There are 59 protected national parks in the United States, each gaining its elite status by offering rare scenic beauty, distinct geological formations, a large amount of activities and/or atypical ecosystems. With these characteristics, a U.S. National Park provides a memorable experience in an uncommon landscape.
There are a few states well-known for hosting a large number of national parks. A visit to Alaska allows you to choose from eight national parks: Glacier Bay, Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark, Kobuk Valley, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Katmai and Kenai Fjords. Keep in mind, these parks are often very spread out, meaning a week-long trip to the state won’t be enough time to visit them all. That being said, having such a large number of extraordinary landscapes gives you an idea just how special Alaska’s land is. Some unique national park experiences to have in Alaska’s national parks include whale watching in Glacier Bay, climbing Mount McKinley -- North America’s highest peak at 20,322' (6,194 meters) -- in Denali, and flight seeing over the Kenai Fjords.
California is another state well known for its abundance of national parks, with nine in total including Yosemite, Pinnacles, Sequoia, Redwood, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Joshua Tree, Death Valley and the Channel Islands. Although in the same state, each is very different. For example, while the Channel Islands are Mediterranean Islands with about half of the national park portion underwater, Death Valley holds the title for being the driest, hottest and lowest place in the country. Do your research to see which parks offer the experience you’re looking for.
One of the famous U.S. National Parks -- that is also a Natural Wonder of the World -- is the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon. This massive gorge was carved out by the Colorado River and features geology that’s over two million years old. One can explore the Grand Canyon in a number of ways, like trekking, camping, rafting, air tours, bus tours, the adventurous Grand Canyon Skywalk, Native American culture activities and more. To see its otherworldly crags and crevices illuminated in a rainbow of colors is a sight one can never forget.
For those looking to explore some of the country’s more underrated national parks, there are number with worthwhile offerings that aren’t heavily touristed -- meaning you can have an immerse experience with nature in peace. For example, Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park is the largest of Lake Superior’s islands, home to shipwrecks, scuba diving, kayaking, scenic hiking trails and wildlife like wolf and moose. There’s also the American Samoa, which boasts a rainforest, coral reef and a unique location in the South Pacific Ocean. And in Washington’s North Cascades National Park, you’ll find over 300 glaciers, climbing areas, lakes and a mix of beautiful designated and backcountry hiking trails.
No matter which U.S. National Park you choose to visit, you’re guaranteed a rare and natural experience you’ll never forget.