Get ready your camping bags, because after reading this you’re going to want to hit the road. Today we’re looking at our picks of the top U.S. national parks, primarily located in Western states. With the ongoing pandemic the popularity of these top U.S. national parks will not slow down anytime soon, and there are still plenty of opportunities for everyone to get a taste of the great outdoors. Which ones are your favourite?
1. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Just a short drive from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is possibly the best place to go if you want to really explore the Rockies in the US. The terrain in this park is vast and varied, taking up approximately 400 square miles. There are alpine lakes, flat tundras and of course the glorious peaks of the titular Rocky Mountains. The wildlife in this park is also one of the main attractions. This is amongst the most visited top U.S. national parks and we totally get why!
2. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
You know the song Home on the Range starts with “O give me a home, where the buffaloes roam, where the deer and the antelope play”? Well it may very well have been written about this national park! You’ll feel like you’ve travelled back to the Old West when you come here. Located in Wyoming, the least populous U.S. state, this park centres around the mountain from which it takes its name. The most recognisable vista here is Jackson Hole, a glorious valley that’s postcard perfect at just about any time of year.
3. Sequoia National Park, California
California unsurprisingly is home to some incredible national parks, and the first one we’ll talk about is Sequoia in the Sierra Nevada mountain region. The most popular attraction within the park is of course the General Sherman tree, which holds the honour of being the largest tree in the world. The forest around it is also home to several of the other largest trees on earth. Unlike some of the other top U.S. national parks that would take days to properly explore, this one’s a great pick for a day trip if you’re in the area.
4. Glacier National Park, Montana
At over a million acres or one and a half million square miles, this national park is so big it reaches into a whole other country! That’s right – Glacier National Park is in both Canada and America. The area in Montana has been called the crown of the continent ecosystem and offers views that you’d expect to see in the Swiss Alps more than in the States. As the name suggests, the region was formed by glaciers and there are still 25 of them that exist in the park!
5. Zion National Park, Utah
Utah is home to five incredible national parks but we have to call Zion the crown jewel. The beauty here is otherworldly, and you might just think you’ve stepped onto another planet. And even though Zion receives millions of visitors every year, many consider this park to be one of America’s best-kept secrets. The red rocks juxtaposed with the clear water of the Virgin River make for one of the most stunning views in the country!
6. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Near the famous Coachella Valley as well as the town of Palm Springs in Southern California, Joshua Tree is perfectly located for exploring. In fact, it’s only a short drive from Los Angeles making it one of the most accessible top U.S. national parks! The park takes its name from the unique looking trees that are scattered throughout the region. The giant rocks and desert landscape make for a surreal experience, one that’s drawing more and more visitors every year!
7. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Of all the American landmarks on our list today perhaps none is more familiar worldwide than the Grand Canyon. A hugely popular tourist destination for good reason, the canyon itself is spectacular and often considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. While many people make this a day trip from nearby Las Vegas, the only way to truly appreciate everything the park has to offer is to go for a longer visit and actually take the time to hike into the canyon over a multi-day trip.
8. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana
This park is so huge it actually spans three states! Yellowstone was the first area that was designated as a national park in the U.S. and many consider it the oldest national park in the world. The major attraction that most visitors come to see is of course the geyser Old Faithful, followed by the unreal looking Grand Prismatic spring. But aside from these must-sees, the park has a lot more to offer including hiking trails, waterfalls and a wide variety of wildlife.
9. Yosemite National Park, California
Located in central California just a few hours from San Francisco, the Yosemite Valley and surrounding areas comprised the most stunning landscape in the country. Sites like El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls have become iconic and the park is popular with hikers, climbers and adventurers for good reason. If there’s only one national park you should visit in your lifetime, we’re gonna just say this is the one!