10 Cool Things to See in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park in West Texas’s Chihuahuan Desert exceeds 800,000 acres. To put that into perspective, the park is bigger than Rhode Island. Big Bend boasts breathtaking desert landscapes, hundreds of bird species, dozens of reptile species, buildings dating back to the 1800s, artifacts dating back 9,000 years, and animal fossils dating back to the Cretaceous Period. The park also includes these ten exciting features.

1. The Window Trail

Stella the Giant / Shutterstock

The Window Trail is a path leading to a V-shaped canyon called the Window, a perfect vantage point for sunset-viewing. The hike towards the Window is downhill all the way; the hike away from the Window is especially strenuous. The backdrop is one-of-a-kind, though, and the desert peaks are magnificent to behold.

2. Boquillas Canyon Rapids

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Boquillas Canyon offers a whitewater rapids expedition you’ll never forget. It‘s a 33 mile-long trip down the Rio Grande and includes two nights of camping out beneath a canyon rising 1,200 feet. The experience is mystical.

3. Langford Hot Springs

Andy Wilcock / Shutterstock

Sitting in Langford Hot Springs, situated adjacent to the Rio Grande is like sitting in a hot tub, but even more refreshing. The waters of these springs are about 105 degrees Fahrenheit; the springs were formed by volcanic activity.

4. Emory Peak

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Emory Peak is the highest point of the Chisos Mountains, a mountain range completely contained within Big Bend National Park. And you can scale Emory Peak via the Emory Peak Trail. No climbing gear is necessary, but you should be cautious the whole way up. You should also watch out for mountain lions.

5. Castolon Historic District

RIRF Stock / Shutterstock

The adobe buildings of the Castolon Historic District give guests a taste of an earlier era. This section of the park was once home to a U.S. Army camp and to an encampment for Mexican refugees during the Mexican Revolution. The Castolon Visitor Center houses exhibitions related to both camps.

6. Chisos Mountains Lodge

Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock

If you’re looking to spend the night inside Big Bend but aren’t quite up to roughing it, the Chisos Mountains Lodge provides luxurious accommodations. The only lodge inside the park, it’s open all year long and lets you stay in either a room or a cottage. And because Chisos Mountains Lodge is perched at an elevation of 5,400 feet, every room offers views that seem to stretch on forever.

7. Old Ore Road

TeacherKarla / Shutterstock

Old Ore Road is 26 miles of unpaved scenic glory. This road served as a transport route for mining companies at the start of the twentieth century. Motorized vehicles have long since replaced the mules, however. Be sure your camera’s ready to go: Old Ore Road provides countless terrific shots of the mighty Chisos.

8. Sam Nail Ranch

Zack Frank / Shutterstock

Big Bend was once home to many a homesteader; the land resembled a John Wayne movie. One of those brave and hearty settlers was Sam Nail. Nail arrived in 1909, amassed 15,000 acres in the ensuing years, and departed in 1946. Today Nail’s former ranch is a place to sit beneath a willow or a walnut tree, admire the hummingbirds, and reflect upon the beauty of it all.

9. The Colima Warbler

Daniel A. Leifheit / Getty Images

The Colima warbler is a mostly brown or gray bird, about 4.5 or 5 inches in length, with a yellowish-orange tail and white circles surrounding its eyes. The male Colima warbler also has a splash of orange atop its head. This bird nests on the ground, and is native to an area that extends from central Mexico to southwestern Texas. Each year between April and September, however, the Colima warbler can be found in the Chisos Mountains, and nowhere else in the world.

10. The Stars

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Big Bend is far from city lights and sources of air pollution. As a result, the starfields visible from the park are stunning: The stars are vivid, sharp, and shaped like diamonds.

10 Cool Landmarks in Crater Lake National Park

The absolute sereneness of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon belies its explosive beginnings. Formed after the eruption of Mount Mazama over 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States at a depth of 1,943 feet. While searching for a gold mine, a young man named John Wesley Hillman and a small group of other miners discovered this glistening body of water in June of 1853.

