For lovers of the great outdoors America offers many National Parks for visitors to explore on their holidays to the USA. From hiking to cycling, rock-climbing to white-water rafting and from beautiful wild flowers to grizzly bears, there is a park to suit everyone. The following are just a few of the many parks that you will find throughout the country, there are just far too many to mention them all.
Grand Canyon National Park
Listed as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is one of the most amazing sights to see in the whole of the world. Over thousands of years, the Colorado River has cut through the canyon leaving sights that will take your breath away. In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon as a national monument and in 1919 it was designated a national park. White-water rafting and hiking here in the park are absolutely awesome. From Tuweep Overlook you can enjoy amazing views of the Colorado River 3000 feet below! The South Rim of the park is the most accessible and the most popular but many people like to visit the more remote North Rim which is best visited from the latter end of May through till the beginning of October when heavy snowfalls usually block the roads.
Yellowstone National Park
From it’s geysers (Old Faithful being its most famous), hot springs and mud pots, to its roaming bison, grizzly bears, wolves and elk, Yellowstone is a park not to be missed when in America. Covering areas of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, the park is about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined and is a vast wilderness just waiting to be explored. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was declared America’s first National Park by President Ulysses S. Grant. The park gets its name from the Yellowstone River which meanders its way through the park. Spring and summer are the best time to visit the park as many of the roads in the park are closed in the autumn and winter. Old Faithful spouts throughout the year but you can’t get to it by road until mid-April from one side, or mid-May from the other side.
Yosemite National Park
Covering an area nearly the size of Rhode Island the park is popular with rock climbers, hikers, bikers and families who just want to experience the amazing scenery and wildlife that the park offers. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the park’s impressive granite cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world while the sequina groves and stunning waterfalls attracts those looking for a less energetic time. The most iconic feature of the park is the 5000 foot granite Half Dome which attracts climbers of all levels from beginners to the most experienced in the world. Originally protected by Abraham Lincoln in 1864, this central California park became a designated National Park in 1890. The park is best visited late in May when the mountain snow begins to melt, making the waterfalls absolutely stunning, but visiting the park at any time of the year is a fascinating experience.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado’s Rockies offers 60 mountains that reach over 12000 feet, small glaciers and waterfalls and will quite literally ‘take your breath away’. Together with the lakes and streams, meadows of beautiful alpine wildflowers and impressive wildlife, including the bighorn sheep, the Rockies offer a wilderness for you to explore. The Colorado River headwaters and the Continental Divide are both found in the park. Surrounded by national forests, the Colorado Rockies was named a National Park by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Many of the parks roads become impassable in the winter therefore spring, summer and early autumn are the best times to explore this amazing park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located on the mountainous border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is full of rivers, streams and waterfalls. Founded in 1940, the park has more than 800 miles of hiking tracks which take you up rugged Appalachian Mountain peaks of which 16 of them are higher than 6000 feet. Apart from hiking there is so much more on offer here including wildlife watching and driving through the amazing scenic surroundings. One of the best times to visit is in the spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in full bloom, however the park is an excellent choice for a visit at any time of the year.
Zion National Park
The 15 mile stretch of the red cliffs of Zion Canyon is found in the Utah in the USA. Starting life as the Mukuntweap National Monument in 1909, it was renamed Zion (‘place of refuge’ in Hebrew) in 1937 before becoming a National Park in 1956. The park is a true sanctuary for humans as well as wildlife and more than 200 species of bird, attracting hikers, horse-riders and photographic enthusiasts. The park covers over 230 square miles and is best visited in the spring when the wild flowers come to life or in the autumn when the foliage turns into a carpet of many colours.
Olympic National Park
Located west of Seattle, the Olympic National Park became the Olympic National Monument in 1909 and was later named as a National Park in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although some areas of the park are not accessible during the winter, the park is open all year round and offers Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, snow-capped mountain peaks and a vast variety of animals and plant life. You can only access the outer edges of the park by car as the inner sanctuary of the park is a haven for wild creatures and humans alike.
Grand Teton National Park
The 484 square mile Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming owes its stunning beauty to its glacial lakes and grasslands which sit at the feet of nine rugged peaks of the Rockies. The amalgamation of the Grand Teton National Park and the adjacent Jackson Hole Monument formed what is today known as The Grand Teton National Park in 1950. Much of the park is closed from September to the end of May.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
First protected as a national recreation area in 1974, it became a National Park in 2000. Open throughout the year, the main attraction here is the natural sixty foot Brandywine Falls and the stretch of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The canal was completed in 1832 and connects Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Cuyahoga is also home to one of the most unusual areas of National parkland; an old car junkyard that is now home to beavers!
Acadia National Park
Located in Maine, these 30000 acres of coastal forests, rocky shoreline, remote islands and rocky young mountains are enjoyed by hikers, horse-riders and bikers alike. Although the park is open throughout the year, many parts are inaccessible during the harsh winter months However the winter months are great for cross-country skiing, dog-sledding and ice fishing in the park. Here in the park you will find Cadillac Mountain which standing at 1530 feet is the tallest mountain on America’s Atlantic coast.