Tag Archive | "Grand Canyon"

Environmental Groups Win Fight to Keep Uranium Mining Out of the Grand Canyon

After years of fighting to keep uranium mines from surrounding the Grand Canyon, environmental groups won the fight when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision. For the next 20 years, there will be no new uranium mines on more than one million acres of federal land.

We have been entrusted to care for and protect our previous environmental and cultural resources, and we have chosen a responsible path that makes sense for this and future generations. – Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

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Grand Canyon at sunset.

From ENS-Newswire.com:

The affected lands are situated in three areas, all in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon or Grand Canyon National Park, in Mohave and Coconino counties of northern Arizona. Approximately 3,200 mining claims are currently located in the withdrawal areas.

The withdrawal does not prohibit previously approved uranium mining, new projects that could be approved on claims and sites with valid existing rights.

​The withdrawn area includes 355,874 acres of U.S. Forest Service land on the Kaibab National Forest; 626,678 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands; and 23,993 acres where surface lands are held by other owners while subsurface minerals are owned by the federal government.

Praising the decision, Christy Goldfuss, director of the Public Lands Project, said, "This is the best call to protect a national treasure. After taking a time-out to study the impacts of excessive uranium mining on the Grand Canyon, the administration came to a fact-based conclusion. The real winners of this decision are American families that will continue to enjoy one of our country's most beautiful locations, the outdoor recreation industry that supports the conservation economy, and the millions of people that drink the water that flows through the region."

Environmental Groups Celebrate Victory

After signing the Record of Decision, those who have been fighting for years had reason to celebrate. The area surrounding the Grand Canyon is full of cultural and environmental significance. It's been two long years since evaluations that led to this decision began.

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar signs the Record of Decision. Map of the withdrawal area.
Image by Jared King, courtesy of Navajo Nation Washington Office
Map courtesy of Department of the Interior.

This is a big win for all of us who care about protecting the Grand Canyon's natural splendor. Extending the current moratorium on new uranium mining claims will protect tourism related jobs, drinking water for millions downstream, and critical wildlife habitats. – Gene Karpinski said on behalf of the League of Conservation Voters

Conclusion: This doesn't stop all future uranium mines.

Without the signing of the Record of Decision, and the ensuing withdrawal, there could have been 30 uranium mines in the Grand Canyon vicinity in the next 20 years. It is unfortunate that this isn't retroactive and also would prohibit previously approved uranium mining. 

Thankfully, this withdrawal will continue to allow natural resource development in the area, such as geothermal leasing.

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Grand Canyon Natural Wonder of the World

Seven Natural Wonders of the World to Start Your List of Places to Travel

Thousands of incredible natural wonders are available to travelers all over the world thanks to Mother Nature. Vast canyons, giant mountains and vibrant ocean scenery are found all over the globe.

Hopefully you’ll be able to see some of these spectacular sights during your lifetime. And if you’re wondering where to start, try visiting the top 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

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Here you’ll find a little information about those wonders and a picture to help you envision your trip.

Global map showing the locations of the wonders of the natural world.

From SevenNaturalWonders.org:

What are the qualifications of a natural wonder?

The primary qualification is that a wonder of nature is just that completely natural. For example, Mount Rushmore involves the splendor of a beautiful mountain peak, but it is the manipulation of that mountain creating the facial carvings that make it such a wonder. It would not qualify. Additionally, a natural wonder needs to be statistically and/or naturally unique. Statistical factors that come into play may include characteristics such as height, width, and volume – but the focus is on unique wonder, beauty and amazement.

The Grand Canyon after sunset glows.

Natural Wonder #1: Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, USA and is mostly situated within the Grand Canyon National Park. The canyon itself is 277 miles long and 4 to 18 miles wide in certain areas. This massive ravine was etched into the natural landscape by the Colorado River.

If hiking is your obsession, there are many choices for exploration from traditional hikes to extended backpacking trips. If you’re looking for something more unique, try riding on the back of a mule or take a ride down the white water on a rafting trip. Of course, the enormity of the canyon can only be truly appreciated with a helicopter tour.

Travel Guide: Grand Canyon: The Complete Guide: Grand Canyon National Park

Aerial view of Great Barrier Reef off northeastern coast of Australia.

