Essay on Florida Everglades - Essay
about the Third largest National Park in the
Everglades National Park, a World Heritage Site, encompasses the
largest designated wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains. This
subtropical preserve, comprised of both
temperate and tropical plants, includes saw
grass prairies, mangrove
and cypress swamps, pinelands and hardwood stands. It is also known
for its marine and estuary
environments, with its rich bird life, numerous manatees and
noteworthy existence of alligators and crocodiles living side by
side, the only place in the world where this takes
As you approach the park via 'Alligator Alley', you immediately
begin to get the sense of history here. It is easy to visualize the
indigenous Indians plying the waterways in
their hand-hewn canoes, the early morning sun beating on their bare
backs. Here there are no peaks, no mountains and no hills to shelter
you - it is just swampland and
grasses as far as the eye can see.
Driving through the lush, flat countryside you will notice the
alligators - penned off by high fences - sunning themselves along
the banks of the river and lurking in the waters,
their eyes peering out at you from their otherwise submerged world,
the only hint of their existence being the slight ripple caused by
the blink of their eyes or the swish of
their tails. What strikes you most about these massive prehistoric
beasts, covered in brackish mud, is not only their age and size, but
also their numbers - they seem to be
Dotted along this emerald-green wonderland of backwater swamps and
mangrove forests is the evidence of the rich bird life, particularly
the large wading birds such as the
roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron and many types of
egrets - their white, delicate frames a startling burst of color
among the otherwise brown and green
backdrop surrounded by seemingly endless vibrant blue skies.
Essay on Giant Redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants in
Humboldt Redwood State Park
There are three species of giant redwood trees in the world, two of
which can be seen in California; the coastal redwood and the giant
sequoia. Standing near them is a
humbling and surreal experience.
Tourists come every year to drive along the Avenue of the Giants, a
50-km (31-miles) stretch of the scenic old Highway 101 in Humboldt
Redwood State Park.
Here you will be surrounded by a dense 20,730 (51,222 acre) forest
of the largest remaining stand of virgin redwood groves in the
world. Stretching through the mist, over 91
meters (300 feet) into the air, these 3,000year-old trees, protected
as part of an international biosphere reserve and noted as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site, are known to
weigh up to 2000-tonne this is truly an experience not to be missed.
Just to put these numbers into perspective, stop by One Log House,
built completely from one 40-tonne log from a fallen Redwood tree in
Phillipsville. Also on show there is
the famed Giant Sequoia Chimney Tree. Standing at a relatively
dwarfish 24 meters (78 feet), it may not be impressive in size, but
its tenacity will amaze you considering it
continues to grow even after it was nearly destroyed in a wildfire
Another legendary Sequoia is the Shrine Drive-through tree, which
can accommodate smaller vehicles. The Immortal Tree, another feat of
nature, stands near Redcrest; it
has endured flooding, fires, numerous lightning strikes and more
than a few loggers' axe cuts.
The California redwood forests have been referred to as nature's
cathedrals; when you feel the peacefulness and reverence passing
between the lofty red-brown pillars,
sunlight filtering through the dense canopy high above like a
stained glass window, you will understand this completely.
Essay on Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, cut by the Colorado River, is one of the United
State's most famous landmarks and stretches an incredible 322 km
(200 miles) across the desert
highlands of northern Arizona. Named as one of the seven natural
wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon was designated a National
Park in 1919.
Here you will find a breathtaking chasm of unimaginable scope in a
palette of crimson, gold and orange cliffs, purple abysses and clear
rushing waters, making it one of the
most astonishing landscapes on Earth. Upon seeing the drama of a
Grand Canyon sunset, the poet Carl Sandburg remarked, 'There goes
God with an army of banners'.
The southern rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular area
because it allows easy access from the main road that parallels the
canyon edge for a substantial distance
and has many scenic overlooks as well as a selection of hiking
The north rim, higher in elevation, is less densely populated with
tourists because it is more remote. On this side of the canyon, the
remote Tuweep area can be reached by
several dirt tracks with some spectacular viewpoints, but much of
this area is inaccessible by road.
The Grand Canyon contains a large variety of spectacular but largely
hidden and hard-to-reach places including waterfalls, pools, narrow
ravines and oases. Many of the vast
side canyons require more than a day's travel on foot from the
canyon rim, or complicated journeys involving boat trips down the
Colorado River, to reach them.
After one trip here, pondering the vastness of this special place,
you will quickly understand its popularity and status as a natural
wonder of the world. Flagstaff and Page in
Arizona, and Kanab in Utah, are the closest cities to the Grand
Canyon National park.
Essay on Hollywood
Hollywood is a region west of downtown Los Angeles, known around the
world as the home to the American film industry.
Hollywood is all about celebrity. You can visit your favorite
Celebrity Grave, take a tour of Celebrity Homes, walk down Sunset
Strip, Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset
Boulevard, shop along the celebrity-studded Rodeo Drive and Wilshire
Boulevard in Beverly Hills or take a stroll down the Walk of Fame.
No trip is complete without a visit to
the Hollywood Entertainment Museum or a tour of the Hollywood
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, on Hollywood Boulevard, was opened in
1927 and received historic-cultural landmark status in 1968. He
needed government permission to
import the pagodas, stone Heaven Dogs and temple bells from China.
Nearby is the Hollywood Entertainment Museum where you can see how
movies and TV shows are made, or sit in Captain Kirk's chair or
Norm's seat on the set of Cheers. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the 'resting place of Hollywood's
immortals', LA's answer to Pere Lachaise in Paris, where pilgrims
can visit the tombstones of everyone
from Rudolph Valentino to Johnny Ramone. Among the palm trees and
mausoleums, there are even video screens that show Life Stories.
Occasionally in the summer, the
public is invited to charity screenings when you can take a picnic
dinner and watch a film in the graveyard.
Los Angeles is an outdoor enthusiast's heaven. Nobody walks in LA,
but they do hike. There are great trails along the Santa Monica
Mountain bluffs overlooking the Pacific
Ocean, and the forested Angeles Crest. Or you can just walk uphill
into Hollywood's Runyon Canyon, where somewhat disheveled
celebrities can be glimpsed walking their
Venice Beach is still quintessential California, with street
performers, outdoor cafés and lots of life. Hire a bike and ride the
cycle path south to Redondo Beach. Take a trip
to Santa Monica's pier or stop by Zuma Beach up the Pacific Coast
Highway from Malibu.
Catalina Island in Anaheim is where the Angelenos go to scuba dive.
Skip the tourist-ridden Avalon and explore the wild side of the
island with its excellent hiking, camping,
fishing and kayaking.
There are many other excellent ways to pass the time in Los Angeles,
such as the LA County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary
Art. This relatively small
museum is devoted to postwar art and has a permanent collection of
5,000 works. If you like great art, stunning architecture, peaceful
gardens and wonderful views (smog
permitting) then the Getty Center is not to be missed.
And of course, no trip to LA is complete without spending a day at
Disneyland, just a 45-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles. Los
Angeles enjoys year-round sunshine,
but the most beautiful weather is in early spring when the
wildflowers are in bloom.
Essay on Kauai
Hawaii, an archipelago of more than 19 volcanic islands near a
geological `hot spot' in the Pacific plate, is a tropical paradise
and home to some of the most spectacular
scenery. Six of the eight big islands are open to tourism: Big
Island (also called Hawaii), Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kauai.
Formed over six million years ago, Kauai, the oldest and most
northerly of the main Hawaiian islands, is roughly 550 sq miles
(1,430 sq km) in area.
Hanalei Bay is on the wet north shore, the wettest shore and is
known for its spectacular, picture-postcard beauty. It is a long
half-moon of sandy beach carved into the
base of a sheer cliff on one side and a rocky point on the other.
The westernmost curve of the bay is a calm shoreline. The quaint
town has gourmet bistros, pretty boutiques
and a yoga studio and is a haven for the beachgoer seeking peace.
The Na Pali coast has spectacular scenery. Emerald valleys, jagged
1,219 m (4,000 ft) cliffs towering above the blue Pacific, caves,
lava tubes and pristine beaches, make
this one of the most stunning and unspoilt areas on the entire
island. Helicopter above or hike or kayak along this beautiful
coastline for guaranteed lasting memories.
West Kauai is full of spectacular natural wonders and Hawaiian
cultural landmarks. Awe-inspiring Waimea Canyon is the main draw. A
vast 16 km (10 mi) long and 1,098 m
(3,600 ft) deep, its scale and scope, and the rainbow colors
streaking it are incredible. The view into Kalalau Valley is one of
the most beautiful sights on the island: at
sunset the walls reflect pink, orange, red and grey. From Kokee
State Park, at the top of Waimea Canyon Road, drive to Kalalau
Lookout for an amazing view of the
canyon's jagged cliffs and overgrown gorges dropping dramatically
into the sea 1,219 m (4,000 ft) below.
Kauai's south shore, on the sunny side of the island, is home to the
National Tropical Botanical Garden, the only garden of its kind to
be chartered by Congress, and to
Spouting Horn, a series of natural lava tube formations, where water
rushes in, creating a howling geyser effect. The beaches around
Poipu, near the southern tip of the
island are favorites for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Kauai is best explored by 4x4 (fantastic scenery is round every
turn), while exceptional views can also be seen from the air.
Essay on Lake Tahoe
One of the United State's most beautiful landmarks, Lake Tahoe's
shimmering waters span 19 x 35 km (12 x 22 miles). With nearly 300
days of sunshine a year, and the
surrounding majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe offers
stunning scenery and a multitude of year-round activities.
