June 29

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The Top 10 U.S. National Parks

A Brief History

  • United States was the first country to create National Park.
  • There are 442 parks managed by the US Park Services, 62 of which are designated as “National Parks”.
  • Yellow Stone was the 1st park.
  • Ranger-led programs are among the best experiences in the parks. Get there early and sign up for one. Some examples are birding introductions in Acadia, Stargazing in Yosemite.

1. Great Smokey Mountains

Tennessee & North Caroline

Top destinations

  • Cades Cove
  • Cataloochee
  • Clingman’s Dome
  • Roaring Fork

Famous For:

  • Waterfalls
  • Fall Leaf peeping
  • Fishing
  • Cemeteries (Some dating back to 200 years ago)
Great Smoky Mountains

2. Grand Canyon

Arizona

Top destinations

  • South rim Village
  • Hermit Road
  • Desert View Drive (Highway 64)
  • North Rim

Famous For:

  • Mule Rides (Not for the faint of heart)
  • Rafting
  • Helicopter Tours

Tip: Digital Entry Passes available at Recreation.gov

3. Rocky Mountain Park

Colorado

Top destinations

  • Kawuneeche Valley (west)
  • Bear Lake (east)
  • Lily Lake (east)

Famous For:

  • Horseback riding
  • Wilderness camping
  • Fishing (some of the best trout fishing in the US)

Tip: Requires an entry permit and a reservation.

Rocky Mountain State Park

4. Zion

Utah

Top destinations

  • The Narrows (tight passages that you go through)
  • Angels Landing
  • Emerald Pools (truly emerald in color)
  • Kolob Canyons

Famous For:

  • Canyoneering
  • Sunsets and Stargazing
  • River Trips (canoes, rafts)

Tip: 2-hour park ranger tours available. In person reservations required

5. Yellowstone

Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Top destinations

  • Old Faithful
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Yellowstone Lake
  • Mammoth Hot Springs

Famous For:

  • Giant Sequoias (700-800-year-old trees)
  • Wilderness (95% of the land)
  • Birdwatching
  • Stargazing
Yellowstone – Grand Prismatic Spring

6. Yosemite

California

Top destinations

  • Wawona (Pioneer center)
  • Mariposa Groove
  • Tuolumne Meadows (Spectacular wild flowers)
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley

Famous For:

  • Giant Sequoias
  • Wilderness
  • Birdwatching
  • Stargazing
Yosemite Mirror Lake

7. Acadia

Maine

Top destinations

  • Cadillac Mountain (named after the French explorer; yes, the car is named after him as well.
  • Jordan Pond (beautiful 4-mile walk around the pond)
  • Jasper Beach (great place to eat lobster)
  • Thunder Hole
  • Bar Harbor
  • Schoodic Point

Famous For:

  • Bird Watching (migration path)
  • Leaf peeping
  • Tide Pooling (great activity for kids)

8. Grand Tetons

Wyoming

Top destinations

  • Jackson Lake
  • Snake River
  • Taggart Lake
  • Mormon Row

Famous For:

  • Rafting
  • Lake Cruising
  • Wildlife viewing (elf, wolverine)

9. Olympic

Washington

Top destinations

  • Hoh Rain Forest
  • Kalaloch Beach
  • Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail
  • Sol Duc Hot Springs and Salmon Cascades

Famous For:

  • Skiing
  • Mineral Hot Springs
  • Boat Tours on Lake Quinault

10. Glacier

Montana

Top destinations

  • Logan Pass
  • Two Medicine
  • Goat Haunt (Wild goats)
  • Many Glacier

Famous For:

  • Cross-country skiing
  • Boating
  • River Camping
  • Biking

If you want to see this park, do not wait too long as the glaciers are melting. The prediction is in about 30 years there won’t be any glaciers.


Tags

usparks national parks


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