It was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park has more geysers and hot springs than anywhere else on the planet. As the first of now more than 350 such areas in the United States, Yellowstone inspired the creation of national parks throughout the world. To learn more, use the direct links on The Times' Launch Point Web site: http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint/ .
Plants and Animals in U.S. National Parks: From porcupines and flying squirrels to geckos and rattlesnakes, there are many animals that live in our national parks. Learn more about these animals, including their habits and their habitats. http://www.nps.gov/interp/haycock/haycock.htm
Park of the Month--Grand Canyon: The mile-deep Grand Canyon displays almost 2 billion years of geological history: volcanic eruptions, upheavals, erosion and even submersion under seawater. Tramp the back trails, valleys and peaks of the Grand Canyon through this photo journey. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/media/books/grandcanyon/
Mt. St. Helens: Take a virtual tour of Mt. St. Helens National Park and learn about its transformation in 1980 from a peaceful mountain to a fiery volcano. View photos and movies of this massive eruption. http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/msh/msh.html
U.S. National Parks: Once a reef at the bottom of an inland sea 250 million years ago, New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns now boasts 83 caves, including the deepest limestone cave in the United States. Find out interesting facts about all the national parks through this directory organized by park and by state. http://www.us-national-parks.net/
In the Big Country--Yosemite National Park: More powerful than wind or air erosion, it was glaciers that carved the likes of El Capitan, Half Dome and Cathedral Rocks. View the work of Ansel Adams and other prominent photographers inspired by Yosemite's impressive rock formations. http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/6788/yosemite.htm
Channel Islands National Park: A group of five islands off the California coast makes up this park, which has 145 species found nowhere else in the world. Read about the many features this park offers: from annual visits of seals and sea lions to an eerie stone forest and the fossilized remains of the Pleistocene pygmy mammoth. http://www.nps.gov/chis/
Great Outdoor Recreation Pages--National Parks: Alaska's Denali National Park is bigger than Massachusetts, and its Mt. McKinley is the highest peak in North America. This guide to our national parks lets you explore parks by categories. http://www.gorp.com/gorp/resource/US_National_Park/main.htm
Park Geology--Tour of National Parks: Wondering which parks have fossils, hot springs or sand dunes? Find out by using this U.S. National Park Directory organized by geological features. http://www.aqd.nps.gov/grd/tour
Yellowstone Journal Online: Yellowstone National Park has the highest concentration of mammals anywhere in the lower 48 states. Learn more about this park's history and wildlife through this collection of articles. http://www.yellowstonepark.com
Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This week's Launch Point was designed by Corinne Coombs, Marilyn Sick, Kirsten Kennelly, Anna Manring and Stan Woo-Sam.
The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.
What are the two most active volcanoes in the world, which are still adding land to the island of Hawaii?
Clue: See Geology Tour of National Parks.
Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 40 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint/ for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.
Answer to last week's Quest: An "onnagate" is a man who plays the role of a woman in Kabuki theater.