The second deepest lake in the US and the tenth in the world, it has
a maximum depth of 501 meters (1,645 feet) and an average depth of
305 meters (1,000 feet).
Lake Tahoe is host to year-round activities. North and South Lake
Tahoe are where you will find the majority of the world-class ski
resorts. North Lake Tahoe is home to
some of the ritzier and more upmarket neighborhoods and resorts
including Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley USA, home to the 1960
Winter Olympics; South Lake Tahoe
is the most populated area, with larger high rise resorts, some
excellent skiing areas such as Heavenly, and many casinos.
East Lake Tahoe is virtually undeveloped, but West Lake Tahoe is
focused on residential areas, smaller hotels and inns and a variety
of dining options featuring gorgeous
views as their backdrop.
One of the most scenic areas to explore in the south-west is Emerald
Bay, one of the most photographed natural locations in the United
States. With its amazing views of
the mountains, the lake, and Tahoe's only island, Fannette Island,
Emerald Bay State Park serves as a stunning backdrop to Vikings
Holm, a striking reproduction of a
Norse Fortress commissioned by a wealthy Chicago widow. Accessible
only by boat, this folly is considered to be a fine example of
Scandinavian architecture. Turrets,
towers, intricate carvings and hand-hewn timbers were used to
recreate the fortress. The turf roof, with its living grass and
wildflowers, is like those used in Scandinavia to
feed livestock in winter. Many of the furnishings that Mrs Knight
desired for Vikings Holm were of such historical significance the
Norwegian and Swedish governments would
not grant export licenses, so she had them copied down to every
Whether you are interested in hiking or camping, skiing or
snowmobiling, being pampered at a spa, eating gourmet cuisine, or
picnicking while watching live Shakespeare —
there is something to fulfill everyone in this area of incredible
Lake Tahoe offers year round fun - January through March has
world-class skiing and June through September has the best water
sports and hiking trails available.
Essay on Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known for many things: glitz, glamour, ostentation,
gambling, entertainment, debauchery, shopping and excess. The most
populous city in the state of
Nevada, it is the largest founded in the twentieth century, and is
the centre of gambling in the United States.
Beginning as a stopover en route to the pioneer trails to the west,
Las Vegas became a popular railway town in the early twentieth
century, serving as a staging point for the
mines in the surrounding area, that shipped their goods out to the
country from its station. With the growth of the railway, Las Vegas
became less important, but the
construction of the Hoover Dam injected a new vitality into Las
Vegas and the city has never looked back. The increase in tourism
caused by the dam and the legalization of
gambling led to the advent of the casino-hotels for which Las Vegas
In the mid- to late 1940s a small building boom included several
hotel-casinos by the two-lane main road leading into Las Vegas from
Los Angeles, and this is now home to
today's 'Strip'. Among the most notable buildings was Bugsy Siegel's
Flamingo Hotel, with its neon signs and pink flamingo lawn ornaments
that opened in 1946.
In the 1950s, resort building continued to accelerate. Wilbur Clark,
once a hotel bellman in San Diego, opened the Desert Inn in 1950.
Two years later, Milton Prell opened
the Sahara Hotel on the site of the old Club Bingo. The Sands Hotel
opened that same year. In 1955, the Riviera Hotel became the first
Strip highrise at nine stories. Other
resorts that opened during the building boom begun in the 1950s
included the Royal Nevada, Dunes, Tropicana and Stardust hotels.
During this time the entertainment industry in Las Vegas took off.
In the 1950s Las Vegas became synonymous with the Rat Pack.
Entertainment, not just gambling,
became the reason to visit the city. For 43 years Frank Sinatra
played to sold-out shows in resorts from The Desert Inn to the Sands
to the MGM Grand. Sinatra's Rat Pack
image of all-night singing, dancing, drinking and womanizing brought
a new demographic to the Strip. As the Rat Pack charmed
Eisenhower-era America, the Strip
continued to expand.
The 1970s saw a decline in Las Vegas tourism. Las Vegas had become a
run-down town with little to bring in the crowds. The local
government and hoteliers decided it was
time to clean up their act. In the late 1980s the Strip was reborn
with the construction of the 3,049-room Mirage at a cost of $630
million. Featuring a white tiger habitat, a
dolphin pool, an elaborate swimming pool and waterfall and a
man-made volcano belching fire, the days of glamour were officially
back. Treasure Island, with its full scale
pirate ship that engages in combat with a British frigate in its
nightly shows, sinking its enemy as a grand finale, is another
example of the more recent excesses available
The Excalibur, a 4,000 room colossus was the next to open in 1990.
The imaginative medieval 'castle' has some floors devoted solely to
non-gambling entertainment for
children and the young at heart including court jesters who perform
in public areas. The showroom features jousting on horseback by
knights of King Arthur's court.
The Luxor, a black glass pyramid boasts the world's most powerful
beam of light shining from its top, as well as a full-scale
reproduction of Tutankhamun's tomb. The atrium
in the middle of the pyramid could hold nine Boeing 747s stacked on
top of one another.
As the luxury resorts appeared so did the retailers. Here you can
find nearly every brand on earth from Tiffany to Gucci to Prada and
Valentino. Entertainment has also made
a resurgence with performers such as Cirque de Soleil, Elton John
and Celine Dion.
Other spectacular hotels and resorts have continued to spring up
including the MGM Grand, New York New York, the Palms, the Hard Rock
Hotel, the Bellagio and the
Inspired by the Lake Como resort of Bellagio in Italy, the Bellagio
is famed for its its 3.2 ha (8-acre) artificial lake between the
hotel and the Strip. The lake encompasses
thousands of fountains, their high streams of water lit by a rainbow
of colored lights, flowing to the accompanying music. Vegas is
Essay on Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde is a largest archaeological area in the United States,
with more than 4,000 sites dating from 600 to 1300 AD, including the
most impressive cliff dwellings in the
The inhabitants of the Four Corners region of Mesa Verde were the
Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloans), who in the thirteenth century built
houses in the shallow caves but
abandoned them less than 100 years later.
The caves were discovered in 1888 by ranchers Charles Mason and his
brother-in-law Richard Wetherill, but many artifacts were looted
before a Denver newspaper aroused
national interest in the site's protection and it was declared a
national park in 1906. The Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum
provides information about the Anasazi
civilization and displays findings and artwork from the dwellings.
Spruce Tree House, Balcony House and Cliff Palace are open to the
public and mesa-top ruins include the
Far View Complex, Cedar Tree Tower, and the Sun Temple. Badger House
Community is on Wetherill Mesa.
Ute Mountain Tribal Park, set aside by the Ute Mountain tribe to
preserve its heritage, adjoins Mesa Verde National Park and includes
wall paintings and petroglyphs as well
as hundreds of surface sites and cliff dwellings that are similar in
size and complexity to those in Mesa Verde.
Among the country's newest national monuments, Canyons of the
Ancients created in June 2000, is a 660 sq-km (256 sq-miles)
national monument in the area that
contains thousands of archaeological sites, in what some claim may
be the highest density of archaeological sites in the United States,
including the remains of villages,
cliff dwellings, sweat lodges, and petroglyphs ranging in age from
700 to as much as 10,000 years old.
Canyons of the Ancients includes Lowry Pueblo, an excavated
twelfth-century village, which was probably abandoned by 1200 AD and
is believed to have housed up to 100
people. It has standing walls from 40 rooms plus 9 kivas (circular
underground ceremonial chambers). A short, self-guided interpretive
trail leads past a kiva decorated with
geometric designs and continues to the remains of a great kiva,
which, at 16.4 meters (54 feet) in diameter, is among the largest
The park entrance is located on US 160, 16 km (10 miles) east of
Cortez in Colorado.
Essay on Miami South Beach
South Beach, or `SOBE', the lower section of Miami Beach, Florida,
originally developed in the early 1900s, has stunning Art Deco
architecture. Although many of the art
deco buildings are either crumbling or have been demolished, South
Beach retains the world's largest collection of Streamline Modern
Art Deco architecture, and a recent
resurgence in the popularity of the area has caused a lot of
regeneration and restoration of this lovely area.
A long-standing spring break favorite, the long stretches of white
sand and crystalline waters of South Beach are separated from the
strip' by Ocean Drive. The pastel
cityscape of boutique hotels, mixed with expensive high-rise blocks
of modem flats, nightclubs, cafés, restaurants and bars shows
evidence of the rampant tourism, but if
you sit back and enjoy the show, you are guaranteed to get into the
swing of things - there's something for everyone in South Beach.
Whether you want to sip a mojito and enjoy some Cuban fried
plantains and black beans while you watch tanned locals flex their
muscles in strong-man competitions, dine
on fresh seafood at one of America's gourmet hot spots, dance the
night away at a world famous club where you are likely to bump into
rock stars and supermodels or
spend a few hours among the many scantily clad sun worshipers on the
often crowded beach as the sounds of Spanish music waft through the
air, you will never be at a
loss for something to do here.
According to magazines like The New Times and GQ, South Beach has
replaced Los Angeles and New York City as the United States' most
popular nightlife spot. There
are more than 150 clubs, lounges and bars, most of which stay open
until 5 am, so here you can truly dance the night away. Entry can be
expensive, and access is often
difficult, but if you can wangle your way in, it is worth the
A major location for photo shoots and high fashion, South Beach's
palm-studded promenade is a well recognized backdrop for events
ranging from the Sports Illustrated
Swim Suit Issue to the National Women's Volleyball Championship.
Here, people pride themselves on their physique and fashionable
appearance, whatever it may be, and
they are not afraid to show it off. Viva South Beach!
