In a word…..YES. If you have a lot of time to travel, whether at one time or over the span of a year, the National Parks in the United States are really worth the trip and a bargain if you buy the National Parks Pass.
The National Parks Pass is available at any National Park for a $50 fee and is good for one year from month of purchase. It is accepted for entry into all the National Parks in the United States – which makes it a great deal, especially for those traveling to more than one park.
Are the US National Parks Really Worth Seeing?
Yosemite is an amazing place to visit because of it’s extreme beauty. From rocky cliffs to crystalline waterfalls, as well as it’s colorful trees and frontier history makes it a sure bet everyone will find something to love. Located in mid-California, about 4 hours southeast of Sacramento and 6 hours from San Francisco. This is a great place for international travelers to visit, especially those with only 3 or 4 days to travel. I highly recommend seeing San Francisco and then taking a trip to Yosemite. By doing this, the extremes found all over America will be experienced – a fascinating, bustling city close to beautiful, untouched nature.
Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone is the first established national park in the world. It’s located in the northwestern part of Wyoming, bordering Montana and Idaho. This park is truly a haven for wildlife. This place is great with children for their education, for their nature and also science study. Volcanic geysers, like Old Faithful, and face to face contact with many different kinds of wildlife, are a child’s dream come truel.
The Grand Teton’s are located south of Yellowstone and is the most majestic meeting place for the continental divide, with it rugged mountain views.
It’s difficult for international travelers to visit Yellowstone and the Grand Teton’s due to their remote location, but for those determined to see the diversity of America, it’s a great destination.
Grand Canyon NP
The Grand Canyon is considered one of the 10 wonders of the world, and it’s enormity makes it hard to describe in words, and even photographs don’t do it justice. The mouth-dropping views are awe-inspiring to those who visit the colossal canyon.
The Canyon is so huge and deep the mighty Colorado looks like a tiny creek in the bottom. Visitors on the opposite side of the canyon are mere specks in the distance. It is a definite “must-see” among the U.S. National Parks!
Smoky Mountains National Park
The name says it all. These mountains appear to have smoke rising above them in the early morning. This park is located in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina and is unlike the Rocky Mountains or even the Grand Tetons, but commands attention with a different more subtle beauty. This low elevation range, is most beautiful in autumn when the foilage changes color to give us spectacular fireworks in nature.
You can also experience a culture different from that of other parts of the United States. For foreigners visiting Atlanta, GA the Smoky Mountains are a 5 hours drive away, but will worth the trip, especially in the autumn. During the summer a river rafting trip is refreshing break from the heat.
Rocky Mountains NP
Hmmm, they’re rocky? No, really, they are massive in their size and the distance they cover. Located in Colorado, just outside Denver, the Rocky Mountain National Park is a good drive up steep hills.
Since the elevation is so high, 12,000 to 14,000 feet above sea level, the road crossing through the middle of the park is closed during fall/winter months due to snow and ice. The summer months are the best time to visit because even then, snow can be found on the ground at the highest elevations. Experiencing the incredible drive from one end of the park to the other is something you just don’t want to miss.
Arches/Canyonland National Park
Both parks have interesting rock formations cause by erosion, but the most famous of the two is the Arches National Park. The infamous Landscape Arch’s future is uncertain as portions of it continue to break apart.
For those fascinated by rock erosion and desert beauty, this is a must see, especially since the arch is on the verge of extinction. There are several other arches visible in the park, but none more poignant than the Landscape Arch.
Mesa Verde NP
Experience ancient Native American lifestyles and learn about their history in this incredibly intact park. Ancient homes, building technology and social structures are evidenced in their well-preserved cliff dwellings.
Not for the faint at heart or those afraid of heights, a trip down a ladder on the edge of a cliff takes you to another world – that of the Anasazi Indian. Great for sightseeing with older children – they will love the breath-taking trail down the cliffs.
Petrified Forest National Park
The largest Petrified Forest in the United States is found in Arizona right off Interstate 40. This park is perfect for those with an interest in geology and earth science. It’s extremely easy to get to from the interstate and is probably the most “walking friendly” park to visit. Even very young children or the elderly would have little to no problem navigating this park.
Mt. Rainier NP
A dormant volcano, Mt. Rainier is found in the northwestern part of the United States in Washington state (not D.C.). It is particularly beautiful with the winter snow as a backdrop. It is about 4 hours from Seattle, WA – hometown of Starbucks Coffee!
Olympic National Park
This park seems like it’s a hidden secret from the rest of the United States. Found on the west side of Seattle, you take a twisting, winding road that makes this park somewhat difficult to get to. One you arrive, it feels pure and untouched due to the lack of population surrounding it.
Another interesting feature of this park is that it borders the Pacific Ocean in addition to giving a view of the mountains. There is a lot of natural beauty to see and is worth the long, winding trip to get here.