Natural Wonder #2: The Great Barrier Reef

Consisting of over 2,900 separate reefs and over 900 islands, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the biggest coral reef system on the planet. At over 1,600 miles it can even be seen from outer space. One of the most diverse ecosystems in the world is supported by the great reef system and to truly get a good view of the vibrant fish, coral and marine life you should expect to get wet. Through the lens of a snorkel or dive mask, you’ll have a personal encounter with the local sea life that will put you in awe of Mother Nature.

Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef (Regional Travel Guide)

View of Rio de Janeiro Harbor

Natural Wonder #3: Harbor of Rio de Janeiro

Found in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro is surrounded by stunning mountains with unique formations. Traveling to the tops of the nearby mountains and overlooking the harbor will be one of your best bets to see the beauty of the harbor. The best time to visit the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro and avoid the humidity is during the months of September and October. Rio de Janeiro actually translated means “river of January” in Portuguese. Getting to the harbor is going to be simple as Rio de Janeiro is the largest and most popular city in Brazil.

Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro (City Travel Guide)

View of Mount Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse from Kala Patthar in Himalaya Mtns.

Natural Wonder #4: Himalaya Mountains

Located in the Himalaya Mountains on the border between Nepal and Tibet, Mount Everest, also known as Chomolungma, is the highest spot in the world at 29,029 feet. If you are an adventurer at heart, you’ll probably want to make the trek to see Mount Everest and hike to the base of the mountain.

If you are an advanced hiker and have $28,000 USD to purchase a climbing permit, you’ll most likely prefer to climb to the upper base camp. If you prefer a more comfortable and relaxed visit, try taking a guided flight around the mountain.

Now trying to visit at the best time is more difficult to plan. You want to go when it’s not snowing. The best time to discover Mount Everest is at the start of the dry season in October and November, or at the end between February and April.

Active green lights in the aurora borealis arc in Aslaskan sky.

Natural Wonder #5: Northern Lights

The Auroras, or Northern Lights, are naturally occurring lights that create fascinating and extravagant displays in the sky. The aurora lights frequently appear as diffused glow lighting up the horizon. The most remarkable sight is when the northern lights appear as waves across the sky; it is almost as if the lights are dancing.

The best place to see the Northern lights is to travel up to the Northern Hemisphere. And you stand the best chance of witnessing the dancing lights March through April and September through October.

Travel Guide: Northern Lights (Bradt Travel Guide)

Landscape of Paricutin Volcano in Mexico taken by Raphael Kessler.

This image courtesy of Raphael Kessler.

Natural Wonder #6: Paricutin Volcano

Having last erupted in 1952, the Paricutin Volcano in Michoacán, Mexico is the youngest cinder cone volcano in America. Its birth was witnessed by a human and therefore, it was established as a natural wonder.

To best see Paricutin, try to take the 12 mile round trip journey to the top of the volcano through the strenuous hike or by horseback. The volcano is located about 200 miles West of Mexico City and is surrounded by lava fields and sandy banks. On your way up you’ll pass buried village homes and a church. Paricutin can be explored at any time of the year, but if you wish to avoid the rainy season don’t plan on visiting from May through September.

View of the Natural Wonders Victoria Falls, Zambia.

Natural Wonder #7: Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is found in southern Africa and is the largest waterfall based on width (one mile wide) and height (360 feet high). It’s protected by two national parks; Zambia and Zimbabwe. From the Zimbabwean side of the falls, visitors have the ability to see approximately 80% of the falls as compared to onlyabout 25 to 30% from the Zambian side.

Visitors have the choice between two very unique and distinctive views of the falls. The first is a foot path that will put you at eye level of the falls. As soon as you enter the park and view the magnificence of the falls, you’ll understand the name, “smoke that thunders” when you witness the vapor rising and hear the water pounding. This is an essential way to experience Victoria Falls.

The other way, and possibly one of the best, to see the falls is to take a microlite (small two person motorized aircraft) or helicopter tour over the falls. There are two seasons for the Victoria Falls area; the rainy and dry seasons. Late November to early April is when to expect the rainy season, and while most think this would be a perfect time to visit you’ll miss out on some of the most scenic views. The islets and rocky faces of the base of the falls is only visible during the dry months.

