“Our National Parks have allowed generations to discover history, nature, and wildlife in irreplaceable ways. From the highest peaks of Denali to the lowest dips of the Grand Canyon, families around our country enjoy the splendor of the outdoors. Throughout National Park Week, as we celebrate the ways in which our treasured outdoor spaces enrich our lives and uplift our spirits, the National Park Service will again offer free admission to America’s National Parks so more people can explore our country’s vast natural beauty.” -President Obama
National Park Week is an annual week for celebration and recognition of America’s National Parks. First proclaimed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Park Service, this week is a time to renew our passion and commitment to the resources we protect. National Parks provide recreational experiences, opportunities to learn and grow, and places of quiet refuge. During National Park Week every national park will give you free admission from April 15–16 and 22–23. Visitors are encouraged to explore the diverse wildlife, iconic landscapes and rich history found in America’s national parks. The first National Park was founded in 1872 when Ulysses S. Grant dedicated Yellowstone, today there are 411 parks, trails, waterways, historic sites, recreation areas, monuments, and memorials that fall under the designation of the National Park Service – 40 of these National Parks are located right here in the west. In honor of these national treasures, here are five National Parks of the west to explore this April and beyond!
The Grand Canyon
Grand may seem like an understatement when you visit the enchanting and historic Canyon of Arizona this April. Head to the Wild West and tour Grand Canyon this April and enjoy its unique array of activities, adventures and amusement. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and a mile deep. It was created at least 17 million years ago, as the Colorado River and its tributaries sliced through layer after layer of rock cutting their channels while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. If you venture beneath the overlooks, an overwhelming sensation unfolds as you are immersed into the splendid beauty of this national treasure. Listening to the breeze pass through layers of 2 billion-year-old rocks allows you to feel a new perspective on nature and life.
Experience California’s Death Valley National Park and its amazing display of natural colors and dramatic mountain ranges. Death Valley National Park in California offers many attractions for the whole family. There are sand dunes, colorful rock formations, greenery, canyons and even a castle here. Badwater Basin, which is the nation’s lowest elevation at 282 feet below sea level, is quite popular. The miles of blinding salt flats make for an unforgettable walk. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is a giant sandbox for kids.Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. While a destination with “death” in the name doesn’t necessarily seem like a place to find bright colorful blooms, this desert valley located in east California overflows with color. Despite the dry, hot summer conditions in Death Valley, springtime often brings an overwhelming amount of luscious colorful wildflowers blooms – a perfect complement to your visit this April.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is located near Tucson and boasts over 165 miles of hiking trails, weaving among the largest concentration of saguaro cacti in the world. The majestic and grand cacti is known as the universal symbol of the American west and found only in a small portion of the United States. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset and lush bright wildflowers. If you like green, you will especially enjoy Saguaro National Park during the rainy seasons. The varied elevation within the park allows for a great variety of different plant species. Current research indicates there are approximately 1200 species in the Rincon Mountain District and approximately 400 species in the Tucson Mountain District. Be prepared to have your senses overwhelmed with desert oasis beauty this April.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Discover the colors, shapes and long views in Bryce Canyon National Park. Enjoy views of the Virgin River Gorge, the Grand Staircase National Monument and the magical hoodoos of Bryce Canyon (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) can be found on every continent, but Bryce Canyon is home to the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. Descriptions fail. Photographs do not do it justice, pack your sense of wonder and imagination when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah this April.
Zion National Park
Visit Zion National Park and soak in stunning views of the The Watchman, the most photographed icon in Zion National Park. This beautiful and shapely rock mountain that happens to “face” the valley from the South is stunning during the daylight and glows at sunset. Make sure you have plenty of space on your iPhone or film in your camera when visiting this landmark. Located in Springdale, Utah you will be able to gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Not do it justice, pack your sense of wonder and imagination when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah this April.