America's National Parks

Video highlights from America's National Parks

Everything you need to know about "America's best idea"

GEOGRAPHY & GEOLOGY

Eagle Peak is the highest elevation in Yellowstone National Park above sea level at 3,462 metres.

Reese Creek in Yellowstone National Park has the lowest elevation at 1,610 metres.

About 5% of Yellowstone National Park is covered by water, 15% by grassland, and 80% by forests.

The Grand Canyon encompasses 493,059 hectares and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwest Arizona.

Unique combinations of geologic colour and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 446 kilometres long, up to 29 kilometres wide, and 1.6 kilometres deep in Grand Canyon National Park.

In the Grand Canyon, the inner canyon is a harsh desert environment with little shade and summer temperatures over 38°C.

The South Rim is the most accessible part of the Grand Canyon. Elevations average at 2,134 metres above sea level.

Olympic National Park was established in June 1938, and covers an area of about 373,000 hectares.

Olympic National Park includes the Hoh Rainforest and the Quinault Rainforest.

Olympic National Park borders the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses 8,500 square kilometres of ocean.

Saguaro National Park was created in 1994 and currently encompasses 37,000 hectares.

The granite found in Yosemite was formed by magma rising and cooling within the Earth’s crust that occurred 250 million to 85 million years ago.

26,000 to 18,000 years ago, erosion and glaciers shaped some of Yosemite’s most iconic geologic formations such as the domes of Tuolumne Meadows.

There are 1,000-3,000 earthquakes annually at Yellowstone.

More than 10,000 hydrothermal features and over 300 active geysers are in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is home to about 290 waterfalls.

PARK VISITORS

In 2014, park visitation at Yellowstone topped the 3 million mark for the eighth straight year.

Nearly five million people see the 1.6 kilometres deep Grand Canyon each year.

During the peak of the fall foliage season, about 60,000 people a day make a pilgrimage to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

WILDLIFE & VEGETATION

The Great Smoky Mountains have more than 100 species of trees.

Only 14% of the world’s forests are temperate deciduous forests, which are characterised by the brilliant change of foliage colours during autumn.

Over 1,500 plant, 355 bird, 89 mammalian, 47 reptile, 9 amphibian, and 17 fish species are found in The Grand Canyon.

In Yellowstone there are 67 species of mammals; 285 species of birds (150 nesting).

Yellowstone National Park has 16 species of fish, and 2 threatened wildlife species: Canada lynx and grizzly bears.

The American Alligator found in the Everglades is the largest reptile in North America, and has survived on Earth in the same form for 200 million years.

The American Alligator can survive sub-zero temperatures and remain locked in the ice for more than two weeks.

The Florida Panther is an endangered species with fewer than 200 left in the wild. The Everglades is their last-remaining stronghold.

The vacuum-driven bladders of Utricularia are among the most sophisticated carnivorous trapping mechanisms found anywhere in the plant kingdom.

The Wood Stork is the only stork that presently breeds north of Mexico.

Olympic Marmots are indigenous to the Olympic Mountains and emit warning calls when potential predators are sighted giving the marmots time to flee into their burrows.

Roosevelt Elk are the largest elk variety on the North American continent and the Olympic National Park holds the largest population of this sub-species anywhere.

59 sea otters captured off Amchitka Island, Alaska were re-introduced to the state of Washington in 1969 and 1970. The 2013 census counted 1,272 otters off the coast of Washington.

Different ecotypes of killer whales frequent the water off the coast of Washington State.

Resident orcas in the Pacific Northwest live in tightly formed family groups and follow strictly matrilineal lines.

The Synchronous Firefly is one of 20 species of fireflies that occur in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Flying male Synchronous Fireflies emit 4 - 11 flashes in a 4 second period, followed by approximately 8 seconds of dark.

Synchronous Fireflies don’t feed during their short life as adults, which lasts just two to three weeks.

Approximately 1,500 bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains – about one bear every 3 square kilometres.

The average summer weight of an adult male bear in the Great Smoky Mountains is between 91 – 109 kilograms.

The name “Tyrant Flycatcher” refers to the extremely aggressive territoriality of this group of birds and their characteristic style of feeding.

There is only one frog living north of the Arctic Circle, the wood frog. They can survive in temperatures as low as -20°C.

Alaska has over 98 percent of the United States’ population of brown bears.

A full grown male moose may exceed 800 kilograms. There are about 900,000 wild caribou in Alaska, living in several herds. The biggest herd is the Western Arctic Herd.

The saguaro cactus is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert, the largest cactus in the United States, and can grow up to 18 metres.

The Gila monster’s (a venomous lizard found in the Saguaro National Park) venom can overpower prey but is rarely deadly to humans.

The legendary roadrunner bird is famous for its distinctive appearance, its ability to eat rattlesnakes and for scooting across the American deserts at up to 24 kilometres per hour.

Giant sequoias, the largest tree on the planet, only grow naturally in isolated groves on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where they need very particular climate conditions to thrive.

The oldest known sequoia was at least 3,266 years old.

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