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National Parks in USA

The United States of America is a vast country known for its varied landscapes. But while the country may be more renowned for its pop culture as seen on TV, heard on music, worn with clothing, or tasted with food, its own protected national parks are also as worthy of the same regard.

For something aptly dubbed as the “American’s greatest idea ever conceived,” national parks are the United States’ answer to Europe’s landmark castles and towering infrastructures, only more natural and without human manipulation in the process.

Like treasures of historical value that are carefully curated in museums, national parks are a jewel to the Americans, laid bare in plain sight. And, like those treasures in the museums which are tightly-preserved for their value, national parks are among those places which remain untouched and still will be in the years to come.

Whether you like seeing the Great Canyon at its most picturesque, taking a hazard in a wild desert, trekking the mountains at their greenest, or experiencing bodies of water for pleasure, the great outdoors probably has it all for people to indulge in.

But as the idea may be grand, so too are the options which could overwhelm anyone who is contemplating in seeing these amazing places first-hand.

NATIONAL PARKS IN UTAH

Arches National Park

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Nestled at the eastern part of the state of Utah and from the north of Moab, Arches National Park is a scenic landscape of sandstone arches—as much as 2000 of them according to record—hence, its chosen name.

Canyonlands National Park

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Just another amazing park to add to the list within the state of Utah, the Canyonlands National Park exudes the vibrancy of the desert while being distinctly ravine.

But as no canyons are simply made without the affect of nature, Canyonlands’ makeup is greatly influenced by the presence of Colorado River which caused rocks to erode consequently forming a multitude of canyons, mesas, and buttes.

Many tourists are drawn to this park for its natural beauty and profusion of activities which people are typically after.

Capitol Reef National Park

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Often considered less popular among its canyon cousins in the same state, the Capitol Reef National Park’s quality may just be underestimated. Not only is the Capitol Reef the only landscape of its kind—made outstanding by a 100-mile wrinkle called Waterpocket Fold—it is also a home to 270-million old rocks consistent of monoliths, canyons, rock ridges, and buttes.

But not all people who visit Capitol Reef National Park are there momentarily and just leave, some actually choose to make camp for the night, particularly during summer, and get to experience the best star-gaze in their lives.

Bryce Canyon National Park

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The state of Utah is endowed with beautiful places which are now considered US’s national parks. The Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of those numbers and is most renowned for harboring many of one of nature’s unbelievable rock formations—hoodoos.

Believed to have been formed across thousands of years, possibly with the aid of the forces of nature, hoodoos are some sensational visuals to behold. Some hoodoos are even more spectacular than others as they give off an impression of objects which we now recognize as a “thing,” such as that one hoodoo which resembles the mythical Thor’s Hammer.

Zion National Park

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The Zion National Park may not boast itself of a large expanse but, while it littles, it was made up for by sheer number in tourist visits. If you like gazing at Earth’s natural structures, this is one good place for it.

[READ: 5 National Parks in Utah]

NATIONAL PARKS IN CALIFORNIA

Channel Islands National Park

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Seated off the coast of California is this group of islands called Channel Islands. This archipelago consists of eight islands but only five of which are considered part of the national park, including the underwater area. These five islands consist of Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz.

However, the real main attraction of this designated national park are not the atolls themselves but the marine creatures which inhabits the surrounding waters, in addition to the various water activities in the area.

Death Valley National Park

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Set in between the regions of California in the west and Nevada, the Death Valley is a place notorious for its hot temperature which can reach around 130 degrees Fahrenheit on daytime.

But do not let its intimidating name fool you into thinking that no life survives in this place. Although the heat may put anyone closer to a brink of death, some people—particularly bikers, hikers, and campers—actually are able to endure it.

Joshua Tree National Park

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Nestled around east of both San Diego and Los Angeles, along the southwestern part of California, there lies a desert landscape so vast, it paints of different colors when seen at a high elevation. But one notable feature of this desert is the sheer number of Joshua trees that sprung and dotted its landscape, hence its name.

Technically-speaking, the Joshua Tree National Park is only a part of both Colorado and the Mojave Desert and is also known for its varying heterogenous components that makes for its dynamic landscape.

