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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;

AREA; 9, 399,549 Square kilometers;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;

  • 1. GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK (Wyoming) AND YELLOW- STONE NATIONAL PARK (Wyoming, Idaho, AND Montana);
  • The oldest national park in the world is Yellowstone, and it is also the largest in the U.S.A. Together with its southern neighbor, GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, it protects magnificent parts of the Rocky Mountains, extending over vast forests and grasslands. The two parks constitute perhaps the most important North American sanctuary for large mammals.

     GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK- Comprises a series of peaks in the most impressive part of the Teton Range and includes most of Jackson Hole, part of the winter feeding ground of the largest existing herd of elk. This park is surrounded by the National Elk refuge and the Teton and Tar ghee National Forests.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK- Has the world’s greatest geyser area with geysers and hotsprings, spectacular falls and canyons, the largest mountain lake in North America, and a rich plant and animal life.

  • Size: Grand Teton National Park- 124, 140 ha (Establishment 1929): Yellow stone National Park -888,708 ha (Establishment -1872).
  • Accessibility: Grand Teton; by road (us highways 26, 287, 189); by train to victor, Idaho, with buses to park; by air to Jackson airport ( within park) from salt lake city, Denver.

YELLOWSTONE- by road, bus, rail, and by air (from Jackson airport in Grand Teton N.P).

GEOLOGY: Both parks are fine examples of block fault mountain building, exposing a geological sequence from pre- Cambrian to Mesozoic. The eastern front of the Teton Range facing Jackson Hole basin has ancient deep- seated crystalline rocks of gneiss, granite, and schist, upperparts having layers of limestone, shale, and quartzite from the less ancient Paleozoic period. Western and northern flanks of the Tetons are overlaid by relatively young beds of lava, continuous with those covering Yellowstone plateau. Jackson Hole, dissected by the Snake River, is an outwash plain of Ice Age glaciers that sculptured the mountains. In Yellowstone the last mountain building pulsations ceased in the Paleocene, about 70 million years ago. These were followed by volcanic eruptions and breccia’s, lava flows, and ash layers (at least 27 layers of volcanic sediments), then erosion of the rhyolite, ruff and basalt material, then carving by Pleistocene glaciations. Nowhere else, not even in Iceland or New Zealand, are there so many and such large geysers as in Yellowstone.  Some in Yellowstone erupt much higher than old faithful but none so regularly (every 65.5 minutes, lifting some 30,000 liters of water to 35-55m). Geysers result from hot magmas, perhaps a mile down in the earth, remains from periods when active volcanoes built up the mountains. They boil and flash into steam when cold ground waters meet heat.

There are about 10,000 hot pools, geysers, steam jets, and patches of boiling mud with sulfur deposits in the area. Other records of Yellowstone’s volcanic past are the large areas (100km2 ) of fossil forests with trees still standing upright.

TOPOGRAPHY: Grand Teton National Park contains Jackson Lake at 2,063m with the Tetons rising 2,100m above, Jenny lake (2,065m), lake solitude (2,933m), Cascade Avalanche divide (3,230m), and Death canyon: highest point is the Grand Teton (4,195m).

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK- has the Grand canyon of the Yellowstone River, 38km of twisting, sheer rock walls, yellow and red, lower Falls of Yellowstone River ( a drop of 103m) , and Yellowstone lake at an elevation of 2,100 meters. The highest point is Eagle peak at 3,462 meters.

CLIMATE: Summer days in general are sunny and dry, with temperatures up to 800F  but changing, of course, with altitude; winters, severe, and rich in snow except in geyser basins, where the snow melts quickly.

FLORA: Coniferous forests climb to about 2,700 meters; above follow alpine meadows and heaths. The forests of both parks, chiefly lodge pole pine, limber pine, Engelmann spruce, blue spruce, Douglas fir, alpine fir, and juniper; deciduous trees intermingle or form pure stands; quaking aspen, black cotton wood, Whiplash willow, mountain ash, and mountain alder. Flowering shrubs are exemplified by snow bush (Ceanothus), western baneberry, twinberry, bearberry, Juneberry or serviceberry, and mountain lover. Other beautiful flora include pink monkey flower, geranium, asters (11 species), and golden currant.

MAMMALS: Some 55 species of mammals are known to find sanctuary in one or the other of the two parks, including big horn sheep, mule deer, elk, moose, pronghorn, Rocky Mountain big horn, bison, cougar, lynx, bobcat, black bear, grizzly, wolverine, badger, marten, coyote, red fox, beaver, pika, snow shoe rabbit (varying hare), yellow- billed marmot, muskrat and porcupine.

BIRDS: In the Grand Teton tally 188 species and in Yellowstone 238 species. Trumpeter swans nest in the two parks. The white pelican has a  colony in Yellowstone lake.

Some examples of species occurring in both reserves; Canada goose, great blue heron, golden eagle, bald eagle, marsh hawk, osprey, peregrine falcon, sand hill crane, great horned owl, pygmy owl, great gray owl, dipper, western tanager, and black rosy finch.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Species of snakes that are known to be found; common garter snake, western garter snake, rubber boa, bull snake, and prairie rattle  snake, and among lizards; sagebrush lizard and short- horned toad (lizard). Most common amphibians in Yellowstone; western chorus frog, western spotted frog and boreal toad. Species of fishes include- mountain whitefish, four species of suckers, minnow, chubs, dace, sculpins and other numerous introduced species of fish.

 

  • 2. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA);
  • Establishment: 1915, (Colorado). A mountainous area, ranging from 2,328 meters to 4,345 meters, with towering peaks, glaciers, cascading streams, ice- sculptured valleys, and plains, which contains most interesting flora and fauna.

Three national forests surround the park, which also adjoins shadow mountain national recreation area.

  • Size: 104,930 ha
  • Accessibility: By road and by rail.

GEOLOGY: Some 60 million years ago a series of uplifts folded, squeezed, and elevated the Mountains that are today called the Rockies. Lakes followed as a result of glaciation. Glaciers sharpened peaks and cut valleys, but the great ice caps of the Ice Age never extended into Colorado. Erosion is constantly but slowly wearing down the mountains. Most of the rocks seen in the National park, how ever, are much older than 60 million years, the crystalline rocks, schist and gneiss being partly sediments formed in seas perhaps a billion years ago. Exposed granite seen in many places is younger but still very ancient.

TOPOGRAPHY: One of the main landscape features of this National park is its glaciers (at least 15); some moraines of glacial debris are so recent that little or no vegetation has been able to colonize them. Longs peak (4,345m) is the highest point; ruggedly spectacular peaks, 3,350-3,650m high, surround the Bear lake area. From Dream lake, near the foot of Hallet peak, there is a matchless view of Tyndall Gorge.

The Trail Ridge road, highest continuous automobile road in the USA, crosses the continental divide and reaches an elevation of 3,713 meters.

CLIMATE: Variable with different altitudes and exposure to solar radiation. Summer; usually sunny days and cool night. Winter; relatively mild though periodically rigorous. Temperature on E side often drops as low as 20 degrees to -35degreesF. Cool pacific winds bring much snow to W side of the park, but on peaks and high ridges the snow pack is often over 12m deep on both sides.

FLORA: Coniferous forests are widespread up to about 3,500 m, highest timber line in the USA, above them are alpine meadows and Tundra.

Below 2,900m are ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, lodge pole pine in dense stands, sometimes mingling with blue spruce, Rocky Mt. Juniper, cotton wood, thin leaf alder (along streams), and quaking aspen. Above 2,900m, limber pine, sub alpine fir, and Engelmann spruce are the most common trees. Wildflowers abound with hundreds of species. Examples of the rich flora;  blue columbine, the rare orange cup lily, heartleaf arnica, lambert crazy weed, bear berry, honey suckle, and alpine buttercup.

MAMMALS: The most famous animal of this park is the Rocky mountain big horn sheep.

Others; mule deer and Rocky mountain elk; black bear, coyote, and Bobcat; marten, mink, long- tailed weasel, short- tailed weasel or ermine, red fox; chip munks, ground squirrels and yellow- bellied marmot, muskrat, beaver, porcupine, pika, snow shoe rabbit, spruce squirrel, and tassel- eared squirrel; cougar very rare.

BIRDS: Of  the at least 226 species recorded in this park, one can most readily see or hear golden eagle, peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawk, and several other species of raptors, as well as mountain chickadee, ruby –crowned kinglet, nuthatches, gray- headed junco, Town- send’s solitaire, hermit thrush, canyon and rock wrens, dipper, purple finch, western meadow lark, steller’s jay, gray jay, clark’s nutcracker, owls, grouse, woodpeckers; night- hawks, and others.

