Every year, people worldwide flock to America’s national parks to enjoy their natural beauty. From a stunning array of diverse landscapes to dramatic canyons, there’s plenty to explore as a national traveler. Here are ten great parks to consider visiting this year.
1. Yellowstone National Park
As a national traveler, Yellowstone is a must-have on your list of destinations. After all, it’s America’s first National Park. Some say visiting this park is like stumbling into a new world you never knew existed.
It offers unique adventures and experiences, including beautiful views, stunning hiking trails, geysers shooting water up to 100 feet, and a favorite for most people, the Old Faithful. According to the National Park Foundation, When the first visitors to Yellowstone attempted to report their findings, news publications said, ‘Thank you, but we don’t print fiction.’ With its multicolored hot springs, stunning waterfalls, and mud spots, it’s easy to think it’s otherworldly. Nothing compares to Yellowstone, and there’s something for everyone, from youngsters to grandparents.
It was established in 1872 and is primarily in Wyoming. Yellowstone is still one of America’s most popular national parks. It receives millions of visitors annually. This amazing park spans about 3,500 miles long. It stretches into parts of Idaho and Montana, making it one of the largest in the United States. It sits on a dormant volcano and has the most hot springs and geysers in the world.
There’s plenty to explore, from wildlife like wolves, grizzly bears, and America’s largest buffalo herd to the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. The park has over half of the world’s hydrothermal features, which makes the ground look like it’s on fire. It’s also an active geothermal area. This unique national park is filled with wonders.
2. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s Seven Wonders and makes a great addition to the list of destinations for any national traveler. Its unmatched natural beauty is recognized around the world. According to Under 30 Experiences, this National Park encompasses 446 kilometers of the Colorado River. This includes the famous Grand Canyon, which features layered bands of colorful rock that reveal millions of years of intriguing geological history.
The three most popular ways to view the Grand Canyon National Park’s beauty are whitewater rafting, donkey rides, and rim-to-rim hiking. However, you can also bike if it’s your cup of tea. Besides the natural beauty, this park has several National Historic Landmarks and amazing museums. Whether searching for a picturesque drive to see the park’s attractions or a multi-day excursion, you have plenty of options that won’t disappoint.
Long before Instagram, photographers flocked to Grand Canyon National Park to photograph the park’s famed vast landscapes and magnificent panoramas. You’ve probably seen images stashed away in family scrapbooks or stuck to refrigerators. Your visit to this park isn’t complete without a photo with that iconic backdrop.
Depending on the season and time of day, the desert scenery can change dramatically. During sunrise, orange and crimson tones blanket the rocks. On cloudy days, you’ll witness amazing hues of blue and purple.
Besides the beautiful views, the Grand Canyon also offers camping opportunities for groups of friends and families. The one-of-a-kind experience allows you to select between an RV and a tent, then enjoy the various activities that make camping in the Grand Canyon National Park an unforgettable experience. You can enjoy a picnic while admiring the breathtaking scenery or go on a bike ride while exploring the expanse of this park. If you’re worried about how or where you’ll go to the bathroom, you can always get an affordable porta john rental.
3. Acadia National Park
The Acadia National Park, one of New England’s jewels, is a great destination for any national traveler. It’s known for its pristine wilderness that stays gorgeous all year round. The park is located along Maine’s Atlantic Coast. It comprises a few islands, so no matter where you visit within the park, beauty surrounds you! Acadia may not be the country’s oldest national park. Still, it’s the oldest one east of the Mississippi River.
Most national parks experience issues with traffic and parking, which is usually a source of headaches for most visitors. The National Park Service has made things easier by offering a free shuttle bus service. Simply park your car and ride the shuttle bus, which will transport you practically everywhere within the park for free!
There are several hiking and biking routes along the shore of Acadia National Park, so if you’re looking for a physically engaging adventure, you will have great fun here. Kayaking and horseback riding are also offered within the area. Bring your bike to the park to ride along the trails. This will allow you to fully enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and get plenty of fresh air. Plus, cycling around the island is much healthier compared to driving your car or hopping on the free shuttle bus.
You can also go camping in this park. According to the National Park Service, Mount Desert Island has two campgrounds. One on the five lean-to shelters on Isle au Haut and another on the Schoodic Peninsula. If you want to bring friends and family along for a camping trip at this park, you must make reservations in advance using the park’s campground pages.
If you plan to use your RV, address any RV engine repair needs before setting out. You don’t want an engine failure interrupting the fun. One of the best things about this park for campers is you don’t have to bring a bear spray. You can enjoy a bear-free mountain adventure.
4. Glacier National Park
The Glacier National Park is a paradise for nature lovers. It’s one of the few intact ecosystems in North America, making it one of the most treasured natural wonders. You can find this park in Northwest Montana. From outdoor adventure opportunities to meadows, forests, and mountain views, there’s something for every national traveler.
The park has plenty of outdoor activities. According to Catch Carri, these include boating, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and an extensive 700 miles of hiking trails. In the winter, the Glacier National Park is ideal for cross-country skiing. Mountaineering, rock climbing, and cycling are popular activities in the other seasons. Anyone who visits this park leaves nourished by the breathtaking views and scenery.
