Best National Parks to Visit - Visit These National Parks for Fun and Adventure Close to Home

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Visit These National Parks for Fun and Adventure Close to Home

National parks are often an overlooked option when planning an epic vacation. While many people may associate the thought of taking a vacation in a national park with the same thrill they get bird watching, the truth is that they are missing out on an amazing opportunity.

Just some of the features of the US national parks include mountains, geysers, glaciers, white water rapids and amazing wildlife. Throw in a roaring campfire and your best buds and you’ve got a vacation to remember. Still unsure? Here’s the scoop on five of the most fun national parks in the US, each with something special to offer to make your vacation awesome.

Yellowstone National Park

Spread across Wyoming and Montana, Yellowstone is a park that offers something for everyone. Most notably the home of Old Faithful, this park also offers hiking, canoeing, camping, and even horseback and llama rides. Seriously, you get to ride a llama! Spanning 3,500-square miles, Yellowstone is a wildlife reserve filled with beauty. The park is known for its large populations of bear, elk, bison, and wolves.

A fun fact about Yellowstone—it sits on top of a known super volcano! This volcano is what powers Old Faithful. But beware! More injuries have been reported from failure to follow rules around the geysers than from any other feature that Yellowstone offers, including injuries from the wildlife. Remember - read the signs, listen to your tour guides, and avoid skinny dipping in the hot springs, if you know what I mean.

Things to do: visit Old Faithful, camp, hike, horseback ride, llama ride

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite, California is home to this beautiful nature reserve. One of the most notable natural features of Yosemite is known as El Capitan’s Dawn Wall. This 3,000-foot smooth granite wall is any rock climber’s kryptonite, finally being successfully climbed by a two-man team in 2015. Up until then no other climbers had successful completed the task of scaling the epic wall.

But Yosemite offers more than just frightening rock elevations, it’s also home to stunning wildlife and picturesque views. Multiple campgrounds are available on the site, with plenty of guided tours offered to show off the most beautiful of the park’s scenery.

Things to do: rock climb, camp

Grand Canyon National Park

Let’s state the obvious—Um … It’s the Grand Canyon! This beautiful rock carving spans 277 scenic miles, constantly being shaped by the tremendous force of the Colorado River. While the canyon is beautiful, standing at its edge is not for the faint of heart or anyone scared of heights. In fact, the canyon plunges 5,200-feet deep!

What else makes the Grand Canyon special? It offers the best white-water rafting in the world. Professional rafting companies are available to take you and your whole entourage on an epic adventure. On average, rafting the entire 277 miles of river takes about seven days and there will be no shortage of excitement along the way. Water sports not your thing? Plan for a hike to take in the breathtaking canyon views. But be warned—getting to the bottom of the canyon takes a serious hike. The physical demands of climbing down the canyon, even on the designated trails, can be more than some people can handle so definitely plan ahead and be prepared.

Things to do: white water raft, hike, horseback ride, camp

Zion National Park

Utah is home to five national parks. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands all have something special to offer, but Zion is definitely the most popular and for good reason. Zion is known for its slick rocks, hanging canyons, and bright orange-red rock walls. It’s as if Mother Nature hand painted the landscape of Zion, taking special care to accent every view.

Don’t worry if you are not a hardcore hiker. The park offers well-maintained roads that make for beautiful scenic drives with plenty to see along the way.

But if you are a serious hiker, Zion will not disappoint. The most famed hike at Zion is up Angels Landing, which boasts a 5,785-foot climb up a trail with terrifying drop offs that also provide the most amazing views you could ever imagine.

Want to get in some water fun? The Virgin River runs through the park and dead ends into the Checkerboard Mesa, which offers stunning sandstone views.

And don’t forget winter! Zion is one of few national parks that offers skiing and snowboarding! In fact, there are multiple resorts on the park’s grounds that are ready to host you and your crew on their mountains this snow season. Who said national parks were only a summer vacation thing?

Things to do: hike, scenic drives, swim, raft and canoe on gentle water, ski, snow board

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Spanning the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains are truly a treat to travelers. The ethereal majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains is hard to describe to someone who has never had the pleasure of experiencing it. This soulful land, full of lush greenery and cascading waterfalls is easily one of the most beautiful places in the United States.

Here you will find a wide variety of wildlife nestled into the mountain sides. The picturesque views are any hiker’s dream, with well maintained trails of varying difficulty and drivable roads so that anyone can enjoy the scenery. The Smokies are also stunning in the winter, covered in snow and transformed into a winter wonderland of frozen riverbeds and snowy peaks. Resorts and campsites are available all year long.

Things to do: hike, scenic drives, camp, winter sports (dependent upon resort offerings)

This is just a brief look of a few national parks the US has to offer. Keep in mind that there are 58 in all, and each is beautiful and unique in its own right. Don’t miss out on these special and very affordable adventures.

Got a great story from a national park trip? We’d love to hear about it—tell us in the comments!

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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.