park has a milder and wetter climate. Precipitation is greatest during the winter and spring averaging 2 to 3 inches per month. Snowfall can occur at any time of the year, even in the summer, and especially at higher altitudes. Snowfalls are significant over the course of the winter, with the largest accumulation occurring in the west. During the tourist season, daytime high temperatures average 60 to 70 °F and nighttime lows usually drop into the 40 °F range. The park has abundant wildlife. Twenty-three species of fish live in park waters, and fishing is a popular park activity. Birdwatchers will find many species of waterfowl along with larger birds of prey, including bald eagles. Big horn sheep, mountain goats, elk, black bears, and whitetail and mule deer are frequently seen in the park. Grizzly bears, moose, wolves and mule deer also live there all year. There are over 700 miles of trails you can use to explore the park. Auyuittuq (ah-you-ee-tuk) National Park is located on Baffin Island’s Cumberland Peninsula in Nunavut, Canada. Its 19,089 square kilometers of glacier-scoured terrain lie almost entirely within the Arctic Circle. Auyuittuq means "the land that never melts." It features the many terrains of Arctic wilderness, such as fjords, glaciers, and ice fields. Sweeping glaciers and polar sea ice meet jagged granite mountains in this park. Auyuittuq includes the highest peaks of the Canadian Shield, the Penny Ice Cap, marine shorelines along coastal fjords, and Akshayuk Pass, a traditional travel corridor used by the Inuit for thousands of years. The Penny Ice Cap is a vast, 6000 km2 expanse of ice and snow. Except for this feature, the park’s landscape has been entirely glacier-formed. The 97km Akshayuk Pass (crossing the Arctic Circle) is trekked by hikers between late June and early September, when it’s snow-free. Mt Thor (1500m), the earth’s highest sheer cliff, is a popular challenge for climbers. Three of the park’s lakes, Crater, Summit, and Windy, were created about 100 years ago when moraine ridges of gravel and boulders formed a natural dam that held back the meltwater when the glacier retreated. The polar marine climate of Auyuittuq means long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Summer brings almost endless daylight, but direct sunlight does not hit the park for one-quarter of the year. Winds of 15-20 km/hour are common year-round although they tend to be stronger (30-40 km/hr) from late summer to early winter, with extremes at 100 km/hour. The park receives very little precipitation but late summer is the wettest time of year. There can be snow anytime and anywhere in Auyuittuq. New snow is common by mid-August in the pass, and above 2,000 feet elevation snow is permanent. Little vegetation can be found in Auyuittuq National Park because of the climate. Because of the harsh conditions, many of the plants in Auyuittuq National Park grow in clumps to create their own warmer "microclimate" to survive. Wildlife species of Auyuittuq are wonderfully adapted to the dominant environmental conditions in the arctic. There are fewer numbers of wildlife species in arctic ecosystems as compared to southern ecosystems though. Species of mammals that live in Auyuittuq Park range from lemmings, arctic hares, and ermines to polar bears, arctic foxes, and some barren-ground caribou. Auyuittuq is covered by the Penny Ice Cap and many glaciers and mountains, so only a small portion of the land area has good wildlife habitat. In contrast, the coastal marine areas, including the northern fjords of the park, are rich in wildlife. Eight species of terrestrial mammals, six species of marine mammals, 18 species of breeding birds, and 13 species of fish have been recorded in this park area. However, plentiful communities of marine animals, especially ringed, bearded, and harp seals, beluga whales, narwhals, and walruses, inhabit the park’s coastal waters. Popular activities of the park include camping, hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and wildlife viewing like whale watching. The majority of park visitors come in July and August, and they spend most of their time in the southern part of the park. Banff (pronunciation: /bæmf/) National Park, Canada’s first national park, is located in the Rocky Mountains on the western border of