Above the timberline, such species as rosy finch, pipit, horned lark, and willow grouse may be observed.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: The only reptile in the Rocky Mountain National Park is the Mountain garter snake. Most common amphibian in the reserve; the leopard frog; the three- lined treefrog, mountain toad, and tiger salamander also occur. The only original trout is the cut throat trout. Introduced and replenished by stocking; brook, rainbow, and brown trout.

  • 3. BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK (Utah), GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (Arizona), ZION NATIONAL PARK (Utah)- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • These three national parks, though not contiguous, form a complex of deeply eroded canyons in a great plateau land that stretches from southern Utah to northern Arizona. Together they cover the geologic history of earth; Grand canyon is pre- Cambrian through Paleozoic, Zion is Mesozoic, and Bryce canyon is Cenozoic and Recent.

Bryce canyon is a fantastic plateau  amphitheater of orange spires eroded by wind and rain during the Cenozoic era; the Grand canyon with its beautifully painted chasm, 1.6 km deep and 347 km long, offers a unique record of the earth’s history from pre-Cambrian times to the Paleozoic era; Zion  National Park, carved by the virgin river, displays brilliantly colored vertical canyon walls of the Mesozoic era, rising 1,200 meters above the valley. These parks are associated with several monuments and national recreation areas, all showing spectacular sandstone phenomena; cedar breaks national monument (west of Bryce); National Bridges Monument (east of Bryce); Rainbow Bridge National Park (SW of Bryce); pipe spring National Monument (between Zion and Grand Canyon). Finally, Grand Canyon National Park continues south and north into Kaibab National Forest and west into Grand Canyon National Monument, which adjoins lake Mead National Recreation Area. Within this complex region lies the Hopi Indian Reservation surrounded by the vast Navajo Indian Reservation with the Navajo National Monument. Grand Canyon contains the small Havasupai Indian Reservation.

  • Size: Bryce National Park-14,405 ha (Establishment 1924); Grand canyon National Park-269,430 ha (Establishment 1919); Zion National Park -58,813 ha (Establishment 1919).
  • Accessibility: By Road, and also by plane to Grand Canyon (airport on south Rim); bus and air service to cedar city, Utah (for Bryce canyon National park, Zion National Park, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon).
  • Of special interest: Bryce canyon National Park (Bryce Temple, liberty castle and window, oaster castle, cedar Breaks). GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (Many excellent lookouts from both North and South rims). ZION NATIONAL PARK (Zion canyon, Great white Throne, Great Arch, Angels Landing, the Twin Brothers, Checkerboard mesa).

GEOLOGY: The geological story of this plateau land with its deep canyons goes back over a billion years, which is the age of the rocks at the bottom of Grand canyon. On the other hand no rock is younger than Permian- that is, 190 million years old. To this stage group belongs the limestone on the top of the Kaibab plateau, through which the canyon was cut.

For about 500 million years the present plateau land was below seas. Sediments piled up and were slowly transformed into rocks, the land rising and submerging several times. For the past 100 million years most of the plateaus have been above water, but running water, rain, and frost have carved down the mountains, filling valleys with debris, which, in turn, has hardened into rocks.

Sandstone formations dominate in all three of the national parks. The carving out of the Grand canyon has probably taken 7-9 million years.

Grand canyon serves as a classic natural laboratory for the study of geological history.

The great chasm through the Kaibab plateau, 349 km long and 6-12 km wide, was carved and still is being carved by its steady sculptor the Colorado river carrying some half a million tons of silt each day. In these rock layers with some ten sediment strata are numerous fossil remnants of prehistoric life.

In Bryce canyon with three general sediment strata, the forces of erosion have created a colorful fantasia of shapes- giant cathedrals, windowed walls, spires, and a seemingly endless world of giant chessmen, painted in vivid colors of cream, pink, orange, red, blue, gray, and white.

Zion National Park is even more lavishly colored with seven sediment strata, demonstrating more clearly than elsewhere in this region the forces of uplifting, faulting, and erosion.

TOPOGRAPHY: The range of altitude of the immense gorge of Grand canyon- from 600 m to 2,700 m above the river bed- creates a whole world of its own below the rims with mesas, mountains, pinnacles, buttes, and high plateaus, deserts, and forests inside the main canyon. The North rim is on a plateau about 300-600 m higher than the south rim and has a distinctive vegetative association of conifers and aspens.

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK AND ZION NATIONAL PARK- offer panoramas of rock formation valleys and canyons from their plateau rims. Both of these parks are well forested.

Elevation range of Bryce canyon; 1800 m on the edge of the paria River to 2,775 m at Rainbow point. Highest point of Zion National Park is west Temple (2,376m).

CLIMATE: Bryce canyon; warm summer days but cold winters with snow. Grand canyon; the south Rim has warm days and pleasant nights (June-September temperature; mid 80’s F daytime to mid -40’s F at night). The north Rim is cooler. Both rims have snow November –May. The floor of the canyon is warm throughout the year; mid –summer temperature 1000-1200 F but may drop into the 70’s F at night. Zion National Park (hot summer days and cool nights).

FLORA: The range in elevation at Grand canyon gives great variety of vegetation; at river level (600m) an arid (lower Sonoran) aspect with sages, Yuccas, agaves, and cactuses; above, a zone (upper Sonoran) with juniper, pinyon, and dwarf pine forests. The south Rim itself makes a transition zone (2,100-2,400m) with forests of ponderosa pine and flowers such as cliff rose, paper flower, rabbit brush, and phlox. On the North Rim slope (2,400m) the vegetation belt represents the Canadian Zone, and high up (2,733m) is a still cooler Hudsonian Zone- upper slopes on this side having forests of blue spruce, ponderosa pine, white fir, and quaking aspen.

In Bryce canyon National Park- ponderosa pines are abundant above the rim and on several valley slopes where they mix with bristle cone pine, limber pine, Douglas fir, junipers, and quaking aspen. Sagebrush carpets many valley floors.

In ZION NATIONAL PARK, lower elevations have Yucca, cactuses, creosote bush, sagebrush, mesquite and, around springs and canyon river bottoms, cottonwood, willow, ash, and maple. At higher elevations are forests or widespread stands of pinyon, pine, white  fir, Douglas fir, gnarled juniper, and quaking aspen.

Flowers include scarlet labelia, sacred datura (“Zion moon flower”), and white evening primrose.

MAMMALS OF BRYCE CANYON.

Here live chipmunk, golden- mantled ground squirrel, yellow- bellied marmot , porcupine, mule deer, cougar and coyote.

BIRDS OF BRYCE CANYON: Include humming birds,  clark’s nutcracker, raven,  violet- green swallow, and white- throated swift.

MAMMALS OF GRAND CANYON:

Mule deer is the commonest; big horn sheep. The pronghorn is the only an uncommon translent. Other mammals; cougar, black bear, coyote, grayfox, raccoon, striped skunk, chipmunk, cotton tail rabbit, the rare Kaibab or tufted-eared squirrel (found only on the north Rim and in the adjacent Kaibab National Forest), and Albert’s squirrel (only on the south Rim).

BIRDS OF GRAND CANYON: Include desert sparrow, Grace’s warbler, pinyon jay, steller's jay, nuthatch, chickadee, band –tailed pigeon, and hairy woodpecker.

REPTILES OF GRAND CANYON: Include the rattlesnakes, the desert and horned lizards that are seen at lower levels.

MAMMALS IN ZION NATIONAL PARK: Include skunk, fox, coyote, bobcat, cougar, chipmunk, ground squirrel, big- horned sheep, mule deer, but elk and black bear are infrequent.

BIRDS OF ZION NATIONAL PARK: Roadrunner, western kingbird, spurred to whee, Rocky mountain nuthatch, golden eagle, and sparrow hawk are some examples.

REPTILES OF ZION NATIONAL PARK:

Reptiles abound in this national park, including brown- shouldered uta, wandering garter snake, Boyle’s king snake, and rattle-snakes.

 

  1. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (California)- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1890, (California). This national park is an almost incredible assemblage of natural phenomena and protects a magnificent landscape of valleys, canyons, waterfalls, groves of giant sequoias, mountains and peaks.

As a nature reserve it dates back to 1864, when Abraham Lincoln signed an act of congress providing that the area should be granted to the state of California for ‘public use, resort and recreation’. In 1905, California returned these lands to the Federal Government to be incorporated in the national park.

  • Geographical location: Eastern central California.
  • Accessibility: By road; by bus, air, and rail to Merced, where buses serve the park all year; also buses to park (summer only) from Fresno and Lake Tahoe.

GEOLOGY: The Mountains of the Yosemite are a world of granite carved by Pleistocene ice and waters. About ten million years ago Yosemite valley was a subtropical region; later followed a gradual uplift of the entire region. The climate became cooler, favoring coniferous forests like giant sequoias, and the mountains became snow- capped. Ice Age glaciers grew and returned several times, deepening valleys and sculpturing the mountains.

