There is much to love about the national parks of the United States. From deserts, canyons and mountains, to alpine forests, lakes, tropical reefs and even volcanoes: when it comes to wildlife, the US. They have everything. Here are ten of the best American national parks and forests (in no particular order).
Zion National Park – Utah
Do you know those famous images of the undulating walls of the canyon flooded with a light so hot it seems unnatural? Well, most likely they were taken in Zion National Park. With its pink striped cliffs, emerald pools, clear streams and slot canyons, the park inspires the kind of reverence that its name demands, which means “heavenly city.” The two most famous walks are Angels Landing and The Narrows, and they are some of the best you’ll find anywhere. A surprising amount of vegetation thrives among the rocky landscape. In spring, the park is dotted with colorful wild flowers; in autumn it turns rusty yellow; and in winter, the snow sprinkles the cliffs like icing sugar.
Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
Go to the bakery and collect the biggest cake you can get; In 2019, the Grand Canyon National Park celebrates its centenary. The UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, houses hidden caves, billions of years old fossils and a rather crazy wildlife, such as pink rattlesnakes and Gila monsters (a kind of poisonous lizard). Stroll along the South Rim Trail, walk to Skeleton Point, or take a panoramic helicopter ride over the canyon to satisfy your appetite for eating cakes.
Bryce Canyon – Utah
Bryce Canyon, a vast amphitheater of red rocky hoodoos, has often been described as a “stone forest” and a “cave without a roof,” and it’s easy to see why. Hoodoos (say it out loud, it’s fun) are rock pillars that have been left standing due to erosion. You may have seen something similar in the Cappadocia region of Turkey or in the Pinnacles Desert of Australia, but nowhere have you seen them that way. This is a rocky landscape at its best, especially at sunrise and sunset.
White Mountain National Forest – New Hampshire
These lush mountains in New Hampshire are beautiful, rugged and are best explored as they travel the Appalachian Trail (or part of it; the total length of the trail is around 3,500 kilometers). It has everything you really want in a forest; bubbling streams, steep granite cliffs, alpine peaks and towering hardwood trees, along with landmarks with whimsical names like Lonesome Lake, Lafayette Place and Greenleaf Hut.
Death Valley – California
Death Valley is hot, hot, hot. The highest air temperature ever recorded (57 ° C, or 134 ° F) was recorded at the aptly named Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913. But the name of the park does not refer to heat. In fact, it was named in winter, when a group of pioneers got lost and assumed they would die in the valley. While the landscape is austere and dry in a Breaking Bad way, you’ll be surprised how much it survives here. Desert lynxes, foxes and rodents live among the muddy hills, the bright sand dunes and cracked salt flats. It is even known that wild flowers grow after spring rains, which is a spectacular time to see the park.
Yellowstone – Wyoming, Montana & Idaho
The first national park to be established anywhere in the world, Yellowstone is the king of the American wild. Yellowstone Diversity is home to its hot springs, waterfalls, and its Grand Canyon. While the most well-known monuments are undoubtedly Old Faithful, it is one of 300 heaters inside the garden – the largest concentration in the world, along with 10,000 other thermal features. Right on the road from Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring is a hot spring with magnificent orange, green and blue tones. At the other end of the park is the open Lamar Valley, which is a great place to see wildlife like bears, wolves and bison everywhere.
Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
Just a few minutes’ drive from Yellowstone is the national park, other than Grand Teton. Instead of the volcanic features of its famous neighbor, Grand Teton refers to granite peaks and glacial lakes. Each turn in the road offers another amazing view, as well as the opportunity to observe a bear or a nut. Some of the best hiking can be found around the turquoise Jenny Lake, including Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii
Found on the island of Hawaii, or the Big Island, Kilauea Volcano is considered the most active in the world. His last eruption, which began in 1983, produced so much lava that it added over 500 acres of new land to the island. Kilauea and nearby Mauna Loa make up the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. Hiking trails run through old lava pipes, petroglyphs, volcanic craters and rainforests. The conditions in the park are constantly changing because Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, is very unpredictable; if you are lucky to see the hot lava flowing into the ocean, you will realize that it is in a good mood.
Joshua Tree National Park – California
Joshua Tree National Park can be found in the immediate vicinity of two deserts: Colorado and Mojave. While the landscape looks harsh and forbidden, burned by high winds and intermittent rain, it is actually home to surprisingly diverse plant and animal species, as well as many photogenic geological features. The park’s most famous inhabitants are the bushy, spruce trees of Joshua, named after the Mormons who thought their shape was reminiscent of Joshua from the Bible as he reached his hands to heaven in prayer.
Yosemite National Park – California
Yosemite National Park is listed as a landmark. With its steep slopes, steep slopes (including the highest slopes in North America) and famous landmarks, such as the Hal Dome and El Capitan, Yosemite is on a bucket list of travelers everywhere. Higher elevations in the park (from 600 to 4000) mean larger flora and fauna here. Conservationist John Muir says it’s “the most beautiful temple I’ve ever been able to get into.” Visit this park to understand what it means.