Now that summer is nearly here, the weather is perfect for exploring the natural wonders that North America has to offer. The United States and Canada have some of the most beautiful national parks in the world, attracting millions of locals and tourists each and every year. Parks Canada also announced that national parks across the country will be free of charge on Free Admission Day, which makes this summer the best time to take advantage of the perk.
To get you excited about the natural grandeur of our parks, here are 8 of the most beautiful national parks in North America.
The Grand Canyon is truly aptly named. This natural attraction, which was carved out by the Colorado River in Arizona, is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and one mile deep. According to Northern Arizona University, the Grand Canyon sees over five million visitors every year. While most tourists simply partake in casual sightseeing, hiking, running, rafting, and helicopter tours are also popular.
If you are an avid runner, the Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon, a 78-mile race that lasts over 24 hours, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Located in the western Sierra Nevada of California, Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular sites in the world. Full of lush sequoia groves, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and more, almost 95% of the park is designated to natural wilderness. Open year-round and featuring numerous activities made available through the National Park services (such a stargazing, tours, rafting, and more), Yosemite also offers a variety of hikes for all skill levels.
The Rocky Mountain National Park is located in northern Colorado, within the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. It’s widely visited for hiking, due to a network of trails that are suitable for any visitor, including those with disabilities and individuals who are looking for a challenging workout.
Many of the trails are closed outside of the summer season, however, due to weather conditions. Visitors can camp, ride horses, rock climb, mountaineer, fish, snow shoe, cross-country ski, and partake in additional outdoor activities at this national park.
Located in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park features the gorgeous Zion Canyon. Due to its location at the intersection of the Great Basin, the Mojave Desert, and the Colorado Plateau, the park has a very unique geography and ecosystem that allows for impressive plant and animal diversity. Visitors can explore on horseback, by car, and via nature walks and hikes, and are also able to camp at Zion National Park.
Banff National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains, just west of Calgary, Alberta. Established in 1885, Banff is Canada’s oldest national park, spanning an area of 2,564 square miles. Mainly comprised of mountains, glaciers, and forests, the park sees over three million visitors annually. Lake Louise is one of the most popular destinations within Banff National Park – a beautiful glacial lake that looks emerald in color, thanks to the rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from its surrounding glaciers.
Jasper National Park, located in Alberta, Canada, is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Spanning 4,200 square miles, the park includes glaciers, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls, and mountains. Its many scenic attractions draw countless visitors every year for hiking, fishing, rafting, camping, kayaking, and much more.
The Miette Hot Springs, one of the more popular spots at the national park, is an exceptional hot spring that is naturally cooled by the mountain, making the temperature suitable for human use.
Bridging Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is an enormous park that reserves the honor of being recognized as the first national park in the world. Known for its wildlife and the renowned Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone spans an area of 3,468 square miles. Half of the entire world’s geothermal features are in the park.
Due to its vast size, some sections may be closed during the offseason for repair. Its many attractions, though – including Old Faithful, its own Grand Canyon, and Mammoth Hot Springs – are hugely popular throughout the summertime.
Olympic National Park is located in Washington State and features three ecosystems, boasting mountainous terrain, lush forests, and rivers. Hiking is one of the best ways to explore the park and visitors are able to camp, raft, and boat. During the wintertime, Olympic National Park’s viewpoint, Hurricane Ridge, offers fun winter activities like skiing and snowboarding.
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