Grand Canyon National Park: Grandview Point

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Two hours before sunset on our first evening in the Grand Canyon, we met up with Grand Canyon Jeep Tours & Safaris in Tusayan for the Grand Sunset Tour. Unlike the other tour company we used this trip, this was a well-run operation and we enjoyed this introduction to the park immensely.

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Our guide was a local with ties to the Navajo and very knowledgeable about the native flora and fauna. He took us through Kaibab National Forest via the unpaved historic stagecoach roads, pausing whenever someone glimpsed an elk or deer through the trees so we could all see.

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Our first stop was the steel Grandview Lookout Tower. This was built in 1936 as a fire watchtower by the Civilian Conservation Corps. We climbed the 80 foot tower to see the view from the top.

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We got back into the jeep and continued along the gravel road until it met up with the park road.  We got out at Moran Point where we could see the river and Grandview Point and then got back in the jeep to travel to Grandview for the sunset.

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The Grandview is the southernmost point on the South Rim and the farthest from the Colorado River. Because of its position, the drop-offs here are less steep with more intervening buttes and ravines than in spots closer to the river. This makes it an ideal place to watch the sunset as it washes over all the nooks and crannies in a colorful display.

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There was a hotel built here in 1895 for Grand Canyon tourists, before the construction of El Tovar and other Grand Canyon Village facilities. It only lasted a few years and we saw no remains of it when we were there.

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To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014

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Zion National Park: Kolob Canyon 5-Mile Drive

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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We began our exploration of Zion National Park in the quieter Kolob Canyon section. Kolob Canyon is accessed by a separate entrance in the Northwestern corner of the park.

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We first stopped at the visitors center for our park pass and perused the gift shop. Then we started our climb up the five-mile scenic drive. This is the only paved road on this side of the park and it does not connect with the main section in the south.

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There were few cars on the drive so we were able to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery. We pulled over at several stops along the way to get out and take pictures of the 2000-foot cliff walls lining the canyon.

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After about a half mile, the drive culminates at the Kolob Canyon Viewpoint which is also the trail head for the Timber Creek Overlook Trail.

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Zion Park Posts:

  • Kolob Canyon Section
  • Zion National Park
  • Kolob Canyon 5-mile Drive
  • Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Coming Soon)
  • Emerald Pools (Coming Soon)
  • Canyoneering (Coming Soon)
  • Hidden Canyon (Coming Soon)
  • Scout Lookout (Coming Soon)
  • Angel’s Landing (Coming Soon)
  • Pa’Rus Trail (Coming Soon)

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Location: 3752 E Kolob Canyon Rd, New Harmony, UT

Designation: National Park

Date designated/established: 11/19/1919

Date of my visit: April 9, 2017

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Grand Canyon National Park: Desert View

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Desert View is 25 miles east of Grand Canyon village. The park’s shuttle system does not extend this far, so you will need a car to visit this section. We were on the lackluster van tour I mentioned in my Yavapai post, so having a ride to Desert View was one of the few highlights of that tour.

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The main attraction, aside from the Grand Canyon views, is the stone Desert View Watchtower designed by Mary Colter in 1932. This building, like the other Colter buildings in Grand Canyon National Park, is a National Historic Landmark and was designed to blend into its surroundings.

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It is a replica of an ancient Puebloan Watchtower, with 85 steps leading to an observation platform at the top. The walls are adorned with murals painted by a Hopi artist.

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To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/20/2014

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View of Cedar Mountain Mesa from the Watchtower

Crater Lake National Park: Happy 117th birthday!

 

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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One hundred seventeen years ago, on May 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill establishing Crater Lake in Oregon as a National Park. This park protects the brilliant blue volcanic lake which is the deepest in the U.S. at 1,943 feet.

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Millenia ago,  Mount Mazama (an ancient volcano) collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. There are no rivers feeding into the lake or underground water sources…the water is replenished only by rain and snow. The purity of the water combined with the depth of the lake create the vivid blue color.

