U. S. National Parks
Over 400 national parks can be visited throughout the country, each unique with their own awe-inspiring and unique scenery.
Nearly 400 national park properties can be found all across America and feature breathtaking vistas, ancient rock formations, stunning coastlines and more.
Yellowstone National Park, America's first national park, was established in 1872. The park spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk live in the park. It is well known for Old Faithful and other geothermal features.
Visitors tour Cliff Palace, an ancient cliff dwelling, in Mesa Verde National Park, Colo., which was established on June 29, 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Wolves in the Middle Pack, one of four wolf packs on Isle Royale, walk across the frozen shallows of Lake Superior near the shoreline. The park is home to 132,018 acres of preserved land, which consists of 450 small islands and one large island, according to the National Park Service.
A diver writes down observations of marine species in the Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. The park, which is only accessible by boat or seaplane, consists of 100-square miles of open water and seven islands, according to the National Park Service.
Kobuk Valley National Park is located north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. The park is home to caribou, sand dunes, and the Onion Portage archeological district, to name a few hallmarks.
Great Sand Dunes
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a stunning national park in Colorado. About 285,000 people visit every year according to the National Park Service.
The lowest elevation in the Rocky Mountain National Park is higher than most other areas of the United States. The grass-covered valleys of the park start at 8,000 feet, and elevations rise to 14,259 feet at the top of Longs Peak. You'll be short of breath from the thin air and the incredible views.
Black Canyon at Gunnison
An aerial view of Black Canyon at Gunnison National Park which is located in Montose, Colo.
Great Basin National Park is located in Baker, Nev. The park has an elevation ranging from 5,000 - 13,000 feet, according to the National Park Service.
This shot was taken looking west towards Anacapa Island and Inspiration Point in the Channel Islands National Park. The park consists of eight islands off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura, Calif.
Nick Wieland of Eagan, Minn. hikes the Highline Trail with a view of Heaven's Peak in Glacier National Park. The park boasts over 740 miles of trails and hundreds of species of animals, according to the National Park Service.
Acadia National Park, located in Maine, boasts the highest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic Coast and was the first national park east of the Mississippi River. When you go, dress accordingly: temperatures can vary 40 degrees -- from 45 degrees to 85 degrees in the summer and from 30 degrees to 70 degrees in the spring and fall.
Great Smoky Mountains
Located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains celebrated its 75th anniversary in June 2009. Visitors can expect mild winters and hot, humid summers, though temperatures can differ drastically as the park's elevation ranges from 800 feet to more than 6,600 feet.
The North Cascades National Park Service Complex offers something for everyone: monstrous peaks, deep valleys, hundreds of glaciers, and phenomenal waterfalls. The complex is made up of three park units: the North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas.
Two of the world's most active volcanoes can be found within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In 1980, the park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1987, it was added as a World Heritage Site.
The climate in South Dakota's Badlands National Park is extreme. Temperatures range from -40 degrees in the dead of winter to 116 degrees in the heat of summer. Established as a National Monument in 1939, some of the Badlands' fossil beds are 37 million years old.
More than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, many of them recognizable worldwide, are preserved in Utah's Arches National Park. Temperatures can reach triple digits in the summer, and can drop below freezing in the winter.
Grand Teton National Park, located in northwest Wyoming, offers the stark contrast of the jagged Teton Mountain Range with the flat, sage-covered valley floor. Daytime temperatures during summer months are frequently in the 70s and 80s, and afternoon thunderstorms are common.
Perhaps the most recognizable of any national park, the Grand Canyon is known for its massive 277-mile gorge, formed over 6 million years in part by erosion from the Colorado River. The river cuts the park in two, and the North and South Rims are separated by a 10 mile-wide canyon.
Visitors watch the sun rise at 10,000 feet in Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii. If weather permits, visitors at the top of the mountain can see three other Hawaiian islands.
This spectacular corner of southern Utah is a masterpiece of towering cliffs, deep red canyons, mesas, buttes and massive monoliths.
Everglades National Park covers the nation's largest subtropical wilderness. It is also a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. Visitors to the park can camp, boat, hike and find many other ways to enjoy the outdoors.
Kenai Fjords National Park
The National Park Service considers the 8.2-mile round-trip on Harding Icefield Trail in Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park to be strenuous, saying hikers gain about 1,000 feet of elevation with each mile.
California's Death Valley encompasses more than 3.3 million acres of desert wilderness. In 1849, a group of gold rush pioneers entered the Valley, thinking it was a shortcut to California. After barely surviving the trek across the area, they named the spot "Death Valley." In the 1880s, native peoples were pushed out by mining companies who sought the riches of gold, silver, and borax.
Bison graze in Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. Millions of bison were slaughtered by white hunters who pushed them to near-extinction by the late 1800s. Recovery programs have brought the bison numbers up to nearly 250,000.
The Lower Basins Zone is outlined by the white rim edge as seen from the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
Virginia's Shenandoah National Park offers hiking and outdoor experiences far different from what you'll find in the nation's capital, located just 75 miles away. The park features more than 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the more than 130 parks where the NPS has been quietly studying visitors since 1988. By day, visitors can enjoy the area's unique geology, and by night, they can take in a brilliant night sky enhanced by a lack of artificial light.
Created in 1968, Redwood National Park is located in Northern California, and was created in the 1920s to preserve the dwindling old-growth redwood forests. Today, visitors to the national park can enjoy the massive trees as well as a broad array of wildlife.