Designated a national park in 1902, through the efforts of a man named William Gladstone Steel, this is truly a natural wonder. Rich with Native American history and legend, the park is a haven for both outdoor enthusiasts and scenic lovers from all around the world. While the park is open year-round, access to the area immediately surrounding the lake is limited to the summer months due to excessive yearly snowfall. Over half a million visitors still find their way here annually. Some of the highlights of the park include:

1. Crater Lake

Hector Cenador García / Getty Images

A five-mile-wide body of water situated inside a caldera. Water is supplied to the lake by the more than 500 inches of melting snow received annually in the area. Direct access to the lake is only available by hiking to Cleetwood Cove. The path leading to the cove is quite challenging. Visitors may only swim or fish in the lake; snorkeling and scuba diving are not permitted. A boat dock exists for those wishing to take a two-hour cruise of the lake.

2. Wizard Island

Thomas Winz / Getty Images

Approximately one-square-mile of cinder cone formation rises 763 feet above the surface of Crater Lake. Numerous lava flow channels are hidden by trees that have grown on the island. Visitors can only reach the island by the boat cruises arranged by park personnel.

3. Llao Rock

Moelyn Photos / Getty Images

A dacite-type volcanic rock formed by a massive flow of lava, is the highest faced rock surrounding the north rim of the lake. Native American legend called Llao the “Chief of the below world”.

4. Phantom Ship

Checubus / Shutterstock

This roughly 500-foot long island is made up of tall spire-like andesite formations that run down its center. Separated from the caldera rim by a narrow channel, the island provides a visual of a ship adrift in the water.

5. Boundary Springs

Maddy13 / Shutterstock

This is a series of springs forming the source of the Rogue River. Surrounded by lush forest, this tranquil area near the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park can be reached by following the marked Boundary Springs Trail.

6. Pinnacles

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Formed by holes in the volcanic rock through which gases vent, these lofty needle-shaped formations protrude from the floor of Sand Creek Canyon.

7. Devil’s Backbone

Robert Mutch / Shutterstock

A wall of volcanic rock stretching 1,000 feet from the rim of the caldera to the edge of Crater Lake. It is the only such formation in the park to do so.

8. Watchman Dike and Flow

Wollertz / Shutterstock

With Devil’s Backbone nearby, this is the formation of igneous rock along with a 400-foot or more thick flow of fine-grained andesite.

9. Vidae Falls

aimintang / Getty Images

This magnificent 100-foot long cascade of water over rock steps is situated just east of the national park’s headquarters. Visitors are greeted with an array of wildflower borders in spring and summer. Winter visitors may access the falls using cross-country skis or snowshoes.

10. Mount Scott

Bernie Friel / Getty Images

Providing unparalleled views, this is the highest point in the park. Major erosion of the lava rock makes for a nearly smooth surface. Abundant wildflowers grace the sloping path to the top.

10 Things to See in Iguazu National Park, Argentina

Iguazu National Park in Argentina is Brazil’s second oldest national park. It provides protection to one of South America’s largest forested areas. Filled with breathtaking beauty and fantastic views, there are ten amazing things to see in Iguazu National Park.

1. Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls is the beautiful center piece of Iguazu National Park. It is a set of amazing water falls ranging from 60 to 82 meters high on the Iguazu River. The image of these wondrous falls are unforgettable. They are what draws so many people into Iguazu National Park each year. It has been awarded the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation.
Iguazu Falls - Iguazu National Park

2. Parque Nacional do Iquacu

Parque Nacional do Iquacu is a great place to view the natural beauty of Iguazu Falls. Ride the double decker bus to a 1.2 kilometer walkway. There are two look out points near the falls allowing up close encounters. One is situated down lower, while the other is further up along the river.
Parque Nacional do Iquacu

3. Macuco Safari Boat Ride

The Macuco Safari Boat Ride starts in a jeep pulled wagon through the forest. It is followed by a short walk that actually lets you take a dip under one of the much smaller water falls along the river. The grand finale to this excursion is a boat ride up next to Three Musketeer Falls that is close enough to guarantee you’ll get wet.
Iguazu National Park

