America is home to 59 gorgeous and diverse protected areas designated as national parks. Overwhelmed about seeing them all? Let us cherry-pick the eight most worthy of your vacation days:
8 National Parks you have to visit
8 National Parks you have to visit
Fun fact: Yellowstone, the oldest National Park in the country, is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Inside its boundaries—contained mostly in Wyoming but also touching Montana and Idaho—you’ll find 300 geysers, 290 waterfalls, about 70 types of mammals and an active volcano. But the iconic Old Faithful geyser and the multicolored Grand Prismatic Spring are the park’s two biggest draws.
This Atlantic coastal park located in Bar Harbor, Maine, draws about 2 million visitors per year. A hiker’s paradise, you can climb scenic trails up Cadillac Mountain, rock climb the grueling path up Beehive trail and walk around Jordan Pond (only complete after you’ve enjoyed a meal of freshly baked popovers and fresh Maine blueberry jam at Jordan Pond House).
You may confuse Alaska’s Kenai Fjords for the glaciers of Patagonia. The park’s highlight is Harding Icefield, where about 35 glaciers the size of houses float where the frozen mountains meet the ocean. The best way to see Kenai is during the summer months by tour-boat cruise, which will take you to see the fjords up close. Keep an eye out for frequently passing orcas, sea otters and humpback whales.
Ever heard of the chain of islands off the coast of Southern California nicknamed the Galápagos of North America? Well, these five peaks are considered some of the most remote places in the U.S., accessible only by boat or plane. They’re known for their hugely diverse wildlife (think: sea lions, gray whales, dolphins and bald eagles) and obviously gorgeous landscape.
About 3.5 million people travel to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains each year to visit Yosemite. But explore a little ways into the valley and you’ll feel alone in the rugged wilderness. Yosemite is famous for its impressive waterfalls, its iconic Half Dome rock formation (which visitors can climb to the top) and, of course, the giant Sierra redwoods trees.
You'll find Hawaii's most impressive national park (actually called "Hawai'i Volcanoes") on the big island. It’s home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s most active volcanoes. Don’t worry, they won’t spew scalding ash at you, but with each non-violent eruption you can feel the land gargle beneath your feet and see it glow like lava when the sun sets. You may even feel a bit prehistoric as you walk through Thurston Lava Tube
No discussion of America’s national parks would be complete without a mention of the Grand Canyon—a natural treasure 6 million years in the making. Popular tourist activities include white-water rafting through the Colorado River, hiking the South Rim and watching the colors of the canyon change with the sunset.
About a three-hour drive from Seattle stands Mount Rainier—one of the world’s largest volcanoes—and the centerpiece of Mount Rainier National Park. The volcano is visible throughout most of Washington state, and it’s surrounded by glaciers, snow fields, a crystal-clear lake and (in the fall and spring months) colorful fields of wildflowers.
A quick glance through my feed makes it obvious that mountains are my favorite subject. I always felt their intrigue, but I didn't immerse myself in this type of terrain until my wife and I moved from Minnesota to the northwest in 2013. It's crazy to think how much these rocky landmasses have changed things for me, but it's no wonder when I'm out there and feel the original sense of awe and wonder I've experienced since the very first hike.
Alabama - University of Alabama
Welcome back, students! Time to study up for those finals next week! #RollTide
Arizona - Grand Canyon
Stop waiting for things to happen go out and explore with @heimplanet Via @heimplanet Photography by @johnonelio
Arkansas - University of Arkansas
California - Disneyland
I have friends on the other side 😉 #HauntedMansionHoliday _______________________________________________________ 🏰 #WaltDisney #Disneyland 🎡#DisneyCaliforniaAdventure #DisneylandTimes 🎠 #abc7eyewitness #DisneylandPhotography #DisneylandCalifornia ✨ #MickeyMouse #TeamCanon ⛲️ #HappiestPlaceOnEarth #DisneylandDave #DisneylandHD °o°
Colorado - Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
A jump in the right direction! Confidence comes from small steps that equal big jumps, then next thing you know it's a VICTORY! #limitless on my way back to the top! It's a slow road but I am getting there!!!! 👊
Connecticut - Mohegan Sun
We're ready for the holiday weekend!
Delaware - University of Delaware
The most Instagrammed place in #Delaware? It's #UDel, of course, according to @usatoday. Thank you to our Instagram community for geo-tagging us when taking those gorgeous campus shots and student life moments. 📷: Incoming freshmen capture Twilight Induction on The Green with their phones.
Florida - Disney's Magic Kingdom
A real winter wonderland. Christmas time at @waltdisneyworld is the best time! 🎄 #ohyeahdisney
Georgia - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
🎼"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" ❄️ #byui #winter #snow #soHappy #lovehaterelationship
Illinois - Wrigley Field
Best Photo Ever!!!
