Millions of people come to this Sierra Nevada wilderness each year to see jagged peaks, glaciers, lush meadows and some of the world’s tallest waterfalls. Spanning 1,200 square miles, Yosemite offers activities ranging from child-friendly to extreme. Massive granite slopes like Half Dome and El Capitan dominate the landscape, taunting rock-climbers. Paddlers dip into lakes and rivers, drivers cruise the dramatic Tioga Road, and day hikers walk by sequoias and canyons. Backpackers take to the rugged John Muir trail, named for the writer who helped create the park in 1890.
Sometimes—and let's not beat around the bush, quite a lot recently—it feels like society itself is unravelling. And when that happens, we all need to take a deep breath, pause...and go somewhere nearby to just appreciate nature. And once you've realized how well that works, you might want to ponder taking this enlightening experience one step further and plan either a roadtrip that incorpoates one or two of the best national parks in the USA, or even a dedicated visit to one a little bit further away.
See the forces of nature at work at stunners like Arches and Bryce (two of Utah’s 'Big Five'), witness the power of water that carved out the Grand Canyon over thousands of years, or view geysers and sulphurous lakes in Yellowstone. These national parks offer unforgettable experiences (ever gotten caught in traffic due to a bison crossing or seen a hoodoo by the light of the full moon?) no matter where you go.
Visiting a national park can be as easy or challenging as you want. For diehard backcountry types, there are trails and rustic campsites that can keep you out in the wilderness for days. For the average tourist, paved roads through the parks offer the opportunity to easily see the best views and features of the park in a short amount of time.
There are 63 major national parks (in addition to hundreds of smaller sites) spanning the whole country, including Alaska and Hawaii. Next time you hit the road, pick up an America the Beautiful pass and check out the best national parks in the country (but trust us, all of the parks are amazing and all should be on your list).
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