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Glimpses of the National Parks and Monuments


Yellowstone National Park lies principally in Wyoming, but extends over the borders of Idaho and Montana. It is probably the most celebrated of all the national parks because it contains more and greater geysers than all the rest of the world together, the only other great geyser fields in the world being those in Iceland and New Zealand.

Geysers are, roughly speaking, water volcanoes. They occur only at places where the internal heat of the earth approaches close to the surface. Their action, for so many years unexplained and even now regarded with wonder by so many, is simple. Water from the surface trickling through cracks in the rocks, or water from subterranean springs, collecting in the bottom of the geyser's crater down among the strata of intense heat, becomes itself intensely heated and gives off steam, which expands and forces upward the cooler water that lies above it. It is then that the water at the surface of the geyser begins to bubble and give off clouds of steam, the sign to the watchers above that the geyser is about to play. When the water in the bottom reaches so great an expansion under continued heat that the less heated water above it can no longer weigh it down, it bursts upward with great violence, rising many feet in the air and continuing to play until practically all the water in the crater has been expelled. Spring water, or the same water cooled after falling on the ground again, seeps through to repeat this process. The length of time before the geyser spouts again depends upon the time it takes for the water to seep back and to become re-heated.

The celebrated Old Faithful Geyser plays with great regularity at intervals of about sixty-three minutes. It has never failed any visitor with an hour to spare and patience to wait that long. Some of the largest geysers play at irregular intervals of days, weeks, or months. Some very small ones play every few minutes. Many bubbling hot springs which throw water a few feet into the air once or twice a minute are in reality but small, imperfectly formed geysers.

Nearly the entire Yellowstone region, covering an area of 3,426 square miles, so large that two or three of our smaller states could be dropped into it with room to spare, is remarkable for its hot-water phenomena. The geysers are confined to six basins known as the Upper, Lower, Norris, Shoshone, Heart Lake, and West Thumb geyser basins, lying in the middle-western and southern portions of the park, but the other hot-water manifestations occur at widely separated points. Marvelously colored hot springs, mud volcanoes, and other phenomena are frequent. Yet the geysers and hot-water formations are by no means the only wonders in the Yellowstone. Indeed, the entire park is a wonderland. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is renowned for its marvelously variegated volcanic coloring, a dazzling spectacle that fairly takes the visitor's breath with its beauty. Far below the rim and the coloring, one sees the foaming Yellowstone River winding down the canyon, following its plunge over a waterfall of 308 feet, nearly twice the height of Niagara. From Inspiration Point one can stand on the rim and gaze at two miles of kaleidoscopic coloring in the steep slopes that drop more than a thousand feet down to the river. Here and there jagged rocky needles rise perpendicularly for hundreds of feet like groups of Gothic spires, and on the topmost pinnacles of some of them may be seen the nests of the osprey, sometimes with young.

Every shade of almost every color can be found in this daring and spectacular canyon: deepest orange, faintest yellow, reds ranging from the softest pink to the most vivid crimson, blacks and grays and pearls and glistening white. Greens are furnished by the dark pines, or the lighter shades of the leafy shrubs, or the foaming emerald of the plunging river, while above are the ever changing blues of the Rocky Mountain sky, perforated by the fleeting, fleecy clouds. The canyon is a spectacle which one gazes upon in silence. The favorite practice of the rangers is to blindfold their friends who have not yet seen the canyon, take them to Artist Point or Grand View, and then suddenly remove the handkerchief from their eyes.

Yellowstone National Park is the greatest wild game sanctuary in the country. No rifle has been fired at the animals of the park, except to destroy certain predatory beasts, for more than thirty years, and the creatures—particularly the bears, the deer, and the buffaloes—have become so tame that they can be seen at any time. The animals, the birds, and the fish of the park have been described already in detail in special chapters devoted to them.

One peculiarly fascinating glimpse of Yellowstone's tempestuous past is afforded in the petrified forest of the Specimen Ridge country, where many levels of upright petrified trunks may be found alternating, like the layers of a cake, with the levels of volcanic mud flows. That plainly shows that after the first forest grew on the volcano's slope and was engulfed by a fresh run of mud enough time elapsed for a second forest to grow upon that level, and that this in turn was engulfed with a new mud flow to make the level for another forest, and so on. There is one cliff two thousand feet high composed wholly of these alternate levels of forests and the mud flows which engulfed them.

The Yellowstone travel season is June, July, August, and September. The park is practically snow-bound during the rest of the year. There are five gateways to the Yellowstone for the Sagebrusher arriving in his own motor: the Gardiner Gateway on the north; the West Yellowstone and Gallatin gateways from which the motorist enters on the west boundary; the Jackson Hole Gateway reached from Lander or Rock Springs, Wyoming, or from Victor, Idaho; and the Cody Gateway through which one enters the park at Sylvan Pass after passing the remarkable Shoshone Canyon and Lake and the other wonders of the Buffalo Bill country. Several transcontinental railroad lines serve the Yellowstone: the Union Pacific via West Yellowstone, the Northern Pacific via Gardiner and Gallatin gateways, the Milwaukee via Gallatin Gateway, the Burlington via the Cody or eastern entrance, and the Chicago & Northwestern Railway via Lander and the Jackson Hole Gateway on the south. Railroad passengers travel through the park in motor stages, requiring five days to make the circuit. They have the choice of accommodations at the Yellowstone lodges, with wooden cabins for sleeping quarters, or at the modern hotels, the hotels being slightly more expensive than the lodges. In either case, the visitor's itinerary is worked out by the railroads or the transportation company and his reservations are made without bother on his part.


In magnificent contrast to the volcanic Yellowstone and its border of volcanic mountains, there rises to the south one of the most abrupt and stupendous outcroppings of granite in the Western Hemisphere, the Tetons. From the western shore of Jackson Lake the Teton Mountains lift their spired peaks 7,000 feet in apparent perpendicular. The master of them all is the Grand Teton, whose altitude is 13,747 feet. Many glaciers rest upon their slopes. At their feet nestles Jackson Hole, a region rich in romance, once the favorite hiding place of the robber and bad man, but now a center for the "dude wrangling" industry. The Grand Teton National Park was established February 26, 1929.


Yosemite National Park, 1,125 square miles in extent, or about the size of the state of Rhode Island, lies directly east of San Francisco on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. It ranges in altitude from 2,000 feet at its western entrance to 9,400 feet at its eastern gateway, and in it are found peaks well over 13,000 feet high. The famed Yosemite Valley is but a small part of this enormous area.

The irregular eastern boundary is the crest of the Sierra, a rampart of tremendous granite peaks, spattered by snow fields and glaciers, steep, domineering, impassable by road except at one point, the lofty Tioga Pass at the head of spectacular Leevining Canyon. Westward from this crestline of the Sierra flow almost countless streams, many of which converge into two river systems, the Tuolumne River, a turbulent, rushing fury of water plunging into Hetch Hetchy Lake and on through a steep and almost inaccessible gorge to the plains below, and the Merced River, placid, meandering in quiet valleys, then roaring in great waterfalls and cataracts through canyons. It is the Merced River which, aided by glaciers in the distant Ice Age, carved the notable Yosemite Valley. Just above Yosemite Valley the Merced forms two of Yosemite's most distinctive waterfalls, Nevada Falls, 594 feet high, and Vernal Falls, a drop of 317 feet.

Yosemite Valley is well known the world over for its great falls and cliffs. The Yosemite Falls plunge in three drops, the upper and higher fall being 1,430 feet, equal to nine Niagaras piled one on top of the other, the lower fall a plunge of 320 feet, while between the two is a cascade in which the water drops an additional 600 feet. The well-loved Bridal Veil Falls is 620 feet high, while Ribbon Falls, highest of all, drops 1,612 feet sheer. Nowhere else in the world may there be seen such spectacles of waterfalls as these.

