The 8 most breathtaking national parks in America

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:

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8 National Parks you have to visit
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8 National Parks you have to visit

Yellowstone

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.

Acadia

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).

Kenai Fjords

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.

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Channel Islands

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.

Yosemite

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.

Hawai'i Volcanoes

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

Grand Canyon

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.

Mount Rainier

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.

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Related: Most Instagrammed place in all 50 states

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Most instagrammed place in every state
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Most instagrammed place in every state

Alaska - Denali National Park

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 

#NoFilterFulbright

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

Two babes ♡ #atlanta #mylife #deltairlines #delta #dal #boeing #boeinglovers #boeinglover #boeing757 #skyteam #florida #nikond3300 #nikon #aviones #aviation4u #aviation #avgeek #planes #snapchat

Hawaii - Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Morning glow @sonyalpha a7rii @leefilters .9 medium grad . . . . #ig_masterpiece #igmasters #pro_ig #discoverearth #eclectic_shotz #longexpo_addiction #fatalframes #sonyalphasclub #folkgood #lifeofadventure #usaprimeshots #followmefaraway #heatercentral #all2epic #ourplanetdaily #nakedhawaii #mkexplore #sunset_vision #hawaiistagram #sonyphotogallery #visualsoflife #hnnsunrise #havealohawilltravel #reflectiongram #amazing_longexpo #longexpoelite #longexposure_shots #hiltonhawaiianvillage #majestic_earth

Idaho - BYU-Idaho

🎼"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

Patiently waiting.

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 

Mutual respect.

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

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

December 1st

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

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