7 Stunning U.S National Parks you need to visit

Zion National Park

Their awe-inspiring beauty known throughout the world, we celebrate some of the finest National Parks in the US, each offering astounding sights and wonderful experiences bringing you back in touch with nature.

The country’s first National Park – Yellowstone – was formed by presidential decree in the late 19th century in an effort to stop beautiful landscapes being exploited and potentially irreversibly damaged forever.

Since then, the country has since gone to establish hundreds of national park sites.

Join us as we begin our tour with a look at the most famous park of all – Yosemite National Park.

1. Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

High up amongst the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park, famed for its granite cliffs the Half Dome and El Capitan, first became a protected area (not established National Park) in 1864.

The Park is vast – within the park limits, guests to the park are welcomed with a selection of waterfalls, deep valleys packed with wildlife and huge towering trees that defy belief.

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley, and Glacier Point are must-visits if you decide to enter the park.

Actually a series of waterfalls, Yosemite Falls drops over 2,000 ft, flowing for large periods throughout the calendar year.

At times partially frozen over, the falls are a magical spectacle. Visitors can view this beautiful waterfall, one of the world’s tallest, from a number of great vantage points.

An invaluable loop trail provides a great selection of viewing spots from which visitors can admire one of the great natural wonders found in the United States.

Yosemite Valley is one of the key central attractions in the park. A glacial valley, the area stretches over 7 miles and is home to thousands of trees.

Towering above the treeline, the magnificent Half Dome and El Capitan rise high above into the sky.

El Capitan is one of the most famous rock formations in the world. At points almost a sheer cliff-face, El Capitan is one of the great climbing challenges available on the planet to those brave and skilled enough.

Rising over 3,000 feet, the summit of the rock can be reached via a network of trails. At the top, you will be welcomed by some of the most spectacular views available on the North American continent.

Gazing out across the valley running beneath them, those that reach the summit will be left with a great holiday memory lasting a lifetime.

Another of the park’s famous waterfall, Bridalveil plunges down over 600 feet.

Worth the price of admission alone, Bridaveil falls from an shelf-like rock drop that, during the warmer months, encourages greenery to grow up the cliff-edge.

Mariposa Grove

Towering giant Sequoia trees await at Mariposa Grove. The largest grove of its kind in the park, the Sequoias ever-growing in Mariposa number into the hundreds.

Conscious of both protecting the trees and improving the overall guest experience whilst visiting the grove, Mariposa has undergone restoration work in recent years.

Horsetail Fall, famous for the spectacular Firefall phenomenon, is one of the key attractions in Yosemite. A seasonal waterfall, Horsetail only flows in winter and spring.

Heading to the shore of one of America’s most iconic lakes, Mirror Lake rests between the North Dome and Half Dome.

Known for its mirror-like waters, the lake reflects a wonderful landscape around it and is one of the most eye-catching sights in the park.

2. Zion National Park

Angel's Landing Zion

Found in the south of Utah, Zion National Park is known for its great canyons and iconic red cliffs, some of the which you can access looking out across the beautiful park.

Iconic spots around the park include Angel’s Landing, the Emerald Pools, and the scenic Narrows.

Following a route up to the iconic Angel’s Landing, you will reach the summit that stands over 1,000 feet above the valley floor.

It’s not hard to see why this is one of the most popular hikes in the Park. The views are simply breath-taking!

An intriguing sight in the middle of this beautiful canyon, the famous Emerald Pools is a crucial source of life for the sparse wildlife and vegetation evident in the area.

Covering higher ground, the Canyon Overlook Trail takes walkers to some of the greatest vantage points in the entire park.

3. Yellowstone

Yellowstone National park

The vast Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s, and indeed the world’s, most iconic National Parks.

A landscape home to an array of natural attractions, some appear truly other-worldly.

Extremely colourful, the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is the biggest hot spring in the entire country.

Once exploited for commercial value, the hot spring today remains one of the key draws within the park.

