The end of summer is the perfect time for vacations! The kids are out of school and most businesses are beginning to slow down. Since the weather is ideal in many places, it’s also the perfect time to get outside. If you’re thinking about traveling this year, why not check out one of the nation’s top national parks?
In total, there are 423 national park sites in the United States, spread across the country. While most people may think of Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, national parks are more than natural landscapes. In fact, there are 20 different types of national parks, ranging from historical battlefields to monuments to seashores.
If you’re looking to see what’s out there for yourself, here are five of our top national park recommendations spread throughout the country!
- Glacier National Park
There are many attractions at Glacier National Park, located in northwestern Montana. Appropriate to the name, one of those features is the glaciers. When the park opened in 1850, there were about 80 glaciers. In 2015, however, there were only 26 remaining. Glacier National Park is also known for being a designated International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. From here, you can see the International Space Station with the naked eye as it orbits the Earth. If you’re into hiking, there are over 700 miles of trails available for use. Novice day-hikers or experienced backpackers will all find something that suits them best.
- Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park, located in northern Arizona, is a widely known and very popular park for tourists. In fact, in 2013, there were over 4.5 million visitors during the year. One of the most visited attractions in the park is the trek to the South Rim, as it’s open all year and is easier to navigate to. It offers visitors a look into the canyon from about 7000 feet above sea level. On the opposite side, the North Rim is only open from May through October and is more difficult to get to. More wild and secluded, the view from the North Rim is 8000 feet above sea level. Visitors looking for something less strenuous can walk the Trail of Time, a geologic timeline set up to show the Grand Canyon’s geologic history.
- Acadia National Park
Situated in southern Maine, Acadia National Park is known as the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast. With 3.5 million visits each year, it’s ranked in the top ten most-visited national parks in the U.S. While there are more than 20 mountains in its territory, this park is famous for Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. Acadia also boasts miles of coastline, and there are many water activities available. Little ones can go tidepooling to see different types of marine animals in their natural environment.
- Mammoth Cave National Park
Want to get out of the sun and head underground? Visit Mammoth Cave National Park in South-Central Kentucky. Cave tours are by far the most popular attraction, and there are a number of different options available. When making your plans, though, it’s recommended to book in advance, as tours often sell out during busy months. If you’re not into caves, there are beautiful hiking trails for both novice and experienced hikers. Canoeing and kayaking is also available to lovers of the water.
- Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
If you love being on the water, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is for you! Located in the northernmost part of Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands sits in Lake Superior. Visitors are recommended to use sea kayaks rather than a small craft, as the waters of Lake Superior can become hazardous if the weather turns. When the weather is calm, kayakers can explore the extensive sea caves that have been carved out over time. When you need some time on land, there are over 50 miles of hiking trails along with campsites spread throughout the island.
Whether you’re looking to travel to the east or west coast during your summer vacation, there’s a national park out there waiting for you.