FIVE TOP U.S. NATIONAL PARKS
Acadia National Park: Located on the middle southern coast of Maine near the popular tourist town of Bar Harbor, this is an ideal spot to experience the wild beauty of the state while having some of the best restaurants, hotels and shops available nearby. Make a point of getting up very early at least once during your visit here, so you can experience the sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Most people prefer to drive to the summit, but if you are feeling particularly ambitious, there are walking trails as well. Be sure to get here early, especially during the summer and early fall, as it is a popular tourist spot and it can become crowded.
Badlands National Park: Located in South Dakota, this gorgeous park incorporates over 240,000 acres of prairies and impressive buttes and pinnacles rising towards the skies. This place overlaps with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and is subsequently held sacred to the Lakota tribe. It is the home of a number of caves as well as multiple species of wildlife, from the majestic bison to badgers, bighorn sheep and even bobcat and coyotes! Life is ancient here, as is evidenced by the many prehistoric fossils which have been discovered in the area.
Everglades National Park: Otherwise known as the River of Grass, this natural wonder located in Florida encompasses and protects the largest tropical wilderness in all of the United States! Encompassing a huge area of wetland flowing out from Lake Okeechobee, this is the home to many endangered species of birds, along with marine life, including manatees. The mangrove and cypress swamps here are a sight to behold as well, as many of them are well over a hundred years old! While there is no shortage of wildlife tours to partake in, be sure to make time to visit Shark Valley, which offers guided tram tours around an area that allows a safe way to experience up close encounters with gators, great blue herons and many other protected species! If you work up an appetite while you are in the area, be sure to stop in Everglades City at the Camellia Street Grill for some of the best stone crab dishes in the state, as well as simpler selections like a fresh, flaky grouper sandwich!
Glacier National Park: This picturesque park is spread out over 1,500 square miles of Montana’s breathtaking Rocky Mountain range. Running parallel to the Canadian border, this spectacular area park has a stark contrast between soaring glacial peaks and pristine valleys, along with a plethora of wildlife, including grizzly bears and mountain goats! If you are into outdoor activities, there is plenty of hiking trails to cover here rated for everything from novice to expert. If you prefer to take in the sights in a more leisurely manner, make a point of traveling the Going to the Sun Road. This fifty-mile expanse has portions that are open year- round, yet a great deal of it closes during the winter, so be sure to plan ahead. Here you can access Logan’s Pass, which is the highest point of elevation on the road as well as many other picturesque scenic outlooks.
Grand Canyon National Park: There is truly nowhere else in the world like this ancient and massive geological formation located in Arizona. One of the most visited National Parks in the entire country, the steep, massive canyon spanning the Colorado River is largely considered to be one of the modern wonders of the natural world. The more popular south rim is open year-round, complete with guided tours that are well-worth the money and time. While the north and west rims are also worth exploring, if you only have a day or two, the south rim is definitely the place to be. Book a hotel in either Flagstaff, New Mexico or Sedona, Arizona for a clean place to stay and numerous dining options before embarking on a tour in the morning.