Yet the waterfalls are not, by any means, Yosemite Valley's only attractions. When the falls dry up, as is sometimes the case in late summer when the snows have melted, the great granite cliffs of the valley more than justify the visit. Half Dome rises in majestic dignity 4,892 feet above the floor of the sylvan valley, El Capitan 3,604 feet, Sentinel Dome 4,157 feet, Clouds Rest 5,964 feet, Cathedral Rocks 2,591 feet, Eagle Peak 3,712 feet, and dozens of other points soar to similar heights. Off from the camps and hotels and roads of Yosemite Valley wind numerous trails where the visitor can lose himself in the solitude of the virgin forest.

Dominating Yosemite Valley and offering a commanding panorama of literally scores of peaks of the Sierra Nevada is Glacier Point, rising 3,200 feet above the floor of the valley. A hotel and campsite on the rim offer the visitor accommodations. One's first visit to Yosemite is a series of vast and breath-taking views of the mountains in their splendor, and no scene is more amazing than the one from Glacier Point. From the Overhanging Rock at this point the embers of a great bonfire are pushed, tinkling over the cliff each night to form the Firefall, one of Yosemite's most beautiful and interesting customs.

To the south of Yosemite Valley is the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, the largest of the park's three groves of giant sequoias. The Wawona Tree, so large that the automobile road passes through a tunnel in its trunk, is said to be the most famous tree in the world. Its picture is in the school geographies of many nations, and it is one of the first objects that visitors want to see. The largest tree of the grove is the Grizzly Giant, ninety-three feet in circumference, said by naturalists to be almost five thousand years old. The Mariposa Grove contains many other venerable giants. Among them are the Mark Twain Tree, 314 feet tall, the Washington Tree, slightly smaller than the Grizzly Giant, the Telescope Tree, living though hollowed by ancient fires so that one can gaze through its trunk to the sky, and the Fallen Monarch, so huge that a troop of cavalry found room to gather mounted on its trunk.

The vast high-country area of Yosemite National Park, the greater part of it from six to twelve thousand feet in elevation, is not seen by most visitors. Through the acquisition and repair of the old Tioga Road, a mining road crossing the heart of the Yosemite high country and winding over the ridge of the Sierra from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe, the traveler is offered two hundred miles of magnificent high mountain scenery. A lodge in Tuolumne Meadows, with a store and motor supply station, now serve the motorist, who finds in the Tioga Road an easily accessible route to the fastnesses of the High Sierra. High Sierra camps, operated to serve the hiker and the trail rider, are connected by safe and well-marked trails. These camps are at Glen Aulin on the Tuolumne River, Tenaya Lake on the Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows, Boothe Lake, ten thousand feet above sea level, Merced Lake, headwaters of the Merced River, and Little Yosemite, a halfway point to Yosemite Valley. As a summer-time vacation region, rich in scenery and plentiful in fishing opportunities, this Yosemite high-country trip is strongly recommended.

Yosemite Valley is easily accessible the year around, either by motor or by motor stage connecting with trains both at Merced and El Portal. Two railroad lines serve Yosemite National Park, the Southern Pacific at the Merced Gateway and at the Lake Tahoe end of the Tioga Pass, and the Santa Fe at the Merced Gateway alone. From Merced the train traveler can reach Yosemite via the Yosemite Valley Railroad to El Portal and thence by motor stage, or by motor stage direct from Merced. During the summer months motorists may enter Yosemite Valley via the Wawona Road, passing near the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, or the Big Oak Flat Road, traversing the Bret Harte country and passing through the Tuolumne Grove of Big Trees. These roads are closed by snow during the winter months, but the Merced River route is open all year long.

In Yosemite Valley are two hotels, two lodges (operated only in the summer months), and housekeeping camps. There are excellent campsites for the motorists who prefer to camp out. They are equipped with running water and toilet facilities. Stores and cafeterias operate the year around in Yosemite Valley, and at Glacier Point and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees during the summer months.


The feature of Grand Canyon National Park is a magnificent and breath taking canyon, highly colored, a mile deep, thirteen miles wide, and many miles long, flanked on both sides by spires, minarets, mesas, cliffs, in fantastic designs—the whimsical carvings of the most tumultuous of the world's great rivers, the Colorado. Pushing its way across the great plain between the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of California, the Colorado has carved its channel deep into the plateau, which ranges from four to eight thousand feet in elevation.

The Grand Canyon of Arizona, or of the Colorado, as it is more generally called, is the world's supreme example of erosion. Happy it is that the Canyon is a thing of rare beauty as well as a geological wonder. Its slopes are tinted many colors, the tones of which change chameleon-like with the movement of the sun and the clouds. The wanderer upon the rim looks down upon miles and miles of pyramids and minarets carved from painted depths. Miles away, and a mile below, he sees the tiny silver thread which he knows is the giant in strength, the Colorado River.

There are two trails down the cliffs to the river from the South Rim and they can be negotiated safely on foot or on horse. They connect over a long suspension bridge with trails leading to the North Rim, which is a thousand feet higher. Unless he goes by trail from rim to rim the traveler must take a long train or motor trip, going hundreds of miles to reach a point thirteen miles away as the crow flies. These trail trips of Grand Canyon Park are memorable adventures, and every visitor who can do so should take one or more of them. Hundreds of mules are used daily down the Bright Angel or Kaibab trails to the Colorado River, across a long suspension bridge, and up to the opposite rim.

The South Rim is most easily reached by motor or via the Santa Fe Railroad, which reaches the site of the El Tovar Hotel, situated right on the rim of the Canyon. Here are seen in colorful costumes Hopi, Navaho, and Havasupai Indians displaying their tempting wares—baskets, bowls, bead work, and other articles. Stores, campsites, and the headquarters for the park are located here, in addition to the picturesque El Tovar Hotel. The Phantom Ranch, a unique camp operated in the Canyon near the river for the convenience of visitors, is most easily reached by trail from the South Rim—a great adventure to the visitor.

The North Rim is accessible by motor or via a motor-stage line connecting with the Union Pacific system terminal at Cedar City, Utah. A distinctive modern lodge, operated by the railroad, is perched high on the North Rim, offering a marvelous vista. The visit to the North Rim is often made in conjunction with trips to Zion and Bryce National parks, described else where and served by the same railroad connections. En route to the North Rim, travelers pass through the Kaibab Forest, the largest virgin forest in the United States, on a plateau 7,500 to 9,300 feet above sea level. Vast herds of deer roam this area. In recent years they have become so numerous that the problem of feeding them in the snowy season is a serious one.


Glacier National Park is so named because in the hollow of its rugged mountain tops lie more than sixty small glaciers, the remainders of the ancient monsters which once covered all but the highest mountain peaks of this park. It is located in northwestern Montana right up against the Canadian boundary. It is a richly colored land of ruggedly modeled mountains, enormous, twisting glacier-scooped valleys, precipices thousands of feet high, innumerable rushing streams, and hundreds of lakes of rare beauty. Though all the other parks possess these general features in addition to others which differentiate them each from the other, Glacier Park possesses them in such unusual abundance and happy combination that it is an area of marked individuality. There is no other scenic region with which to compare it, except the less colorful, colder, and less accessible Canadian Rockies. In richness of beauty it stands alone.

The fantastic carving of Glacier National Park was the work of the glaciers in the soft rock. From the continental divide descend nineteen principal valleys, seven on the east side and twelve on the west, each of them with many smaller tributary valleys each with its streams, lakes, and glaciers. Many of them have never been explored, unless perchance they were entered by the Indians on their hunting expeditions. There are 250 known lakes in the park, and probably many smaller ones in the wilderness that have never yet been seen.