4. Rafting and River Trip

This is a 30 minute long trip in a raft after leaving the Macuco Safari boat. Rafting is the ideal way to explore the Iguazu River in an unforgettable adventure. Another option is a 3 ½ hour trip in a passenger boat to the Moises Bertoni Museum at the Paraguayan Border. This is a much tamer experience for those who still wish to spend time on the river, yet without as much excitement.
Rafting Iguazu National Park

5. Helicopter Rides Over the Falls

Helicopter rides over the falls give visitors a spectacular view that can’t be had by any other means. A pilot and three additional passengers fly over Iguazu Falls for a fantastic bird’s eye view. It is a ten minute ride, but 35 minute trips allow one to go over Itaipu Dam and Foz do Iguaco as well. Many people covet the front seat that allows you unobstructed views, yet the back seat can be ideal for those who love photography.
Iguazu Falls Aerial

6. Parque das Aves

The Parque das Aves is a wildlife conservation bird park. Toucans, hummingbirds, and macaws, along with hundreds of other species, are viewed inside the atriums. A butterfly house and nature paths are also onsite.

7. Camp de Desafios

Interpreted to mean The Field of Challenges, Camp de Desafios offers guests the opportunity for repelling, canopy walking, rafting, and climbing.
Canopy Tour Iguazu National Park

8. Parque Nacional Iguaza

Parque Nacional Iquaza are three walkways, including the longest one to Devil’s Throat over the river. Take a boat from the Lower Walkway to San Martin Island for excellent views of Argentinean Falls.
Iguazu National Park Walkways

9. Moonlight Tour

The Moonlight Tour is a romantic way to spend an evening while visiting Iguazu National Park. On nights with a full moon, a double decker bus takes guests to Porto Canoas for a delicious dinner, live music, and cocktails. A scenic walk and a ride on a panoramic elevator follows. This unique elevator allows guests to see the falls in a totally different way, as well as extremely up close.
Iguazu Falls at Night

10. Bela Vista Sanctuary

Bela Vista Sanctuary is a hydroelectric power plant. This plant is the world’s largest in power output. Along with many other nearby locations, they supply power to the Refugio Biologico Bela Vista. This place provides much needed protection to capybaras, jaguars, alligators, and anteaters, among many other animals.

The Best Things to See in Glacier National Park

The northwestern corner of North America holds some of the most indescribable natural wonders on the continent. The one million acre park is located in the state of Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Glacier National Park was established in 1910 to preserve the natural beauty of the wild lands for future generations. While the whole park offers dramatically breathtaking vistas, these ten locations stand out from the rest.

1. Cracker Lake

The clear blue waters of Cracker Lake are set off by the towering Mount Siyeh that rises up majestically in the background. The view is simply stunning. Rock flour silt, combined with the constant low temperatures of the lake, make it a crystal clear aqua blue.
Cracker Lake Glacier National Park

2. Chief Mountain

The unique appearance of this mountain is due to the lack of sloping as a result of the way it formed. The mountain rises 5,000 feet into the air giving the appearance of a rectangular formation from a distance. The sheer faces make this one of the most difficult mountaineering locations in the area.

3. Endangered Wildlife

Glacier National Park is filled with many different species of wildlife. Due to the lack of development, it is a haven for rare and endangered species. Visitors may catch a rare glimpse of the majestic bald eagles that soar near the mountains. The two endangered species that are rarely sighted are grizzly bears and Canadian lynx. This park holds the largest populations of these animals outside of Alaska.
Canadian Lynx - Glacier National Park

4. Grinnell Glacier

The six-mile hike that leads to Grinnell Glacier begins at Swiftcurrent Lake. The hike provides a beautiful view of the glacier carved land. The hiking path is well maintained and winds through wildflower meadows and past waterfalls. Wildlife sightings are very common for hikers on this trail. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep and grizzly bears occupy this part of the park.
Grinnell Glacier - Glacier National Park

5. Triple Divide Peak

This 8,000-foot peak is a unique landmark in Glacier National Park because of its status as a hydrological apex. This means that water shed from the peak of the mountain eventually drains into the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Hikes around this mountain are multiday affairs but well worth the amazing scenery.
Triple Divide Peak - Glacier National Park

