By Dana Perkiss
There are 63 designated National Parks in the U.S.A., each offering a unique array of wildlife and landscapes. From the Western coast of California all the way over to West Virginia, here are the top 5 National Parks in the U.S.A. to visit.
Yellowstone National Park — Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
If you’re going to visit any National Park, you must visit Yellowstone. It was the first established National Park in 1872 and boasts over 2.2 million acres covering Wyoming, but also winding into Montano and Idaho. You could spend about three days visiting all of the magnificent sites the park has to offer, but can see the main highlights crunched into a day if needed.
Travel through great canyons, shooting geysers, and lush greenland as you spot incredible wildlife in their natural habitat. Witness packs of wolves howling at the sky, herds of bison stomping across the hills, and magnificent bears roaring through the forests. Check out hot springs and thermal pools at Upper Geyser Basin, especially the colorful Morning Glory Pool and the ghostly Grotto Geyser. Walk the boardwalk along the Grand Prismatic Spring and see the magical Fairy Falls, one of Yellowstone’s tallest waterfalls.
Yosemite National Park — California
Yosemite National Park was first protected in 1864 and was established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, featuring around 1,200 square miles of meadows, waterfalls, and glaciers. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California you’ll find this large preserve where you can hike across 800 miles of trails through waterfalls and forests while spotting natural wildlife like bears, bobcats, cougars, exotic birds, and more!
Whatever kind of outdoor adventure you want — rafting, rock climbing, skiing, horseback riding — Yosemite is every nature lover’s paradise, no matter the season. See the famous Half Dome, stunning Buena Vista Lake, and the sensational waterfalls at Hetch Hetchy. Yosemite is also home to the largest sequoia grove, hosting over 500 huge sequoias at their incredible Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Zion National Park — Utah
Found in the southwest of Utah is the incredible nature preserve of Zion National Park, Utah’s first and most beloved national park. Red sandstone cliffs, dramatic canyons, and unique fauna await you here. See spectacular wildlife roaming the territory from tiny kangaroo rats to bulky mountain lions, not to mention cute mule deer and docile bighorn sheep.
While here you must check out the Zion Canyon, which you can access from the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Cliffs tower the road on both sides as you catch stunning views of Angels Landing and other impressive sites while travelling across. Alternatively, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is just as incredible of a road except it provides breathtaking sky views of the valley from its high cliffs. You’ll also want to visit Weeping Rock with its hanging gardens and dripping rocks and the Lower Emerald Pools with its flowing waters and colorful cliffs.
Grand Canyon National Park — Arizona
Everyone’s heard about the Grand Canyon, and you’ve probably seen postcards or screensavers of its dramatic red cliffs and rushing rivers. Explore one of America’s gems in Arizona as you hike through cascading canyons, raft around the Colorado River, and learn about Native American history. Whether you want to walk around the Trail of Time to learn about the canyon’s history or take a mule trip around the land, you’ll learn stunning facts and see famous attractions along the way.
See some of the park’s main attractions like the Mather Point Overlook with extraordinary views of the canyon, Grand Canyon’s most popular Bright Angel Hike, and visit the educational Geological Museum with its jaw-dropping views of Plateau Point and the Colorado River. Whether you want to adventurously raft through the rivers, ride a mule along the cliff paths, or hike through the canyons seeing wonders like the Desert View Watchtower — the Grand Canyon offers everything a traveler would want.
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve — West Virginia
Head to southern West Virginia for the New River Gorge National Park in the Appalachian Mountains, the newest National Park established on December 27, 2020. Explore the over 70,000 acres of territory featuring some of the best whitewater rafting and rock-climbing spots in the U.S.A. while seeing beautiful wildlife like black bears, bobcats, and exotic bird species.
Check out New River Gorge National Park camping and stop at a visitor center to learn more — this park has four! Take the iconic Bridge Walk, enjoy views from the Canyon Rim Overlook Boardwalk Trail, and check out the park’s biggest waterfall at Sandstone Falls.
There's never been a better time than now for outdoor travel. National Parks are literally good for your health, so take adventure of the beautiful diverse landscapes the U.S. has to offer by visiting these National gems!