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Archive for national parks

Glimpsing Pembrokeshire’s Past

By Linda Tancs

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales is Britain’s only coastal national park, a place full of archaeological icons. One of its most famous attractions is Pentre Ifan, a stone structure marking the entrance into the heart of a burial chamber dating back to the Neolithic Period. Other stone ramparts dating from the Bronze Age encircle the hilltop of Foel Drygarne, dominated by three massive and well-preserved cairns. Excavation at the heart of the park has also revealed Iron Age settlements, like those found at Carew Castle. Covering 240 square miles of spectacular landscape around Wales’ southwestern shore, you’ll find visitor centers in Tenby, Newport and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St. Davids.

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Mountain Majesty in Wyoming

By Linda Tancs

It’s easy to get lost in the mountain majesty of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. You can view the rugged spires from glacier-fed Jenny Lake or on a float along the Snake River. More magnificent views await at Lunch Tree Hill, an overlook at Jackson Lake Lodge that was used as a picnic stop by John D. Rockefeller Jr. during a Yellowstone vacation. The Teton Mountain Range borders Jackson Hole to the west. Like the valley (which was named for fur trader David Jackson), French fur trappers named the mountains Les Trois Tetons (the three breasts), now known as the Grand, Middle and South Tetons. Grand Teton is the highest peak although Mount Moran (named for landscape artist Thomas Moran) is immortalized in popular sketches and watercolors.

One Hundred Years of Water

By Linda Tancs

One hundred years of water. That’s how much ice mass you’ll find at the Jostedalsbreen glacier in Norway at Jostedalsbreen National Park. Almost half of the park is covered by the glacier, which is the largest in mainland Europe at 188 square miles. In some places the ice layers are over 1,600 feet thick. The park is easiest to access in Jostedalen (Luster) and Fjærland (Sogndal), where you can participate in glacier hikes and visit glacier museums.

Norway’s Taste of the Highlands

By Linda Tancs

The mountains and highlands of Eastern Norway are awash in heather, moss and shrubbery in a variety of colors, a sublime backdrop to a series of peaks exceeding 6,500 feet in height at Rondane National Park. Rondane is Norway’s first national park, an area boasting the oldest wild reindeer herd in the country. Its woodlands, mountains and ample wildlife are best experienced by hiking the several marked trails, off-road biking, horse riding, rafting and river kayaking. The park offers tourist cabins and campsites. You can also enjoy locally sourced fare in the area hotels.

A Wrinkle on Earth

By Linda Tancs

The Waterpocket Fold is a geologic wrinkle on the earth extending almost 100 miles. It formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major mountain building event in western North America (the Laramide orogeny) reactivated an ancient buried fault in the region, causing the west side to shift upwards relative to the east side. This geologic wonder is the centerpiece of Capitol Reef National Park in the heart of Utah’s red rock country. Abounding with cliffs, bridges, domes and canyons, the park is also a refuge of pristine dark night skies of the highest quality, garnering it “Gold Tier” status by the International Dark-Sky Association. The most scenic portion of the Waterpocket Fold, found near the Fremont River, is known as Capitol Reef: capitol for the white domes of Navajo sandstone that resemble state capitol building domes, and reef for the rocky cliffs which are a barrier to travel, like a coral reef.

Purple Mountain Majesty in China

By Linda Tancs

An easy getaway from Shanghai, Nanjing is home to Purple Mountain, so-named for the color of the clouds often seen at its peak. Part of Zhongshan Mountain National Park, it’s regarded as one of the most famous mountains in southern China. A cable car ride up the mountain will reward you with great views of the Yangtze River and the city. Pick a sunny day for the best views.

Canada’s Appalachian Trail

By Linda Tancs

The International Appalachian Trail extends across Maine and into Atlantic Canada along the Gaspé Peninsula. Forillon National Park in Québec is the eastern terminus of the trail, and it offers foot and biking paths to soak in the scenery that’s at its peak this time of year. Don’t miss the views from the lookout tower on the Mont-Saint-Alban trail. And just before the entrance to the park is Canada’s tallest lighthouse (112 feet) at Cap-des-Rosiers. Unique to the park is its “Curious by Nature” mobile interpretation kiosk, offering a wealth of information pertaining to the park’s animals, plants and landscapes.

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