Kings Canyon National Park

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Not too far from the Sequoia National Forest around the southeastern part of California lies another park also known for the large swathes of Sequoia trees—the Kings Canyon National Park.

Like its neighboring national park, the Kings Canyon is especially preserved for the featured trees subsequently labeling it as a Biosphere Reserve. However, standing out among the rest within Kings Canyon is the second-largest Sequoia tree named General Grant Tree.

Yet, only blind persons will not see that another highlight of the park is the towering canyon itself to which the park was named after.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

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As a home to the largest plug dome volcano all over the world, the Lassen Volcanic National Park is easily distinguished as a notable place of visit.

But while, as a volcano, it has the repute of spouting molten lava, the Lassen Volcano has not seen an uproar since 1915. However, this does not discount of the still active status of the remainder of the park as seen on a number of hydrothermal features like fumaroles, bubbling mud pots, and boiling pools.

Sequoia National Park

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The Redwood National Park may hold the world’s largest tree but the second tallest called General Sherman lies here at Sequoia National Park in the same state as California. This park has long been designated as a protected land area, mostly to safeguard General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Pinnacles National Park

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Lying atop the park called Pinnacles National Park are a leftover of what was an active volcano. Literally, to reach the zenith of this park is to be faced with a carcass of a supposedly molten lava-spewing vent.

But these volcanic remains make only for a slight significance to visiting this park. For those who are in the place to satiate their wanderlust, the Pinnacles National Park also contains caves which people could venture into.

Redwood National Park

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Being at the Redwood National Park is a humbling experience to those who understood what they are faced with. Not only are the trees in this park’s forest some of the oldest across the globe, the redwood trees are also the tallest among them all. Literally, no other living creature is tall enough to match the heights of these trees.

Another noteworthy reason to visit this park is to become a witness to some of animal kingdom’s uncommon creatures, namely the Bald Eagle, the Steller’s Sea Lion, and the Northern Spotted Owl.

Yosemite National Park

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Although there are many things that are worthy of amazement about Yosemite, perhaps its greatest feature is its mesmerizing waterfalls which is by far one of the tallest in the world.

NATIONAL PARKS IN COLORADO

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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Located around the western part of the state of Colorado, just beneath the Grand Mesa National Forest, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a 48-mile long ravine developed over the span of 2 million years.

The park got its name from two sources: the dark coloration which the surrounding cliffs exhibit plus the name of the river itself which passes through the canyon.

Visitants of this park have two ways of appreciating the area’s natural makeup—drive along Highways 50 and 92 or hike their way along the edges of the canyon to view the landscape at a different angle.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

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While there are plenty of places where dunes can be found across all of United States of America, no place contains the highest dunes than in the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. The tallest sand dune measures at 750 feet which is elevated enough to give anybody a good view of the park.

The Great Sand Dunes is believed to have been as a result of years-long process of depositing sands from the Rio Grande River

Mesa Verde National Park

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From the outset, this park visibly has the vestige of a former civilization. The presumption is actually true as the Mesa Verde was believed to be inhabited by the Puebloan people for at least 700 years.

Rocky Mountain National Park

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No division from the so-called Continental Drive has ever truly split the Rocky Mountain National Park. While it is easy to presume that this park has its geographic landscape as its highlight for preservation, it is actually its rich biosphere that is, at least according to UNESCO. To name a few, the Rocky Mountains is a home to wildlife, namely Bobcats, Elks, Bison, Wolverines, and Grizzly Bears.

NATIONAL PARKS IN FLORIDA

Biscayne National Park

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Most of United States’ national parks mostly comprised of land, if not with a bit of bodies of water. But with a composition which is mostly only water—around 95%—the Biscayne National Park makes for a unique exception. Yet, what makes Biscayne a protected area is in its very makeup itself which is rife with diverse ecosystems.

For tourists who simply want to unwind or entertain themselves, the Biscayne National Park makes for a perfect destination to do a host of water activities.

Dry Tortugas National Park

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If there is anything noteworthy about the Dry Tortugas is that it contains one of United States historical landmark, the Civil Era garrison called Fort Jefferson.