TOPOGRAPHY: Merced and Tuolumme are the two main rivers born in the Mountain snows. The Merced carved out Yosemite valley ( 11 km long, 1.5 km wide, 1,200 m above sea level), a v-shaped canyon with an exceptional spectacle of cascades and waterfalls. (Upper Yosemite Falls measures 435 m in one sheer leap, lower Yosemite Falls, 97m, and Ribbon Falls a fantastic drop of 491m).

Glacier point offers a splendid view of the High sierra- cliffs, ridges, domes, waterfalls, and valleys. Half Dome, polished by past ice sheets, rises straight up 1,491m above the valley floor. El Capitan is also very impressive. Other impossing mountains; three Brothers, cathedral spires, and sentinel Rock. Elevation range; 600m (foot hills) to 3,997 meters. The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River is another scenic feature.

FLORA: Mariposa, Merced, and Tuolumne groves in the southern part of the reserve are important stands of giant sequoia. Most famous tree in Mariposa Grove; the Grizzly Giant (63m high), estimated to be 3,000, perhaps 3,800 years  old. There are great forests formed by other conifers.

Five vertical vegetation belts (life zones) can be distinguished; the lowest belt at 600-1200 meters is represented by deciduous and coniferous trees and brush- covered areas; at 1200-1830 meters; the forest is characterized by white fir, incense – cedar, ponderosa pine ( these three reach heights of 50-55m), California black and canyon live oaks; above 1,830 meters; forests of California red fir, lodge pole pine, sugar pine (reaching to 60m), Jeffrey pine, and western white pine; at 2,450-3050 meters; lodge pole pine intersected by Mountain herulock. The Tuolumne Meadows at 2,650 meters are the largest alpine meadows in the high sierra.

Over 1,300 species of flowering plants are known to occur in this national park; The decorative syringa , California redbud, azalea, mountain dogwood, ocean spray, and spirea should be mentioned. Dwarf arctic willow grows above timberline, becoming a part of the tundralike vegetation.

MAMMALS: Ground squirrels of several species are very common, as are chickaree or Douglas squirrel, gray squirrel, flying squirrel, and chipmunks. Other conspicuous rodents to be found are the porcupine and the yellow- bellied marmot. Yosemite signifies the “valley of the grizzly bear” but most unfortunately the grizzly was exterminated in this area at the end of the 19th century. The black bear, however, still exists and so do gray fox, wolf, coyote, ring tail, cougar, skunk, fisher, and wolverine. Seasonally, mule deer migrate between low and high elevations.

BIRDS: About 200 species of birds live in Yosemite National Park. Among them are Town send’s solitaire, gray- crowned rosy finch, Cassin’s finch,Cassin's finch, Clark’s nutcracker, California jay, steller’s jay, western tanager, dipper, blue grouse, pygmy owl, great gray owl, white- headed wood pecker, golden eagle, goshawk, and black swift.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: The rainbow trout is native and the brown trout has been introduced, both occurring in the park’s streams, rivers, and lakes. Angling is allowed.

 

  1. PENNEKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK (Florida)-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1960, (Florida). Administered by the state of Florida, this first under seas nature reserve in the U.S.A. is located in the Atlantic Ocean off Key Largo at the northern end of the Florida keys and protects part of the only living reef formation along the coast of North America. The underwater living treasures may be studied by means of glass- bottomed boats or by skin diving through the clear water that has visibility down to 20m. The reserve is named for John PenneKamp, a Miami conservationist. Immediately north of the reserve lies the proposed Biscayne National Monument.
  • Geographical location: near key largo, Florida
  • Size: 24,400 ha;

CORAL AND OTHER INVERTEBRATES:

Corals are colonial animals that constantly secrete lime to build reefs; a subtropical or tropical climate is a condition required for their existence. The underwater life includes fascinating displays of living corals representing 40 of the 52 known species of the Atlantic reed system. From a boat visitors can recognize such corals has hat, brain, flower, leaf,, rose, stag horn, elk horn, tube, star, starlet, finger, cactus, and ivory bush. Other animals include shells, sponges, sea fans, sea urchins, horse shoe crab, hermit crab, and jellyfish.

VERTEBRATES: Logger head turtle, green turtle, and other species of sea turtles visit the area. So do bottle- nosed dolphins. More than 250 species of marine fishes belong to the inhabitants of these coral reefs and the bottoms below. To name just a fraction; common angelfish, butterfly fish, rainbow parrot fish, queen trigger fish, summer flounder, great barracuda, yellow jack, black grouper, gag grouper, Nassau grouper, nutton fish snapper, yellow tail snapper, porcupine fish, green moray, spotted moray, and a number of species of sharks.

Many reef and pelagic fishes breed, lay eggs, hatch, and grow among the corals, sea weeds, and grasses before venturing out into the deeper waters of the ocean.

 

  1. EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK (Florida)-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1947, (Florida). Third largest of U.S. National Parks, Everglades National Park is unique and enormous landscape of swamps that do not exceed three meters in elevation – a sponge of sawgrass marsh- in reality an immense river with slowly flowing water, flooding in summer, drying in winter. The area provides a great array of habitats, a kind of hybrid between land and water. Extensive mangrove forests indicate the increasing salt water until finally the park extends out into the Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico, embrecing an archipelago of coral islands (called keys). National key deer refuge and the extremely important corkscrew swamp sanctuary adjoin Ever glades National Park.
  • Geographical location: Southern part of Florida mainland.
  • Size: 560,212 ha.
  • Of special interest: Anhinga wildlife trail, Royal palm Hammock, Pineland Trail, Mahogany Hammock, Pa-Hay-Okee overlook, paurotis pond, Mangrove Trail, excursions along cape sable in white water Bay, up the shark River, and among the keys of Florida Bay.
  • Best visiting; December 1; March 15;

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY:

On top of the limestone bedrock (Miami oolite) laid down during the Pleistocene about 10,000 years ago, lie deposits of peat soils, remains of organic masses of dead vegetation. Below there is a network of sub soil tunnels and caves; when their roofs collapse, they result in “sinkholes,” a common feature of parts of the region. The saw grass-marshes are dotted with “ hammocks” (low islands covered by groups of palms and other trees).

There are ridges usually covered by pines; water filled hollows with dense stands of cypress; immense mangrove forests intersected by rivers and channels; coastal sand dunes; coral sandy beaches; and, fringing the coastline, thousands of islands.

CLIMATE: The park has a two- season climate. May to November; warm and wet with hurricanes occurring (July's average temperature 81DegreeF);December –April;  the dry season (January average temperature 58DegreeF) .

Hurricanes with winds of 75 miles or more do not always hit Everglades National Park, but when they do they can greatly modify landscape habitats that require decades to establish climax assosiations. Vast areas still show the violence of Donna, worst of all recent hurricanes, in September 1960. Hurricanes can also open up new channels in the Mangrove forests. Trade winds blowing over the Gulf stream bring warm moist air.

FLORA: Open –water areas contain masses of algae, water lilies, and spike rush; slightly higher areas have vast expanses of saw grass, found only in this park and in the west indies. The hammocks have the tropical hardwoods; gumbo- limbo, West Indies Mahogany, sea grape, Florida strangler fig, tamarind, willow bustic and wild coffee. Two trees are poisonous to touch; manchineel and Florida poison tree (poison wood). Higher areas contain slash pine with undergrowth of coonfie, southern bayberry or wax myrtle, short leaf fig, and saw- palmettos, brittle thatch palms, and paurotis.

Freshwater saw grass areas give way to miles of dense mangrove forest ( 3 species) with more than 65 species of shrubs, vines, and orchids (84 species), ferns, and bromeliads. Groups of bald cypress and pond cypress are conspicuous.

MAMMALS: There are numerous species of larger mammals; black bear and cougar are the largest predators and white- tailed deer the only ungulate species. The vegetarian aquatic manatee frequents the mangrove channels. Other mammals; opossum, raccoon, otter, bobcat, marsh rabbit, round- tailed muskrat, mangrove squirrel, and cotton rat. Bottle –nosed dolphins are common along the coast.

BIRDS: Of the Everglades are truly famous throughout the world, with roseate spoonbills perhaps the chief glory.

Among others; wood ibis, white ibis, common (American) egret, snowy egret, reddish egret, herons (great white, great blue, little blue, Louisiana, yellow- crowned night, black- crowned night, green), American bittern, purple gallinule, limpkin, white pelican, brown pelican, anhinga, double –crested cormorant, magnificent, frigate bird, black skimmer, black -necked stilt, wild turkey, pileated woodpecker, black vulture, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, swallow- tailed kite, red-shouldered hawk, red- winged black bird, painted bunting, black- whiskered vireo, yellow warbler, gray kingbird, and white crowned pigeon.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: The American crocodile, five species of marine turtles live around the coral reefs (the loggerhead turtle and the green turtle are the most commonly seen).

