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Archive for national parks

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!

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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.

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.

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.

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