the province of Alberta. It encompasses 2,564 square miles of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forests, and alpine landscapes. At this park you can marvel at the emerald waters of Lake Louise, walk in the flower-filled heavens at Sunshine Meadows, and drive beneath the towering jagged peaks lining the Icefields Parkway. Lake Louise is one of the Canadian Rockies’ most beloved destinations, with turquoise waters sparkling underneath the towering Victoria Glacier. The Icefields Parkway, a road extending 143 miles, connects Lake Louise to Jasper, Alberta. Of the numerous large glaciers and icefields of Banff, many are easily accessed from the Icefields Parkway. As with the majority of mountain glaciers around the world, the glaciers in Banff are retreating. Because it is east of the continental divide, Banff has much more extensive meadows and alpine areas than any area west of the divide. So, Banff has just about everything: rugged mountains, glaciers, icefields, alpine meadows, beautiful blue cold-water lakes, mineral hot springs, deep canyons, and hoodoos (columns of weathered and unusually shaped rock). Located on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, Banff National Park receives 19 inches of precipitation annually. During winter months, temperatures in Banff are more moderate compared to other areas of central and northern Alberta because of Chinook winds and other influences from British Columbia. The average low temperature during January is 6 °F, and the average high temperature is 24 °F. Weather conditions during summer months are pleasant, with high temperatures during July averaging 71 °F, and daily low temperatures averaging 45 °F. There are certain things that are constant factors in Banff National Park's weather such as the park's latitude, the Pacific air from the west, the mountains that surround and fill the park (especially those of the Continental Divide), and the occasional jet of continental air from the east. In winter, the sun stays up for only a little while and hits the ground in a way that provides little heat and keeps temperatures low. In the summer, the sun stays in the sky for a long time, but its rays hit the ground at an angle that diminishes its heating effect. The prevailing westerly winds could be the most influential factor in Banff's weather. These winds bring moist Pacific air from the ocean towards Banff National Park. As this moist air is forced up over mountain peaks, it cools. The cool temperature causes the moisture in the air to condense and then become precipitation. As the air descends on the downwind side of the mountain, it warms and stops causing precipitation. Also, the wind will sometimes come from the east, pushing continental air up over the mountains and reversing the normal situation. The summer sees sunny, warm days for such things as hiking, biking, camping, and climbing. The winter brings crisp, snowy days for tracking, skating, and alpine and nordic skiing. The park has 56 mammal species that have been recorded. Grizzly bears and black bears live in the forested regions. Cougars, lynx, wolverines, weasels, northern river otters, and wolves are some mammals of the park. Elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer are common in the valleys of the park. Moose live primarily in wetland areas and near streams. In the alpine regions, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, and pika are widespread. Due to the harsh winters, the park has few reptiles and amphibians with only one species of toad, three species of frog, one species of salamander, and two species of snakes that have been identified. At least 280 species of birds can be found in Banff including bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and falcons. Vegetation in the park ranges from grassland and alpine meadow to towering forests of evergreen. The species of vegetation in Banff National Park include 996 trees, grasses, and flowers, 407 lichens, 243 mosses and 53 liverworts. Nahanni National Park Reserve is in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is in the heart of the Mackenzie Mountains, centered on the river valleys of the South Nahanni and Flat Rivers. There are many beautiful landforms in the park that are thought to have taken millions of years to form. The