Essay on Monument Valley
Monument Valley is an area of sandstone rock formations rising
majestically up to 300 meter (1,000 ft) from the desert floor,
providing one of the most enduring images of
the American West. These isolated red mesas and buttes, surrounded
by vast, empty desert, have been filmed and photographed countless
times, giving the visitor a sense
of familiarity, but once in the valley you cannot fail to be amazed
at the true vivid, deep, rich color palette of this other worldly
Lying entirely within the Navajo Indian Reservation near the
south-eastern corner of Utah, the most famous landmarks are
concentrated around the small town of Goulding.
This isolated settlement, 175 miles (250 km) from the nearest city -
Flagstaff, Arizona - was established in 1923 as an Indian trading
post, and is now home to a
comprehensive range of visitor services.
The view from the visitor centre is spectacular enough, but the
majority of the park can only be seen from the Valley Drive, a
17-miles (27 km) road. Winding among the
magical towering cliffs and mesas including The Totem Pole, a
stunning 300 feet (91 meters) rock spire only a few meters wide. As
well as eroded rocks, this area is also
home to a series of ancient cave and cliff dwellings, natural arches
Not a valley in the conventional sense, Monument Valley is actually
a wide fiat, desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling
formations, the final remnants of the
sandstone layers that once covered the entire region. Monument
Valley is the quintessential, spectacular, breathtaking Wild West.
Monument Valley is a Navajo Indian Tribal Park, not a national park,
and an entrance fee is payable. Access on the reservation is very
restricted. Do not take pictures of the
Native Americans or their property without permission, and, if
permission is granted, expect to pay a tip. Best time to visit is
between April to November.
Essay on Mount Rushmore Memorial
Carved into the south-east face of a mountain in South Dakota, at a
height of 1,737 m (5,700 ft) above sea level, are the faces of
presidents George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Looking down from
its position high above the Black Hills, this majestic memorial to
American history is spectacular to
It was conceived by Doane Robinson in 1923 as a way to attract more
people to the Black Hills of South Dakota and lies in the former
Harney National Forest Preserve.
A sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was contracted to undertake the job of
carving the Needles area into a tall granite figure, but instead
chose Mount Rushmore for the work
because it was the highest peak in the area and its south-eastern
facing site meant it would receive sunlight for most of the day. He
then selected the subjects of national
focus that would be highlighted in his work - the four presidents
Borglum began work in 1927 by creating a plaster model from which
measurements were taken. Dynamite was used to blast the rock until
there was only a thin, 7.6-15-cm
(3-6 in) layer of granite remaining. This final layer of granite was
removed by a process called `honeycombing', and then the final
surface was smoothed.
George Washington's face, the first to be carved, was dedicated on 4
July 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the dedication
of Thomas Jefferson's in 1936.
Abraham Lincoln's was dedicated on 17 September 1937, on the one
hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the US
Constitution. In 1939, Theodore Roosevelt's
was dedicated. That year modern plumbing and night lighting were
installed at the memorial.
Borglum continued working on the final details of the sculptures for
a further two years. In 1941 he died suddenly and his son Lincoln
took over on the project until funding
ran out a few months later. The studio on Mount Rushmore was shut
and the presidential faces were left as they were.
Mount Rushmore continues to be a reminder of these four important
figures in American history, and the original goal of increasing
traffic to the Black Hills has been met
with resounding success.
Essay on Mount St. Helens
Mount St Helens, once known as 'the Fuji of America' for its
symmetrical beauty similar to that of the famous Japanese volcano,
with its graceful cone top capped by snow
is now largely gone.
Today, visitors come to Mt St Helens to marvel at the destruction
and devastation caused by this natural disaster as well as to gaze
in awe at nature's remarkable ability to
On 18 May, 1980 at 8:32 am, the north face of Mount St Helens
collapsed in the largest debris avalanche ever recorded, caused by
an underlying earthquake that measured
5.1 on the Richter scale. The volcano's height was reduced from
2,950 meters (9,677 feet) to 2,550 meters (8,364 feet).
Within seconds of the earthquake, the volcano's bulging northern
side slid away, triggering a destructive, lethal lateral blast of
hot gas, steam and rock debris that swept
across the landscape. Blasted with temperatures as high as 300°C
(572°F), snow and ice on the volcano rapidly melted, forming violent
torrents of water and rock that
rushed from the volcano. Within moments, a massive cloud of ash
thrust 19 km (11.8 miles) into the sky, and the strong winds carried
more than 540 million tons of ash
across 57,000 sq km (35,418 sq miles) of the western United States.
Shortly afterward, a cloud of ash rose skyward, while a pyroclastic
flow sent even more ash down the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers, dragging
anything and everything in its path
downstream, destroying roads, bridges, homes and businesses and
blanketing much of the Pacific north-west with a grey, dusty powder.
Even before its eruption, Mount St Helens was not one of the highest
peaks in the Cascade Range, it was only the fifth highest peak in
Washington. What was impressive
was its handsome outline against the neighboring craggy peaks.
Today, over a quarter of a century later, the signs of healing are
evident. The pre-eruption landscape, once dominated by dense
coniferous forests and clear streams and
lakes has begun to re-establish itself. The lower forests once
dominated by Douglas fir and western hemlock have started to re-grow
and tourism has returned to this area of
scenic beauty. The volcano is still active, some areas nearby are
not open and roads may be closed at short notice.
Essay on Museum of Modern Art
Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, the Museum of Modern
Art, or MoMA, in New York City is dedicated to being the foremost
museum of modern art in the
From an initial endowment of eight prints and a single drawing, the
Museum of Modern Art's collection has grown to include more than
150,000 paintings, sculptures,
drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings as
well as design objects. In addition, MoMA owns some 22,000 films,
videos and media works, as well as
film stills, scripts, posters and historical documents. The museum's
library contains 300,000 books, artists' sketchbooks and
periodicals, and the archives hold
approximately 762 m (2,500 ft) of historical documents and a
photographic archive of tens of thousands of photographs, including
views of exhibitions and images of the
museum's building and grounds.
Considered by many to have the best collection of modern
masterpieces in the world, MoMAs holdings include such notable works
as Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night,
Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Salvador Dan The
Persistence of Memory, Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, a
triptych of Water Lilies by Claude
Monet, Henri Matisse's Dance, Paul Cezanne's The Bather and Frida
Kahlo's Self Portrait with Cropped Hair.
MoMA also holds works by leading American artists such as Jackson
Pollock, Jasper Johns, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close and
Ralph Bakshi. The museum's
design collection includes works from Paul Laszlo, the Eameses,
Isamu Noguchi and George Nelson as well as many industrial pieces
ranging from a self-aligning ball
bearing to an entire Bell 47D1 helicopter.
The Museum of Modern Art seeks to create a dialogue between the
established and the experimental and the past and the present, in an
environment that is responsive to
the issues of modern and contemporary art, while being accessible to
all visitors to this beautiful space.
Painted Desert is an area of breathtaking beauty, stretching along
the Little Colorado River from the Grand Canyon to the Petrified
Forest National Park in Northern Arizona. The desert, named 'el
Desierto Pintura' by the Spaniards, because of its brightly colored
land forms, consists of badland hills and Chime Formation rocks as
well as spectacular mesas and buttes rising from the desert floor.
The Painted Desert's rocks and soils have various combinations of
minerals and decayed plant and animal matter that contribute to the
many colors, particularly the red rocks, throughout the formations.
At sunrise and sunset, the crimson formations are especially
beautiful when they turn shades of violet, blue and burnt orange.
The park changes continually and winds shift the sediments,
causing lower layers of fossil and petrified wood to surface, most
notably the 220-million-year-old remains of a conifer forest from
the Triassic Period Petrified Forest.
Geologically similar to many other parks of the Colorado Plateau,
this was once a vast floodplain, crossed by many streams and filled
with an abundance of stately pines. Covered by silt, mud and
volcanic ash, the trees' oxygen supply was cut off, slowing the
logs' decay. Gradually, silica-bearing ground waters seeped through
the logs and slowly encased the original tissues with silica
deposits. Over time, the silica crystallized into quartz, and the
logs were preserved as petrified wood. The Petrified Forest National
Park is home to the largest example of this phenomenon in the world.
Short hikes will take you through this spectacular scenery. One
outlook offers views of Newspaper Rock, a huge sandstone block
covered with petroglyphs. In the Blue Mesa area, you will find
pedestal logs acting as capstones to the soft clays beneath.
The Flattops, massive remnants of a once continuous layer of
sandstone capping parts of this area, protect the layered deposits
long eroded from other parts of the park. From here you can also
access the Long Logs trail, part of Rainbow Forest. Iron, carbon,
manganese and other minerals color the petrified wood.
Antonio, the only major city in Texas founded before it won
independence from Mexico, was once populated by Spanish missionaries
and militiamen, German merchants, Southern plantation owners,
Western cattle ranchers and Eastern architects. Their existence is
still felt in the city's downtown area and is evident in the current
culture and cuisine. San Antonio is largely known for three things:
its parties, its eclectic architecture and the Alamo.
San Antonio hosts many celebrations, some comparable to Mardi Gras.
Here they might break confetti eggs called cascarones, listen to
oompah bands, and cheer rodeo bull riders in festivals that mingle
all the area's cultural backgrounds. It is also America's capital
for Tejano music, a unique blend of Mexican and German sounds. The
city's architecture also reflects its multi-ethnic history in an
eclectic mixture of different styles.
Most fiestas take place just a few steps below the streets of
downtown San Antonio. The River Walk (Paseo del Rio) is alternately
relaxing and exhilarating, depending on where you choose to explore.
