Virgin Islands National Park

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Virgin Islands National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Map showing the location of Virgin Islands National Park
Map showing the location of Virgin Islands National Park
Location United States Virgin Islands
Nearest city Charlotte Amalie
Coordinates 18°20′0″N 64°44′0″W / 18.33333°N 64.73333°W / 18.33333; -64.73333Coordinates: 18°20′0″N 64°44′0″W / 18.33333°N 64.73333°W / 18.33333; -64.73333
Area 14,737 acres (5,964 ha)[1]
Established August 2, 1956
Visitors 442,414 (in 2011)[2]
Governing body National Park Service
http://www.nps.gov/viis/index.htm
Fort Willoughby, Hassel Island

The Virgin Islands National Park is a United States National Park, covering approximately 60% of the island of Saint John in the United States Virgin Islands, plus nearly all of Hassel Island, just off the Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas harbor.

The park is famous for scuba diving and snorkeling and has miles of hiking trails through the tropical rainforest.

Ferries from Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie on Saint Thomas make regular stops at Cruz Bay, Saint John, near the park, which averages about 500,000 visitors per year.[2]

History as a Park[edit]

Attractions[edit]

One of the Virgin Islands National Park's most famous attractions is Trunk Bay, which sports a white sand beach and an underwater snorkeling trail, although the trail's chronic overuse has led to extensive coral damage along its path.

The park includes the sugar-plantation-ruins-littered Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail and the Bordeaux Mountain Trail that leads to the highest point on the island at 1,277 feet (389 m) above sea level, and whose view is best described as "what you must see from heaven". The most popular hike, however, is the Reef Bay Trail. This route paves the way to witnessing the beauty of the surrounding forestlands, remnants of sugar mills, historical Taíno petroglyph rock carvings,[3] a spring-fed waterfall and reflection pool, and a chance for rest and relaxation or snorkeling excitement at Genti Bay.

Visitors can stay on Saint John nearby, on off-park land, or they may elect to stay in one of the park's two campgrounds, Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay, which offer varying levels of comfort. The park is free of hotels and resorts, with a notable exception, the Caneel Bay resort on the north shore, which lies on Rockefeller’s former personal estate.

Geography[edit]

Each year, about 500,000 people visit the park. Virgin Islands National Park is spread out on 14,737 acres (5,964 ha) of land. It became the 29th U.S. national park in 1956, when Laurance Rockefeller visited the area and thought the land was incredibly beautiful. The park is free to enter and the only fee is to enter Trunk Beach, which is $4 for adults. The park covers almost 60 percent of St. John Island and almost all of Hassel Island as well.

Features[edit]

Overlooking the park

The main features of the Virgin Islands National Park are the coral reefs and oceans. They almost completely surround the park. As new coral species replace older ones, the coral reefs are experiencing rapid change. For example, in 2006, the Elkhorn and Slaghorn coral were introduced to the Virgin Islands. Another important feature of the Virgin Islands are the tropical forests. The tropical forests hold most of the park's plants and wildlife. The plants and wildlife are what the Virgin Islands Park is famous for. Bats are the only mammal native to the island. Wild donkeys and crabs are also common species.

Climate[edit]

The climate conditions at the Virgin Islands National Park are subtropical. The average rainfall per year is 55 inches (1,400 mm). In the winter, trade winds blow from 11 to 21 knots (39 km/h). The average temperature for the park is 79 °F (26 °C). At the Virgin Islands, the dominant plant species are dry tropical forest plants.

Seasonality

There is very little temperature difference between summer and winter and the sea is warm year round. The tourist season is from December to April and outside of those months prices for accommodations drop considerably. Camping is available in the park, as well as lodging.

Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay[edit]

Trunk Bay is a body of water and a beach on Saint John in the United States Virgin Islands. It has consistently been voted one of the Ten Best Beaches in The World by Condé Nast Traveler magazine and has received similar recognition from other publications.[4] The National Geographic Society has labeled Trunk Bay as the most beautiful beach in the world.[citation needed] It is one of the most popular beaches on the island whose amenities include a snack bar, showers and restrooms, lifeguards, and an underwater trail for snorkeling its coral reef.[4] Trunk Bay is the only National Park beach on Saint John which requires a fee to visit.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  3. ^ Singer, Gerald (2006). "St. John USVI Trails: Petroglyphs Trail". St. John Off The Beaten Track. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Places to Go". Retrieved 7 March 2011. 

External links[edit]