You’ve read about it in the papers and seen it in the Hollywood blockbusters, but nothing can prepare you for the dramatic natural beauty that awaits in America’s rugged West. It's home to some of the most stunning National Parks on the planet bringing rich history and geology dating back thousands of years.
There's a lot you can do whilst visiting the National Parks. From taking a leisurely or challenging hike or letting a park ranger show you around the best bits, to camping, fishing, horseback riding, seeing the abundance of wildlife or simple stargazing! Sound good?
HERE'S OUR TOP 5 MUST-SEE NATIONAL PARKS:
1. Zion, Utah
Drawing in over 4 million visitors per year and covering over 229 miles, the oldest National Park in Utah is nothing short of breathtaking. Witness the spectacular red cliff to canyon landscapes and surprising waterfalls in the centre of desert terrain. Remember to stop off at Kolob Arch, the world's oldest arch measuring at 310 feet and take a moment to see the main attraction, the Zion Canyon which is 15 miles long and up to a mile deep! Many visitors descend to the National Park to go on hiking trails including the popular Lower Emerald Pool Trail, Weeping Rock Trail and Kolob Arch Trail.
2. Grand Canyon, Arizona
Named as one the seven natural wonders of the world and undoubtedly a famous landmark of Arizona, the Grand Canyon took 3-6 million years to form into the incredible beauty it is today, attracting over 5 million visitors per year. There's many exciting perspectives to see the National Park; whether it's from the air by taking a scenic helicopter tour over the canyon or doing the glass bottom skywalk tour if you're brave enough!
The South Rim is open all year round and is the most popular area of the park and a hike to Navajo Point (the highest point at 8,803 feet) should be on your list! Breath in the cleanest air and see the dramatic views to the deep inner gorge of Colorado River. Or, choose to take the quieter driving route to the North Rim, past the cool evergreen forests and to Imperial Point.
3. Yosemite, California
Over 4 million visitors flock in to see California's Yosemite National Park annually to see the awe-inspiring rock formations, towering cliffs, El Captain - the world's tallest granite monolith and stunning waterfalls. Whilst you're there, don't forget to see Glacier Point. Perched 3,000 feet up on the rim of Yosemite Valley, you'll see sights like never before including mountain peaks, glistening waterfalls and spectacular valleys.
4. Bryce Canyon, Utah
If you're looking to find the largest collection of Hoodoos (odd shaped pillars created from years of erosion!) then you're in the right place at Bryce Canyon. Less than 2 hours away from Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon sees over 1.5 million visitors per year who take delight in the fantastic scenery and recreational opportunities. Explore the spectacular viewpoint between Inspiration and Sunrise points and see the Bryce Canyon amphitheatre in all its glory at Sunset Point. If you like bird watching then this is the place to go along with hiking, camping, full moon hikes and ranger programs.
5. Yellowstone, Wyoming
This place is sensational. It's estimated that over 640,000 years ago, one of the largest eruptions on earth occurred to form what is now Yellowstone. A volcanic wonder, Yellowstone National Park boasts the world's most stunning concentration of more than 10,000 thermal features, including mud pots, hot springs, fumaroles and geysers. Not only that, but the V-shaped Canyon, Yellowstone Lake - the highest altitude lake, vast forests and the abundance of wildlife is why Yellowstone National Park became the world's first National Park back in 1872.
By Meera Luhar