The 4 km (2.5 mi) cobbled area of winding riverbank, shaded by
cypresses, oaks and willows, exudes an exotic and sultry tropical
aura. The River Square and South Bank sections, crowded with
pavement cafés, gourmet restaurants, lively bars, modern hotels and
a large shopping complex, have a festive,
sometimes frenetic feel. Tour boats, water taxis and floating picnic
barges regularly ply the river, while local festivals and parades
fill the river's banks with revelers.
The Alamo, the most visited site in Texas, is San Antonio's most
famous landmark. The small, graceful mission church is where 188
Texas volunteers repelled Mexican dictator Santa Anna's much larger
force for 13 days in February and March 1836. All the men, including
Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett died, their deaths inspired Sam
Houston's cry, `Remember the Alamo!' which rallied his troops to
beat the Mexican army at San Jacinto a month later. The Alamo has
largely deteriorated and currently the
mission displays the Long Barrack, formerly the missionaries' living
quarters and the mission church. The Wall of History offers a
helpful timeline explaining the events that took place here.
around a graceful curving bay, free from the smog and the crowded
sprawling freeways of Los Angeles, sits the beautiful city of San
Diego. The site of the first mission in California, it was not until
the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880s that the city
became a significant trading port. The second largest city in
California, it has farms, state parks and forests, desert areas and
mountains rising above the snow line, as well as kilometers of
stunning Pacific coast beaches. It has an eclectic mix of
architectural styles from Spanish Colonial Renaissance to neo-Gothic
and Moorish and offers a wide array of art and culture.
Balboa Park is home to San Diego Zoo and its 4,000 or so animals.
The city is also home to Sea World, where Shamu the Orca performs
and there are sea lion and dolphin shows.
Mission Beach Boardwalk is another highlight, with roller coasters,
an arcade, restaurants and surf shops. You can hire bikes,
surfboards, roller skates and roller blades or just enjoy the white
Another lovely beach is Pacific Beach. Known as the 'PB' by local
residents, it is also home to one of San Diego's larger nightlife
areas, with dozens of bars and cafés lining Garnet, the main street.
A golden beach stretches for miles from the Mission Bay jetty up to
the stunning cliffs of ritzy La Jolla. For a different atmosphere,
try the historic Gaslamp Quarter, where many of the buildings are
San Diego also has many naval bases, including Miramar, where Top
Gun was made. Silver Strand Beach National Park and Mt Soledad are
other highlights. San Diego is a city with something for everyone.
San Diego enjoys mild, sunny weather throughout the year.
Francisco is consistently rated one of the top tourist destinations
in the United States and is also one of the most recognizable. One
visit and you will understand the famed lyrics, 'I left my heart in
A relatively compact city, the fourth largest in California, San
Francisco is only 18 sq km (7 sq miles) in area - making it the
second most densely populated American city after New York. However,
its largely waterfront location, its rolling hills and its many
parks, ensure that it never seems more than a large town.
Whether you are searching for the best in sightseeing, dining,
culture, history, sports, outdoor activities or splendid scenery,
San Francisco has something to offer everyone.
China Town, the largest Chinese community outside China
itself, is entered through the ornate and colorful gates on Bush and
Stockton Streets. Here you will see every kind of tea shop,
grocer's, knick-knack shop, pharmacy, restaurant, bakery, florist
and market filled with live animals for sale and swarming with
people, a sea of activity and
a cacophony of exotic sounds and aromas.
Next to China Town is North Beach, also known as 'Little Italy',
once home to the beat poets like Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac who
used to drink here and give readings at the City Lights bookstore.
Here is Washington Square Park with its gorgeous church and many
street fairs, fabulous Italian cuisine and authentic and charming
coffee shops, where you can fortify yourself for the walk up to Coit
Nearby is Fisherman's Wharf, home to the famous Dungeness Crabs,
sourdough chowder bowls and hordes of sea lions basking on the
docks. From here you can pick up the ferry to Alcatraz, the maximum
security prison once home to the toughest criminals in the world,
and Angel Island, the other island and national park floating in the
San Francisco Bay, as well as to nearby Sausalito and Tiburon, two
upmarket waterfront suburbs.
The Embarcadero, a palm-fringed promenade, hosts the newly
refurbished Ferry Building, home to organic farmers markets,
fantastic restaurants, bars and shops in a charming building
reminiscent of European railway stations. Stop off any morning to
get the best in local cheese, fruit and bread for a picnic in Golden
Gate Park. Often fogged in, Golden Gate Park is home to the de Young
Museum, the fabulous botanical gardens, many large ponds and lakes,
fields of bison and picnic spots.
On one edge of the park is Haight-Ashbury, another colorful area,
where the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s practiced free love. It is
still home to tie-dyed teenagers and organic cafés, so a stroll
through 'the Haight' is like a step back in time.
Another well known neighborhood is the Castro, home to the largest
percentage of the city's gay population. The Castro has many lively
bistros, cafés, galleries and restaurants among the well kept lovely
Victorian homes and well groomed gardens.
In front of the Letterman Digital Arts Center is the Marina Green, a
grassy expanse of playing fields, running tracks and pretty beach
with the most dramatic views of the
landmark red Golden Gate Bridge. While you are here try the scenic
Palace of Fine Arts.
Other neighborhoods of note are the Nob Hill/Russian Hill area, the
upmarket playground of many of the wealthiest homeowners. Atop the
hill are the luxurious Fairmont, Huntington and Mark Hopkins Hotels
as well the impressive Grace Cathedral. The Marina/Cow Hollow is
filled with charming boutiques and cafés along Chestnut and Union
Streets. Wander up Fillmore Street, up, up, up the hill past the
mansions of the rich and famous.
The best way to get a full view of the city is to take the scenic
'49 mile drive', which will lead you through the parks and beaches
as well as the various historical and scenic spots of interest. Also
a must is a trip on one of the cable cars, the two routes will take
you from Fisherman's Wharf through Russian and Nob Hills - down to
Union Square - do not forget your camera!
Almost too many films have been made here to mention, but the most
famous include Escape from Alcatraz and The Rock.
in the picturesque Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe was planned
around a central plaza, according to Philip II of Spain's 'Laws of
the Indies' in 1573. The north side of the plaza is home to the
Governor's Palace, to the east is the church, now the Cathedral
Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In 1912, in an effort to establish tourism, it was decreed that a
single style of architecture should be used across the city to
promote a unification of the varied styles that had been built
through the town's history. Local officials decided on the Spanish
Pueblo Revival look, inspired by the defining features of local
architecture: vigas and canales from the old adobe homes, the
churches found in the pueblos and the earth-toned, adobe-colored
exteriors. By 1930 this was broadened to include the 'Territorial'
style and white-painted window and door pediments.
The city is a well-known centre for the arts, reflecting its
multicultural character. Outdoor sculptures ranging from Baroque to
postmodern include many of Saint Francis and Kateri Tekakwitha.
Canyon Road, east of the Plaza, has many art galleries, exhibiting
an array of contemporary south-western, indigenous American and
experimental pieces. The city's art market is the third largest in
the United States, after New York and Los Angeles.
Artists have long flocked here, capturing the natural beauty of the
landscape, the flora and the fauna. Georgia O'Keeffe's museum is
devoted to her work and associated artists or related themes.
Santa Fe's major museums include the Museum of New Mexico, the
Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of International Folk Art, the
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indians, the Museum of Indian
Arts and Culture Laboratory of Anthropology, the Institute of
American Indian Arts Museum and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.
One highlight is the Loretto Chapel. Commissioned in 1872 by Bishop
Lamy, it was designed by French architect Antoine Mouly in the
Gothic Revival style, with spires, buttresses and stained glass
windows imported from France, but he died before completing the
stair to the choir loft. The Sisters of Loretto did not wish to use
a ladder and prayed for nine days for St Joseph to intercede. A
shabby stranger appeared, offering to build the staircase if they
gave him total privacy. After three months, using only a
square, a saw and some warm water, he constructed a spiral staircase
of non-native wood. Not only was this work impressive, the 6-m
(20-ft) staircase was constructed without nails. Before the stranger
could be questioned, he had disappeared. The mystery of his
identity, as well as his construction techniques, has never been
north end of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, Sausalito
receives a steady stream of visitors crossing the bridge or using
the ferry service from San Francisco.
Named for the 'little willow' trees, or saucelito, found in
abundance growing along its streams by eighteenth-century Spanish
explorers, Sausalito is the gateway to beautiful coastal Highway 1
that twists and winds among the rugged and spectacular Pacific Ocean
cliffs. With only 7,500 residents, and best known for its waterfront
views, peaceful Sausalito is said to resemble the Mediterranean.
With a slower pace than its bigger neighbor and friendly atmosphere,
Sausalito has a scenic waterfront with galleries, boutiques, cafés
and restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. Tourists flock here for
the seafood and sometimes spend the night in one of the lovely
hotels overlooking the bay.
Home to outdoor concerts such as Jazz/Blues by the Bay and Arias in
the Afternoon, there are also autumn festivities such as Floating
Homes Showcase Tour and Doggy Day and the winter celebration known
as Winterland Festival.
General James Edward Oglethorpe and 120 travelers landed on a bluff
high along the Savannah River, naming the thirteenth and final
American colony, Georgia, after England's King George II. Savannah
became its first city.