Bordering on the park is the reservation of the Blackfoot Indians. The eastern half of Glacier National Park was once included in the Blackfoot reservation, and was purchased from them by the government. The Blackfeet, perhaps the finest and most picturesque tribe of Indians in the country today, are seen in the park in their striking costumes and their gaily colored tepees. They are probably the outstanding attraction of the park to many visitors. Over eight hundred saddle horses and pack animals are used in Glacier National Park, as it can be seen adequately only by trips over the mountain trails. Glacier is pre-eminently the trail park of the system, and it is the settled policy of the government not to gridiron it with roads.

There are several excellent hotels and chalets for the accommodation of visitors to the park, which is reached most directly by the Great Northern Railroad. Motorists will find good roads leading to the park from both the east and the west, and within the park they will have available good campsites as well as the hotels and lodges.


Mount Rainier, towering 14,408 feet above Puget Sound, is the greatest of a group of mountains, remnants of extinct volcanoes, that once played an important part in building the continent out of the ancient seas. These mountains, counting them from north to south, included Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, Mount Shasta, and Lassen Peak. In the distant past, when the continent was in the making, these great volcanoes belched forth millions of tons of lava and ashes, forming not only much of the Cascade Range but very probably a large part of the Pacific Northwest. Today, with their fires quenched, they are great ice-covered peaks, landmarks dominating the forests, plains, and cities of the region. Mount Rainier can be seen for 150 miles in clear weather. It rises more than two miles above the mountains at its base, unique, alone, unchallenged, comparable only to Fujiyama, Japan's great volcanic peak. Mount Rainier once rose to a sharp peak, according to geologists, attaining a height then of some sixteen thousand feet; but some ancient catastrophe caused this peak to be blown or broken off.

The national park of which Mount Rainier is the center and the main feature is about eighteen miles square. It includes some of the finest forest stands of the Northwest, beautiful mountain meadows, waterfalls, and is a great sanctuary for wild game. Paradise Valley, lying between the Paradise and Nisqually glaciers, is the great gathering place for both summer and winter sports, winter sports being enjoyed on the mountain slopes during the summer time as well. From this valley a number of trails lead to the glaciers, ice caves, and forests, and to other valleys. Here one may study the action of the glaciers, see them move slowly, a few inches per day, toward their destination. Here one may find perhaps the greatest collection of alpine flowers in any of the national parks, magic carpets of blossoms, miles in extent, vivid in color, some of them so impatient for the sunshine that they push their heads through the melting snows.

Mount Rainier National Park is reached by the Milwaukee Railroad to Ashford, or by motor stage from both Tacoma and Seattle, a half-day ride from either city. Hotels are operated the year around at Longmire Springs and in summer at Paradise Valley, near the snowline. Motorists will find a highway leading from Seattle and Tacoma to Longmire Springs and Paradise Valley, and good roads extending to the two northern corners of the park as well. Campsites are awaiting them along these roads, but hotels and lodges are operated at present only en route to Paradise Valley. Stores and gasoline supply stations offer commodities at reasonable prices.


Rocky Mountain National Park is unique for its record of glacial action. Situated at the tiptop of the Rockies, this park offers unusual opportunities to see easily the struggles of Nature and the elements at timberline, about 11,000 feet above sea level. While other parks have higher peaks within their boundaries, Rocky Mountain Park has the highest average elevation. The little valley of Estes Park, where is located the group of summer hotels, is at 8,000 feet elevation, twice as high as Yosemite Valley. Above this valley the mountains rise precipitously for more than a mile, reaching up to Longs Peak, dominating them all, 14,255 feet above sea level. Several other peaks are almost as high as Longs.

The valleys on both sides of the range of which these peaks are a part are dotted with lovely glades clothed in a profusion of wild flowers and watered by streams flowing down from the snows and the glaciers. Forests of pine and aspen grow in the valleys. Timberline in Rocky Mountain Park is particularly interesting. The fierce, icy winds make it impossible for trees to grow tall. The spruces lie flat on the ground like vines, and finally give place to low birches, which give place in turn to small pine growths, succeeded finally by tough, straggling grasses, hardy mosses, and tiny alpine flowers. Grass grows in sheltered spots even on the highest peaks, a fortunate circumstance for the great horned mountain sheep which seek these high places. Even at the highest altitudes, gorgeously colored wild flowers grow in profusion in the sheltered gorges.

Above timberline, the bare mountain masses rise from one to three thousand feet, often in sheer cliffs. Covered with snow in fall, winter, and spring, and plentifully spattered with snow all summer long, the great granite masses at the top of the Rockies are beautiful indeed. At sunrise and at sunset they are rose-colored, during fair sunny days they are gray and mauve and blue, in storms they shove their heads into the clouds, often to emerge snow-crowned. Frequently, the visitor sees a thunderstorm born on Longs Peak. Out of the blue sky, a slight mist will gather, becoming a cloud, growing rapidly, swelling, sweeping the sky until, in fifteen minutes, it is thundering and raining down into the valley below. Half an hour more and it is sunshine again.

The easy accessibility of these mountain tops makes Rocky Mountain Park a popular one. The park is reached by a seventy-mile rail and motor trip, or by motor only, from Denver, Colorado. At the little village of Estes Park, just outside the park on the east, and at Grand Lake on the west are to be found hotels, lodges, camps, stores, and other accommodations for the traveler, whether he comes by train or by motor. The summer season is from June 15 to October 1, but the park is open all the year, the balance of the time for those seeking winter sports.


Located near the southern end of the Sierra Nevada is Sequoia National Park, home of the largest group of giant sequoias in the world. These great trees once were common to much of North America. They were saved from extinction by the shelter offered by the pockets and the protected slopes of the Sierra. Near Sequoia National Park, and under the same direction, is General Grant National Park, a smaller area, but the site of one of the finest of the sequoia groves.

The General Sherman Tree, with a diameter of 36.5 feet and a height of 280 feet, is counted as the largest and oldest living thing on earth. It is possibly more than 5,000 years of age. Around it are scores of other venerable sequoias, almost as large and as old, while in General Grant Park is found the General Grant Tree, 35 feet in diameter and 264 feet high. It, too, was standing probably when the pyramids of Egypt were being constructed, more than 2,000 years before the birth of Christ.

There are sequoia trees in several localities in the Sierra Nevada, notably in Yosemite National Park with three distinct groves; but the greatest stand of them all is the Giant Forest, the largest group in Sequoia Park. In this park, the sequoias are on the increase. The great giants are surrounded by their offspring, mere striplings one or two thousand years old, and still younger ones ranging in age down to the tiny trees a year or two old, of which there are now countless thousands. The sequoias are the glory, as they were the cause, of the Sequoia and General Grant National parks. Scattered here and there over a large area, they cluster in thirteen separate groves.

The sequoias are by no means the only attractions of Sequoia National Park. The park is generously endowed with great cliffs, mountains, other forests, streams, waterfalls, and other attractions which are dwarfed by the glory of the Big Trees. Within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park is a great stretch of High Sierra country, including Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the United States, 14,496 feet high. Trails from the park lead to Tehipite Valley in the middle fork of the Kings River, considered by many another Yosemite, and to the main Kings River Canyon, a region of stupendous ruggedness and of wild beauty, comparable only to Yosemite.

Sequoia and General Grant National parks are easily reached by motorists from the San Joaquin Valley State Highway. Both parks are accessible the year around. Travelers arriving by train are met by motor stages at Exeter, California, on the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads. Accommodations at Sequoia Park include both a lodge and housekeeping camps, while campsites for those who wish to camp out await the Sagebrusher at both Sequoia and General Grant.