Freshwater turtles: yellow bellied slider and soft- shelled turtle; land turtles; gopher, box, and others. Snakes are common; cotton mouth (water moccasin), pygmy rattle- snake, diamond back rattlesnake, coral snake, indigo snake (largest snake of the National Park), Everglades racer, rough green snake, flat- tailed water snake, Everglade rat snake, and banded water snake.

Anole and ashy gecko are some of the lizards. Colorful fishes may easily be seen in the clear sea water; great barracuda, pompano, yellow tail snapper, French angelfish. Nurse shark and lemon shark are often seen. Ponds, canals, and rivers contain long nose gar, mosquito fish, and large mouth bass.

INVERTEBRATES: Pretty tree snails are common in some hammocks. Mosquitos are seasonally abundant. Portuguese man- of -war (a poisonous jelly fish) is seen off the coast and among the keys.

 

  1. GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (North Carolina and Tennessee)-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1930, (North Carolina and Tennessee). Climax of the Appalachian range, this park contains some of the highest peaks of eastern U.S.A.

It preserves the last remnants of the great primeval hardwood forest that once covered large parts of North America. A tenuous haze often hangs over the high peaks, giving the mountain their name. The Cherokee Indian reservation adjoins the park.

  • Size: 205,070 ha.
  • Accessibility: By road (Us highways 441 and 129 cross the park);
  • Best visiting : May - October;

GEOLOGY: The great smoky mountains are the most massive mountain uplift in the eastern U.S.A. and one of the oldest uplands in North America.

The rocks were deposited as sediments of mud, gravel, and sand about 500 million years ago.

Some 200 million years ago the earth’s crust began to alter by compressing and upheaving older rocks, slow mountain building taking place over millions of years. The older rocks do not contain fossils because living organisms did not exist at the time they were formed, but younger rocks in the smokies do. After the building phase had stabilized, erosion carving began and still continues.

TOPOGRAPHY: The park is a landscape of ridges, forested slopes, valleys and rivers. Highest peak is Mt. Guyot (2,018m), and there are seven others that top 1,800m.

CLIMATE: The lowlands  of the park are warm in summer and have mild winters, but higher slopes have temperatures 15Degree F to 20Degree F cooler. Autumn has least mist and rain; August has the heaviest rainfall.

FLORA: Forests (40 percent are virgin ) cover the mountains up to about 1,800m, but here and there give way to grassy meadows. There are luxuriant forests of yellow- poplar or tulip tree, silver bell, mountain magnolia, yellow buckeye, red maple, sugar maple, black cherry, pin cherry dogwood, Her cules'club, hickory, sweet gum, sumac, American beech, cucumber tree, laurel , of Carolina hemlock, and red spruce. Rhododendron bloom in June, and Flame azaleas color the hill- side edge of Gregory’s  Bald . The turning color of the autumn leaves in October is a famous spectacle.

MAMMALS: Some 50 species of mammals live in the reserve. Their numbers include black bear, red fox, gray fox, raccoon, bobcat, striped skunk, long- tailed weasel, mink, opossum, brown bat, wood chuck, flying squirrel, red squirrel, chipmunk, and white tailed deer. The wild boar has been introduced.

BIRDS: Some of the 200 birds occurring in the lush forests are blue jay, black- capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, red-eyed vireo, chest nut-sided warbler, and black- throated blue warbler scarlet tanager, Acadian flycatcher, eastern phoebe, raven, wood thrush, the wild turkey, and many woodpeckers.

OTHER VERTEBRATES:

An extraordinary number of salamanders (about 30 species) exist in the national park.

 

  1. SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS (California)- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;

Forests of giant sequoias (the sequoia is the world’s largest and one of the oldest living things) are protected in these two contiguous national parks in the western part of the Sierra Nevada in Central California. Mount Whitney, highest U.S. Mountain outside Alaska, is within sequoia National Park. Both this park and neighboring kings canyon National Park contain large canyons and spectacular summit peaks of the high sierra. Three national forests surround the two parks; sequoia, sierra, and inyo.

  • Size: Sequoia National Park (154, 744 ha) , established (in 1890); kings canyon National Park (181, 885 ha), established (in 1940).
  • Accessibility: By road on US highway 99 from Bakers field; by bus, rail, and air to Fresno and Visalia, where bus service to park available.

GEOLOGY; The sierra Nevada is a result of giant forces operating through eons of time. Many  of the colorful rocks were formed as sediments beneath the sea, while lighter colored granite, the dominating rock of the reserves, was once molten magma.

Upheavals, erosions, and glacier movements shaped the present mountains.

TOPOGRAPHY: John Muir Trail on elevations between 1,830 m and 3,960m follows the summit region, giving formidable vistas of the sierras with lakes and waterfalls, and gorges, canyons, and chasms of tremendous size. Granitic kings canyon is the 14km valley of kings river and has a depth of 2,450m from mountain top to river bed. Seven peaks tower above 4,270m.

CLIMATE: Summer is the  best season, but winters are also rewarding. Frost usually comes in October at higher elevations. Heavy snows in winter.

FLORA: The tallest giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park is the famous “ General Sherman” (83m with a circumference of 31m), which is thought to be about 3,500 years old; highest sequoia in kings canyon; “ General Grant” (81m). Although as high as 25- story buildings, these trees are exceeded in height by other species of coniferous trees along the pacific coast.

Giant sequoias once flourished throughout the world and were contemporary with now extinct giant reptiles. At present these trees live only in a restricted area of California in scattered groves along a belt between 1,200 and 2,450 meters on the western slope of sierra Nevada. Other common trees in the two parks are Jeffrey, lodge pole, ponderosa, and sugar pines, incense cedar, California red fir, and white fir, many 60m tall but looking like pygmies beside the sequoias.

A succession of blooming plants occurs from February to late September on lower elevations these include fremontia, shooting star, Ceano thus, yerba santa, monkey flower, and bush lupine. Over 1,200 species of plants have been recorded.

MAMMALS: The vegetation is utilized by mule deer and sierra big horn sheep, as well as by beaver, several species of squirrels, yellow- bellied marmot, Pika, aplodontia or mountain beaver, porcupine and black bear. Among the predators are cougar, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, raccoon, spotted and striped skunks, and ringtail.

BIRDS: The golden eagle is the most spectacular among the pam’s 167 recorded species of birds. Others include mountain quail, sierra grouse, rosy finch, dipper, and Clark’s nutcracker.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Rainbow trout is native and abundant in both sequoia and kings canyon.

 

  1. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK (Washington)- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1938, (Washington). This National Park is unique; a coniferous rainforest at 480 northern latitude- the most luxuriant forest growth in any area of temperate climate. Evergreen wilderness with abundant wildlife, remnant of the Pacific Northwest virgin rainforest, contrasts with glaciers and snow- capped peaks above and ocean beaches below and demonstrates in a wonderful way the encounter between a mountain and an ocean. The park is on Olympus peninsula between the Pacific Ocean, Juan de Fuca strait and Puget Sound. Surrounding the national park are the Olympic National Forest and the Quinault Indian Reservation.
  • Geographical location: Olympus peninsula, Washington state.
  • Size: 358,640 ha
  • Accessibility: By road, rail, and air (to port Angeles).
  • Best visiting: summer and early autumn, though park open all year.

GEOLOGY: The Olympic mountains came into being on the ocean floor in the early cretaceous period about 120 million years ago when thicknesses of sandstone, shale, and grey wacke were deposited. Volcanic eruptions on the sea floor during one of the marine invasions across western Washington about 50 million years ago deposited sediments that appear as exposed volcanic rocks on mountain Olympus; the peaks of the Needles. Uplift of the present mountains occurred in Pliocene (about 11 million years ago). Glaciation began during the last million years and is responsible for the actual topography of the Olympics. It is not known  whether the glaciers melted away entirely during the warm period 4,000-8,000 years after the Ice Age or whether the present glaciers are actually remnants of the great glaciation.

TOPOGRAPHY: The Olympic mountains, a profusion of ridges, peaks, glaciers, valleys and lakes, are isolated from other ranges and rise from sea level up to the peak of Mountain Olympus, 2,424 m high. A narrow strip of land within the park borders the ocean for 80 km.

CLIMATE: Mild temperatures prevail with almost un ending saturation; annual rainfall of 4000mm in fact, the western side of the peninsula has the wettest winter climate of continental U.S.A, but its NE side is the driest area on the west coast outside of southern California. Winters are locally severe; the high country never free of snow before July.

