Of the many natural forces which have defined the Western United States and Canada, volcanoes are among the most dramatic.
Five of these natural wonders find their homes in National Parks, ranging from Hawaii to British Columbia. Their eruptions occur on mountains on the Ring of Fire, when one portion of the earth’s crust slides beneath another, and melts under high heat and pressure. Magma erupts from beneath the surface and cause lakebeds, mountain peaks and huge boulders.
Crater Lake in Southern Oregon at 4,000 feet is the deepest lake in the nation, and was formed when Mount Mazama self-destructed 7,700 years ago. In the center of the beautiful clear lake is Wizard Island, a cone of cinders formed by a later eruption in the crater. Mount St. Helens in southern Washington erupted dramatically in 1980, causing the collapse of its entire northern face, taking 57 lives and destroying the landscape. Those brave enough to travel to its reborn dome area will see beautiful natural growth, and can view exhibits in the Observatory.
Mt. Lassen, in Northern California, last erupted in 1915, and remains a favorite hiking area for those who are interested in a full landscape of mini-volcanoes bubbling beneath the surface. Mt. Rainier, rises 14,410 feet above Puget Sound in Western Washington’s Cascade Range. It is considered the most dangerous of volcanoes in the Cascades, thanks to monstrous mudflows that form when lava melts the ice pack. Because it has slumbered for centuries, it allows millions of visitors to enjoy its beauty, its wildflower meadows, its exhibits, and historic Paradise Inn every year.
Hawaii is the most dramatic of these natural settings, since the Islands themselves are Volcanoes! Hawaii Volcanoes National park is one of the world’s most amazing displays of volcanic activity. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983! There are countless craters to be viewed and explored, both large and small. A very satisfactory,...