Best U.S. National Parks
For more than 100 years, the National Park Service has managed millions of acres solely for the “enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” Today, 61 national parks in the United States draw more than 300 million visitors a year to unique natural wonders and unforgettable terrains. To determine the best, U.S. News considered the opinions of both travel experts and recent park visitors. Do you have a favorite park? Cast your vote below.Best US National Parks
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Yellowstone Best US National Parks
With dramatic peaks and pristine lakes, Yellowstone National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Multicolored pools swirl around hot springs; verdant forests weave past expansive meadows; and volatile geysers launch streams of steaming water toward the sky. With so much unspoiled natural beauty, it’s no wonder why everyone suspected John Colter (a scout for explorers Lewis and Clark) was embellishing when he first described Yellowstone’s geothermal curiosities in 1807.
Nowadays, there’s no doubt that the park is indeed extraordinary. While you traverse its 3,000-plus square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers and waterfalls, be prepared to share the trails with permanent residents like buffalo, elk and sometimes even grizzlies.
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Although Yellowstone attracts more than 4 million visitors every year, chances are – unless you spend your entire trip at Old Faithful – you won’t see much of them. Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres creep from the northwest corner of Wyoming into the edges of Idaho and Montana, offering plenty of untouched territory to explore.
Carve out a day or two to take in the view at Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs. But save some time for the trails through lesser-known regions, like the hot springs of the West Thumb Geyser Basin and the untamed wildlife dotting the Lewis River Channel and Dogshead Loop. While the sheer number of trails and wildlife-watching opportunities may seem daunting at first, remember: You can always come back.Best US National Parks
Yosemite Best US National Parks
One of California’s most formidable natural landscapes, Yosemite National Park features nearly 1,200 square miles of sheer awe: towering waterfalls, millennia-old Sequoia trees, striking, daunting cliff faces and some of the most unique rock formations in the United States. But despite its enormous size, most of the tourist activity takes place within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley. Here you’ll find the park’s most famous landmarks – Half Dome and El Capitan – as well as excellent hiking trails through the natural monuments.Best US National Parks
Even inexperienced hikers can enjoy Yosemite: Guided tours and climbing lessons are available from local adventure outfitters. Just don’t expect to experience it by yourself. Like so many other American tourist destinations, crowds are the biggest obstacles to an enjoyable Yosemite vacation – approximately 4 million people visit each year. But if you go at the right time (and start your day a little earlier than usual), Mother Nature’s wonders will reveal themselves to you in a miraculous and serene way.
Glacier National Park Best US National Parks
Named for the remnants of glaciers from the ice age, Glacier National Park is located on the border of Canada and the United States and is often called the “Crown of the Continent” since it sits at the headwaters of the streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson Bay. A favorite among hikers, the park features a variety of trails for all skill levels, ranging from the easy Trail of the Cedars to the challenging Grinnell Glacier. What’s more, the park boasts more than 700 lakes, numerous waterfalls and two mountain ranges, spread across more than 1 million acres that shelter an array of wildlife.
Aside from its breathtaking geological features, it’s also home to a fair amount of history. The Going-to-the-Sun Road – a scenic, 52-mile drive through the park – is a National Historic Landmark and an engineering marvel that offers spectacular views, as well as access to popular hiking trails. Plus, many of the park’s lodges, chalets and hotels were constructed by the Great Northern Railway in the early 20th century and are on the National Register of Historic Places. Care to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site? You’ll find that here, too: the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Great Smoky Mountains
As the most visited National Park in the US, the Great Smoky Mountains is hugely popular due to its beautiful and dramatic landscapes and myriad of hiking opportunities.
This national park spans the Great Smoky Mountains themselves which are in turn part of the Appalachian Mountain Chain.
The landscape of this park includes a range of mountains, deep valleys and luscious forests.
Within the boundaries of the park you can find an endless amount of hiking trails plus some interesting historical sites such as Cades Cove, the Roaring Fork stream and Cataloochee Valley.Best US National Parks
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the most popular National Parks in California and spans Tuolumne, Marisposa, Madera and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
This park actually has the accolade of being designated a World Heritage Site in 1984 and it continues to be a popular holiday destinations for Americans and tourists.
Yosemite is famous for its immense granite cliffs, abundance of beautiful waterfalls, giant sequoia groves and its epic wilderness.
Yosemite Valley itself is the most popular area and contains several prominent natural landmarks including the Half Dome, The Three Brothers and El Capitan.
Travel to Yosemite if you love the outdoors and enjoy hiking and climbing.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountains are one of the most well-known mountain ranges in the USA and the section that sits in the northern region of Colorado above Denver is a sublime National Park.
This park was established in 1915 and has since been designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
The Rocky Mountain Park consists of a series of immense mountains and deep valleys and even several glaciers such as Andrews Glacier.
This region is also known for its diverse ecosystems and wide range of plant and animal life.
Wildlife within the park includes Elk, Wolverines, Grizzly Bears, Bison and Bobcats to name a few.
This is yet another fascinating park for those who seek adventure and appreciate the great outdoors.