Awe-Inspiring National Parks From A to Z
America’s diverse landscape means there is so much to explore within our own country. From sweeping green forests and majestic, snow-capped mountains to undulating sand dunes and rugged rock formations, much of it can be discovered within our National Parks. Although there are currently 63 official National Parks in America, our National Park System includes over 419 park sites spanning over 84-million acres across the states and in extended territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. National Parks offer endless opportunities for all ages (including interactive Junior Ranger Programs) to get outside and appreciate the natural wonders of the world. We’ve rounded up eight of our favorites that everyone should experience at least once.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Thanks to its coastal cliffs, rocky beaches, and evergreen woodlands, Acadia has gained the reputation of being one of the best National Parks to experience. This Maine must-see offers beautiful trails to view the magnificent scenes of the Atlantic Ocean, panoramic views of Cadillac Mountain (accessible by car), kayaking and canoeing in the warmer months, as well as a local whale-watching tour at nearby town of Bar Harbor.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Earning its name from the Lakota words “Mako Sica,” which means “land bad,” this southwestern South Dakota park holds the largest protected mixed grass prairie in America. From the fields filled with prairie dogs, whitetail deer, and bison, to the picturesque wonders of the massive, eroded buttes, deep gorges, and colorful rock spires, the Badlands is a fascinating land of contrasts. Spend your trip hiking, camping, and fossil hunting. In fact, the park preserves one of the world’s greatest fossil beds and skeletons of ancient animals, such as saber-tooth cats and three-toed horses are still being uncovered today.
Everglades National Park, Florida
A 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve, the Everglades is home to a vast and varied ecosystem of plants and animals. Preserving the natural habitat of crocodiles, manatees, the Florida panther, and several bird species, the Everglades National Park is a crucial environmental endeavor. Although most of the park’s visitors stick with the basic tour, there are plenty of activities for the adventurer, including canoeing through grass marshes and mangroves, fishing for more than 70 species of freshwater and saltwater fish, or setting off on a guided airboat tour.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Not only a National Park, the Grand Canyon is one of the most recognized natural landmarks in the world. The largest canyon on Earth, it covers an area of 1.2 million acres along northern Arizona and was formed over millions of years by the rushing waters of the Colorado River. You can still raft down the river today, and see the canyon from below as well as above at the famous North and South Rims. Other adventures include mule rides down the canyon, open-air jeep tours, and helicopter rides above the canyon.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The most famous park in Virginia, Shenandoah has been immortalized in several famous songs and is an ideal vacation spot for any outdoor aficionado. With the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains in view, you can cruise along the epic Skyline Drive, taking you over 100 miles across the entire length of the park from north to south with breathtaking views around every bend. There's plenty of hiking and camping to be found, as well as places to rock climb, fish, and ride trails on horseback. You can even stay inside the park at the Skyland Lodge.
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
The newest site to be inducted as a National Park, White Sands is 275-square miles of undulating, white crystal gypsum dunes. When you step inside the park, you’ll feel as if you were transported to an exotic desert oasis. Unlike how traditional sand absorbs sunlight, the soft mineral gypsum reflects light, which creates a shimmering, almost snow-like appearance. Along with hiking, backcountry camping, and taking a native plant garden tour, you can also sled down the dunes, which is one of the park’s most popular activities.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The country’s very first national park, established in 1872, and the biggest attraction in Wyoming, Yellowstone is home to the famous geyser Old Faithful, which erupts like clockwork and average 130-feet high. Other natural wonders include the rainbow waters of the Grand Prismatic Spring, the wildlife-filled Hayden Valley, and the Mammoth Hot Springs. Explore Yellowstone by foot, boat, and even by horseback. There’s so much to do, you’ll need at least a few days to really get the full experience.
Zion National Park, Utah
A relatively small National Park at only 146,000 acres, Zion packs a large punch for its size. Visitors flock to Zion Canyon and it’s spectacular hues made up of Navajo Sandstone. Take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to visit some of the parks other must-see landmarks, including the Weeping Rock, the Emerald Pools, and the Checkerboard Mesa. For the truly adventurous there’s plenty rock climbing and canyoneering.
If you’re inspired to add a little National Park sightseeing to your next vacation, connect with one of our Liberty Travel consultants to start planning. We’ll take care of all of the details, so you can relax and enjoy some of America’s greatest locales.
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