With 50 states occupying nearly 4 million square miles of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, the United States has some incredible landmarks and attractions. Away from the bustling cities, however, are some astounding US national parks that are definitely worth exploring.
1. Great Smoky Mountains
This is the most-visited of all the national parks in the United States, and it is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina. The forests and scenic mountain views provide a great backdrop for some serious hikes, but many travelers come specifically for views of Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in the national park at a whopping 6,600 feet. Picnics, walks along waterfalls and spotting local wildlife are other big draws to this appealing national park in the American South.
2. Grand Canyon
For Americans as well as foreign travelers, the Grand Canyon is one of those truly iconic destinations that everyone should get to see at least once in their lifetime. Each year, more than 5 million visitors flock to the South Rim of the canyon to soak in the breathtaking views, but a much smaller portion avoids the crowds and heads to the colder forested areas along the North Rim. True adventurers can hike the Rim trail or even ride into the canyon on the back of a donkey.
Symbolic of the rustic, rugged terrain of the American West, Yosemite is one of the most popular US national parks. Within the park’s expansive 1,200 square miles, you can find stunning waterfalls, giant redwood trees and beautiful mountain views. One of the biggest landmarks in the park is Half Dome, a natural structure that stretches more than 5,000 feet into the air. With complimentary shuttles for park visitors, Yosemite is an obvious choice for travelers.
4. Hawaii Volcanoes
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park doesn’t always get included in lists of the top parks in the nation, but it is an incredible contrast to the deserts, mountains and forests seen elsewhere. On the Big Island of Hawaii, this park boasts active lava flows that can be clearly seen on night hikes, a dramatic lunar landscape of dried lava and even an extensive cave system that you can explore during the day.
The significance of the Everglades National Park in Florida can’t be overstated. The 2,500-square-mile park is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site as well as a Wetland of International Importance, but it can also be a fantastic destination for a vacation. Spotting alligators and birds in their natural habitat by boat is an amazing experience to add to your itinerary. Other activities in the Everglades include tram tours, guided canoe trips, and even camping by the banks of the water and enjoying the warmth of a campfire.
Photo 1 : Great Smoky Mountains © LightScribe – Fotolia.com
Photo 2 : Arizona Grand Canyon National Park Mother Point © lunamarina – Fotolia.com
Photo 3 : Yosemite Merced River el Capitan and Half Dome © lunamarina – Fotolia.com
Photo 4 : Kilauea, Hawaii © Tanguy de Saint Cyr – Fotolia.com
Photo 5 : Everglades National Park © goodluz – Fotolia.com