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Take a virtual tour of America’s national parks: the Grand Staircase

Visitors to “scientific treasures” (sites with significant science content) often treat each site on its own. While this may be fine in many cases, in others it leaves the visitor without a complete picture of a certain aspect of science. Sometimes scientific treasures ought to be visited together with other, similar sites.

One example of a synergistic relationship between scientific treasures in the United States is the trio of National Parks: Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Bryce Canyon. Here a visitor to all three is treated to a more complete picture of the West’s geology than from each park on its own. This triad of National Parks makes up the Grand Staircase, a formation of multiple cliffs retreating to the north.

Explore the images for the complete picture of the Grand Staircase formation:

Zion National Park

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Working our way up the Grand Staircase, we find ourselves in Zion National Park, the middle step, northwest of the Grand Canyon. Its original name among indigenous people was Mukuntuweap Canyon, but Europeans changed it to Zion, a shortening of “the Gates of Zion,” in 1919. Zion boasts among the tallest cliffs in in the Grand Staircase, up to 2,000 feet (600 m) high, often narrowly separated. Land formations in Zion National Park are younger than the Grand Canyon. Exposed rocks range from the Moenkopi formation (Triassic period) to Dakota sandstone (Cretaceous period).

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We hope that you have a chance to gain a fuller picture of the geology of the southwestern United States by visiting all three scientific treasures. Which other sites would you recommend viewing as a group to give visitors a more complete idea of their scientific significance?

Recent Comments

  1. Minerva

    Wonderful images….post more images. THANKS

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