Oglethorpe was befriended by the native Yamacraw Indian chief,
Tomochichi, who granted the new arrivals permission to settle on the
bluff, thus allowing the town to flourish without the warfare and
hardship that stifled the beginnings of many of America's early
Oglethorpe laid the city out in grid form, with wide open streets
intertwined with shady public squares and parks to serve as meeting
places and business centers. Of 24 original squares, 21 still exist.
As farmers discovered, Savannah's soil was rich, and the climate
favorable for the cultivation of cotton and rice. Plantations and
slavery became highly profitable for whites in the neighboring South
Carolina areas, causing Georgia, the last free colony, to legalize
slavery. The transatlantic slave trade brought millions of Africans
to the Americas, and many of them passed through Savannah, forming
the Gullah culture of the Atlantic coastal communities in Georgia
and South Carolina.
The economic boom from exporting cotton allowed residents to build
lavish homes and churches. With the growth in trade, especially
after the invention of the cotton gin, the city rivaled Charleston
as a commercial port. Many of the world's cotton prices were set on
the steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange, which still stands today.
From 1819, Savannah was the home port of the S.S. Savannah, the
first steam-powered vessel to cross the Atlantic. After more than
half a century of growth and prosperity, Savannah suffered two
devastating fires in 1796 and 1820, each leaving half of Savannah in
ashes. In 1818 a tenth of the population was lost to an outbreak of
the yellow fever epidemic.
The glorious city managed to bounce back and pre-Civil War Savannah,
with its grand oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, was hailed as
the most picturesque and serene city in America.
During the Civil War, in 1864, when General William Sherman entered
the city, having burned every southern city north of Atlanta to the
ground, he was so taken by its beauty that he sent a telegram to
Abraham Lincoln, presenting the city of Savannah to him as a
Christmas present. The war was over for
Savannah and reconstruction began. After the war many freed slaves
remained in Savannah, founding their own churches, schools and
communities. Savannah, Georgia's oldest black community, went
on to become one of the most historically significant
African-American cities in the nation.
As the economy grew and cotton regained its importance, Savannah
entered the new century re-establishing herself as the 'Belle of
Georgia'. The Historic District was designated a National Historic
Landmark, and remains one of the largest historic landmarks in the
Many restored old buildings survive, including: the Pirates' House,
built in 1754; the Herb House, dating back to 1734 and the oldest
existing building in Georgia, and the Pink House, built in 1789 as
the site of Georgia's first bank. There are also several restored
The fourth largest city in Georgia, Savannah is known not only for
its historical architecture and famed cemeteries, but also for its
jazz and blues, tranquil and pristine beaches, excellent golf
courses, deep-sea fishing and exceptional museums.
in 1902, Sedona has become a gathering place for mystics who believe
that the earth's energy flows around the area's famed red rocks,
concentrating into power spots, called vortices. Believers in Vortex
Healing cite the Sedona area as home to several of these vortices,
which allows them to access a 'healing realm' of divine
consciousness, empowering them to cure both physical and emotional
In addition to the spas that have arisen from this belief, Sedona is
also home to many yoga, art and literary societies, as well as a
number of luxury resorts catering for visitors who want to visit the
stunning array of red sandstone, mudstone and limestone formations
that glow brilliant orange and red when lit by the rising or setting
Named after Sedona Schnebly, the wife of the city's first
postmaster, Sedona is a popular stopover for visitors. Its location
at the base of the Mogollon Rim, surrounded by fascinating natural
crimson sandstone monoliths, inspired Weekend Travel Report to name
Sedona, Arizona as The Most Beautiful Place in America.
The natural monoliths, such as Cathedral Rock, Coffee Pot and Bell
are named after objects that they resemble.
Here you can bike, fish, go bird watching, take a pottery or
art class, go on a narrated star gazing trip or a Native
American-led hike or play golf on any of the first-class resort
courses. There's even a natural water slide at Slide Rock State
Boynton Canyon is another area of beauty in Sedona, where cliff
dwellings from centuries ago can still be seen on the canyon walls.
To view some ancient petroglyph sites, visit the V Bar V Ranch in
Coconino National Forest. Whether you are
a mystic or just interested in majestic surroundings, there is
something for everyone in magical Sedona.
Castillo de San Marcos, built from 1672 to 1695, served as an
outpost of the Spanish Empire, guarding the town and protecting the
sea route for treasure ships returning to Spain. Although the
castillo has served a number of nations throughout its history, it
has never been taken by military force. During the eighteenth
century, the castillo went from Spanish control to British and back
to the Spanish, as a result of a series of treaties.
The Spanish remained in power in Florida until the area was bought
by the United States in 1821. The castillo was renamed Fort Marion
and was used by the US army until 1899. Designated a national
monument in 1924, the elaborate fort with its double drawbridge
became part of the national park system in 1933. In 1942, Congress
restored its original name of the Castillo de San Marcos.
Built of coquina, a durable limestone construction of broken sea
shells and corals, the walls of the fortress remained impenetrable
through 300 years of enemy mortar attacks and violent storms.
Castillo de San Marcos is built alongside picturesque Mantazas Bay
with its well-preserved Spanish style watchtower, Fort Matanzas,
which provided a platform for overseeing any potential enemy advance
from the Matanzas River.
The town of St Augustine retains some of its original European
charms. Strategically located among the intercoastal waterway, the
Matanzas river and the Atlantic, the area's historic district has
quaint cobbled streets lined with charming cafés, bars, boutiques
and guest houses.
The area is home to 69 km (43 mi) of lovely beaches offering the
visitor the opportunity to take advantage of the fishing, diving,
surfing, parasailing and many other water sports that are on offer.
In addition to its historical importance, St Augustine is simply a
pleasant town to visit.
scenic New Mexican community, is famous for many things, including
skiing, art and architecture and historical sites. A mix of Native
American, Spanish and Anglo-American cultures is represented in art
and architecture, music, dance, food and festivals. Historic Taos
Plaza and its side streets have old adobe buildings, once the homes
of some of Taos' leading citizens such as Kit Carson. Renovated into
galleries, stores and boutiques it offers a pleasant stroll with
many hidden treasures.
Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos), is the ancient town of the northern
Tiwa-speaking tribe of the Pueblo American Indians. Lying 1.6 km (1
mi) north of modem Taos on the Rio Pueblo, it has been home to this
tribe for more than 1,000 years. The Pueblo's reddish-brown adobe
housing, built between 1000 and 1450 AD, is a National Historic
Landmark and a World Heritage Site and it remains occupied to this
Just 32 km (20 mi) to the north-west is the ranch DH Lawrence lived
in during the 1920s, while just outside Taos in Ranchitos is the
Martinez Hacienda, the residence turned museum of the late Father
Martinez, one of the first Spanish settlers of Taos. Artists began
settling in Taos in 1898, creating the 'Taos Society of Artists'.
Many painted local scenes, especially of Taos Pueblo. Some of the
artists' studios, including the Blumenschein House, have been
preserved and make a worthwhile visit.
Once home to miners, trappers, cattlemen and shepherds, Wheeler
Peak, the highest peak in New Mexico at an elevation of 4,011 m
(13,161 ft) is now home to The Enchanted Circle, a winter playground
where snowshoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts enjoy the many back
country trails and meadows in Carson National Forest and the trails
at the Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area.
Home to the ski resorts of Taos, Red River, Sipapu and Angel Fire,
Taos offers uncrowded skiing on wonderfully diverse terrain,
feather-light powder and an intimate alpine village for skiers of
Taos is a natural wonderland. Whether you want skiing, horse riding,
biking, hiking, rafting or kayaking, the stunning mountains and the
Rio Grande Gorge offer a number of fantastic outdoor pursuits.
Florida Keys are a subtropical archipelago consisting of 1,700
islands off the south-eastern tip of the Florida peninsula, the
farthest of which is Key West, its southern tip is only 145km (90
mi) from Cuba. They are accessed via the scenic Overseas Highway, an
extension of Route 1, the largely two-lane road consisting mostly of
bridges that connects the islands, each of which has its own
The subtropical keys are closer in nature to the Caribbean than the
rest of Florida, though unlike the Caribbean's volcanic islands, the
Upper Keys are remnants of large coral reefs, fossilized and exposed
as sea levels declined, and the Lower Keys are composed of sandy
limestone grain produced by plants and marine organisms.
The keys have many endemic plant and animal species as well as some
that seem at home, but are not native. The key lime is a naturalized
species introduced from Mexico but has become a local delight in the
form of key lime pie. The Key deer and the American crocodile live
here, as well as many types of dolphins and porpoises as well as the
endangered manatee (sea cow).
Key West is the best known of the islands, and serves as a seaport
for cruise ships. Sunsets from the pier are stunning, and many
people enjoy them from the large promenade or Mallory Square.
Explore the history and architecture of Old Town Key West where you
can take in scenic Duval Street with its charming colonial
architecture, bars, cafés, restaurants and shops in wide, clean,
palm-fringed streets. For culture, head for the Tennessee Williams
Theater and Performing Arts Center or take a tour of
Ernest Hemmingway's home, where five-toed cats lounge on the stairs
of the large white porch.
Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden is like a lush, green rainforest,
and is an excellent example of nature's wilderness tamed in an
artistic woodland garden. The Key West Botanical Forest and Garden
is also worth a stroll to see its large number of 'champion tree'
Two events that take place here are spring break, when students from
across the world come to drink to excess, and PrideFest, a week-long
series of events presented by the large gay and lesbian population
in early June. Key West has adopted the unofficial motto of 'One
Human Family' reflecting the freedom and individuality that is
celebrated in this lively American outpost.
National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum maintains
the largest collection of historic air- and spacecraft in the world.