 

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Crater Lake posts:

 

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Location: Crater Lake, OR

Designation: National Park

Date designated or established: 5/22/1902

Date of my visit: 8/25/2016

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Badlands National Park

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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In 2009, we drove across South Dakota to the Badlands. Badlands National Park is known for its eroded rock formations and protects the largest remaining grassland prairies in the United States.

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Native Americans used the Badlands as their hunting grounds. The Lakota, because of the extreme temperatures and rough terrain, called it ‘makho sica’ which translates the ‘land bad.’

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We rolled into the area at night and stayed at the Circle View Guest Ranch. Circle View is a B&B on the top of a butte. It is 6 miles outside the National Park.

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In the morning, the kids helped the owners collect the fresh eggs outside. After a hearty breakfast, we were on our way to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.  There we listened to a ranger’s fossil talk and picked up our junior ranger booklets.

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From the visitor center, we headed to the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. This is a half-mile loop following boardwalks and stairs through a juniper forest atop the Badlands Wall.

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Then we drove the park road, stopping at various trail-heads. There are a few short walks from the road to points of interest, such as the Door and Window trails with views into the canyon.

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Location: 25216 SD-240, Interior, SD 57750

Designation: National Reserve, State Park, NRHP

Date designated or established: 1/29/1939

Date of my visit: 1/31/2016

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Grand Canyon National Park: Yavapai Point

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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On one of our days in the Grand Canyon, we took a tour that was not the wisest investment we’ve ever made. The van was late picking us up, the guide was nice but lacked common sense, and the tour ended abruptly when an elderly participant cut a gash in his forehead necessitating a trip to the medical center.

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Though I had a moment’s vindication when out of all twelve people on the minibus, I alone was able to dial 911 on my Samsung (leaving eleven iPhone users in the dust), we would have been better off using the park shuttles to get to the points we did see on the tour. Live and learn…but we did still spend the day in the wondrous Grand Canyon.

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One of the interesting stops on the tour was Yavapai Point. Since we were on a tour we didn’t have to worry about parking…there wasn’t much. Yavapai is the Northernmost point in this part of the South Rim, is closest to the Colorado River and has excellent panoramic views.

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Three large canyons converge on the Colorado River here. Directly opposite Yavapai Point is Bright Angel Canyon.

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We looked around the visitor center before moving on to the next stop. There is a geological museum inside which includes a topographic relief model of the canyon.

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To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/20/2014

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At a stop on the way back, the tour guide encouraged us to stage this photo where we seem to be rescuing hubby from plunging to his death. At this angle, you can see the wide ledge behind him. He was fine. But when an elderly man hopped over the wall to try the same thing, he lost his balance and hit his head on a rock. Best not to fool around on the rim…better safe than sorry.

Glacier National Park: Lake McDonald

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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At ten miles long, Lake McDonald is Glacier National Park’s biggest lake. It is on the West of the Continental Divide, which receives more rain, so the area is lush.

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The lake is not fed by glaciers and so does not have the distinctive turquoise hue found on the Eastern side of the park. But the water is crystal clear, showcasing the multicolored Argillite rock on the lake’s floor.

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We stopped at Lake McDonald on our last evening in the park. It stays light longer in Glacier in the summer than where we live because it is farther from the equator. We stopped to dip our feet in the icy lake waters before going into the lodge for dinner.

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Lake McDonald Lodge was built in 1913 on the Eastern shore of Lake McDonald at the mouth of Midget Creek. Like the other lodges in the park, it has a Swiss Chalet design which was part of the Great Northern Railroad’s campaign to attract tourists to the ‘American Alps.’

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Though not as big as Many Glacier, the lodge has an impressive three-story lobby and was restored in the 1980s. It includes many of the original furnishings and some reproductions of the original Kanai craftsmen paper lanterns. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

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We had dinner in Russell’s Fireside Dining Room, which was far better than the disappointing meal we’d had previously at Many Glacier’s Ptarmigan Dining Room.

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This appetizer is a charcuterie platter with local game and cheeses. It was delicious.

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Location: 288 Lake McDonald Lodge Loop, West Glacier, MT 59936

Designation: National Park, National Landmark

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910, NHL 1987

Date of my visit: 6/27/2018

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