Durango is home of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of the most scenic North American train journeys. The spectacular ride aboard a historic, coal-fired, steam-powered train has been in operation since 1882. As the train winds through breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the 728,000-hectare San Juan National Forest, you’ll experience the wilds of Colorado. Along the Million Dollar Highway, originally built in 1883, discover the ghost town of Animas Fork and the old silver-mining town of Silverton.
Tiny and nestled between two rugged San Juan Mountain passes, Red Mountain and Molas, Silverton has been a tourist destination since its mining days, especially those pursuing new heights outdoors, from off road trails, wild camping and hiking, fishing and much more available in the district.
Bryce Canyon, Colorado
The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a national monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 but was redesignated as a national park by Congress in 1928. The park covers 35,835 acres (55.992 sq mi; 14,502 ha; 145.02 km2) and receives substantially fewer visitors than Zion National Park or Grand Canyon National Park, largely due to Bryce’s more remote location.
Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. The most famous of these is the Bryce Amphitheater (pictured below), which is filled with irregularly eroded spires of rocks called hoodoos. Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point are the four main viewpoints.
If it weren’t for an artist and a photographer, Yellowstone National Park might never have become the world’s first national park in 1872. For years rugged explorers returned from the Yellowstone region with stories of a strange landscape dotted with steaming pools and shooting geysers. Most people passed them off as myth.
Things changed dramatically in 1871 when artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson joined a 40-day geological survey to document the area. Through brushstrokes of paint and a camera lens, Moran and Jackson captured the wonders of Old Faithful, the beauty of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the splendor of Hayden Valley. When Congress viewed the men’s work in 1871, it had an electrifying effect. In 1872, Congress and President Ulysses Grant created Yellowstone National Park.
Old Faithful is an example of a cone geyser. They are visible on Earth’s surface as mounds of porous deposits of siliceous sinter (geyserite). They typically produce steady eruptions lasting several seconds or minutes. The duration of Old Faithful’s eruptions ranges from 1.5 to 5.5 minutes. Billowing steam and 3,700 to 8,400 gallons (14,000 to 32,000 litres) of hot water are ejected at each eruption. The geyser’s fountainlike columns reach heights averaging about 130–140 feet (40–43 metres), although eruption height can exceed 180 feet (55 metres). During an eruption, the water temperature at the geyser’s opening is about 203–204 °F (95–95.6 °C).
Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
Hubbard Glacier, which is found in Disenchantment Bay at the end of Yakutat Bay, is one of more than 110,000 glaciers in Alaska and North America’s largest tidewater glacier. Hubbard Glacier was named in 1890 for Gardiner G. Hubbard, who was the founder of the National Geographic Society.
As cruise ships enter Yakutat Bay, Hubbard Glacier can be seen from more than 30 miles away. This massive Alaska glacier is a staggering 76 miles long, 6.5 miles wide, and 1,200 feet deep. Its face is more than 400 feet high, which is as high as a 30–40 story building.
The Malaspina Glacier is also found in Yakutat Bay. Malaspina is a piedmont glacier, does not reach into the bay, and is difficult to see from a ship, even though it is about the size of Switzerland!
Off the coast of Yakutat—200 miles NW of Juneau—Hubbard is certainly gigantic: it’s more than six miles wide where it meets the ocean. It’s also been very active in the past, having had two major surges in the past 30 years. Those surges were big enough to cross the bay, turning the fjord into a lake and threatening to flood the coastal town of Yakutat. For now, the glacier isn’t surging but often calves. The face is up to 400 feet tall, and icebergs 3 to 4 stories in height aren’t uncommon. Granted, most of that ice is below water, but the ice can be so thick that cruise ships can’t get too close. In the right conditions, however, ships might be able to get within 1/2 mile of the face.