A vital centre for research into the history, science and technology
of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science,
terrestrial geology and geophysics, its treasures are kept in two
buildings, one on the National Mall and the other in the Steven F.
Udvar-Hazy Center located near Dulles Airport. A shuttle bus service
runs between the two sites.
The mall building in Washington, DC has hundreds of artifacts on
display including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St
Louis, the Apollo 11 command module and a touchable lunar rock
The Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport has artifacts
including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, a Boeing B-29
Superfortress Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The
center's ten-storey trusses suspend the Monocoupe 110 Special Little
Butch and the deHavilland Chipmunk aerobatic airplane.
Other memorabilia includes the spacesuits worn to the Moon by Buzz
Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. The exhibition, Exploring the Planets,
highlights both earth-based and spacecraft history and achievements
of planetary explorations. There is a full-scale replica of the
Voyager spacecraft which traveled to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and
The centre has an IMAX theatre, flight simulators and a fantastic
shop where you can buy impractical but fun gifts such as
freeze-dried ice cream and other astronaut food items. This museum
offers a thrilling ride through the history of this important and
Autumn in New England
Every October, the
leaves in New England burst into a spectacular symphony of vibrant
colors before they fall to the ground as the trees become dormant
for winter, and 'tree peeping' is a common pastime here during the
autumn. Once you see the joyous explosion of colors bursting over
the picturesque landscape, you will understand why this is the most
popular season for visiting the area.
So why do leaves change color in autumn? At this time of year the
production of chlorophyll in leaves stops and so they lose their
vibrant green colors revealing the underlying tones caused by the
presence of other pigments, such as carotenoids which provide
yellow, orange and brown colors and anthocyanins which give red and
Autumn leaf color is specific to the species of tree because of the
different chemicals in the leaves. Oaks turn red, brown, or russet;
hickories become golden bronze; dogwoods go purplish red; beech fade
to light tan; red maple turn a brilliant scarlet; sugar maple go
orange-red; black maple become glowing yellow; sourwood and black
tupelo change to crimson and aspen, birch, and yellow poplar turn a
The range and intensity of autumn colors are greatly influenced by
the weather and the brightest autumn colors are produced when dry,
sunny days are followed by cool, dry nights.
Regardless of timing, if you are fortunate enough to see the
stunning autumn colors that cover vast swathes of New England you
will understand why there is even a foliage hot line offering hourly
reports on the best places to go.
Badlands National Park
The Badlands National
Park in south-west South Dakota is an eerie place of startlingly
beautiful desolation. From the ragged ridges and saw-toothed spires,
to the sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles and the wind-ravaged
moonscape of the Sage Creek Wilderness Area, Badlands National Park
is an unsettling yet awe-inspiring experience.
The Sioux Indians named this land `mako sica' or 'land bad' and
early French-Canadian trappers labelled it `les mauvaises terres a
traverser' or 'bad lands to cross' because of its inhospitable
terrain, the result of deposition and partial erosion of sedimentary
The serrated ridges and deep canyons of the Badlands were formed
about 500,000 years ago, when water began to cut through the rock
layers, carving fantastic shapes in the flat floodplain. Ancient
rocks, buried for millions of years, became exposed. Erosion
averages around 2.5 cm (1 in) a year, so the buttes will be gone in
The Badlands are one of the richest Oligocene fossil beds known.
Fossils of 25-35 million-year-old three-toed horses, dog-sized
camels, sabretooth tigers, giant pigs and other species have been
found. Some 11,000 years of human history are here, too, including
the sites of Sioux Ghost Dances (protests at government land-grabs)
A walk through the Badlands visualizing its human history and the
geological processes that have taken place here is truly a must.
`Big Sur' is derived
from the Spanish 'el sur grande', meaning 'the big south'. Named by
early Monterey settlers, the southern coastal area is imposing but
treacherous to ships.
Although the region includes many state parks, the Big Sur region
covers a much larger area of central California, occupying roughly
143 km (89 miles) of the Pacific coastline.
The magnificent coastal scenery of jagged cliffs, pristine beaches,
precarious bridges, lofty emerald hills, forests and hot springs has
been a beloved landmark for Californians since it was discovered in
In addition to the many stunning hikes, cycle trails and other
abundant outdoor facilities available here, there are also beautiful
cliff-side hotels and restaurants. Famous actors have found solace
here, as have hippies, naturalists, authors, artists and dot com
One of the interesting sites in Big Sur is Hearst Castle. Built from
the amassed fortunes of George Hearst, a wealthy miner, the ranch
originally known as 'Camp Hill' was used for relaxing getaways for
the billionaire and his friends. Hearst commissioned famed San
Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919 to 'build a little
something'. Hearst and Morgan's collaboration, destined to become
one of the world's greatest showpieces constructed on a rocky perch
was renamed 'La Cuesta Encantada', or The Enchanted Hill. By 1947,
Hearst and Morgan had created an estate of 165 rooms with more than
50 ha (127 acres) of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways.
The estate's magnificent main house, the 38 bedroom 'Casa Grande',
and three neighboring guest houses, are built in Mediterranean
Revival style, with the imposing towers inspired by a Spanish
cathedral. This eclectic blend of architectural styles combined with
the surrounding land, and Hearst's superb European and Mediterranean
art collection created what world-renowned architectural historian,
John Julius Norwich called 'a palace in every sense of the word'.
Now open to visitors it is a treat strolling through these luscious
grounds and living vicariously through the Hearst family, imagining
that this is a palace that you could call your own.
commonly called Carmel, is a charming small town on the Pacific
Coast of the Monterey Peninsula in central California. Predominantly
a residential community, it is also celebrated as having one of the
best, and certainly most scenic, golf courses in the United States
at Pebble Beach, as well as a lively arts scene.
Built as a seaside artists' colony, attracting such people as
Robinson Jeffers, Sinclair Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson and Ansel
Adams, Carmel was created as a peaceful and intellectually inspiring
Carmel was built of largely cottage-style homes with a fairytale
twist including rambling gables, shutters, trellises and large front
and rear gardens. These homes were planned to retain the town's
character as a 'village in a forest', and some of the homes look as
though Little Red Riding Hood or the Big Bad Wolf should be peeking
out through the curtains of this picture-postcard landscape.
Situated between lush woodland and stunning Pacific Coastline dotted
with majestic Cypress trees, Cannel affords spectacular views at
It is home to many artistic and sports events including the Bach
Festival, a series of outdoor concerts and plays, the Concours
d'Elegance for car fans, polo and equestrian competitions, and the
annual Pebble Beach Pro Am, known after it's founder, Bing Crosby.
The Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded in 1770 by
Father Juniperro Serra, Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi.
Originally located at the Presidio in the centre of the settlement,
the National Historic Landmark was subsequently moved to its present
site at the southern edge of town overlooking the Cannel River. The
stone church, with its curving walls and Moorish bell tower, was
erected in 1793. Its walls are covered with a lime plaster made of
burnt seashells, and it is home to the first library in California.
The '17-Mile Drive', a meandering road from Pacific Grove to Cannel
has awe-inspiring cliff top vistas, multi-million dollar homes to
stare at and the occasional spot of wildlife to enjoy.
At Point Lobos, just south of Carmel, you can picnic above the
crashing waves and large coves dotted with wildlife and spring
flowers. The white sandy beaches surrounded by cypress trees at the
Cannel Beach City Park are lovely, as is the Cannel River State
Beach and bird sanctuary, just south around the promontory. Clint
Eastwood was once a mayor of this beautiful seaside town.
Charleston is located on
a narrow peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers where they
flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Originally known as 'Charles Town'
after King Charles II of England, the town was established in 1670
and settled a decade later. Downtown Charleston serves as the
central business district of Greater Charleston and is home to many
historic and cultural sites and buildings of architectural interest.
The scenic community of Charlestown, strategically located halfway
down the South Carolina coast, became the center of the Carolina
colony, the eighth state to join the Union, and the cultural centre
of the pre-Civil War South. Until 1800, Charleston was the fifth
largest city in North America, behind Philadelphia, New York City,
Boston and Quebec City.
Originally a walled city of the British colony, the town played a
key role in the events leading up to the Civil War, and subsequently
experienced a resurgence during the late nineteenth century,
eventually becoming one of the most complete and intact historic
districts in the country. It is the location of Fort Moultrie, which
withstood the British in the American Revolution, and Fort Sumpter,
the reputed site of the `first shot' of the American Civil War. The
city is still home to many naval academies and training camps.
Made prosperous by shipping and many local plantations, the city is
home to Boone Hall and Magnolia plantations and Middleton Place.
The majority of Charleston's public and community buildings reflect
a time when it was one of the wealthiest and most important port
cities of the colonies. Architectural remnants of this time include
the Old Exchange and Customs House, the Market Hall and Sheds, St
Michael's Episcopal Church, the Post Office, the County Court House
and City Hall.
`Old Charleston' - with its homes with wrought-iron gates, courtyard
gardens and oak and palm-lined streets - is a fine example of
southern colonial charm. It is like stepping back in time as you
sniff the clean salty air and listen to the horse-drawn carriages
clop past the grand homes of this beautiful historic city, one of
the most elegant places in America.
Custer State Park
Custer State Park in the
Black Hills of South Dakota is home to a selection of historical
monuments, spectacular parkland and abundant wildlife. Covering an
area of roughly 29,000 ha (72,000 acres), the park boasts gently
undulating meadows, rolling foothills, pine forests, large lakes and
the giant, finger-like granite spires of the Needles.
