T

he United States has 62 National Parks, which is more than any other country in the world. From the Alaskan tundra to the Florida swamps, these parks offer an incredible variety of scenery, wildlife, and exciting outdoor adventures for children and adults alike. To help you choose where to visit next, here's a list of some of my favorite national parks.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

The Grand Canyon National Park is not only the second largest canyon in the world, but also one of America's most beautiful and iconic landmarks. It is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. The park has numerous hiking trails that lead you through its awe-inspiring views, including Bright Angel Trail—the most popular trail for tourists to enjoy—and South Kaibab Trail which is longer than Bright Angel Trail but less strenuous (and therefore safer).

The Grand Canyon is home to a wide variety of wildlife including deer, coyotes, and elk among others. If you are lucky enough to spot one of these creatures during your visit there is nothing better than snapping some photos with them!

Yosemite National Park, California.

If you’re looking for a place to spend some quality time in nature, Yosemite National Park is the place to go. Located in California's Sierra Nevada mountains and established in 1890, Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in America.

The park has an elevation of 4,000-plus feet (1,200 meters), making it ideal for springtime hiking when winter snow melts away and colorful wildflowers bloom along trails. You can also find plenty of waterfalls throughout the park—there are over 80 that cascade down sheer cliffs or tumble over rock outcroppings such as El Capitan or Half Dome.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennesee and North Carolina.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. It also holds the record for being the most visited park in the world, with 9.5 million visitors per year. The national park covers a vast area of mountains and forests, as well as some towns and cities that have sprung up over time to support tourism.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (and Montana and Idaho).

Yellowstone National Park is the world's first national park, and it's also one of the most famous in America.

The park is mostly known for its geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots that can be seen around Yellowstone Lake. In addition to these geologically active features are many other animals found within the boundaries of Yellowstone—bears, wolves, elk and more!

Yellowstone is located in three states: Wyoming (the largest state portion), Montana (a medium-sized state portion) and Idaho (smallest but still pretty large).

Zion National Park, Utah.

Zion National Park is a landscape of grandeur. The park is located in southwestern Utah, and is the smallest of the national parks in Utah. Zion Canyon is one of the most famous canyons in all of North America—and definitely worth a visit!

Zion Canyon itself is stunningly beautiful, with its narrow walls rising 1,000 feet above you as you hike through it. And then there are all those red rock formations to add even more color to your photos... The park also offers great opportunities for other outdoor activities like biking or exploring on foot paths like Angel's Landing (which has an elevation gain of 4,300 feet over 4 miles).

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park is the nation's fifth most-visited park. Located in Colorado, near the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake, it's home to more than 300 miles of hiking trails and over 100 peaks above 12,000 feet. The park also features hundreds of alpine lakes and ponds that reflect its dramatic mountain scenery.

The park was established as a national monument by President Woodrow Wilson on January 26, 1915; it became a national park on February 22nd seven years later when President Calvin Coolidge signed an act into law establishing it.

Olympic National Park, Washington.

Olympic National Park is located on the Pacific coast and has two mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades. It’s home to sea lions, seals, whales, salmon and—you guessed it—the Hoh rainforest. Olympic National Park is also home to some fun facts that you might not have known about before:

  • There are more than 700 miles of shoreline
  • The park has more than 9 million acres (that's bigger than Rhode Island)
  • The Hoh Rainforest is one of only four temperate rainforests in North America

Acadia National Park, Maine.

Acadia National Park is the only national park located in the state of Maine. It was established on July 8, 1916 and is one of the smallest national parks in the United States at only 47 square miles. Acadia is also one of only two national parks that does not charge an entrance fee, making it perfect for those who love to explore without having their wallets drained by fees!

Acadia's most famous feature is Cadillac Mountain, which provides some incredible views no matter when you visit—especially at sunrise or sunset when you can witness this mountain turn pink with light! You'll also want to take advantage of free ranger-led walks and talks throughout the park; these will give you an insight into what makes this place so special (hint: it's not just because there aren't any parking meters).

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929, and it has since become a national treasure. The park is home to one of the most pristine areas in North America, with an incredible variety of wildlife and beautiful scenery.

The park’s wildlife includes moose, deer, elk and even coyotes—but don’t be surprised if you come across bison or wolves, either! The geology here is also fascinating: see volcanic rock formations from ancient lava flows at Jackson Lake Dam, then head up the trail to Inspiration Point for stunning views of Mount Owen (13,770 feet), Mount Teewinot (12,741 feet) and Grand Teton itself (13,770 feet). This can all be seen by taking a hike on their loop trail system—a perfect way to get some exercise while exploring this beautiful area!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.

Located in northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a lush green space encompassing 33,000 acres of land. It’s home to a number of historic sites, including the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Metro Parks' Euclid Creek Reservation; there are also several popular hiking trails in the park.

The area was settled by European settlers in 1796 and was originally known as “New Connecticut." The name was changed to “Cuyahoga” (which means "crooked river") when settlers from Connecticut moved westward through Ohio during the mid-1800s. The first major industrial development near Cuyahoga Valley occurred around 1820 with stone quarries for building materials being dug up along its lakeshores. In 1827 a railroad line opened up between Cleveland and Akron, helping spur further economic growth throughout the region.

We hope this list has inspired you to plan a visit to one of the many beautiful national parks.

The U.S. is home to some incredibly scenic vistas, and these 10 parks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the natural wonders that you can enjoy with your family on vacation. Not sure where you want to go? Just remember two things: first, that no matter which park you choose, you’re bound to have an amazing time; second, don’t forget your camera!

To learn more about how to plan the perfect trip to a National Park, check out this class taught by expert traveler, Russ: Travel to the National Parks.

Posted 
Jun 24, 2022
 in 
Travel
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