Even though we can’t travel now during this global pandemic, don’t forget the beauty that is waiting for you in places like the national parks in the United States – you can still dream and plan for future travel.
During this challenging time, I can’t help but think of the rest that mother nature is getting, and can’t wait to see the cleaner earth we can embrace once its over.
While we’re stuck within the confines of our own home space, it’s important for us to remember the extraordinary beauty of our planet and how she sustains our every need.
No, we are not recommending you travel to these National Parks now or to anywhere, but we can embrace them in our hearts and our dreams.
It’s National Park Week
Did you know that from April 18 to April 26 is national parks week here in the USA and a time to explore these amazing places!
Normally the US national parks would be busy, but because we can’t visit them physically at the moment, down below we are going to take you to what we believe are the top national parks in the United States through this post.
The most important thing for you to do right now is connect to your dreams, your joy and a greater sense of purpose then your groundhog day.
Armchair travel is the escape we all need.
It was my dreaming of visiting these USA national parks, and other adventures around the world, that helped me pull through the darkest of our days in 2010 when life lost all meaning.
Living the travel through our dreams, our stories, our conversations and photos is the joy that bought us back to life and put us on a powerful new path of change.
We intend to be your portal for dreaming during this time.
I’ve also included some virtual ways to enjoy the below list of national parks in the US.
Diversity of the National Parks in the United States
There are 62 national parks in the USA providing you with unbelievable options at your finger tips no matter where you are traveling.
And there are hundreds more national monuments and national recreation areas!
These national parks cover every superlative known to man and God. They are extraordinary in their diversity from crater lakes, to bubbling mud pots and sulfur pits, to secluded islands and ancient rainforests.
I could easily name scores of parks. But, to make it easier, we’re choosing the most extraordinary and unique US national parks (in our opinion).
These are the ones whose memory you’ll share for years to come. In our other post we mentioned 7 lesser known US national parks.
It’s also important to note, we have not yet visited all national parks in the US – but we intend to!
We love exploring them and will be visiting them for the rest of our lives so stay connected to our adventures. We will update this list as we do.
Best National Parks in the United States
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is a place like no other and has to be experienced to be believed.
Not only did this park meet our high expectations, but exceeded it!
You’ll witness bubbling hot mud pits, steaming sulfur holes, multi-colored hot springs, geysers shooting off randomly and perfectly timed, grand canyons filled with waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife roaming around this volatile yet spectacular landscape.
It’s definitely one of the coolest places to visit in the US and one of the best national parks in the USA, and is also the very first national park.
Top Yellowstone National Park Tours:
- National Parks Family Journey: Yellowstone and Grand Teton
- Los Angeles to Seattle (incorporates many phenomenal national parks)
- National Parks of the Northwest US
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier NP in Montana has a diversity that’s hard to find in other national parks.
Jagged snow capped peaks and glacier blanketed ridges stand guard over green and blue hued lakes, whilst wildflowers and wildlife fill alpine meadows and rivers and waterfalls gush through forested valleys.
Here are just a few of its accolades if you need further convincing:
- World Heritage Site
- Biosphere Reserve
- Worlds’ First International Peace Park
- and the World’s first International Dark Sky Park
The spectacular, and renowned Going to the Sun Road will take you from the valley up to the highest peaks.
Along the way, you’ll find stunning vistas and adventurous hikes to remember forever – especially if you happen to see a grizzly bear.
This is the park that has the highest concentration of grizzlies. And we only saw a couple of brown bears! Several grizzlies had managed to close off a few trails though.
Great Smoky Mountains, NC and Tennessee
I feel like when I visit the Great Smoky Mountains NP that I enter an ancient green land where my sense of peace cannot ever be disturbed.
I have an enlightened experience of life – the pure essence of it living and breathing around me. Like the mist that swirls…it’s quite a magical place.
Is it any wonder the Smokies is the most visited national park in the US.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in Tennessee and North Carolina and it’s proximity to the highly populated east coast also contributes to that.
