We asked some prominent travel bloggers what their favorite U.S. National Parks were. We received 14 responses and surprisingly the same park was only mentioned twice. Also surprisingly two of the parks are not U.S. National Parks. Can you spot the impostors?
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone was the first park, one of the largest and the best place to observe mega fauna in North America. Also, it has the greatest display of geothermal activity in the world.
Denali National Park
How can you not love the national park that houses the highest Mountain in North America? Mount McKinley aka Denali stands proudly overlooking over 6 million acres of land. Home to grizzly bears and caribou, grey wolves and the golden eagle, Denali National Park is the last frontier of America. Take a great adventure to Alaska and make sure the Denali is part of your itinerary.
Death Valley National Park
Dave’s Travel Corner
Death Valley is a unique and fascinating park. It is big (the largest National Park in the lower 48 states)! I love its stark contrasts and immense natural extremes. I’ve camped at Furnace Creek in the middle of July when the night time temperature did not fall below 100 degrees and the day time temperature at the official park thermometer reached 129 degrees. There are not that many places in the world that can satisfy the “itch” of extreme heat lovers like this park. Historically the hottest temperatures in Death Valley are found during the latter few weeks of July.
But Death Valley is not only about the heat and the grimness that its name portrays. Badwater is the lowest point in North America, Racetrack Playa features large rocks that mysteriously wind their way across a lake-bed leaving their tracks behind, some of the countries’ tallest sand dunes and miles of uninhabited terrain to explore.
Yosemite National Park
Hole In The Donut Cultural Travel
As a photographer, when I look at Half-Dome I recall the incredible black and white images of Ansel Adams, who made this park so famous with his photography. Yosemite is indeed a feast for any photographer, but it is so much more. From the naked majesty of Half-Dome to wildflower-sprinkled chartreuse meadows, to the silent sanctuaries of statuesque Redwoods, this park offers something for everyone. Though it draws thousands of tourists each year, with myriad trails and nearly 1,200 acres, much of it still wilderness, it’s fairly easy to escape the crowds and commune with nature. Though I’ve traveled the world, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a place more beautiful on the face of the earth than Yosemite National Park.
National Park of American Samoa
The protected areas on these islands are without a doubt some of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever seen on this planet during my 12 years of travel. I was repeatedly left speechless and in complete awe, as I visited the mountains, rain forests, and beaches that make up this National Park during a visit when I was working onboard cruise ships. If there’s one National Park that I would love to return to and spend more time exploring, it’s easily this one!
DeliciousBaby – Making Travel with Kids Fun
When I was a child, my family spent a week camping in Yosemite National Park each summer. I have wonderful memories of hiking around the basin and, as I got older, into the mountains.
Rocky Mountain National Park
I like the park because there are amazing hiking trails, incredible wildlife, and in the fall time when the leaves are changing, it’s absolutely stunning. Then again, sadly, I haven’t been to many national parks so there are probably even better!
The Vacation Gals
Niagara Falls is my favorite park because it puts the grandness of nature into perspective. Plus, this park appeals to all types of travelers whether you’re a traveling family or on your honeymoon.
Arches National Park
The Vacation Gals
I adore Arches because of its awe-inspiring rock formations — and their colors ranging from sandstone tan to deep red. Hiking trails are ideal for all ages — easy, flat trails for young children, to more rugged day-long adventures (Best Hikes for Kids in Arches National Park).
Olympic National Park
The Vacation Gals
Olympic National Park is in the Pacific Northwest, so pack a raincoat. Unless you explore the Olympic Peninsula in the summer, you’re going to get rained on (and there’s a good chance of rain in the summer, too). All that rain pays off, though; this is the GREENEST, most lush US National Park.
It’s incredibly diverse, too; while you won’t find dry desert land, practically every other landscape is here. Rivers, lakes, snow-capped mountains (Mount Olympus ring a bell?), rugged coastline with tidepools, cruciferous forest, and of course, the temperate rainforest that is so vividly green, you’ll see orange when you close your eyes. It’s a primordial experience, traveling in Olympic National Park, and the more spiritually-minded among us may feel a deeper connection with our place in natural history here.
Then again, for the teenage girls being dragged on a family vacation to Olympic National Park, its biggest appeal may be seeing sites from Twilight books and movies! Hey, whatever gets your family happily at a US National Park, it’s all good.
Mt. Rainier National Park
Wanderlust and Lipstick
I can see Mt. Rainier from my living room window – so it is near and dear to me. In the winter, you can snowshoe many of the trails and in the summer there is hI also love the accommodations that are located just outside of the park. There’s nothing better than snuggling up to a fireplace in a cabin in the woods after a day of hiking or jumping into an outdoor hot tub for a good soak.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Sharing Travel Experiences
Mammoth is more than twice as big as the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest caves in the world put together. The “Broadway” tunnel in the cave is so incredible – it’s so big you can hardly figure out how humans would have made it let alone Mother Nature.
It’s my favorite park because it is a slot canyon carved straight into the rock. The colors and the natural sunlight peeking its way into the depths of the canyon is an unbelievable site.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Notes from the Road
This national monument, which shares a border with Mexico, is one of the first to experiment with the idea of international park zones, to protect species and habitat which do not share our borders. The park is rugged, wild, and filled with a surreal landscape of lemon-lime colored cactuses, and brilliant spring wildflowers.
All 14 bloggers recommended great parks, but 2 of them did not recommend U.S. National Parks. Did you spot our two impostors?
If you were thinking I was going to disqualify something that is a National Monument not a National Park, you were incorrect. Niagara Falls is not a National Park but a New York State Park, although there is a Niagara Falls National Heritage Area nearby.
Antelope Canyon is a National Park inside the U.S. perhaps, but it is a National Park of the Navajo Nation. Both are still excellent choices of parks to see which is why I left them in the list. But so you still get the 13 recommended U.S. National Parks let me add in 2 more.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
If your timing is right you might be at this park on the Big Island of Hawaii when there is surface lava flow from an active volcano. I have stood close enough to burning lava to touch it. I did not touch it, but it still left quite an impression
Bryce Canyon National Park
For my money, Bryce Canyon is the most beautiful of all the National Parks. I understand if you would vote instead for Yosemite the Grand Canyon, Zion, or one of the many other parks. But, stand on the rim of Bryce Canyon at sunrise and see if it does not at least make your shortlist. Then pack your canteen and hike Navajo Trail down into the park.
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Tags: american samoa national park, antelope canyon, Arches National Park, article, bryce canyon national park, death valley national park, denali national park, hawai'i volcanoes national park, mammoth cave national park, mt rainier national park, national park, niagra falls, olympic national park, organ Pipe cactus national monument, rocky mountain national park, yellowstone national park, yosemite national park