6. Rogers Pass

Directly in the center of Glacier National Park, Rogers Pass was the first area of the park open to the public. Consequently, it contains some of the most developed areas. A scenic train ride allows visitors to see the pass from the comfort of a rail car. The more adventurous visitors will love the amazing ski trails in the pass.
Rogers Pass - Glacier National Park

7. Bird Woman Falls

Water flowing from a glacier remnant creates this nearly 600-foot waterfall that flows down Mount Oberlin. The large falls can be seen from nearly two miles away. Most visitors view the falls from a nearby highway, but some choose to climb Mount Oberlin. It is ranked as the second easiest peak to climb in the entire park.
Cascade Glacier National Park

8. Illecillewaet Glacier

The fast melting Illecillewaet Glacier is a good example of the type of glacier that carved the geography of Glacier National Park. The glacier is surrounded by breathtaking mountain views. Several trails allow short day long hikes from the nearby campgrounds.
Glacier National Park

9. Nakimu Caves

A spectacular reward awaits any adventurous caver who makes the four hour advanced hike to the Nakimu Caves. There are nearly four miles of underground caverns and tunnels to explore. The cave walls are covered with soft calcium deposits called moon milk, and there are many breathtaking examples of crystal clear tubular stalactites.

10. Two Medicine Lake

The deep blue waters of Two Medicine Lake perfectly captures the beauty of the far northwest. Stunning snow capped mountains provide a backdrop to the rippling lake. Visitors can rent kayaks, canoes or rowboats or take a guided boat tour and witness the natural beauties from the center of the lake.

10 Things to See in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a preservation area in north-central Colorado roughly 266,714 acres in size comprised of 60 percent forests, 13 percent alpine tundra and 18 percent bare rock. Approximately 11 percent of the park rises above 11,000 feet.

10. Roads/Trails

The park offers many roads and trails for exploration by foot, vehicle or horseback. Trail Ridge Road, a 48 mile-long stretch across the entire park, provides a stunning view at elevations as high as 12,183 feet. Bear Lake Road is another stretch offering spectacular views of mountains, glacial moraines and river valleys. Along Old Fall River Road, you can follow the same trails used by Native Americans and settlers across the Continental Divide.
Rocky Mountain National Park Trails

9. Peaks

The RMNP boasts more than 100 peaks above 11,000 feet. Along the north runs the snow-capped Never Summer Mountains and 17 distinct peaks. Longs Peak rises 14,259 feet and is a favorite destination for mountain climbers and hikers. It has a dramatic sheer cliff called “The Diamond” offering a breathtaking challenge to even the most experienced climbers.
Never Summer Mountains Rocky Mountain National Park

8. Glaciers 

Although in the process of retreating from a combination of natural temperature changes and global warming, several glaciers top the highest points. Enjoy the view of the Andrews, Mills, Moomaw, Sprague, Taylor Rowe and Tyndall glaciers at a distance or close-up from various spots around the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park Glaciers

7. Alpine Visitor Center

At 11,796 feet, the Alpine Visitor Center along the Trail Ridge Road is the highest rest stop in the park and the highest facility in the National Park Service. Make the center a part of your summer vacation plans though. It closes mid-October.
Rocky Mountain National Park

6. Water Sites

The RMNP has an abundance of clear streams, lakes, rivers and waterfalls perfect for sightseeing and photography, fishing, kayaking and rafting. Consider Bear Lake near the Bear Lake Road or, at a higher elevation, consider The Lock, Timberline Falls, Glass Lake and Sky Pond near Taylor Glacier.
Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

5. Estes Park

The hard work of Estes Park resident and American conservationist and naturalist Enos Mills, along with other local residents and groups, brought about the preservation of the region. The town’s wide selection of restaurants and lodging options, and the Estes Park Visitors Center, make it a nice starting point and fallback position for exploring the park.
Estes National Park Colorado

