Television Reviews

Treasures of America’s National Parks: Grand Canyon & the Great Southwest – Plan Your Trip

This is the third in a series of six DVDs about the National Parks of the United States.  The series itself is a bit flawed as a whole as it concentrates on parks in the West. However, taken individually the discs and the features on them are excellent.

Treasures of America’s National Parks: The Grand Canyon & the Great Southwest contains three features about the Grand Canyon, Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks, as well as an overview of the National Parks of the Southwest. In some ways, there is a redundant feel with that last feature tacked onto this disc.  However, the features themselves are excellent in every sense of the world and feature fantastic photography combined with a narrative that is anything except tedious and boring.


I knew when I got this DVD that I shouldn’t even bother with it on the small screen of my portable DVD player, but I did anyway.  I was right, this DVD and the majesty of the Grand Canyon can’t be appreciated.

Beyond the usual scenery, this DVD gives the viewer an idea of what it’s like to view the Canyon in ways other than just parking at the usual overlooks.  There are guided hikes into the canyon, mule tours, river tours, a ranch to stay in, and much more.  This looks at many of the side canyons that tourists don’t go looking for outside of the major viewing sites.  There is some history of the park and how certain recreational activities became popular.  It’s also worth noting that the Sierra Club almost helped destroy the Grand Canyon by offering support for dams within its boundaries until one conservationist swayed their opinion in the other direction.

There is a segment on the rangers of the Grand Canyon and the rescues they have to perform as well as their time patrolling to try to help people before they end up needing rescuing.

Many tourists arrive at the south rim via the same rail line that has brought tourists there since 1910.  It was built by the Santa Fe Railroad as were many of the buildings in this section of the park as they tried to create a destination for tourists.


This feature is highlighted with breathtaking views of these two geologic wonders of the southwest. Coupled with the Grand Canyon, it represents more than half of the Earth’s history in its exposed layers.  Not only that but there are some spectacularly beautiful views.

Zion is a site for canyoneering as well as rock climbing.  The sport of canyoneering has rapidly grown right in this park.  Bryce Canyon doesn’t have the same streams as Zion as it was carved out of soft rock with minimal rainfall.  Where Zion is prone to flash floods, Bryce sees just about 16 inches of rain and snow a year.  The conditions here are prime for touring the park in a variety of ways including horseback.


This feature covers Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Death Valley National Park.

In Canyonlands, the beauty of a land that was once covered by a shallow sea is revealed. Not only nature has gone to work here, but there are signs of early man having spent time here in art present on canyon walls.  A road once used for mining uranium now is a haven for mountain bikers.

Over 2,500 natural arches make up Arches National Park. Saguaro National Park was specifically designed to protect the unique cactus plants growing there.

Each of these parks is covered just a bit with some depth as to what there is to do and see in each park.  Unique wildlife and plant life is talked about and sometimes demonstrated.

If you haven’t been to these National Parks before, this series is a great way to visit them virtually. I thoroughly enjoyed it and after viewing it, really had the urge to plan a visit. The information contained here really gives a good overview of the activities in and around the park, creating the feeling that there’s something for everyone.