Situated at a coast around cays, Dry Tortugas is only accessible in one of two ways: by boat or by plane.

Although seeing the fortress on the atoll is one thing, another good reason to visit the park is to experience its waters such as by snorkeling the shallow waters or by diving its deeper parts.

Everglades National Park

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When most parks are chosen to be protected to preserve their geographical features, the Everglades National Park is being preserved for its ecosystem. This means that a large variety of species, ranging from plants to animals, are being safeguarded in this place.

But for a place teeming with wildlife at their natural habitat such as the American crocodile and the Florida panther, it is not surprising that not many people choose to visit this park.

NATIONAL PARKS IN ARIZONA

Grand Canyon National Park

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As the largest canyon in the world, it is hard for the Grand Canyon not to stand out from the crowd, especially in all of Arizona. Like the Canyonlands in Utah, the constitution of the Grand Canyon is crafted by the Colorado River, lasting for millions of years. Even today, the same river flows within the very same canyon itself.

With millions and millions visiting this place on a yearly basis, it speaks of how prominent this park truly is to the people.

Unlike other dwellings which were established from the ground-up, the Mesa Verde is built by crafting on the hills which makes it very fascinating to see. But with the cliff itself as it safeguards against weather and other elements, the dwellings were naturally-preserved which prevents unwanted degradation.

Petrified Forest National Park

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Not much is going on in this park for being a mostly barren desert. But while the idea may paint this park as in a state of a standstill, there is vibrancy to be found in the place as seen through the varying colors of the desert itself, as made livelier with the presence of other desert elements.

But if there is one thing that would make this barren wasteland renowned, it has got to be the millions of years tree carcasses duly called petrified wood.

Saguaro National Park

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Situated at a location just south of Arizona and not too far from the city of Tucson, the Saguaro National Park is a desert that teems with life, both plants and animals, most notably the Saguaro cacti which gave it its name.

NATIONAL PARKS IN TEXAS

Big Bend National Park

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The Big Bend National Park is situated at the southernmost part of Texas which borders the country of Mexico. Not many get to Big Bend due to its remote location. Despite this, however, the area was historically famous for its hot springs which provided treatment to some of people’s ailments.

But people who do visit this large expanse of a park do so as either a backpacker or as a hiker whose aim is to traverse the area from trail to trail, Marufo Vega to Chimneys.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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Finding the highest spot in all of the state of Texas can lead you in no other place but at the Guadalupe Mountains which is also a national park. Located at the western region of Texas, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is closest to the city of El Paso in the neighboring country of Mexico.

For hikers who like to conquer high elevations, the highest peak of the park is the Guadalupe Peak, followed by El Capitan.

NATIONAL PARKS IN OREGON

Crater Lake National Park

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The natural makeup of the Crater Lake easily makes it as one of the best places in Oregon. With it as it selling point, it does not surprise that the Crater Lake was the fifth among many places to be assigned as USA’s 5th national park.

NATIONAL PARKS IN ALASKA

Denali National Park

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The Denali National Park stands out among others for two main reasons: it has the tallest mountain in all of North American continent and has the largest land area in all of United States.

Despite its enormous expanse, there is only one road across Denali National Park—the Denali Park Road. Traversing this pavement, however, is a serious treat among travelers who like being fascinated by nature.

Coincidentally, the place is also a home to wildlife such as the Black and Grizzly Bears, Alaskan Moose, and the Caribou.

Gates of the Arctic National Park

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Yet another large park to have come from Alaska—second biggest from Denali—is the geographically untouched area of the Gates of the Arctic. This place has literally no park facilities built into it.

But the Gates of the Artic National Park is not a desolate place in the middle of the cold. It is actually a home to natives of Alaska which was believed to have been in the area for the last 11,000 years.

Glacier Bay National Park

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Originally covered in ice on its first discovery by George Vancouver back in 1794, the Glacier Bay may have already changed in form in recent years but it remains a stunning place to visit, worthy of a national park label.

While cold, the place teems with wildlife such as the Grizzly bear, mountain goat, eagles, seals, and whales. The place is also remarkable for its natural landscape which comprised of fjords, mountains, glaciers, and rainforest.

