Each of these national parks features awe-inspiring landscapes, abundant wildlife, and numerous outdoor adventures. By Pallavi Mehra
National parks in and around the United States are ecosystems teeming with plenty of diverse wildlife. From glacial peaks to volcanic wonders, ancient forests to striking coastlines, these protected gems hold something special for every person. When selecting a park to visit, consider your interests, fitness level, and time constraints. With so many excellent options to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect national park for your next adventure. Here are the best national parks in and around the United States.
Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Primarily in the state of Wyoming, Yellowstone is a nearly 3,500-square-mile wilderness recreation area located above a volcanic hot spot. Aside from its rugged mountains and impressive glacier-carved valleys, Yellowstone is home to unique hydrothermal and geologic features, including geysers, hot springs, fossil forests, eroded basaltic lava flows and arresting erosional forms. The park comprises about half the world's geysers. It is also home to more than 200 species of animals including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk, and is known for its numerous picturesque lakes and rivers.
Big Sky, Montana
An hour’s drive from Yellowstone is Big Sky, a community nestled high in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Encompassed by timberland and the Gallatin National Forest, majestic 11,166-foot Lone Mountain towers over this rural haven. Big Sky is home to Big Sky Resort, which is popular for winter adventure sports such as skiing and snowboarding, zip lining and snowshoeing. Big Sky is also well-known for its jaw-dropping landscapes and abundant wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, birds of prey like hawks, owls, eagles, bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, trumpeter swans, antelope, wolves, ermines and muskrats.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Alaska, situated in the northwest corner of North America is celebrated globally for its serene natural beauty, which includes glaciers and fjords, mountains, and more lakes, rivers, and waterways than one can imagine. Covering 3.3 million acres of peaks, glaciers, rainforests, wild coastlines and fjords, Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska comprises some of the continent's most unusual topography. Along with being a land park, it’s also a marine park, where visitors can kayak into bays, inlets and hidden harbours, and catch a glimpse of humpback whales, killer whales, harbour porpoises, harbour seals, Steller sea lions, and sea otters.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Bigger than the state of New Jersey, Denali National Park and Preserve features unspoiled wilderness, which lies in the shadow of Denali, North America’s highest peak. It is frequented for its distinctive wildlife and for adventures such as backcountry camping, mountaineering and trekking. Here, you can trek through 6 million acres of tundra, a boreal forest, as well as ice-capped mountains while peering at grizzly and black bears, Dall's sheep, Arctic ground squirrels, moose, caribou, and even wolves.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia, located in the state of Maine, exhibits a remarkably diverse landscape of both a rugged coastline as well as imposing mountains. The only national park in all of New England, it offers activities for both leisure seekers and adrenaline junkies such as mountain top hikes, bike rides, forest treks, kayaking, scenic drives and shoreline strolls. Walk along the waterfront and spot Peregrine falcons, sea birds, herons, sandpipers, harlequin ducks, seals, dolphins and whales. Guests can also relax or have a picnic on the shores of the tranquil Echo Lake or Sand Beach, or check out the spectacular tidal pools. Acadia is spectacular in the fall with its exquisite autumn foliage, but it is breathtaking in the winter, when it is often draped in white.
Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks
Recognised for its dramatic mountain landscapes, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks comprises Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho national parks, and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks. Together, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Imagine a vast backdrop of ice-capped peaks, icefields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive limestone caves and deeply incised canyons. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks possess incomparable natural beauty and are the habitat of numerous rare and endangered species. At these parks, wildlife includes 56 species of mammals, 280 species of birds and 8 species of amphibians and reptiles. Most commonly seen are elk, bighorn sheep and deer. Less frequently spotted are bears, mountain goats, coyotes, wolves and moose. The Burgess Shale fossil site, well known for its fossil remains of soft-bodied marine animals, is also found here.