Next Episode of America the Beautiful is
America's vast and iconic landscapes host climates and terrains that are as diverse as its people. In advance of the National Park Service's 2016 centennial celebration, Travel Channel's America the Beautiful, narrated by Robert Redford, takes viewers well beyond ordinary sightseeing and showcases truly immersive experiences in some of America's most beloved national parks.
Professional kayakers Rush Sturges and Evan Garcia return to familiar grounds as they take on the raging rapids along the Columbia River Gorge. Approaching the river, they instantly feel the freezing temperatures of the water. The fast-flowing river leads to a 30-foot waterfall. Evan explains that he is recovering from a serious rib injury; so, even though he is joining Rush, he doesn't know if he will want to risk dropping over the waterfall. They start to paddle down the river, battling the treacherous water and dodging logs and rock hazards in the way. Before reaching the 30-foot waterfall drop, they stop to discuss Evan's chances of hitting it. He decides to go for it with no hesitation. Rush and Evan run the falls successfully and reflect on their excitement of being able to have this incredible scenery in their backyard. On Mt. Hood, cave explorers Eddy Cartaya and Barb Williams enter a glacier cave to perform research. Approaching the entrance they notice the drastic difference in size from previous visits. Due to warming temperatures, the cave is rapidly melting and falling apart, there are multiple cracks in the ceiling and huge chunks of ice on the ground. Eddy and Barb work quickly to avoid witnessing a potential collapse. They measure the cave and gather useful data as the walls of ice melt around them. After collecting as much research as they can, they escape the cave unharmed. Outside, they look back and wonder how much longer it will be intact, hoping they can continue to study it but realizing it may disappear much sooner than expected. In Crater Lake National Park, Bill Anders helps Jennifer Gifford maintain the hiking trails along one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world, Crater Lake. To preserve the serenity of the wilderness around the lake, they use an old school crosscut saw to clear a log in the hiking trail, so hikers can continue to enjoy the beauty of this landscape.
At Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, burn boss Mike Knight uses fire to preserve ancient habitats in the area, including the last remaining stands of old growth bald cypress. Before his entire team arrives, Mike scouts the location of where the fire will be started. He is joined by Evan, an intern who has a passion for restoring nature. Mike shows Evan around the site. He explains how these environments need fire to thrive and also warns him of some of the dangers of setting off a controlled burn. The rest of the crew arrives and they start lighting up sections of the sanctuary. Mike explains that, as much as they try to control the direction of the burn, nature ultimately decides. Sections of the fire start getting out of hand, and some of their equipment fails. However, the crew takes every precaution, making sure the operation runs smoothly. In the end, the burn is successful and Mike and Evan reflect on how important these processes are to preserving old ecosystems. On the Florida panhandle, underwater cave divers Brett and Matt swim over 2400 feet into the dark abyss to search for signs of a potential sinkhole that is degrading the precious Floridan aquifer. Brett and Matt are extremely experienced cave divers. Cave divers have discovered trash in a remote section of the cave, so today they are bringing a device called a radio locator to see if the trash is coming in through an aboveground sinkhole. They also bring Becky, who will be filming their journey. As they get ready to enter the cave they make sure all of their equipment and backup air tanks are working. Brett explains that they must take a redundant amount of equipment, since there is only one way in and out of the cave, and they don't want to get trapped. The divers scooter through the cave until they finally find the room with the trash. They battle the heavy flow as they attempt to place the radio locator in the proper position so that the team above the surface can follow its signal. By the time they get the locator in place, Brett is running out of gas in his air tank. He is able to replace his tank with an extra one as they successfully swim out of the cave. The signal from the radio locator leads the aboveground team directly to a sinkhole, confirming how the trash made its way to the bottom of the cave. In the end, Brett explains how precious and fragile the Floridan aquifer is and how we must continue to protect it. Off the coast of Tampa, maritime archaeologist Nicole Morris dives to an old Civil War shipwreck with Danny, a descendant of one of the sailors who died in the shipwreck. Danny has done intensive research on his family tree and found that he is the descendant of a crewman on the USS Narcissus, an old Civil War tugboat that sunk near Egmont Key. Nicole and Danny ride to the wreck's location as Nicole explains to Danny what parts of the ship they will be seeing. Danny is very excited when they arrive at the site and dive in, even though the visibility underwater is not perfect. Nicole lets Danny touch the boiler, a part of the ship his ancestor would have used, and then she takes him to the plaque that recognizes this wreck as a state archaeological preserve. Danny is very moved and thanks Nicole for taking him to witness this personal piece of history.
Mountain-biking legend Lars Romig in Sedona; photographer Ian Ruhter; Becky Stanridge documents the last known herds of wild horses.
The Hudson River Gorge; a flight over Adirondack Park; cliffs in Shawagunk Mountains; New York City's Central Park.
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