If you’re looking at an escape from your home office walls, the 63 USA National Parks offers endless stunning natural wonders to discover. As I was lucky enough to visit so far 2/3 of those wonderful places, you’ll find below a selection of my preferred 20, which is by definition an unfair choice as they’re all amazing 😊.
As I could frankly not rank them, here there are in a boring alphabetical order 😢 …
Arches N.P., Utah
With more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches and many other amazing geologic formations, Arches National Park desertic arid ground is an amazing field for hiking, photography, and astrophotography…
Even driving around the amazing formations (like red sandstone Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers below) is the archetype of the Wild West landscape and experience.
Badlands N.P., South Dakota
The Badlands offers an amazing landscape of buttes, pinnacles, and mixed-grass prairies. Despite the name, there is a lot of wildlife there like bison, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, etc. This is a gorgeous place!
The White River Badlands National Park eroded buttes with mixed-grass prairies are fantastic for hikers (take a lot of water) and photographers
Bryce Canyon N.P., Utah
Bryce Canyon is a geological amphitheater on the Paunsaugunt Plateau with hundreds of hoodoos formed by erosion. Read my post to discover more about Bryce Canyon magical Hoodoo’s
The region was originally settled by Native Americans and later by Mormon pioneers. It is now an amazing touristic destination, and a globally know spot for astrophotography as well!
Canyonland N.P., Utah
The Colorado and the Green rivers can take the erosion credit for the creation of that wonderful maze of canyons, buttes, and mesas. The view from Grand Viewpoint is one of the best spots to apprecialte the park in my opinion.
Canyonlands National Park also contains many artifacts from Ancient Pueblo peoples, and a lot of wildlife, like that western terrestrial garter snake peeking out of his hole on Shaffer Trail.
Death Valley N.P., California & Nevada
Welcome to the hottest, and driest place in the United States, where daytime temperatures can exceed 130 °F (54 °C). The Badwater Basin and its vast salt flats are located at the lowest elevation in North America (-282 ft,86 m).
One of the most beautiful and very famous travel photography spots in Death Valley National Park is Zabriskie Point, especially during sunrise. Go back for sunset as well !
Denali N.P., Alaska
The park is centered on Denali mountain, the tallest mountain in North America wwith more than 20 000 Feet (almost 6200 m!) Denali is serviced by a single (long) road leading to Wonder Lake. You need time (and luck) to see the summit clear.
Denali National Park boreal forest is as well famous for its wildlife like Caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and of course grizzly bears
Everglades N.P., Florida
Welcome to the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, contrasting with the nearby city of Miami. This mangrove, rainforest, and marine habitat contains 36 protected species an many beautiful birds.
You can find in the Everglades National Park wilder stuff like the Florida panther and of course many American crocodiles like that herd of alligators sunbathing in the swamps…
Grand Canyon N.P., Arizona
Perhaps one of the most famous National Parks in the US, for good reasons, Carved by the Colorado River the canyon is almost 500 km (280 miles) long and up to one mile (1.6 km) deep!
Millions of years of erosion have exposed the multicolored layers of the Colorado Plateau in mesas and canyon walls, creating the Grand Canyon National Park wonders. Don’t miss the sunset (and sunrise 😊😎)!
Grand Teton N.P., Wyoming
Grand Teton is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range, as well as a beautiful park for hiking, just south of Yellowstone National Park
Mountains reflections on Jackson lake are part of the iconic views in that beautiful park.
Great Sand Dunes N.P., Colorado
The deposits of the ancient Rio Grande have formed in San Luis Valley n(ear Alamosa) beautiful sand dunes. Those are the tallest in North America (750 feet (30 m) tall and give a “Sahara feel”
The Great Sand Dunes National Park contains grasslands as well, wetlands, and alpine lakes, and old-growth forests. Prairie sunflowers in front of the Dunes are beautiful photography opportunities!
Hawai’i Volcanoes N.P., Big Island Hawaii
This park is the home of the Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes that are two of the world’s most active geological features. Typical Hawaii showers and rainbows are always great opportunities for travel photography. 😎
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park offers a diverse ecosystems range, from tropical forests at sea level to barren lava beds at more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m). In the country of cars and freeways, mother nature shows there its power to claim all back anytime!
Joshua tree N.P., California
That famous park in Southern California offers vast stands of Joshua trees and covers large areas of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts, as well as the Little San Bernardino Mountains,
This desert landscape offers diverse environments and endless opportunities for hikers and photographers
Kenai Fjords N.P., Alaska
That park is situated near Seward, Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula. It protects the Harding Icefield with close to 40 glaciers and fjords stemming from it.
The best way to discover Kenai Fjords National Park is to take a boat tour for a day (or half a day) or kayak tours. They offer unique views of tidewater glaciers, marine birds, whales, and of course wild harbor seals chatting on a tiny iceberg…
Petrified Forest N.P., Arizona
You can find here a large concentration of amazing 225-million-year-old petrified wood surrounded by out of this world Painted Desert eroded cliffs
You can as well see in Petrified Forest National Park many dinosaur fossils and over 350 Native American sites protected in this park. The red- volcanic rock called bentonite create stunning photography subjects
Saguaro N.P., Arizona
That beautiful park in the dry Sonoran Desert has two separate parts around the Rincon Mountain and Tucson Mountain districts, both with amazing landscapes with the giant saguaro cacti.
Beyond the beautiful cactus, Saguaro National Park is amazing for its many wildlife species like the Harris’ hawk standing on a dead tree below
Sequoia N.P., California
This park in northern California protects the Giant Forest, which some of the world’s largest trees the like General Sherman that is the largest measured tree in the park.
There are as well more than 240 caves and beautiful hikes in the Sierra Nevada
Virgin Islands, N.P., Caribbean
Of course, Virgin Islands are part of the Leeward Islands of the West Indies. They are of course more known for being a Caribbean beach touristic spot rather than a National Park.
The island Park on Saint John preserves however pristine beaches surrounded by mangrove forests and coral reefs with an amazing wildlife
Yellowstone N.P., Wyoming, Montana & Idaho
Situated on the Yellowstone Caldera, the park is in my view one of the most impressive and beautiful national parks in the US. with an expansive network of geothermal areas. The vividly colored hot springs such as Grand Prismatic Spring is a travel photography iconic spot
Abyss Pool and its amazing, vivid rainbow colors, is as well one out of many wonders of Yellowstone National Park.
Yosemite N.P., California
The famous glacier-carved Yosemite Valley panorama is stunning, especially from the popular artist Point trailhead (Tunnel View), overlooking El Capitan, the Half Dome and the Bridalveil Fall.
Yosemite National Park features sheer granite cliffs, exceptionally tall waterfalls, and old-growth forests. Vernal Fall on Merced River, with its wet granite rocks and vegetation is another (out of many) famous hike.
Zion N.P., Utah
Zion is at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert with four ecosystems: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. The park is known for its colorful rock towers, and canyons,
Take the famous Zion-Mount Carmel Highway (Utah State Highway 9). That road offers stunning view of the National Park!
Again, selecting 20 National parks out of 63 stunning natural places is by definition unfair, and that’s without considering the amazing list of state parks and preserved areas that are not National Parks!. So I’m closing with Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (not an NP) and I hope all those will inspire you to plan your next vacations (With the magic vaccine for full freedom to travel again 😢).