The Grand Canyon is arguably the most popular and most notable national park in America. And while it is incredible, unique, and something you’ll want to see at least once in your life, there are many other national parks around the country that are just as grand. Read ahead to learn more about Olympic National Park, Arches National Park, Acadia National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park!
1. Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is located in the far upper left hand corner of the United States in Washington state. The park is conveniently named after the peninsula on which it’s located and is one of the most one-of-a-kind parks you’ll find in the country.
That’s because this one national park is actually kind of like four national parks in one with four unique climate regions to explore including the Pacific coastline, the alpine region, the rain forest in the west, and the dry forest in the east. As if that isn’t cool enough, this park is also home to three distinct ecosystems that coincide within the park’s four climate regions.
2. Arches National Park
Arches National Park, which is just outside of Moab, Utah (one of my favorite places in the world), is home to more than 2,000 naturally occurring red-rock stone arches. These incredible desert valleys between these humongous stone arches are littered with hundreds of red-rock pinnacles that jut skyward and boulders of all shapes and sizes.
During the day, Arches National Park is a deep-red desert wonderland. At night, the desolation of the park itself and the surroundings areas makes it possible to see an unbelievable amount of stars. You could stay mesmerized by Arches for a full 24 hours if you pack correctly.
3. Acadia National Park
Nestled into the scenic cliffs of the Atlantic coast just north of Bar Harbor, Maine is Acadia National Park, one of the most incredible places you will ever see in your life. This national park, which is the first national park to be established east of the Mississippi River, is home to seven headland peaks that exceed 1,000 feet giving you a glimpse of the ocean that you won’t find anywhere else on the entire coast.
While you’re here, you’ll be have more than 158 miles of hiking trails at your disposal that take you to and around these peaks as well as over several intricately designed stone bridges and along old, scenic carriage roads.
4. Capitol Reef National Park
About 130 miles west of Arches National Park is a red wrinkle in the Earth’s crust called the Waterpocket Fold. On this fold, you’ll find about 360 square miles of red rock “cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges” known as Capitol Reef National Park.
This park was given its name by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 who saw a striking similarity between the natural domes of the park and the unique domes in some of the capital buildings he frequented in Washington D.C.
PRO TIP: Do not leave this park without getting a fresh baked pie from the Gifford Homestead.
5. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The Roosevelts had a thing for nature if you can’t tell. Unlike Franky’s rocky and dusty Capitol Reef, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to expansive grasslands that are freckled with unique rock formations and literal TONS of bison.
When Teddy first arrived here in this desolate part of North Dakota, his aspirations were to hunt the animals he ultimately sought out to protect with the foundation of this park in the late 1800s. Today, this park’s bison population continues to play a pivotal role in the way we research and understand animal preservation and DNA. Check out their Bison Blog for more information!
Show Your Love for the NPS!
While these five national parks are magnificent in their own special ways, they’re just a small handful of the beauty that our National Park Service has to offer. There are 58 national parks in the country, but more than 300 total national areas to be explored including protected seashores, monuments, and preserves. Check out the National Park Service website to learn more about the natural areas near you!