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Archive for national parks

Petrified in Arizona

By Linda Tancs

Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is a prime source of—you guessed it—petrified wood. In a process beginning over 200 million years ago, logs washed into an ancient river system and combined with minerals that incorporated themselves into the porous wood, replacing the organic matter. The result is petrified wood found in the park and the surrounding region that is made up of almost solid quartz. The Jasper Forest vista point showcases one of the largest accumulations of petrified wood in the park.

Off the Tourist Trail in Africa

By Linda Tancs

Equatorial Guinea is a small country on the western coast of central Africa, the only independent nation in Africa where Spanish is an official language owing to its past as a colony. Lacking the glam of safari sites like Tanzania and Kenya, it’s perhaps no wonder that it bears the ignominious distinction of being one of the least visited countries in the world. But its off-the-beaten-path status is exactly why you should go. The country’s national park, Monte Alén, is located near the center and is one of central Africa’s hidden gems. Over 100 mammal species are registered there (more than 16 types of primates alone), as well as 2,300 types of birds and 65 species of reptiles. Moreover, the park’s hotel situated on a jungle ridge is an excellent place to experience the lush rainforest—without the crowds.

America’s First National Historical Park

By Linda Tancs

America’s first national historical park, Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General George Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment from December 1779 to June 1780. Two main areas of the park are Ford Mansion, Washington’s headquarters, and Jockey Hollow, where 10,000 soldiers camped during the most brutal winter ever recorded. The park has about 27 miles of designated hiking trails.

The Longest Show Cave in Britain

By Linda Tancs

Located in Yorkshire Dales National Park, White Scar Cave is the longest show cave (tourist cave) in Britain. An informative guided tour takes 80 minutes over a one mile trek covered largely by a metal grid floor. The first feature to be discovered at the cave was the waterfall, which thunders delightfully after some wet weather. Other popular features include the Harry Potter-like Witch’s Fingers, the Devil’s Tongue (flowstone hanging from the cave roof), orange stalactites called The Carrots and Battlefield Cavern with The Face at the far end.

West Africa’s Largest Park

By Linda Tancs

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a West African country with beach resorts, rainforests and a French colonial legacy. The world’s largest producer of cocoa beans, it’s also home to West Africa’s largest national park, Comoé National Park. A prized but imperiled World Heritage Site (due to civil unrest and other activities), it contains the country’s largest concentration of wildlife, including antelopes, hippos, lions, monkeys and other animals. Its habitats vary greatly from forests to a wide variety of savannas amongst its 4,440 square miles. The different waters of the Comoé River and its tributaries are the habitat for 60 species of fish and various reptiles, including the endangered dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis).

A Landscape With Capabilities

By Linda Tancs

Nestled in the heart of England’s South Downs National Park, Petworth has been settled since at least Norman times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The dominant attraction is Petworth House, a fortified manor house from the 12th century that was completely rebuilt in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, who transformed it into the magnificent Petworth House seen today. The majestic 700-acre park at Petworth (home to the largest herd of fallow deer in England) is one of the finest surviving and unspoiled examples of an English landscape designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, widely acclaimed as England’s greatest gardener. The stately mansion also has the distinction of housing the finest art collection in the care of the National Trust. Don’t miss the current exhibition of Britain’s greatest watercolors, on show until March 10. The site is accessible via Victoria station in London to Pulborough. Local buses there pass through the town center of Petworth.

Washington’s Only Surrender

By Linda Tancs

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a national battlefield site in Fayette County, nestled in the Great Meadow in the Allegheny Mountains of southwest Pennsylvania. The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War, a clash among British, French and American Indian forces for control of a vast territory along the Ohio River between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi. The French and Indian War was the North American conflict in a larger imperial war between Great Britain and France known as the Seven Years’ War. George Washington, a 21-year-old military adjutant, volunteered as a British emissary to present notice to the French to quit their occupation of the Ohio River Valley. When the French refused to leave, Washington built his “fort of necessity” in a natural meadow while awaiting additional militia and British regulars. However, his bedraggled force was no match for the French column, and Washington ultimately surrendered to the enemy for the first and only time in his military career.


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