Katmai National Park

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Finding the best location to spot a community of Alaskan bears has never been as easy across the state than to be in Katmai. Every year, as much as 2000 bears visit to place to hunt for food, particularly during an influx of salmon spawns.

But there is also other wildlife which comprise Katmai’s lively ecosystem such as the caribou, wolves, wolverines, and moose.

Yet, no mention of the Katmai National Park is ever complete without also discussing about the Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes.

Kenai Fjords National Park

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Spanning 669,000 acres, the Kenia Fjords within the Gulf of Alaska is a majestic network of Fjords renowned for one of USA’s largest ice field, Harding Icefield.

With a close proximity to the town of Swears, the Kenai Fjords National Park makes for a popular destination among tourists who board the cruise ship.

Apart from the picturesque scenery of the park, visitors can also take delight in seeing the region’s marine wildlife such as the dolphins, orcas, humpback whales, and the sea otters.

Kobuk Valley National Park

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Like many wilderness, the Kobuk Valley is one without a hint of civilization. While there is life, humans simply are not part of its ecosystem.

For the adventurers, the Kobuk Valley is a worthwhile visit for the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes where, in certain seasons of the year, Caribous migrate en masse. For those who have not yet the privilege of seeing real-life Caribou first hand, there is no better spectacle than to see them in droves around Kobuk unhindered.

Lake Clark National Park

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More than just the lake to which the park was named after but also the surroundings areas, the Lake Clark National Park is a place of dynamic landscape which includes the volcanoes of Mount Lliama and Mount Redboudt, frozen lakes, tundra, as well as the Cook Inlet.

There are no roads within this park and there is only one of two ways to get in it—by boat or by plane. Most people who chose to venture this park in the wilderness of cold do so for leisure, particularly within the lake and the nearby high elevations.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

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At over 8 million acres of land area, the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest of its kind in the system. For such a large expanse, this place is not without its fair share of attractions—specifically, the deserted mining town of Kennecott, the Nabesna Glacier, the Kendesnii Campground, and the Chitina River.

NATIONAL PARKS IN NEW MEXICO 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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Just 20 kilometers from the border of Texas is a network of caves, Carlsbad Caverns, which housed some fascinating creatures such as the Mexican free-tailed bats. The longest cave in Carlsbad is measured at 190 kilometers long.

Within the cave are many rooms, each of which bearing its own name such as Bifrost, Bell Cord, Bat Cave, and Balloon Ballroom. Each room also consists of features that may be fascinating to first-time visitors of caves like seeing stalactites and underground lakes.

NATIONAL PARKS IN HAWAII

Haleakala National Park

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Situated at the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii, the Haleakala National Park is just a small when compared to others by having a land area not bigger than 33,000 acres.

However, the main highlight of the park is the long dormant volcano which it inhabits. The volcano has not seen an eruption since at least the 17th century according to known record.

The park is also a home to the Kipahulu forest and the Haleakala Observatory.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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The island of Hawaii off the coast of the United States is a landmass with many volcanoes, both active and inactive. Located at the southern shore of the island, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park houses two of the state’s largest and most active volcanoes, namely the Mauna Loa and Kilauea respectively.

Popular among visitors, even researchers find great interest in this park which spans 323,000 acres.

Although it is the volcanoes themselves that are the highlights of the park, visitors can also entertain themselves with other interest by head to the visitor center or the Volcano Art center.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MAINE

Acadia National Park

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Considered to be Maine’s most visited site and the oldest national park along the eastern portion of the Mississippi river, the Acadia National Park lauds itself of a diverse expanse, all while being situated on an island.

The Acadia national park is known for the Echo Lake, Otter Cove, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, Mt. Penobscot, and the Schoodic Peninsula. But those who dare to climb the peak of Cadillac Mountain are further rewarded with a scenic view of the Porcupine Islands, Bar Harbor, Somes Sound, and Frenchman Bay.