The scenic drive on the Needles Highway (SD 87) highlights the
towering rock formations, including the awe-inspiring 'Needles Eye',
an impressive granite spire jutting 9-12 m (30-40 ft) into the air,
with an `eye' just 90-120 cm (3-4 ft) in width.
Do not be surprised if you encounter bison on your drive. A
1,500-strong herd - one of the largest in the world - roams freely
throughout the park, and often stops traffic along the 29-km (18-mi)
Wildlife Loop Road. Other wildlife here includes pronghorn antelope,
mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, wild turkeys and friendly
French Creek is where Custer's expedition first discovered gold in
1874. A major attractions is the Crazy Horse Memorial, known by
locals as the 'Fifth Face' in the Black Hills. The carving of the
legendary Lakota Chief Crazy Horse was dedicated in 1948, and work
continues on what will be the world's largest sculpture 172 m (563
ft) high. The chief's face is complete and the carving of the
horse's head is underway. When the sculpture is complete, Crazy
Horse will sit pointing over his stallion's head to the sacred Black
Begun by the late sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, and carried on by his
family, the memorial is dedicated to all American Indians, 'as a
symbol to the white man that the red man has great heroes too',
according to Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear.
Visitors driving past the site, 8 km (5 mi) north of Custer, often
hear dynamite blasts, a signal that work on the mountain carving is
progressing. At night, blasts are impressive events.
As well as watching the carving in progress and an audiovisual
display about the work, visitors may stop at the Indian Museum of
North America at Crazy Horse, which is home to one of the most
extensive collections of American Indian artefacts in the country.
Favourite outdoor activities in the park include hiking the 2,207 m
(7,242 ft) Harney Peak, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock
climbing, fishing, enjoying chuckwagon suppers and taking jeep rides
to see the bison.
Frank Lloyd Wright,
internationally recognized as one of the leading modern architects
of his day, is best known for creating a new form of American
housing, the prairie house, as well as the award-winning single
family home, Fallingwater.
Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by the wealthy Pittsburgh
businessman Edgar Kaufman Sr to build a weekend home in the rural
Bear Run area near Pittsburgh, Pennsylania. Kaufman requested a
simple structure overlooking the waterfall and its attendant cabins.
Instead Wright asked for a survey of the area surrounding the
waterfall, including all of the boulders and trees. He then
proceeded to build one of his most acclaimed works, which was voted
the best all time work of American Architecture' by the American
Institute of Architects, despite some structural issues and problems
with damp. A spectacular example of organic architecture, a
harmonious blend of man and nature through design, Wright used every
modern construction tool available in 1935 to create this naturally
integrated home, seemingly part of the underlying rock bed and
Mimicking the natural pattern of the existing rock ledges, Wright
built the house over the falls in a series of cantilevered concrete
'trays', using the same material as the boulders, Pittsville
sandstone, for the walls. Rising more than 9 m (30 ft) above the
falls, Wright's strong horizontal lines and low ceilings maintain a
sheltering effect, which is seamless with the exterior. He built as
much floor space on outdoor terraces as he did indoors, effectively
bringing the outdoors inside.
Completed in 1939, Fallingwater is the only Wright house with its
original Wright-designed furnishings and artwork intact open to the
public. The Kaufman family's collection of fine art, textiles,
objets d'art, books and furnishings, which they collected from the
1930s to the 1960s, is on view, representing the eclectic tastes of
a sophisticated, well-travelled family. Works by Audubon, Tiffany,
Diego Rivera, Picasso, Jacques Lipchitz, Richmond Barthe and by
Japanese artists Hiroshige and Hokusai can be seen in this
magnificent modern architectural wonder, a reminder that only our
imaginations have limitations.
A major mountain range
in the southern part of the Appalachians, the Smoky Mountains
straddle the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The name
comes from the natural haze that often hovers above it. As in the
neighboring Blue Ridge Mountains just to the east, hydrocarbons
produced by trees and other vegetation, together with higher
humidity, give the sky a bluish cast, even over short distances.
The most visited national park in the Eastern United States, Great
Smoky Mountains National Park is home to Clingmans Dome, the highest
point on the Appalachian Trail at an elevation of 2,030 m (6,643
ft). A paved road leads to within 91 m (300 ft) of the summit from
where visitors can walk to the top for a view over Tennessee, North
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It also holds significant
numbers of the Smokies' symbol, the black bear, and other important
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the
Appalachian Trail or simply The AT, is the main attraction here. A
3,500-km (2,174-mi) marked hiking trail, The AT extends between
Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. Along the
way, the trail passes through North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia,
West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Many wildflowers grow here, including bee balm, fire pink, Solomon's
seal, Dutchman's breeches, various trilliums and even hardy orchids
like showy orchids, as well as purple-flowered Catawba rhododendron,
light pink rosebay rhododendron, orange-flowered flame azalea and
mountain laurel. In autumn, nearly-bare mountaintops covered in rime
ice, or frozen fog, are separated from green valleys by bright and
varied leaf colors.
Several rivers rise from streams in the Smokies, including the
Little Pigeon River, Oconaluftee River and the Nantahala River. The
French Broad River crosses the north-eastern end of the Smokies.
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in Tennessee, and Cherokee, North
Carolina are famous for both leisurely tubing and full whitewater
rafting in summer, while the short winter skiing season is centered
on places like Cataloochee and Ober, Gatlinburg.
Statue of Liberty and
Two famous New York City
landmarks are the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, making up the
Statue of Liberty National Monument. With their historical and
symbolic significance, these two icons of America stand as a
reminder of the American ideals of freedom, liberty and justice for
The people of France gave the Statue of Liberty to the people of the
United States more than a century ago in recognition of the
friendship established during the American Revolution. Since then,
the Statue of Liberty's symbolism has grown to include freedom and
democracy as well as international friendship.
Commissioned by the French government to design a sculpture by 1876
to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the American Declaration
of Independence, Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, with the help
of Eiffel Tower designer, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, began to create
the colossal copper monument. The statue was completed in 1884 and
shipped to New York Harbor, arriving in 1885 in 350 pieces, packed
in 214 crates. The pedestal was completed in 1886 and the statue
rebuilt in time for the final dedication in October of that year.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site after its refurbishment in
1986, the Statue of Liberty stands for the pillars on which the
American constitution was established, including life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness. It serves as a beacon to all visitors to
this busy port.
Ellis Island has played an integral role in the shaping of America.
Between 1892 and 1954, more than 12 million immigrants entered the
United States through this portal, a small island in the shadow of
the Statue of Liberty. Before 1890, individual states, rather than
the Federal government, had regulated immigration into the United
States. Between 1855 and 1890, Castle Garden, or Castle Clinton, in
the Battery, had served as the New York State immigration station
allowing about eight million immigrants, mostly from northern and
western Europe, to pass through its doors. These early immigrants
came from countries such as Britain, Ireland, Germany and
Scandinavia and constituted the first large wave of immigrants who
settled and populated the United States. Throughout the nineteenth
century, political instability, famine and deteriorating economic
conditions in Europe caused the largest mass migration in human
history. In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison designated Ellis Island
the first federal immigration station in order to handle the growing
numbers of immigrants.
It opened on 1 January 1892 and the following day Annie Moore, a 15
year-old Irish girl, was the first immigrant to be processed here.
Over the next 62 years, more than 12 million people followed her.
While most immigrants entered the United States through New York
Harbor, others sailed into Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San
Francisco, Savannah, Miami and New Orleans.
During the early twentieth century, immigration officials mistakenly
thought the peak of immigration had already passed, but it was
actually on the rise and in 1907 around 1.25 million were processed
at Ellis Island.
As the United States entered World War I, emigration to the United
States slowed. Between 1918 and 1919 numerous suspected enemy aliens
from across the United States were detained on Ellis Island, then
transferred to other locations to allow the US Navy and the Army
Medical Department to take over the complex. During this time,
regular inspection of arriving immigrants was conducted on board
ship or at the docks. At the end of the war, a big 'Red Scare'
spread across America and thousands of suspected alien radicals were
interred at Ellis Island. Hundreds were later deported simply
because they were associated, however loosely, with any
organizations advocating revolt against the federal government. In
1920, Ellis Island reopened as an immigration receiving station
processing a further 225,206 immigrants.
Because of concerns about increased immigration in the years up to
1924, increased restrictions on immigration were brought in.
Ellis Island remained open for many years and in 1965, President
Johnson declared it part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Following a thorough restoration, Ellis Island opened to the public
in partnership with the National Park Service. Today the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum receives almost 2 million visitors
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans
Memorial in Washington DC recognizes and honors the men and women
who served and sacrificed their lives in one of America's most
divisive wars. Sometimes referred to simply as 'the wall', the
memorial was born from a need to heal the nation's wounds. Conceived
and designed to make no political statement, it is a place where
people can come together and honor their loved ones. It is made of
three elements: the Wall of Names, the Three Servicemen Statue and
Flagpole and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
Set in Constitution Gardens, the long, black granite wall is not
prominent, grand or imposing, but is simple, thoughtful, powerful
and profound. Etched into the granite are the names of the 58,249
men and women who died and 1,200 who went missing in the Vietnam
War. The two panels of the wall extend from a central point at a
wide angle, with one side pointing towards the Washington Monument,
the other towards the Lincoln Memorial. The descent to the centre of
the wall reveals a towering 3 m (10 ft) looming shape surrounded by
grassy slopes, which is oddly ominous in its serenity. The names
appear in a seemingly endless stream, in chronological order from
1959 to 1975. Many family and friends leave mementos or flowers.