centerpiece of the park is the South Nahanni River lined by the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Canyons. Some of the spectacular scenery includes Rabbitkettle Hotsprings, the source of the largest known tufa mounds in Canada; Virginia Falls, with a vertical drop twice that of Niagara Falls; a series of canyons up to 1200 meters deep; and caves such as Grotte Valerie with its ancient skeletons of nearly a hundred Dall's sheep. A long time ago, as the continents shifted, the North American and Pacific plates collided. The force pushed the layers of rock upwards. The ranges seen today were left behind by ridges of rock bending and breaking. This also caused volcanic activity, which sent lava into sedimentary rock. There are no volcanoes in the park, but towers of heated rock called igneous batholiths were sent upwards and pushed the sediment further up. Granite towers that make up the Ragged Range formed when the top layer of sedimentary rock eventually eroded away. Glaciers also influenced the landscape. The park’s sulphur hotsprings, alpine tundra, mountain ranges, and forests of spruce and aspen are home to many species of birds, fish, and mammals. The wildlife is diverse for the high latitude of the park. Most of the species adapt to the climate by either migrating for the winter or spending the winter hibernating. Forty-two mammal species have been recorded in the park. These include bears, wolves, moose, caribou, weasels, shrews, muskrats, beavers, and deer. A total of 180 bird species have been documented, with 21% of these species remaining in the north year-round. There are no known reptile species in the park and very few amphibians. Sixteen fish species have been recorded within the South Nahanni watershed. The climate is cold and highly variable. July and August are the warmest months with temperatures between 0°C and 30°C. The river begins icing in September. Activities include whitewater canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. There is also hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. Sirmilik National Park is located in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, Canada. Sirmilik means “the place of the glaciers.” Much of the park is covered by high mountain peaks and glaciers, but there are large plains of low-lying tundra too. The park features high sea cliffs, glaciers dropping into the sea, rugged mountains, and deep fjords. Sirmilik is composed of three areas: most of Bylot Island with the exception for a few areas that are Inuit-owned lands, Oliver Sound, and Baffin Island's Borden Peninsula. Bylot Island is a spectacular area of rugged mountains, icefields, glaciers, coastal lowlands, and seabird colonies. Oliver Sound is a long, narrow fjord with great boating, hiking, and camping opportunities. Borden Peninsula is a large plateau divided by broad river valleys. Much of the park is bordered by water. There are fascinating hoodoos (columns of weathered and unusually shaped rock) in the Borden Peninsula area of the park. They have been sculpted by centuries of erosion by wind and water. Caribou, arctic foxes, arctic hares, and wolves are found in the park. There are also polar bears. Specifically, the park’s marine life includes bowhead and beluga whales, narwhals, walruses, and several types of seals. The wetlands of the park (10% of the area) have abundant vegetation. In the arctic environment of the southern part of the island 360 species of plants have been documented. The polar marine climate of Sirmilik means long cold winters and short cool summers. There is endless daylight from May to August, but the sun is absent in December and January. July is the warmest month and has an average high of 11° C. In January the average high is a freezing -30° C. There are strong winds in the spring, and summer is cloudy. The winter is extremely cold. As you can see, the national parks all have their own unique characteristics. These characteristics are determined by many things, but they all come back to the location of the national park in a way. For example, notice how far away Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is from Auyuittuq National Park and how different they are. Their latitudes give them different climates, and their landforms are very different too. While Hawaii Volcanoes is on a hotspot and has active volcanoes, Auyuittuq is made up of ice and glaciers. All the national parks of the U.S. and Canada have beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife, but they are still different from each other. 