There are nearly 60 National Parks scattered throughout the United States of America. This is a country that ranges from cramped and overcrowded urban playgrounds to immense areas of wilderness and natural beauty that are larger than some entire nations. Here are the top 5 National Parks of the USA.
1. Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone has some of the strangest and most interesting geological features on the planet. This vast caldera, or volcanic basin, is all that remains of a gigantic volcano that blew up many thousands of years ago. The area is situated on a hot spot of terrestrial crust, allowing visitors to see a fascinating variety of phenomena of geothermal activity. It is one of the few places in the world you can view boiling mud pools, colourful hot springs, and where hot water and steam erupts from geysers in jets and whistles.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park.
Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is an extensive area that preserves the nature of the Rocky Mountains intact. Covering approximately 107,000 hectares (265,000 acres), there are only two major entry points into the park (one in the east and one in the west). There are hundreds of miles of trails for walkers and horseback riders, with many opportunities to camp in the middle of the wilderness or at a more developed campsite. This park is excellent for those who wish to enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains without all the commercial tourist attractions.
3. Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is spectacular! It is not simply one canyon but a maze of canyons, fissures and gorges carved into the rock by the Colorado River. The exposed sedimentary layers take on a variety of colours depending on the position of the sun. It is truly one of the great natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon is immense. It is over 200 miles long and up to 18 miles wide. Its deeper parts are on the Colorado River channel and vertically measure more than one mile.
4. Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, about 200 miles east of San Francisco. Yosemite valley is the most popular area of the park, which sees over 3.5 million visitors per year. Natural attractions in Yosemite include waterfalls, granite cliffs, and ancient Giant Sequoia groves. Located four hours’ drive from San Francisco and just over 300 miles, or a six hour drive, from Los Angeles, Yosemite is easily squeezed in to a trip to California.
5. Monument Valley.
Monument Valley provides some of the best landscapes in the USA. Although not officially a National Park, the valley is situated within Navajo Tribal Park, and is thus protected and preserved accordingly. The singular plateaus and red hills, surrounded by clear, harsh desert wilderness, have been filmed and photographed on countless occasions over the years. Because of this, Monument Valley may appear familiar even on a first visit, but it remains as striking in reality as it is in the movies.
If you are planning on visiting one of the top 5 national parks, you may need to apply for an ESTA visa waiver in order to be eligible to enter the US.