Best National Parks
With an abundance of National Parks throughout America there is no wrong choice in which one you should visit. However, there are a handful that need to be on everyone’s list to experience.
“National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.” – John F Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act that gave birth to the National Park Service, a new federal bureau within the Department of the Interior, tasked with protecting 35 national parks and monuments at the time. The purpose was to conserve natural and historic objects along with wildlife to provide enjoyment to future generations. As of today, there are more than 400 areas which covers over 84 million acres located throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands....sharing roads with gigantic American Bison roaming the park is quite humbling
Grand Teton National Park
Staying within the same region of the country and just south of Yellowstone is Grand Teton National Park. It is well worth the visit especially if you enjoy time with a rod and reel. It is well renowned for trout fishing and is one of the few places to catch the Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. Visitors tend to overlook Grand Teton when they visit Yellowstone but should take the time to explore this less crowded gem. Whether you like majestic mountain views or to see some of the old homesteads littered across the landscape, this is the perfect spot. Bring your hiking boots and make time to explore Jenny Lake and Hidden Falls.
Sequoia National Park
Moving west, the next park worth exploring is the Sequoia National Park, located in California. Home to the tallest trees in the world, gazing up at a Sequoia can be breathtaking. Take the time to awe at the size of these beautiful, elegant trees. Covered with a distinctive red-orange bark, they grow along the slope of the Sierra Nevada. Photos do not do them any justice and they must be seen in person.
Everglades National Park
Maybe it’s not geysers or giant trees that are of interest to you and you’d rather seek more of a wildlife experience. Enter the Everglades National Park. This adventure takes you on a unique landscape that provides important habitat for manatees, alligators, panthers, and other rare and endangered species. Located in the south of Florida, the tropical wetlands are not found anywhere else in the world.
Acadia National Park
Traveling up the east coast to the northern most part of the country is the next park on the list. Acadia National Park, touted as the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast. Marked by rocky beaches and glacier formed peaks, most profoundly Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the east coast of the United States. Sightings of moose, bears and whales are quite common, and the town of Bar Harbor is considered a popular getaway. Visitors dine on the local catch of the day: mainly lobster. Plenty of hiking trails for all ages and the views of the coast are some of the most scenic in the world.
Yellowstone National Park
The validity of this list would be questioned if it didn’t include the oldest national park, Yellowstone. Founded in 1872 by Ulysses S. Grant, most of its acreage is in Wyoming but does spread out into Montana and Idaho. Sitting atop a volcanic hot spot, it’s known for its geysers, most notably, Old Faithful, which erupts almost every hour or two since the year 2000. The closeness that one gets to encounter the local wildlife is an experience all in its own, sharing roads with gigantic American Bison roaming the park is quite humbling.
Whichever you visit, make sure to bring your binoculars and cameras to capture all the natural beauty ensuring that you will have those memories for years to come.
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Joel M. Herrling
Is a freelance outdoors writer and photographer based in central new york.
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