North America

The Best National Parks in the USA

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Reserved as fine examples of the United States’ natural beauty, the country’s national parks are nothing short of captivating. If you’re planning a visit stateside, why not check out some of the best national parks in the USA? Scattered far and wide across the country, you’ll certainly be spoilt for choice!

Yosemite National Park

Location: California, USA

Declared a national park in 1890 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, California’s Yosemite National Park covers an awe-inspiring 302,687 hectares of untouched wilderness. Encompassing mighty mountains, ethereal waterfalls, incredible natural formations and so much more, the park is diverse, remarkable and the perfect place for a spot of adventure. From unforgettable hikes through to kayaking and camping, there are so many different ways to explore and experience this magical part of the United States. Plan a trip to Yosemite Falls and the Half Dome or make the most of your time outdoors with a visit to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias or Glacier Point.

Major attractions:

  • Yosemite Falls. Taking out the title of the highest waterfall in North America, these spectacular falls are best viewed in late spring.
  • Half Dome. A striking rock formation, this granite dome is popular with both hikers and rock climbers.
  • Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Comprised of around 500 mature sequoia trees, the grove is home to some of the oldest living things on the planet.
  • Glacier Point. Bringing visitors close to eye level with the Half Dome, this spot offers fantastic panoramic views of Yosemite Valley.
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Ursi Schmied on Unsplash.

Yellowstone National Park

Location: Wyoming, USA

The first of its kind in the United States, Yellowstone National Park is not only one of the country’s best-known national parks, but is also home to the world’s largest concentration of geysers. Welcoming more than four million visitors annually, the park’s 89,9100 hectares feature countless examples of incredible natural phenomena, rewarding scenic trails and plenty of great opportunities to encounter some of the region’s most famous species in the wild, including elk, buffalo and wolves. No visit to the park would be complete without seeing the iconic Old Faithful geyser in action, admiring the beauty of the Grand Prismatic Spring, or stopping by Lamar Valley or the spectacular Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.

Major attractions:

  • Old Faithful. A world-renowned icon of the park, this geyser, as its name suggests, erupts regularly close to every 90 minutes.
  • Grand Prismatic Spring. The largest of its kind in the USA, this spring’s rainbow waters have been created by colourful bacteria.
  • Lamar Valley. One of the best places in the park to spot wildlife, you might have the chance to see buffalo, wolves, elk, bears and other native species.
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. An otherworldly formation formed by limestone, thermal water and some incredible natural processes.
Photo by Nicolasintravel on Unsplash

Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona, USA

The home of one of the United States’ most legendary natural attractions, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is remarkable both in terms of its scale and unrivalled beauty. Covering a mammoth 492,608 hectares, the park, which was established shortly after the turn of the 20th century, is not only the perfect place to head if you’re wanting to admire the Grand Canyon, but also provides plenty of opportunities to get up close to some of its best features. Tour the South Rim as you follow the Rim Trail, stop by the Desert View Watchtower for incredible views of the park, or savour the rewards of your hard work with a visit to beautiful Havasu Falls.

Major attractions:

  • South Rim. Open all year round, this is the most popular place to admire the beauty of the remarkable Grand Canyon.
  • Rim Trail. A scenic trail great for hiking or biking, this pathway makes its way along 21 beautiful kilometres of the Grand Canyon’s southern rim.
  • Havasu Falls. Accessible via a difficult hike, the beautiful turquoise waters of these falls make the long journey well and truly worth the effort.
  • Desert View Watchtower. One of the highest spots along the rim, this spot offers great views of the Colorado River, Painted Desert and beyond.
Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash

Zion National Park

Location: Utah, USA

Located in Southern Utah, Zion National Park is most synonymous for its dramatic sandstone cliffs, deep canyons and spectacular hiking trails, which attract more than four million visitors  every year. The park, which is home to around 85% of the state’s native plants and animals, is captivating in appearance and can be experienced in many different ways. Squeeze through close-to-touching cliffs as you follow the waters of the Virgin River through the Narrows, enjoy a spot of sightseeing from the comfort of your own vehicle along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, or challenge yourself with a hike to the unforgettable Observation Point.

Major attractions:

  • The Narrows. One of the most popular hikes in the park and perhaps best experienced in summer, the trail follows the Virgin River through some of the canyon’s narrowest sections.
  • Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. A great way to see the park from the comfort of your own vehicle, the 87 km drive winds its way past some of Zion’s most iconic landmarks.
  • Observation Point. The reward for a long and difficult hike, Observation Point offers some of the best views in the park.
  • The Great White Throne. A giant white granite monolith, this natural feature is one of the park’s most impressive landmarks.
Photo by Frances Gunn on Unsplash

Glacier National Park

Location: Montana, USA

Straddling the border between the United States and Canada, Montana’s Glacier National Park houses some of the country’s best scenery. With its countless lakes, lush forests, dozens of waterfalls and an array of breathtaking mountain peaks, the park is popular with hiking enthusiasts, nature lovers and sightseers alike. Pristine and largely untouched by human activity, Glacier National Park is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and enjoy some crisp, fresh air. Soak up the sights with a visit to Lake McDonald, a stroll along the captivating Trail of the Cedars or with a drive along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Major attractions:

  • Lake McDonald. The largest lake in the park, it is surrounded by breathtaking peaks and attracts all manner of wildlife.
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road. An incredible 80 km roadway, this is a fantastic way to see glaciers, valleys, waterfalls and more from the comfort of your own vehicle.
  • Trail of the Cedars. One of two wheelchair-accessible trails in the park, this walkway passes beautiful cedar forest and stunning waterfalls.
  • Chief Mountain. One of the park’s most prominent landmarks, this unusually shaped peak stands tall above wide open plains.
Photo by Christopher Zarriello on Unsplash

Hero image: Photo by Christopher Zarriello on Unsplash

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