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  • Published on Feb 16, 2017
    Top National Parks to Visit in 2017

    There 417 National Parks in the United States; 59 that include the word “National Park” in the title.  Each one is special in its own way. So how do you know which ones are the best to visit?  Many people just pick the most popular and most visited parks, but some people like to explore a few of the ones that are less visited and avoid the crowds.  We’ve got a list of the top national parks to visit in 2017, in no particular order, that includes a variety of both well-known and not as well-known parks in the United States.

    1. Yosemite National Park: One of the more well-known National Parks and one of the most visited, Yosemite National Park is located in California.  Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite every year and the number keeps growing.  The park covers 761,268 acres of property across the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Best known for its granite cliffs, biological diversity, and spectacular waterfalls, Yosemite is a beautiful place for outdoor activities.  Over 95% of the park grounds are designated wilderness so many come to the park to go hiking, biking, rock climbing and camping.  Backcountry camping is allowed with a permit and only a select number of passes are handed out per day.  There are other designated campgrounds within the park but they fill up fast.

    2. Glacier National Park: Situated between the U.S. and Canadian border Glacier National Park covers nearly 1 million acres of land and contains two mountain ranges.  There are 130 lakes and over 1,000 different species of plants and animals.  Glacier National Park was designated as the 1st national peace park in North America.  It is most known for its massive glaciers and rock formations that have been created from glacial flows. Lake McDonald Valley is the most visited spot in the park and offers spectacular views of the mountain ranges and lakes.  There are hiking trails throughout the park, historical chalets, and a beautiful lodge in Lake McDonald Valley.  

    3. Acadia National Park:  Formerly known as the Mukunfuweap National Monument, Acadia National Park was the first national park east of the Mississippi.  Measuring in at 229 square miles, the park is most known for its massive sandstone cliffs boasting beautiful color bands of pinks, reds, and creams.  The top feature of Acadia National Park is Zion Canyon; its 15 miles long and ½ mile deep.  Beautiful views of the carved out canyon can be seen from the numerous hiking trails that wind around and throughout.  There are numerous activities that one can partake in at Acadia including climbing, hiking, and the most popular canyoneering.  Canyoneering is the activity of combining route finding, rappelling, swimming and hiking.  Permits are needed for canyoneering and can be obtained through the park office.

    4. Grand Teton National Park: Located in northwest Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park gets nearly 4 million visitors each year.  It is best known for its beautiful scenery.  The towering Teton Mountain Range set against the green valleys and glistening lakes make for picturesque views no photograph can do justice.  There are over 200 hiking trails that wind throughout the park but the boating and float trips on the Snake River are the more popular activities on the water.  Like most national parks, camping is prohibited in designated areas unless you have a permit for backcountry camping.

    5. Denali National Park: Alaska is a beautifully, mostly untouched country and its national park is no different.  Home to America’s highest mountain, Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet, Denali National Park sits on over 6 million acres of Alaskan wilderness.  It is the only subarctic ecosystem in North America.  You’ll get the chance to see grizzly bears, arctic wolves, moose and much more in its natural habitat.  The most popular activity in Denali is hiking.  There are group hikes led by park rangers up to Mt. McKinley. The conditions can prove for a strenuous hike so it’s best to not try the hike by yourself the first time, although many people do and end up turning back.  Other hikes are available that are less dangerous and taxing and still get you up quite far on Mt. McKinley.  There are also regular hiking trails throughout the park that lead you through some of the best parts of the Denali wilderness.

    6. Arches National Park: Located in Southeast Utah, Arches National Park is one of the most photographed national parks in the park system.  The red rock landscapes set against the colorful blood orange sunsets are definitely a sight to see.  The most popular and most photographed spot in Arches is a formation called “Balanced Rock”; a huge sandstone boulder that sits perched on a narrow rock pedestal.  Another popular formation is the “Delicate Arch”. It is actually the world’s most famous and most photographed arch.  You can get up close and personal by hiking to all of the arches in the park, but some hikes can be harder go get to than others.  Nonetheless, you will not be disappointed with what you find at Arches National Park.

    7. Grand Canyon National Park: One of the biggest and most visited national parks in the United States; the Grand Canyon spans over 1.2 million acres of the Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona landscape.  The Colorado River runs right through the park and over time has carved out the steep walled canyons that now form the massive cliffs and deep gorges.  Many visitors that come to the park visit the South Rim and you can do so all year round.  Hiking, river trips, guided tours, tours by helicopter, jeep and van tours, and even mule trips are just a few of the activities you can partake in at the Canyon.  Many trips book up to a year in advance so visit the parks website for more information on how to get on those lists.

    8. Yellowstone National Park: The 1st national park in the whole world, Yellowstone was established in 1872 by Ulysses S. Grant.  It takes up 3.468 square miles and includes pristine lakes, deep canyons, flowing rivers and towering mountain ranges; all the best aspects of natural formations you could ask for.  Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high altitude lakes in North America and is situated over Yellowstone Caldera, one of the largest super volcanoes that is still considered active. The lava flows and lava rock cover most of the park’s landscape and people love to visit to walk over the natural wonder. Perhaps the most visited attraction in the park is “Old Faithful”, the parks most active geyser.  People line up just to get a glimpse of the geysers powerful explosions.

    9. Rocky Mountain National Park: In north central Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park receives nearly 4.1 million visitors every year.  It is the 3rd most visited national park in North America.  Sitting on 415 square miles of land Rocky Mountain National Park has beautiful scenic drives; plenty of climbing, camping, and horseback riding opportunities; and hundreds of species of wildlife that roam the lands around you.  And of course, in the winter, skiing and snowboarding are an everyday activity.  However, the scenic dries on Old Fall Road are a favorite for many visitors.  Old Fall Road is an old dirt and gravel road that winds up the mountain to 11,000 ft above sea level, with no guard rail to protect you from going off the edge of the road. Travel in the winter is not recommended, for good reasons. Any other time of the year though, the old road offers remarkable views of the mountain ranges and valleys.


    To find out more about these top National Parks and the 408 more in North America, visit www.nps.gov.


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