With 58 national parks spanning the U.S, it can be impossible to decide which one to journey to. Whether you’re looking to hike, swim, climb, camp, or just bask in the bounty of Mother Nature, you’re bound to find it all at any of these parks.
1. Yosemite National Park
Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park stands as one of the most beautiful blends of natural beauty in the U.S. From Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall, to El Capital, the world’s largest piece of granite, Yosemite offers it all. Look up in awe at the Mariposa Grove, which holds a collection of nearly 500 giant sequoias, or look down in wonder at Glacier Point, a summit that reveals a panoramic view of the park’s main highlights.
There’s the Half Dome, an immense collection of vast rocks that only the bravest hikers dare to ascend. There’s Tuolumne Meadows, where water flows through a channel of rock formations flocked by trees on either side. And of course, there are the park’s most popular lakes, the Cathedral Lakes, which you can swim through or rent a raft in.
Yosemite is filled with an overwhelming amount of opportunities to hike, climb, swim, and explore, making it one of America’s most beloved parks.
2. Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park, located in Arizona, is home to the marvelous Grand Canyon, a tower of brick red layered rocks that took over 70 million years to form. You can hike through the canyons yourself, or take a specialized tour to view them. The Rim Trail is known to offer one of the most scenic walks in North America, and the Bright Angel Hike is one of the most popular trails in the park.
Hermit Road and Desert View Drive will take you through beautiful viewpoints to absorb the best of the park, with Grandpoint view serving as the highest one. You can glide through the canyons through a newly installed zipline, which takes you 1,000 feet above the rocks at 50 miles an hour.
3. Zion National Park
Marked by steep red and pink cliffs, Zion National Park stands as the most popular park in Utah. Zion is most notable for its colorful rocky landscape and leaping rivers that pour into gigantic waterfalls.
The park has a collection of over a thousand species of desert plants, making it a great place to witness nature at its finest. One of its main highlights is Zion Canyon, a large road that races through canyons shuffled between towering cliffs.
You can hike to Angel’s Landing, one of the more difficult of the hiking trails, or The Narrows, which follows a river through the canyons. One of the most popular sites is the Weeping Rock, which is made up of lush hanging gardens dangling off a cling wall, which sometimes turns into a waterfall.
4. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park sits between three different states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The park houses a stunning collection of wildlife, including bears, bison, deer, sheep, wolves, birds, and more.
The entire park is set up on a volcanic hot spot, which created its unique and incredible geological features. The Mammoth Hot Springs, which are comprised of around 100 hot springs on a hill of white travertine rocks, is the imprint of an eruption that occurred nearly 600,000 years ago.
There’s Old Faithful, the most popular of many geysers in the park, which erupts every 90 minutes in a whirlpool of water and steam shooting into the sky.
The Grand Prismatic Springs, which is the largest hot spring in the U.S, is famous for the multicolored orange, yellow, and green rings that encircle its deep blue waters. The park offers an array of waterfalls, lakes, and trails, all of which can be viewed on a scenic drive through the park.
5. Arches National Park
Arches National Park, another Utah-based park, holds a kaleidoscope of different colors and natural formations. The park is known for its sandstone arches, like the Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch, which are splayed out in beautiful configurations that dazzle visitors with their fluctuating light and shadows.
There are scenic trails all throughout the park, making it perfect for hiking aficionados. Simple hiking trails can take you to the Balanced Rock, a 128-foot boulder that stands on a rock, and the Entrada sandstone, which is made up of large freestanding walls.
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