Top 5 Most Beautiful National Parks in the US

The Top 5 Most Beautiful National Parks in the USFrom sandstone arches and lava flows to towering waterfalls and gorgeous mountaintops, these national parks offer a memorable experience. Visit in the fall or winter for fewer visitors and peaceful vistas blanketed in snow.

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most compact national parks, so it takes less time to explore the highlights like Thor’s Hammer and Inspiration Point. It also features an abundance of red granite hiking trails.

1. Acadia National Park

Comprising a collection of islands along the Atlantic coast of Maine and a stretch of mainland on the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park features granite-domed mountains, forests, lakes, streams, ponds, and pristine beaches. This epitome of natural beauty attracts people for hiking, riding, camping, and taking in stunning vistas of rocky coasts and steep cliffs.

Early risers can drive, bike, or walk to witness the sunrise along Acadia’s rugged shoreline on Ocean Drive. The abyss at Thunder Hole, where waves pound the rocks and spray water up to 40 feet in the air, is best experienced at high tide for the complete experience. Other park features include the bayside hamlet of Bar Harbour, which offers restaurants and stores. The park also includes a couple of antique carriage lanes with crushed rock surfaces suited for kilometres of biking.

2. Congaree National Park

This South Carolina treasure doesn’t get the same attention as Utah’s Zion and Bryce Canyon, but it should be on everyone’s bucket list. Visit in the spring and fall for pleasant weather and a gorgeous landscape, but especially during late May when you may view the awe-inspiring synchronised fireflies.

Congaree National Park is home to one of the greatest old-growth floodplain forests in North America, with bald cypress, water tupelo, and loblolly pine trees. Its swampy scenery never fails to captivate, with calm reflections on the black lake and surreal cypress trees that mirror themselves.

Stop into the Harry Hampton Visitor Centre to check out exhibits and the tiny gift shop, and sign up for a ranger-led programme like a guided hike or forest health. Depending on the season, activities address everything from Native American culture to the lesser-known role this park played in aiding African Americans escape enslavement.

3. Haleakala National Park

The renowned dormant Haleakala volcano draws millions of people each year to this national park in Hawaii. The most popular attraction is seeing the magnificent sunrise at the summit of the mountain. Reservations for this are necessary and are best made well in advance, especially during the peak season from spring to fall. The park’s numerous other features include the crater and its wide, multicoloured erosional “crater” (actually an “erosional depression”). Other must-see features are the Sliding Sands Trail and the lava plain. The peak is also home to the nene, or Hawaiian goose, which almost went extinct in the 1950s and now thrives in the grasslands.

Other must-do activities in Haleakala National Park include hiking paths, horseback riding, and engaging a guide for a cultural tour of the Kipahulu District. The park also maintains uncommon species like the blossoming ahinahina or silversword.

4. Yellowstone National Park

The landmark protected area is a melting pot of jaw-dropping mountain scenery, blue lakes, and lovely meadows, as well as fauna, including herds of bison. The park’s volcanic centre is a spectacular display of geysers spouting steam and bubbling mud pools.

One of the highlights is Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin, which is so named for its kaleidoscope of hues. Visit in the summer to enjoy the warm orange and red hues, or in the winter for a darker shade of blue.

Yellowstone also boasts at least 45 waterfalls that may be visited via hiking paths, including the awe-inspiring Gibbon Falls, Kepler Cascades, Tower Fall, and Rustic Falls. There are also thousands of rivers and streams in the park that are home to cutthroat trout, Arctic grayling, and mountain whitefish, as well as American dippers, river otters, and bald eagles.

5. Yosemite National Park

With granite monoliths, gushing waterfalls, snowcapped mountains, and lush woods, Yosemite is awe-inspiring in every aspect. A visit here is a must for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

John Muir’s love for the outdoors drove him to establish Yosemite National Park in 1890, and his legacy lives on today. Explore the park’s granite cliffs, clear streams, and enormous sequoia groves, or walk to legendary viewpoints like Tunnel View and Half Dome.

For postcard-perfect vistas of the valley’s renowned rock formations, head to Olmsted Point along Tioga Road. From here, you can see the entire valley, including the iconic Half Dome and many more magnificent peaks.

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