Although frequent visitors to national parks have their own favorites, every national park offers up its own breathtaking views and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. National parks are a great way to introduce your children to the wilderness, and they also make a great romantic getaway for a pair of adventurers. If you like hands-on vacations and you think that the best way to see the world is to explore it firsthand, you can't get much better than one of the top national parks.
Check out Vacation Rentals.com's list of the top ten national parks in America. You may have your own favorites, but we doubt you'll be disappointed by a visit to any of these!
Acadia National Park
Located off Maine's Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park is an outstanding place to see coastal wildlife. If you like to hike, bike, or ride horses, the park's varied landscape (coast, mountains, and forest) will give you plenty to see. Climb Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the East Coast, or check out the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse for views that will take your breath away. You can also learn about local history at the Islesford Historical Museum, a kid-friendly museum that brings history to life with visual examples. If you're a gardener, a botanist, or just an appreciator of natural flora, the Wild Gardens of Acadia is a great place to study local plant life. However, be aware that Maine's cold, snowy winters mean that some of Acadia's features will be closed during certain times. When you're through visiting the park, either after a day trip or after you've been camping, check out a vacation rental home in Maine for the perfect place to relax!
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon offers visitors incredible views in an astonishingly unique landscape. With its expanses of stone, weird hoodoo rock formations, and weathered cliff faces, it provides a totally different hiking experience than at greener parks. If you're not up to the walk, you can see most of the canyon's beauty along an 18-mile drive with viewpoints along the way. Bryce Canyon is an especially good choice for astronomy buffs and couples who want to spend a romantic vacation beneath the full moon, since the view of the stars here is exceptionally clear. Spend the night in the area at a Utah vacation home and don't miss out on one of the full moon hikes, if you're lucky enough to get tickets! In the winter, you can even ski along the plateau top.
Everglades National Park
Also known as the "River of Grass," the Everglades is one of the wildest places you can visit. A huge expanse of swampy wetland, teeming with plant life and exotic animals, it's the perfect setting for a hands-on vacation you'll never forget. Take a guided boat tour or explore the wilds yourself from a rental canoe. You should visit during the drier winter season if possible, which is the most popular time to visit for a very good reason - the Everglades gets about 80% of its rainfall during the wet summer months! See some mangroves and alligators, depending on where you go and what you want to do, and you'll truly experience what the Everglades has to offer.
Glacier National Park
The rugged landscapes of Montana form more than just a backdrop for adventure. With its crisp weather, remote setting, and over 700 miles of trails, Glacier National Park is perfect for hikers. If you're a little less adventurous, you can experience the views on Going-to-the-Sun Road from your own car or from one of the park's provided shuttles. You can also learn about the park from the Blackfeet perspective by taking a guided shuttle tour, led by reservation inhabitants who will teach you the cultural significance of the park and the mountains.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is truly one of America's treasures, awe-inspiring and perfectly picturesque. Hike down into the canyon itself, a one-mile-deep wonder, and you'll have a wealth of possibilities to explore - just be aware that the adventure through the canyon can be pretty strenuous, so know your limitations! Once you're in the canyon, you can take a guided day or half-day river trip or you can take a longer trip yourself, though if you go it alone, you'll need to plan in advance so you can get the proper permit. And don't worry, you can see plenty if you stay up on the South Rim of the canyon, too. Enjoy the canyon from the comfort of an Arizona vacation home and spend your days (and the occasional romantic nighttime stroll!) in the canyon. You'll have all the comfort with all the convenience, too!
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a great place for camping, climbing, and mountaineering. If you're a backcountry camper, if you like to explore on horseback (or llamaback!), or if the idea of cross-country skiing appeals to you, check out the scenic mountain landscape of this park. This part of the country has a huge variety of natural flora and fauna, which means a lot for you to see but also the possible hazards of large predators like bears! Be careful and follow the park's very specific rules about bears, since you'll be in bear country - keep yourself and the bears safe. If you're not much of a camper, but you still want to experience the beauty of the wilderness, come home to a cozy, fully-equipped Wyoming rental cabin.
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are known around the world for being vibrantly full of life. With lush greenery and spectacular waterfalls, there's plenty to see and explore. If you're looking to ride horseback, this park is one of the most horse-friendly places you can find, with campsites especially for you along with miles and miles of equestrian trails. Also, hikers absolutely must visit the Look Rock observation tower, where you can see the beautiful park for miles around! History buffs can check out the park's collection of historical buildings, like log cabins and schools from America's earlier days.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is the most diverse national park, with a little bit of everything within its borders. It has so much to do that it can be a little overwhelming at first, so do your research ahead of time if you can. Guided tours make sure that even if you've never hiked, backpacked, skied (in winter), or climbed before, you'll be an expert by the end of your trip – and overnight trips, both guided and on-your-own, let you experience the wonder of Yosemite for as long as you'd like, surrounded by the wilderness. A huge assortment of activities makes this a family-friendly vacation, but plenty of secluded spots mean you'll be able to get away from the crowds, too. No matter what your hobby, you'll find more than enough to keep yourself occupied.
Yellowstone National Park
Best known for its famous Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park is America's oldest national park. Like Yosemite, it spans a wide range of activities for all ages. The park is so big that you can focus on just one part of it and never run out of things to do, so consider whether you'd like to see the geysers, the canyons, the hot springs... the list goes on. You can even attend field seminars if you'd like a more academic understanding of the park. Be sure to check out some of the spectacular natural wonders, like the waterfalls and the park's enormous canyon.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a climber's paradise, though it's not for newcomers or the faint of heart. Because most of the climbing areas are sandstone, which shouldn't be climbed when wet, you'll have to pay special attention to the weather – and plan on climbing either in spring or fall, when the summer sun won't make the rock burn your hands! With stark beauty rather than lush landscaping, this park showcases amazing geographic features like canyons and mesas, surrounded by forests on one end and desert on the other.