In the heart of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon there lies, jewel-like in a setting of lava, a lake of unbelievable blue. The visitor who comes upon it suddenly stands silent with emotion, overcome by its extraordinary beauty and by a strange sense of mystery which increases rather than decreases with familiarity. This is Crater Lake. Once, where this lake nestles in a cavity on the mountain top, there stood a great volcano, Mount Mazama, perhaps the highest peak in the region. Certainly it was as high as Mount Shasta. That was ages ago. Human eyes never saw Mount Mazama. Long before the coming of man to this continent, some great cataclysm caused the peak of Mount Mazama to crash inward and the mountain disappeared as if swallowed up by itself. In its place was left a crater-like abyss, the awful depth of which no man can guess.

The volcano was not quenched. It burst out anew through the collapsed lava in three places, forming new and smaller cones. These cones are the islands now seen in Crater Lake, which gradually grew as the volcano died down, and as the snows piled on the mountain top and melted into the crater with no outlet. There is no inlet nor outlet, curiously enough, for Crater Lake, yet the water is pure and fresh. It is supposed that the water escapes by underground channels to reappear in the Klamath River, some miles away.

Geologists find Crater Lake of special interest because of the way Nature made it. Many volcanoes have had their peaks blown off. Mount Rainier was one of these. But no other in the United States has fallen into itself as did Mount Mazama. The evidence of this curious and titanic event is quite conclusive, and the visitor to the park can see it for himself. The slopes of the mountain were made of lava that ran, hot and fluid, from a crater many thousands of feet higher. The pitch of these outward slopes enables the scientist to tell with reasonable accuracy the probable height of the volcano when the catastrophe took place.

Crater Lake National Park is reached by train on the Southern Pacific Railroad lines into Medford and Klamath Falls, at which stops motor stages make the short trip to the park. A hotel on the rim of the lake offers accommodations. For the motorist, the visit to the park is a short side trip from the Pacific and Dalles-California highways. He will find, in addition to the hotel, campsites, stores, filling stations. The park is open to travel from late June or July 1 for as long as snow does not block the roads, generally until October.


The Mesa Verde National Park was created to preserve the ruins of the highest form of ancient American civilization found in the United States, that of a nation of Indians resembling the modern Pueblos in characteristics, whose homes still stand on the cliffs that line the Mancos River in southern Colorado. The Indians who lived here have disappeared entirely. No trace of their fate has been found by archaeologists. Their civilization, as indicated by the relics they left and by their cliff cities, was comparable in many ways to that of the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas of Peru.

The Mesa Verde is fifteen miles long and eight miles wide. The Mancos River flows along it, its banks forming narrow plains above which rise walls of rock three to five hundred feet above the river. In these walls are small canyons in which the ancient cliff dwellers built their homes, after the manner of modern tenements. Apparently they sought safety from their enemies. It is thought that their cliff cities were built about 1300 A.D.

There are many ruins in Mesa Verde yet unexplored, awaiting the pioneer who can experience anew the thrill of Richard and Alfred Wetherell, who, while hunting in 1888, discovered, explored, and named the Cliff Palace, one of the important ruins of the park. That is an unfortunate name, for it is not the ruin of a palace at all, but the remains of a village with two hundred rooms for family living and twenty-two sacred rooms for worship. The Spruce Tree House, so called because of a great spruce growing out of the remains, is a village that sheltered 350 inhabitants, high in the cliff.

Antiquities are not the only attractions of Mesa Verde National Park. Its natural beauties are many. In winter the park is inaccessible, due to the heavy fall of snow; in the autumn the region is dry and parched; but in June and July, when the rains come, the grasses grow and the flowers are in full bloom. Then it is a beautiful country.

Mesa Verde National Park is reached by rail travelers via the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad from Mancos or Durango stations, or via the Santa Fe Railroad from Gallup, New Mexico. Stage lines connect between these stations and the park. At least three days should be allowed for the side trip, including the time required to travel by stage to the park. Motorists will find roads leading to the park in good condition during the summer months from Denver and Pueblo, Colorado, from Gallup, New Mexico, or from Utah points. Accommodations in the park include tents and cabins at Spruce Tree Camp near the ruins of the Spruce Tree House. Campers will find excellent campsites available.


Zion National Park was formed to preserve the vividly colored and fantastically carved sandstone cliffs bordering the deep valley of the Mukuntuweap River, which has carved three thousand feet into the mountains north of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado and south of the Great Salt Lake. The canyon was given the name of Zion by the Mormons who discovered it.

This chasm is similar in size and shape to Yosemite Valley, yet it resembles in its vivid coloring the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. Extraordinary as are the sandstone carvings, it is the coloring that is most amazing. The gorgeous red of the Vermillion Cliffs is the prevailing tint. For two-thirds of their height these marvelous walls and temples are painted gorgeous reds. Then, above the reds, they rise in startling white. Sometimes the white is surmounted by a cap of vivid red, remains of another red stratum which once overlay all. Other colors are many and brilliant.

This gorgeously colored valley is reached by a seventy-mile motor trip from Cedar City, Utah, which is on the Union Pacific Railroad. Many travelers take a round trip which includes the visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and to Bryce Canyon, a new national park, smaller than Zion but brilliantly colored and fantastically carved. Bryce and Zion are totally different in every respect. Motorists find both parks easily accessible over roads through southwestern Utah. At both Zion and Bryce canyons are lodges, campsites, and stores offering the usual accommodations found in the parks. A third beautiful canyon, more accurately described as an amphitheater, lying between Bryce and Zion canyons, is Cedar Breaks, which is also developed with adequate tourist accommodations.


In Lassen Volcanic National Park is preserved for public enjoyment the only aggressive and active volcano within the borders of the United States. Here may be studied the phenomena of volcanic activity which played so important a part in the formation of this continent. Lassen Peak is the most southerly of the chain of volcanoes which once dominated the Pacific Northwest. It is located in northern California near the Nevada boundary.

From time to time this great peak resumes its rumbling and belches forth smoke and ashes and pours out rivers of lava and hot mud, sweeping down over the forests that cloak its slopes. Its first recent explosion was in May of 1914. Previously, it had been quiescent for two hundred years. Since 1914 it has from time to time threatened eruption, to the great interest of travelers in this area.

In addition to the volcano, this national park, one of the newest and least developed and known, has other charms. It is a region of fine forests, streams, lakes, and other mountain scenery, the heart of a popular vacation area. One of its attractions is a boiling lake with a circumference of approximately two thousand feet. Within the park area are numerous fissures from which issue gases, steam, and rumblings, similar to those of Yellowstone.

Lassen Volcanic Park may be reached by the Southern Pacific Railroad from the west or by the Western Pacific from the south. By automobile it is reached from Red Bluff, California, on the Pacific Highway, or Reno, Nevada, on the Lincoln Highway. Hotel accommodations are available at points near the park, and camping is permitted within the park.


The highest mountain in North America, Mount McKinley, forms the basis for creation of Mount McKinley National Park in Alaska. This enormous peak rises 20,300 feet, nearly four miles, above sea level. It is snow capped the year around and down its slopes push many great glaciers, some of them among the largest in the world. At its base are forests, meadows, and valleys, above which the mountain towers for 17,000 feet, a magnificent spectacle. A view of this monster two-headed mountain is one of the reasons for a visit to Alaska.

In addition to Mount McKinley, the park is a great wild game retreat, being the natural home of the caribou, the grizzly, and Alaskan brown bears, fiercest and largest of the bruins, moose, the beautiful white Dall sheep, a species of bighorn, and numerous other animals, as well as many varieties of bird life.

Mount McKinley is reached by train which connects with boats to Alaska at Cordova and Seward. As yet, it is a great undeveloped wilderness, but a road is being pushed farther each year into its interior fastnesses and seven camps have been established within the boundaries. From these, saddle-horse trips are possible.


