National Parks are my jam. One of my major bucket list goals is to visit all of the National Parks in the U.S. It's a lofty goal, but I'm slowly checking them off the list. I have a map in my house with all of the national parks on it and after I visit another I mark it off by putting a sticker on the map. I love everything about national parks. Sight seeing, hiking or running, spotting wildlife, and overall exploring. These things make my heart happy. Each park has a uniqueness all it's own and every time I visit a new one I feel blown away by the massive beauty all around me. Follow along as a I recap my favorite national parks thus far!
FIVE MUST-SEE NATIONAL PARKS
1. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - I spent a day driving the Going to the Sun Road at the start of a two week road trip through Canada. Although I didn't get to spend a lot of time in the park, it is truly one of the most breathtaking parks I've been to. Massive mountains, waterfalls off the side of the road, and large groups of mountain goats make this park a must see!
2. REDWOODS NATIONAL PARK - My number one and two are interchangeable given my mood. I've been to the Redwoods twice and I would go back time and time again. It is humbling and awe inspiring to stand among giant trees. Everyone says the are big, but until you see them for yourself, it's hard to fully grasp their size. With the ocean just a handful of miles away, this park has everything wonderful in it. The tallest trees, green as far as the eye can see, and crashing waves. Check out spots such as Lady Bird Grove, Tall Trees Grove, Jedidiah Smith State Park, and Klamath Beach.
3. BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK - This one may be a curveball and one that is not on a lot of people's list. I lived in West Texas for awhile and this was an easy park to get to. It's incredible! This park has desert landscapes, hot springs, and the Rio Grande dividing the border which makes it great for hikers, rafters, and overall explorers. My favorite trails are the Hot Springs Historic Trail, The Window Trail, and anything that takes you along the Rio Grande and into the canyons. In 2014, the border crossing reopened in Boquillas, Mexico so you can now cross the border into Mexico by small boat (complete with a passport stamp) and ride donkeys into the small border town to eat tacos and drink cheap Mexican beer. It is an experience not to be missed!
4. ZION NATIONAL PARK - I have to put in one from current home state and this park definitely does not disappoint. Even before moving to Utah, Zion was one of my favorites. The canyons and rock formations here are unlike any other. It is truly beautiful no matter where you are. The town of Springville, right outside the park, is also worth checking out. They've got shops, good eats, and a brewery with a view. Zion hosts trails like The Narrows, Emerald Pools, and Weeping Rocks. The Subway and Angels Landing are two of the most popular that are still on my list to do. Some of these hikes involve guides or special gear so make sure to do your research before venturing in to the park. This park also tends to get very packed in the peak seasons, so consider going when it may be less crowded. Fall tends to be my favorite season in Zion and the crowds will be less then the summer.
5. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK - This is another park that I got to spend a weekend in but am itching for more. Grand Canyon is another of those parks where pictures and other people's stories don't do it justice. Seeing it with your own eyes is the only way to truly grasp it's vastness. The Kaibab trail will take you all the way to the bottom of the canyon, but it's a long one so again research and be prepared. There are great hikes throughout the canyon and it's hard to go wrong. The day I visited it was overcast and the low clouds hanging in the canyon made for unique views! This is another park worth visiting in the fall for the autumn colors alone!
I haven't been to a park I didn't enjoy. It's easy to focus on international travels as this world is vast and full of amazing countries and cities all over the world to experience. But don't forget the beauty in our own backyard! The National Parks are my own personal way of remembering not to forget to explore the beauty nearby. Have other favorites? I'd love to hear yours!
Jaclyn | Collective Contributor