Travel Guide: Victoria Falls: The Complete Destination Guide

Conclusion: The Natural Wonders

The natural wonders of the world should top everyone’s list of places to visit. You should take the time now as they might not be around tomorrow. Especially with the natural disasters, like earthquakes, and man-made natural catastrophes, like oil spills, it’s unclear how long these wonders of the natural world will last.

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Mother Nature is Close to Las Vegas Strip

Mother Nature is Fascinatingly Close to the Las Vegas Strip

Rugged mountains, red rock canyons and cavernous desert valleys offer the locals of Las Vegas dramatic scenery and dozens of outdoor recreational opportunities. The typical weather temperature makes outdoor activity enormously attractive to all outdoor types all year.

Mother Nature can’t be outdone by the lights of the Las Vegas strip, so whether you’re a local Las Vegas resident or tourist trying to win big, take the time to head outside the city limits and see the amazing landscapes bursting with color.

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It’s effortless to kick back and simply enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty.

Located within 25 miles of Las Vegas:

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon (15 miles) – Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and brilliant rock formations. Each tributary canyon is distinctive, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors. The park’s wildflower displays are stunning after wet winters.

Red Rock Canyon offers a panoramic backdrop for any adventure near Las Vegas.

Even after a dry winter, the loveliness of the desert still makes this park a camper’s favorite destination. Miles of trails wander through the dramatic landscape of the park, and hiking is an intimate way to experience the desert.

One of the most popular hiking trails is into Pine Creek Canyon. This is a 2-mile round trip hike near a running creek and surrounded by large ponderosa pine. Or if you prefer to sight see in the comfort of your car, the 13-Mile Loop Drive offers sightseeing, vistas and overlooks. There are several short hikes accessible from the loop drive.

Ansel Adams Photograph of the Boulder Dam from across the Colorado River.

Ansel Adams Photograph taken 1941

Lake Mead Recreational Area

Aerial view of the Hoover Dam

Lake Mead Recreational Area (25 miles) – Lake Mead Recreational Area offers a wealth of things to do and places to go year-round. Shaped by the Hoover Dam and filled by the Colorado River, Lake Mead is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.

It caters to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. It is also home to thousands of desert plants and animals, adapted to survive in an extreme place where rain is scarce and temperatures soar.

The warm-water recreation isn’t the only thing drawing visitors every year. Adventurers can explore the rugged and isolated backcountry. And for those looking for rest and relaxation, why not rent a houseboat and cruise the waters?

Spring Mountain State Park.

Spring Mountain State Park

Spring Mountain State Park (30 miles) – Located within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, beneath the multihued cliffs of the magnificent Wilson Range. The 520 acre retreat was developed into a combination working ranch and luxurious retreat.

If the spring brings ample rainfall the landscape will explode with wildflowers. Most of the wildlife is nocturnal and will go unseen during the daylight. Typical desert animals include a variety of lizards and snakes, antelope ground squirrels, jackrabbits, cotton tails, kit fox, coyote and wild burros.

Cultural events are put on by Super Summer Theater every May through September.

Located within 50 miles of Las Vegas:

Mary Jane Falls from the trail, Kyle Canyon in southern Nevada

Image courtesy of Stan Shebs.

Kyle Canyon in the Spring Mountains

Mt. Charleston (35 miles) – An assortment of trails and mountaineering routes to numerous peaks await any adventurer at Mount Charleston. The cool mountain breezes, fresh air and all-around scenic beauty of Mount Charleston can entice any Las Vegas tourist away for the day.

Located only 35 miles from the Las Vegas strip, you’ll feel in a world where you’re the only inhabitant. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced hiker, you’ll find a hiking trail in the Mount Charleston area. Located in Kyle Canyon, the Mary Jane Falls trail is perfect for families. A seasonal waterfall and cave await the kids on this hour long 2-mile trail. And the 10-mile Bonanza Peak trail might allow you to watch the wild horses roaming.

Located within 100 miles of Las Vegas:

Valley of Fire State Park around sunset.

