American Adventure: See the USA’s true natural beauty by visiting these 10 National Parks

mesa verde national park

By Richard Jones

There is no other country on the planet where you can find such a varied level of natural beauty and outdoor adventure potential than in the United States.

You can visit almost every type of landscape imaginable across the epic country, particularly in its 63 National Parks.

Whether you are after sun-soaked beaches, lunar-like deserts, immense glaciers, towering forests, alpine valleys or sweeping mountain vistas, here are 10 lesser-known National Parks that you should consider on your next American adventure.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Fly to: Nashville, Tennessee

Famous for its complex labyrinths and giant chambers, the unique Mammoth Cave National Park protects the longest-known cave system on Earth. Visitors can explore the 600km-long caves on their own or by taking one of the informative tours with the park rangers. For those who’d rather keep their head above the surface, there are delightful hiking trails along the two rivers and some fantastic rafting.

american samoa national park

National Park of American Samoa

Fly to: Pago Pago via Honolulu, Hawai’i

Although the journey to the National Park in the South Pacific Ocean is a long one, it’s well worth it. With its sandy beaches, stunning rainforests, archaeological sites and hiking trails through Lata Mountain, the park boasts some of the most untouched landscapes in the world. There are also perfect snorkelling conditions, with a pristine coral area home to more than 800 species of fish.

Mesa Verde, Colorado

Fly to: Albuquerque, New Mexico

West of the Rocky Mountains, nestled on the densely forested Colorado Plateau, lies the USA’s most culturally significant National Park. Mesa Verde (top image) provides a glimpse into the culture of the early Pueblo Indians, who lived in Colorado for more than 700 years. Over 4,000 archaeological sites are scattered across the park, while hiking trails lead to fantastic panoramic views of the desert.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Fly to: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Known as the ‘Crown of the Continent’, the off-the-beaten-track National Park captivates visitors with its carved valleys, mountain ranges and shimmering lakes. While a backpacking trip here is an adventure of a lifetime, you can also journey by car across the Going-to-the-Sun Road. One must-visit spot is the Grinnell Glacier from where you get a bird’s eye view of the extraordinary emerald-hue of Grinnell Lake.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Fly to: Portland, Oregon

Take in the stunning sights of the 600m-high cliffs and picturesque islands, surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the ninth deepest lake in the world. In the summer, travellers can enjoy hiking trails or spend the day boating or fishing on the brilliant blue water. In the winter, blankets of snow cover the mountains and transform the park into a magical wonderland, perfect for skiing.

Shenandoa National Park

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Fly to: Washington Dulles

Just 120km outside of Washington DC, the pride of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect escape from the buzz of the city. Visitors can hike part of the famed Appalachian Trail, or trek to Mary’s Rock for 360-degree views of the mountains. Shenandoah is beautiful all year round – in spring you can witness the kaleidoscope of blooming flowers, and in autumn, red and gold leaves dot the landscape.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Fly to: Hancock County-Bar Harbor, Maine

When it comes to National Parks in the northeastern corner of the US, Acadia sits atop the throne. Situated on Mount Desert Island, the park offers the perfect combination of ocean and forest landscapes including incredible rocky beaches, lush forests and towering mountains. While trekking through the marshland, keep an eye out for moose – they can be quite aggressive during the mating season.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Fly to: Salt Lake City, Utah

The jagged peaks of the Grand Teton Mountains dominate the landscape at this park, while the lush evergreen forests, crystal-clear alpine lakes and expansive mountain meadows make it the perfect adventure playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Grand Teton is also home to diverse wildlife and travellers should be on the lookout for impressive bison, elk, moose and bears.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Fly to: Bismarck, North Dakota

Multicoloured rock formations, dramatic canyons and the colourful Badlands of North Dakota provide the stunning backdrop for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Travellers can step back in time with a visit to the Maltese Cross Cabin, and visit the former President’s temporary home dating back to the 1880s as well as marvel at the park’s remarkable rolling Badlands, on the South Unit’s 48-mile scenic drive.

Isle Royale, Michigan

Fly to: Minneapolis−Saint Paul, Minnesota or Wisconsin

Accessible only by boat or floatplane, Isle Royale National Park spans several islands across Lake Superior. Travellers are likely to encounter roaming wild animals along hiking trails in the marshes or lakes, but should also keep an eye out for chlorastrolite (striking green semi-precious stones). The 69km Greenstone Ridge Trail takes an average of 16 hours to complete.

For more information on American’s National Parks and holidays in the US, go to

If you’re planning on heading to the States, or anywhere else, for an outdoor adventure, a good backpack or rucksack is essential.

national park gomatic

GOMATIC ( make some of the best around, and their slim 20L Backpack, available in black, navy or olive, expands to 24L meaning it is perfect for everyday use as well as on those shorter trips.

It comes with a glasses case, magnetic water bottle pockets, RFID safe storage, and hidden pockets, while its patent pending strap system and laptop sleeve make it easy for you to switch from backpack to briefcase when you need to look more professional.

All images: Visit The USA


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