What is one of the best ways to truly experience how wonderful our world is? Visiting our National Parks and seeing all of that wonderful land for yourself in person is a great start. There are so many great national parks, your only problem might lie in which ones to see first.
Here are the top 10 national parks to see in your lifetime:
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is an amazing sight to see with its sandstone cliffs that tower overhead, beautiful brooks and amazing canyons. For centuries, the Virgin River has made its way to the desert by carving its way through the canyon. This natural occurrence has created huge sandstone monoliths that cover over 146,000 acres. These cliffs stretch high into the sky and they’re so beautiful that you may feel like you’re standing in the middle of a painting. The system of gorges that run through the canyon cover about 15 miles and the average drop is about half a mile.
Visitors can climb these gorgeous cliffs, hike through the canyons or marvel over the amazing variety of wildlife that lives within the park. There are so many things to see at Zion National Park such as Angel’s Landing and Weeping Rock, that you may want to consider camping out for a couple of days so you can really enjoy your trip.
Shenandoah National Park
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You will absolutely love all there is to see and do at Shenandoah National Park. If you enjoy hiking, this is the place to be. Located about 75 miles from Washington D.C., this park has trails that stretch for over 500 miles so there is plenty to see and do. Part of the park stretches over the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers gorgeous scenery that you just want see anywhere else. You can enjoy the sights by hiking or riding your bike through the trails.
If you prefer to stay in your vehicle, you can enjoy the sights by creeping along the Skyline Drive. This is the only public road that goes through the park and it runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for approximately 105 miles. You can also stop along the way to relax and have a picnic in front of a cascading waterfall or enjoy the wildlife and other spectacular views you’ll see when visiting this park.
Yosemite National Park
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Yosemite is famous for many reasons. You will find it in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and it features the famous, giant sequoias as well as the Tunnel View. You can see the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. The views are breathtaking and the scenery is fantastic. This is one place you definitely want to see in your lifetime
Who doesn’t recognize the Grand Canyon? Even if you’ve never been there, you’ve surely heard about the spectacular sights this natural park has to offer or seen some of its beauty in movies. Millions of people travel from all over the world to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It’s one of those places that most people plan to see at least once during their travels because it is so famous.
Scientists believe that this particular park holds many secrets that tell all about the earth’s history. It’s also full of various types of wildlife that include bighorn sheep, elk, mountain lions, coyotes and falcons. It’s the home to the golden eagle and the bald eagle along with many other birds and animals.
Visitors can hike through the trails or take a stroll through the Inner Canyon when you can get a little closer to nature. Get a close up view of the park by taking a mule ride or explore the canyon from above by booking a helicopter tour. If you’re searching for a little more excitement, go white water rafting or cycling. The Grand Canyon stretches for 277 miles and it took billions of years to form. Sitting on the rim of this enormous canyon can certainly help you put things in perspective.
Olympic National Park
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At Olympic National Park, you can explore three different and very distinctive ecosystems. Located in Washington State, part of the park runs along the rugged shore of the outer arc along the Pacific Ocean. There’s also beautiful snow covered mountains with subalpine meadows sprouting up in-between each peak on one side and a moderate rain forest with soothing rivers on the other. Olympic National Park covers almost one million acres so it’s important to know which area you want to explore before heading out to the park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains are found on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. It’s full of thick, lush forests, beautiful wildflowers, and much more. You can hike along the Appalachian Trail, go horseback riding, camping, cycling, picnicking, fishing, or touring. You can see the waterfalls and the wildlife that call this area home. There are many activities to enjoy and great sights to see.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
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This national park is located in the state of Hawaii and there is a whole lot going on here. The eruption of Kīlauea volcano continues at two locations so you can see this from the overlook areas. Only one location is currently open to the public for safe viewing. You can plan your visit based on how long you plan to stay but there is camping, lodging, tours and more.
Rocky Mountain National Park
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You will find this beautiful mountain park at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. There’s hiking, scenic drives, tours, camping and so much more. You will love the family fun, the learning opportunities and also the breathtaking views of these amazing mountains. The park has waterfalls, great trails, and wildlife of the area.
Yellowstone National Park
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Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Most of the park is located in Wyoming but parts spread into Montana and Idaho as well. There are rivers, canyons, natural hot springs, lush forest and even gushing geysers. You may know Yellowstone for its most famous geyser, Old Faithful. You will also find a variety of wildlife in the park such as bison, bears, wolves, elf and antelope.
Grand Teton National Park
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Grand Teton National Park is found at the northwest corner of Wyoming. It includes the Teton mountain range, 4000-meter Grand Teton Peak, as well as the valley of Jackson Hole. It’s linked to nearby Yellowstone National Park by the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway but worth seeing on its own as well. You can enjoy camping, hiking, tours, nearby attractions, ranger-led tours and more. This is one to put on your bucket list for sure.
While these are our picks for the top 10, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. This alone is enough to spend a lifetime exploring but there are even more great national parks in our country for you to explore once you’ve checked these off your bucket list.