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Pictureshttp://nature-reserves.net/?cat=3http://www.gotsaga.com/detailsaga/10-most-beautiful-national-parks-in-the-americas-and-canada/3817http://wallpaper.moohay.com/2008/06/usa-national-park-collection-pack-2.htmlhttp://rvroadtrips.blogspot.com/http://rightling.org/index.php?folder=bmF0aW9uYWwgcGFya3M=http://www.discoveryadventures.com/destination/united-states/http://www.squidoo.com/archesnearmoabutalhttp://bcadayatatime.com/page/22/http://westernamericana2.blogspot.com/2010/11/glacier-national-park-northern-pacific.htmlhttp://thundafunda.com/2/traveling-pictures-tourism/tourism-nature-pictures201.phphttp://www.allposters.com/-sp/Athabasca-Waterfall-in-Jasper-National-Park-Alberta-Canada-Posters_i3503905_.htmhttp://citypictures.org/r-north-america-151-canada-195-athabasca-falls-jasper-national-park-alberta-canada-2290.htmhttp://www.zionponderosa.com/zion-national-park-information.htmhttp://blog.caravan.com/us-national-parks-tours/http://www.nationalpark-adventures.com/colorado-national-parks.htmlhttp://marketplace.veer.com/stock-illustration/north-america-with-topography-1462701http://www.toys1-3.com/buy-cheap-national-parks-americas-best-idea-usa-map-300-piece-shopping/http://www.sierraclub.org/parks/map/http://listingsca.com/parksmap.asphttp://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/national-parks/Acadiahttp://images.globusjourneys.com/product.aspx?content=itin&trip=0CAhttp://dreamciti.com/blog/2009/01/10/maine-vacation-kittery-perkins-cove-marginal-way-ogunquit/http://www.flickr.com/photos/anandps/1325431392/http://www.acadiamagic.com/jordan-pond-01.htmlhttp://roaringworld.com/travel/acadia-national-park/http://www.chowmaineguide.com/index.php?page=acadia-national-parkhttp://home.comcast.net/~ka2000/acadia/http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acadia_national_park_map.pngBig Bendhttp://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/enlarge/big-bend-national-park_pod_image.htmlhttp://www.nature-photography-art.com/2009/01/phenomenal-photographic-places-1-big-bend-national-park/http://photos.igougo.com/pictures-photos-p265381-Santa_Elena_Canyon.htmlhttp://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/06/park-history-big-bend-national-parkhttp://www.pmansbach.com/BigBend/bigbend.htmlGrand Canyonhttp://vgjijo.blogspot.com/2010/09/grand-canyon-national-park.htmlhttp://www.wildnatureimages.com/Grand%20Canyon%205.htmhttp://www.hickerphoto.com/grand-canyon-national-park-8252-pictures.htmhttp://www.bing.com/travel/content/search?q=America%27s+Most+Incredible+National+Parks%3A+Grand+Canyon&FORM=RQTRAVhttp://www.grandcanyone.com/Hawaii Volcanoeshttp://www.volcanogallery.com/volcano_directions.htmhttp://uptocamp.com/http://dailydesktop.eu/postcards.php?image_id=41941&sessionid=7c1204cd79e8d1e075e10da92b8d16cbhttp://www.rainforestandreef.org/na/us/hawaii.htmMammoth Cavehttp://www.howstuffworks.com/mammoth-cave-national-park-ga.htm/printablehttp://members.virtualtourist.com/m/41273/c0875/http://www.mammothcave.com/outdoor.htmhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/golem21/4552305545/http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mammoth_Cave_National_Park_001.jpgYellowstonehttp://zollberg.co.cc/location-of-yellowstone-national-park.htmlhttp://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/yellowstone-national-park-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid9447.htmlhttp://grandcanyon.free.fr/images/cascade/thumb.htmlhttp://www.tracks-trails.com/yellowstone-national-parkhttp://www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/Old-Faithful-Webcam.htmhttp://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/01/tectonic-plates-thought-responsible-swarm-yellowstone-national-park-earthquakes5284http://nature-reserves.net/?p=29http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/wyoming/yellowstone-national-park/yellowstone-animalsYosemitehttp://67pics.com/view.php?q=Picture%20Of%20Yosemite%20National%20Park&url=http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/yosemite-national-park-ga-map.jpghttp://ceres.ca.gov/natural_resources/yv500.htmlhttp://www.townschool.com/student_activities/outdoor_education/8_yosemite_content.htmlhttp://www.inetours.com/National_Parks/Photos/Half-Dome-Glacier-Point.htmlhttp://www.images-photography-pictures.net/California_Yosemite_el_capitan.htmhttp://alpineinstitute.