Early in the morning, mist cloaks the deep valleys of the Grand Canyon. Soon it clears to reveal a huge, magical world. Millions of years ago, erosion and the relentless power of the Colorado River created this magnificent landscape and even today, the river continues to force its way through the rock, sand and mud of the Grand Canyon. The first to discover the canyons were the Anasazi Indians who settled in the region around a thousand years ago. They hunted for food, cultivated corn, pumpkins and beans in many of the neighboring valleys and even today, a small Indian tribe lives in a nearby canyon.
For many years, Monument Valley and its distinctive mesas in the northern part of Arizona have become one of the most famous natural landmarks in the United States. The glowing landscape owes its original fame to the American film industry and several famous western classics were filmed amid its striking scenery.
The splendor of the Mesa Verde, or ‘Green Table’, is well described by its name. The seemingly endless landscape reveals a broad and idyllic plain. Park Point is the highest vantage point, 2,600 meters above sea level. The plateau is rich with forest and game and the Mesa’s oldest archaeological discoveries date back around 12,000 years.
Zion National Park attained its present day dimensions by 1939 and since then, an increasing number of visitors have witnessed its magnificent rock formations. Despite, by American standards, its relatively small dimensions of 600 square kilometres, the region consists of numerous diverse vegetation zones. Although the region’s flora is as diverse as the terrain upon which it grows, millions of years ago, the area was a vast desert.
The southern part of the Joshua Tree National Park is influenced by the hot and arid Sonora Desert. In contrast, in the higher altitudes of the north, is the cooler Mojave Desert. In spring, various desert flowers begin to blossom and the otherwise sandy brown scenery is transformed into a colorful and shining ocean of floral splendor.