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Celebrate Sequoia National Park’s Anniversary — September 25th

sequoia national park

Sequoia National Park is a testament to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity — huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,064 acres and encompasses a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet. The highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level is located within the park.

The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park’s General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other giant sequoias. The park’s giant sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Many park visitors enter Sequoia National Park through its southern entrance near the town of Three Rivers at Ash Mountain at 1,700 ft. The lower elevations around Ash Mountain contain the only National Park Service-protected California Foothills ecosystem, consisting of blue oak woodlands, foothills chaparral, grasslands, yucca plants, and steep, mild river valleys. The region is also home to abundant wildlife: bobcats, foxes, ground squirrels, rattlesnakes, and mule deer are commonly seen in this area, and more rarely, reclusive mountain lions and the Pacific fisher are seen as well. The last California grizzly was killed in this park in 1922.

At higher elevations in the front country, between 5,500 and 9,000 feet, the landscape becomes montane forest-dominated coniferous belt. Found here are Ponderosa, Jeffrey, sugar, and lodgepole pine trees, as well as abundant white and red fir. Found here too are the giant sequoia trees, the most massive living single-stem trees on earth. Here, visitors often see mule deer, Douglas squirrels, and American black bears, which sometimes break into unattended cars to eat food left by careless visitors.

The vast majority of the park is roadless wilderness; no road crosses the Sierra Nevada within the park’s boundaries. 84 percent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is designated wilderness and is accessible only by foot or by horseback.

Sequoia’s backcountry offers a vast expanse of high-alpine wonders. Covering the highest-elevation region of the High Sierra, the backcountry includes Mount Whitney on the eastern border of the park, accessible from the Giant Forest via the High Sierra Trail. On a traveler’s path along this 35-mile backcountry trail, you’ll pass through about 10 miles of montane forest before reaching the backcountry resort of Bearpaw Meadow, just short of the Great Western Divide.

Continuing along the High Sierra Trail over the Great Western Divide via Kaweah Gap, you pass from the Kaweah River Drainage, with its characteristic V-shaped river valleys, and into the Kern River drainage, where an ancient fault line has aided glaciers in the last ice age to create a U-shaped canyon that is almost perfectly straight for nearly 20 miles (32 km). On the floor of this canyon, at least two days hike from the nearest road, is the Kern Canyon hot spring, a popular resting point for weary backpackers. From the floor of Kern Canyon, the trail ascends again over 8,000 ft. to the summit of Mount Whitney. At Mount Whitney, the High Sierra Trail meets with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, which continue northward along the Sierra crest and into the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park.

Sequoia National Park

Click here to see the Sequoia National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for our National Parks! When he was just 19, he studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite. Now he’s on a journey to create original, WPA-style artwork for each of our national parks!

Click here to learn more about Rob’s work and The National Park Poster Project.

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Celebrate Point Reyes National Seashore’s Anniversary, September 13

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Fall is such a great time to explore the California coast! The weather is still warm, the summer fog is less prevalent, and trees, grasses and shrubs begin to show their fall colors. From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes National Seashore offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people.

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Celebrate Great Sand Dunes National Park’s Anniversary – September 12th

Great Sand Dunes

One of Colorado’s lesser known national parks is Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Here you can experience this diversity through hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and more! The park and preserve are always open, so you can also experience night skies and nocturnal wildlife.

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Celebrate Canyonlands National Park’s Anniversary September 12th

Mesa Arch

The five national parks in Utah draw several million visitors from around the world each year to marvel at surreal scenery and create their own unforgettable experiences. A must-see is the sunrise over the towering depths of the canyons or perhaps at the famed Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park. Here you can explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.

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Rocky Mountain National Park – Lily Lake

Lily Lake

Lily Lake offers splendid views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker amid rocky outcrops. The broad, flat path begins by winding along the base of Lily Mountain, then meanders through meadow and open forest on the west shore of the lake, and finally passes through a wetlands area, populated by a variety of water fowl, on the southern shore. This level packed gravel trail encircles the lake, which features educational exhibits and a fishing pier. Strollers permitted. Enos Mills, the “father of Rocky Mountain National Park,” enjoyed walking to Lily Lake from his nearby cabin. Look for wildflowers in the spring and early summer. In the winter the trail around the lake is often suitable for walking in boots, or as a short snowshoe or ski.

