Visiting a national park should be a goal for every family. A national park offers a chance to get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors as an individual, couple, or family. If you are planning to visit a national park and you are struggling to choose which one is best, give these top five a try for your next outing.
How many National Parks are there in the USA?
There are 62 National Parks in the USA. But, there have only been three called “the most popular”. We are guessing you know about Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. It will probably surprise you to know that a couple of National Parks are more popular than those. In fact, the top-ranked National Park, by 2019 attendance, is Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee. The second is the Grand Canyon, and the third is Rocky Mountain. All of those N.P.s are great in their own way, but today, we are all about lesser-known but no less spectacular places. Let us get started because we want to tell you about some National Parks in the USA that you may not know.
These are the National Parks in the USA that you should visit
Traveling with the family can mean lots of new adventures and each year nearly 70 million people start their adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This national park offers beautiful views from the highway and over 800 miles of hiking trails across two states. Go for the view and stay to commune with nature on a leisurely hike or a strenuous climb, whichever suits your needs.
Next on the list is the Grand Canyon. In 2014, nearly 5 million people visited the Grand Canyon to take part in seeing one of the greatest natural creations in existence. A total of 277 miles of canyon exists and at any vantage point only a small fraction can be seen. Spend the day hiking and exploring the beautiful views from all angles.
No list would be complete without Yosemite National Park. Visit California along with nearly 4 million other visitors to this lovely park that has been compared to a temple. The Yosemite Valley is a big draw at a mile wide and 7 miles long and full of canyons and lovely rivers.
Also making the list is Yellowstone, the first national park and a showplace for the National Park Service. Visited by 3.5 million people each year, this national park is sure to thrill and excite. This vast reserve covers over two million acres across three states. Boasting explosive geysers, lakes, forests, and climbable peaks, this park has something to interest everyone. Even the animal lovers in your group are sure to be enthralled with the various wildlife that are present at Yellowstone.
We just cannot miss the Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains offers various ecosystems contained in a single park. With 150 lakes and over 400 miles of streams to enjoy the whole family can enjoy sitting by the water or hiking in the pine forest. Numerous animals and other forms of wildlife can be spotted within the bounds of this national park.
Is Redwood National Park worth visiting?
Good question, because you may be thinking that you have been to Yosemite, so you have seen big trees. The Sequoias in Yosemite are impressive, to be sure. But, the Coast redwoods live in groves that span hundreds of square miles. Redwood N.P. (pictured above) is an International Biosphere Reserve. It protects a majority of the old-growth redwoods on Earth, including champion specimens more than 370 feet in height. In other words, five stories taller than the Statue of Liberty, and here during the time of Jesus! At Redwood National Park, you can walk, bike, camp, or horseback ride along 200 miles of trails. Redwood N.P.’s forests, rivers, and coastline support a cauldron of life. Roosevelt Elk, seals, whales, and seasonal wildflowers such as rhododendron and lupine. The sprawling park system is also a scenic drive that you will never forget and want to do again and again.
What Makes Lassen National Park Famous?
First, a little bit about Lassen’s primary feature. A plug lava dome is a small steep cone of cooled lava that forms when viscous lavas are extruded out of the planet’s interior. Think of it like a scab over a wound on the surface of the Earth. Lassen Peak is the largest such volcano in the world. It is also the southernmost of the 13-volcano Cascade Range. (Mount Meager in British Columbia is the northernmost.) Established as a National Park in 1916, Lassen is home to lovely meadows sprinkled with wildflowers and clear mountain lakes. These contrast with the bubbles, steams, and roars that emanate from the many smaller volcanoes in the park.
Our favorite spot in Lassen is actually a trailhead called Warner Valley. The 4.2-mile round-trip Devils Kitchen Trail meanders across marshes and meadows before arriving at its destination. It is actually Mt. Lassen National Park’s second-largest geothermal area. Here you will see fumaroles, mud pots, and streams of steam. Side routes off the main trail lead to blue alpine lakes. Just to drive through the park is maybe a couple of hours at the 35 mph limit, but how much fun is that? Plan for a couple of days and do some hiking, looking, and being amazed at what God wrought.