Within Hawaii National Park are found three volcanoes of world renown: Haleakala on the island of Maui, and Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the island of Hawaii. Haleakala has been inactive for centuries, but its summit is a crater of size and beauty that makes it one of the world's show places. This crater is eight miles long and three miles wide. Its surrounding walls rise two thousand feet. Its broad, rolling, rainless, sandy floor is decorated with plants famous under the name of silver swords, yucca-like shrubs three to four feet high, whose drooping leaves gleam like polished stilettos. From this great reddish floor, within the lava rim, rise thirteen volcanic cones to a height of several hundred feet. The crater was left in this state intact by reason of the fact that side vents drained the fires below. Hence, Haleakala is one volcano that did not destroy its crater.

Mauna Loa is known as the greatest of living volcanoes. Kilauea is celebrated for its lake of fire. These two volcanoes are on the same mountain range. Manna Loa is the younger and stronger, and it has grown so high that it has almost absorbed Kilauea. Mauna Loa soars 13,675 feet above the not far distant sea. It is active every five or ten years. Its slopes are covered with forests of native mahogany or koa and tangles of giant tree ferns.

The most spectacular exhibit of Hawaii National Park is Kilauea's Lake of Fire. In the middle of a plateau 4,000 feet high, drops a pit with vertical sides in which Kilauea boils its lava. Occasionally lava geysers spout 150 feet in the air. At other times the lake simply boils, a seething mass of fire, which can be photographed on the darkest night. Sometimes the lava disappears entirely for several years at a stretch.

These volcanoes are reached by motor from the ships that ply to Hilo, on the island of Hawaii. Visitors can approach surprisingly near the Lake of Fire. On the rim of Kilauea is a hotel known as the Volcano House. Other accommodations on the order of the lodges of other parks are also available at reasonable rates.

Throughout this park are found wonderful examples of rich tropical plant growth, giant tree ferns as high as houses, mahogany forests, numerous interesting trees found nowhere outside the tropics, and an abundance of wild flowers. The forests and wild flower gardens are made the more colorful by the gaily colored birds of the Hawaiian Islands.


Acadia National Park occupies a considerable portion of the Mount Desert Island, off the Maine Coast at the mouth of Penobscot Bay. It is a region of rugged granite mountains, bays, promontories, woods, and lakes, renowned for its exquisite beauty since the date of its discovery in 1604 by the French navigator, Champlain. It figured prominently in the early colonization activities of the French, but was not settled until the English obtained possession of Canada.

Acadia Park is unique in several ways. Its territory for a century was in private hands. It has been ceded to the government piece by piece, and the park is being increased in size from time to time by new contributions of land. Within the modest boundaries of the park there is a wonderful overlapping of species of plant life, from both the north and the south along the Atlantic Coast. It is also a wild life sanctuary of importance.

Acadia Park is the most easterly of the national parks and is reached by the Maine Central Railroad or by motor from Bar Harbor, Maine, where the superintendent of the park maintains his office. Good roads of great scenic beauty traverse the park. Motor-boat trips along the shoreline of the island are an additional attraction.


Oldest of all the national parks is Hot Springs, located in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Even before the coming of the white man this region was known for the healing qualities of its waters, which flowed in warm springs, much appreciated by the Indians. As early as 1832 the federal government, to make these waters available to all persons at nominal cost, established this national park. The area comprises 912 acres, including in all 46 hot springs.

A handsome and prosperous city has grown up at the site of the springs. There are nine bathhouses on the government reservation, and ten more in the city, supplied with water from the park springs. The government analysis of the waters shows them to be of mineral qualities comparable to the famous waters of Spa, in Europe.

This interesting and useful park is reached via the Rock Island and Missouri Pacific lines or by automobile over some of the best highways in the South. Hot Springs has several famous resort hotels which are operated on high standards of service.


Platt National Park was created to preserve sulphur and other beneficent springs, both hot and cold, which gush from an area of one and one-half square miles in southern Oklahoma.


Wind Cave National Park includes a remarkable limestone cavern in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota. The park has an area of sixteen square miles.


Sullys Hill National Park in North Dakota is a picturesque forested region bordering on a lake. It is a wild animal preserve and has historic associations.


Named in honor of John Muir, explorer, naturalist, and writer, Muir Woods National Monument was established by a presidential proclamation on January 9, 1908. The monument preserves a remarkable grove of redwoods nestling on the south slope of Mount Tamalpais, in a secluded valley less than two hours' ride from San Francisco. It comprises 128 acres and was the gift of the Honorable William Kent and his wife, Elizabeth Thatcher Kent, and has been described as "one of the most friendly, easily approachable woods, centuries old, permanently preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

These tall and noble trees narrowly escaped being cut into shingles and railroad ties just before they were purchased by Mr. Kent in 1905. Even then they were not safe. Commercial interests sought to declare the valley in which they were located condemned to make a reservoir site, and only the timely proclamation of the Muir Woods National Monument by President Roosevelt saved them. The President, a great conservationist, wished to name the grove Kent Monument. The correspondence between him and Congressman Kent is indicative of the ideals, not only of the donor but of the National Park Service as well. The President wrote:

"My DEAR MR. KENT: I thank you most heartily for this singularly generous and public-spirited action on your part. All Americans who prize the natural beauties of the country and wish to see them preserved and undamaged, and especially those who realize the literally unique value of the groves of giant trees, must feel that you have conferred a great and lasting benefit upon the whole country.

"I have a very great admiration for John Muir; but after all, my dear sir, this is your gift. No other land than that which you give is included in this tract of nearly 300 acres, and I should greatly like to name the monument the Kent Monument, if you will permit it.

"Sincerely yours,

"To the President, Washington

"My DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your message of appreciation and hope and believe that it will strengthen me to go on in an attempt to save more of the precious and vanishing glories of Nature for a people too slow of perception.

"Your kind suggestion of a change in name is not one that I can accept. So many millions of better people have died forgotten that to stencil one's own name on a benefaction seems to carry with it an implication of mundane immortality as being somewhat purchasable.

"I have five good, husky boys that I am trying to bring up to a knowledge of democracy and to a realizing sense of the rights of 'the other fellow,' doctrines which you, sir, taught with more vigor and effect than any other man in my time. If these boys cannot keep the name of Kent alive, I am willing it should be forgotten.

"I have this day sent you by mail a few photographs of Muir Woods, and trust that you will believe, before you see the real thing (which I hope will be soon), that our nation has acquired something worth while.

"Yours truly,


"My DEAR MR. KENT: By George! You are right. It is enough to do the deed and not to desire, as you say, to 'stencil one's own name on the benefaction.'

"Good for you, and for the five boys who are to keep the name of Kent alive! I have four who I hope will do the same thing by the name of Roosevelt. Those are awfully good photos.

"Sincerely yours,


The spires, domes, caves, and subterranean passages of this extraordinary area in California, about one hundred miles south of San Francisco, are awe inspiring and colorful. The spire-like forms which rise six hundred to a thousand feet above the floor of the canyons give the monument its name. In addition to its geological interest, the monument, comprising twenty-three hundred acres, is a wild life sanctuary. In it are found a species of black-tail deer, and it is one of the last homes of that now almost extinct species, the condor, the largest bird found on the continent.

Pinnacles Monument is easily reached by motor from Hollister or Soledad on the Pacific Highway, and good campsites are available for the camper, particularly in Bear Gulch where there is a fine stream. By rail, it is reached from Hollister on the Southern Pacific coast line.


Casa Grande National Monument, in the heart of Arizona about half way between Tucson and Phoenix, preserves the "Great House," a prehistoric ruin of the pueblo type. These ruins were discovered in 1694 by Father Kino, the Jesuit priest and the founder of Tumacacori Mission. In addition to the Great House there are ruins of a considerable city built by the ancient Americans in the heart of the desert. Students think that these people, who attained a fair degree of civilization, left the Casa Grande ruins at least seven hundred years ago, and that their civilization may have flourished twelve hundred years, as indicated by the improvements made in their masonry. It is possible that their city antedated Christianity.

