National Parks in America
There are 59 National Parks here and I have been lucky to have seen 40 of these wonders of the natural world,
plus an additional 4 in Canada which are listed below the ones from the USA.
Oh and in 2018 I finally managed to visit my first National Park outside North America - Peak District National Park in England.
You can click on each of these to see more pics from that park and get some additional information.
Let's start with Alaska, the northernmost and westernmost state in the USA. There are 7 National Parks in Alaska and a few of them are so very remote that you have to fly to those places.
I haven't been able to visit all of them yet I consider myself lucky to have seen 3 of these natural wonders where I felt very close to nature and I am sure once there you too can feel these powerful forces that carved these natural landscapes.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,320' Mount McKinley. Wild animals large and small roam unfenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Native Alutiiq relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.
Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska
America's Largest National Park. At 13.2 million acres which is bigger than the country of Switzerland, Wrangell-St. Elias stretches from one of the tallest peaks in North America, Mount St. Elias (18,008) to the ocean. Yet within this wild landscape, people have been living off the land for centuries and still do today. The park is a rugged yet inviting place to experience your own adventure.
Next up is Hawaii our 50th and most recent state. It lies 2,000 miles southwest of the contiguous United States and is the southernmost and the second westernmost after Alaska.
There are 2 National Parks here located in separate islands. I have been able to visit both of these and yes I can easily testify that Hawaii is just as beautiful as they say.
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
This special place vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place - renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Volcanoes are monuments to Earth's origin, evidence that its primordial forces are still at work. During a volcanic eruption, we are reminded that our planet is an ever-changing environment whose basic processes are beyond human control. As much as we have altered the face of the Earth to suit our needs, we can only stand in awe before the power of an eruption.
Moving to the contiguous United States we have Washington state up in the Pacific Northwest.
There are 3 National Parks in Washington state and living on the west coast offered me easy opportunities to visit all three.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Less than three hours from Seattle, an alpine landscape beckons. Discover communities of life adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east. Explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers. Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth's changing climate. Help steward the ecological heart of the Cascades.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park is a land of beauty and variety. A day's exploration can take you from breathtaking mountain vistas with meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tidepools. Nestled in the valleys are some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country. Olympic is like three magical parks in one. Take some time to explore its many faces.
Just south of Washington is Oregon state. It is one of three states of the contiguous United States to have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean, the third one being California!
Crater Lake National Park is the state's only national park and the site of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Like No Place Else On Earth. Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.
On the west coast stretching from Oregon border to Mexico border is my state of California.
Blessed with abundant natural beauty and almost perfect weather 365 days of the year this is the state with most National Parks. Even if you combine Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as one unit it still comes on top with 8 National Parks.
In the year 2018 I finally managed to visit and experience the last one remaining in California and that's Redwood National and State Parks.
Channel Islands National Park, California
Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Viewed from the road, this desert park only hints at its vitality. Closer examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their home in this land shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of this place. Come see for yourself.
Redwood National and State Parks, California
Redwood National and State Parks are home to the tallest trees on Earth. The parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild river-ways, and nearly 40-miles of rugged coastline. For thousands of years people have lived in this verdant landscape. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks are managing and restoring these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to smoking fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to mold the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonder and mysteries of volcanoes and hot water for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered.
Pinnacles National Park, California
An Ancient Volcanic Field...Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcanic field. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California
This landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity - huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. Visitor activities vary by season and elevation (1,370 to 14,494 feet).
Yosemite National Park, California
Not just a great Valley...but a shrine to human foresight, strength of granite, power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra. Yosemite National Park, one of the first wilderness parks in the United States, is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.
Death Valley National Park is shared between California and Nevada.
As I move east let's move to Nevada with 2 National Parks of this desert state. The other being Great Basin National Park.
Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada
Hottest, Driest, Lowest. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
In the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 4,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines. Come to Great Basin National Park to experience the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm, the darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves. Far from a wasteland, the Great Basin is a diverse region that awaits your discovery.
To the south of Canadian border lies Montana which is the land of Glacier National Park, as well as Yellowstone, shared with its neighbors to the south Idaho and Wyoming.
In the shadows of Yellowstone is Grand Teton in Wyoming. It by no means is a lesser National Park and a must visit for anyone in the area.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park where you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River or enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is a 1,583-sq.-mi. wilderness area in Montana's Rocky Mountains, with glacier-carved peaks and valleys running to the Canadian border. It's crossed by the mountainous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Among more than 700 miles of hiking trails, it has a route to photogenic Hidden Lake. Other activities include backpacking, cycling and camping. Diverse wildlife ranges from mountain goats to grizzly bears.
