For some of us exploration seems to be engrained in our DNA but we live in a world where it seems like everything has been turned into suburbs and shopping malls. All hope is not lost though because there are still wild places to find adventure. Check out our list of the 10 National Parks in the United States you need to see before you kick the bucket.
1. Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Experience Maui’s breathtaking views from the top of Haleakala, Maui’s’ largest volcanic crater. The point of this crater is sacred to the native Hawaiians and is believed to be the wilderness of the gods, and for good reason. Haleakala is teeming with life, including native plants and animals that you will not find anywhere else on earth!
2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
This national park is home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Here you will see Molten lava stretched across miles of land and flowing into the sea. This national park promises many opportunities for cultural immersion. After hiking you can relax and watch a hula performance or see art made from local artists. If you are extra daring you can even take the Crater Rim Drive which hugs the edge of the Kilauea Caldera and offers you a view into the depths of the volcano.
3. Channel Islands National Park, California
This national park is often referred to as the “North American Galapagos” due to the variety of animals and plants that live here. This national park Is made up of 5 islands. The Santa Cruz Island is most famous for its Painted Cave. The painted cave is the longest sea cave in the United States and measures more than 4 football fields in length.
4. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
Death Valley is well known for its harsh desert heat. Not many people are aware of how much diversity Death Valley offers. The vast landscape sports colorful badlands, sand dunes, canyons, salt flats, and even high snowy mountains! You’ll want to catch a glimpse of the mystical sailing stones while you’re there. These stones are part of a strange geological phenomenon where they move across the desert on their own leaving a trail behind them as they go.
5. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
People come to this national park to get a glimpse of the 5,000-year-old pine trees, and huge mountain peaks. The Lehman limestone caverns are the perfect place to go exploring. Because this park is located in such a remote area, there’s almost zero light pollution so the star gazing is world class!
6. Zion National Park, Utah
Zion is famous for its massive sandstone cliffs and stunning red rocks. Amidst this desert Oasis you’ll find waterfalls, emerald pools, and a narrow river you can hike through. If you aren’t afraid of heights Angels Landing is one of the main tourist attractions in the park. Once at the top you’ll be resting at 5,790 feet elevation with a view of the remarkable red canyons below.
7. Olympic National Park Washington
This park covers almost one million- acres! Inside you can find the largest remaining ancient forest in the United States as well as beaches, cliffs, and glaciers. Something very unique about Olympic National Park is that you can actually ski the glaciers! There are several ski resorts located on the glaciers open for visitors.
8. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Located on Dry Tortugas National Park is a massive Civil War Fortress. Fort Jefferson was built in 1846 and was never finished. More than a century ago Civil War soldiers and prisoners lived together in this fortress. Visitors can still spot shipwrecks under the sea here. Not only is Dry Tortugas fun for the history buff, it also has lots of nature attractions. It is home to 7 small islands where You can spend the day snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and lounging on the beach.
9. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Want to see what happens to a bunch of logs after 225-million-year? They turn into solid quartz! Legend has it that visitors who remove pieces of the petrified wood live cursed lives. This legend is engrained in the parks history and a whole room is dedicated to these cursed thieves in the Rainbow Forest Museum. In addition to the petrified logs, this park is home to the most diverse collection of prehistoric pottery fragments in North America.