10 Must See US National Parks!
If you are planning a trip to the US any time soon be sure to add a few nature spots to the agenda. The US has been blessed with so many wild places, from the Grand Canyon and surrounding rock formations in Utah to wildlife rich Everglades and Yellowstone National Parks.
The US is full of great National and State Parks and nature lovers could spend years exploring these canyons, forests and mountains in all seasons. Here is a list of 10 of the best.
1. Yellowstone National Park- Wyoming.
The grand daddy of national parks and the first ever, Yellowstone a geothermal wonderland full of bubbling mud pots, steaming pools and geysers. Scattered among the ancient landscape an abundance of wildlife can be found from, elk, bison, black bear, marmot, bighorn sheep and the famous grizzly. If there is only one park you could visit in America, Yellowstone would be close to the top of the list.
2. Zion National Park- Utah.
Zion is a word with a number of meanings, the most fitting of which is ‘Promised Land’. Zion is a rock climber or hikers paradise filled with monoliths, cliffs, butts and slot canyons. With hiking trails and back country areas to explore, there is a hike tailored for everyone. The Subway hike provides one of the best experiences in the park, but be sure watch out for flash flooding. For an easier hike, the Overlook Trail provides one of the best vistas of the canyon and surrounding mountains.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park- North Carolina/ Tennessee
A mountain range bordering both Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains rate heavily forested. In autumn, reds, yellows and oranges fill the area alongside the many rivers and small waterfalls found here. A place to be seen in all seasons to be truly appreciated, the smokies’ tranquility makes it the United States most visited national park. The many overlooks and lookout points allow you to admire the many rows of mountains leading off to the horizon.
4. The Grand Canyon- Arizona
Perhaps the most famous natural wonder of the world and certainly the United States, the Grand Canyon has so much to offer you will want to return time and again. Away from the touristy Sky Walk nature lovers can get down into the canyon via many trails and stay at campsites both at the rim and down by the Colorado River. Seeing the canyon for yourself will leave you speechless and words can’t do this place justice. Just get out there and see it!
5. The Dry Tortugas- Florida
America’s most remote National Park, the Dry Tortugas is located off Florida’s southern most Key (island), Key West. Accessible only by boat it is the United States only natural living reef surrounding Fort Jefferson, a naval fort abandoned in 1907. Diving and snorkelling is a must with an abundance of marine life from turtles, barracuda and angelfish dotted around spectacular coral reef.
6. Badlands National Park- South Dakota
A relatively small park compared to others on the list, Badlands is more than worthy of a visit. Rising up from the surrounding prairie lands, the unusual rock formations stand like sand castles with bands of colour. The area is as old as the dinosaurs and has been the discovery site of many fossils still being found in recent times. A great place for a hike and break from the otherwise flat landscape.
7. Yosemite National Park- California
Home to the famous Half Dome, a mountain on every climbers bucket list, the park offers something in every season. Winter brings deer, snow and a peaceful tranquility in a breathtaking monochromatic scene. The warmer months bring more activity from wildlife and opens up many more areas for great hiking, climbing and riding. Only a few hours drive from San Francisco it is a perfect break from the bustling city.
8. Bryce Canyon National Park- Utah
Another great park in Utah, a state with 5 in total. Bryce’s canyons stand tall like toy soldiers in brilliant oranges, yellows and reds. Their formations are formed by ice expanding then melting between the soft stone, resulting in rows of tall columns. Many hiking trails allow for up close exploration and if you can time it right, try to get there before the winter snow melts. The orange and white really make this landscape pop!
9. The Everglades- Florida
A large region of sub tropical wetlands in Florida’s south, the Everglades are part of a larger ecosystem. Rich with cypress, pine land, sawgrass marshes and mangroves the ‘Glades are home to many bird species and the odd alligator. Canoes can be taken through the large maze of waterways, which are now being restored after a project to drain the Everglades back in the 1800s threatened to kill the area. Jump in a canoe and soak up the sounds of this tropical waterscape. Just remember the mosquito repellant!
10. Arches National Park- Utah
Last and certainly not least is one of my personal favourites, Arches. The name explains it all and with over 2000 natural rock arches, you will be hard pressed to get tired of this place. The most famous arches would be that of the huge ‘Delicate Arch’, ‘Double O arch’ or ‘balancing rock’. Hiking among these most unexpected formations is a must and a camera is a must. An incredible place you won’t want to leave!
Have a favourite park I missed? Comment below and I will review it in the future.
All photos in this post were taken by Ardun Ward.