Packed with more color photographs (380) and detailed color maps (80) than any other parks guidebook on the market, this handy, practical guide, completely updated for the 2012 edition, offers comprehensive information on the crown jewels of the national park systemthe 58 scenic national parks that conserve and protect the flora and fauna in some of our nation's last wilderness areas.
This guide helps travelers design custom trips depending on the time and interests they have. The parks are grouped region by region so that vacationers can plan trips to one or more central location. Each chapter is introduced by a map and a geographical profile, followed by the parks in alphabetical order. Individual parks start with a portrait of the natural wonders available, their history, and the ecological setting and stresses they face.
A practical "How to Get There" follows with suggestions on when best to visit and a "How to Visit" section with advice on which activities to engage in, how much time to provide for each, and how to savor the beauty of the place. After the descriptions, each park has an "Information & Activities" page with detailed visitor information, including the location of the visitor centers, the fees, pet guidance, special advisories, camping, and lodging details. Suggested brief, nearby excursions are provided to encourage the traveler to explore beyond the park boundaries.
This update includes the lastest information on the 2009 tsunami that devistated America Samoa National Park, information on road changes that resulted from the recent flooding in Olympic National Park, and changes in Arches National Park, including the collapse of Wall Arch in late 2008. The new edition also has 200 new photos by noted nature photographer Phil Schermeister. These pictures, many of which have never been published before, reflect the beauty and grandeur of our national treasures, while the accompanying text, written by experienced National Geographic writers who have traveled the parks, is full of personal, useful, and practical information.
Everglades Florida Established December 6, 1947 1,542,526 acres
A short parade of visitors follows a ranger on an Everglades nature walk. For more than an hour she has shown them the living wonders around them—butterflies and snails, alligators and fish, and bird after bird. Near the end of the walk, she gathers the visitors around her. She points to a string of nine white ibis coursing a cloudless sky.
“Imagine seeing ibis in the 1930s,” she says. “That would have been a flight of about 90 birds. We are seeing only about 10 percent of the wading birds that were here then. When you get home, write your congressmen and tell them we have to save Everglades.” Though park staff may not lobby Congress, in this threatened national park, lobbying happens on nature walks and appears in official literature.
Everglades National Park is at the southern tip of the everglades in Florida, a hundred-mile-long subtropical wilderness of saw- grass prairie, junglelike hammock, and mangrove swamp, that originally ran from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. Water, essential to the survival of this ecosystem, once flowed south from the lake unhindered. But as the buildup of southern Florida has intensified, canals, levees, and dikes have increasingly diverted the water to land developments and agribusinesses. Vast irrigated farmlands have spread to the park’s gates. The waning of the ibis carries a warning: Watery habitats in the park are shrinking because not enough water is getting to Everglades.
The park’s special mission inspires the crusade to save it. Unlike early parks established to protect scenery, Everglades was created to preserve a portion of this vast ecosystem as a wildlife habitat. The park’s unique mix of tropical and temperate plants and animals— including more than 700 plant and 300 bird species, as well as the endangered manatee, threatened crocodile, and Florida panther— has prompted UNESCO to grant it international biosphere reserve status as well as World Heritage site designation.
Everglades environmentalists and crusaders urge the purchase of privately owned wetlands east and north of the park. This would further protect the ecosystem and give the park a larger claim to the water that Everglades shares with its thirsty neighbors.
The diverse life of Everglades National Park, from algae to alligators, depends upon a rhythm of abundance and drought. In the wet season, a river inches deep and miles wide flows, almost invisibly, to the Gulf of Mexico. In the dry season, the park rests, awaiting the water’s return. The plants and animals are a part of this rhythm. When humans change it, they put Ever- glades life at risk.
How to Get There.
South from Miami, take us 1— Florida’s Turnpike to Florida City, then go west on Fla. 9336 (Palm Dr.) to the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, about 50 miles from Miami. West from Miami, take us 41 (the Tamiami Trail) to Shark Valley Visitor Center. From Naples, head east on us 41 to Fla. 29, then south to Everglades City. Airports: Miami and Naples.
When to Go.
Everglades has two seasons: dry (mid-December through mid-April) and wet (the rest of the year). The park schedules most of its activities in the dry season; hot, humid weather and clouds of mosquitoes make park visitors quite uncomfortable during the wet season.
How to Visit.
If you can stay only a day for a drive-in visit, get out of your car and learn about Everglades ecology by taking self-guided walks at road turnoffs on the drive from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center to Flamingo. For a longer stay, pick either Flamingo or Everglades City as your base and time your travels to the schedules of concession boat tours. In wet or dry season, only a boat or canoe gives you access to the backcountry. Because of mosquitoes, the dry season is best for canoeing. (Near park entrances you’ll see signs advertising airboat rides; airboats, which can disturb wildlife and tear up saw grass, are not licensed to operate in the park.)
Comments about National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the U.S., 7th Edition:
We are making an attempt to visit more of the US National Parks on our vacations, and this book seemed to be a great way to get a solid overview of the parks. It's a beautiful book, and buying it online at a special price, well worth it to me. The full price is high for a paperback, in my opinion, but it IS National Geographic. The quality is high.
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend