Tag Archives: travel books

America’s National Parks – so many places to visit!

Although it is only March, we’ve been doing some day dreaming of places to visit during the summer holidays. And where better to start thinking about where to go than some of America’s National Parks?

There are 407 areas that are managed by the National Park Service, including 59 National Parks, 78 National Historic Sites and 79 National Monuments. All these areas encompass more than 84 million acres (339,936 km2) and are in every state and overseas US Territory! They range in size from the smallest, 80 m2 at the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania to Wragell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska at 53,419 km2. The area of the United Kingdom is 243,610 km2, so the total land managed by the National Park Service is 40% more than the UK and the largest National Park is 10 times as large as Norfolk! These areas saw almost 293,000,000 visitors last year.

nat parks etc map

SOURCE: kids.britannica.com

Those of us who work at the Memorial Library have visited a few of these special places, although there are many more we’d like to see. A few of our favourites are Olympic National Park, Washington and Acadia, Maine.

Olympic, Washington:
This park has coastline, glacial mountains and alpine environments as well as the temperate rainforests that the Pacific Northwest is famous for. There are numerous endemic plants and animals and trails that can lead you to discover waterfalls, mountains and beaches.

acadiaAcadia, Maine: The Park covers most of Mount Desert Island and a few small islands off the coast of Maine. It is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River, and was once part of Acadia, a colony of New France that included parts of Canada in the 17th and early 19th century.  There is so much to do there, including kayaking in the sea or lakes, walking and cycling along the many carriageways throughout the Park. In addition to the scenery, there are historical sites and there is also really amazing local seafood in the area!

A few parks which are not as well known, but special places to visit if you can:

capitoal reef parkCapitol Reef National Park, Utah: This long and narrow Park protects the Waterpocket Fold – a 65 million years old warp in the Earth’s crust. This warp is the result of colliding continental plates and has eroded to expose millions of years of fossils and geology. There are few paved road in the Park, but there are miles of unpaved roads and trails through the incredible landscape for the more adventurous traveller. There are also numerous petroglyphs left behind by the Fremont people, who inhabited the area in 1000 CE.

kings canyon - sequoiasKings Canyon, California: This Park is often overlooked by visitors heading to its neighbouring (and better known) Parks – Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley. There are some spectacular canyons, including Kings Canyon – one of the deepest in the US at 2,500 m! There are also giant sequoias, rivers and exciting wildlife. John Muir, who visited in the 1870s, was struck by the similarities between the geography of Kings Canyon and Yosemite. The dramatic U-shaped valleys in both areas were carved by glaciers out of the bedrock during the last Ice Age. These areas influenced Muir’s ideas about the impact of glaciers on the Sierra Nevada landscape, which caused some controversy in geologic circles in the late 19th century as the other competing theory was that earthquakes had created the valleys and canyons.

Ofu parkNational Park of American Samoa: This is probably the hardest National Park to get to; flights to American Samoa are only 2-3 times a week from Hawaii (2,600 miles away). There is very limited tourist infrastructure in the area, so visiting takes a bit of an adventurous attitude – but can be well worth it! The Park will organise home stays with local families, who are permitted to fish in the Park. The parkland in fact belongs to local villages and is leased to the National Park Service. Many of the Park’s visitors come via cruise ship, but there are some others that are able to come and stay longer.

If you’re thinking about visiting any National Parks or travelling around the US this summer holiday (or anytime), we have many books to help you out, such as: yosemitezion et algrand canyonNPS 2NPS guide - NGacadia book

If you’d like to learn more about the experiences of a Park Rangers or the National Park System, these books are great:

hey rangerdesert solitaireseed

Have you visited any of these? Or do you have some favourite National Park places of your own? Let us know in the comments.

All photos courtesy of National Park Service (www.nps.gov)

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California Dreaming: Memorial Library Travel Section Exposes the Hidden Gems of California from Wine Country to Black Bears

This week we have a guest blog from Sarah Salmon, the Activities Coordinator at the Millennium Library. In it she details the highlights of her most recent adventure to California and all the helpful hints and tips she gained from reading some of the books in our American Travel section. Read on:

In Sarah’s words,

I like to travel and explore new places. The amazing landscapes, national parks and cities of America are favourite destinations and thanks to the collection of travel books held in the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library I’ve just completed an amazing trip exploring California with my husband and parents.

NO CALIn recent years we’ve travelled to the National Parks of the South West and also New York but without the books, and staff, in the library we’d never have managed to plan such a successful trip. When we started the planning 18 months ago we knew that we wanted to visit Yosemite and San Francisco but not much more than that; but by borrowing the travel guides in the library focusing on the area, especially Eyewitness Travel: San Francisco and Northern California, we discovered that there were many more National and State Parks in the area and slowly our itinerary grew into a fabulous trip during which we saw natural and man-made wonders of the world, stayed in the heart of the wine country in a luxury hotel and then in an almost silent lodge in a National Park with hardly any visitors.

Coming from a very flat county, mostly at sea level, the scenery of Northern/Central California was amazing and the highs were many.

storm clouds over the Sierra

Ansel AdamsMy personal favorites were landscape related, for years I’ve been a fan of the photographer of Ansel Adams and so the chance to see his studio, and take a short photography course that took me to locations where some of his most famous photos were taken was a dream come true but perhaps the joy of just taking a walk and seeing bear was the true highlight…

Salmon Bear If you are planning a trip to the States I do recommend popping into the library and looking at the travel guide collection, and the travel writing books stored next to them, as they really will help you discover some hidden gems. I’m now waiting to borrow, National Geographic’s Guide to State Parks of the United States, to start planning my next adventure.

We at the Memorial Library would like to thank Sarah for her amazing blog and for telling us all about her California adventure. Sarah’s blog could not have come at a better time since next week marks the 150th anniversary of Yosemite National State Park and we will be displaying many of our books which celebrate Yosemite and American state parks in general.

If her trip has inspired you, stop by the Memorial Library to browse our extensive  travel collection. You can browse online here but here are a few to get you started.  Where would you like to go?

state parks


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O, Say Can You (Tennes)see!

We are occasionally visited by individuals seeking work experience in libraries….and we love it! Our recent visitor, Carrie-Anne Elsden, was particularly interested in our travel books section, and wrote a great endorsement for the collection. Read on! …

From politics and history, to movies and fiction, the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library at the N&N Millennium Library is home to a fascinating array of all things American. As I explored shelves filled with numerous items of fancy, one collection seized my attention in particular: American Travel. It has everything a would-be traveller might need for a trip of a lifetime: city guides and state histories, local knowledge and Disney World. A vast section for a very vast destination.

As for me, I’ve been plotting a voyage to the centre of jazz, New Orleans, Louisiana. No problem. A city guide book tells me all I need to know and do to experience the best of the swinging-est town in the South. The best drinks, the best bars, where to stay and a very long list of exciting things to do and see. It tells me all about the city’s exotic past and how it has coped with the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.

The travel section is a treasure chest of fantastic information and handy hints, and it really is a must see for anyone planning a voyage to America!

Carrie-Anne Elsden

… Thank you, Carrie-Anne! It was lovely having you with us, and we wish you many exciting and well-informed travels!

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