The diversity of the United States’ landscape is apparent by observing the many national parks that are spread throughout the country. In total the national parks cover more than 84 million acres of land, attracting over 275 million visitors each year.
Here is a look at 25 of the most popular and amazing national parks.
Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)
America’s first national park, and possibly the most well-known, Yellowstone is home to amazing wildlife. It’s also famous for its geysers, including Old Faithful. Yellowstone is a great site for camping, backpacking, boating, fishing, hiking and more.
Grand Teton (Wyoming)
Grand Teton Nation Park is connected to Yellowstone by the Rockefeller Parkway. The Teton Mountain range, lakes and wildlife are major attractions at this national park.
Mount Rainier (Washington)
Mount Rainier Nation Park includes over 200,000 acres on the west side of the Cascade mountain range. Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascades and an active volcano.
Bryce Canyon (Utah)
Bryce Canyon offers wonderful views and great hiking along canyons trails and the rim. The park has a number of different viewpoints for taking in the sunrise, sunset or just spectacular view of the canyon.
Home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, Arches Nation Park is home to amazing geology and landscapes. The views can be taken in from a car or during a hike. There are several different hiking trails available depending on the level of challenge you’re looking for and how much time you have to spend.
Big Bend (Texas)
Big Bend National Park includes mountains, desert, and a river in its more than 800,000 acres. At the edge of the park is the Rio Grande, the border between Mexico and the U.S.
Great Smokey Mountains (Tennessee and North Carolina)
America’s most visited national park lies at the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The mountains and forest are great for hiking to mountain peaks or just taking in a nice view. Possible activities include camping, hiking, fishing, bicycling, horseback riding and more.
Badlands (South Dakota)
Badlands National Park includes one of the largest mixed-grass prairie ecosystems in the United States. There is plenty to observe and discover in the parks nearly 250,000 acres. During the summer guided tours are available for taking in all that the park has to offer.
Crater Lake (Oregon)
Crater Lake lies in a volcanic basin at the crest of the Cascade mountain range. At almost 2,000 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest in the U.S. Snow remains even into the summer months, leaving a brief summertime window.
Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
More than 100 of the largest caves in the U.S. are located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert. There are a few self-guided tours available, as well as guided tours.
Great Basin (Nevada)
Great Basin National Park provides opportunities for cave tours, scenic drives, hikes, camping, stargazing, and more. The park offers a chance to experience the desert and is home to the Lehman Caves.
Glacier National Park includes mountains, forests, meadows and lakes, and over 700 miles of trails. Activities include hiking, camping (13 campgrounds), biking, boating and more. Over 2 million people visit the park each year.
Glacier Bay (Alaska)
Glacier Bay includes glaciers, snow-capped mountain ranges, ocean coastlines, deep fjords, and freshwater rivers and lakes. Because most of the park is water, cruises are a great way to see Glacier Bay. The park provides plenty of wilderness adventures such as camping and hiking.
Kenai Fjords (Alaska)
At the tip of the Kanai Peninsula, Kanai Fjords National Parks offers a dynamic ecosystem. Take a boat tour or a kayak ride through the fjords, or enjoy a scenic hike. The park offers vast wildlife in addition to the opportunity to observe glaciers and icefields.
Grand Canyon (Arizona)
The Grand Canyon is 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide and a mile deep. Nearly 5 million people visit the canyon each year. Those who are up for a challenge have amazing opportunities for hiking and river running. Visitors can take in the amazing view at the easily-accessible south rim or take the journey to the less-frequently-visited north rim.
Death Valley (California, Nevada)
The huge desert park has temperatures over 100 degrees from April through October. There are 9 campgrounds in the park, with many of them closing during summer months due to the heat. Ranger-guided programs and tours are available to experience the vast park.
In nearly 1,200 square miles, Yosemite National Park offers waterfalls, valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. Activities include hiking, biking, fishing, backpacking, bus tours, water activities and more.
Kings Canyon (California)
Kings Canyon National Park is located in the southern Sierra Nevada, near Sequoia National Park. The park includes mountains, canyons, caverns, and more. Conditions in the park vary greatly by elevation (1,300 feet to over 14,000 feet) and by season.
Great Sand Dunes (Colorado)
Over 300,000 visitors make the trip to Great Sand Dunes Nation Park each year. The park includes a diversity of desert, forest and tundra and an unusual combination of landscapes.
Rocky Mountain (Colorado)
Elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park range from 8,000 feet in the valleys to over 14,000 feet at Long’s Peak. The park includes over 400 square miles of wilderness. Activities include hiking, skiing, fishing, camping, scenic drives and more.
Mesa Verde (Colorado)
Mesa Verde National Park offers a look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who inhabited the area from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. The park includes over 4,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings. The tours provide excellent educational opportunities.
Hawaii Volcanoes (Hawaii)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park includes two of the world’s most-active volcanoes and provides excellent views of the Hawaiian landscape. The park can be visited by car in just a few hours, or the home to plenty of activity for a few days.
Mammoth Cave (Kentucky)
Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world’s longest cave system with more than 365 miles. Activities include cave tours, hiking on the surface, canoeing on the Green River, biking, camping and more.
Zion National Park is filled with unique sandstone cliffs. The park provides a wealth of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, photography, birdwatching, biking and more.
The glaciated landscape of Denali National Park supports a very diverse wildlife. Possible activities include guided tours, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, backpacking, camping, fishing and more. Although the park is open year-round, most visitors come during the summer months.
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