Just because summer is drawing to a close doesn’t mean all your outdoor activities have to also…
Are you ready for more fall foliage than your brain can handle? A crisp autumnal breeze blowing through your hair? The smell of campfires and hot apple cider in the air? Really cute woodland creatures frantically collecting nuts to hide while they hibernate?
Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.
Don’t stash your canteen away just yet; we’ve got another roundup of some of the country’s best national parks to consider visiting in the next few months. Now get out there and breathe some fresh air!
If you like variety…visit Olympic National Park.
Just about as far northwest as you can get while still being in the continental United States, Washington’s Olympic National Park has a little (or a lotta) something for everyone. Dramatic Pacific coastlines, temperate rainforests, snow-capped alpine mountains, ancient trees and hot springs are all contained within the 922,000-acre park.
If you like history…visit Yellowstone.
Designated in 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park to ever exist and inspired the idea of a nationwide parks system (not to mention the fictional home of everyone’s favorite tie-wearing cartoon bear). It’s also where you’ll find Old Faithful, undoubtedly the most famous geyser ever and America’s largest hot spring. If water doesn’t impress you much, you can opt to climb El Capitan or Half Dome, two of the park’s most thrilling spots.
If you like ancient history…visit Mesa Verde National Park.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado was established to protect and preserve Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites that date back to 1200 BCE. The park has some nice hikes and beautiful scenery, but the real draw here is the awe-inspiring cliff dwellings.
If you like really ancient history…visit Glacier National Park.
Truth be told, every single national park in the U.S. is the result of ancient history, both tectonic and meteorological. But when the word “glacier” is in the name of the park, you know you’re in for a treat. True to the monicker, Montana’s Glacier National Park is home to mountains that were carved out of the earth by very giant, very old glaciers as they made their way across the country so all you have to do is look around to see rocks that are literally billions of years old. Don’t sleep on this one, though: only about 25 of the 150 glaciers that existed when the park was founded in 1850 remain.
If you want to feel the vast power of nature…visit Denali National Park and Preserve.
With six million acres of lakes, mountains, trails and wildlife, Alaska’s Denali National Park is truly powerful to behold. It also happens to be where Denali lives which, at 20,320 feet, is the tallest peak on the continent. You can hike, climb, camp, bus or fly through, but take your time. There is so much to see and explore in this vast northern land that it would be a shame not to take in as much as possible.
If you like to be stunned…visit Grand Canyon National Park.
Not that you need convincing on this one, but the Grand Canyon and its surrounding parkland is one of the most well-known spots in the entire world, and for good reason. Not only are the views from the top almost unbelievable (and slightly terrifying), but you can also hike 5,200 feet down into the canyon and raft along the Colorado River, both equally stunning experiences.
If you want to hear your own echo…visit Mammoth Cave National Park.
One of the most unique national parks in the country, Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the entire world. Over 400 miles have already been explored (and who knows how much more is down there), and visitors can tour the caverns and tunnels for a real out-of-this-world-while-being-under-it vibe. If you’re feeling brave, consider a “wild cave” tour which takes the bravest visitors through less-tourist-friendly caves.
+ A lust to wonder? Check out more National Park adventures here!