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.htmlGlacierhttp://www.globalpositions.com/CD_GlacierNtlPark_24K.htmhttp://nationalparkguidebook.com/60/glacier-national-park-overview-history-attractions/http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/best-us-national-park-views/1http://gliving.com/category/lifestyle/greenreport/page/16/http://sites.google.com/site/arsa54/webshots13http://www.jacktimes.com/world/america/glacier-national-park-photos.htmlAuyuittuqhttp://home.earthlink.net/~studio1photo/baffin.htmhttp://www.saddoboxing.com/Boxing-Posters/i3645789.htmlhttp://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=163425http://www.vacationideas.me/canada/mount-thor-peak-canada/http://wn.com/ice_caphttp://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/natcul/natcul2.aspxhttp://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/geology/page/5/Banffhttp://covertress.blogspot.com/2009/11/moraine-lake-banff-national-park-canada.htmlhttp://gocanada.about.com/od/wheretostay/ig/Fairmont-Hotels/Fairmont-Chateau-Lake-Louise.--3_.htmhttp://sean-phillips.photoshelter.com/image?&_bqG=69&_bqH=eJwrsohPNiwOdHEyD3IyDCw1zM0KiTINNCwvDjCxMjY0szI0MABhIOkZ7xLsbJubX5pXkpiZpwbmxjv6udiWANmhwa5B8Z4utqEgpe6.phHB6aYVkcWeavGOziG2xamJRckZAKoKIDY-&GI_ID=http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/Canada/Province_of_Alberta/Banff_National_Park-911385/Things_To_Do-Banff_National_Park-Icefields_Parkway-BR-1.htmlhttp://www.canadianrockies.net/mapshttp://www.planetware.com/picture/banff-national-park-cdn-cdn1190.htmhttp://www.mountaingetaway.com/banff/deals/a/7856/take-a-wildlife-safari-in-banffNahannihttp://www.mistercanoehead.com/nahanni.htmlhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/pradiptaray/2459795760/http://www.stanwhite.com/nahanni.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Falls_%28Northwest_Territories%29http://www.stanwhite.com/nahanni.htmlhttp://www.seatoskyexpeditions.com/nahanni-river-rafting.phpSirmilikhttp://mappery.com/Sirmilik-National-Park-Maphttp://www.sams.ac.uk/expedition-blogs/baffin-island-expedition/baffin-island-expedition-1/back-to-pond-inlet-for-hiroshis-flight-25-08-09-olivier-dargent-2http://wn.com/Sirmilik_National_Parkhttp://www.gotrekking.com/parks/355_Sirmilik+National+Park?locale=enhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/nunavuttourism/5142344677/http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/sb10067565a-001/The-Image-Bankhttp://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/sirmilik/visit/visit6/e.aspxInfoAcadiahttp://wikitravel.org/en/Acadia_National_Parkhttp://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htmBig Bendhttp://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htmhttp://www.visitbigbend.com/site09/en/Grand Canyonhttp://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htmhttp://www.grand.canyon.national-park.com/info.htmhttp://www.travelwest.net/parks/grandcanyon/Hawaii Volcanoeshttp://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htmhttp://www.volcanogallery.com/hawaii.htmMammoth Cavehttp://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htmhttp://www.mammoth.cave.national-park.com/info.htmYellowstonehttp://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htmhttp://www.yellowstone-natl-park.com/oldfaithful.htmhttp://www.yellowstone-natl-park.com/Yosemitehttp://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htmhttp://www.trails.com/list_1091_yosemite-national-park-facts.htmlGlacierhttp://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htmhttp://www.glacier.national-park.com/info.htmAuyuittuqhttp://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/index.aspxhttp://www.greatcanadianparks.com/nunavut/auyutnp/index.htmBanffhttp://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspxhttp://www.banfflakelouise.com/Nahannihttp://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nt/nahanni/index.aspxhttp://www.greatcanadianparks.com/northwest/nahninp/index.htmSirmilikhttp://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/sirmilik/index.aspx Sources