Casa Grande is one of the most easily seen of the old pueblo ruins. It is near the Old Spanish Trail and the Bankhead Highway between Phoenix and Tucson, not far from the town of Florence. It can also be reached from the Casa Grande station of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Winter and springtime are the most desirable times to visit Casa Grande because of the heat on the desert at other times of the year. Motorists who enjoy camping are urged to pitch their camps in the desert, under the open skies, a rare and enjoyable experience on the Arizona desert.


Tumacacori Mission, located forty-nine miles south of Tucson, Arizona, on the road to Nogales, was constructed by the Papago Indians about 1691 under the direction of the Jesuit padre, Eusebio Francisco Kino. It antedated the California missions by a century. After prospering for almost 150 years, first under the Jesuits and later under the Franciscans, the mission was attacked by the Apache Indians who drove the padres away, disbanded the Papago Indians, and looted the mission. It was in a state of decay when discovered by the American explorers, following acquisition of the territory from Mexico in 1850. The mission is being reconstructed along its original lines as rapidly as funds will permit. It is unique among the missions in that it is built of burned brick. It is one of the most interesting of the chain of missions in the Southwest, and historically important because of its great age. During one of the Indian uprisings, the famous bells of the mission were buried in the sands of the desert. They are still lost, though thousands of visitors have joined in the hunt for them.

Tumacacori is near the Tucson-Nogales Highway, and is reached from Nogales on a branch line, or from Tucson on the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad.


The Petrified Forests of Arizona extend over a wide area. In them are found fossil remains of great trees which fell thousands of years ago. Erosion has brought them to the surface of the soil again, after being buried for ages. An area of one hundred square miles, containing three distinct petrified forests, has been set aside in this monument. The most remarkable of these forests from the visitor's point of view is the Rainbow Forest, where the silica which replaced the original grain of the trees has assumed many and brilliant colors. The ground about these logs is literally paved with chips of agate, onyx, carnelian, and jasper.

A visit to the Petrified Forest National Monument is one of the real experiences of a trip through the Southwest, and one that travelers in the region should not overlook. The monument is reached by motor from Holbrook, Arizona, on the National Old Trails Road, while railroad travelers approach the area from either Adamana or Holbrook on the Santa Fe Railroad.


Situated in a cavity in the face of a vertical cliff eighty feet above the plain at its base, Montezuma Castle is a most remarkable cliff dwelling. It takes three enormous ladders to reach the lower entrance to this fortress home, and the pueblo builders who lived here in ancient times undoubtedly chose the site for security. The prodigious amount of work necessary to construct this great house on the cliff and to transport supplies to it bespeak the untiring energy of these people. The Castle accommodated about three hundred people. In it have been found pottery of a fair character and implements of warfare, hunting, and agriculture. Below, along Beaver Creek at the foot of the cliff, were the communal farms.

Montezuma Castle is in Yavapai County, Arizona, reached from Flagstaff on the Santa Fe Railroad, or by motor over the National Old Trails Road, or via the Jerome-Prescott Road.


When the Snake families of the Hopi Indians journeyed east out of the Colorado River Canyon, where as their legend has it their ancestors came up out of the underworld, they stopped at Wupatki on the Little Colorado River, thirty-two miles northeast of Flagstaff, and built a temporary city. The ruins of this pueblo now constitute the attraction of the Wupatki National Monument. The Indians deserted their red sandstone houses many generations ago and went to live with the rest of the People of Peace, as the Hopis call themselves. They are one of the most picturesque tribes of the Southwest. Their famous annual snake dances, dedicated to the rain gods, have made them famous the world over. The ruins of Wupatki Monument are an important link in the chain of evidence by which the story of these ancient people of the desert is being gathered. Motorists may reach them on the Tuba City Road from Flagstaff, which is the nearest railway station, being on the Santa Fe Railroad.


The Navaho National Monument is in northeastern Arizona, within the Navaho Indian reservation. It contains ruins of prehistoric dwellings, pueblos built in natural caves by the fortunate discoverers. They are in a good state of preservation. Betatakin, one of these caves, is 450 feet long and 150 feet deep, carved in the red sandstone of a beautiful canyon. Within the cave was a never failing spring of pure water, supplying the needs of the inhabitants, who lived in 120 rooms constructed in the cave. Kitsil is another cave pueblo, even larger, with 148 rooms in it. A riot of color greets the visitor to these caves, the surrounding walls resembling the Grand Canyon in texture. The Navaho Monument is reached by motor stage from Grand Canyon or from Flagstaff, both on the Santa Fe Railroad, or by motor from either of these points over the National Old Trails Road to Kayenta, where pack and saddle animals and Indian guides are engaged for the trip up the canyon to the monument.


Nothing that the visitor to the Southwest sees makes a greater impression on him than does the giant saguaro cactus of Arizona and neighboring states. These enormous cacti grow into veritable trees, while around them, less huge but equally novel, are the barrel cactus from which candy is made, the cholla, more popularly known as "jumping cactus" from its habit of connecting itself with any passing object, and various other species of cacti. With the increase in irrigation, many of the finer stands of the giant saguaro cactus are being cleared off to make way for farms.

The Papago Saguaro Monument preserves one of the most picturesque of these stands of giant saguaro, not far from Phoenix, on the Tempe Road. It also contains other cacti plants of the desert, as well as certain birds that are found nowhere except in the vicinity of the giant saguaro. The monument area of nineteen hundred acres includes Hole-in-the-Rock Mountain, a curious purple rock mountain with a tunnel through it, projecting out of the desert sands. The Papago Monument is reached by a short drive from Phoenix which is on both the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe railroads.


In 1858 Brigham Young, the Mormon chief, sent Jacob Hamblin, famous scout and crack shot, to call upon the Hopi Indians in northern Arizona. The party camped one night at a marvelous spring in the midst of a desert and an argument arose as to whether Hamblin could shoot a hole through a handkerchief at twenty yards. Hamblin hit the square of silk, but the force of the bullet only swept the handkerchief away. Chagrined by the laugh that followed at his failure, Hamblin challenged one of the party to stick up his pipe. Hamblin shot the bottom out of it like a flash without breaking the bowl. That was the origin of the name given to the old Mormon fort which was built soon thereafter at the site of this remarkable spring. The fort was an important outpost against marauding Indians, and was the center of a cattle industry established by the Mormons. The spring still flows at the rate of a hundred thousand gallons of pure, cold water a day, a refreshing oasis as well as a scenic attraction to the traveler over the main road from Zion National Park to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of Arizona.


Located in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico is one of the most beautiful and remarkable natural caves in the country, the Carlsbad Cave. This cave was once known as Bat Cave because of the thousands of bats which inhabited it. At dusk each evening these little mammals poured forth for three hours through a large natural opening in such enormous numbers that it was said they looked like smoke from a chimney. In the early morning they returned and with incredible swiftness folded their wings in mid-air and darted into the opening.

The exploration of the cave was not undertaken seriously until 1923, when a party searched for six months without penetrating all of the lofty, spacious chambers, connecting corridors, and alcoves, many of them of remarkable beauty and form. The Big Room is more than half a mile long, is 400 feet wide in places, and is 348 feet high at one place. Here the stalactites are of infinite variety and shape, ranging from almost needle-like proportions to massive pendants. The stalagmites rising from the floor are equally interesting, one group resembling the tall and graceful totem poles of the Alaska Indians. In some places they rise to the ceiling, like cathedral columns. Another remarkable room is the Music Room, with its formations resembling huge organ pipes. Here the stalactites, when lightly tapped, give off musical sounds. Others resemble curtains.