NATIONAL PARKS IN VIRGINIA

Shenandoah National Park

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Considered as the most popular park in all of Virginia, the Shenandoah National Park is so prominent in American pop culture, the park has made it in some of USA’s iconic music.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MICHIGAN

Isle Royale National Park

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Regarded as the largest landmass within Lake Superior, the Isle Royale is a place of remoteness and wilderness. But this atoll is not desolate from life as there are still around 20 species of mammals roaming the area.

Without people to alter it in any way, the Isle Royale do not have roads but there is a plethora of trails that can get you to on every corner of the island should you wish to spend time and explore.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MONTANA

Glacier National Park

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It is hard for the part of the US to admit to claim the Glacier as its own when it sits in a border split between the United States and its neighbor, Canada. Nonetheless, it is a region duly protected by US law as a national park.

There is a lot to see in this wide expanse, however. From a series of mountains where the Chief Mountain can be found to a profusion of frozen and natural lakes, the Glacier National Park is truly scenic.

Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone is a place famed for so-called “Old Faithful,” which is a system of super volcano and geysers. What fascinate most visitors around this park is Old Faithful’s timely eruptions which is typically clocked every 91 minutes.

NATIONAL PARKS IN SOUTH DAKOTA

Badlands National Park

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When you speak of a place with real varied landscapes in the United States, no other area possibly best fit the description than the Badlands National Park at the southwestern region of South Dakota.

Although the exact science behind Badlands’ unusual rocky formations may be hard to explain, one thing is certain about it—the panoramic view of the area at high elevation is stunning, it is basically an art in natural form as chiseled by Mother Nature herself.

Wind Cave National Park

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When most caves are known for either their stalactites or stalagmites, the Wind Cave make for a special difference by encompassing the so-called boxwork, a calcite formation which resembles a fin. In addition, it is also known for another unique feature called frostwork which is a kind of needle-like protrusions.

NATIONAL PARKS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

Congaree National Park

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The Congaree National park is the only reserved place of its kind all over South Carolina and is even only a recent addition to the overall list. The primary reason why this place was chosen as one of United States’ national park is due to its large area of virgin forests.

On the other hand, the Congaree National Park is mostly groves and swamp as surrounded by the forest which is ideal for canoeing or kayaking. Coincidentally, there are camping sites in the area where tour guides can be found.

Visitors who would dare swim the lake’s water should be aware of its depth as the Crater Lake has the deepest water in all of the country’s lakes.

NATIONAL PARKS IN WASHINGTON

Mount Rainier National Park

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Containing the highest peak in all of Washington state and at the same time a dangerous stratovolcano, the Mount Rainier, this park is calm but can be deadly at the wrong conditions.

Danger-aside, having to traverse the park from start to finish is not easy. The distance to cover was so big—93 miles—it would take 2 weeks at the least to achieve the feat.

Hikers who dare face the challenge of the long walk will soon discover that Mount Rainier National Park also has another smaller park in it called the Ohanapecosh Park.

North Cascades National Park

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North Cascades National Park is a mostly inhospitable region along the northern region of Washington, not too far from the Canadian border. Adjacent to this wilderness is that of British Columbia, Canada’s.

As a place towering with gargantuan mountains, two prominent elevations rise above the rest, namely Mount Triumph and Mount Baker. There are also other noteworthy peaks in the area, most of which made ostensive by the presence of glaciers on top.

The place is not barren, however, as it is also a host to as much as 1600 species of plants.

Olympic National Park

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The northwestern part of the United States is known for being dense with lush green forest, often dating back hundreds of years. The state of Washington especially has a fair share, if not more, of them. The Olympic National Park is one testament to this notion.

But it is not just trees that can be found within this park alone. It is actually subdivided into four regions, two of which being consistent of coastline and high elevations.

NATIONAL PARKS IN OHIO

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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The Cuyahoga Valley National Park may not boast itself of a large land area due to its relatively smaller size. But while it littles, it makes up for the quality of its constitution.

Not only is this park surrounded with lush green forest, it is also notable for bodies of water namely the lakes Arkona and Warren and the Cuyahoga Falls. In addition, it is also the place where the Stanford House stands.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MISSOURI 

Gateway Arch National Park

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Formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial until being renamed as the Gateway Arch National Park and simultaneously being added to the list of national parks in all of US, this park commemorates the same old reasons why it was established in the first place.