Within this park, you’ll find hiking trails to lush waterfalls, views from rivers you can tube down, and our favorite – a bike ride (or drive) through Cades Cove Loop – an 11 mile loop road that takes you through he forested valley with stops to trails and historical pioneer buildings.
There’s a good chance you’ll see black bears in the spring!
Tours in the Smoky Mountains:
- Great Smoky Mountains waterfall adventures
- See the spectacular colors of the Smoky Mountains in the Fall
- Take an adventurous hike through the Great Smoky Mountains
Watch Our Video from the Smokies:
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
One of the most beautiful national parks in the United States, it has a beauty that has to be seen. It will amaze you.
We spent way longer than your typical 17 minute visitor appreciating the views of it from many different perspectives. It’s a great opportunity to see the creative power of water.
It is probably the most extraordinary of the United States national parks, if not the world.
Whilst seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona from the top of the rim is breathtaking, the real experience comes from hiking down into the canyon and feeling it’s power and beauty all around you.
As you walk down through the different layers you get to witness the changing colors and landscape right in front of you. It’s truly awe inspiring.
The most popular trail down into the canyon is the Bright Angel Trail. Go down as far as you like. You can hike 12 miles return to Plateau Point for close views of the Colorado River.
Don’t miss the north rim either – just as spectacular with far fewer crowds.
Tours of Grand Canyon National Park:
- Get Your Guide offer a Grand Canyon South Rim day tour.
- Check out all the Grand Canyon South Rim tours on offer here!
Watch Our Yosemite National Park Video:
Bryce Canyon, Utah
I last visited Bryce Canyon in Utah back in 2006. It left such an impact on me that it still remains my favorite of the US national parks. That’s even after visiting so many more extraordinary ones.
It’s a fairy tale kingdom of bright orange and pink pastel spires and towers, archways and paths leading into enchanted forests to get lost in.
You can explore the trails, nooks and crannies on horseback (one of our favorite experiences ever) or on various trails.
Sunrise and sunset over the canyon is not to be missed!
Bryce Canyon National Park could be visited in a day, however we recommend staying for at least two.
Yosemite National Park, California
Similar to the Smokies, Yosemite has an ethereal and ancient beauty to it and is undoubtedly one of the best national parks in USA and a must when you visit California.
Waterfall lovers will want to visit in May after winter when scores of waterfalls wail their thundering tears over the granite peaks of the forested valley.
Your panoramic view of this over the valley is something you will never forget and looks like something out of a HD enhanced Disney movie set in Utopia.
Take your pick of diverse activities: hiking through forested valleys, under the misty spray of waterfalls, to granite peaks, picnic in the lush meadows, hugging giant sequoias and climbing up sheer rock faces.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous rock climbing areas in the world.
Tours of Yosemite National Park
If you don’t want to visit Yosemite by yourself, you can do a guided tour. Here are some Yosemite National Park tours on offer:
- 2 day Yosemite Lodge tour from San Francisco
- This National Parks tour with G Adventures visits Yosemite + many other great National Parks nearby.
Watch Our Yosemite National Park Video:
Olympic National Park, Washington State
For it’s diversity, it’s hard to beat Olympic National Park in Washington State.
Within its one million acres of protected land, you’ll be surrounded by the call of the rushing rivers, shimmering lakes, cascading waterfalls, rolling surf and old-growth forests.
Choose your own adventure from its pristine region of ancient cedar spruce trees, glacial lakes, sub-alpine meadows, mountain ranges, verdant rainforests and remote and rugged coastlines.
I love how one day you can be playing with the driftwood on the beach and the next hiking high up in the alpine forests.
Watch Our Olympic National Park Video:
We hope this list of USA national parks helps with your future travel planning and inspiration to get out there and see these places in person for yourself!
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7 Extraordinary National Parks in the United States Not To Miss!
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