The USA is a really big place. Within the wide-open spaces of the contiguous United States, as well as Alaska and the far-flungisl ands of Hawaii, there’s just about every climate and ecosystem you can imagine; from temperate rainforests and pine-clad mountains to deserts and scrublands. Naturally, there are a lot of national parks dedicated to preserving the best that nature has to offer in the USA. Otherworldly sandstone monuments, multicolored hot springs, craggy coastlines, scorching deserts – it’s all here. Have a look at the best national parks in America.
Saguaro is home to the classic southwest American cactus – their iconic shapes of the park’snamesake stand tall in this deserted area in Arizona. Divided into East and West portions, the two halves of the park are separated by the city of Tucson. Both portions of the national park offer an abundance of trails amid its desert landscapes. The Rincon Mountain District is the larger, eastern portion of the park and serves upadventurous horseback rides and camping opportunities. In the west, the Tucson Mountain District is spectacular and is well worth the effort.
The aptly named Big Bend National Park in Texas is so-called because it’s set in adramatic meander of the Rio Grande. On one side of the river is Texas, USA, and on the other side is Mexico. Almost the same size as Rhode Island, Big Bend is known for it’s diversity and hasloads to discover on its many trails. The Chisos Basin is the most popular area of the park and features mountain views, but the Chi huahuan Desert – home to real-life roadrunners and coyotes – is really the place to escape into nature.
A breathtaking national park, Shenandoah is full of an abundance of wildflowers in summer. In autumn, however, the trees burst into brilliant oranges and reds for some prime fall foliage. Situated 75 miles from Washington D.C., there are lengthy hiking trails to discover in this national park. In fact, part of these trails make up around 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Hiking is certainly the order of the day here; the climb up to the peak of Old Rag Mountain, for example, is strenuous, but worth scrambling for the views. For those less interested in hiking, the Skyline Drive means stunning vistas from the comfort of your car.
Mesa Verde is the perfect spot for adventures among nature, and to understand more about mysterious, centuries-old cultures. This is the site where the ancient Puebloans once lived in their cliff dwellings. Where they went or why they left, nobody knows, but their houses built in precarious places can be seen to this day. Because of the important history, walking off-trail is forbidden, as is entering the ancient dwellings without a ranger. Take the Mesa Top Road Circuit that loops around ten of the excavated pueblos, and you’llbe able to discover more about these fascinating old dwellings.
Death Valley National Park might sound like somewhere that’s quite hot and hellish , but there’s actually an abundance of nature to enjoy here. There are huge boulders seemingly lying around on a grand scale, canyons carved by gushing streams that slice through the land, sand dunes that actually ‘sing’ and soaring mountains to tackle. True to its title it is nevertheless a scorching area: one of the hottest spots in the US. Dante’s View offers a panoramic vista across the southern portion of Death Valley Basin from atop the Black Mountains.
Home to the giant trees of the same name, Redwood National Park lies on the northwestern Pacific Coast in California. It’s home to some of the tallest trees in the world. There’s an enigmatic mix here of lush coastal scenery and lush prairielands. The redwood trees are also some of the most ancient trees on the planet, with bran chescovered in moss and ferns. There are plenty of trails to enjoy walking through the vast forests, which make for good days out. To really soak up what the park has to offer it boasts campgrounds and backcountry sites for overnight stays.