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The Horseshoe Bend in Arizona on the Colorado River comes under the area of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area or simply the Glen Canyon National Park . The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, when combined with the Rainbow Bridge National Monument resources, fulfills the merit of a national park. The significance of a natural park in terms of local, regional, and international aspects is determined by the natural resources including the geology of the area. A set of statement of significance form the basis for the purpose of the national park. These statements of significance cover the geological as well as weather and other natural resources in the park. It also includes the preservation of all these resources through various measures adopted by the local or national government depending on the critical nature of the threats to the natural resources.
Importance of Glen Canyon National Park
There is a number of geological formations in the Glen Canyon National Park which highlight the importance of it. The major attraction is the Colorado River as well as a number of its tributaries. These tributaries include the Dirty Devil, San Juan Rivers, Escalante and carving through the infamous Colorado Plateau that form a significant landscape of complex as well as dynamic water and desert environment. The landscape of Glen Canyon National Park is very vast as well as rugged which provide a large spectrum of water as well as land based recreation to the visitors of the Park. It covers a number of activities that are great attraction to the visitors with a broad range of capabilities and interests. The Park has a record of around 10,000 years regarding presence of human in the region. It also shows adaptation by the residents and exploration by the visitors. It forms the basis of importance to a number of communities pertaining to their descendants. The Park offers a wide ranging number of opportunities to the visitors to make connection with the residents while sharing their cultural values that has a contemporary as well as ancient background associated with it. There is a narrow gorge that is present just under the dam which provides a scenic view of the canyon walls, vestige of the beach terrace and riparian environment, and ancient artwork on rocks. Another important feature of the Park includes the Lake Powell which is stunningly beautiful lake with a number of tourists’ attractions. The Rainbow Bridge in the Park is considered as one of the largest natural bridges in the world. It is a practical example of the erosion caused by eccentric streams. This bridge is present in the remote area of Colorado Plateau; however, it is considered to be included in the Glen Canyon National Park. A number of residents in the region of the Glen Canyon National Park consider the Rainbow Bridge to be their cultural identity and include it to be a part of their traditional beliefs.
Fundamental values and resources are those systems, features, experiences, scenes, processes, stories, smells, sounds and other related attributes considered with prime importance during management and planning process. These attributes are very crucial for accomplishing the main objectives of park and preserving its significance in long run. Listed below are the basic values and resources of Glen Canyon National Park : -
Heritage Resources: National park is considered as the steward of legacy or heritage resources epitomized by historic and archeological sites, traditional properties of culture and cultural landscapes that elucidate the affiliation between the landscape and the people of the Glen Canyon area.
Paleontology: Glen Canyon National Park preserves a complete section of Mesozoic strata that is one of the few present throughout the world. These discoveries result in good development of the understanding about the past.
Water: The quantity and quality of water is indispensable for outdoor recreational and enjoyment use for public and also for ensuring sustained aquatic and terrestrial life in harsh desert environment.
Rainbow Bridge: Bridge is considered as an important and fundamental resource itself.
Traditional Cultural Values and Property: Rainbow Bridge and other important sites including Horseshoe Bend are considered culturally and religiously significant by the locals. These landscapes are associated with the history, ceremonial activities, oral traditions and cultural practices of the American native tribes.
Lake Powell: Lake Powell is an important feature of the geology of the National Park which sets dramatically in the eroded rocks of canyons and mesas. It is the largest man-made North American lake. Boating is extensively done by visitors in the lake as an important water-based sports activity.
Landscape: The landscape of the Glen Canyon National Park has large number of wind-carved rocks in the canyon and rugged water. It also contains wind-carved buttes, seeps, mesas, hanging gardens and springs. A number of plant as well as animal species live in these landscapes.
The environmental changes in the Colorado Plateau including the Glen Canyon National Park remain constant. The constant change in the environment can be attributed to the natural processes in the geology of the region or to the actions of humans. There are few changes in the environment are so fast that these changes can be easily noticed through making two visits in the Park with a gap of less than a year. On the other hand, there are few changes in the environment that are so slow that these changes can’t be noticed by a person even during his lifetime. Before humans set foot in the region, the geology of the region was totally dependent on the natural factors such as climate changes, fire regimes, geological formation and weather. The canyons were formed by the Colorado River and/or its tributaries. The wildlife in the area either adopted to the natural changes or gradually disappeared from the region. The landscape formations were the results of natural environmental factors only; however, after humans came and settled in the regions, a number of changes in the environment can be attributed to the humans. The major changes in the environment as caused by humans include grazing, water development, fire suppression, and introduction of new crops, and non-native species of animals. Humans brought livestock into the Western region during the 16th century. During the 1800s, railroads arrived in the region which increased the level of livestock resulting in high level of grazing. By the start of 20th century, a relatively large number of cattle animals were grazing the region of the Colorado Plateau. By the year 1930, the high level of grazing resulted in degradation of the land and subsequent compacting of barren soil. It also contributed to changes in the fire regimes through reducing the grass fuel. The important development in restoring the grass of the area was the 1934’s Taylor Grazing Act. This Act provided regulation on grazing on the public land which helped in restoring the natural beauty of the region .
Horseshoe Bend (Arizona)
Horseshoe Bend in the Colorado River in Arizona gets much attention from the visitors who aim to visit Glen Canyon. The location of the Horseshoe Bend is around 140 miles equally distant from both the North Rim and the South Rim of the canyons. It is just 5 miles from the beginning of the national park. The highway 89/89A can be used to see the Horseshoe Bend while travelling from the canyons’ Rim to Rim. It also involves taking around 18 miles of excursion in the direction of Page, Arizona .