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho/Montana/Wyoming
It's wonderland. Old Faithful and the majority of the world's geysers are preserved here. They are the main reason the park was established in 1872 as America's first national park—an idea that spread worldwide. A mountain wildland, home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, the park is the core of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.
South of Idaho and Wyoming lies Utah another western state. There are 5 National Parks in this state making it 3rd in line after California and Alaska.
Capitol Reef National Park is the only one missing for me so yes I need to make plans to visit Utah again.
Arches National Park, Utah
Visit Arches and discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon, famous for its worldly unique geology, consists of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful limestone rock of the Claron Formation into bizarre shapes, including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called "hoodoos".
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands invites you to explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.
Zion National Park, Utah
Utah's First National Park. Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Challenge your courage in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.
Moving south we enter into southwestern region and land into the state of Grand Canyon. One of the most famous National Parks in the USA is in the state of Arizona.
Petrified Forest and Saguaro are the other 2 National Parks in this state.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Best known for globally significant Late Triassic fossils, the park attracts many researchers. Geologists study the multi-hued Chinle Formation. Archeologists research over 13,000 years of history. Biologists explore one of the best remnants of native Arizona grassland. Air quality is an ongoing study in the park. Discover your own passion at Petrified Forest.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona is home to North America’s largest Cacti. The Giant Saguaro is the universal symbol of the American West. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the East and West of the modern City of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.
Lying east of Utah is Colorado encompassing most of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the western edge of the Great Plains.
It's famous for Rocky Mountains National Park, but don't forget the 3 most underrated parks which are right here in Colorado.
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Deep, Steep and Narrow. Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time. Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Experience this diversity through hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and more.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.
Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
Feel Like You’re On Top of the World! Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top.
In the northern plains region of the United States, bordered by Canada to the north lies North Dakota with Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
To the south is South Dakota and here you can find 2 more National Parks.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
When Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was a skinny, young, spectacled dude from New York. He could not have imagined how his adventure in this remote and unfamiliar place would forever alter the course of the nation. The rugged landscape and strenuous life that TR experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
Swaying prairie grasses, forested hillsides, and an array of wildlife such as bison, elk, and prairie dogs welcome visitors to one of our country’s oldest national parks and one of its few remaining intact prairies. Secreted beneath is one of the world’s longest caves, Wind Cave. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this complex labyrinth of passages contains a unique formation – boxwork.
Moving east I got to see Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas which was a unique experience.
Further east is Great Smoky Mountains National Park shared between North Carolina and Tennessee and then Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Water. That's what first attracted people, and they have been coming here ever since to use these soothing thermal waters to heal and relax. Rich and poor alike came for the baths, and a thriving city built up around the hot springs. Together nicknamed "The American Spa," Hot Springs National Park today surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Come discover it for yourself.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee
Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or picnic with the family. 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, the night sky…and you. Plan a Shenandoah escape today.
The northern most state in the New England region is Maine and it also is the easternmost state in the United States.
Acadia National Park lies in this state and it certainly offers a compelling reason to visit this beautiful place.
Acadia National Park, Maine
The First Eastern National Park. People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery.
National Parks in Canada
Stepping outside the USA and into Canada, I visited 4 more National Parks.
I must admit that Canada is gorgeous and is home to equally beautiful and majestic National Parks.
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Canada’s first national park and the flagship of the nation’s park system. Rocky Mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, a picture-perfect mountain town and village, abundant wildlife and scenic drives come together in Banff which is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Expanding over 11,000 square kilometres, Jasper is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO's Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada
The prairies of Alberta meet the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Waterton Lakes National Park. Clear lakes, thundering waterfalls, rainbow-coloured streams, colourful rocks and mountain vistas await hikers and sightseers. With an exceptional diversity of wildlife and wildflowers and a cozy little waterfront town to serve as a home base, Waterton packs a big natural punch into a relatively small and accessible area.
Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Named for a Cree expression of awe and wonder, Yoho lies on the western slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Vertical rock walls, waterfalls and dizzying peaks draw visitors from around the world. With exceptional hiking and sightseeing, the park offers a unique glimpse of Canada’s natural wonders, from the secrets of ancient ocean life to the power of ice and water.
National Parks in Europe
Stepping outside the USA and Canada, I visited my first National Park in Europe.
In 2018 I got an opportunity to visit England and I made sure I visit at least one National Park.
Peak District National Park, England
The Peak District National Park is the first national park in the United Kingdom. Established in 1951, it lies in an upland area in England at the southern end of the Pennines.
It is mostly in northern Derbyshire, but also includes parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
Inhabited from the Mesolithic era, evidence exits from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Settled by the Romans and Anglo-Saxons, the area remained largely agricultural.
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