This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United State’s National Parks and in celebration we are going to take you on a discovery of the marvels that can be discovered. From the towering green pines of California to the heat and sand of Death Valley and the ice walls of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, each new park offers a new experience for all. With a collective area three times the size of England these breathtaking natural wonderlands will capture your imagination and your heart.
We at FirstClass.com.au got the chance to go and see the new documentary America Wild last week and were blown away by the beautiful footage of America’s national parks. Narrated by Robert Redford, the film is an impressive exploration of the United State’s National Parks to celebrate their itinerary and follows famous mountaineer Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe and artist Rachel Pohl as they hike, climb and explore their way across America’s majestic parks in an action-packed expedition.
If you live near an IMAX theatre it is well worth the time to go and see. Here is the trailer for the film:
Inspired by the journey of Conrad and friends, here is our pick for the top destinations of the best national parks in USA:
Yellowstone National Park – Fire and Water
Sitting atop the world’s largest super volcano, Yellowstone National Park is a place where you can first hand witness the power and majesty of mother nature. The park is spotted with gorgeous thermal pools and over half of the world’s geysers, where the heat of the Earth’s beating heart break through the surface. The definite highlight amongst this is the famous Morning Glory Pool which is resplendent in dozens of shades of rich blue and green. For these gorgeous pools, powerful geysers, natural wildlife and picturesque landscapes Yellowstone is one of the best national parks in the USA.
The Grand Canyon – The Valley of the Eagle
446km long, 29 km wide and 1.6 km deep, the Grand Canyon definitely lives up to its name. The enormous gorge that was carved by the flowing of the Colorado River is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. You’ll feel dwarfed by the immensity when you stand on the edge of the world’s most famous canyon. Also worth the time is the nearby Hoover Dam, the spectacular wonder of modern engineering that stems the flow of the Colorado River in Black Canyon.
Devils Tower, Wyoming – The Climb of the Great Bear
Looming over 360 metres into the air above the trees on Wyoming’s eastern plains this massive rock formation is at the centre of Native American myth. As the legend goes the marks that run down the side of the natural stone monolith were carved by the claws of the Great Bear. These stories have captured the imagination of politicians, writers, poets and even Steven Spielberg who used it for a centre piece in his film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The walk to the tower is also a joy, with lush local vegetation being spotted with colourful prayer flags that fly in the wind the whole area is worth exploring as one of the best national parks in USA. Even further afield you can see the endangered Prairie Dogs, delightful little creatures who have their own unique vocabulary, which include special sounds for each different predator or danger.
Glacier National Park, Montana – Crown of the Continent
Called the crown of the continent, glacier national park in Montana is a picturesque expression of pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains and spectacular lakes. Spanning across the border of the US and Canada a visit here is perfect for anyone who seeks wilderness and solitude. You can relive the days gone by in historic chalets and lodges, while you walk hike or boat your way through some of the most incredible landscapes on offer in this list of the best national parks in USA.
Redwood National Park, California – Towering Green Giants
Home to the tallest and oldest trees on the planet the Redwood UNESCO World Heritage Site is one for the bucket list and one of the best national parks in USA. There is no experience like walking beneath the shade of these ancient giants and at any time of year you will have your breath taken away by the park’s verdant beauty. Be warned though, this giant forest relies on fire for new growth and rebirth, so try not to travel during the fire season.
Yosemite National Park – The First National park in the World
The country’s and the world’s first ever protected national park, Yosemite is a favourite for travellers from around the globe and maybe the best national park in the USA. It’s dramatic waterfalls, giant sequoias, abundant wildlife and awe inspiring cliffs have captured the dreams of famous poets like John Muir and even President Theodore Roosevelt who proclaimed it protected land in 1864. Ever year travellers follow in Muir and Roosevelt’s footsteps as they get close to natures heart and listen for the sound. From the giant tumbling waterfalls of Brida Iveil, to the sierra mountainsides covered in giant sequoia trees and the impressive El Capitan, the largest exposed granite monolith in the world.
Bryce Canyon, Utah – Forest of Stone
Bryce Canyon is one of 13 national parks in Utah and probably its most famous. The canyon is home to an impressive collection of stone spires, known as Hoodoos, which resemble a forest made of rock. The odd shape of the hoodoos is made by erosion and water freezing inside and exploding into freedom, the overall effect is enchanting to behold, particularly at sunset and makes it one of the best national parks in USA.
Katmai National Park, Alaska – Home of the Bears
Every year millions of salmon rush out from the Bering Sea into the lakes and streams of the Katmai National Park. For the Salmon, this upstream swim is an annual trial to get to the breeding grounds inland, but for their big furry neighbours its feeding time. Katmai is home to the world’s largest population of brown bears and you can see them frolicking, relaxing or catching salmon all throughout the park. Watching the bears catch the jumping salmon is an experience not to be missed, especially when the youngsters wade out to have a try, you haven’t seen the cute side of these wild beasts until you’ve seen a baby brown bear learning to catch salmon.
Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, Michigan – Summer and Winter Wonderland
During summer the Pictured Rocks Lakeland is a waterside wonderland with miles of trails, pristine beaches and serene blue water. But during winter is when this national park becomes truly spectacular. The massive lake freezes over and the waterfalls create sheets of ice that more experienced travellers can climb! Explore a bit more around the edge of the lake and you’ll be rewarded with magical secret ballrooms of ice and snow and one of the best winter national parks in the USA.