A National Park is a large portion of land set aside to preserve natural geological formations, agriculture and wildlife. With thousands of years worth of history, the title of a ‘national park’ promises to pay homage to the people who lived off the land during the development of civilization and urban societal establishment to conserve and enhance the cultural and natural resources of the area.
The need to designate land for preservation purposes came with the expansion of contemporary intellectual, social and economic changes that resulted from the transition to industrialization. With the advancement of the automobile and significant adjustments to daily life, political leaders and activists worked together to call to action the importance of maintaining a healthy and prosperous landscape.
Some common threats to conservation efforts come in the form of climate change, waste management and air pollution. In order to minimize these risks, non-profit organizations and funding groups have formed over the years to help financially and physically support a thriving environment for various species and land formations. As the demand for preserving land and wildlife becomes more prominent, people are encouraged to do their part. Visiting the parks and experiencing the beauty firsthand can inspire positive contributions. Another way people can help is to maintain a low carbon footprint, recycle and be conscious of personal energy use.
In order to truly appreciate all the amazing qualities, features and activities National Parks have to offer, we put together a brief guide of some parks located around the country. Take a look below at our top ten favorites!
Easily Maine’s most popular attraction, Acadia is the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi River. 125 miles of hiking trails, private beaches and cozy campground are just a few of the reasons over 3.5 million people visit a year. Black bears, moose, white-tail deer, snapping turtles and snakes are common inhabitants of the park.
Plan your trip; https://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm
Bryce Canyon [Utah]
This park has a reputation of being one of the most beautiful places in America and for good reason. Covered in a massive collection of naturally formed amphitheatres and spire-shaped features called hoodoos, Bryce Canyon has some of the most distinct geological features in the world. A four-day festival for astrology enthusiasts takes place here as it's the ideal location for stargazing as well as watching the sunrise and sunset.
Check out more; https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm
Grand Canyon [Arizona]
If taking in the views from the Skywalk observation deck isn’t thrilling enough for your time at the Grand Canyon, try zip lining or rafting the most challenging rapids along the Colorado River. Did we mention the helicopter tour you can take from Las Vegas that also ventures out over Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert? If you still want a more exhilarating experience, there's always skydiving into the Canyon!
Map out your itinerary; https://grandcanyon.com
Great Smoky Mountains [Tennessee / North Carolina]
President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the Great Smoky Mountains a national park in 1940, making it the first national park to be paid for by federal funds. The Clingman’s Dome observation tower offers incredible panoramic views of the entire mountain range, which attracts over 12 million people a year. Besides the expected trails, swimming holes and berry picking are popular attractions at Great Smoky.
Read on; https://smokymountains.com/park/
Hot Springs [Arkansas]
Taking the title of smallest national park, this urban spot is laid back and guarantees a relaxing experience. The incredible geology, mountain views and thermal springs have been drawing crowds for hundreds of years. Although you cannot bathe in the hot springs, the town is famous for its various bathhouses.
Learn more; https://www.nps.gov/hosp/index.htm
Indiana Dunes [Indiana]
Interested in seeing the most biodiverse 25 mile stretch of land in the United States? Look no further. Indiana Dunes boasts woods, beaches, prairies, wetlands, swamps and marshland, which all hug the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Gaining National Park status in 2018, Indiana Dunes provides opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, fishing and bird watching.
Additional details; https://www.indianadunes.com
Hike part of the Appalachian Trail, view the amazing waterfalls or cruise along the 105-mile long Skyline Drive heading over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over 200,000 acres of protected land, Shenandoah has a prominent deer, songbird and black bear population. Any trivia fans out there may know that this park holds the record for the number of times a park ranger was struck by lightning. How many times you ask? Seven.
Continue planning; https://www.goshenandoah.com
Yellowstone [Wyoming, Montana, Idaho]
Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Glaciers sit atop one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. When visiting, guests will be surrounded by over 500 geysers, most notably Old Faithful and Steamboat. The park sits on Continental Drive, the highest point in the Rocky Mountains. Summer is the most popular time to visit but rest assured this park looks beautiful in any season.
Click here for more; https://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com
Protection of this land dates back to 1864. Yosemite is home to the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Music Festival, Sierra Art Trails and El Capitan, the largest slab of granite in the world. These are just some of the crowd drawing features along with swimming or rafting the Merced River. Don’t forget about the 800 miles of breathtaking trails worth backpacking through. There’s no shortage of culture and adventure at Yosemite.
Keep reading; https://www.travelyosemite.com
Hikers and climbers love this spot for The Subway, a famous route that spans over nine miles and offers the option for repelling. Look out for the 289 types of birds, 79 different mammals and 28 species of amphibians. Canyons, red rocks and waterfalls are all staples of this highly visited park. Make sure when you visit to check out Angels Landing. The geology of the canyons at Zion includes nine formations representing 150 million years of Mesozoic-aged sedimentation.