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Top 10 Must-Visit US National Parks This Year!

Finally the warm weather is here! Are you an adventurous traveller seeking to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of nature? Look no further than the United States’ vast network of stunning national parks. From the majestic peaks of the Rockies to the serene coastlines of the Pacific, these protected natural wonders offer unparalleled opportunities for outdoor exploration and recreation.

In this short guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the top 10 must-visit national parks that are sure to ignite your sense of wanderlust and feed your inner explorer. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, a budding photographer, or simply someone who appreciates the great outdoors, these destinations will leave you in awe of the natural world.

1. Yellowstone National Park

Established in 1872 as the world’s first national park, Yellowstone is a true natural wonder. This vast, 3,472-square-mile park straddles the borders of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and is renowned for its diverse array of geothermal features, including steaming hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and the iconic Old Faithful geyser. Visitors can also spot a wide variety of wildlife, from bison and elk to grizzly bears and wolves, in their natural habitats. With ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and scenic drives, Yellowstone is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

2. Yosemite National Park

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Yosemite National Park is a true gem of the American West. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees. Highlights include the iconic El Capitan, a 3,000-foot vertical rock formation that challenges the world’s best rock climbers, and the breathtaking Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-fueled adventures or simply immersing yourself in the park’s serene natural beauty, Yosemite is a top-tier national park destination.

3. Grand Canyon National Park

One of the most iconic and awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast. Stretching an impressive 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, the Grand Canyon’s breathtaking vistas and geological formations have captivated visitors for generations. Visitors can hike the various trails along the canyon’s rim, embark on whitewater rafting adventures on the Colorado River, or take in the stunning views from the iconic Skywalk glass bridge.

4. Glacier National Park

Straddling the border between Montana and Canada, Glacier National Park is a true winter wonderland. This serene, glacier-carved landscape is home to over 200 lakes, countless waterfalls, and the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile scenic drive that showcases the park’s majestic mountain peaks and pristine alpine meadows. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the park’s vast network of hiking trails, spot wildlife like grizzly bears and mountain goats, or experience the thrill of backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in the park’s pristine winter landscapes.

5. Zion National Park

Tucked away in the southwestern corner of Utah, Zion National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. This iconic park is renowned for its towering red-and-white sandstone cliffs, deeply carved canyons, and diverse array of flora and fauna. Visitors can challenge themselves on the famous Angel’s Landing hike, navigate the serene Emerald Pools, or simply marvel at the park’s stunning geological formations. With its mild year-round climate, Zion offers an exceptional outdoor adventure no matter the season.

6. Acadia National Park

Situated along the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park is a true gem of the Northeast. This picturesque park is known for its dramatic granite cliffs, stunning ocean vistas, and vibrant fall foliage. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the park’s extensive trail network, bike along the historic carriage roads, or simply enjoy the serene beauty of Acadia’s rocky beaches and pristine lakes. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch the sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast of the United States.

7. Arches National Park

Located in the high desert of eastern Utah, Arches National Park is a wonderland of sandstone arches, towering spires, and otherworldly geological formations. Home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as iconic landmarks like Delicate Arch and Double Arch, this park offers endless opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and simply marvelling at the raw power of nature. Visitors can also explore the park’s diverse wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, and a variety of desert-adapted birds and reptiles.

8. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Spanning the southeastern shores of the Big Island of Hawai’i, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a true geological wonder. This dynamic park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kīlauea, offering visitors the chance to witness the dramatic power of Earth’s natural forces. Hikers can explore the park’s diverse array of lava flows, craters, and steam vents, while also enjoying the lush, tropical landscapes and unique native ecosystems.

9. Denali National Park

Located in the heart of Alaska’s vast wilderness, Denali National Park is a true adventure destination. Encompassing over 6 million acres, this park is home to the iconic Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in North America. Visitors can spot an abundance of wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, and Dall sheep, while also immersing themselves in the park’s rugged, untamed landscapes. Whether you’re seeking a challenging backcountry hike or a scenic flight over the park’s snow-capped peaks, Denali is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts.

10. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its lush, ancient forests, cascading waterfalls, and diverse array of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and over 1,500 species of flowering plants. Visitors can explore the park’s extensive network of hiking trails, fish in its pristine streams and rivers, or simply soak in the serene beauty of the Smokies.

No matter which of these top 10 national parks you choose to explore, you’re sure to be captivated by the natural wonders that make these protected lands true gems of the United States. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to immerse yourself in the great outdoors – your next unforgettable adventure awaits!