The National Park system covers 401 areas across the country — from sweeping wildernesses to monumental statues. It would be hard to see all those in a lifetime, but you can try. With many of the sites closed in the winter, the summer is one of the most popular times to visit our national parks. Why not see these most sought-after natural treasures?
These are the most searched national parks on Yahoo:
Grand Canyon National Park (Photo: Flickr/Stuseeger)
With 4.5 million visitors every year, the Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks. The South Rim is more heavily trafficked, while the North Rim is open only from mid-May to mid-October. The canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and reaches a depth of over a mile. Along with admiring the view, hiking into or across the canyon and rafting the Colorado River are increasingly popular activities.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Photo: Flickr/Mutrock)
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, on the Big Island, contains two active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Because of its scientific value and dramatic landscapes, the park is also an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage site. Crater Rim Drive encircles the summit of Kilauea and many visitors enjoy the trails off of Chain of Craters Road. Because the park is home to active volcanoes, check with the visitors’ center before planning your trip.
Related: Best Views from U.S. National Parks
Devils Tower National Park (Photo: Flickr/guido da rozze)
Rising up out of the northeastern Wyoming landscape, Devils Tower is a 1,267-foot monolithic rock. The theory is that the unique tower shape was created when softer sedimentary rock surrounding the hard monolith slowly eroded away. However, there are still parts of the tower that erode and collapse, leading to piles of rocks at the base. Climbing the monument has become popular recently, and requires registration before and after.
Grand Teton National Park (Photo: Flickr/Cynthia Swidler)
Approximately 310,000 acres, Grand Teton National Park covers the major peaks of the Teton Range and northern sections of the Jackson Hole valley. Located in northwestern Wyoming, the park is just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. With over 1,000 campsites and over 200 miles of trails, it’s a popular spot for all kinds of outdoors activities. Most of the sites at the six campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, though reservations can be made for groups. Permits are required for backcountry camping.
Zion National Park (Photo: Flickr/David McSpadden)
Utah’s first national park, Zion is known for its diversity in plant and animal life, and in geographic landscapes. The 15-mile-long Zion Canyon is one of the most visited destinations in the park. A permit is required to hike/wade the river in the section of the canyon known as the Narrows. There are also a number of other popular canyons to visit, as well as deserts and rivers.
Sequoia National Park (Photo: Flickr/John Fowler)
While Sequoia National Park is understandably best known for its giant sequoia trees, the 404,000-acre park has more than just five of the 10 biggest trees in the world. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada range in California, the park is also home to the highest point in the contiguous U.S. — Mount Whitney — and a wealth of underground limestone caves. Crystal Cave is the only one still open to the public. The park sits next to Kings Canyon National Park and is run jointly.
Yosemite National Park (Photo: Flickr/Hide)
Although Yosemite is 747,000 acres large, most of the 4 million people who visit annually spend the majority of their time in the breathtaking Yosemite Valley, which is capped by the iconic Half Dome and El Capitan rock faces. Along with views of some of the park’s famous waterfalls, the valley is also home to the visitors’ center, memorial lodge, heavily visited campgrounds, and historic Ahwahnee Hotel.
National Mall (Photo: Flickr/YoTuT)
Although it’s right in downtown Washington, D.C., the National Mall is technically run by the National Park Service. The term “National Mall,” which 24 million people visit each year, is commonly used to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol. The Mall includes a large grassy area surrounded by walking paths, the Smithsonian museums, the Capitol Reflecting Pool, and a number of memorial monuments.
Bryce Canyon National Park (Photo: Flickr/Paul Fundenburg)
A hoodoo is a kind of pillar of rock left standing after everything around it erodes. While hoodoos are found around the world, the number and size of them across the entire terrain of Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah make it uniquely stunning. Because it’s so remote, Bryce Canyon receives fewer visitors than nearby Zion National Park.
Denali National Park and Preserve (Photo: Flickr/faungg)
Spread across 6 million acres in Alaska, Denali National Park has a national preserve area and a designated wilderness within it, along with portions of the park that are more regularly visited by people. The most well-known feature of the park is the mountain for which it is named. Denali (now commonly known as Mount McKinley) is the tallest peak in North America at 20,000 feet. Visitors can also dogsled, cross-country ski, see glaciers, or take a bus trip down Denali Park Road.