Are you also tired of the never-ending American news stories and gossip surrounding the presidential election? Get away from it all and head into one of the National Parks of the United States! There is a staggering number of 58 official national parks scattered across the states, ranging from small parks like Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas to the giant Wrangell-St Elias National Park in Alaska, that is over 12,000 sq. miles in size. With so many national parks with wide ranging natural settings, it’s difficult to select a Top 7 that does justice to the amazing nature of America. See our results below, with number one being our personal favourite.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
On the border of North Carolina and Tennessee you will find the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It is world renowned for its diverse animal and plant life. The park has many hiking trails that are open all year around. In summer, hikers can enjoy the trails near the mountain streams that offer a cool retreat from the hot summer sun. In winter, when all the leaves have fallen, clues of past residents like stone walls and foundations become visible that is easily unnoticed in summer. In spring, you will find an incredible abundance of wild flowers throughout the park. The most famous animals that reside in here are the elk and black bear. Make sure to keep a safe distance at all times when encountering these animals while hiking. It is illegal to wilfully approach these animals within 50 yards. With such array of wildlife and activities, it is not surprising that it is the most visited park of America.
2. Yellow Stone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, officially recognized in 1872, was the first National park in the world. The most part of this park has been scorched by volcanic activity. This is visible with many geysers and thermal pools found scattered through the park. The thermal pools are extremely hot and are not for swimming! Due to the volcanic activity under the surface you can find species of plants and microbes that you won’t find anywhere else. The park also has the largest concentration of mammals in America. Here you have a chance to encounter the great American bison and grey wolf which roam freely in the park. The park has approximately 150 species of birds, which make it also a great place for bird watching.
3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon National Park hosts one of the largest canyons on earth and is one of the most famous parks in the world. The canyon is so large that it’s over a mile deep and an incredible 18 miles wide! The park has many viewpoints, and for all daredevils, there is a horseshoe-shaped skywalk that reaches over the edge. As the skywalk is made mainly out of glass, you can see all the way down the canyon. It’s an amazing and unique view of the canyon! The park hosts an array of outdoor activities. One of the more popular activities is white-water rafting on the river at the base of the canyon which gives a completely different perspective of the canyon than from above.
4. Yosemite National Park, California
First protected in 1864, Yosemite turned into a national park in 1890. The park is known for its high waterfalls, deep canyons and ancient giant sequoias. Even in the 1800’s this park made a name for itself when the early settlers wrote home and described the area as a canyon of unprecedented natural beauty. The natural diversity is breath-taking here. Sequoia trees can live up to 3,000 years and are among the largest species of trees, reaching up to 300 ft in height! Yosemite Falls is also one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. The park has many hiking trails that are perfect for those who want to spend some time in the outdoors!
5. Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
None of the National Parks is as inviting for outdoor activities as the Rocky’s! Famous around the world for its mountain ranges, wildlife and breath-taking viewpoints, the Rocky’s are one of the most iconic parks. The park hosts over 350 miles of hiking paths surrounding the Bear Lake and run through the mountains with trails for beginners and experienced hikers. Other popular activities include abseiling, climbing and canoeing which are possible at several locations in the park. The park has paved roads that are perfect for mountain biking, but be advised that it is prohibited to bike off the hiking trails and anywhere other than the designated paved roads. At Longs Peak, the highest peak of the park, you will have amazing jaw-dropping views of the entire park!
6. Everglades National Park, Florida
The Everglades National Park is located in the south of Florida and consists of 1.5 million acres of wetlands. The park is America’s largest subtropical wilderness area and is home to a wide range of wildlife. Uncommon animals like the manatee, turtle, flamingo and other mammals are abundant and protected here. In the park you can climb the 65 ft. observation tower and try to do some bird spotting. You can also rent a bicycle and bike trough the pinelands, paddle among the extensive mangrove forest or take a walk on the Anhinga Trail in search of turtles, herons and alligators.
7. Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National park is located in the southwest of Utah, close to the border with Arizona. Zion’s diverse nature and cultural remnants make it one of the most unique parks of America. It has approximately 229 square miles of nature, with some of the most scenic canyons in the country. The park has more than 1,000 species of plants, an abundance of wildlife and 2,000 ft. high cliffs that oversee the park. With so many amazing features it is a great place to get back to nature and explore the trails and narrow canyons on foot. The park has several short and easy hikes as well as difficult several-day hikes. Other popular activities are fishing, biking and camping.