The Horseshow Bend in the Colorado River is considered as one of the small wonders by the locals. It is an important landscape feature of the national park. The Horseshoe Bend can also be reached from the national park’s beginning through walking around ¾ miles in the direction of the edge of the park while overlooking it. It is a great site that is visited by a number of tourists each year and photos are taken in the area. At the edge of the river, the scenery of the Horseshoe Bend is breathtaking which forms the basis of its significance to the visitors. This place is the most important site in the national park which is almost visited by everyone visiting the park despite the fact that its location is several miles inside the park. The popularity of the Horseshoe Bend is increasing each year which can be seen through the increase in the number of visitors each year. A number of people do not actually know that the Horseshoe Bend is not a part of Grand Canyon but it is actually in the Glen Canyon. Grand Canyon is surrounded by many other small canyons which are considered as part of the Grand Canyon by many people. Horseshoe Bend has started to be considered in the Grand Canyon rather than Glen Canyon due to its close distance with the Grand Canyon. A number of people visiting Grand Canyon also visit the Glen Canyon National Park just to see the marvelous site of Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River. The landscape of the Horseshoe Bend is carved by nature in such a way that when a visitor stands in it and takes picture then it seems to viewer of the picture that the person in the picture is standing in the Grand Canyon .
Geology of Horseshoe Bend (AZ) and Glen Canyon National Park
As evident from its name, the Horseshoe Bend is a meander that is horseshoe-shaped. This meander is located in the Colorado River close to a town named Page (Arizona) in the United States. The water flow of the Colorado River is controlled by the Glen Canyon Dam in the region of the Glen Canyon National Park which includes the water flowing through the Horseshoe Bend. The water of Colorado River flows in a large size bend in the Horseshoe Bend. The size of the bend is in excess of a thousand feet under the overlook. The bend takes the initial swing towards the east and then curving its way back to the west. The locals call this bend by the name of Kind Bend. The downstream distance from the Glen Canyon Dam to the Horseshoe Bend is around five miles. Same distance is from the Lake Powell which is also included in the Glen Canyon National Park. The Horseshoe Bend can be viewed from a cliff nearby. The overlook of the Horseshoe Bend is around 4200 feet of height above the sea level whereas the river bed of Colorado River is 3200 feet above the sea level. Therefore, the drop from the overlook to the river is a staggering 1000 feet which provides a breathtaking view to the visitors. Similar to the Grand Canyon, the rock in the Horseshoe Bend is of red color and much eroded by the wind .
It is not very difficult to reach the Horseshoe Bend when someone is in the Glen Canyon National Park. The simplest way to reach the Horseshoe Bend is through taking a hike from the 89/89A highway for around 2.5 miles in the south direction of the town named Page (Arizona). The distance from the parking lot of the Horseshoe Bend and the cliff is less than half a mile. The convenient location of the Horseshoe Bend contributes to an increased number of visitors each year. The landscape of the Horseshoe Bend is greatly appreciated by the visitors of the Glen Canyon National Park. The geological features of the Horseshoe Bend give mixed feelings of curiosity, excitement and satisfaction to the visitors especially who visit it for the first time. The actual view of Horseshoe Bend is much more mesmerizing as compared to the photos available. The Colorado River itself becomes an important attraction to the visitors due to the bend it takes around the rock in the Glen Canyon. A number of wind eroded landscapes is an important feature of the Glen Canyon National Park .
As the path to the Horseshoe Bend is walked by the visitors, the sandy hill and the trudge up on it seem to them as a nuisance; however, it is in fact a walk that is taken through large cycles of time. The sand in the area was a part of one of the largest sand dunes in the North America around 200 million years back. The simple term used to describe these sand dunes is ergs. The large erg in the region, where Glen Canyon National Park is situation today, was hardened by minerals and water and was converted into the famous Navajo Sandstone. It is a uniform as well as smooth sandstone layer that stretches between Arizona and Wyoming. It is more than 2000 feet in thickness in some of the places. From the edge of the Horseshoe Bend, one can see around 1000 feet below and witness the large layer of sandstone at the river. After the hardening of Navajo Sandstone, a number of other layers of mudstone as well as various sedimentary layers formed on the top of the Navajo Sandstone. After forming of these layers large quantity of water started flowing in the region through rain, floods, and other streams. The flowing water eroded various layers that were formed on top of the Navajo Sandstone resulting in exposure of it after a long time. At present, the sand in the Glen Canyon National Park including the Horseshow Bend is the sand from the Navajo Sandstone .
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National Park Service. n.d. Foundation Document Overview: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Rainbow Bridge National Monument. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.
National Park Service. 2007. "Glen Canyon." EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA (U.S. Department of the Interior).
NPS. 2007. "Environmental Factors." http://www.nps.gov. August. Accessed April 06, 2015. http://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/nature/environmentalfactors.htm.
Reyfman, Mike. 2011. "Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River, Arizona." http://www.airpano.com/360Degree-VirtualTour.php?3D=Horseshoe-Bend-Arizona-USA. September 14. Accessed April 04, 2015. http://www.airpano.com/360Degree-VirtualTour.php?3D=Horseshoe-Bend-Arizona-USA.
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