7 Gorgeous National Parks To Lose Yourself In
The beauty of the great outdoors is something all of us nature lovers seek out whenever possible. But what spots are the best? If you’re planning to travel to the wilds, try visiting any of these seven national parks.
1.Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone is a classic. In fact it was the first national park to be established in America, so it’s only fair that it makes the top of this list. At Yellowstone, you can visit a variety of hydrothermal and volcanic features, such as geysers and hot springs. The massive caldera also contains a dizzying array of wildlife, including bears, wolves, bison, moose, and many more. As the oldest national park, Yellowstone also has a variety of amenities for those who want to experience nature without giving up all the comforts of civilization. However, most of Yellowstone’s roadways are closed at time of writing, so you may want to wait a few months before heading in. Yellowstone spans 2.2 million acres, so there’s plenty to explore.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park.
Located in colorful Colorado, Rocky Mountain National park, also referred to simply as Rocky, is a fair bit smaller than our previous entry. The 265,000+ acre park is by no means tiny, and encapsulates a wide variety of alpine biomes. The fall is one of the best times to visit this park, as during the evenings you can hear the elk who live within the park bugling as they call out for potential mates. Elk are not the only charismatic megafauna to be found in the park, as bears, moose, and bighorn sheep also dwell in the alpine regions. There are many trails, lakes, forests, and alpine meadows to explore, and in the spring you can find many wildflowers blooming. You can also go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the wintertime. Backpacking permits are offered year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.
3. Acadia National Park.
Probably the smallest park we’ll be talking about, Acadia is the crown jewel of the northern Atlantic coast. The 47,000-acre park contains pristine coastal forests, glacially-formed mountains and moraines, sandy beaches, and historic artifacts. It is one of the most popular national parks to visit, meaning it has a decent amount of infrastructure to support the less rugged of adventurers. It’s also a nesting ground for the peregrine falcon, so some areas might be closed during the late spring and early summer. If you enjoy birdwatching, you should pay this park a visit, as it is home to over 330 species of birds. If you like mammals, Acadia is home to bats, beavers, foxes, and rabbits. Acadia’s tide pools are home to various marine life as well. The park also has a historic cart road if you’re more of a history buff.
4. Capitol Reef National Park.
Located in Utah’s Red-rock country, Capitol Reef is a hidden gem. At roughly 244,000 acres, the park is often less crowded than other Utah parks like Canyonlands, and is a great place for those who appreciate the austere beauty of the area. It’s best to visit Capitol reef during the spring or fall, as there is less of a chance for dangerous rain or snowstorms. The sprawling park is a hiker or backpacker’s dream, with many backpacking routes, and the park even offers free backpacking permits. Capitol Reef also features a wide variety of trails, but relatively few campgrounds, making backpacking and backcountry camping even more enticing. The park also contains fossils, artifacts from indigenous peoples, and numerous plant and animal species. The geological formation that houses the park, the Waterpocket Fold, leads to a surprisingly lush environment in a state primarily associated with sand and rocks. It’s a beautiful spot indeed.
5. Denali National Park and Preserve.
I had the pleasure of visiting Denali recently, and I cannot praise this park enough. Encompassing an area larger than the entire State of New Hampshire, Denali NP’s centerpiece is the great one herself, the tallest mountain in North America, Denali. With over 6 million acres of untamed wilderness, you could spend your whole life exploring the park and still not see all of it. There are many types of wildlife to be found in the massive park, from bears, to wolves, to Dall Sheep, to the humble Least Weasel. There are only a few trails, meaning that you are somewhat expected to bushwhack and explore. However, a glacial surge has made ascending the mountain itself impossible, as the routes previously used in the ascent no longer exist, and mountaineers must wait until the surge subsides before new routes can be charted. You can also enjoy dogsledding there.
6. Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve.
Wrangell-Saint Elias is the largest of all the National Parks, full stop. At 13 million acres, you could fit Yellowstone, Yosemite, and THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF SWITZERLAND with in the park’s boundaries and still have room left over. You can explore the many towering mountains, majestic glaciers, braided rivers and dense forests contained within the park, but it can be easy to get lost without a guide. I recommend visiting the small town of McCarthy to get your bearings. It’s a lovely place and great gateway to the interior of the park. I’ve only experienced a tiny fraction of what the park has to offer, and if you want there are areas where you can fish and hunt. If you want the Alaska wilderness experience, Wrangell-Saint Elias has it and then some. Many of the creatures found in Denali can also be found here, so be aware.
7. Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley is a harshly beautiful park located on the California-Nevada border. It is a land of harsh extremes, and contains the lowest-elevation point in the United States. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, some of the scenes of the original trilogy were filmed in this park, and there’s a tour you can take to visit these spots. For the rest of you, The park contains mountain peaks, unique endemic pupfish, and stunning scenery. The sunrises and sunsets over the desert are a sight to behold, and the remote nature of the valley means that the night sky is pristine and you can see thousands upon thousands of stars. There are many hiking trails, campgrounds, and backpacking routes for the more adventurous among you, provided you don’t mind the heat and sand. There are also a few historic buildings and sites to check out.