Published November 06, 2013
When planning your group’s next itinerary, connecting with the beauty and majesty of nature is a guaranteed win. Grandeur lies in the thundering roar of Niagara Falls and the ancient redwoods at Sequoia National Park, our nation’s two oldest national parks. Wind, water and geologic mayhem have shaped and etched the pink cliffs and thousands of delicately carved spires that rise from the amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon National Park.
For all who visit, the sight of ancient tidewater glaciers “calving” and the abundant wildlife make Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve simply magical. And since the 1920s, people have been flocking to Saskatchewan’s Little Lake Manitou to experience its therapeutic waters.
First discovered in 1678 by a French explorer, the pounding waters of Niagara Falls remain one of the country’s most spectacular sights. Niagara Falls State Park, America’s oldest state park, comprises more than 400 acres of lush landscape and wildlife and the falls. Vista points and trails showcase the millions of gallons of water that rocket over Niagara Falls every minute — approximately 750,000 gallons each second.
At Cave of the Winds, groups don sandals and ponchos for a close-up view of the American and Bridal Veil Falls. While visitors stand on the different levels of Hurricane Deck, the mist rises from the falls just feet away. Onlookers can feel the roar of the water. Night brings another spectacular perspective when the falls are illuminated in a rainbow of color.
“The biggest awe moment that groups have is when they stand at the Cave of the Winds under the Bridal Veil Falls,” said Angela Berti, spokesperson for Niagara Falls State Park.
“It gets you closer to the falls than anywhere in the park.”
The Maid of the Mist remains Niagara’s iconic boat tour, one that shouldn’t be missed. Groups leave from the Observation Tower for the half-hour ride that delivers another close-up view of both the American and the Canadian falls. Waterproof ponchos are provided.
The Niagara Adventure Theater brings the legends and daredevils of the falls to life in its “Niagara: Legends of Adventure” movie, shown hourly. The 45-foot Imax screen’s groundbreaking photographic technique allows audiences to plunge over the falls along with history’s daredevils.
The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center’s interactive displays include fossil and rock specimens and a multiscreen presentation. The Discovery Center also serves as the gateway to the Niagara Gorge Trail System.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Spectacular scenery is the norm at Bryce Canyon National Park. Utah’s All American Road, Highway 12, cuts across the park’s northern section. Near the town of Cannonville lies the northern boundary of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The highway continues through the Escalante canyons with panoramic views over miles of colorful slickrock.
Near the town of Boulder, Highway 12 twists and turns, and the cliffs drop steeply into narrow canyons on both sides of the highway. In Boulder, a museum and remnants of a prehistoric Indian village can be found at Anasazi State Park.
“Earlier this year, Highway 12 was recognized as the second most scenic drive in the world behind Milford Sound in New Zealand,” said Jay Kinghorn, director of communications for the Utah Division of Tourism. “The road connects a whole host of remarkable landscapes through several different plateaus, geological formations, canyons and forested areas.”
Many visitors do not continue south past Bryce Point, but Highway 63 continues down into the southern part of the park to key areas such as the Natural Bridge, one of several arches found in Bryce Canyon. Photographers in the group will want to frame the ponderosa pine trees through the arch.
The Bryce Amphitheater area is the park’s most visited section and contains many of its most famous formations. Spur roads run out to viewpoints on the rim: Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point.