EVERY BIT of wilderness on the planet is impressive, but some places are special for unique reasons. There’s arguably no better educational tool for kids than getting them out into nature and into the “real” world. Blow their minds by taking them to these 16 US national parks.
1. Yosemite National Park, California
Besides being a national park, Yosemite is a designated World Heritage Site. Around the size of the state of Rhode Island, it has thousands of lakes and ponds and has around 1600 miles of streams and 800 miles of hiking trails. Photo by Baris Parildar.
2. Zion National Park, Utah
The oldest national park in Utah (est. 1919), Zion is home to almost 300 species of birds, over 70 mammal species, and over 30 species of reptiles in its four distinct “life zones.” Photo by alexfchang.
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (and Montana and Idaho)
Yellowstone is famous for its geothermal features, including near 1300 geysers that have erupted in the park in its history. Around two-thirds of all the geysers in the world are in Yellowstone. Photo by Dario Bosi.
4. Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali — or, Mt. McKinely — is the highest mountain in North America at 20,321 feet above sea level. Although the park’s summers are short, it can reach around 70F in July. Photo by Gilles Baechler.
5. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world… Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.” ~ President Theodore Roosevelt. Photo by Michael Shainblum.
6. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The Badlands contain one of the richest fossil beds in the world; ancient rhino, horse, and sabre-toothed cats inhabited the area throughout its history. Photo by Jeff Clow.
7. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
Besides being the largest national park in the lower 48, it is also the hottest and driest. On July 10, 1913 the thermometer topped 134F (the July average is 115F). Photo by Rob Kroenert.
8. Glacier National Park, Montana
Almost all original native plant and animal species are still found in Glacier National Park, including grizzlies and moose and more endangered species like the Canadian lynx and wolverines. Photo by Jeff Clow.
9. North Cascades National Park, Washington
With 312 glaciers, North Cascades has the most glaciers of any US park outside of Alaska. Photo by Doug Scrima.
10. Everglades National Park, Florida
Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the US and is declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three areas in the world to be included on all three lists. Photo by Sterling Lanier.