59 extensive National Parks with 407 official National Park units in the United States were the topic of discussion at the US Consulate in Mumbai during a travel workshop last weekend.Ansoo Gupta, travel workshop coordinator, said: “Most treasured places are protected and termed as National parks by countries. The term actually originated in the US and most extensive national park systems work in the US and Canada.”
Next year marks 100 years of institution of National Parks Service in the US.
Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as America’s first national park. Majority of the world’s geysers are preserved here. There are over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including over 300 geysers, in the park. The founding of Yellowstone National Park began a worldwide national park movement.
Mahesh Murthy, proprietor, Seedfund and a frequent traveler, said: “We all think US is best at marketing. But somehow it’s taken them so long to publicise on their beautiful national parks. I often visit these and consider these as the best kept secrets, the hidden treasure of the US.”
The total area protected by national parks in the US is approximately 51.9 million acres and these are spread across the country. Fourteen national parks are designated World Heritage Sites
Self drive to the nearest one is the best way to enjoy these parks and an Indian Driving License is valid to drive in the United States.
There is 40 percent increase in Indian visitors to the US this year.
Jeffrey E Ellis, Press Officer, U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai, said: “More than one million Indians travelled to the US for the first time and we in the consulate, consider that a big deal. But we’re looking for more visitors in 2016 and 2017.” 100,000 Indian students are studying in the US.
US issues B1 or B2 visa to tourists and business visitors. Process for this 10 year multiple entry visa is simplified and can be obtained by filling the form and paying fees online or on mobile. Two appointments are given by the consulate, one for a face to face interview and another for biometrics. The new system also allows companies and travel agents to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel, and it accommodates the scheduling of group and emergency appointments. After confirmed intimation, the processed document can be picked-up from one of the 33 documents pick-up locations across India.
Criteria for the selection of National Parks include natural beauty, unique geological features, unusual ecosystems, and recreational opportunities. National Park units are made of national monuments, preserves, historic sites, memorials, rivers and trails. These features make a visit to the national park pleasant and memorable.
Written by Anand & Madhura Katti