4. Other Park Visitor Centers

The RMNP has seven centers throughout the area providing information and rest stop assistance. The Beaver Meadows, Fall River and Kawuneeche centers are open year round. The Sheep Lakes Information Station and Moraine Park Museum and Visitor Center are only open during summer months. Likewise, the interior of the Holzwarth Historic Site Museum to the west is closed in winter as well.
Rocky Mountain National Park 4

3. Plants 

The park’s various environmental zones offer a wide range of flora and fauna. At lower elevations, the park features meadows filled with tall grasses and vibrant wildflowers, wetlands and dense forests, as well as part of Roosevelt National Forest. At higher elevations, sturdy subalpine fir trees give way to shorter alpine tundra plants, such as tiny wildflowers and shrubs.
Rocky Mountain National Park Plans and Trees

2. Animals

Fauna include mountain lions, coyotes, black bears, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, eagles, falcons, finches, ravens, sparrows and larks. At higher elevations, the park boasts pikas, yellow-bellied marmots, snowshoe rabbits, ermine, deer mice, red foxes and bobcats. The park is also the home of several endangered species including the yellow-billed cuckoo, greenback cutthroat trout and the Canada lynx. Complementing these animals are thousands of insects including 141 species of brightly colored butterflies.
Rocky Mountain National Park Animals

1. People

More than 3 million people from around the world visit the Rocky Mountain National Park each year. Make your trip to the RMNP a multi-cultural experience. Interact with other park guests to learn about different cultures and languages. Additionally, check out the park’s many museums to learn about the Native Americans, homesteaders, farmers and ranchers who once called the region their home.
Rocky Mountain National Park 1

10 Things to See and Do in Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most spectacular places to visit in the United States. You can spend many days exploring some of the most impressive natural beauty in the world. It’s best, however, if you have a plan before you visit so you don’t miss any of the best spots. Here are 10 things you shouldn’t miss on your trip.

1. Grand Canyon Visitor Center

Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center
Stephen B. Goodwin / Shutterstock.com

This is a good place to start out on your visit to Grand Canyon National Park, as it will give you an overview of what you can find. There are both outdoor and indoor exhibits, including a 3D relief map that has videos that feature many areas of the Grand Canyon.
You can watch the film, Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder that will introduce you to many of the park’s attractions. The Visitor Center is located on the South Rim by Mather Point.

2. Mule Trips

There’s no better way to see the Grand Canyon than riding on a mule. This can give you the feeling of being a pioneer from another era. There are both South Rim and North Rim mule trips. South Rim trips, which are year round, are more popular and you should book well in advance. North Rim mule trips are only available from mid-May to October and can be arranged on a daily basis.
Mule Trips - Grand Canyon National Park

3. River Trips

You can experience Grand Canyon National Park along the Diamond Creek or Colorado rivers. There are trips of different lengths, from one day to 25 days. Permits are necessary for river trips. You can find professionally guided trips or self-guided ones.

4. Kolb Studio

Kolb Studio is a studio located on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. It was the home of the Kolb brothers, who were famous photographers and filmmakers around 100 years ago. Today it is a gallery that showcases some of the photographs taken by these brothers. You will also find books, memorabilia and special events at the Kolb Studio throughout the year.
Kolb Studio Grand Canyon National Park

5. Grand Canyon Railway

Grand Canyon Railway
Vacclav / Shutterstock.com

This is a chance to ride aboard an old fashioned railway car and see some of the breathtaking scenery while hearing fascinating stories and facts about the area. These trips are taken in restored railway cars and cover 130 miles from Williams to the South Rim. This is something you shouldn’t miss if you are visiting Grand Canyon National Park.

6. Helicopter Tours

If you really want to experience the Grand Canyon in a spectacular manner, you should see it from the vantage point of a helicopter. You can find various helicopter tours that will allow you to glimpse the Grand Canyon in all its glory.
Grand Canyon National Park Helicopter Tour

7. Desert View Drive

This is a scenic road that is near the park’s east entrance. It has some great views, along with picnic areas. What’s nice about this road is that it’s less crowded than areas of the park near the south entrance. The best views can be found at the Desert View Watchtower.

