National Parks Adventures to Go On Before You Die
Many visitors to America's national parks do the same things: they go geyser-watching in Yellowstone, peer over the rim of a Grand Canyon overlook, cruise the waters of Glacier Bay, stroll through the arches at Arches, or hike Half Dome at Yosemite. And of course all of those activities should be on every traveler's bucket list. But there are also more rarefied experiences to be had, ones that allow a visitor to dive deeper into the unique character and beauty of the parks.
Check out these must-see national parks.
This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
Look up from inside the Grand Canyon
The most dramatic views of the Big Ditch, as locals call it, are not from the overlooks. They’re from the canyon floor, a mile down, where you can fully appreciate just how big it is while taking in its seemingly endless side canyons and interior mesas. Hike or ride a mule along the South Kaibab Trail to the bottom, where you can camp by the Colorado River or stay at Phantom Ranch, a group of 1920s cabins in a stand of cottonwoods. grandcanyonlodges.com; doubles from $142. —Ryan Krogh
Visit Denali on a clear day
In summer, clouds cloak North America’s highest peak about 85 percent of the time. When skies are blue, the mountain is a wonder to behold, a colossus of rock and ice that rises more than three miles above alpine meadows. To increase your odds of glimpsing it, book your travel in early September, when visibility is typically at its best, and plan to stay for at least a few days. Book lodging and guided park tours through Alaska Wildland Adventures at alaskawildland.com. —Sarah L. Stewart
See nature at work at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kilauea Volcano, which has been continuously erupting for more than 30 years, is one of the few places in the world where you can watch magma bubble up from the earth’s crust. View the smoldering caldera from the 11-mile drive around its crater rim; on a wilderness hike; or from the large picture windows of Volcano House, one of Hawaii’s most iconic hotels. hawaiivolcanohouse.com; doubles from $285. —Ryan Krogh
Head as far west as you can get in Olympic National Park
You have to drive through the Makah Indian Reservation to reach Cape Alava in Olympic National Park, the westernmost point of the continental United States. There, the Ozette Loop trail winds through ancient forests and along the coastline, with views of the ocean as far as the eye can see. On a rocky outcrop along Sand Point, jutting out into the bay, visitors can watch gray whales migrate along the coast. For hiking trails and tips, visit wta.org.For more must-see national parks, head to T+L