Photo: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Tell me about yourself and I’ll tell you which park to choose
The United States National Park Service is 100 years old. There is no better time to visit one of the 58 parks under its jurisdiction. You will definitely find one to suit you.
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, signed the act to create the National Park Service on 25 August 1916, to preserve 35 natural and historic settings. The list has grown to exceed 400 protected areas – including 58 National Parks – and all are celebrating the anniversary this year. To honour the event, free entry days have been planned. The next will be National Park Week, from 16 to 24 April. We have selected some must-visit parks to help you choose which one best adapts to what you want to get out of your trip.
Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring at Yellowstone. It is boiling hot, at 92ºC.
Grand Canyon, for travellers who like heights
The most popular National Park is, interestingly, the second most visited. More than four million tourists head there each year, although fewer go up to the edge to see how vast the canyon is: 2,300 metres high at its southernmost point and 2,700 to the north. One of the best views can be had from the “Skywalk”, a glass bridge at Grand Canyon West.
At Bryce Canyon you can follow moonlight hiking trails.
Yellowstone with the family
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts more than 1,200 kilometres of trails.
This is the oldest national park in the country. It dates from 1872 and spreads across three states: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Its collection of geysers and thermal pools take on peculiar colours, from green in winter to fluorescent orange in summer. It has an education centre and children under 12 can follow a programme to become junior rangers.
Great Smoky Mountains, a trip to the past
Located in North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States. It gets more than ten million visits each year. Its mountains, spread across more than 2,000 square kilometres, are among the oldest in the world. Its varied points of interest are enough to overwhelm any first-time visitor. Choose Cades Cove and Cataloochee to watch animals, or the collection of historical log houses at Oconaluftee.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon, for dendrology lovers
If there is something that characterises National Parks in the US, it is their vastness. Sequoia & Kings Canyon can certainly boast this, being a land of giants, where you will find some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world. The stars of this Californian forest are the redwoods, some of which have their own name, like General Grant (more than 80 metres tall) and General Sherman, the tree with the largest single trunk on the planet (11 metres diameter at the base).
Bryce Canyon, a starry park
Every year, a million and a half people travel to this park in the state of Utah. It is famous for its spire-like rock formations and horseshoe-shaped amphitheatres, but also for its stars. On a clear night, you can see up to 7,500 (three times more than the countrywide average).
Camping at Yosemite
This park normally receives about four million adventurers each year and is the third most visited in the country. Located in California, it is about 300 kilometres from San Francisco and 250 from Sacramento. This typical camping destination for urbanites seeking to recover their spirit of adventure has three areas prepared for visitors to sleep in the open air.