Primarily, it commemorates the purchase of Louisiana and the consequent westward exploration of the early pioneers in America, the establishment of the first civil government from the west of the Mississippi River, and the debate over slavery.

NATIONAL PARKS IN NEVADA

Great Basin National Park

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Nestled at Nevada’s second highest mountain, the Wheeler Peak, the Great Basin National Park is a home to several thousands of years old bristlecone pine trees and the Lehman Caves.

Set in a location considered to be remote, no other place provides the darkest nights than the skies of the Great Basin National Park.

Although the place may be thriving from harmless creatures like the ermine and chipmunks, the place is also a home to cougars which might pose some threat to visitors.

NATIONAL PARKS IN WYOMING

Grand Teton National Park

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For a place regarded as the tallest mountain within the so-called Teton Range, it is hard for Grand Teton not to be noticed by onlookers, even from afar. While it is not Himalayan in height nor is close to it, what makes the Grand Teton National Park partly renowned is due to the presence of Jackson Hole which contains a refuge, a river, and a lake as well as a rich ecosystem involving wildlife.

NATIONAL PARKS IN ARKANSAS

Hot Springs National Park

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With “Hot Springs” as its name, it is not hard to imagine what this particular national park is all about—literal hot springs.

Named after the same thing that it features; the Hot Springs National Park is located in the town of Hot Springs within central Arkansas and is one of the few parks of its kind to be situated within a town itself.

Tapping on its natural hot springs, this particular park is renowned for its bathhouses whose hot bath inflicts healing to people.

NATIONAL PARKS IN KENTUCKY

Mammoth Cave National Park

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With an accumulated 400 miles of explored passage, the Mammoth Cave within the state of Kentucky makes for the largest cave system in the whole wide world.

Within the cave are wildlife unique to the place such as the Kentucky cave shrimp, cave salamanders, the Northern cavefish, and eight species of bats.

Although the cave itself is already overwhelmingly large to occupy every visitor’s time in the place, the above areas of the cave, too, makes for a noticeable visit due to the presence of the Green River as well as other natural geographic features.

NATIONAL PARK IN TENNESSEE AND NORTH CAROLINA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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With the many amazing places already made the list as a national park in the United States, you might be wondering which place is the most visited of them all. If you are at the Great Smoky Mountains, set between the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina, then you are already in that place.

The park is especially popular among hikers due to the place’s mountainous terrain and luscious forest. Within the park are also historical sites such as the Cataloochee Valley, the Cades Cove, and the Roaring Fork stream.

NATIONAL PARKS IN NORTH DAKOTA

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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Named after the 26th president of the Unites States, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a historical place for the aforementioned persona’s hunting habits. The area is paved with a number of Badlands variety and is also known for the Little Missouri River that run through the center of it.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MINNESOTA

Voyageurs National Park

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Voyageurs are Fresh fur traders which had a significant history in the place, hence the park’s name. But apart from these foreign traders, the park was also a place for gold miners and a tribe of Native Americans called Ojibwe.

NATIONAL PARK OF AMERICAN SAMOA

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Covering areas across three islands—Tutuila, Tau, and Ofu—the Nation Pakr of American Samoa is a US territory located at a distance too far from the mainland.

The island of Ofu is the smallest but is popular for its beaches and established guesthouses. Tau is a bit bigger than Ofu and is more renowned for its hiking trails that passes along the coast and through the island’s rainforests. Tutuila, on the other hand, is an island inhabited by people within the villages of Afono and Vatia.

Visitors who take the chance of seeing one of United States most breathtaking desert often wander the place by car. But those who prefer a more personal experience with the area chose to do so by foot, such as doing some hiking.

VIRGIN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

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The Virgin Islands National Park is perch at the St. John Islands and extended a bit on the smaller Hassel Island. Historically, this is a place where Columbus ran a sugar plantation. It is also the place where the Taino archaeological sites can be found.

Useful resources:
– Check out more National Parks in the UK
– Perform a land search and own your own piece of American wilderness
– Lend your support to America’s National Parks

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