Over 280 million visitors hit the scenic jackpot every year when they step foot inside the United State's sprawling national park system. From the plummeting depths of red-ochre canyons to the misty snow-capped peaks of jagged mountaintops, the show reel of sights puts forth a sundry of natural eye candy. Don’t miss these incredible national parks that have long held travellers captive.
Yellowstone National Park is a melting pot of volcanic wonder, bubbling with hot springs, fumaroles, mud pools and the majority of the world’s geysers, including the famous spurting cone geyser, Old Faithful. The first designated national park in the world, its thermal treasures have long been prized. But it also touts its own slice of Rocky Mountain scenery, claims North America’s highest altitude lake and is smothered in one of the world’s largest petrified forests. To add to all that visual drama, fascinating wildlife roam these colourful landscapes, from grizzly bears to moose and birdlife.
Widely regarded as the crown jewel of the country’s national parks for all its ancient glacier-carved beauty, Yosemite National Park presents a teeming natural collage of deep valleys and towering cliffs, grand meadows and wild creeks, ancient sequoias and tumbling waterfalls. Home to countless famous sights, including North America’s highest waterfall, Yosemite Falls, the mighty granite monolith El Capitan and the spectacular Glacier Point lookout, the park is a playground for outdoor adventure. It’s also one of the world’s premier wildlife-spotting destinations.
Solitude and tranquillity infuse every inch of the six million acres of wild land that make up Denali National Park. With just one road running through the pristine wilderness, it’s one of the last great untouched places on earth. Animals such as moose, grizzly bears and wolves roam free on the lands, which transform from low-elevation taiga forest dissected by braided rivers to high alpine tundra that gives way to towering snow-capped peaks. The enchanting beauty of it all culminates at North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley.
The chief jaw-dropper of this famous national park is just as the name suggests: the Grand Canyon. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this twisting sandstone chasm boasts unparalleled geological phenomena. Over two billion years its riveting layers, dramatic bends and rigid rims have been carved out by the snaking blue waters of the Colorado River. At 446 kilometres long, 29 kilometres wide and up to 1800 metres deep, it’s a sight that truly must be seen to be believed.
The majesty of the Everglades National Park doesn’t leap out at first sight; it’s upon closer inspection that the true beauty lies, from stunning orchids to endangered animal species. A two million acre wetland ecosystem spanning sawgrass prairies, dry tropical hardwood hammocks and pinelands, mangrove swamps and estuaries, the rich array of wildlife here is outstanding. It’s easy to spot crocodiles, spoonbills and storks, but there are also dolphins, alligators and the elusive Florida panther. Hiking trails, elevated boardwalks, kayaks and airboats offer a myriad of fabulous ways to experience it.
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