What makes Badlands National Park famous?
There is a place on this planet that can make you feel like you are an Apollo astronaut.
Badlands National Park is that place, and it is incredible.
You will want to enter from the north, near Wall, South Dakota. Immediately upon entering, you will be on the Badlands Loop Rd. On this road, you will pass many viewpoints and trailheads on your way to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Take some time during the day to figure out where else you want to go, but head outside with your camera just before nightfall. The world’s most amazing sunsets happen at the place the Lakotas call “mako sica” or “land bad.”
The Badlands aren’t just moonscape terrain. They are home to a varied ecoculture (including a fragrant juniper forest). You will find Bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, more prairie dogs than you thought existed, and a place where the earth turns yellow. Enjoy it all! Because it should not be overlooked as one of the National Parks in the USA that you should visit.
What is so special about Voyageurs National Park?
Way up north in the forests of Minnesota, find a National Park that both borders Canada and is one-third water! It is on the water that you can begin your adventure. Rent a houseboat (aka, an RV for the water) and find this beautiful place the way early explorers found it.
Are there rock lovers among you? Voyageurs is one of the few National Parks in the United States that contain rocks nearly three billion years old. These exposed rocks are older than those found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The Boreal Forest here makes it fertile ground for wildlife. Black bears, moose, lynx, grey wolves, deer, fox, beavers, ravens, eagles, and loons all call this place home. In fact, beaver lodges are everywhere inside Voyageurs. They are fun to watch as they swim in front of your boat. They will come to you, as curious about you as you are about them.
If you are planning to stay the night inside the park, the choice will be easy. There is only one hotel in the whole 218,055 acres (remember, most of it is water) of National Park. The charming white-and-red-trimmed building that is the Kettle Falls Hotel has a screened-in wraparound porch and is hosted with both pride and joyfulness. These are people who embrace hospitality as a way of life.
Your first day at the hotel should end outside because this part of the world is known for its dark night sky. The lack of light gives way to visible stars, planets, and meteor showers. If you are lucky, you may see the Aurora Borealis (aka, the Northern Lights).
If you have never considered a vacation afloat this is that time. Become a voyageur, and remember it for as long as you live.
Is North Cascades National Park worth visiting?
You cannot skip the part of the country known as the American Alps. Indeed, while embraced by North Cascades National Park, you will believe the jagged peaks go on forever.
Before you go to some parks, one might wonder if there is camping available. North Cascades answers before you ask. What kind of camping do you have in mind? Car camping, group camping, boat camping, wilderness camping, and bicycle camping. All available and all in abundance at North Cascades N.P.
There are a few waterways in the world that are described as “turquoise,” but none deserve the description like Diablo Lake deserves it. This lake gets its stunning color from the glaciers that formed all of the mountains in this region. Finding Diablo Lake is easy. Just drive east on Hwy. 20 from the North Cascades Visitor Center.
The Sterling Munro Trail is a short walk with a big payoff. At the end of the 300-foot trek, the sky will open up to a stunning view of The Pickets. Jagged peaks that press against the vast expanse before you. Some have called this mountain range “haunting.” Looking at The Pickets as the sun rises behind them makes Gildshire agree. For a different but equally beautiful perspective, come back to the same view as the sun sets behind you.
Have you heard about Stehekin, a town within a National Park?
Here is a town within the boundaries of National Parks, it’s called Stehekin, Washington. It is a small (year-round population 71) town situated on the sparkling shores of Lake Chelan. It boasts brilliant hiking trails, a tour of nearby waterfalls, and one of America’s finest pastry shops. Stehekin qualifies as a place to appreciate more because it is so far from anything else. Access to Stehekin is only available via water or sky. Two different ferry companies provide service from Chelan (Lake Chelan Boat Company) or Fields Point (Stehekin Ferry).
While it is fun to read about National Parks in the USA that you should visit, it is far more fun to plan your visit. Use this as a guidepost to one, or more, of the National Parks. Then start your planning process! Good luck, and enjoy!
Which park would you choose? Perhaps you aspire to visit them all, along with the many other national parks in the U.S. So why wait? Grab your gear and get going to enjoy the great outdoors.