The reservation includes 719 acres, but the extent of the caves is not known, many of them being as yet unpenetrated. They await the explorer. Paths, stairways, and railings make the main rooms safe for the visitor, while flood lights are installed in some of the rooms. The cave is twenty-six miles from Carlsbad, New Mexico, on the Ozark Trails and on a branch line of the Santa Fe Railroad.


As skilful architects the prehistoric builders who lived in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, between Albuquerque and Gallup, were without equals in the whole of the United States. No written word is left of these people whose cultural material, recovered from abandoned rooms, reveals greater variety, technique, and beauty of design than that of any other of the ancient peoples of the Southwest.

Pueblo Bonito, "Beautiful Village," the largest of the ruins, is a great semicircular structure, originally five stories high. It was 667 feet long and 315 feet deep, an enormous building, and it has been characterized as the largest apartment house built anywhere in the world prior to 1887, housing 1,300 people. This structure is but one of eighteen villages in the Chaco Canyon, several of the others being almost equally remarkable in construction, though not as large. Near some of the ruins evidences of ancient irrigation engineering are plainly traceable.

Chaco Canyon is one of the larger national monuments, comprising 20,629 acres. The ruins are most easily reached from Thoreau, on the Santa Fe Railroad, or by motor over the Old Trails Highway from either Albuquerque or Gallup, New Mexico. There is a small store at Chaco Canyon and limited accommodations are available. Motorists should be prepared to camp, sites being plentiful.


Ordinarily, carving upon the walls of monuments is an act frowned upon and punished by fine, but in the case of El Morro the carving upon the sandstone wall was the occasion for making a national monument. On the smooth walls of this sandstone cliff, in west central New Mexico, the early Spanish explorers carved records of their exploits and of their expeditions against the Indians. The earliest of these Spanish records is that of Don Juan de Onate, governor and colonizer of New Mexico, and founder of the city of Santa Fe, the oldest city in the country, who rested by this cliff on his return from a trip to the head of the Gulf of California in 1606, fourteen years before the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth. Don Juan records that the Indians "gave their obedience" and that he granted them favor "with clemency, zeal, and prudence." Other and succeeding Spanish conquistadores left their records beside those of Don Juan.

It should be added that the idea of recording exploits upon these rocks was not original with Don Juan. He carved his record over those of prehistoric Indians who left their thoughts in pictographs, many of which are not destroyed by the Spanish records. The Indian records may play an important part in piecing together the history of the Southwest Indians. The visit to El Morro is an interesting side trip for motorists over the National Old Trails Highway. El Morro is reached by rail from Gallup, New Mexico, on the Santa Fe Railroad.


Situated near the town of Aztec, New Mexico, and reached by the National Park-to-Park Highway, is the Aztec Ruin National Monument, a large E-shaped structure of the pueblo type containing approximately five hundred rooms. The Aztec Ruin is the largest of a group of ruins, and is the most striking and best preserved. Relics, including a hafted axe, potsherds, and other objects, indicate that the inhabitants of this ruin may have been of the same peoples as the Mesa Verde Indians. It may prove an important link in piecing together the story of these early Americans. Excavations are being conducted by the American Museum of Natural History, which deeded the ruin to the government in 1923 through the courtesy of a trustee, Mr. Archer M. Huntington.


The Gran Quivira is the ruins of one of the important links in the chain of Spanish missions of the Southwest. It is near Mountainair, New Mexico, on the Santa Fe Railroad, or can be reached on the National Old Trails Highway from Socorro, New Mexico. There are numerous Indian pueblo ruins near by which will be preserved when excavated. Both the mission and the pueblos are said to have been built by women and children of the Piro tribe of Indians.


Capulin Mountain, New Mexico, is a magnificent example of a recently extinct volcano. It rises to an altitude of 8,000 feet above sea level, and the cone stands 1,500 feet above the general level of the surrounding plain. This steep cinder cone is surrounded by the mesas, peculiar to New Mexico. The whole formation offers an interesting study in volcanic activity, the mesas as well as the cone having been formed by successive lava flows. At the top of the mountain the crater can be studied with ease. This monument covers an area of 680 acres. It is reached via the Colorado-to-Gulf Highway or via a branch line of the Santa Fe Railroad from the town of Dedman, or from the town of Folsom on the Colorado Southern Railroad.


The most remarkable natural bridge yet discovered in the world is the Rainbow Bridge in southern Utah. This colorful bridge is not only perfect in its symmetry, both top and bottom, but it is so huge that the dome of the Capitol Building in Washington could stand under it without touching the span, which is 309 feet high and 278 feet from pier to pier. The Rainbow Bridge is now easily reached over new trails from Kayenta, Arizona, which is also the starting point for trail trips to the Navaho National Monument.


Three natural bridges of great size and beauty are included in the Natural Bridges Monument of San Juan County, Utah, containing 2,740 acres. Owanchomo Bridge, the smallest of the three, has a span of 194 feet and is 108 feet above the stream bed. The Caroline Bridge, three miles down stream, is the most massive, having a span of 186 feet and a height of 205 feet above the stream bed. A short distance away is the Augusta Bridge, the largest, its span extending 261 feet and rising 222 feet above the stream bed. This great natural bridge is 28 feet wide and 65 feet thick at its smallest part. It is truly an enormous structure. On the Caroline Bridge are carvings of the symbols of the Hopi dancers, while near by are ruins of cliff dwellings. The natural bridges were formed by stream erosion which washed out the canyons below them. These objects of great interest are reached by trail parties, a fifty-mile trip from Blanding, Utah, on the Rio Grande Railroad and on the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway.


The greatest collection in the world of fossil remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles is in Dinosaur National Park in northeastern Utah. In some ancient time this area was probably a sand bar, in which great reptiles, floating down some prehistoric river, were mired and trapped. Many species of the strange creatures who inhabited the earth in the dim past were caught in these bogs. Already four hundred thousand pounds of material, including bones and matrix, have been taken from the quarry, now the walls of a beautiful mountain canyon.

The greatest prize of all was a skeleton of the largest brontesaurus known to science, a creature which measured one hundred feet long and twenty feet high, and probably weighed twenty tons in life, so huge that beside him a full-grown elephant would appear as a dog is to a horse. There are thousands of other skeletons in these walls, awaiting excavation. The monument is reached by motor from Jensen, Utah, on the Victory Highway, or from Watson, Utah, on the narrow-guage Uintah Railroad, connecting with the Denver & Rio Grande Western at Mack, Colorado.


Thousands of pioneers, headed for the Pacific over the old Oregon Trail, marked their course by a great promontory known as Scotts Bluff in the northern part of Nebraska. As far back as 1812, trail blazers noted this point of sandstone, towering four thousand feet above the neighboring Platte Valley. Hiram Scott, for whom the point was named, was one of three trappers separated from a large party that was to rendezvous by the bluff. Scott was deserted by his two companions when he was stricken with mountain fever. He crawled seventy miles, hoping to rejoin the larger party; but he was too late. Beneath the bluff which now bears his name Scott died. His remains were found the next year.

Scotts Bluff was a guide for the pioneers en route to Oregon and California. It guided the missionaries in their trips among the Indians. It was a station on the Pony Express. It figured in Indian wars. In 1847, Fort Fontanelle was established at its base. In more recent years, a tunnel has been bored through its base, and through it flows a great flood of water to irrigate thousands of acres of land on the North Platte project. It is visited by thousands each year, being one of the most popular of the monuments. Scotts Bluff is reached by the Lincoln Highway through the North Platte Valley or by rail from Gering on the Union Pacific and from Scottsbluff on the Burlington Route.