FLORA: The rainforests have developed as a result of the mild and wet climate- a fantastic world of more than 1,000 species of trees, shrubs, annual plants, ferns, mosses, lichens, and fungi.

Most characteristic tree; the astonishing sitka spruce, which can grow to more than 15m in circumference and 90m in height. Douglas firs here grow even taller, up to 98 meters.

Other giants; western hemlock, western red cedar, and red alder. Most prominent of the deciduous trees; vine maple and big leaf maple. The Hoh , Queels, and Quinault rivers provide superb rainforest valleys. Above the rain forests, between 460 and 1,070m, pacific silver fir and western hemlock dominate; from 900 to 1500m, mountain hemlock, alpine fir, and Alaska cedar form the forest. Still higher, the vegetation consists of low plants with many sedges and grasses. Some common species of the hundreds of colorful wild flowers carpeting alpine meadows and forest glades, self -  heal, selaginella, strawberry, butter cups (2 species) oxalis, huckleberries (2 species), and spring beauty.

MAMMALS: The Roosevelt elk is the most common large mammal. Mule deer, cougar, bob cat, black bear, raccoon, striped and spotted skunks, otter, fisher, marten, mink, long tailed weasel, ermine or short- tailed weasel, beaver, Olympic marmot and Mountain beaver.

BIRDS: At least 140 birds have been recorded. Along the shore; black oystercatcher, kill deer, glaucous gull, and bald eagle;  along the streams and rivers; great blue heron, harlequin duck, belted kingfisher, dipper, and rough- winged swallow; in the forests; ruffed grouse, robin, varied thrush, russet- backed thrush, winter wren, gray jay, steller’s jay, Oregon junco, red-shafted flicker, pileated woodpecker, and downy woodpecker; In mountain meadow above the timber line;  raven, Oregon jay, mountain blue bird, rufous humming bird, cooper’s hawk, red- tailed hawk, golden eagle, and sooty grouse. The gray-crowned rosy finch stays in the mountain peaks.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Amphibians  include north western toad, pacific tree toad, and pacific coast newt. Streams and rivers contain Dolly varden trout, brook trout, cut throat trout, and steel head trout.

INVERTEBRATES: Between tides, the pools and rocks of the beaches become a living store house of marine invertebrates.

 

  1. MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK (Washington)-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1899, (Washington). Mount Rainier is a dormant volcano with the greatest single- peak glacial system in the U.S.A. It has dense forests and flowered meadows with abundant wildlife. Paradise valley at the southern side of the mountain is a center of scenic splendor offering the grandeur of the mountain's slopes and snow- capped dome rinsing to 4,300 meters. A girdle of  national forests surrounds this National Park.
  • Geographical location: Central Washington State.
  • Size: 96,793 ha
  • Accessibility: By road (Highway 410, stevens canyon road, and others); by bus( buses serve the park from Seattle and Tacoma from June to September).

GEOLOGY: Hotsprings and steam vents are signs of some remaining thermal activity in Mount Rainier though 2,000 years have passed since its last major eruption. (Feeble eruptions of dust were reported in 1853-1854,1858, and 1870). The cascade Range, formed in Miocene and Pliocene about 30-10 million years ago, surrounds the base of Mount –Rainier. After the main volcanic eruptions in Pleistocene( one or two million years ago) there followed glaciations, which together with other erosive forces sculptured the cascades.

TOPOGRAPHY: Despite its inland situation, Mount Rainier appears to rise directly from sea level because the surrounding ridges, though 823 metres above sea level, seem so insignificant. Enormous mount- Rainier stands about 3,350m above  its immediate base and 4,380m above sea level with twenty eight glaciers radiating in all directions from the peak. Emmons Glacier is 8km long and 1.5 km wide.

CLIMATE: Winter lasts from December to May. The average snow pack is six to seven m, and many snow fields above 1,830m is altitude remain throughout the year. Warm clear weather may be expected, early June to early September.

FLORA: The lower slopes support spruce forests gradually merging into growths of birch and willow before being succeeded by alpine meadows and permafrost tundra. Below 900m are Douglas fir, grand fir, western hemlock,pacific yew, and western red cedar. At 900-1,400m; no ble fir, pacific silver, Alaska cedar, mountain hemlock, western white pine. At 1,500m, mountain hemlock and alpine fir dominate; the tree line is about 2,300 meters.

Spectacular flower fields cover the alpine meadows, many flowers growing to the very edge of the mighty moving glaciers and melting snow fields. Some species; mountain heath, blueberry, Lyall lupine, scarlet painted cup, and avalanche lily.

MAMMALS: The mountain goat, which summers in high country 1,830- 3,000 meters. Other ungulates; mule deer and elk; rodents: chipmunks, golden mantled ground squirrel, chickaree or Douglas squirrel, flying squirrel, pika, beaver, mountain beaver, porcupine, snow shoe rabbit (varying hare), hoary marmot, and many other smaller species;  carnivores; marten, fisher, mink, long- tailed weasel, short- tailed weasel or ermine, wolverine, otter, little spotted skunk, striped skunk, cougar, Bob cat, lynx, black bear, raccoon, coyote,  and red fox.

BIRDS: About 130 species, include mountain blue birds, Clark’s nutcracker, thrushes, chickadees, kinglet, nuthatch, and white- tailed ptarmigan.

 

  1. MOUNT MCKINLEY NATIONAL PARK (Alaska)- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
  • Establishment: 1917, (Alaska). Mountain Mckinley is the second largest of the U.S National Parks, created primarity to protect its big mammals. It contains the highest mountain in North America, vast glaciers, large snow fields, and enormous wilderness expanses of forests and muskegs with a remarkable fauna of mammals and birds.
  • Geographical location: south central Alaska
  • Size: 775,597 ha
  • Accessibility: By rail from Fair Banks and Anchorage (on the Alaska RR); by road, via the Denali highway, which connects with the Alaska highway;  by air for light aircraft to McKinley park hotel (Airstrip).
  • Best visiting: May to September.

GEOLOGY: Mount McKinley is part of the Alaska Range consisting of Paleozoic, Tertiary, and Quaternary formations of limestone, granite, and shale. For tens of thousands of years glaciers and large ice mases of the Ice Age have sculptured the Mountains into jagged spires, knife- sharp ridges, and broad U-Shaped valleys.

Polished boulders, moraines, basins supporting lakes, elevated shore lines, and eskers are all the results of glaciations or their melting stages.

TOPOGRAPHY: The present glaciers are not remnants of the Ice Age,  yet they give mighty impressions of an ice-capped world with grinding glaciers (some are 50-65 km long), snow slopes, and plateaus. Mt. McKinley rears its majestic snow covered head high into the clouds- 6,200 m above sea level and 5,200m above the timberline. No other mountain in the world rises so high directly above its terrestrial base. North peak is slightly lower (5,930m). Two thirds of the way down from the summit, the mountain is enveloped in snow throughout the year. On the northern and western sides, the mountain rises abruptly from a tundra plateau only 760 to 900 m high.

Other high peaks within the national park; Mt. Foraker (5,200m), Mt. Hunter (4,560m), and Mt. Russell (3,540m). Below the arctic zone are bush- clad foothills, forested valleys, large muskegs, lakes and rivers down to almost 425m, lowest elevation of the reserve.

CLIMATE: The two sides of the Alaska Range differ; on the inland side, comparatively warm summers and long, cold winters prevail, with low precipitation; on the pacific side, longer and cooler summers and warmer winters. Temperatures; summer, 60o to 80o F; winter , 50o to 50o F. Warmest months; June and July.

FLORA: In August and September, hills, slopes, and tundra blaze with red and orange, and golden yellow. Fireweed, lilac, aster, and larkspur add other color. Most of the vegetation is alpine tundra; below the timberline (760-900m), black spruce and white spruce dominate, mingled with aspen, paper birch, and balsam poplar.

Shrubs include willows, alder, dwarf birch, and currants. Blueberry, mosses, and lichens cover the forest floor. Wet tundra’s harbor grasses, sedges, dwarf birch, willows, and many flowering plants. Drier tundra’s have white- flowered dryas , forget- me-not, white heather, mountain azalea, and dwarf rhododendrons.

MAMMALS: Two most interesting mammals, which do not exist in any other U.S. National Park, are the Dall sheep and the caribou that wander over the tundra’s in annual migrations (sometimes in herds of 4,500 animals), moving up to the mountains in spring. Moose is rather common.  Some

Of the other 36 mammals of the park are the “ five great”-  grizzly, black bear, lynx, wolverine, and wolf-  also coyote, red fox, otter, marten, mink, snow shoe rabbit (varying hare), pika,  hoary marmot, beaver, porcupine, red squirrel, arctic ground squirrel, and Toklat vole.

