7 North American National Parks You Have to See to Believe
From rich green landscapes to waterfalls and hot springs, the USA and Canada have a wealth of stunning national parks. Whether you’re interested in hiking and swimming, or simply just want to admire the beautiful scenery, there’s a national park for everyone!
Here are some of our favorites, conveniently located near Kaplan destinations.
Yosemite Valley – California, USA
Located in the north of California, Yosemite National Park (pronounced Yo-sem-i-tee) is one of the most popular and frequently visited national parks in the US, attracting over 4 million visitors per year. Featuring over 800 miles of granite cliffs, waterfalls, and incredible wildlife, the park is an ideal location for a range of activities such as camping, hiking and skiing.
The Everglades – Florida, USA
Unlike the rocky terrain of some of America’s most popular national parks, the Everglades is a natural wetland in the state of Florida. Providing a habitat for endangered species such as alligators and crocodiles (and the only ecosystem in the world where these two species are found together), the park is a popular spot for those hoping to catch a glimpse of rare wildlife. As most of the park is only accessible via water, visitors have the opportunity to view the park via boat, canoe, and kayak, and can even enjoy fishing at designated points around the park.
The Grand Canyon – Arizona, USA
Featuring unique combinations of geologic colour and costal erosions, the Grand Canyon is one of America’s most accepting with over 5 million visitors per year. In addition to viewing the park by foot, those who are not afraid of heights also have the chance to enjoy the park from a bird’s eye view by opting for a helicopter ride, which gives visitors an aerial view of the Canyon and the Colorado River.
Yoho National Park – British Columbia, Canada
Located in British Columbia, the Yoho National Park is another firm favorite amongst Canadians and tourists alike. Boasting large peaks, waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, and hiking trails, the park is the perfect place for some alone time with nature. The park is home to the fossil bed Burgess Shale, which preserves the remains of some of the earliest marine creatures on earth and is one of the best collections of rare fossils in the world, so visitors can appreciate natural history in addition to the overwhelming beauty.
Red Rock Canyon– Nevada, USA
Located in the Nevada Desert and just a short distance from Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon is a largely popular tourist destination. Although smaller in size, like many of the other national parks it provides a variety of outdoor activities for its visitors, including horseback riding, rock climbing, biking, and hiking.
Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada
Nestled among the peaks of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is the oldest and most popular national park in Canada. Featuring a thousand miles of hiking trails, natural lakes, ski areas, and hot springs, the park is a haven for hikers, offering a wealth of activities such as scuba diving, canoeing, swimming, skiing, and cycling.
Olympic National Park – Washington, USA
Situated in the state of Washington, the Olympic National Park was originally established as the Mountain Olympus National Monument, and was later expanded to a national park by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938. The park has a number of different regions, including a coastline, glaciated mountains, and a rainforest. Due to the diverse ecosystems, the park offers a variety of activities, and is popular for visitors looking to hike, bike, ski, and even swim in the park's hot springs.
Honorable Mention: Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada and New York, USA
Although it is not officially a national park, the collection of waterfalls between Canada and the US are so beautiful that it would be criminal not to feature them. Attracting over 30 million visitors per year, Niagara Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in North America, offering its visitors a boat cruise into the rapids themselves. Aside from viewing the waterfalls, visitors can also enjoy hiking, camping, boating and fishing, while appreciating the abundance of wildlife. Remember to bring your passport or travel documents if you hope to view the falls from both sides!
The US and Canada are full of natural beauty, diverse cityscapes, and exciting, metropolitan cultures. If national parks aren't your thing, then maybe you'd prefer to go to the beach instead? Check out our guide to the top 10 beaches in the USA, and don't forget to let us know your favorites in the comments below.