Top 5 National Parks

     These are just my top 5 parks. They are by no means a definitive way of placing best to last. Nor are they anywhere near all the National Parks have to offer. But with over 400 Parks I had to narrow the list. All the US National Parks are worth visiting. They are all on my list of places to go as soon as I have the chance. It might take a while to see them all, but it will be worth it. Just think of the stories you could share. The people you can inspire to see them too. The people that might one day help us to preserve the places like this in the world. So that future generations can and will enjoy them.  I hope you enjoy them soon. 

ALL OF THEM!


Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon

    In northwest Arizona is America's 15th site that was made into a national park. The Grand Canyon National Park. It is a huge area of canyonlands, and gorges cut out by the Colorado river. All of this became popular by the late 1800’s thanks to the railroads expanding through the country and heading west. Today it’s the second most visited National Park in the US, second only to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

    Theodore Roosevelt said this about it “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world ... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.  

  The park is basically divided into two parts: The Northern Rim and The Southern Rim

The Northern Rim

The Southern Rim

  • Has roads for vehicle exploration
  •  Powell memorial
  • Helicopter and small planes are available for private trips to view the park
  • Hiking and Walking tours

 The park also has white water rafting tours available and tons of camping spots. Just call ahead and try to book a reservation. Access to some parts of the park is restricted at certain times of the year. 

     There is also Grand Canyon Train Ride | Railway Tours to Grand Canyon South Rim. A railway tour of the park. The price is only about $270 USD and well worth it. It’s an all-day trip through the canyon with a mid-day stop at a frontier town called Grand Canyon Village. You might even get robbed by some good old fashioned train robbers on horseback. Don’t worry, it’s all in fun and a great experience especially for the younger people or the kid in all of us.


Glacier National Park

Glacier

  Moving north to big sky country Montana is Glacier National Park. It’s more than a million acres of wilderness and touches two mountain ranges. It was made a park in 1910 and soon after hotels were built and the Great Northern Railway made its way here. All of these hotels and smaller chalets are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

   Despite its name Glacier National Park there are no glaciers there. It was all carved from glaciers thousands of years ago. This has made some of the most incredible mountain ranges in the world.

The park isn’t located by any major cities, or smaller ones either. There are a couple of roads so you can drive to it or take one of the other ways to enter the park.

   

  • Red Jammers,- a fleet of restored 1930’s coaches make trips into the park and have tours through them. The drivers are called Jammers because of the gear “jamming” it takes to drive one.
  • Historic wooden boats operate on a couple of the lakes in the park. Some of them have been in continual service in the park since the 1920’s and hold up to 80 passengers.
  • Hike in - Hiking is a major attraction to the park  and one of the best ways to explore all the flora and fauna that resides here

 The park is also notable for rock climbing. The glaciers that formed the area made a lot of cliff faces that climbers find irresistible. Personally this is a type of courage I don’t have. Or maybe it seems too much like work. I’m fine repelling down though, which is also available.

    Camping is also a major attraction to the park. There are a lot of campsites along many of the trails through the park. Just check with the park rangers about permits and what is prohibited in the park. And be sure to follow the rules of the outdoors while you are here.


Yellowstone

     In 1807 the park was found by a member of the Lois and Clark expedition who left to follow a group of fur trappers. He then left them to head out on his own and ran into trouble with the Crow and Blackfoot tribes. He came into a town suffering from wounds at their hands and described a place of fire and brimstone he had visited. The place became known as "Colter's Hell". 

Most people thought he was delirious from his injuries or just telling tales. Other reports from fur trappers and mountain men came in about the place but were all ignored as superstition and ghost stories. It wan’t until 1857 that a US Army survey team explored the area and documented the fire and brimstone that had been reported for almost 60 years by then. We now know it as Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park was the very first national Park signed into being by Congress in 1872. It covers an area of over 4000 soiree miles. It’s made up of canyons, mountains, hot springs, valleys, lakes, gorges, and just about any other terrain you can think of. It also touches 3 states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The entire park is in the caldera of a Super volcano, which is why there is so much geothermal activity here. 

    The park is one of the most visited in the US and draws people from all over the world. Hiking, camping, fishing, sightseeing, kayaking, white water rafting, rock climbing, are just a few of the incredible activities you can do here. There are also quite a few attractions not found anywhere else in the world. Most of it is due to Yellowstone hotspot.

  • Old Faithful - the world's largest predictable geyser. It erupts like clockwork. Hence the name Old Faithful
  •  Grand Prismatic Spring - multi-colored hot spring pool. Hot because the water is heated way below the surface by the geothermal activity of the volcano. The different colors are from different kinds of algae that live in the toxic waters.
  •  Fumaroles - vents at the surface, or ground level, that let steam and other gasses escape from the activity below.Also used by bison in winter to stay warm
  • Mammoth Hot Springs - located near camp Sheridan, the only permanent US base in the park
  •  Yellowstone Park bison herd - Largest herd of bison in North America. They live in the park year round instead of migrating. They use the geothermal energy to keep warm through the winter but have shorter life spans because of all the silica in the soil from the geothermals too.
  • Wildlife - In the park you can find Black Bears, Brown Bears, Wolves, Coyotes, Beaver, Elk, Deer, all kinds of birds and small mammals, several types of trout and a few other freshwater fish.

