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Celebrating 100 years of America’s National Park Service

By Kirsty Parsons in The Americas - 13th April 2016

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2016 marks a very special birthday for America’s National Park Service - 100 years since it was first formed. The agency was established to help preserve and protect the unique beauty, geology and ecosystems of America’s great national parks, as well as to ensure that people were able to visit and enjoy these very special places in perpetuity.

The service has more than lived up to its founding principles and there are now 59 officially designated national parks under their care welcoming millions of visitors every year. On our American walking and cycling holidays we visit 11 of these incredible natural wonders in the western states of Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Here’s our favourite thing to do at each of the parks we visit.

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park

Take a sunrise walk to Delicate Arch. One of the most iconic of all Utah’s landmarks, Delicate Arch is best seen from up-close as the first rays of the sun cast their soft light on the sandstone arch. You’ll also avoid the tourist masses at this time of day and get great photos of the arch framing the beautiful La Sal mountains in the distance.

Zion National Park

Trek up to Angel’s landing. This famous hike takes you up a series of steep switchbacks until you emerge at Scout’s Lookout where you can catch your breath and enjoy great views down to the canyon floor. The final section is an exhilarating, airy walk along the narrow summit ridge leading you to Angel’s Landing from where you can enjoy majestic, panoramic vistas of Zion and the surrounding area.

Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

Walking through the hoodoos on the Fairyland Loop. The majority of visitors to Bryce only see the park by looking down from the viewpoints along the rim trail but walk down amidst the multi-coloured hoodoos and you will get a totally different perspective. The Fairyland Loop Trail will take you away from the crowds, past numerous rock formations and allow you to really appreciate the incredible and unique beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park

Taking a dip beneath the falls at the base of the Grand Canyon. Lots of people can say they’ve seen the Grand Canyon but very few can say they’ve trekked to the bottom of it, let alone swam in the cooling waters under picturesque Havasupai or Mooney falls. To get this unique and dramatic perspective you need to take a multi-day trek down to Supai Lodge from where you can explore the falls and trails along the canyon floor.

Mesa Verde National Park

Exploring Cliff Palace. Home to the Ancestral Peublo people, the many cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde are incredibly impressive. The most impressive of all though is Cliff Palace with its 150 rooms. Thought to be a social, administrative and ceremonial site there are numerous rooms to explore giving a fascinating insight into the lives of the original inhabitants over 700 years ago.

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

Death Valley National Park

Watching a sunset from Zabriskie Point. Death Valley may be one of the hottest, driest and lowest places in all of North America but it’s also one of the most scenic. And one of the best viewpoints in all of Death Valley is Zabriskie Point. The fissures, canyons and peaks of the eroded rock of the surrounding Badlands are at their stunning best under the warm, golden glow of the setting sun.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Cycling the White Rim Trail. This classic mountain bike trail follows the edge of canyons and mesas as well as traversing high desert paths through classic scenery straight out of the Wild West. Four relaxed days are spent covering the 103 mile long route with frequent stops to stand and stare in wonder at the awe-inspiring, multi-hued landscape of rock spires, arches and buttes. Take a look at this exhilarating ride on our video of Cycling the Great American West.

There are numerous events going on throughout the parks network in 2016. So why not join the party and celebrate the wonderful work of the National Parks Service of America.

Click on any of the links below to find out more about our exciting group holidays to America.

Anasazi Trails of the American West

Cycling the Great American South West

Grand Canyon Trek

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