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Archive for national parks

Sand and Solitude in Indiana

By Linda Tancs

There’s plenty of sand and opportunity for solitude at Indiana Dunes. Recently elevated to national park status, it’s Indiana’s first national park. Hiking is a prized activity, with over 50 miles of trails reaching dunes, wetlands, prairies, rivers and forests. Lying at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, it benefits from its habitat with a wide variety of fish, birds and aquatic organisms. The park also ranks fourth in plant diversity among all the national parks. Visit this weekend for some maple tapping. Taking place at the historic homestead, Chellberg Farm, the free event is one of the park’s most popular activities. Bottled syrup will be offered for sale at both the main and Bailly/Chellberg visitor centers.

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A Rocky Show in Australia

By Linda Tancs

You might say Australia’s Murujuga National Park really rocks. Designated the 100th national park in western Australia, the park lies within a larger National Heritage Listed place, created in July 2007 over the Burrup Peninsula and the Dampier Archipelago. The area is renowned for its extensive rock art collection, comprising shell middens, stone artifact scatters, quarries, stone arrangements, ceremonial and mythological sites, graves and petroglyphs. In fact, the site is thought to contain the highest concentration of petroglyphs of any known site in the world. The rock art has deep meaning for the local Aboriginal people; avoid taking photographs of humanoid rock art figures.

The Galápagos of North America

By Linda Tancs

Channel Islands National Park is just off the southern California mainland, but in many ways it’s worlds apart. Lightly tread by tourists, the isolation of this chain of five major island groups has resulted in a globally significant biodiverse environment that some refer to as “the Galápagos of North America.” Its paleontological record shows evidence of extinct species such as pygmy mammoth, flightless sea duck, vampire bat and giant deer mouse. Among the living are rare birds, over two dozen species of whales and the largest colonies of seabirds in southern California. Santa Cruz Island, the largest, sports sea caves like Painted Cave, one of the world’s largest and deepest caves. Although the mainland visitor center in Ventura is readily accessible by car or public transportation, the islands are only accessible by park concessionaire boats and planes or private boat. Advance planning is highly recommended.

Vietnam’s Premier Nature Reserve

By Linda Tancs

Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam and is its premier nature reserve. Located on two limestone mountain ranges about 75 miles southwest of Hanoi, its rich ecosystem includes a fossilized sea reptile hundreds of millions of years old. Here you’ll also find over 2,234 vascular and non-vascular plants, 122 species of reptiles and amphibians and 135 species of mammals, such as the critically endangered primate Delacour’s langur. Trekking is a popular activity, and popular trails will lead you to several ancient trees, caves and villages of the minority Muong people.

A Christmas Treat Down Under

By Linda Tancs

Christmas doesn’t normally conjure thoughts of tropical equatorial climates unless, of course, you’re visiting Christmas Island. Just a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean, the Australian territory northwest of Perth is largely a national park. It’s perhaps best known for its native wildlife, particularly the imposing bright red crab. At the beginning of the wet season (usually between October and November), most adult red crabs suddenly begin a spectacular migration by the millions from the forest to the coast to breed and release eggs into the sea, a process that can last up to 18 days. Movement peaks during cooler hours, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Talk about a red carpet!

A Living Landscape in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Anangu, the Aboriginals, have lived at and managed Uluru for thousands of years. Better known as Ayers Rock (a massive sandstone monolith), it’s a protected area located in the Northern Territory of Australia, part of Uluru-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. It’s not uncommon to see its inhabitants dot painting, performing inma (traditional dance and song), telling stories or gathering bush tucker. One of the highlights of a visit there is a sunrise or sunset viewing of the rock, with five areas specifically dedicated to viewing and photographing the spectacular hues. At Talinguru Nyakunytjaku you have the choice of three shelters, two viewing platforms and a few miles of walking track to find the perfect spot.

Bringing Art to Life

By Linda Tancs

You might feel like a million bucks (as the saying goes) in Portsea, Australia. That’s where you can see how the other half live along Millionaire’s Walk to Sorrento. But you can’t put a price tag on vistas, like the ones along Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail. Following the cliff line between Portsea and Sorrento, it’s played the muse to many an artist. In fact, the route is lined with images of paintings positioned as closely as possible to the scenes depicted by the artists. Located 37 miles south of Melbourne, the tony destination also sports a labyrinth of 19th century tunnels and fortifications in Point Nepean National Park that were built to guard Port Phillip heads. Pay a visit to the historic Quarantine Station, established in the early 1800s as grazing land and repurposed as a haven for refugees.

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