Discovered by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus on 12 October 1492, America has many delights to offer the modern-day explorer.
- Death Valley in California is part of the Mojave Desert and considered the hottest, driest location in North America. Its name comes from a pioneering group of travellers in 1849 who ended up taking an ill-advised short-cut on their way to the gold fields of California, during the California Gold Rush. As a National Park, it spans 3,000 square miles. For those interested in mining, the largest of the mining communities found in Death Valley is Rhyolite, who experienced their heyday in the early part of the 20th Death Valley is the home of the Timbisha tribe. The tribe’s name can be translated to “rock paint”, referring to the red ochre paints which are made from clay that is found in the valley. In terms of its wildlife, red-tailed hawks, bighorn sheep and wild burros can be seen. The water from the Darwin Falls drops 30 m into a pond surround by cottonwood trees and willows, which is home to 80 different species of birds.
- Grand Canyon, formed by erosion from the Colorado River in Arizona, spans 446 km. In August 2020, a record temperature of 54.4 C was recorded for the valley. The Grand Canyon Village is the way that most visitors enter the park. Helicopter flights are offered over the Grand Canyon from Tusayan, Arizona. Balloon lights and ground tours are also available. If water and adventure is your thing, it is possible to experience the Grand Canyon from a different perspective by taking a trip down the Colorado River on a raft. The Grand Canyon is enjoyed from four possible destinations: North Rim, Grand Canyon East, South Rim and Grand Canyon West. At the North Rim it is possible to hear the cry of a wren as it echoes through the Ponderosa Pines. At Grand Canyon East, you can have your picture taken backing the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, which is one of the area’s hidden secrets. It is at South Rim that you can experience the types of views that are seen in glossy magazines. And not forgetting Grand Canyon West, where a glass skybridge walkway, with glass balcony and floor, can be experienced, making this the second most visited location of the Grand Canyon.
- The Mississippi, perhaps an overuse of vowels, is the fourth longest of the world’s rivers. It is responsible for draining 31 American states. It flows 2,350 miles from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. The average speed that this water flows varies from 1.2 miles per hour, which equates to one and a half times as fast as people walk, to approximately 3 miles per hour. This means that it takes three months on average for the water leaving Lake Itasca to reach the Gulf of Mexico. For nature lovers, it has been observed that there are at least 50 species of mammal and 145 species of reptiles and amphibians inhabiting the Upper Mississippi River. 260 species of fish live in the Mississippi river, equating to a quarter of the total species of fish in North America. Sixty percent of North America’s birds make use of the river’s basin as their flightpath to migrate. The Mississippi flows through 110 counties and parishes, combining with the Missouri-Jefferson (Red Rock) river in making the longest river system in North America and the United States. The Mississippi provided the inspiration for Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which referenced folk living along the river. Mark Twain’s Life on Mississippi chronicled Twain’s personal experiences piloting a Mississippi steamboat.
So, with valleys, canyons, and rivers to see, there is no shortage of natural wonders to experience, if you wish to escape the skyscrapers of New York or the flashing lights or Las Vegas. It depends what makes you feel lucky.