NATIONAL PARKS, THE REAL TREASURE OF THE UNITED STATES
The United States is full of 59 national parks, each more spectacular than the last, spread over 27 states. The superlatives are linked to describe the hidden treasures of these parks and nature reserves. The good news ? You can discover many of them during your trip to the USA with a simple ESTA, whether you plan to go to the east coast of the United States, to Florida, to the western United States or even to Hawaii. or Alaska. It is in these great natural spaces that the American dream is to be found and your travel authorization is your pass.
NATIONAL PARKS, THE ESSENTIALS
California has the most national parks: 9 in total, including Yosemite National Park. Nature and trekking lovers can only admire this exceptionally beautiful park in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. Imposing granite cliffs like El Capitan or the Half Dome, majestic waterfalls including the Yosemite Falls which are among the highest in the world (739 meters), the giant sequoia trees of the Mariposa Grove, etc.
If you are fascinated by giant sequoia trees, you have to go to Sequoia National Park: 85-meter redwood trees await you … as well as some black bears! Do not miss the General Sherman Tree, the starting point of a magnificent hiking trail: the Congress Trail. Note that Redwood National Park is not to be outdone since the redwoods of yew leaves are among the largest trees on the planet: Hyperion measures 115.5 meters.
In a completely different style, since it is made up of two deserts (Colorado desert and Mojave desert), Joshua Tree National Park is a place of spiritual and artistic discovery. Nor should we forget the Death Valley, as the desert area and the warmest place in the United States.
No less than 8 national parks for Alaska which is, of course, not a surprise; Alaska representing nature in its raw state.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Reserve lives up to its name since it is located beyond the Arctic Circle, making it the most northerly natural park in the United States. It is also the second largest park with an area of 3,428,701 hectares, 6 rivers, a mountain range and above all an exceptional fauna: brown bears, black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears, wolves, lynx, coyotes, foxes, caribou, etc.
If you have the desire for fjords, go to Glacier Bay National Park, 20% of which represents a marine reserve sheltering protected species such as the humpback whale. The marine fauna is very rich there: sea lions, whales, orcas, sea lions, etc.
The Mighty 5 are the pride of Utah: Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capital Reef and Zion.
As its name suggests, Arches National Park is full of completely surreal natural arches and balancing red rocks that will make you wonder about the laws of gravity. At sunset, its colors offer a fantastic spectacle.
Bryce Canyon, voted the most beautiful national park in the United States by the National Park Service, offers a unique landscape with its hundreds of fairy chimneys, also called hoodoos, and its multicolored rocks.
Not far from Bryce Canyon is the Zion National Park combining sandstone cliffs, canyons and rock formations in red and orange colors. It is an unmissable destination for hikers and trail runners.
DO NOT MISS
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: its vastness will leave you speechless. And if you want to combine it with another classic from the USA, know that the famous route 66 goes through the south of the park.
Another park that we no longer present: the Yellowstone National Park covering three states (Wyoming, Idaho and Montana). It is the first national park in the world and one of the most visited. The Yellowstone caldera, or “Yellowstone supervolcano”, is known in the world for its geothermal phenomena with two thirds of the geysers on the planet and numerous hot springs. It is also one of the most preserved ecosystems. Its fauna and flora are of course very rich.
It is impossible to mention a volcano without honoring Hawaii and its Volcanoes National Park. It is a unique experience that awaits the traveler day and night with the glow of lava, petroglyphs, flows in the ocean, etc.
Special mentions also for the Everglades, the Big Bend and the Mesa Verde.
PROTECTED PARKS, PRACTICAL INFORMATION
To make the most of American national parks, a little preparation is required. Check the best times to visit the protected parks, but also the opening hours and possible annual or exceptional closings.
Remember to book in advance if you plan to camp or sleep in a lodge. Protected parks are very popular and, depending on the season, you may run into availability problems.
If you plan to visit several American national parks, opt for the annual “America the Beautiful” pass. All protected parks have an entrance fee which must be paid as much as saving: $ 80 per vehicle (the parks are difficult to access by public transport), valid in all states for a period of one year . You can buy it online or at the first park you visit. Note that this pass is reserved for national parks. It will not give you access to the State Parks or to the parks managed by the natives and in particular the Navajos.
Always go through the Visitor Center to get a map but also the latest information on the condition of the trails, the weather, the activities offered by the rangers, etc.
We remind you that all these wonders are at hand with the ESTA travel authorization and the right passport . Apply for ESTA by filling out the online form available on the official website of the United States government or call on our partner.