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U.S. National Parks: Which Ones to Visit and Why

Grand Canyon Panorama

Last Updated on June 16, 2021

If you want to explore the national parks of the United States, you have plenty to choose from. There are currently 63 national parks in the country, all of which provide visitors with unique natural wonders to explore and many outdoor activities to enjoy. But the following four US national parks are arguably the best of all.

Glacier National Park

Located in northwestern Montana on the US and Canada border, Glacier National Park covers one million acres and boasts two mountain ranges, including subranges of the Rockies. It’s also home to more than 130 lakes and 1,000 different species of plants, as well as hundreds of animal species, including bighorn sheep, elks, mule deer, coyotes, and cougars, as well as two threatened species: the lynx and the grizzly bear. Glacier National Park is so-called because it contains remnants of glaciers from the ice age.

Cracker Lake

Grand Canyon National Park

Some world-famous places are a bit of a let-down when you see them in person because you’ll have already seen images of them again and again. Think of the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But things work the other way around with the Grand Canyon. Seeing as the Arizona canyon is around 277 miles in length, 18 miles wide, and up to a mile deep, you simply cannot gauge the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon from photos and videos alone. Formed over millions of years via the Colorado River cutting through the rock, the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly one of the most incredible natural wonders on the planet. While the South Rim is the most popular area for sightseers, if you want to get away from the crowds, visit the North Rim, where you can walk more secluded trails and camp in the backwoods. There’s plenty to do in the Grand Canyon National Park beyond exploring the red-hue landscape. The top things to do in the Grand Canyon include taking a scenic train ride, rafting down the Colorado River, and taking an amazing helicopter tour over the canyon.which National Parks to visit

Yosemite National Park

If you’re looking for a true wilderness experience, the best US national park to visit is undoubtedly Yosemite in Northern California. The park, which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, is nearly 95% wilderness. Yosemite is world-famous for its beautiful mountains, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and sequoia groves full of million-old trees. The national park covers 1,200 square miles, but most visitors stick within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley, where most of the tourist activities are available. If you enjoy rock climbing, you’ll especially enjoy what Yosemite National Park has to offer, but there are plenty of other exciting outdoor activities you can do, such as cycling and rafting, and skiing in the wintertime.

Yosemite

Yellowstone National Park

When Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, it became the first United States national park. In fact, it’s thought to be the very first national park on the planet. With its dramatic mountainous peaks, pristine lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and verdant forests, the park remains one of the most popular national parks in the world. There are even volatile geysers that launch steam without warning, such as the well-known Old Faithful geyser. In addition to the glorious landscape, the park contains an abundance of wildlife, including coyotes, Rocky Mountain wolves, Canadian lynxes, grizzly and black bears, cougars, and much more. The park, which is mostly located in northwest Wyoming but also extends into Montana and Idaho, is also home to the largest herd of bison in the United States. With more than 3,000 miles to explore at Yellowstone and such an abundance of things to see and do, this national park should most definitely be at the top of your list of US national parks to visit.

Bison in Yellowstone

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons. (1) Cracker Lake by Troy Smith; (2) Yellowstone National Park by Naoki Nakashima; (3) Bison in Yellowstone by Pedro Szekely

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