Image courtesy of John Fowler.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park (55 miles) – The oldest and largest state park in Nevada, the Valley of Fire State Park is only six miles from Lake Mead. Full of red sandstone formations and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert, when the sun hit’s the eroded sandstone the park appears to be on fire. Driving along park roads, you’re sure to see blossoming desert marigold, indigo bush, and desert mallow in the springtime.

Sunrise at Hidden Valley campground, Joshua Tree National Park

Image courtesy of Jarek Tuszynski.

Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve (60 miles) – Singing sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and carpets of wildflowers are all found at this 1.6 million acre park. A stopover to its canyons, mountains and mesas will reveal long-abandoned mines, homesteads, and rock-walled military outposts.

Visitors will find the serenity and solitude a nice change of pace in comparison to the big city. Hikers can choose between two developed trails, or find an old mining road, canyon or wash. The backcountry is accessible for camping to all backpackers and hunting is permitted in designated areas.

And then there’s the 1,200 miles of road to keep any offroader busy – just make sure the vehicle is street legal before you go.

Located over 100 miles away from Las Vegas:

Death Valley, California

Image courtesy of FreeFoto.com.

Death Valley

Death Valley (135 miles) – A unbeatable desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals exclusive to the harshest desert.

Death Valley landscape

Located on the border between California and Nevada, Death Valley is considered by most as strictly a winter park, it is possible to visit year-round.

When visiting Death Valley, make sure to drink at least one gallon of water every day and carry plenty of extra water in your car just in case. Remember, this is one of the hottest places in the world and it’s easy to underestimate the effects heat will have on you.

Other dangers to be aware of include flash floods during rain storms and the dangerous animals that might be hiding. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders are not uncommon and you don’t want to go poking into their shelters. And with more abandoned mines than any other national park, adventurers need to be careful as they are innately dangerous.

Zion National Park landscape during sunset.

Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon (158 miles) – Utah’s oldest and most visited national park, Zion Canyon attracts around 3 million visitors each year. Zion means “a place of peace and refuge” in ancient Hebrew. You’ll agree when you see the immense sandstone canyons, beautifully sculptured rock formations, soaring cliffs and breathtaking landscapes.

Zion Canyon in Utah

The cliff-and-canyon backdrop is full of unexpected beauty. Here, the Virgin River has carved a spectacular forge into the red and white sandstone. The floor of the canyon is covered with trees, grasses and the river. The canyon walls loom high above; in most places they are 2,000 to 3,000 feet high.

And don’t be surprised when you happen upon an abandoned cliff house or rock art. These are gifts left behind by the original inhabitants, the Anasazi.

Thor's Hammer at sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon (210 miles) – The unique outdoor exhibition consists of thousands of red rock spires and horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters. Wind, water and general geologic mayhem shaped the pink cliffs at Bryce Canyon. Technically it’s not really a canyon, but the eastern slope of the Paunsaguant Plateau.

Famous for its night sky, you can be introduced to the many wonders of the night through one of Bryce Canyon’s Astronomy programs. Full Moon Hikes are available, at no cost, but the hikes are limited to 30 people – so get there early, sign-up begins at 8:00 a.m.

The mixture of shadows and moonlight is said to create a “spooky” personality. It is so dark at night; you’ll be able to see 7500 stars on a moonless night! Every June you’re welcome to attend the Astronomy Festival.

Grand Canyon landscape

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon (300 miles) – One of the largest ravines in the world, it’s no surprise that the Grand Canyon is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. The Colorado River slices through the Granite Gorge and allows visitors to see some of the oldest rocks. Hikers, mule riders, or river runners see the Inner Canyon.

No matter what your interest, there are various activities available and depending on the time you plan to visit you can personalize your Grand Canyon experience. The South Rim is the most accessible part of the park and is open all year. This area will attract nearly 5 million people every year. The North Rim is less accessible, especially when the heavy snows cause the road to be closed from late October to mid May.

Conclusion: Head Out of Vegas for Nature

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada signThere are so many beautiful national parks and scenic drives just outside of Las Vegas, that any tourist is capable of finding something. Whether it’s a cavernous ravine or the colors of the desert, the next time you head to the Las Vegas strip remember the beauty surrounding you.

You might also be interested in the Seven Natural Wonders of the World to Start Your List of Places to Travel.

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