Friday, May 20, 2016

BUCKETLIST: Top 10 National Parks in the US

We have a goal in mind: visit all of the US National Parks! We have seen a few, but this list includes some of our ideal destinations. As much as we love exploring cities, we like to balance our trips with a lot of hiking away from crowds. The National Park Service protects some of our planet's most unique ecosystems. It's important to visit these places with respect to what they stand for while also enjoying the scenery.

Did you know that the longest cave system in the world resides under Kentucky? Well now you know, and knowing is half the battle. A battle against what you may ask? Who knows, maybe cave monsters. The fact that this park is largely underground makes it extremely unique. We've never done any cave exploring and this seems like a great place to start!

This is one that we sadly missed on our West Coast Trip due to our over-ambitious scheduling. Located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, this park is divided into four distinct regions with three different ecosystems - a sub-alpine forest and meadow, a temperate rain forest, and the Pacific coastline. There seems to be a plethora of hiking, camping, and wildlife to see. The diversity between ecosystems is a huge draw- within one park you have access to a beach, a rain forest, and a snowy mountain top.

Utah seems like a beautiful place. There are many parks within this state that seem like an ideal destination, but Zion is by far one of the more popular. Hiking in this terrain would be a little different than the types of mountains we have grown accustomed to, but it would be incredible for the views.

We are dying to go to Alaska. It's so isolated and rich in wildlife. Denali National Park seems like an ideal destination for us. It would be incredible to see the northern lights from this beautiful landscape. Denali covers approximately six million acres of natural land, and contains the highest peak in North America.

Colorado is a state we'd like to visit within the next couple years. Rocky Mountain National Park seems like a great place for us to escape the city life and see some beautiful landscapes. Even the drive through the park looks stunning!

Common among many bucketlists, we can't resist adding the Grand Canyon to our own. It's popularity is no surprise, as the incredible colors created by the geological formation are surreal. The stunning landscape is humbling in it's size.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the only parks for which it is free to enter. We really loved our time spent here last spring, but peak season is autumn. This park is located on the eastern side of Tennessee, and crosses over towards the Western side of North Carolina. It's also nearby the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a stunning drive.

Although we really wanted to stop here last time we were in Oregon, we were unable to fit this little trip into our full adventure. Crater Lake was formed by the eruption & destruction of a volcano. The lake formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, and is the deepest lake in the United States. The views of the lake are breathtaking, and you can drive around the rim of the lake if hiking is not your thing. We'd love to camp here for a weekend.

Located in North California, Yosemite is home to the iconic Half-Dome. We've explored the valley, but we would love to return to see the rest of the park. While Yosemite was beautiful, we did visit off season - it would be amazing to see these hikes when the scenery is at it's peak beauty. Nothing we've seen yet compares to viewing the sky at night at Yosemite.

Spanning throughout Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is by far the most popular park of all. Despite the heavy tourist traffic, we would love to see this park for ourselves. From the wildlife to the unique geothermal activity, there is a lot to see at Yellowstone. We can certainly understand how it is one of the most popular in the nation.

What are some National Parks you'd like to visit?

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  1. We've only been to four; looks like we have some work to do! If you're in California again, we loved the giant trees in Sequoia National Park, and Joshua Tree is a uniquely beautiful place.

    1. Joshua Tree is certainly a destination we'd love to check out. Thank you!

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