Monthly Archives: July 2011

Restoring Native Prairies at San Juan Island National Historical Park

I have mentioned on several occasions that the science conducted in our National Parks is fascinating. One of the main goals of the National Park Service is to maintain the natural habitat of the National Parks. With only 3% of the original prairie existing in western Washington, the preservation and restoration of native plants at San Juan Island National Historical Park is a top priority. This is accomplished by collecting native prairie plant seeds, planting native plants and removing non … Continue reading

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Lees Ferry Grand Canyon National Park Rafting

The official beginning for most Grand Canyon rafting trips is at Lees Ferry (also commonly referred to as Lee’s Ferry or Lee Ferry) in Marble Canyon which gives a wonderful preview of what’s to come with the Colorado River surrounded by magnificent canyon scenery: Since this is where the Grand Canyon rafting trips launch, this is where you get your initiation to what the rafting trip will be like. You meet the crew that will be guiding you down the … Continue reading

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Riverside Walk at Zion National Park

Although a Grand Canyon rafting trip officially begins when you hit the water at Lees Ferry, it unofficially begins when you make your way to Las Vegas. There are options to fly from Las Vagas to Lees Ferry, but I would highly recommend renting a car and driving. While it’s about a 5 to 6 hour drive from Las Vegas to Lees Ferry, the route allows you to drive through Zion National Park. Planning an extra day or two to … Continue reading

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Black Bear Science at North Cascades National Park

As I have mentioned before, I am always fascinated by the science conducted in our National Parks. When it comes to studying the animals residing inside our National Parks, the most difficult part is often finding them. North Cascades National Park utilizes both hi-tech and lo-tech to get the information they want from their black bear population: Finding and monitoring bears in rugged Northwest parks has always been dicey. Today, through genetic testing, tufts of bear hair can tell scientists … Continue reading

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Cave Pearl Crystal Cave Sequoia National Park

There are several opportunities to see “cave pearls” when exploring Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA). Cave pearls form when acidic water drips onto grains of sand or tiny stones. The dripping water causes the grains to move so that they do not attach to the cave floor while the calcite within the water causes the grains of sand to grow into bigger pebbles (and then rocks) as more and more calcite covers them. This is a cave pearl … Continue reading

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Fairy Pools Crystal Cave Sequoia National Park

My favorite of the many magnificent cave formations at Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA) was the Fairy Pools. Also located in the Dome Room, these delicate flowstone dam pools are perfectly framed by other cave formations which make them look like they do come out of some type of fairy tale: The Fairy Pools are right along the cave path which allows you to inspect them closely (not from a distance as with many of the other popular … Continue reading

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Sea Glass Beach Fort Bragg California

While not technically a National Park (there are a lot of rock outcroppings along the shoreline which are all part of the California Coastal National Monument), Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA is definitely worth a visit. It’s not often that you see a beach that is almost entirely made of sea glass (also called beach glass, mermaids tears, lucky glass, ocean glass and sea gems) that is several inches thick in some places: Most people assume that sea glass … Continue reading

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Tidepool Science at Olympic National Park

As I mentioned before, I totally support Research Science in our National Parks. I found this short video called Working Between the Tides on the science of tide-pools at Olympic National Park fascinating. It shows how the National Park service determines the distribution, diversity and abundance of the sea creatures that live in the tidal zone and why the tidal zone is so important as a leading indicator of climate change. It is well worth the 5 minutes it takes … Continue reading

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Natural Bridge at Natural Bridges State Beach California

If you are looking for a beach that has more than just sand, Natural Bridges State Beach (CA) is an excellent choice. In addition to Sandy Beach and the Natural Bridge, the beach also has wonderful tide-pools to explore during low tide and is home to one of the largest monarch butterfly over-wintering sites in the Western United States. The beach was named after three natural bridges that extended out into the ocean — now only one remains: In the … Continue reading

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Calcite Flow Crystal Cave Sequoia National Park

Along with the capital dome formation in the Dome Room at Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA) is one of the largest and most magnificent calcite (bright white – the whiter the calcite, the purer it is) flows I have encountered in the limited number of caves I have explored. It extends from the back of the Dome Room and comes all the way to the walking path in the cave:

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