In honor of National Parks week last month, NASA created a gallery of satellite images of ten national park lands. These picturesque views remind us why national parks are so special - and why similar places need to be protected.
Take a peek at the awe-inspiring aerial views below, all courtesy of NASA:
1. Yosemite National Park, California
In 2011, NASA’s satellite took this image of Yosemite Valley. White peaks and roadways are visible, as well as the landmarks known as Half Dome and El Capitan.
2. Colorado National Monument, Colorado
In western Colorado, Colorado National Monument lies across the interstate from the growing city of Grand Junction where watered lawns contrast with concrete. The dry climate is apparent in the lands to the west, as well as the monument’s network of canyons, captured in 2002.
3. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
In 2013, a satellite produced this image of the smallest national park: Hot Springs. The park is also distinct because it closely borders a city, as shown below.
4. Redwood National Park, California
This 2003 image is of the southern end of Redwood National Park, which includes Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Tall Trees Grove. The park is heavily vegetated with some beige rocks. Klamath River and Redwood Creek have carved visible gorges through these mountains.
5. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
The image below is of the southeastern portion of this monument in 2009. Its glistening white dunes are shifting toward the northeast, portraying their grand movements - up to 30 feet per year.
6. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
In the fall of 2010, the forests of Shenandoah were in the midst of their annual season of color. This image shows popular destinations like Skyline Drive and Old Rag Mountain. as well as the high peak of Hawksbill Mountain. What’s not visible here, however, is the quintessential Appalachian Trail, which runs parallel to Skyline.
7. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
The central portion of Grand Staircase-Escalante is known Kaiparowits Basin, where rock layers date back to the Mesozoic Era. Canyons once carved by rivers have been dry for millions of years and look like branches in this 2005 image. The Cockscombridge divides Triassic Navajo Sandstone from the Cretaceous Wahweap and darker Kaiparowits, where fossils from new dinosaur species were found in 2010.
8. Joshua Tree National Park, California
What looks like a typical dry desert is actually the unique convergence of three distinct ecosystems: the Mojave Desert, the Colorado Desert and the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The five rare oases in the western part of the park can only be found by visitors on the ground, however.
9. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon and Idaho
This 2002 image shows America’s deepest river canyon - Hells Canyon at the border of Oregon and Idaho. The Imnaha River and Snake River come together at the northern part of the canyon, where creek-side vegetation and dry grasslands are visible as well.
10. Big Bend National Park, Texas
Despite its arid landscape, pictured here in 2002, Big Bend hosts more kinds of cacti, birds and bats than any other national park. Rock formations include the limestone walls of Boquillas Canyon, dark volcanic structures in the Rosillos and Chisos Mountains, and the southern tip of the Rockies: Mariscal Mountain.