The USA is fortunate to have abundant beautiful parks to visit. From the purple mountain majesties to the amber waves of grain, the drama and diversity of America’s natural landscape can only be rivalled by a few other nations. Summing them up, there are more than 390 US national parks which are maintained by the National Park Service.
Whether you are from the East coast, the West coast, in the Midwest or located in the Rockies, there are lots of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy these magnificent parks on holiday or vacation. Encompassing swamplands, active volcanoes, painted deserts and sequoia forests, these protected areas indeed provide adventurous visitors with firsthand looks at the unique beauty of the untouched American wilderness.
National parks offer everything from photography, wonderful hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities to boating or even stargazing. There is a lot to be done at any one of these national parks and it is also a fantastic way of spending time with the family either as a travel vacation or a day trip. Educational and the serenity of these parks makes a very relaxing experience. For more information see the National Parks Service website. Here is our choice of the top 10 US National Parks:
1. Bryce Canyon National Park- Utah
Bryce Canyon, located in Utah, stands alone among the natural phenomena with its spires which reach an elevation of about 2,000 feet and vibrant red rock structures. The horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters which make up this national park provides stunning view of the hoodoos; the unique geological formation shaped like oversize totem poles which are a result of erosion and frost weathering. While most visitors usually experience the scenic drive that has an access to 13 viewpoints along its way, the magical beauty of Bryce Canyon is best seen at the foot. For elevated experiences, visitors opt to see this park on horseback for a whole day. Canyon Trail Rides offers two-hour tours of the canyon floor and a half-day expedition with views of the 1,600 years old Bristlecone Pine trees and the wall of windows in in Peekaboo Loop.
2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park- New Mexico
Situated in Guadalupe Mountains of the South Eastern parts of New Mexico, far from any city lights, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is among the greatest places to view the night sky in a new way. This park offers full star and moon party tours to take place in the natural illumination. However, the real highlight is the 117 marvelous caves that are formed by sulfuric acid which has eaten away limestone. The rock stunning “cathedral”-like interior and formations are nearly without any rival. Visitors can take both guided and unguided tours of the Spider Cave and the Hall of the White Giant and also watch the Mexican free-tail bats bursting from Carlsbad Cavern at dusk during summer.
3. Death Valley National Park- California
Death Valley National Park is simply a world of extremes. The park is situated below the sea level and features stark deserts and snow-capped peaks. The freak rainstorms usually bring on wildflower blooms as well as abounding the hidden pockets of wildlife. The land of contrasts is a special place for photographers who are looking to capture the quiet beauty. This rustic park is a great home for daily driving and hiking excursions like trips to Scotty’s Castle
4. Denali National Park- Alaska
For the overachievers who always want to be on top, Denali National Park is their choice of destination. It is home to the highest peak in Northern America; Mount McKinley. The area’s myriad landscape; from rocky terrain, deciduous taiga forests, glaciers, snow-covered mountains and changes with the seasons. Visitors can enjoy backpacking and mountaineering during the warm summer months and dog sledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing during snowy winters. These activities usually bring in various groups of travelers
5. Everglades National Park- Florida
This is largest subtropical wilderness in U.S and also the largest area for the wildlife East of the Mississippi. Everglades National Park is definitely in a league of its own. It was first created to protect the fragile ecosystem and currently it is a home to more than 36 endangered species including the American crocodile, West Indian manatee and Florida panther. The best way of getting inside the world of Everglades is by immersing yourself in the place using airboat safari or off-road hummer tours.
6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park- Hawaii
For primordial experiences, head to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is a home of 2 active volcanoes; Mauna Loathe world’s largest) and Kilauea. The vivid landscape changes on daily basis due to continuous flow of lava. A helicopter tour will truly brings home the magnificence of this landscape whereas a boat expedition will get you up personal and close with one of the newest lands on earth where molten lava normally flows into the water.
7. Glacier National Park- Montana
Glacier National Park was started in 1910, with around one million acres of land and 25 “active” glaciers which are constantly moving due to melting and thawing. The park has over 700 miles of trails for hiking that includes the “Going-to-the-Sun Road,” which is a 50-mile walk providing some of the spectacular views of Montana thus making it the one of the most popular tourist destinations. Located on the United States-Canada border, this park encompasses 2 mountain ranges, more than 130 lakes, over 1,000 different plant species and hundreds of different animals. For a taste of the true wilderness, an overnight hike via the backcountry will be a great getaway
8. Rocky Mountain National Park- Colorado
Hikers will rejoice Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park that has over 300 miles of trails for hiking as well as the opportunity to gain real altitude; the tallest amongst the 60 peaks rises out at 14,259 feet. The Trail Ridge Road of the park crests at more than 12,000 feet while the surrounding 415 square miles comprises of stunning vistas and alpine wonderlands. By taking advantage of great outdoors, travelers will experience field seminars and get to learn about the neighboring flora and fauna.
9. Yellowstone National Park- Wyoming
Classic destinations have always stood the test of time and Yellowstone certainly qualifies as the first national park in the world. Most notably, the park is home of Old Faithful Geysers and also park features impressive collections of lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Centered over largest super volcano in the world; Yellowstone Caldera, the park is an outstanding destination for wildlife viewing during spring, fall and summer. It is also an ideal area for skiing during the winter.
10. Yosemite National Park- Wyoming
The indelible pictures of Yosemite National Park which were made famous by photographer Ansel Adams in the early twentieth century still pales in comparison to the reality. A half-day drive from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, Yosemite cuts a very wide swath via the Central Sierra Nevada which is characterised by hidden waterfalls, grand views, boulder fields and glacial lakes. A rock climber’s mecca and backpacker’s paradise, this park offers innumerable options for the casual naturalists as well as adventurers. Yosemite Valley is the home to iconic features like El Capitan and Half Dome.