The Three Servicemen Statue symbolizes the spirit of compromise and
reconciliation. Many veterans did not believe that the stark granite
memorial spoke of the patriotism and sacrifice made by the
servicemen and that its placement below ground hid it from view,
hinting at shame. The Three Servicemen Statue was created to appease
these thoughts, showing the valiant efforts of the armed forces
rather than simply focusing on the country's loss of life.
The third element was created after a campaign by Diane Carlson
Evans, a former army nurse, who fought to highlight the service of
women in the war. In 1993 her efforts were rewarded with the Vietnam
Women's Memorial. The sculpture depicts three uniformed women with a
wounded soldier. One nurse comforts the soldier, another kneels in
thought or prayer and the third looks to the skies for help from
either a medevac helicopter or a higher power.
This memorial is impressive and powerful in every way and it is
worth visiting to share a moment of silence for those who fought in
the Vietnam War.
Washington DC (District
of Columbia) is the capital of the United States. Nestled between
Maryland and Virginia on the eastern seaboard, the district covers
an area of 108 sq krn (67 sq mi) centring on the US Capitol.
As one of the most historically significant and charming areas in
the United States, Washington is well worth a visit. Tourist
highlights include the US Capitol, the many monuments and museums of
the 'mall', the White House, Georgetown and Adams Morgan.
Tours of the Capitol, where senators and representatives meet to
shape legislative policy, are available. These include the stunning
Rotunda, the Statuary Hall, the original Supreme Court chamber and
the Crypt, intended burial place of George and Martha Washington.
The Washington Monument, a 169-m (555 ft 5 1/8-in) granite spire
with 893 steps (or a lift ride) to the top, affords amazing
360-degree views of Washington's metropolitan area.
The Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex and
research organisation, is composed of 17 museums and the National
Zoo. The museums cover diverse aspects such as American History,
Natural History, Air and Space, African Art, American Indian art and
culture and Asian art among others. The Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden and the Portrait Gallery feature incredible art
works and the Holocaust Museum is also not to be missed.
Charming areas worth exploring are the cobbled streets of old
Georgetown, on the Potomac River with its brick town houses and
luxury boutiques and many charming gourmet restaurants. Adams
Morgan, another area of note, is a more culturally diverse section
of Washington with every kind of cuisine and shopping available.
Here you will find Ethiopian, Indian, Chinese and Greek restaurants
amid local markets, lively cafés and bars and colourful shop fronts.
The nearby Arlington National Cemetery, a serenely beautiful spot
marked by tens of thousands of white headstones surrounded by lush
green countryside, is home to national heroes, presidents, law
makers, astronauts, veterans, explorers and other historical
Washington DC is a rich cultural and friendly city filled with
historical and political stories in its beautiful waterfront
Wounded Knee, South Dakota
Wounded Knee, South
Dakota represents the last major clash between American Indians and
white U.S. troops in North America.
On the morning of 29 December 1890, the Sioux chief Big Foot and 350
of his followers camped on the banks of Wounded Knee Creek,
surrounded by US troops with orders to arrest him and disarm his
This tense moment had been building for years, as the once proud
Sioux, a nomadic people, had found their way of life destroyed, as
they were confined to reservations and dependent on Indian Agents
for their existence, especially after the government reneged on a
treaty in order to grab more of their land.
In a desperate attempt to return to the days of their glory, many
sought salvation in a new mysticism called the 'Ghost Dance', or a
version of it, preached by a Paiute shaman called Wovoka. Emissaries
from the Sioux in South Dakota travelled to Nevada to listen to this
self-proclaimed Messiah, who prophesied that the dead would soon
join the living in a world where the Indians could return to their
old way of living with plentiful game, fertile soil, no white men
and a restored prairie.
The Sioux were encouraged to dance the Ghost Dance, wearing brightly
coloured shirts emblazoned with images of eagles and bison. These
'Ghost Shirts' were believed to protect the Indians from the white
men's bullets. During the autumn of 1890, the Ghost Dance spread
through the Sioux villages of the Dakota reservations, revitalizing
the Indians and bringing fear to the whites. A desperate Indian
Agent at Pine Ridge contacted his superiors in Washington to warn
that an uprising was on the horizon. The order went out to arrest
Chief Sitting Bull at the Standing Rock Reservation. Sitting Bull
was killed on 15 December and Chief Big Foot was next on the list.
When he heard of Sitting Bull's death, Big Foot led his people to
the Pine Ridge Reservation to seek protection. The US army
intercepted them on 28 December and brought them to the edge of the
Wounded Knee to camp. The next morning the dying chief met the army
officers, but a shot sounded nearby and within seconds the scene
erupted as Indians and US troops exchanged fire.
Approximately 200 Sioux were killed that day, including Big Foot, as
well as 25 US soldiers. Many others on both sides were wounded. The
massacre at Wounded Knee effectively ended the Ghost Dance movement
as well as the Indian Wars.
The site of the Wounded Knee Battleground includes the cemetery with
the graves of those Indians who died that day.
Park, designated as the world's first national park by Ulysses S
Grant in 1872, is also a biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site
for its spectacular topography. Lying mostly in Wyoming, its 8,987
sq km (3,472 sq miles) extend into Montana and Idaho. Elevations
range from a maximum height of 3,462 meters (11,358 feet) at Eagle
Peak to 1,610 meters (5,282 feet) at Reese Creek. Most of the park
is covered by forest interspersed with grassland and water.
The park is home to the planet's most diverse collection of geysers,
hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. Two-thirds of the earth's
geysers - more than 300 - are here - and combined with over 10,000
other thermal features, you have a place like no other.
The park is also home to an active volcano, roughly 2,000
earthquakes a year, one of the world's largest petrified forests,
one of the world's largest calderas - measuring 72 by 48 km (45 by
30 miles), and some 290 sizeable waterfalls, the highest of which
are the 94-meters (308-feet) Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.
The Upper Geyser Basin is home to the largest numbers of geysers.
Within 2.5 sq km (1 sq miles) there are at least 150, of which five
can be accurately predicted - Castle, Grand, Daisy, Riverside and
the most famous, Old Faithful. Driving down Firehole Lake Drive you
will find the sixth predictable geyser - Great Fountain - whose
twice-daily eruptions send water bursting 30-61 meters (100-200
feet) into the air.
The Midway Geyser Basin, although smaller than its surrounding blow
holes, offers the incredible gaping crater of the Excelsior Geyser,
61 x 91 meters (200 x 300 feet) with a constant discharge of more
than 4,000 gallons of water per minute into the Firehole River,
which was named because early trappers thought it appeared to be
smoke from wild fires. Also found here is Yellowstone's largest hot
spring, Grand Prismatic Spring, over 113 meters (370 fee) in
diameter and more than 37 meters (121 feet) in depth.
The most popular attraction of Yellowstone National Park, located in
the Upper Geyser Basin, is Old Faithful. Named for its punctuality,
Old Faithful, although not the largest or most spectacular of the
geysers, erupts more frequently than any of the others, on average
every 80 minutes, spraying waters up to 57 meters (184 feet) into
Not only host to incredible natural features and awe-inspiring
scenery, Yellowstone also hosts a number of large mammals including
both black and grizzly bears, coyotes, grey wolves, red foxes,
bobcats, mountain lions, lynx, otters, a number of deer species,
bison, bighorn sheep and mountain goats among others.
Yellowstone has four distinct seasons, cold in winter, pleasant in
spring, hot in summer, and cool in autumn.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park,
famously known as the focus of the American photographer Ansel
Adams, is a spectacular combination of awe-inspiring
mountain-and-valley scenery in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, named a
national park in 1890. The park encompasses a grand collection of
waterfalls, meadows and forest land including massive groves of
giant sequoias, the world's largest living trees.
If there is one remarkable landmark that stands out here, it is
probably Half Dome. Rising 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) from the Valley
floor, it is the most photographed mountain in the park with its
shaved surface offering a stunning contrast to the surrounding
jagged peaks. Those who dare can choose to either hike it or climb
it, but be prepared for sore muscles the next day!
Another favorite of experienced rock climbers is El Capitan, the
largest granite monolith in the world at 914 meters (3,000 feet)
high. Opposite Bridalveil Fall, it is best seen from the far west of
Another of the park's natural highlights is Yosemite Falls with its
roaring runoff from a height of 740 meters (2,425 feet). One of the
world's tallest, Yosemite Falls is actually made up of three
separate falls: Upper Yosemite Falls measuring 436 meters (1,430
feet), the middle cascades at 206 meters (675 feet), and Lower
Yosemite Falls at 98 meters (320 feet). It is a very short walk to
Lower Yosemite Falls, but it is a strenuous, all day trip to reach
the towering Upper Yosemite Falls.
Glacier Point's views of Yosemite Valley, with its high cliffs and
waterfalls, are what dreams are made of. The Mariposa Grove,
containing hundreds of ancient giant sequoias, is something not to
be missed and Tuolumne Meadows, a large sub-alpine meadow surrounded
by mountain peaks, will leave you breathless.
And if that is not enough to tempt you to visit this wilderness
wonderland, Yosemite is also home to a variety of animals, although
they are sometimes difficult to spot. Bears and deer are plentiful
but shy, as are the coyotes whose howls you will hear in the night,
adding to the atmosphere of this oasis of natural beauty.
The park is gorgeous all year round. Spring shows off the massive
waterfalls at their best and is when the wildflowers are in full
bloom. Summers are warm and great for hiking and the sub-alpine
flowers are in bloom at this time. Autumn can be cold but it is less
crowded. Winter is great for snow shoeing and warming yourself by a
camp fire. Apart from the summer, it is advisable to carry
snow-chains in your car and be prepared to use them.
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