Pictures
http://nature-reserves.net/?cat=3
http://www.gotsaga.com/detailsaga/10-most-beautiful-national-parks-in-the-americas-and-canada/3817
http://wallpaper.moohay.com/2008/06/usa-national-park-collection-pack-2.html
http://rvroadtrips.blogspot.com/
http://rightling.org/index.php?folder=bmF0aW9uYWwgcGFya3M=
http://www.discoveryadventures.com/destination/united-states/
http://www.squidoo.com/archesnearmoabutal
http://bcadayatatime.com/page/22/
http://westernamericana2.blogspot.com/2010/11/glacier-national-park-northern-pacific.html
http://thundafunda.com/2/traveling-pictures-tourism/tourism-nature-pictures201.php
http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Athabasca-Waterfall-in-Jasper-National-Park-Alberta-Canada-Posters_i3503905_.htm
http://citypictures.org/r-north-america-151-canada-195-athabasca-falls-jasper-national-park-alberta-canada-2290.htm
http://www.zionponderosa.com/zion-national-park-information.htm
http://blog.caravan.com/us-national-parks-tours/
http://www.nationalpark-adventures.com/colorado-national-parks.html
http://marketplace.veer.com/stock-illustration/north-america-with-topography-1462701
http://www.toys1-3.com/buy-cheap-national-parks-americas-best-idea-usa-map-300-piece-shopping/
http://www.sierraclub.org/parks/map/
http://listingsca.com/parksmap.asp
http://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/national-parks/
Acadia
http://images.globusjourneys.com/product.aspx?content=itin&trip=0CA
http://dreamciti.com/blog/2009/01/10/maine-vacation-kittery-perkins-cove-marginal-way-ogunquit/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anandps/1325431392/
http://www.acadiamagic.com/jordan-pond-01.html
http://roaringworld.com/travel/acadia-national-park/
http://www.chowmaineguide.com/index.php?page=acadia-national-park
http://home.comcast.net/~ka2000/acadia/
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acadia_national_park_map.png
Big Bend
http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/enlarge/big-bend-national-park_pod_image.html
http://www.nature-photography-art.com/2009/01/phenomenal-photographic-places-1-big-bend-national-park/
http://photos.igougo.com/pictures-photos-p265381-Santa_Elena_Canyon.html
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/06/park-history-big-bend-national-park
http://www.pmansbach.com/BigBend/bigbend.html

Grand Canyon
http://vgjijo.blogspot.com/2010/09/grand-canyon-national-park.html
http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Grand%20Canyon%205.htm
http://www.hickerphoto.com/grand-canyon-national-park-8252-pictures.htm
http://www.bing.com/travel/content/search?q=America%27s+Most+Incredible+National+Parks%3A+Grand+Canyon&FORM=RQTRAV
http://www.grandcanyone.com/
Hawaii Volcanoes
http://www.volcanogallery.com/volcano_directions.htm
http://uptocamp.com/
http://dailydesktop.eu/postcards.php?image_id=41941&sessionid=7c1204cd79e8d1e075e10da92b8d16cb
http://www.rainforestandreef.org/na/us/hawaii.htm
Mammoth Cave
http://www.howstuffworks.com/mammoth-cave-national-park-ga.htm/printable
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/41273/c0875/
http://www.mammothcave.com/outdoor.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/golem21/4552305545/
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mammoth_Cave_National_Park_001.jpg
Yellowstone
http://zollberg.co.cc/location-of-yellowstone-national-park.html
http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/yellowstone-national-park-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid9447.html
http://grandcanyon.free.fr/images/cascade/thumb.html
http://www.tracks-trails.com/yellowstone-national-park
http://www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/Old-Faithful-Webcam.htm
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/01/tectonic-plates-thought-responsible-swarm-yellowstone-national-park-earthquakes5284
http://nature-reserves.net/?p=29
http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/wyoming/yellowstone-national-park/yellowstone-animals
Yosemite
http://67pics.com/view.php?q=Picture%20Of%20Yosemite%20National%20Park&url=http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/yosemite-national-park-ga-map.jpg
http://ceres.ca.gov/natural_resources/yv500.html
