Grand Canyon
Blog Words : Wanderlust team | 21 March

The Wanderlust Guide to the best of US National Parks

The USA boasts some of the most spectacular and iconic national parks in the world. Here’s your guide to getting the most out of them.

From Yosemite and Yellowstone through to the Arches in Utah and Badlands in South Dakota, the United States' impressive network of national parks offer stunning landscapes that you would never find elsewhere. And with an America the Beautiful –The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, it’s more affordable than you think.

Colorado 

Choosing a park

The staggering variety of landscapes offered by the national parks in the US can be overwhelming. From the eerie monuments carved by nature out of the desert rock in the southwest, to the towering redwoods of northern California, this is nature on a grand scale.

Andrew Lucero has spent most of his adult life touring the National Parks of America and has put together a handy guide to each of the major parks and why you should visit them. He has also written an article on the national parks in the Four Corners, where the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. If classic movie western scenery is your thing, it’s worth a read.

Greg Ward gives his perspective on the South West too, Andrew Thomas sings the praises of the Grand Canyon and the Wanderlust team have put together an indispensable guide to Utah's national parks.

For something a bit different, pop over to John Vishides’ article on the Redwood National Park. It can get a little cold and damp, he says, but looking upon a tree with a trunk 18-metres in circumference tends to put things into perspective.

More information

National Parks in Western USA ­­­– Andrew Lucero

US States and their national parks – Andrew Lucero

South West USA – Greg Ward

Utah’s best national parks – The Wanderlust Team

A cut above the rest: The Grand Canyon – Andrew Thomas

Redwood National Park – John Vishides

 Wolves in Yellowstone

Looking for something different?

How does tracking wolves sound? Geoffrey Roy joined a team researching these magnificent creatures in Yellowstone National Park and reveals how you can too.

If you’d rather spot stars, Hannah Uttley lists the national parks that offer the best natural light shows on the planet.

And if dipping your paddle is more your thing, Piers Pickard reports on exploring the Boundary Waters by canoe, while Will Gray headed deep into the Florida Everglades by kayak.

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Track wolves in Yellowstone National Park – Geoffrey Roy

Top 13 stargazing sites around the world ­– Hannah Uttley

Explore the USA’s Boundary Waters by canoe – Piers Pickard

Kayak through Florida’s Everglades – Will Gray

 The Buttes

Close and personal encounters

With much of the land in America’s southwest owned by it’s native people, Chris Corden’s piece on meeting the Navajo offers a unique insight into their culture and traditions and as such, into the land itself. 

Lisa Sykes offers an intimate account of a destination we all think we know – the Grand Canyon

And Paul Morrison reports on Big Bend National Park in Texas where big cats are returning and taking back what was theirs.

More information

Meet the Navajo – Chris Corden

Rock and roam around the Grand Canyon – Lisa Sykes

Camping in Big Bend National Park, Texas – Paul Morrison

Monument Valley

Capturing it on film

Everything is bigger in America, especially its National Parks, and capturing that vastness on film can be quite a challenge. Luckily, our photography guru, Steve Davey, has written this guide to shooting open spaces that will help you shoot the epic landscapes before you. Should those landscapes be desert ones, you should probably read his guide to shooting sand as well, even if just to protect your camera from the harsh elements it will face.

You may also find inspiration in the excellent photos posted by our readers.

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Shooting sand – Steve Davey

Shooting open spaces – Steve Davey

Reader’s Photos

 Yellowstone National Park

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our United States of America Travel Guide is the perfect place to start. Make sure you read our Essential Info page too.

If you have a particular question, pop over to the myWanderlust forum where our knowledgeable community is ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions people have already asked about the US and its national parks. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

USA Travel Guide – The Wanderlust Team

USA Essential Info – The Wanderlust Team

 Canoeing in Florida

Ready to go?

Well, you are really spoilt for choice. Our travel partners offer an incredible selection of tours to the United States. From Yosemite photo tours to family cowboy and canyon adventures, there’s something for every taste and budget. You’ll find the full list of tours available here. What are you waiting for?

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Trip Finder can help you find adventures in the United States of America.