2017 is the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service! That means free entrance days scattered throughout the year, and a National Parks Week from April 15 to 23. For me, National Parks are one of those places I’ll always say I’m going to visit, but then never get around to. But now that there are free-admission days, it’s a great opportunity to get out to the most famous (and most expensive) national parks! Here are the top 5 on my personal bucket list.
Denali National Park | Alaska
Alaska is actually my dream vacation. I would never go in the winter, but in the summer months, the sun shines and the mountains are beautiful. Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley, North America’s largest peak, and you may even get the chance to see grizzly bears, caribou and other wild animals (from a distance, of course).
Acadia National Park | Maine
Acadia National Park also tops my bucket list, and I think visiting here in autumn would be especially amazing because of Maine’s beautiful fall foliage. There’s also just something so charming about New England towns, with their lighthouses, boardwalks and luscious pine trees. Acadia is known for its granite rock climbing, and you may even be able to spot whales if you reach a high enough peak.
Glacier National Park | Montana
Nicknamed the Crown of the Continent, Montana’s Glacier National Park features the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson's Bay, which means a lot of water for a lot of boating surrounded by beautiful mountains. The mountains also mean fantastic skiing in the winter.
Grand Teton National Park | Wyoming
If you would prefer a more relaxed National Park trip than bear-sighting and rock climbing, Grand Teton in Wyoming is known for calm waters and fishing. The Snake River is like a nature-made lazy river, and this August, a solar eclipse will happen right over the park, so you may want to cross this one off the bucket list then.
Carlsbad Caverns | New Mexico
Last but certainly not least, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico is a really unique national park because it’s technically underground. A ranger takes you down a lantern-led tour through the dark caves, in which there are waterfalls, streams, and cave formations like the one above that are constantly changing and growing.
Of course, any National Park is worth visiting, and these are only 5 of 59 national parks in the United States. With two entire weekend-long free entrance days coming up in April, now is finally the time to start crossing National Parks off the bucket list. Which one are you excited to see first?