http://www.townschool.com/student_activities/outdoor_education/8_yosemite_content.html
http://www.inetours.com/National_Parks/Photos/Half-Dome-Glacier-Point.html
http://www.images-photography-pictures.net/California_Yosemite_el_capitan.htm
http://alpineinstitute.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html
Glacier
http://www.globalpositions.com/CD_GlacierNtlPark_24K.htm
http://nationalparkguidebook.com/60/glacier-national-park-overview-history-attractions/
http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/best-us-national-park-views/1
http://gliving.com/category/lifestyle/greenreport/page/16/
http://sites.google.com/site/arsa54/webshots13
http://www.jacktimes.com/world/america/glacier-national-park-photos.html
Auyuittuq
http://home.earthlink.net/~studio1photo/baffin.htm
http://www.saddoboxing.com/Boxing-Posters/i3645789.html
http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=163425
http://www.vacationideas.me/canada/mount-thor-peak-canada/
http://wn.com/ice_cap
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/natcul/natcul2.aspx
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/geology/page/5/
Banff
http://covertress.blogspot.com/2009/11/moraine-lake-banff-national-park-canada.html
http://gocanada.about.com/od/wheretostay/ig/Fairmont-Hotels/Fairmont-Chateau-Lake-Louise.--3_.htm
http://sean-phillips.photoshelter.com/image?&_bqG=69&_bqH=eJwrsohPNiwOdHEyD3IyDCw1zM0KiTINNCwvDjCxMjY0szI0MABhIOkZ7xLsbJubX5pXkpiZpwbmxjv6udiWANmhwa5B8Z4utqEgpe6.phHB6aYVkcWeavGOziG2xamJRckZAKoKIDY-&GI_ID=
http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/Canada/Province_of_Alberta/Banff_National_Park-911385/Things_To_Do-Banff_National_Park-Icefields_Parkway-BR-1.html
http://www.canadianrockies.net/maps
http://www.planetware.com/picture/banff-national-park-cdn-cdn1190.htm
http://www.mountaingetaway.com/banff/deals/a/7856/take-a-wildlife-safari-in-banff
Nahanni
http://www.mistercanoehead.com/nahanni.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pradiptaray/2459795760/
http://www.stanwhite.com/nahanni.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Falls_%28Northwest_Territories%29
http://www.stanwhite.com/nahanni.html
http://www.seatoskyexpeditions.com/nahanni-river-rafting.php
Sirmilik
http://mappery.com/Sirmilik-National-Park-Map
http://www.sams.ac.uk/expedition-blogs/baffin-island-expedition/baffin-island-expedition-1/back-to-pond-inlet-for-hiroshis-flight-25-08-09-olivier-dargent-2
http://wn.com/Sirmilik_National_Park
http://www.gotrekking.com/parks/355_Sirmilik+National+Park?locale=en
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nunavuttourism/5142344677/
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/sb10067565a-001/The-Image-Bank
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/sirmilik/visit/visit6/e.aspx
Info
Acadia
http://wikitravel.org/en/Acadia_National_Park
http://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm
Big Bend
http://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm
http://www.visitbigbend.com/site09/en/
Grand Canyon
http://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
http://www.grand.canyon.national-park.com/info.htm
http://www.travelwest.net/parks/grandcanyon/
Hawaii Volcanoes
http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm
http://www.volcanogallery.com/hawaii.htm
Mammoth Cave
http://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm
http://www.mammoth.cave.national-park.com/info.htm
Yellowstone
http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm
http://www.yellowstone-natl-park.com/oldfaithful.htm
http://www.yellowstone-natl-park.com/
Yosemite
http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm
http://www.trails.com/list_1091_yosemite-national-park-facts.html
Glacier
http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm
http://www.glacier.national-park.com/info.htm
Auyuittuq
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/index.aspx
http://www.greatcanadianparks.com/nunavut/auyutnp/index.htm
Banff
http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx
http://www.banfflakelouise.com/
Nahanni
http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nt/nahanni/index.aspx
http://www.greatcanadianparks.com/northwest/nahninp/index.htm
Sirmilik
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/sirmilik/index.aspx
Full transcript