BIRDS: At least 130 species are recorded. Permanent residents; golden eagle , gyrfalcon, willow ptarmigan, black- billed magpie, raven, Canada or gray jay, and chickadee; breeding summer guests include wandering tattler (migrating as far away as New Zealand), surfbird, golden plover, and many other shorebirds and ducks, goshawk, short- billed gull, long- tailed skua, varied thrush, redpoll, white- crowned sparrow, long- spur, snow bunting.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Only one frog, the wood frog, occurs in the park; reptiles do not exist there. Fishes include arctic grayling and Lake trout.

MEXICO

 MEXICO

Area: 1,971,533 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN MEXICO:

  • 1. BOSENCHEVE NATIONAL PARK( MEXICO);
  • Establishment: 1940. The parque Nacional Bosencheve , located in the volcanic cordillera close to Zitacuaro, is a highland forest reserve.
  • Geographical location: West of Mexico city.
  • Size: 15,000 ha.
  • Accessibility; The Mexico Morelia- Guadalajara road runs through the park.
  • Nearest city: Zitacuaro, a rather important tourist center.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The volcanic cordillera is transverse zone of  recent volcanism. The occupies just a fraction of this range and represents typical mountain country, with the cerrode zacatones peak and the lake Laguna del Carmen as characteristic feartures.

CLIMATE: Temperate due to altitude; annual rainfall of 800-1,200 millimeters.

FLORA: The mountain forests are dominated by Montezuma pines, but sacred fir also occurs and an understory of grasses in the pine forests.

BIRDS: Laguna del Carmen is an important resting site for migratory birds. Yellow rail, clapper rail, and Mexican duck may be observed.

 

 

  • 2. INSURGENTE MIGUEL HIDALGOY COSTILLA NATIONAL PARK( MEXICO);
  • Establishment: 1936. This national park is of both natural and historical interest. Located in mountainous country close to Mexico city, it offers plains, forests, and springs.
  • Geographical location: proximity of Mexico city.
  • Size: 1,836 ha
  • Climate: Temperate, annual rainfall; 800-1200mm.
  • Accessibility: By road.

TOPOGRAPHY: Situated in the volcanic cordillera, the park is a gently sloping valley surrounded by mountains. The lake is artificial; the numerous springs are natural.

Average elevation; about 3,000 m;  highest point;  about 3,700m;  the most prominent peaks;  palma, tepehuisco, and marquesa.

FLORA: Vegetation is characterized by grassy meadows and forested hills sides. Forests of sacred fir dominate, covering 70 percent of the area. Among deciduous trees are oaks and alder.

BIRDS: Among those that may be seen or heard; tufted flycatcher, buff- breasted flycatcher, slate- throated redstart, golden- crowned kinglet, brown- throated wren, gray cactus wren, rufous- capped brush finch, pine siskin, collared towhee, and whip –poor-will.

 

  • 3. IZTACCIHUANTL-POPOCATEPETL NATIONAL PARK(MEXICO);
  • Establishment: 1935. Two extinct volcanoes rising to over 5,000 meters and with interesting geology, flora and fauna are the main features of this national park
  • Geographical location: South east of Mexico city .
  • Size: 25,679 ha.
  • Nearest Town; Amecameca.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: All the great volcanoes of Mexico and thousands of smaller ones occur in the volcanic cardillera. Popocatepeti(5,451m) and iztaccihuantl (5,285m) are permanently snow- capped extinct volcanoes, separated by Rio Balsar from the main sierra delsur, but they are, in fact,  the dominating peaks of that range. The surface soil of the national park is almost entirely composed of volcanic material and debris.

CLIMATE: Chiefly temperate, but changing, of course, with altitude. Annual rainfall;  800-1200mm.

FLORA: Forests cover the volcano slopes. Conifers dominate, chiefly pines; Montezuma pine, Chihuahua pine, Hartweg pine, Lawson pine, and Teocote pine (lower slopes are pine and oak woodlands); timberline at approximately 3,780 meters. Upper slopes clothed in stunted montane shrub gradually become tundra like and barren before snow takes over.

BIRDS: In the various vegetation belts of Popocatepetl these birds are found on the lower bushy slopes; vermilion flycatcher, violet- eared humming bird, red warbler, russet nightingale thrush, brown-  throated wren, collared towhee, and rufous- sided towhee; in the pine and spruce belt between 2,750 and 3,350 meters; Mexican chickadee, red- backed junco, golden- browed warbler, red warbler, Hutton’s vireo, white- eared humming bird, and white- throated swift. In the pine woodlands above 3,350 meters; the Mexican chickadee and red- backed junco are still present, together with pine siskin, staller's pygmy nuthatch, brown-  throated wren, and pygmy owl; above the timberline among scattered pines, lupines and grasses are the gray- silked flycatcher, red- backed junco, pine siskin, striped sparrow, western bluebird, blue- throated humming bird, and the broad- tailed humming bird.

CANADA

CANADA;

Area: 10,014,703 Square kilometers. The country’s National Parks are administered by the ministry of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, National and Historic Parks Branch, Ottawa.

Provincial parks are administered at province level; the most famous and the most strictly protected are located in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and New foundland.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CANADA;

  • 1. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK (British Columbia)- CANADA;
  • Establishment: 1886, (British Columbia). This park was established to protect the Selkirk mountains, an area of peaks, glaciers, and valleys where the waters of the Columbia River are born, Glacier National Park lies outside the range of the Rocky Mountains. These mountains are more jagged and have peaks more pointed than the Rockies. Wildlife is abundant. The grizzly is quite common, ecologically the most interesting mammal of the reserve, for the bears graze the paths opened up by the many avalanches.
  • Geographical location: SE British Columbia, W of Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
  • Accessibility: By rail to Glacier station on Canadian pacific RR, which runs through park.

GEOLOGY: By folding and uplift, the Selkirk mountains were formed many tens of millions years earlier than the Rockies (which were pushed up in several stages from 75 to 25 million years ago). Most of the rocks in Glacier National Park belong to two groups; those east of Beaver River, where in general the mountains have rounded summits, are older, consisting of slate, hard quartzite, conglomerate, limestone, and brecias. The rest of Glacier National Park has underlying younger rocks consisting of quartzites, slate and conglomerate, which form the jagged peaks west of Beaver River.

TOPOGRAPHY: The mass of towering peaks and valleys includes many glaciers, snow fields, cirques, lakes. Highest peak; Hasler, 3390m, in the Dawson Range. Particularly spectacular mountains; the pyramid like cheaps Mt(2,595m), Hermit mountain (3,110m), and Tomatin peak (2,884m).

CLIMATE: Much snow; avalanches.

FLORA: Dense conifer forests and alpine tundra are chief features.

MAMMALS: Ungulates not common because of heavy snow fall, but these do occur; moose, elk, black- tailed deer, caribou, and mountain goat. Black bear and grizzly are widespread.

 

  • 2. THE DELTA MARSH (Manitoba)- CANADA;
  • Establishment; 1938, (Manitoba). Created as the Delta waterfowl research station. One of the finest waterfowl breeding and resting areas in the New world, this area is a prairie marsh surrounded by cultivated wheat fields. In spring, the Delta Marsh is periodically a fantastic turmoil of flying, displaying, yelling, and feeding water birds.
  • Geographical location: Southern end of Lake Manitoba, 120km NW of Winnipeg.

GEOLOGY: Lake Manitoba is a great basin occupying the bed of ancient Lake Agassiz of late glacial times. The marsh has probably been shrinking since the retreat of the last glaciation. In recent years  the water level of  lake Manitoba and that of the waters of the delta bays has dropped considerably.

TOPOGRAPHY: This marsh is one of the largest in the Canadian wheat belt (some 30km long East-  West, and about 8km wide between Lake Manitoba and the prairie). The lake itself is about 185 km in length and is almost 50km wide. A sand ridge separates lake Manitoba from the Delta Marsh, but the Marsh waters have broken through at several points and winds provide water connections back and forth between lake and marsh. There are large and small boys, winding creeks, sloughs, and many potholes.

FLORA: The ridge wall is covered by woods of willow, poplar, green ash, and box elder. Behind it the marsh is a mosaic of glittering waterways, enormous beds of tall grass, islands of bulrushes and cat tails, dense beds of sago pond weed, and other plants.

MAMMALS: Muskrat is the most abundant mammal of the marsh;  others; woodchuck (ground hog), snow shoe rabbit (varying hare), jack rabbit, franklin ground squirrel, skunk, mink, least weasel, short- tailed weasel, coyote, and white- tailed deer.

