U.S. National Parks
From Lauren Himiak, former About.com Guide
The U.S. national parks were originally intended to protect very specific things: the geysers of Yellowstone, the sequoias of Yosemite. As time went on, however, we realized that everything is interconnected and that to preserve one aspect of an ecosystem, we must preserve it all. The goal of the parks system shifted to from preserving specific pieces of our natural world to preserving the entire ecology around it.
This point of view is evident in today's collection of national parks. Each park listed below - divided into geographic section - represents an ecosystem or a cultural heritage that is unique to America.
Most of this region’s national parks are only accessible by boat, but the subarctic landscape and wild animals make up for any inconvenience. Find info on all eight Alaskan national parks, including overviews, travel itineraries, photographs, and more.
- Kenai Fjords National Park
- Kobuk Valley National Park
- Lake Clark National Park
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
The Colorado Plateau
Known as the "Grand Circle" of national parks, the colorado plateau region of the U.S. is one of the world's great concentrations of outstanding natural and cultural features. These parks will fill you with wonder and - if you don't already love the national parks - one visit to any of these will be enough to have you traveling to parks your whole life.
- Arches National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
The national parks in the eastern United States are generally smaller and more obscure than their western kin, but there are stand-outs. Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts more people per year than any other park in the system. Whether you're an eastern native looking for adventure close to home or just visiting the region, each of park has something beautiful to offer.
- Acadia National Park
- Biscayne National Park
- Congaree National Park
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- Everglades National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Hot Springs National Park
- Isle Royale National Park
- Mammoth Cave National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Virgin Islands National Park
- Voyageurs National Park
The Pacific Northwest
From the tallest trees on Earth to active volcanoes, this region is truly stunning. Explore this region’s national parks and find info like overviews, top picks, maps, photographs, and more.
The Pacific Southwest
The Pacific Southwest is comprised of two distinct regions: the California mainland and the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Ranging from the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevadas to the hottest and driest place in North America, each park is completely different. Learn about endemic species, active volcanoes, and more.
- National Park of American Samoa
- Channel Islands National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Haleakala National Park
The Rocky Mountains
When most people picture a national park, they imagine the glaciers, wildflowers, lakes, and blue skies of the Rocky Mountains. But there's more to this area than just mountains. From historical lands to sand dunes, this region offers amazing parks to all who visit. Learn about each one and plan your trip now.
- Badlands National Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Wind Cave National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
The Chihuahuan Desert encompasses all the National Parks in the Southwest, which should give you an idea of what they are like (hint: dry). Ironically, water formed the valleys, caverns, and rugged mountains millions of years leaving behind beautiful and unique natural structures to admire.