You can get quite close to this toasty highlight thanks to a series of walkways circumnavigating the centre of the hot spring.

Another park icon, the geyser Old Faithful erupts on a consistent basis.

During an eruption, gallons upon gallons of water surge up from the earth and are sent several metres high up into the air.

The Park’s aptly named Yellowstone Lake is hard to miss due to its staggering 100 miles of shoreline!

This hugely impressive lake freezes over for periods of time during winter and at its deepest points, plunges down over 100 metres to the riverbed.

Yellowstone’s own grand canyon is over 20 miles long. At the base of the valley, the mighty Yellowstone River winds its way through the area.

Similar to some of the other famous parks featured in our list, Yellowstone is also home to a fabulous waterfall.

A dramatic point where the Yellowstone River falls over 30 metres, Yellowstone Falls can be observed from a number of great vantage points available on some of the Park’s magical hiking trails.

4. Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

In southern Utah, mesmerising Bryce Canyon is one of the most spectacular sights on the entire planet.

Rich in deep red and crimson colours, Bryce Canyon is known for its spectacular Hoodoos rock formations.

The views here cannot be understated. Hiking routes like the Navajo Loop Trail offer memorable sights, hiking, and great canyons.

Read More – 13 Virtual tours discovering thee world from the comfort of home

Appearing almost arena-like, Sunrise Point is an essential place to visit.

Visitors here get to look down onto the canyon, that bears some resemblance to the great Roman amphitheatres of days gone by.

Another fantastic hiking option, the Queen’s Garden Trail is actually a loop.

Covering just over a mile, it takes you between some of the Park’s most intriguing hoodoo formations.

5. Arches National Park

Arches National Park

The state of Utah seems to have a lot of National Parks!

Arches National Park also calls the great state home. This valuable park contains more than 2,000 sandstone arches – the result of wind erosion.

This red landscape appears at times almost other-worldly with a Mars-like landscape.

Popular natural attractions throughout the Park include the striking Delicate Arch (pictured above), Landscape Arch, Devil’s Garden, the mind-boggling Balanced Rock.

The Balanced Rock (pictured) defies gravity. A huge boulder sat on top of a narrow pillar, this is one of the most photographed locations in the park.

6. Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the country’s most famous tourist destinations. In many ways a massive hole, the Grand Canyon is over an incredible 277 miles long.

Bit of Trivia – Grand Canyon National Park celebrated 100 years since being established as a National Park in 2019.

The canyon floor, shaped over millennia, is surrounded by steep cliffs of red sun-scorched rock stretching as far as the eye can see.

One of the parks key hiking routes, the Bright Angel Trail is over 8 miles long and is often cited as an essential trail for visitors looking to combine a pleasant hike with stunning views of the Great Canyon.

Another popular hiking trail, the South Kaibab Trail is slightly shorter clocking in at 7 miles. This stunning route follows the ridgeline of the Canyon, providing the opportunity to gaze out across this vast landscape.

Grand Canyon Village, located in the park, is a key stopping point for tourists visiting the area. There are a number of historic sites found throughout the village including the Grand Canyon Railway Depot and the Grand Canyon Power House.

7. Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, particularly the park’s Cliff Palace, are staggering feats of human achievement. These relatively well-preserved former settlements were once home to a large Native American population.

There are thousands of important archaeological sites throughout the Park with a dedicated Visitor Centre detailing the area’s long and notable past providing insight into the ancient Pueblo people.

Beyond the Cliff Palace, we recommend visiting Balcony House and the Spruce Tree House.

Discover America

Explore our collection of USA holidays here.

Similar Features

13 Virtual tours discovering the world from the comfort of home

6 of the most spectacular fjords in Norway

Coast to glorious coast – 7 captivating Canadian places to visit

Follow us on Facebook or on Instagram @DCThomsonTravel. Got a travel suggestion or story you want to share, email us at holidayenquiries@dcttravel.co.uk.