The appeal behind Yellowstone’s geysers, the misty Rocky Mountains and those stunning views of the Grand Canyon is easy to understand, but what about the 62 other national parks spread across the beautiful states of our country? These 10 under-the-radar gems are just as beautiful and unique.
10. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country. With majestic peaks in every direction, wildlife roaming the valleys and some of the most incredible outdoor adventures on the planet, it is no wonder more than three million people flock to the park each year. Within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, more than 100 peaks rise above 11,000 feet in altitude, including Longs Peak at 14,259 feet. These amazing mountains cradle the Estes Valley, providing residents and guests with incredible beauty and inspiration.
9. North Cascades National Park
In this 505,000-acre expanse of the North Cascades, which spans three diverse natural areas, countless snow-clad mountain spires overshadow small glacial valleys. The heart of the region is North Cascades National Park, flanked to the south by Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and to the north by Ross Lake National Recreation Area; both of them are part of the Stephen T. Mather Wilderness Area. It’s a spectacular gathering of snowy peaks, glacial meadows, plunging canyons, and cold deep-blue lakes. Traditionally the lands of several American Indian tribes, it’s fitting that it’s still completely wild—and wildlife-filled.
Washington, United States
30,085 (in 2018)
October 2, 1968
8. Arches National Park
Located just 5 miles (8 km) north of Moab is Arches National Park, which contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. Although over 2,000 arches are located within the park’s 76,518 acres, the park also contains an astounding variety of other geological formations. Colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires dwarf visitors as they explore the park’s viewpoints and hiking trails. A paved scenic drive takes visitors to many of the major viewpoints within the park. The park’s rock formations delight children as well as adults, with many easy trails providing opportunities for kids to get out of the car and explore the arches up close. Hikers can choose from a wide variety of trails, from short twenty minute walks leading right up to many of the largest arches in the park, to more adventurous hikes into lesser seen areas.
It wouldn’t be a National Park if it wasn’t great, but Arches National Park is more than great, it surpasses amazing and lands somewhere just beyond spectacular. Whether you’re a hiker, explorer, photographer, scenic driver, or disgruntled participant, Arches National Park offers the experiences you’re seeking plus some you’ve never imagined.
7. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is situated on the border of Canada and the United States and is sometimes called the “Crown of the Continent” because it lies at the headwaters of the streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson Bay, named for the remains of glaciers from the ice age.
A favorite among hikers, the park offers a range of trails, ranging from the simple Trail of the Cedars to the difficult Grinnell Glacier, for all ability levels. Moreover, the park boasts over 700 lakes, numerous waterfalls and two mountain ranges that shelter an abundance of wildlife, spread over more than 1 million acres.
Area: 7,866 km²
Visitors: 3.05 Million (2019)
6. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is the National Park Service’s flagship and is a favorite of millions of visitors every year. The park is a huge attraction for all family members. Visitors can view the park from the comfort of their car by driving the grand loop route, and also take a break at one of the many roadside picnic areas.
- 2,219,789 acres (Larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined)
- Wildlife – 7 species of ungulates (bison, moose, elk, pronghorn), 2 species of bear and 67 other mammals, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish and of course the grey wolf.
- Plants – There are over 1,100 species of native plants, more than 200 species of exotic plants and over 400 species of thermophiles.
- Geology – The park is home to one of the world’s largest calderas with over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers. It has one of the world’s largest petrified forests. It has over 290 waterfalls with the 308′ Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River as it’s a showpiece.
- Yellowstone Lake is the largest (132 sq. mi.) high altitude (7,732′) lake in North America.
- 9 visitor centres
- 12 campgrounds (over 2,000 campsites)
5. Zion National Park
The name “Zion” means a place of peace and refuge. As a sanctuary with over 146,000 acres of cliffs, canyons, diverse plant and animal life, and uninterrupted beauty, Zion is well-named. Its massive sandstone walls, some as high as 3,800 feet, offer an opportunity for serenity and reflection for all who visit—and Zion Lodge offers the only in-park lodging inside this hiker’s paradise.
A thousand-foot deep canyon of red rock, nestled in a stunning setting. Zion National Park is always ready to quench your thirst for outdoor wonder, whether you are trying to catch your breath while hiking the trail to Observation Point or watching the shadows continuously change the mood of the Court of the Patriarchs.
Utah, United States
4,488,268 (in 2019)
November 19, 1919
4. Grand Teton National Park
Featuring some of the country’s most dramatic scenery, Grand Teton National Park includes spectacular snowcapped peaks, their profiles reflected in fjord-like lakes and a slowly flowing river. No matter what the season, the park presents an array of sights, smells, sounds, and outdoor activities.
With old homesteads and cattle ranches to explore and photograph, the park also has a rich cultural history. Walk on a trail designed by the Civilian Conservation Corps or one that may have been used in the 1820s by American Indians or fur trappers. Riding a bicycle or paddling a canoe. For everyone, there is something.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Nestled in southern Colorado, this park features North America’s tallest dunes, rising over 750 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The wind-shaped dunes glow beneath the rugged backdrop of the mountains. This geologic wonderland, containing over 30 square miles of massive dunes, became a national monument in 1932. With the passage of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act, resources now also include alpine lakes and tundra, six peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation, ancient spruce and pine forests, large stands of aspen and cottonwood, grasslands, and wetlands—all habitat for diverse wildlife and plant species.
Colorado, United States
March 17, 1932
527,546 (in 2019)
2. Grand Canyon National Park
Even at 100, Grand Canyon National Park is as astonishing as ever. Walk to its edge, and the earth falls away into an expanse of peaks, plateaus, and gorges so vast it can be disorienting. Descend below the rim, and the sense of awe only grows. The canyon is essentially an inverted, 6,000-foot, 277-mile-long mountain range, where you are dwarfed by sheer stone walls stacked to the sky and vistas that multiply with every turn. In the desert landscape, the water can be the most astonishing sight.
March through May and September through November, when daytime temperatures are mild and the crowds are small, are the best times to visit the Grand Canyon. Be prepared for crowds of visitors and very limited supply of accommodation if you plan to visit during the summer (the park’s peak season).
Arizona, United States
February 26, 1919
5,974,411 (in 2019)
1. Yosemite National Park
California’s Yosemite National Park, an emblem of the magnificent natural beauty of America, attracts millions of tourists every year, attracted to its spectacular waterfalls, giant sequoias, abundant wildlife, and awe-inspiring cliffs, such as Half Dome and El Capitan.You will find your place in Yosemite, if you are looking for the adventure holiday of a lifetime, want to immerse yourself in the solitude of nature, or simply walk, backpack or ski in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
California, United States
4,422,861 (in 2019)
October 1, 1890
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