Some of the most beautiful places in the world are right here in America. So, when it's time to hit the road again, these stunning national parks are your best bet for seeing something truly unforgettable, yet close(ish) to home.
MeaganKnown for its giant sequoia trees, like the General Sherman tree, which is the largest tree on earth. The majority of this park is roadless wilderness, but there is plenty of hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking to be done in the accessible areas.
MeaganZion might have the most interesting geography of any national park with its mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. All these diverse landscapes make it home to an even more diverse set of inhabitants, including birds, mammals, and reptiles. Come here for horseback riding, hiking, backcountry camping, or rock climbing if you want to catch some real thrills.
MeaganJust east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree is named after, get this, the Joshua Trees that are native to the Mojave Desert. Rock climbers flock here due to the excellent climbing routes that service all experience levels. Another popular pastime is birdwatching, since more than 250 bird species inhabit or visit the park.
MeaganThe park is one of the largest and most remote, yet least visited national parks in America. It is known for housing the largest area of protected Chihuahua Desert outside of Mexico, but the real draws for visitors? It has some of the most amazing geological features, including: sea fossils, dinosaur bones, and ancient volcanic dikes.
MeaganCrater Lake was formed by Mount Mazama, which is a now-collapsed volcano. This magnificent natural wonder is 1,949-feet deep at its deepest point, and all the blue-hued water is only replenished by snow or rain. To take in the full panorama, drive along the scenic Rim Road or hike on one of the park's many trails, including the famous Mount Scott.
MeaganWant to hike over the tallest sand dunes in American (some which stretch upwards of 700-feet tall)? Well here you can, but be warned — the sand can reach temperatures up to 150?F in the summer. You can also rent equipment for two of the park's other most popular activities, sandboarding or sandsledding, right outside the park entrance.
MeaganThis park is the site of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches (the highest concentration of natural arches in the world), including the well-known Delicate Arch. While you're here take in some of other amazing things to do like hiking, off-roading, or checking out some of the ancient Ute petroglyphs.
MeaganLocated on Hawaii Island (the Big Island) this national park has two active volcanos — Kilauea and Mauna Loa. If you're looking for Volcanic landscapes, a scenic drive down the Chain of Craters Road, and plenty of rare flora and fauna, then this is the national park for you.
MeaganThe park is divided into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the combined rivers—the Green and Colorado. It's a destination for adventure-seekers who want to go whitewater rafting, backpacking, or do some gnarly mountain biking.
MeaganVolcano lovers and mountaineers rejoice. This park is where you can see (and attempt to climb) a 14,411-foot stratovolcano. It's also home to more more than 25 glaciers, including the largest one in the contiguous United States — Carbon Glacier. But you don't have to be an adventure seeker to enjoy the other great things this park has to offer like camping, hiking, and general sightseeing.
MeaganGrand Teton is known for having a practically pristine ecosystem. In fact, most of the same species of flora and fauna have been there since prehistoric times. This park is also world renowned for trout fishing, especially if you have ever dreamed of catching a Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout.
MeaganHome of the famous Grand Canyon, which is considered one of the Wonders of the World. There are plenty of walking trails and driving tours to take advantage of the sights, but you can also take to the sky for stunning views of the canyons, craters, and Colorado River via plane or helicopter.
MeaganWant to see some amazing wildlife or kayak through some glaciers? Well, this is the place for that. Kenai Fjords is home to 40 glaciers, like the famous Bear Glacier, and is an excellent place for whale watching, bald eagle spotting, and taking photos of sea lions.
MeaganThis is the largest tropical wilderness in the U.S., and is home to tons of birds, manatees, alligators, and panthers. Portions of the park are also ideal for dark sky observations—you can catch great views of the Milky Way—especially in the southern and western areas.
MeaganEveryone comes here to see Old Faithful — which erupts very reliably every 90 minutes — but there's more to see than that. If you like hiking, camping, boating, and the chance to catch a glimpse of large herds of bison, then this is the national park for you.
MeaganMost parks are for getting outside, but Glacier offers two awesome ways to see the sights: You can hike over 700 miles of trails or take a car through the famous 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road. No one way is better, but a combo of the two is absolutely the best.
MeaganIf you find yourself in Alaska you might want to check out this 6 million acre park. It's home to Denali, North America's highest peak, and has plenty to do if you like biking, backpacking, hiking, or camping in the warmer summer months.
MeaganLocated in California's Sierra Nevada mountains this park is home to the famous ancient sequoia trees, Bridalveil Fall, the cliffs of El Capitan, and Half Dome. You can also hike along parts of the Pacific Coast Trail or rock climb — it's one of the most popular destinations in the world for that.
MeaganThis coastal park is home to some of the most stunning sights you'll ever see. While it's filled with abundant wildlife like moose, bear, whales, and seabirds, its real claim to fame is being home to the highest peak on the east coast—Cadillac Mountain.
MeaganLocated near Tucson, this park is named for the saguaro catus that are native to the desert here. The park has a loop road for those who want to enjoy the scenery from a car, or plenty of hiking trails—165 miles to be exact—for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the landscape.
MeaganThis rugged park is home to one of the richest fossil beds in the entire world — rhinos and saber-toothed cats use to roam free here. It's still a great place for spotting interesting wildlife like bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs.
MeaganIf you're an avid hiker, then this is the park for you. With plenty of trails, some which belong to the famous Appalachian Trail system, there's sure to be something that interests anyone you're hitting this park with.