by Mac Candee

Posted: Monday, November 2, 2020

2020 has been a huge year. It has changed so much and left us all contemplating our new normal. In many areas however, it has brought us back to the simpler pleasures that make everyday life more enjoyable, and given us a newfound appreciation for them. It’s been the same with travel. This year helped us fall in love with the beauty of the place we call home. It’s challenged us to find new ways to travel and explore the world safely. For me, that meant hopping on to an RV and visiting as many National Parks as I could. This was definitely not what I expected from this year, but it made me rediscover just how much wonder there is hiding just an arms reach away. That’s why in this blog post I want to tell you all about my favorite National Parks.

1. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is a magical place with stunningly unique cliffs and mountains. Once you arrive there it’s instantly clear why it’s so popular. There are so many amazing waterfalls, as well as a myriad of hiking trails for both beginners and more advanced. Your skill level when it comes to hiking is not a big factor, because no matter if you choose the easier or more challenging trails, you will be able to see some incredible views and have a lovely time. It’s generally a great place to visit, no matter if you’re with family or with friends. You need to reserve a spot there, sometimes much further in advance if you want to stay there for a couple of days. You can reserve a pass for the park at recreation.gov. Since it’s such a popular spot, it’s very important that you plan your stay in advance, especially if you want to camp on the campsite.

2. Zion National Park, Utah

This is more of a mountainous destination. I find it to have some similarities to the Grand Canyon, because some of the hills have that bright orange coloring to them. Again, similar to Yosemite, there are many options for hikes, as well as lovely places to watch the sunset. I think there’s something special in Zion National Park just because it has an orange hue permeating everywhere, so it adds another layer of beauty all around. Zion also has my second favorite hike of all time, which is the Narrows hike. It’s a very special one because of how unique it is. You have to wear waterproof shoes (you can also rent them) and you wake up super early in the morning. It’s a hike that follows a relatively shallow river between the two cliffs, and they just tower over you. Doing this hike was really an incredible experience that I will treasure forever. If you’re looking to enjoy the beauty of nature, this is definitely the place to go.

3. Glacier National Park, Montana

This is a very beautiful national park, which is quite close to Canada. It’s also very huge. The park offers many options for activities as well. In my case, I did everything from rafting to hiking - from the easier trails up to the more challenging ones. There are also areas you can explore by car. If you’re not a big fan of hiking, then you can view some of this park’s beauty through a quick drive. I absolutely recommend taking the time to spend the morning on lake McDonald. This is a pretty famous sight, because from the reflection of the light the pebbles give off a beautiful rainbow reflection into the crystal clear water. When I was there, my group and I decided to go there with a kayak right at sunrise, and we got to see the sun coming through the mountains. This was a magical experience for me, and I definitely recommend it. It was probably one of my favorite things I did on the 21-day road trip. Even if you’re not a morning person at all, this is truly a fascinating view like no other that you have to see.

4. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

This park is perfect for any adventurers with a love for exploring. This national park is where I saw the most amount of wildlife. We’re so used to seeing huge animals in pictures, but it’s such a different experience to see one in the wild. I got to see bears, moose and many others. Not that many of the other national parks we visited offered such a great opportunity to see the fauna first-hand.

Another reason why I loved this place so much, is because of the vast difference in landscapes it offers. We spent time exploring the base level glaciers where there is a lot of beautiful lakes, as well as many hikes. One of the more challenging ones there - Death Canyon, was truly a showstopping experience. It’s a 7.9-mile hike, which took us around six hours. We also decided to stay overnight once we reached the end point. It was amazing to be able to camp overnight in snow right in the middle of summer. The trail is also very remote, so you feel like you have the whole thing to yourself.

5. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

This is a place famous all over the world, not to mention one of the most well known national parks in the USA. It is a fact however, that 99% of people who visit the Grand Canyon never hike down to see it up close. So, we decided to do just that. And surprise - it turned out to be the best part. If you decide to get the full experience, you will really get a feeling of how massive the whole area is. If you decide to just enjoy the views it will still be stunning, however by hiking down you really get a whole new unique perspective on this famous park. There are a few different options you can choose from when deciding how to approach exploring, but the one I would recommend is a medium intensity trail which takes 4-5 hours. This will give you the opportunity to see a lot more than the average visitor. It’s truly a surreal experience to be surrounded by the stunning cliffs that the Colorado River carved into the landscape 5-6 million years ago.

Closing Thoughts

This is five of the national parks we visited on our road trip. It was truly an amazing experience. All national parks offer a lot and are worth visiting, but these are the ones I personally liked best. It is important to note however, that I would always recommend checking out as many as you can because you can discover your own favorites, make memories and fall in love with the beauty of nature.

The big issue I see come up many times when deciding to explore national parks is planning. It’s so difficult to decide where to go and what to see, that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Don’t let that dissuade you, because there is an easy way to handle all of that. The “21 day road trip” is my personal itinerary that I used to explore the natural beauty of America. It includes a big part of the Western side of the United States, keeping you busy with adventure non-stop for the whole duration of your trip.

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