National Park Week: A Review of Some of Our Favorite Protected Areas Happy National Park Week! Every April the National Park Service plans special programs, events, and waives entrance fees for parks throughout our country. In celebration of National Park Week we are putting a spotlight on each American National Park featured in at least one Holiday Vacations guided tour. Read on to learn some quick facts about these fascinating places. If one of these destinations piques your interest, click the adjacent link to browse a Holiday Vacations itinerary featuring that National Park. We invite you to get inspired and find a guided tour vacation that you will love! Arches National Park Available on our Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon tour Eastern Utah’s Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches and many more natural rock formations within its 76,000 acres. The arches are created by erosion from wind and water creating holes in rock walls throughout the park. The park is also a habitat for mule deer, cottontail rabbits, and a variety of reptiles. Badlands National Park Available on our Majestic Parks tour Badlands National Park is an intriguing mixture of vast prairie and jagged stone spires in South Dakota’s southwest. Don’t let the landscape fool you – this protected area is home to one of the world’s most abundant fossil beds. It is incredible to think that this area was at the bottom of a shallow sea 75 million years ago. Bryce Canyon National Park Available on our Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon tour Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park is a veritable geological forest of colorful pinnacles, spires, fins, arches, mazes and formations called hoodoos. Many of these geologic features range in color from red to yellow and even lavender. According to the folklore of Utah’s native Paiute communities, Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos were once a crowd of humans turned to stone by a mischievous coyote god. Denali National Park Available on all Alaska tours A highlight of all Holiday Vacations guide tours to Alaska is a visit to Denali National Park. Wild and primitive, it’s home to Denali, North America’s tallest mountain and the crown of the Alaska Mountain Range. This six-million acre preserve encompasses 9,500 square miles and is one of the most extensive natural habitat regions in the world. Everglades National Park Available on our Pasadena Rose Parade & Panama Canal Cruise and our Florida Highlights tour. Everglades National Park protects 1.5 million acres of the largest tropical wilderness east of the Mississippi. The park includes a variety of ecosystems including coastal marshes, coastal prairies, pinelands, and marine estuaries. The Everglades’ “river of grass” is a habitat for amphibians, fish, hundreds of species of birds, and several rare or threatened species including the American crocodile and manatee. Glacier Bay National Park Available on our Alaska & Glacier Bay tour. Glacier Bay National Park covers more than 5,000 square miles of the northwestern end of Alaska’s panhandle. Just west of Juneau, this protected area features several glaciers and rocky, snowcapped peaks that rise up from the bay’s calm, pristine waters. Many of these glaciers calve ice directly into the bay. Uniquely remote, wild, and sacred to the communities that live there, it’s no wonder Glacier Bay National Park is one of North America’s most treasured UNESCO World Heritage sites. Glacier National Park Available on our Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Tetons tour and our Majestic Parks tour It’s easy to see why naturalist George Bird Grinnell named this area in northwestern Montana the “Crown of the Continent.” Glacier National Park is packed with glacial lakes, green forests, and staggering cliffs. On Holiday Vacations tours to Glacier National Park, we’ll travel the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road that weaves through them all. Experts at the National Park Service estimate that if current climate trends continue the park’s glaciers may disappear by 2030. Grand Canyon National Park Available on our Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon tour and our Best of the Southwest tour. The Grand Canyon is one of the most impressive natural wonders in America. This incredible chasm is 277 miles long, about the same as the distance between Chicago and St. Louis! The coloration of the Grand Canyon changes constantly due to sunlight and clouds ranging from bright red to deep purple. Grand Teton National Park Available on our Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Tetons tour Just south of Yellowstone is the alpine wilderness of Grand Teton National Park. It’s best remembered by its tallest peak, known simply as Grand Teton, which rises more than 7,000 feet above the plains below. One intriguing destination in the park is the Chapel of the Transfiguration, built in 1925 in a meadow with extraordinary views of the “Cathedral Group” of Teton Peaks. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Available on our Kentucky & the Smokies tour and our Smoky Mountain Christmas tour The heavily wooded Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the country. The Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is itself part of the greater Appalachian Mountain range. The park is named for the blue mist that seems to hang over the iconic forested ridges. Cherokee natives called this land shaconage (sha-con-ah-jay), meaning “place of the blue smoke.” Joshua Tree National Park Available on our Southern California Dreaming tour and our Palm Springs Extended Stay This unique park preserves nearly 1,000 square miles of gnarled Joshua Trees which have adapted to the harsh desert climate. Watch for wildlife and migrant birds. Keys View lookout provides panoramic views of the Coachella Valley. On a clear day you may be able to see beyond the Salton Sea to Signal Mountain in Mexico. Kenai Fjords National Park Available on our Alaska Trains & Kenai Fjords tour Join us on a cruise of a land defined by its many fjords sculpted by glaciers descending from the mountains of Kenai Peninsula. Keep an eye on the incredible tidewater glaciers in case a piece calves into the Arctic Ocean, and for sea otters, seals, whales, and other marine wildlife. Mesa Verde National Park Available on our Colorado Highlights tour This UNESCO World Heritage site in southwestern Colorado has over 5,000 archeological sites, 600 of which are cliff dwellings. Some sites may be more than 1,200 years old! A tour of the park unearths a fascinating history of how native inhabitants evolved from hunger-gatherers into a people rich in agriculture, artistry, and architecture. Rocky Mountain National Park Available on our Colorado Highlights tour Ascend to the “top of the world” on Trail Ridge Road, the popular drive through Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park that reaches as high as 12,000 feet in elevation. It is incredible to see the environment change from alpine forest to alpine tundra to desolate snowcapped peaks before Trail Ridge Road descends again. Saguaro National Park Available on our Tucson Extended Stay Reveal the rugged beauty of the desert at Saguaro National Park. See the sweeping red stone mountain ranges in this surprisingly lush desert environment at the Red Hills Visitors Center. Enormous saguaro cactus are everywhere, an iconic symbol of America’s western frontier. Theodore Roosevelt National Park Available on our Majestic Parks tour These are the lands that inspired President Theodore Roosevelt’s passion for conservation! Bison, coyotes, wild horses, elk, bighorn sheep, and nearly 200 species of birds call this national park their home. A major highlight is a visit to the president’s Maltese Cross Cabin where Roosevelt stayed during his hunting trips. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Available on our Hawaii Four Island Holiday and our Hawaiian Islands Land & Cruise Located on The Big Island’s southeast corner, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The park features the monumental results of 70 million years of volcanic activity with a unique landscape including volcanic craters, dried lava flows, steam vents, and more. Yellowstone National Park Available on our Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Tetons tour and our Majestic Parks tour The United States’ first national park protects one of the world’s greatest collection of geysers including Old Faithful, undoubtedly the world’s most famous geothermal feature. We invite you to take a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park with a National Park guide and take photos of Old Faithful and many more landmarks including Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lower Yellowstone Falls. This massive protected land is also home to bison, elk, bighorn sheep, bears, and more! Yosemite National Park Available on our Northern California Highlights tour Yosemite has some of the most beautiful vistas in all of California with famous landmarks including Half Dome and El Capitan, both features of the immense and breathtaking Yosemite Valley. Near the Visitor Center is the Ansel Adams Gallery featuring works that inspired millions of Americans’ enthusiasm for the American West. Zion National Park Available on our Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon tour Zion National Park is Utah’s first National Park, designated as such in 1919. It is also the state’s most visited park with nearly three million people experiencing its natural wonders every year. Carved by the Virgin River over millions of years, Zion has steep cliff faces and fascinating rock formations created by the erosion of wind, water, and time.