Hovenweep Monument preserves some unusual prehistoric towers, pueblos, and cliff dwellings, not far from Mesa Verde National Park on the Colorado and Utah boundary line. They represent a special architectural type peculiar to this region, and are important in the study of the ancient life of the Southwest. The ruins are reached from Mesa Verde National Park, or via the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad to Dolores, Colorado.


Five miles from Grand Junction, Colorado, on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, is the Colorado National Monument, a beautiful and picturesque collection of monoliths and other examples of erosion, all highly colored. The reservation is 13,883 acres in extent, is plentifully supplied with springs, and is a veritable forest of monoliths. It is reached by the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway and the National Roosevelt Midland Trail. It is a fine camping spot for motorists.


Yucca House Monument, so named because of the quantity of yuccas growing in the vicinity, is in southwestern Colorado. The area contains the ruins of a prehistoric Indian village yet to be excavated. It is apparently a house of great size, built on the gentle slope of Sleeping Ute, a mountain so named because when seen from certain points it resembles the form of a sleeping Indian. The monument is near the road from Shiprock, New Mexico, to Cortez, Colorado, about fifteen miles from the latter town.


The alleged works of His Satanic Majesty figure prominently in the choice of national monuments, but nowhere is there an object of greater wonder than the Devils Tower in the Black Hills region of Wyoming. This great group of pentagonal volcanic columns rises six hundred feet, or higher than the Washington Monument, perpendicularly from the surrounding plain. The diameter at the base is seventeen hundred feet. It is one of the strangest freaks of Nature, a spectacle never to be forgotten.

The Devils Tower played an important part in the lives of the Indians, not only as a landmark, but also in their legends. The origin of the rock is explained by the Indians very easily. One day, so the legend goes, three Sioux maidens, gathering wild flowers, were beset by three bears. The maidens took refuge on a rock, but the bears, having sharp claws, also began climbing the rock. The Great Spirit, seeing the predicament of the maidens, caused the rock to grow higher and higher out of the ground. The bears climbed and climbed until they were exhausted, and then fell hundreds of feet to their death on the ground below. Saved from the ferocious animals, the Indian maidens made a rope of their flowers and safely lowered themselves to the ground below.

Believe it or not, it appears as though that, or a phenomenon of similar nature, must have happened to project this great rock so high above the plain. The Indians also claimed that the Thunder God beat his tom-tom on the top of the tower, thus causing thunder. The tower also served the white pioneers in their Indian wars, being a direction point. The reservation is 1,152 acres in extent and is reached by the Custer Battlefield Highway and the Black and Yellow Trail, or by the Burlington Railroad from Moorcroft station. A fine campsite is available for motorists.


The Shoshone Cavern is a regular story-book robbers' cave, its secret entrance located high up a mountain cliff among the trees. The cavern is about four miles from Cody and on the Cody Road, one of the main entrances to Yellowstone Park. The entrance is about twenty feet wide and six feet high. Once inside, the cave—a large fault in the mountains—extends back for more than half a mile. Off it are numerous side caverns, many of which are not yet explored. Guides are needed to find the entrance of the cave, reached after a trail climb of a mile, and a further climb up precipitous ladders. Inside the cavern are interesting and beautiful formations.


In a picturesque part of the Black Hills of South Dakota is found the Fossil Cycad National Monument, an area of 320 acres wherein are found deposits of ancient fern-like plants of the Mesozoic period. It is the most interesting fossil-plant bed yet discovered. In it have been unearthed plants of enormous size, some with unexpanded buds, enabling scientists to piece together models of ancient flowers and fruits. This monument is reached from the Denver-Deadwood Highway, or via the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad from Hot Springs, South Dakota, or the Burlington Route from Minnekahta or Edgemont.


Verendrye National Monument commemorates the explorations of the celebrated French explorer and his sons, who first pushed into the Montana territory in 1742 and who continued their pioneering during the following years, dreaming of a great trapping and hunting empire which was to be the possession of France. Their dreams failed, but their ideals are commemorated by this monument, the most conspicuous feature of which is Crowhigh Butte, towering above the upper Missouri River.


So named because it overlooks the Lewis and Clark Trail for fifty miles, the Lewis and Clark Cavern Monument is located in Montana about forty-five miles northeast of Butte. It is near the highway known as the Yellowstone Trail and is not far from Whitehall on the Northern Pacific Railroad. The cave contains many beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, and curious drip formations in its various chambers add to its interest and beauty. It is a very large cave and is one of the finest caverns of the West.


Nowhere else in the United States can so many features of volcanic activity be found in a small area as in the thirty-nine square miles that make up the Craters of the Moon National Monument in central Idaho at the foot of the White Komb Mountains. The monument takes its name from the fact that it resembles the moon as seen through a high-powered telescope. The profusion of cinder cones, craters, hornitos, black lava floods, and lava caves indicate that this section is of comparatively recent volcanic activity. The region is rich in geologic interest. The nearest railroad station is Arco on the Oregon Short Line. Comfortable accommodations are available here. The monument is reached by motorists over the Idaho Central Highway from Boise or from Yellowstone.


Sitka National Monument, fifty-seven acres on Sitka Bay, commemorates the "Battle of Alaska" in 1804, when the Russians finally established their supremacy over the warlike Indian tribes of the northwest territory. It is likewise the site of a fine collection of totem poles, sixteen in number, among the finest in Alaska. These totem poles record the genealogy of the old Alaska Indian tribes, each family having as its emblem an animal, which figures prominently in the carvings of the totem pole. Each pole tells the exploits of the family it represents. The Indians were bound by tradition to offer shelter to traveling members of the same family, and the totem pole in the front of a hut told the traveler whether or not he could find welcome in that particular hut. The Sitka Monument totem poles are from two different tribes, the Thlingits and the Hycahs. The former hollowed out their totem poles and deposited in them the charred bones of their dead. The monument also contains some unusual forest growth, including a "witch tree" much feared even by the present generation of Indians, because in olden times witch trials were held under this tree and victims were hanged from its limbs. The monument is easily reached from the town of Sitka, a regular port of call for the steamers from Seattle.


Glacier Bay National Monument, containing 1,820 square miles, includes a number of tidewater glaciers of first rank in a magnificent setting of lofty peaks. These glaciers are higher than the masts of ships and offer unique opportunities for the study of glacial action. The monument must be reached by water from Alaska or British Columbia.


Katmai Monument is more widely known as the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." It is a volcanic belt of extraordinary recent activity in southern Alaska. It is the largest of the monuments, with an area of more than a million acres. As recently as 1912, Mount Katmai on the reservation erupted, belching forth several cubic miles of volcanic materials. In the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" there are literally millions of miniature volcanoes jetting steam or vapor into the air. They are so hot that explorers cooked their meals over this natural steam heat. It is said that this valley is now an example of what Yellowstone was like many, many years ago, when the Yellowstone volcanoes were just ceasing their activity. Some scientists predict that the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" will in some future age be another great new geyser basin.

In addition, Katmai Monument is a valuable game preserve with a plentiful animal and bird life. At present the monument is almost inaccessible except to organized exploring parties, but in time a harbor can be developed and a thirty-mile road will make it easily reached by visitors. It was thoroughly explored, mapped, photographed, and described by parties sent out by the National Geographic Society, and its magazine told the world of the wonders of the region.


This monument, established by President Hoover on April 12, 1929, consists of two areas in Grand County, Utah, known locally as the "Devil's Garden" and the "Windows," containing approximately 2,600 and 1,920 acres, respectively. Within these areas are extraordinary examples of wind erosion, formed into gigantic arches, natural bridges, "windows," spires, balanced rocks, and other unique wind-worn formations of sandstone.


Oh, Ranger!
©1928, 1929, 1934, 1972, Horace M. Albright and Frank J. Taylor
albright-taylor/chap13a.htm — 06-Sep-2004