8. Tusayan Ruins and Museum

This is the site of a Pueblo village from almost a thousand years ago. The ruins and museum are located along the Desert View. There are exhibits showing artifacts used by the tribes who lived in this area, as well as a bookstore. Admission to the museum is free, and you can take self-guided tours around the ruins.
Tusayan Ruins Grand Canyon National Park

9. Camper Village

This is the place to go if you want to camp out in Grand Canyon National Park. You can camp out here with a tent, RV or motor home. This South Rim campground is open throughout the year, and gives you a chance to spend some quality time in the park. Camper Village has many amenities, such as restrooms, showers and coin operated laundry.
Grand Canyon National Park Camping

10.Yavapai Museum of Geology

This museum will fascinate anyone who is interested in geology. The Grand Canyon region has some of the most interested geological formations in the world, and the Yavapai Museum gives you some insights into this topic. Aside from its many educational exhibits and bookstore, the museum is located in a very scenic spot that gives you some incredible views of the canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park

10 Things to See in Yosemite National Park

Located in California, USA, Yosemite National Park is one of the nation’s most beautiful and most visited natural spaces. With so much to see and do, your first trip to the park can seem overwhelming. To get the most out of your trip, a little planning will go a long way. Whatever your itinerary, make sure to squeeze these 10 must-see sights into your calendar – and don’t forget your camera!

1. Valley View

CHBD / Getty Images

It can be difficult to truly grasp the raw natural power which forms the backbone of Yosemite. From the viewpoint at Valley View, visitors can take in Yosemite Valley in its entirety. Clearly visible are the original lines formed by the glacier which carved out the valley. For best viewing, visit in the early morning before crowds start to form.

2. Yosemite Falls

Chris Hepburn / Getty Images

Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall anywhere in North America. At a dizzying height of 2,425 feet, the waterfall offers stunning views both from Yosemite Valley below and from the waterfall’s head above. The best time to view the waterfall is in early spring when the snowmelt causes the falls to swell, and the wildflowers below are in bloom.

3. Tuolumne Meadows

Anna Gorin / Getty Images

The Tuolumne Meadows offers a welcome antithesis to the park’s many soaring heights. Located in the eastern end of the park along the ambling Tuolumne river, the meadow offers breathtaking expanses studded with wildflowers and natural grasses, and stunning views of the Cathedral range in the distance. Visit the meadows in the early morning for a truly unforgettable sunrise.

4. The Half Dome

James O’Neil / Getty Images

Made entirely of Granite, Yosemite’s Half Dome is located at the opposite end of Yosemite Valley from Yosemite Falls. Rising an impressive 4,737 above the valley floor below, the dome is best viewed in the early morning sunlight. For the truly adventurous, a hike to the dome’s top offers unparalleled views; however, hikers must use cables to reach the summit.

5. Cathedral Peak

JTBaskinphoto / Getty Images

A child range of the Sierra Nevadas, the Cathedral Range offers some of Yosemite’s most soaring peaks. Although the entire range is well worth a look, the undisputed crowning glory is Cathedral Peak, a towering pinnacle located in Mariposa County, California. The mountain’s namesake spire was created by glacial activity. Although the climb is out of reach for amateur hikers, the view from the base is well worth the trip.

6. Lembert Dome

Tom Grubbe / Getty Images

If you don’t have the climbing credentials to mount the summit of the Half Dome, Lembert Dome is a more manageable option that offers similar stunning views with a less strenuous climb. The peak, at 800 feet above the valley, offers excellent views of the Tuolumne meadows below.

7. Tunnel View

M.Omair / Getty Images

Not all of Yosemite’s most stunning views require a hike. In fact, Tunnel View provides an incredible vista from the comfort of your car. Located along Route 41, Tunnel View offers a breathtaking snapshot of Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, and the Half Dome. Picnic tables and seating are available, making Tunnel View an excellent location for a mid-trip lunch.

8. Vernal Falls

Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Although Vernal Falls is far from the highest waterfall at Yosemite, its comparatively short stature is more than made up for by sheer volume. During the rainy season, Vernal drops more water per hour than almost any other waterfall in the park. The falls are accessible via a 4 hour, moderate skill-level hike, which is most pleasant in the early summer before temperatures rise.