Indiana - Indiana University
Late November and it's still beautiful
Iowa - Iowa State University
#tb to Iowa Sate
Kansas - The University of Kansas
I love this game🏀 (yes I made it)
Kentucky - University of Kentucky
Official awkwardest wildcat around💙 #IBleedBlue
Louisiana - Bourbon Street
Dreams of being back in New Orleans ❤️
Maine - Old Orchard Beach and Pier
11.30.2016 and just like that, I'll be returning to Maine next summer!
Maryland - Orioles
Our sod replacement is complete! The rain held off just long enough & now it's helping the growth process. Only finishing touches remain. #Birdland #OPACY #Orioles
Massachusetts - Fenway Park
Michigan - Michigan State University
This Green & White has given me more than I can ever explain #SpartanDawg #NoFly4Life
Minnesota - Mall of America
can't even begin to describe this feeling. thank you everyone who came. I am absolutely stunned and insanely grateful. (had to take the muffs off cause I couldn't hear myself HA)
Mississippi - Mississippi State University
There's no better place to be on a Saturday night in November. #HailState #WeRingTrue
Missouri - Busch Stadium
Busch Stadium field getting ready for the Winter Classic. The netting behind home plate has been taken down. #STLCards #stlblues
Montana - Yellowstone National Park
Nebraska - Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Nevada - Las Vegas Strip
New Hampshire - University of New Hampshire
First touchdown 🏃🏾✅! Now its time to go back to VA and take on JMU again ! 😈
New Jersey - MetLife Stadium
New Mexico - Meow Wolf
Do you have a favorite object in the museum cases? Do you have a theory where it came from? 📚 . . . . . . . #meowwolf #meowwolfshouseofeternalreturn #wunderkammer #museum #santafe #santafenm #newmexico
New York - Central Park
North Carolina - Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Descending into Charlotte over a week ago during a cold and crisp morning on a flight from Chicago ORD.
North Dakota - Fargo
Enjoying a latte in an aesthetically pleasing coffee shop has been added to the top of my list of favorite things about Fargo
Ohio - Quicken Loans Arena
Oklahoma - Chesapeake Energy Arena
You gon' make me call my bros for assistance!! #SQUAD #FEATHERY #STAYDACOURSE #BESTFANSINTHEWORLD
Oregon - Portland International Airport
@pdxairport location can't come fast enough for some. Hang in there lil buddy we're getting close. 😂❤️ #wantit #pdx #flypdx #bluestardonuts #donutsfornotquitegrownups 📷 @j29events
Pennsylvania - Philadelphia Art Museum
Another rainy day in #Philly. #philamuseum #repost 📷 by @furri_mara
Rhode Island - Brown University
#BrownUniversity in #Providence has amazingly cozy campus, spend some time walking there and feel the atmosphere of one of the top universities in the US. // Кампус Брауновского универсистета - один из самых уютных среди университетов США. #beavoyager
South Carolina - Hilton Head Island Beach
when you see a glimpse of hope for your grades but just can't seem to grasp it
South Dakota - Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Every year, over three million visitors head to South Dakota's Mount Rushmore National Memorial to catch a glimpse of some of the most memorable faces in USA history. Hands up if this monumental view is on your USA bucket list! 🙌 📷: @wanderthemap #VisitTheUSA
Tennessee - Bridgestone Arena
Bold strategy, let's see if it pays off for 'em.
Texas - Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
You know, from up here, I'm always quickly brought back to reality - I mean the reality of how tiny we are, and how in the big scheme of the universe- we are still loved. #fromtheplanewindow ✈️🌤
Utah - Zion National Park
Adventure.Relax.Inspire #myadventureblanket Photo by @nathantecson
Vermont - University of Vermont
Never get tired of #BTV sunsets. 📸: @miaklonsky '19, neuroscience major
Virginia - Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Washington - Pike Place Market
wishing i was still here. || #seattle 🌧
Washington D.C. - The White House
"Here and around the world, over 18 million people are receiving the treatment and care they need. Millions of infections have been prevented. What once seemed like an impossible dream—the dream of an AIDS-free generation—is within our grasp.” —President Obama on #WorldAIDSDay
West Virginia - Milan Puskar Field
Wouldn't have wanted to share moments like this, partnered up with anyone else for our first football season 💙💛
Wisconsin - Lambeau Field
Game time! Our friend @boboinoc captured this exciting Bears vs. Packers game at Lambeau Field with his Fisheye lens. What a perfect view. #olloclip #football #nfl
Wyoming - Yellowstone National Park
Just watched 'Before the Flood' and I'm feeling all the feels. Endlessly upset with our government. And the food industrial complex. I'm trying to redirect mental energy today and focus on the huge hope I have for our generation. And our BIG love for wild places. It's #givingtuesday y'all, shall we buy less stuff and throw a little love towards causes we care about? YASSSSSS