I’ve ranked seven of my favorite parks in the U.S.
1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
From U.S. News:
Yellowstone is the Disney World of national parks. Although you may encounter full parking lots in the summertime, its popularity has not dulled its natural beauty: Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful amaze visitors year after year.
2. Acadia National Park, Maine
From Independent Traveler:
Acadia is distinctive for the jaw-dropping beauty of its shoreline and its extensive wildlife, and the historic carriage roads running through the park let visitors easily explore the beauty of this East Coast landmark. The granite majesty of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest on the eastern shore of the U.S., rises above the park and gives early birds a remarkable view of the sunrise.
3. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
From USA Today:
Visitors often have to wend their way through elk herds at the park’s entrance, and bighorn sheep unexpectedly hop off ledges onto the road in front of cars. In short, this park that last year got 3.4 million visitors is still dominated by Mother Nature.
4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
From Outside magazine:
Don’t be fooled by its aura of gentility: The Appalachian peaks that form its spine can be steeper than the Rockies, as many as 600 black bears roam the underbrush, and park rangers mount 70-odd rescue operations each year. There’s a reason the tangled, six- to 20-foot-high laurel and rhododendron forests are known locally as “hells.”
5. Glacier National Park, Montana
If massive mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and of course, glaciers, are your affinity, it’s hard to beat Glacier National Park. And this is one national park trip you can’t afford to put off any longer – only about twenty-five glaciers remain of the 150 that existed in 1850. And by about 2030, glacier regression models put that number at zero.
6. Everglades National Park, Florida
From National Geographic:
The park is at the southern tip of the Everglades, a hundred-mile-long subtropical wilderness of saw-grass prairie, junglelike hammock, and mangrove swamp that originally ran from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay.
7. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
From the Telegraph:
Nearly everyone has seen photographs of Arizona’s famous gorge, measuring a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. But nothing prepares you for its vastness, or intense beauty, as you stand on its edge, peering far, far down to the Colorado River.