9. Glacier Point

naphakm / Getty Images

For sheer, raw sweeping power, look no further than Glacier Point. This vantage point is among the highest anywhere in the park, at a staggering 7,214 feet. From Glacier Point, you’ll be able to spot Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls, the Half Dome, and many other landmarks.

10. Giant Sequoias at Mariposa

Artur Debat / Getty Images

Yosemite offers trees that seem to match the scale and grandeur of the surrounding landscape. At Mariposa, you’ll find the largest and oldest trees in the park. The oldest sequoias are over 3,000 years old and rise to a height of over 200 feet.

Things to See in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872, is one of America’s oldest and most beautiful national parks open to the public. The park uniquely spans three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone features a depth of biodiversity that makes preservation of this global treasure a high priority. Visitors to Yellowstone National Park often see large mammalian wildlife like grizzly bears and elk roaming among lively streams, spectacular waterfalls, and mysterious petrified forests. Here are the top 10 places to visit in and around Yellowstone National Park.

1. Old Faithful Geyser

Trina Dopp Photography / Getty Images

Yellowstone National Park has over 500 geysers, and the most famous one in the park is Old Faithful located in Wyoming. Old Faithful got its name because of its consistent eruptions that happen daily with nearly 90 percent accuracy. When the underground hot spring that feeds Old Faithful experiences the height of heated pressure, the geyser erupts spewing out water and steam at over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Mammoth Hot Springs

Kevin McNeal / Getty Images

Mammoth Hot Springs in Wyoming, which features a large complex of hot springs streaming over beautiful, rugged travertine terrace steps, has probably been the inspiration of many spa-style bathrooms. However, visitors may only tour and view the amazing hot springs from a distance because the boiling hot spring water does not lend itself to a hot tub soak.

3. Lamar Valley

Jouko van der Kruijssen / Getty Images

Lamar Valley, located in northwestern Wyoming, is a picturesque expanse of land tucked away among the Absaroka mountains. Situated along the Lamar River, this valley is a favorite with visitors who enjoy wildlife watching. The sweeping views of the mountains coupled with the sparkling nature of the river make this spot perfect for day hiking and overnight camping.

4. Yellowstone Lake

Roman Lukiw Photography / Getty Images

This lake sits at over 7,000 feet above sea level and is the largest body of water at Yellowstone National Park. The freshwater lake is what some might call an angler’s paradise as various trout varieties, like lake and cutthroat trout, are plentiful there.

5. Norris Geyser Basin

Jacek Kadaj / Getty Images

Thrill-seekers visit the dynamic Norris Geyser Basin because not only does it have some very active geysers, but it also sits on a part of a large active volcano that just so happens to lie at an intersection of earthquake fault lines. Because of the abundant seismic activity that triggers geothermal changes, there are nearly always new geysers to see at Norris Geyser Basin.

6. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Colleen Gara / Getty Images

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was purportedly formed over many years through the area’s volcanic and glacial actions, presents visitors with stunning views of Yellowstone National Park complete with steep canyon cliffs and dramatic waterfalls. Water cascading from the Lower Falls descends over 300 feet, and park visitors get a close up look from Inspiration Point.

7. Hayden Valley

Moelyn Photos / Getty Images

Hayden Valley is a fertile, postcard-pretty area that sits astride the Yellowstone river. The area’s unique geothermal features and the river attract a variety of protected wildlife. Hikers reach the area via two different trails, and they are likely to encounter herds of elk and bison as well as interesting waterfowl.

8. West Thumb Geyser Basin

Siraphob Tatiyarat / Getty Images

West Thumb Geyser Basin looks out over Yellowstone Lake, and its underground hot springs are known to feed the lake. This geyser basin is one to visit for summer lake activities, spectacular sightseeing, and exploring the underwater wonders of Yellowstone Lake. Some of the geothermal pools at West Thumb Geyser Basin possess wonderful colors because of the presence of micro-organisms, but those hot springs with heated flows near boiling point normally produce waters that are crystalline blue.