Glacier National Park is home to around 70 mammal and 270 bird species. While many people associate this park with grizzly bears, you’ll be surprised to find more eagles and mountain goats than actual bears. Bighorn sheep, wolverines, gray wolves, and cougars reside here. The skies are home to golden eagles, ospreys and hawks.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must-see for Glacier National Park. The famed scenic route gives guests 50 miles of wildlife viewing and breathtaking scenery. It’s regarded as one of the nicest drives in Northwest Montana, and visitors affirm it year after year.
If you plan to go on this famous drive, ensure your diesel engine is in good condition. Have a mechanic inspect it for potential issues and address any repair needs. Doing this will ensure you enjoy your drive without experiencing inconvenient interruptions.
5. Rocky Mountain National Park
With heights of over 12,000 feet and multiple Alpine lakes, Rocky Mountain National Park boasts some of the most magnificent topography in the continental United States. It’s about 90 miles northwest of Denver and is ideal for nature enthusiasts or anybody wishing to disconnect.
The park is most popular in the summer because of the beautiful weather. Still, autumn is a terrific time for experiencing the changing foliage. You’ll also have a decent chance of seeing wild elk during mating season. The park’s admission fee is $20 per day, but if you plan ahead of time, you may take advantage of free days, according to Paste Magazine.
As always, if you plan to drive your car there, take it in for a maintenance check. It’s always best to go to a specialist when possible. For example, if you have a Honda, take it to a Honda repair shop. The last thing you want is to experience car issues during your trip as a national traveler.
6. Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is a must-travel destination for any national traveler. It’s home to the world’s longest-known cave system and holds thousands of years of human history. Here, you’ll find a rich diversity of animal and plant life, the reason it’s recognized as an International Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides all this, the park also offers camping, canoeing, horseback riding, biking, and hiking opportunities. There’s something for everyone. You’ll find park rangers willing to help you understand the history and provide interesting facts about the park. Most are also great with kids; you may think they have years of babysitting experience. This means a ranger-led tour through the caves, along with engaging storytelling.
If you want to go camping in this park, ensure you have a professional inspect the propane tank. You want it in optimal condition to power the stove, heat water, keep warm, etc. Plus, propane tank issues such as leaks can significantly damage your RV, cause an explosion, or make breathing difficult. Through an inspection, you’ll catch potential issues in their early stages.
7. Great Basin National Park
The Great Basin National Park is another great destination for a national traveler. With cave tours, wonderful campsites, and 10,000-foot hikes, this park is full of family fun. It’s less visited than some of the other national parks, meaning you won’t have to worry about crowds. Great Basin is a hidden treasure.
The highlight of this national park is unquestionably Lehman Caves. You’ll find beautiful cave formations, such as cave bacon and draperies. There are two tours to choose from.
The best one has to be the Grand Palace Tour. However, children must be a minimum of five years old to participate. This package will take you to the most rooms, and you’ll get to see the famous Parachute Shield.
The shorter version of this tour is the Lodge Room Tour, which doesn’t have age restrictions. There’s a limit of 20 people per tour, so make reservations well in advance if you plan to visit. Bring an extra car key to avoid dealing with a car lockout if you want to go camping in this park.
8. Crater Lake National Park
The Crater Lake is America’s deepest lake, with its deepest point being 1,949 ft, according to Winnebago. It was formed over 7,700 hundred years ago after a volcano collapsed. While on a boat tour during a sunny day, you can see about 100 feet into the water.
You’ll also be amazed by how blue the water is when you lay eyes on it. It’s so blue due to its depth and clarity. You have to see it in person; photos don’t do it justice.
For campers, there are two developed campgrounds, Lost Creek and Mazama. However, they’re only open during the summer months. Invest in a utility trailer if you plan to bring along a bicycle, dirt bike, or other large recreational gear. You can either rent or buy.
9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This national park offers over 800 miles of hiking trails for a national traveler to explore. It has 150 approved paths where you’ll see everything from a diverse variety of wildlife, beautiful wildflowers that you can buy at nearby florist shops, and stunning waterfalls. The most visited destination hikes of the park include Rainbow Falls, Chimney Tops, Andrews Bald, and Alum Cave Bluffs.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also remarkable in that it has over 90 historical structures that have been rehabilitated or preserved. The park was populated long before being designated as a national historic site. This means you can find structures dating back hundreds of years, including grist mills, churches, barns, and houses.
10. Arches National Park
The last on our list, but in no way the least, is the Arches National Park. According to Travel Off Path, you’ll find over 2,000 natural sandstone arches here, making it the largest concentration on the planet. To truly appreciate the astonishing scale of these monuments, you need to get up close to them on foot.
This park offers camping opportunities. Travel Off Path says the campsite is about an hour’s drive from Moab. Once you’ve pitched up, you can relax in your Western wear as you sip your favorite drink. The pitch-black skies at night will give you an amazing stargazing experience.
These national parks offer many exploration opportunities for a national traveler. Remember, traveling is always better with friends and family. Get ready for an unforgettable experience!