National Parks are a treasure. The United States boasts some of the most diverse landscapes in the entire world, and the National Parks ensure that the most beautiful of them are preserved for everyone to enjoy. They belong to the people, giving everyone the ability to see some of the most breathtaking vistas on the planet.
The United States has 59 National Parks--places that have been designated for preservation due to their unique ecosystems, natural beauty, and recreational possibilities. From the coast of the Atlantic all the way to Hawaii in the Pacific, our National Park system is diverse, accessible, and amazing. Each park offers something different, and each has its own allure. While each park is awesome in its own right, we’ve created a list of the 5 National Parks that you need to add to your bucket list. These are the most magnanimous, unique, and generally incredible of the bunch. We did take accessibility into account, since it’s pretty tough to get to some of them like Dry Tortugas in Florida.
5. Grand Canyon National Park
“The biggest dang hole in the ground you’ll ever see,” the Grand Canyon
is one of the most amazing topographical features in the entire world. Over a mile deep in certain places, this amazing piece of erosion spans for hundreds of miles. Helicopter rides are a popular way to view the park, though hiking is the best way to get up close and personal with the sheer cliffs. Who knew that the result of a river snaking its way through rock for millions of years could be so beautiful?
4. Volcanoes National Park
Have you ever watched a documentary
about volcanoes, seen folks walking close to running magma, and thought, “Wow, I’d love to do that?” Great news! Volcanoes National Park gives you that opportunity! Located around one of the world’s most active volcanoes, you can see eruptions spew magma in real time. The park includes beaches, mountains, volcanoes, rain forests, and plenty of other things in between.
3. Zion National Park
Sheer sandstone cliffs rise thousands of feet from the valley floor to create one of the more awe-inspiring sights in the entire country. The red sandstone contrasts the green shrubs and blue skies that define this arid plateau. The Narrows, a popular hike in the park, follows an ankle-deep stream along a narrow sandstone tunnel.
2. Yosemite National Park
A rock climber’s paradise, Yosemite is one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. White granite cliffs rise thousands of feet in every direction, carved out by the receding glaciers of yesteryear. Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, cascades down over 2,400 feet from top to bottom. While most famous for the Yosemite Valley, the park occupies over a thousand square miles in the high Sierra Mountain Range. Tuolumne Meadows in the high country boasts beautiful glacial lakes and snow year-round. Home to giant redwoods, incredible waterfalls, and breathtaking granite peaks, Yosemite is the epitome of a natural wonder. For bonus points, make sure to drive into the park through Tunnel View. You won’t be sorry that you did.
1. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the OG national park, so it has to be number 1 on every National Park visitors’ bucket list
. Founded as the first National Park in the late 1800s, Yellowstone is blessed with dramatic landscapes, unique geological features, and dynamic wildlife. Home to Yellowstone falls, roaming buffalo, grizzly bears, spewing geysers like Old Faithful, and more, Yellowstone is as wild as it is sprawling. It even inspired one of America’s cartoon icons, Yogi Bear! Even though Yellowstone sits on a volcanic caldera
that could very well obliterate life on earth as we know it, for now, it’s one of the most amazing places in the world to visit.