Lily Lake offers hikers some of the best mountain views from an easy, roadside trail. The Diamond Face of Longs Peak towers to the south; the Twin Sisters, rocky escarpments skirted in scenic woodlands, lie to the east; and Lily Mountain, yet another spectacular stone-crowned peak, dominates the northern horizon. If you have the time, you can hike the nearby Lily Mountain trail, which lies outside the park proper.

To reach the trailhead from Estes Park, drive 6.3 miles south on Colorado Highway 7 to the Lily Lake parking area. You can park at the lake or in a dirt lot across the highway. In 1992 the Lily Lake area was purchased by Rocky Mountain National Park. Five years later, with funding from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, the popular handicapped accessible trail was constructed using hard packed gravel. Although you can start in either direction, this description follows the loop in a clockwise direction.

In addition to being an outstanding family hike, the trail offers several picnic opportunities along the way. Fishing is also a popular activity, but is catch and release only. The lake is stocked with greenback cutthroat trout, a federally listed threatened species.

Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker studied photography with Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979 when he was just 19. IT was an experience solidified his love of photography and our National Parks. Now he is on a journey to photograph and create iconic WPA-style posters of all 59 major national parks as we celebrate the next 100 years of the National Park Service.

Click the images below to check out his three Rocky Mountain National Park posters!

Rocky Mountain National Park Moraine Park

Rocky Mountain Cub Lake

Rocky Mountain Longs Peak

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Celebrate Biscayne National Park’s Anniversary

Lighthouse, Boca Chita

Established on June 28, 1980, Biscayne National Park is the largest marine park in the National Park System and protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands, and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. Here too is evidence of 10,000 years of human history, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Outdoor enthusiasts can boat, snorkel, camp, watch wildlife…or simply relax in a rocking chair gazing out over the bay. In the early 20th century the islands became secluded destinations for wealthy Miamians who built getaway homes and social clubs. Mark C. Honeywell’s guesthouse on Boca Chita Key was the area’s most elaborate private retreat, and featured a mock lighthouse.

If you are visiting for a day, you should sign up in advance for guided educational eco experiences with the Biscayne National Park Institute that can include sailing, snorkeling, paddling and exploring the islands. Programs range from a few hours to a full day, and highlight the park’s amazing wildlife, rich history, and awe-inspiring marine ecosystems. The true beauty of Biscayne National Park is that it offers a different experience for everyone. No matter what you’re interested in, you can learn more about the habitats and history of the park.

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Celebrate Big Bend National Park’s Anniversary

Los Chisos Mountains

Established in 1944, Big Bend National Park is located in a remote part of Southern Texas and borders Mexico along 118 miles of the Rio Grande. It has national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. It contains more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. The Rio Grande corridor is also a migration highway for many species passing through the desert. Elevation contrast create varied microclimates that further enhance the diversity of plant and animal life.

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Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is known as the home of the tallest trees on Earth. Redwoods grow from the seeds the size of a tomato seed, yet can weigh 500 tons and stand taller than the Statue of Liberty. Its foot-thick bark makes the tree all but impervious to fire and insects.The parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of rugged coastline. For thousands of years people have lived in this verdant landscape. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks manage these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all.

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Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Kamokuna

Volcanoes are monuments to Earth’s origin, evidence that its primordial forces are still at work. During a volcanic eruption, we are reminded that our planet is an ever-changing environment whose basic processes are beyond human control. As much as we have altered the face of the Earth to suit our needs, we can only stand in awe before the power of an eruption.

Established in 1916, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located in the U.S. state of Hawaii on the island of Hawaii. It encompasses two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive shield volcano. The park provides scientists with insights into the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and ongoing studies into the processes of volcanism. For visitors, the park offers dramatic volcanic landscapes as well as glimpses of rare flora and fauna.

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Celebrate Glacier National Park’s Anniversary — May 11th

Going to the Sun Road

Known as the Crown of the Continent, at Glacier National Park you can explore and experience pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, spectacular lakes, moraines and glaciers. With over 700 miles of trails, it is a hiker’s paradise for visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Established in 1910, today you can relive the days of old through historic lodges, chalets, transportation, and stories of Native Americans.

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