BIRDS: Musical red- winged black- birds are characteristic for the Delta Marsh as are the aquatic species; sora and virginia rails, coot, mallard, pintail, gadwall; widgeon, shoveler, blue- winged teal, green- winged teal, ruddy duck, greater scaup, lesser scaup, white- winged scoter, red head, canvasback, bufflehead, common golden eye, red-breasted merganser, hooded merganser, common merganser, whistling swan, snow goose, Canada goose, pied- billed grebe, horned grebe, western grebe, red- necked grebe, eared grebe, white pelican, American bittern, Franklin’s gull, and forster’s tern. The yellow- headed blackbird is common, and the marsh hawk regularly seen. The  ruby- throated humming bird is common around the marsh. Shore birds are transients , stopping at the marsh in April and May, and again from late July onward. Trumpeter swans are being bred at the research station to build up a flock.

 

  • 3. BANFF, JASPER, KOOTENAY, AND YOHO NATIONAL PARKS (Alberta and British Columbia)- CANADA;

Yoho and Kootenay national parks are on the western slopes of the Rockies and Jasper and Banff on the eastern slopes. (Jasper National park is the largest of this quartet. Two provincial parks, Mount Rosson and Hamber, connect this complex of reserves with Glacier National Park in Canada.

BANFF: 656,000 ha, (Established in 1887)

  • Of special interest; Mirror lake, Lake Agnes and its valley, Peyto Lake, Lake Louise ,and Bow valley.

JASPER: 1,075,000 ha, (Established 1,907)

  • Of special interest; Columbia ice field, Cavell and maligne lakes, Athabasca and Tonquin valleys; Punch Bowl Falls and Amethyst Lake below the mighty Ramparts.

KOOTENAY: 139,000 ha, (Established 1920)

  • Of special interest; Marble canyon, Simpson River and vermilion River valleys.

YOHO: 129,750 ha, (Established 1920)

  • Of special interest; Lake O’ Hara with seven sister falls, Emerald lake below Mt. Burgess in the president Range, kicking Horse River valley.

ACCESSIBILITY; All four (4) parks easily accessible (by Trans- Canada Highway or by Canadian Pacific RR); the spectacular ice field Highway goes through Jasper National Park and Banff National Park 227 km); numerous roads; well - marked trails.

GEOLOGY: The Canadian Rockies in general represent three (3) main types of mountain structure; (1) fault block ranges (2) Tightly folded anticlines forming “saw back” ranges (3) columnar mountains with steeply eroded slopes. The exposed sedimentary rock series is from the pre- Cambrian to cretaceous periods topped by Pleistocene deposits, hence ranging over about 550 million years from the most ancient times to the most recent. Quartzite’s, limestone, sandstone, shale’s, and argillites are the main exposed rocks of the four national parks. All have mineral hot springs.

TOPOGRAPHY: All four reserves exhibit mountain-  building and erosive forms with towering fault- blocks, jagged peaks, U-shaped valleys, deep canyons, glaciers, cirques. All contain many lakes, bogs, rivers, and waterfalls.

Highest points of the four reserves; of Yoho; 3,562 m (south tower Mt. Good sir); of Kootenay, bordering the continental divide; 3,424m (Delta- form mountain); of Jasper, straddling the Athabasca valley, its western boundary the continental divide; 3,747m (Mt. Columbia); of Banff; 3,618m (Mt. Assiniboine). (The highest peak of the Canadian Rockies lies just outside the north west boundary of Jasper National Park; Mt. Robson, 3,944 meters).

Jasper National Park has a spectacular chasm, maligne canyon, 57 meters.

CLIMATE: Long, cold winters and short, warm summers. Along the Athabasca valley in Jasper National Park the average annual precipitation is only 330 mm, but ranges west of the continental divide have much heavier snowfall and more frequent summer showers.

FLORA: Coniferous forests climb up to 1,600-1,800 m on eastern slopes and to about 2,100m on the western side of the continental divide. Lower parts of the ranges are covered by extensive forests of lodge pole pine, Douglas-fir, and white spruce.

Above them; dense sub alpine forests with  Engelmann spruce and alpine fir, birch, and aspen. In Kootenay, western red cedar forms transitional forests. At the tree line, alpine larch appears. Tundra’s occur at an altitude of about 2,200m. The Rocky Mountains contain more than 500 species of flowering plants. Wild flowers abound in these reserves with grass- of- Parnassus, alpine timothy, columbines, mountain heaths, alpine speedwell, mountain- heather, and fleabanes as some of the dominant species.

MAMMALS; Mammals of the four National Parks are numerous in species and individuals; moose, white- tailed deer, mule deer, elk, mountain caribou, mountain goat, big horn sheep, black bear, grizzly, coyote, cougar, bobcat, lynx, skunk, fisher, marten, mink, short- tailed weasel, badger, wolverine, beaver, porcupine, chipmunk, Columbian ground squirrel, golden- mantled ground squirrel, red squirrel, hoary marmot, snow shoe rabbit (varying hare), pika, pocket gopher, and muskrat. (A paddock in Banff  National Park contains a group of plains bison).

BIRDS: Some examples of the 200 species recorded in these national parks; swainson’s thrush, winter wren, gray jay, mountain chickadee, red –breasted nuthatch, mallard,  blue- winged teal, harlequin duck, Barrow’s golden eye, canada goose, golden eagle, bald eagle, goshawk, osprey, great blue heron, white-tailed ptarmigan, willow ptarmigan, blue grouse, spruce grouse, and ruffed grouse.

OTHER VERTEBRATES:

Native and introduced species such as rainbow trout, lake trout, cut throat trout, brown trout and brook trout are distributed in lakes and rivers.

 

  • 4. WOOD BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK (Alberta and North west Territory)- CANADA
  • Establishment: 1922. This national park, second largest in the world- 283 km long and 161km wide- is a land of taiga forest, prairies, muskegs (peat bogs), marshes, and lakes with abundant wildlife. It was established to preserve the last remaining herds of WILD wood bison in natural state.
  • Geographical location: Between lake Athabasca and Great slave lake.
  • Size: 4,428,000 ha.
  • Climate: Long, cold winters and short, hot summers; mean daily July maximum temperature; 73o F; January 7oF.

GEOLOGY: The Park lies within the Mackenzie lowlands, a northern geologic extension of the Great central plain, rather sharply bordered in the E by the Canadian (Laurentian) shield. It is part of a series of erosion plateaus of cretaceous age. Between the higher Alberta plateau (with many Karstic phenomena) and the lower salt plains (where the soil has a high salt content) is a prominent escarpment of the underlying limestone. Morainic hills, alluvial flats, and fluvial deposits of sand and gravel are products of former glaciation. The E sector, close to the Canadian Shield, has outcrops of granite.

TOPOGRAPHY: Plateaus of various elevations, mostly flat or gently rolling, descend to the east. Wherever the rivers of the Alberta plateau reach the escarpment wall of the salt plains, there are waterfalls and canyons. In the south east lie immense marshes, the combined delta of the peace and Athabasca Rivers.

FLORA: The vegetation of land strips separating the potholes forms the upland taiga with various species of spruce mingled with aspen. White spruce is found on better soils, jack pine on well- drained soils, black spruce and tamarack on peat soils. In the understory are bearberry, Labrador tea, dwarf birch, and lichen; around pot holes; sedge, cattail, and bulrush. The muskegs have a poorer flora dominated by sphagnum mosses.

Staple food of the bison both summer and winter is the meadow sedge that covers the meadows of the river floor plains and delta. Upland prairies cover the salt plains areas around sinkholes and openings in the forest with grasses such as blue grass, blue joint grass, and wheat grass. Several salt- resisting plants like arrow grass, black salt wort, and glass wort also grow on the salt plains. Jack pine is widely distributed, while balsam or black poplar is confined to delta.

MAMMALS:

The dramatic history of the plains bison is well known, chiefly connected with the Great plains of the U.S.A, but few people seem to known that there is also a wood bison , a subspecies. This northern race formerly had a wide range throughout the coniferous forests and aspen woods, from the Northwest territories south along the cordillera through Alberta and as far south as Colorado. While the plains bison was becoming almost extinct through wanton exploitation, the numbers of wood bison were also dwindling, approaching extinction south of the Peace River by 1875 and with only 300 animals remaining by 1891 in an area S of Great slave lake. Wood bison became protected in Canada in 1893. Only 24 individuals were observed in 1904, but by 1922, when the Canadian government set a side Wood Buffalo National Park, which included the entire habitat of the herd, they had increased to about 1,500. In 1925-1928 the serious mistake was made of introducing 6,673 plains bison into the area. As might have been expected, the two subspecies interbred freely, and the wood bison almost disappeared as a pure breed.

