- Rafael Ulloa
National Park Adventures
Visit US National Parks
A budget friendly, safe, and gorgeous vacation option
Traveling is expensive. Flights alone can take a huge chunk out of your paycheck. Plus the added fees for staying in a hotel or an Airbnb? They can add up, quickly. During these unnerving times, it is imperative that we still get out and do some traveling because it’s good for our well-being, but it’s important to do it safely, and within our means.
If you are looking for an adventure that fits the bill, look no further. America has over 26 National Parks across the country that can take care of that travel bug, without breaking the bank. The best part? No need to pay for airfare, or even over priced accomodations (camping, anyone?!). We’ve broken down some of the best parks across the U.S. depending on their location. Your next adventure is only a car ride away.
Yosemite National Park, CA
Nestled into the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, this National park finds its home amongst overflowing waterfalls, deep granite cliffs, and towering Sequoia Trees. There is a very diverse plant and animal population, so be sure to keep your eyes out for the California Black Bears and the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep!
800 miles of hiking trails are found throughout the whole park and so there is something for all ages and experience levels. For those who are extremely adventurous, be sure to check out the Half Dome Trail. There you will find a Cable Route that allows you to climb the side of the mountain without any rock-climbing equipment. Talk about an adventure!
Sequoia National Park, CA
Dense forests of sky-high Sequoia Trees are what make this park so remarkable. The Giant Forest is home to the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world (so be prepared to be awe-struck when you come across it). There is tons of exploring to be done, whether it be along the trails or in the 270 known caves. For the ones out there who are brave enough to climb Mt. Whitney, you can walk away knowing that you’ve climbed the highest point in the contiguous United States!
Death Valley National Park, CA
Although it is called “Death Valley”, it is actually far from it. There are tons of animals that inhabit the area, and you can even witness a “Super Bloom” of flowers during the spring season. There are many different attractions that make up the park. One of which is Badwater Basin, a salt flat that marks the lowest point in North America. Hop in a car, and in just a few miles, you will be amongst the giant Mesquite Sand Dunes that are sure to take your breath away. You will also find many hikes, hot springs, and some of the darkest skies that are perfect for a night of stargazing.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park is on the western Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Here you will find a dense rainforest with miles of moss covered trees that will make you feel as if you’re in an entirely different country. The park extends all the way to the coast where the forests reach the sands. Large rocks and boulders are scattered around the ocean, and during low tide, you can even walk out to some which makes for an awesome tidepool adventure. While you’re there, be sure to grab a beach camping pass so you can enjoy a night on the sand and fall asleep to the calming sound of waves crashing on the shore.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
As a known “Wonder of the World”, it’s no surprise that the Grand Canyon is one of the most popular National Parks in the United States. Gorged deep from the roaring Colorado River, this canyon reaches heights of 8,000 feet. Many come here to hike the ridge and see the views from the top, but if you take the North Kaibab Trail, you end up at the river below where you can camp, raft, and explore magical trails to waterfalls.
Zion National Park, Utah
Deep canyons of red colored Navajo Sandstone are what makes up this amazing park. Here you will find many different ecosystems ranging from warm and dry deserts, to rich and luscious coniferous forests. There are many hikes throughout the park. Taylor Creek Trail will take you along Horse Ranch Mountain, the highest point in the park, and The Narrows offers a 16 mile hike through 2,000 feet tall canyons that are only 20ft wide! It’s almost impossible for you to leave this park disappointed.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is the very first official National Park in the United States. It is wildly popular due to its many attractions that include the Old Faithful Geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring. There are hardened lava formations under your feet and the colors that surround this park are worth the trip alone. Throughout the park you will also find many activities such as hiking, boating, and even fishing in Yellowstone Lake.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park homes the Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Built and carved with sandstone, mortar, and wood beams, these structures have held their ground since the 1190’s. If you’re in the mood for a hike, you should explore the Petroglyph Point Trail. On your journey, you will see petroglyphs and rock art that are sure to “rock” your socks off.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Although this is one of the least visited National Parks, in no way does that mean it’s not worth visiting. The Big Bend National Park is in the western part of Texas where the U.S. meets Mexico. There are dozens of hiking and backpacking trails and you can even roam 118 miles of the Rio Grande recreationally. There are guided tours, but if you feel comfortable going out by yourself, pick yourself up a River Float Permit and you can float down on your own. If you choose to camp and spend the night, you will be amazed at what you can see in the dark skies. This park is known as the “International Dark Sky Park” due to its lack of any light pollution.
Acadia National Park, Maine
It is true that the majority of National Parks are located on the western side of the country, but there are tons of great ones on the eastern side too! The Acadia National Park in Maine has the highest mountains along the Atlantic coast. Here you can rock climb, canoe, and hike the park's tallest mountain, Cadillac Mountain. Even though this park is more popular during the warm summer months, winter adventurers can still find activities in cross country skiing, and ice fishing!
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest known cave system in the world. Composed of limestone and sandstone, these caves are not only durable, but explorable to all that come to visit. There are 400 miles of surveyed passages and travelers can either take a guided tour through professionally lit caves. If you’re feeling courageous, there are 2 tours offered that are only lit by your personal lanterns. Spooky!
Everglades National Park, Florida
One of the most impressive National Parks is the Everglades. This park serves as a protection site to the natural ecosystem as well as at least 36 threatened species. Here you can find dozens of hiking trails that are suitable for all experience levels and you can even go on a canoe adventure on the 99 Mile Canoe Trail. Camping is available year round, but be sure to keep your eyes out for alligators and the park protected Florida Panther.
Take your pick, each park has something absolutely wonderful to offer, and who says you only need to just pick one? Hit the open road and give yourself, and your wallet, a break!