In 1872, the first national park was established in the US. It is the Yellowstone National Park. Today the country is home to 59 national parks that encompass outstanding landscapes and incredible biodiversity within their boundaries. The national parks in the US are also some of the top recreational spots for nature lovers and adventurers from across the world. Here is a list of 10 of the country’s most popular national parks.
10. Acadia National Park
This national park is located in Maine and encompasses several islands in the Atlantic Ocean including the Mount Desert Island. It is the tenth most visited national park in the US. The park hosts interesting geological features and about 40 species of mammals and other fauna. The plant life here is also one of the most diverse in Maine. The Acadia National Park hosts more than 50% of the vascular plant species that are found in Maine.
9. Grand Teton National Park
The national park, located in Wyoming, covers an area of 1,300 square km. Located near the Yellowstone National Park, this park has a mountainous landscape and accommodates most of the major peaks of the Teton Range. This pristine ecosystem hosts a great diversity of species that have survived since the prehistoric times. The birdlife of this natural park includes 300 species.
8. Zion National Park
The Zion National Park is located in the state of Utah. The Zion Canyon is the central feature of this national park. The park encompasses an area of 590 square km within its boundaries. The elevation of the park ranges from 3,666 ft to 8,726 ft. The park includes a variety of natural features like canyons, monoliths, mountains, rivers, and more. The Zion National’s Park's unique geography supports a range of habitats and rich biodiversity. 75 mammalian species, 289 species of birds, 32 species of reptiles, and other wildlife inhabit the national park.
7. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The national park is located in northeast Ohio. The park protects a part of the landscape along the Cuyahoga River. The national park was established in 2000 and currently encompasses an area of 132 square km. It is the seventh most popular national park in the US. The park offers a range of activities like bicycling, hiking, wildlife watching, etc. The varying landscapes of the park featuring waterfalls, caves, hills, lush farmlands, and more makes the experience of visiting the national park a memorable experience.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park
This national park, located in north-west Colorado, is the source of the Colorado River’s headwaters. The park has a mountainous landscape due to its location within the Rocky Mountain’s Front Range. The park hosts a diversity of ecosystems ranging from wooded forests at lower elevations to alpine tundra habitats at higher altitudes. The national park is one of the first World Biosphere Reserves to be designated so by the UNESCO in 1976.
5. Yellowstone National Park
This national park is shared by the US states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The 8,983.18 square km large park was established in the year 1872 to become the country’s first national park. The Yellowstone National Park is well known for its geothermal features and unique biodiversity. Several threatened species of flora and fauna are found in this park. The national park encompasses canyons, rivers, mountains, and lakes within its boundaries. The Yellowstone Caldera is its central feature. Tourists visiting the park can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, boating, wildlife-watching, birding, and more such recreational activities.
4. Olympic National Park
Locate on the Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, this national park is the fourth most visited park in the US. The park features three distinct ecosystems that are known for outstanding sceneries. The national park was established in 1938 and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1981. The park houses a great diversity of both terrestrial and marine fauna. The rich birdlife of the region also fascinates tourists.
3. Yosemite National Park
This national park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of Northern California. It is known for its awe-inspiring landscapes that feature waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, lakes, and wildlife. The national park was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1984. The 3,026.87 square km large park houses five major vegetation zones. Black bears, raccoons, red foxes, coyotes, river otters, etc., are some of the fauna found in the park. The Yosemite National Park received an annual average of 3,615,372 visitors since 1996.
2. Grand Canyon National Park
Almost every international tourist to the US visit this national park. It is thus the second most visited national park in the US. The park is located in northwestern Arizona and has the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River as its central feature. The Grand Canyon National Park was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979. It encompasses an area of 4,926.08 square km. The park offers amazing vistas and a range of recreational activities to the visitors like driving and walking tours, hiking trails, biking, etc.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This US National Park is a part of the Smoky Mountains and is located at the border between the US states of North Carolina and Tennessee. The park covers an area of 2,114.15 square km and received 11,312,786 visitors in 2016. It is the country’s most visited national park and receives 9,572,089 average annual visitors since 1996. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The national park has several tourist attractions including wildlife, geological, and historical features. It is easily accessible via the U.S. Highway 441. Tourists visiting the park can enjoy a wide range of recreational activities like biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, etc.