Fortunately a small isolated herd of about 200 pure wood bison was discovered in the NW part of the National park, but by 1965 only about 100 were left. Other big mammals in this park include moose, elk (re introduced in 1949), woodland caribou, and occasionally barren- ground caribou. Both mule deer and white- tailed deer have been identified but are extremely rare. Some others of the 46 recorded mammals are red squirrel, snowshoe rabbit (varying hare), muskrat, beaver, porcupine, wolf, red fox, short- tailed weasel, mink and lynx.

BIRDS: Most interesting bird of this national park from a conservation point of view is the whooping crane with its most important  nesting area here. Long in danger of extinction , in 1970 the wild population numbered only 57 birds.

More than 200 species and subspecies of birds have been recorded in this park. The autumn accumulation of waterfowl in the peace- Athabasca delta is one of the greatest ornithological spectacles to be found in North America. Great numbers of Ross’s geese stop here on migration. Gallinaceous birds include spruce, sharp- tailed, and ruffed grouse.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Pike perch and northern pike occur in many of the lakes and sluggish streams while gold eye is common in the lower Peace River and the large lakes west of Lake Athabasca.

  • 5. PRINCE ALBERT NATIONAL PARK( Saskatchewan)- CANADA;

Establishment: 1927.  A forested region dotted with lakes and interlaced with streams and rivers, this national park is situated in the center of Saskatchewan, north of the great prairies that today have become cultivated fields. The park lies on the height of land between the great watershed areas of the Churchill and Saskatchewan rivers. Wildlife is one of the main attractions since this is one of the Canadian reserves serving to shelter wolves, one of the larger predators.

  • Size: 383,000 ha.
  • Accessibility: By road; nearest rail connection at  Prince Albert (57km);
  • GEOLOGY:

Underlying bedrocks are mostly shales and limestone, overlaid by igneous rocks and by gravels, sands, clays, and boulders dumped by glaciers during the melting stage of the last glaciation about 10,000 years ago (the river banks give a good idea of these processes).

  • TOPOGRAPHY:

The fast region of hills, ridges, woods, and water is typical of western Canada’s lake country bordering the northern part of the Great Plains. Hundreds of crystal lakes, from tiny tarns to lakes 32km long, are tied together by marshes and rivers, and most of these wetlands are surrounded by forest. Largest lakes; crean, waskesiu, Kings Mere, Lava lee, Halkett, Paquin, and Wassegam. General elevation of the national park is about 550 meters.

  • CLIMATE:

Summers are warm and short; winters, cold and long. Period for visiting; May-September.

  • FLORA:

Dominated by primeval conifer and deciduous forests, the reserve is located within the taiga (northern coniferous forests zone), chiefly composed of spruce, jack pine, balsam fir, birch, and quaking aspen. Scattered through the forests are swampy areas with Labrador tea, willow shrubs, sedges, cotton grass, and mosses. Other trees are balsam poplar, pin cherry, chokecherry, Saskatoon berry, larch, and black spruce. Open forest floors and glades support wild flowers and other herbs such as wood lily, marsh marigold, Canada dogwood, northern blue aster, northern bedstraw, and Canada golden rod.

  • MAMMALS:

Typical mammals of the 43 known to occur in the park are deer mouse, red squirrel, pocket gopher, snowshoe rabbit (varying hare), muskrat, porcupine, beaver, short- tailed weasel, black bear, lynx, mink, red fox, and coyote, wolf, striped skunk, marten, badger, white- tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and woodland caribou.

A small exhibition herd of bison is kept in an enclosure near the park registration office.

  • BIRDS:

During spring and autumn migrations of waterfowl, the lakes and marshes provide rest and food for thousands of ducks, Canada geese, and waders: Many birds also breed in the national park. One of the largest rookeries of American white pelicans in Canada is on several small rocky islands in lava lee lake, where there are also large numbers of double – crested cormorants.

Other birds in the reserve include Hudsonian spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, and a multitude of song birds including Least flycatcher, swainson’s thrush, cedar waxwing, and magnolia warbler.

Aquatic birds include red- necked grebe, common loon, great blue heron, herring gull, and common tern. Betted kingfisher, red- tailed hawk, asprey, bald eagle, and Marsh hawk are some of the more conspicuous birds.

  • OTHER VERTEBRATES:

Lakes and rivers are inhabited by wall eye or yellow pike perch, northern pike, yellow perch, Lake Front, and whitefish.

  1. WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK (Alberta- CANADA) AND GLACIER NATIONAL PARK (Montana- U.S.A) – CALLED (WATERTON - GLACIER INTERNATIONAL PEACE PARK);
  • Establishment: 1932. The waterton – Glacier international peace park was established by uniting two national parks to commemorate the goodwill between Canada and the United states, giving the new name to two former parks- waterton lakes national park (Establishment in 1895) in Alberta, Canada, and Glacier national park (Established in 1910) in Montana, U.S.A.

These reserves lie astride the continental divide and contain some of the most spectacular scenery and primitive wilderness of the Rocky mountain region.

The U.S part is about eight times large than the Canadian sector. The U.S. Glacier national park lies south and east of waterton national park and adjoins the flathead national forest reserve, the Lewis and Clark national forest reserves, and the Blackfoot Indian Reservation.

 

  • Areas: Waterton lakes , 51,950ha; Glacier, 405,251ha.

 

  • Accessibility: By rail, and the Going-to- the sun Highway, which crosses the continental divide.

Of special interest: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK;  Grinnel Glacier, Iceberg lake, Two medicine lake, St. Mary valley, and the 140- meter deep waterton lake spanning the international boundary. WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK; Cameron Falls, vimy peak above waterton reserve, cryps lake (altitude  1,980m),  Cameron Lake, and Blakistone Brook Valley.

  • Best visiting: June to September.
  • GEOLOGY: Mountains are carved out of a series of layered sediments a mile thick, uplifted and displaced in a relatively late geological time. Fossile algae, remains of colonies of single – celled plants living half a billion years ago, are exposed like rosettes on some rocks.

The uplifted mountains have been progressively dissected and eroded by glaciations and rivers. Oldest exposed rocks; argilite, limestone, dolomite, quartzite, gabbro-many with distinctive red, purple, gray and green coloring of minute mineral particles.

  • TOPOGRAPHY;

This is an area of lofty peaks, sheer knife-edged ridges, foaming waterfalls, canyons, gleaming lakes, glaciers (Glacier national park has about 60) , and ice- carved valleys. Numerous amphitheater- shaped cirques are found at the head wall of ancient glaciers. Mountains that rise almost directly from prairie plains are dramatic features of waterton lakes national park. Altitudinal range; waterton lakes national - 1,240m to 2,930m (height of Mt. Blakiston);  Glacier national park;  900m to 3,184m (height of Mt. Cleveland).  Glacier national park has many peaks above 2,750 meters.

  • CLIMATE:

Sunny days in summer are warm but nights are chilly; winters are severe but frequent warm spells melt the snow.

  • FLORA:

Fifteen species of cone-bearing trees in Glacier National Park include lodge pole pine (dominant in both reserves). Douglas-fir, fir, spruce, western red cedar, western larch, pacific yew, western hemlock, grand fir, sub alpine fir, white- bark pine, ponderosa pine, western white pine, limber pine, Engle mann spruce, and juniper. Among deciduous trees are mountain ash, black cotton wood, quaking aspen, Douglas maple, black haw thorne, two species of birch, two of alder, and 25 of willow.

Few areas in western North America have a richer variety of wild flowers than these two national parks where over 1,000 species may be found, western species mingling with northern and southern. Some sports contain myriads of stands of bear grass; other characteristics plants; Western thimble berry, bear- berry, aster, common gaillardia, yellow lamb tongue, fawn lily (glacier lily), false hellebore, and scarlet Indian paint brush.

  • MAMMALS:

Mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goat, cougar, lynx, fisher, wolverine, grizzly, black beer, wolf, and coyote. Other species include pocket gopher, muskrat, porcupine, beaver, pika, snow shore rabbit (varying hare),  hoary and yellow- bellied marmots, ground squirrel, red squirrel, marten, short- tailed weasel, badger, skunk, and bobcat. Some bison are kept in an enclosure in waterton lakes national park.

  • BIRDS:

Only some of the 216 recorded species can be noted here; birds of prey include golden eagle, bald eagle,  osprey, and several species of hawks; passerines; kinglets, chickadees, nuthatches, thrushes, dipper, and Clark’s nutcracker. Other conspicuous birds are pileated woodpecker,   white-tailed ptarmigan, and blue grouse. Many ducks nest in this area; the harlequin duck is occasionally observed in Mountain Rivers.

  • OTHER VERTEBRATES:

Glacier national park has 22 species of fish, of which the pygmy whitefish has a very restricted distribution in North America. Trout are represented by cut throat, rainbow, brook, and the lake trout.

 
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