Over 2000 historical structures operated by the p[ark officials like -  Old Faithful Inn, Fort Yellowstone – Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District

   You can get to the park by car or train or an airplane will get you to the nearest town. Most roads in the park go to major attractions in the park. Wheeled vehicles are prohibited from Nov. To May. During these months some snowmobiles are allowed access.

    Hiking and cross country skiing is always allowed, as well as horseback.  You can camp at numerous locations throughout the park at dozens of locations and over 2000 campsites. Check with the park rangers on restrictions and schedules. As always remember the rules of the outdoors while you are there.   

   


Smokey Mountains National Park

Great Smokey Mountains

    The number one visited National Park in the US is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. More than 1 million people visit this park every year from all parts of the globe.

     The name comes from the Cherokee word “Shaconna” which means place of blue smoke. 

   This smoke comes from vapor released from all the trees and plant life in the area combined with the right temperatures and elevations to make a surreal experience that looks like Blue Smoke drifting just above the valley.  When Europeans came to the area they had heard of from The Native Americans and saw the blue smoke, the name was adopted and has remained ever since.

 The park itself covers over 500,000 acres and touches two states. It is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains,, from the blue smoke, which is part of the larger  Appalachian Mountain chain.

    The main road entrance into the park is along US Highway 441. For the truly adventurous the only way into the park is along the  Appalachian Trail. Which goes through the middle of the park along its journey from Maine to Georgia.

    There are a lot of small town and larger ones located close to the park. Places like  Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Townsend are major tourist destinations for park visitors. Accommodations in the surrounding town are available for any form of stay you have in mind. From european style mountain cabins to luxury hotels and everything in between is there.

 There are also many attractions to the park other than Blue smoke.

  •  Cades Cove, -  a historical valley kept pristine through the years. Includes log cabins Churches, and old red barns
  •  Clingmans Dome.- highest mountain in the Smokies
  • Fishing - there are hundreds of kinds of fish in the smokies, from Brook Trout to FreshWater Lamprey 
  •  Chimney Tops,- a favorite hiking trail
  •  Laurel Falls Trail - Another favorite hiking trail because of the view of Laurel Falls waterfall
  •  The Boulevard Trail -  another favorite trail of hikers and campers
  • Camping - camping is allowed at certain sites throughout the park, check with thew park officials for exact rules and regulations
  • Wildlife - Everything from racoons to black bears can be found in the park; They are wild animals, don’t pet them

This is a magical place and has been throughout its history. A history that began long before Europeans came to the Americas. Because of the many beautiful landscapes and other attractions, it will continue to be one of the most visited places in North America. A true experience of a lifetime that will probably keep you coming back. 


Arches National Park

Arches

    In eastern Utah there's a place unlike anything else in the world. A place so unimaginable you have to see it to believe it. This place from the dreams of people is called The Arches National Park.

    It’s made of more than 2000 natural sandstone arches and covers more than 300 square miles. All carved out of sandstone on the Colorado Plateau  to make a one of a kind place in our world. You really won’t believe this until you see it. This is God’s Artwork.

   It has been a destination for people for thousands of years, and all were inspired, some enough to leave petroglyphs.

    The wonders never cease in this place.

  •  petroglyphs - drawings on the rocks from thousands of years ago till a couple of hundred years ago. Animals, symbols, and what look like aliens are all drawn onto the rock face
  •  Balanced Rock - A very large rock that looks balanced on a very small one; Amazing
  •  Delicate Arch - this is the most widely recognised arch in the park
  • Courthouse Towers - couple of tall columns that stand together
  • Devils Garden - trail that has many archse and other rock formations along the way
  • Petrified Dunes - the sand stone dunes in the area petrified into rock eons ago. They sound like drums if you tap them
  • Landscape Arch,- one of the arches in the Devil's Garden
  • Astronomy - because of the parks lack of light pollution this has become  a favorite place for astronomy or star gazing

The park attracts hikers, campers, sightseers and vacationers year round. The place looks even more amazing when it’s covered in snow. 

    Just  a few miles away is a hot spot for off road vehicles and mountain bikers. I hope you love sand though, cause it’s everywhere out there. Make sure to bring lots of water. 

  The park is also known for its many rock-climbing areas. Climbing up and repelling down are allowed on most of the rock here but check with the park officials for rules on when and where you can climb. Base jumping and slacklining are prohibited in the park.

    Even though this area is mostly desert, there is an abundance of wildlife and vegetation here. Some unique little animals like the kangaroo rat, antelope squirrel,spadefoot toad, and peregrine falcon, and several kinds of rattle snake all call this place home. So, pay attention to the rules of the outdoors when you're here.

There Is also Biological soil crust. The top soil is made mostly of living matter, plant, algae, and lichen. It helps to prevent erosion and is a major part of the ecosystem and food chain.

    All the unique features, including the wildlife and soil make this one of the most remarkable places on our planet. This is a place you want on your list of what to do next vacation. Just check with the park officials for the details for the time of year you plan to visit. The first time you visit. You might get lost in the wonder of it all. Nobody will blame you if you do.