In honor of National Park Week in the United States, where entrance to all National Parks are free between April 20-28, we’ve put together a list of our top five national parks we’ve been to. Since it would be too difficult a task to list these locations in order of favorite-ness, we’ve opted to simply list these gorgeous national parks in no particular order whatsoever.
We visited Bryce Canyon during our “Canyon Tour” trip in April 2009, and although it was blisteringly cold at its higher elevation, the view at sunrise over Inspiration Point was enough to melt us. While there, we also braved the slippery, muddy trails and enjoyed a beautiful hike down into the canyon.
When we visited Zion National Park, we were in awe of its scenic variety. The colors ranged from sage to dark green in the trees, from beige to deep orange in the rock, and from light to rich blue in the sky. We could stand between the towering walls of the canyon, hike to the very edges of cliffs, or stand at the base of a gorgeous waterfall. Despite the cold temperatures in the month of April, we camped near the banks of a river, and enjoyed co-existing with all the wildlife for a couple of days.
In the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights, we planned a trip to Alaska between Christmas and New Year’s in 2008. Although we visited at the lowest point in the 11-year solar cycle and didn’t see any of the aurora, what we did experience more than made up for it. In its 5 hours of daylight with the sun never peeking above the Alaskan Range, the light was perfect for photographs, turning every scene into a picturesque painting. It may be odd to say, but the silence in Denali National Park in the winter was deafening. Much like black is void of all color, standing still among snow-covered everything, we could hear the absence of all sound.
Our visit to Grand Canyon National Park was tremendous. Like every other tourist, our bi-daily missions were to find the best spots for sunrise and sunset (we liked the privacy of Yaki Point in the morning, and for the evening, Hopi Point was magnificent). On one particular evening, inclement weather drove the majority of visitors back to their warm beds, but since our alternative was a cold tent, we decided to brave the elements at Mohave Point. We were rewarded with the experience of witnessing a storm roll through the canyon in front of us, while we remained dry on the ledge. Having been there, we are completely unsurprised to see it on the bucket lists of others. It is definitely a must-see at least once. For us, we’ll have to visit at least once more!
Ligeia’s visit to Arches National Park, during a long weekend in Salt Lake City, rounds out our top five. The unique rock formations, sculpted by Mother Nature over thousands of years, are amazing sights to behold. From Delicate Arch (seen above) to Balanced Rock to the North Window, hiking through this national park is humbling, to say the least.
What’s Next on our List?
Since we’re in Thailand at the moment, we won’t be able to take advantage of National Park Week this year. However, we’ll definitely keep the waived entrance fees in mind when we make plans to visit more gorgeous U.S. national parks in the future. Topping our list of places we’re itching to see and experience:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Acadia National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Devils Tower National Monument
- Revisiting Denali and Grand Canyon in the summer months