9. Tower Fall

fukez84 / Shutterstock

The Tower Fall in Wyoming is one of Yellowstone Park’s most scenic waterfalls. The height of the waterfall is over 130 feet, and a perpetual rainbow is seen when the sun’s rays reflect off of the icy water spray at the fall’s descent.

10. Lower Geyser Basin

RonGreer.Com / Shutterstock

The Lower Geyser Basin contains an area housing Yellowstone’s largest group of mud pots. The rest of its geothermal features are hot spring pools and geysers of all shapes and configurations. Most of the geysers erupt regularly while others are unpredictable. The Great Fountain Geyser displays an hour-long eruption conducted in phases.

10 Coolest National Parks in the World

Are you looking for a different kind of vacation? Why not check out the national parks of different countries? National parks are protected lands managed by the governments. They are the stage on which Mother Nature is the star. Some parks have archaeological areas as the scenic backdrop while others have volcanoes, snow-capped peaks, and water as the main attraction. Try these for a different kind of vacation.

1. Kruger National Park

Diriye Amey / Shutterstock

In 1926, South Africa established Kruger National Park, the largest game preserve in Africa. It covers almost 8,000 square miles. The park includes some exotic flora but the animals are the stars of the show. Elephant, zebra, rhinoceros, cheetah, giraffe, leopards, hippos, and buffalo can be seen through webcams set up in the park.

2. Kakadu National Park

Janelle Lugge / Shutterstock

Covering almost 8,000 square miles, Kakadu National Park is located in the northern territory of Australia. The stone country, outliers, lowlands, southern hills and basins, floodplains, and the tidal are what Australians call landforms. In each is flora and fauna that thrive best in its surroundings. Don’t miss Jim Jim Falls, the largest waterfall in the park.

3. Tikal National Park

In May of 1955, Guatemala established Tikal National Park, which stretches over 200 square miles. It was the first protected property in Guatemala. Tikal was once the capital of the most powerful of ancient Maya kingdoms. On this vacation, the ancient ruins and archaeological finds will be the stars of the show. Some find date back to 400 BCE.

4. Lake District National Park

Steve Meese / Shutterstock

England christened the Lake District as a national park in 1951 to keep commerce from destroying its pristine landscape. It has nearly 900 square miles of lakes and mountains to enjoy and photograph. Their mountains are called fells and their lakes are called meres, waters or tarns. It is home to the wild fell pony as well as many squirrels, fish, and birds.

5. Machu Picchu

Oleksandra Korobova / Getty Images

The Incans built Machu Picchu in the mid-1400s for their emperor in Peru. When the Spanish conquest happened, they missed this area. Its ruins are a major archaeological find and form the basis of many vacations to the area.

6. Galapagos Islands

Anna Azimi / Shutterstock

The Galapagos Islands form an archipelago on either side of the equator around 500 miles off Ecuador. The islands are an Ecuadorian province. Known for their turtles, which Charles Darwin documented when he sailed on the Beagle, their other marine life is huge. You should see the size of the iguanas and the crabs.

7. Fiordland National Park

Waterfalls are beautiful, but if you want Mother Nature at its best, check out the glacier-formed fjord. Milford Sound will be found in the national park located at the southwestern tip of New Zealand’s south island. Glaciers were at work here, carving out valleys between mountains and leaving off-shore islands to be discovered.

8. Banff

Damian James / Shutterstock

If you don’t want to travel across the pond to see a national park, there is one closer. Banff is located in the Canadian Rockies. Skiing is the keyword here, but there are mountains to hike and bike as well as fine dining.

9. Canaima National Park

Vadim Petrakov / Shutterstock

Venezuela has waterfalls, too, the tallest in the world, Angel Falls, clocking in at one half mile high. Hike the massive rock plateau that covers much of the park and enjoy the stunning flora and fauna.

10. Yellowstone National Park

Moelyn Photos / Getty Images

Americans don’t have to leave their backyard to see a beautiful national park. Yellowstone is spread over parts of three states and includes Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Mother Nature can take your breath away. Some forms of beauty are simply more than words can convey. After trying the rides in amusement parks and seeing museums and the nation’s capital, try a natural vacation. Experience the majesty and thrill of nature. And don’t forget your camera.