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Have you already been to the Grand Canyon?  No?  Then go!  

Felipe Nascimento

The Brazilians that spend their vacations in the United States usually visit Disneyland and New York, but hardly anybody takes the time to visit the Grand Canyon or one of the more than 400 parks throughout the country.  Spending vacations in Disneyland is the dream of many children and teenagers.  New York is the city where everything happens.  Why then one should go to the Grand Canyon?  What is interesting about it?  Will the children like it? 

In spite of the Grand Canyon’s being worldwide known, few people are aware that it receives 5 million visitors a year.  The Grand Canyon has been carved by the Colorado River for millions of years, and it is located on the border between the states of Arizona and Utah. It is approximately 500 kilometres long, varying from seven to 30 kilometres wide. It gets as deep as 2,400 metres.  From the south side, visitors can see places 160 kilometres away.  But what attracts tourists is not only this.  The Grand Canyon offers varied programmes throughout the year, including cross-country activities with different degrees of difficulty, either on foot or on the back of a mule.  In addition, there are special programmes for children, photographing classes, guided walks along the border of the canyon, air trips, museums, bookshops and many souvenirs, even comic books defending nature from its enemies.  The sunrise and the sunset are very beautiful, for at these times the soil hue changes as the sun infiltrates into or leaves the depths of the canyon.

But the Grand Canyon, in spite of being the largest, is just one among several canyons and national parks located in this area.  A few hours from the Grand Canyon, you will find Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon, as well as natural beauties such as Monument Valley, setting of several films starring John Wayne.  A little to the north, in the state of California, the attraction is the Sequoia National Park, with giant trees. The largest one, named General Sherman, is between 2,300 and 2,700 years old, 83.8 metres high and 31.3 thick at its base.  Sequoias are regarded as the largest living organisms on the planet and, unlike men, who after reaching a certain age can only grow sideward, they keep on getting taller and taller!   Another extraordinary park is the Yosemite, also in California, close to the Sequoia Park.  

I wonder whether, if encouraged, our children wouldn’t become interested in cross-country, rafting, bathing at waterfalls, exploring caves, camping at canyons, getting in touch with the indigenous culture and the history of Old West.  The second question is:  who is going to take them there?  Disney is the only place where travel agencies take children! 

Visiting the Grand Canyon and these other parks is important because it also reminds us of the many parks and natural beauties in Brazil, little explored and little valued, but not less interesting.  How many Brazilians have ever been to the Aparados da Serra Park in Rio Grande do Sul, to the Pantanal and the Bonito area in Mato Grosso, to Fernando de Noronha Island off the coast of Pernambuco, to the Amazon Rain Forest and to many other natural beauties in Brazil?  What interesting things can one do there?  Will the children like it?  Of course they will!  However, both in these places and in American parks, children and teenagers need to be encouraged and followed, preferably by their parents, who also need to have the same adventurous spirit.   Experience it!  Parks, but not only theme parks!    

To see these pictures as a slide show, click here.

For more information on US national parks, visit:  www.nature.nps.gov. For more information on Brazilian parks, visit:  www.brazilinfo.com.