In total, there are 58 National Parks dotted all across America, including all the way up to Alaska. While each are incredible and unique in their own way, we have highlighted some of our favourites to visit below and why we think you should make the trek to see them!
Your first thoughts about Yellowstone may initially bring back memories of Yogi Bear and his adventures in ‘Jellystone’, but there is a lot more than just cartoon fun to be had here. Yellowstone was the world’s first national park and was established in 1872. It is home to the largest collection of Geysers including the famous ‘Old Faithful’ and actually sits on an active volcano!
Yellowstone’s volcanic and deep heated roots present themselves in what is known as ‘hot springs and geysers’. These create some incredible sights of steam, colour and shapes as they come to the Earth’s surface. There are carefully placed walkways that allow you to walk up close and personal to many of these and see for yourself the extreme beauty underfoot.
There are many activities you can get involved in while in Yellowstone including things like biking, boating, fishing, horse riding, hiking, camping and more. One of the best ways to see the park is to drive through to see the different highlights for yourself, but if you would prefer to be taken off the beaten path then be sure to look into getting a guided tour. One thing is for sure – you won’t be bored.
When you are visiting Yellowstone you can expect to see all kinds of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk. There is no experience quite like having a bison herd marching beside you in the car as they are moving across the park! You will also get to see many other animals including birds, foxes, badgers, coyotes and even wolverines.
Yellowstone can cater towards the adventurous camper. There are some incredible campgrounds where you can pitch a tent and sleep to the unmistakable sounds of distant wildlife throughout the night under one of the biggest blankets of stars you have ever seen. If outback camping isn’t quite your cup of tea, then don’t fear, you wouldn’t be disappointed with some of the lodges available for you to stay in either.
Death Valley is notoriously named because of its extreme temperatures that see vast areas of hot and dry land, but don’t be fooled – not everything is as hot as can be! Death Valley actually features large peaks that are covered with winter snow and many different species of wildlife flourish in this unique environment. Death Valley is the largest national park outside of Alaska and is a place like no other.
Over 3 million acres of desert contrasting with giant mountains make this national park stand out in its own way. Where else can you stand in 100 degree heat and look up to a snow tipped mountain or look down to see the floor of the valley shimmering in the heat?
Despite its great diversity, there are still many activities that you can enjoy whilst seeing many areas of the park. You can explore on foot by hiking or going backpacking into more remote areas for backcountry camping. You can also get around on a bike or even a horse ride! Be sure to check out the visitor centres as well for a brief escape from the extreme heat and to see different exhibits and buy that t-shirt you will want to treasure forever as a momentum of your trip.
As you can imagine, not all species will enjoy the extreme temperatures you will find here, but some thrive on it. You can expect to see wildlife such as bats, squirrels, porcupines, coyotes, badgers, mountain lions – even some wild horses! Be sure to look out for the desert bighorn sheep precariously placed on the sides of ridges and canyons!
There are camping and lodging options at Death Valley. Camping options range from the full ‘Glamping’ experience or the more rustic and primitive for those that prefer to be out in the backcountry! If camping isn’t your scene, then you can check in to one of the four resorts located in the main central area of the park. If you are unable to get lodging inside the park, you can also find somewhere in the local towns surrounding the park.
Florida has much more to offer than just Disney World and the beaches in Miami, and although they are incredible highlights to any trip, adding some time in the Everglades will round out your tour of Florida in an unforgettable way. Everglades National Park will show you all sorts from the vast sawgrass prairies to swamps and why it operates on two seasons throughout the year – wet season and dry season.
Unlike many of the other national parks, there is a unique opportunity to get your feet wet by ‘Slough Slogging’ which is an off the trail hike showing a unique perspective of the Everglades.
The aptly named ‘Shark Valley’ offers an opportunity to see some of the park’s best wildlife. You can walk, bike or even take a tram around the 15 mile loop as well as visit the observation tower that gives a full 360-degree view of this breathtaking park. You can also enjoy many other activities such as boat trips, geocaching, fishing and exploring the visitor centres.
At the Everglades, you can see an array of wildlife ranging from a variety of frogs and toads, a skunk, racoon, bobcat and even a black bear! If you are really lucky, you may even be able to sight the elusive Florida panther. Of course, a trip to the Everglades wouldn’t be complete without being on the look out for some notorious reptiles such as the American alligator and American crocodile… just be sure to keep your distance.
One of America’s most iconic features of the West Coast sits in this incredible landscape setting that will take your breath away. The canyon is over 270 river miles long and in places stretches up to 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep. It truly is breathtaking, and if you get the opportunity, a helicopter ride over it can show you it in its full beauty.
The Grand Canyon stands as such an iconic feature due to its vast scale and also spectacular views. One of the best views you can get is from the skywalk bridge. Here you can walk out among the clouds and hover over the depths of the canyon – an experience, not for the faint of heart!
You can take a guided tour to see some of the more intricate parts of the canyon or even visit a free ranger program that tells you a little more about the history and unique scenery
You can also get about on either a bike or take a mule trip! There are opportunities for backcountry hiking and art exhibits while you are there.
You will be treated to seeing many animals at the Grand Canyon. Due to the vast open space, you will see many birds such as the Bald Eagle and Northern Goshawk as well as Owls and Falcons.