Thousands of Americans travel to national parks during their vacation each year in hopes of spotting wildlife, enjoying cool water sports, and camping in the great outdoors. The best attraction at a national park varies from area to area. Most national parks are built around something unique in the region such as rock formations, geysers, caves or other anomalies. These natural wonders add a special experience to the already scenic and awe-inspiring views you’ll find at America’s national parks.
Expenses for visiting a national park are low, sometimes only a few dollars per carload, and the pass is often good for several days. The monies collected are donated to the care and preservation of the park. Throwing in motel costs, movies, rides, and meals raises the price of vacations considerably but free camping, biking, trail-hiking and swimming make for a low-cost but extremely enjoyable time for kids and adults.
Colorado’s Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most awesome of the national parks where over 4,000,000 visitors trek every year. The deep chasm known as The Grand Canyon was carved over millions of years through the Colorado Plateau and goes on for miles. It’s size is indescribable and must be seen in person. No photos can possibly capture the vastness nor the colors, sounds and smells of Grand Canyon. Take a burrow ride down into the canyon or follow a guided tour. The area features wild animals, camping, fishing and so much more. Summer months are extremely hot but all seasons shine beautifully across the park.
Yellowstone National Park, home to Old Faithful and over 250 other geysers, saw it’s first true tourists in the early 1800’s. Now millions travel yearly to watch the geysers spurt their scalding waters and to view the area’s crystalline lakes and waterfalls. Over two million acres in size, the park holds sixty percent of the nation’s geysers. Among the wildlife of the park are coyotes, wolves, big horn sheep, bald eagles, deer and elk.
Yosemite National Park, the size of Rhode Island, hosts giant Sequoias, often called redwood trees. Although the trees are one attraction which draws over 4 million yearly visitors rock climbing, hiking trails and the photographic opportunities appeal to others. While in the area make plans to visit the Bridalveil, Yosemite and other waterfalls, the Half Dome, an 87 million year old plutonic rock, or Glacier Point, a cliff-edge experience like no other.
In the southeastern corner of New Mexico lies Carlsbad Caverns National Park, littered with giant caves and underground chambers. Although the park is open year-round some caves are simply too dangerous to explore. Guided tours are given through the other chambers where stalagmites and stalactites have formed over thousands of years. Eerie, glowing lights of pinks, blues and purples have been erected to add an unnatural glow to the caverns for an unforgettable experience. Over a million bats call the area home but are never seen interacting with the visitors. Instead, they gather on ceilings of the Bat Cave to await nightfall. Witness the spectacle of the bats flying back into the cave in the wee hours of the morning. Other unique features of the park are the Native American cave drawings, still visible today or Rattlesnake Springs where many go to picnic and view amazing wildlife.
Boasting over 3 million acres of desert and wilderness Death Valley National Park is the driest, hottest spot in all of North America and one of the hottest places on Earth. Live history tours, guided hikes, art shows and sand dunes lend to the experience. Make plans while there to visit the Natural Bridge Canyon, The Mosaic Canyon, the Keane Wonder Mine, Telescope Peak Trail and the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns. The park is a combination of deserts that stretch on for miles, huge mountains and lush forests. The usual national park offerings: hiking, site-seeing, picnicking and outdoor wilderness experiences pertain to this park as well.
Mammoth National Park in Kentucky has bragging rights to the biggest, deepest cave ever discovered. The cave is over 350 miles long and 379 feet deep with cave formations and underground rivers. The park is over 52,000 acres of scenic parkland featuring many endangered species of wildlife and rare plants. Over 100 species of fish draw the attention of those who hope to make the catch of the year in crystal waters, abundant in the area. If bird-watching is your game make plans to come and view some of the 200 species that live nearby, including owls, kingfish, hawks, eagles and osprey.
Visit some of the other national parks in your area or plan to travel cross-country to see Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, North Cascades in the state of Washington, the Petrified Forest of Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah or any one of the dozens of National State Parks across the country. Go online to discovery the uniqueness of a national park near you. The trip will cost much less than theme park vacations, you’ll have just as much fun, and you’ll have an experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.