If you visited all 59 of America’s national parks, you would have a pretty thorough understanding of our planet’s geology and ecology. From the frigid peaks of Gates of the Arctic’s Brooks Range, to the subtropical wetlands of Florida’s Everglades. From the below-sea-level simmer of California’s Death Valley, to the mist lifting off the ridges of Shenandoah in Virginia. From glaciers to mangroves to waterfalls to canyons to towering forests. You get the picture. If you don’t, these 10 awe-inspiring views should do the trick.
Grand Teton National Park
Named for the largest of its three signature peaks, Grand Teton National Park also contains lakes, forest and a section of the Snake River. It sits just south of Yellowstone in western Wyoming and,together, they represent one of the largest protected ecosystems in the world.
Yosemite National Park
The central draw of Yosemite is the 7-square-mile valley of the same name, with its glacially carved peaks, sequoia groves, and spectacular waterfalls. To beat the crowds, get out and explore some of the other areas in this massive park in the Eastern Sierras.
Yellowstone National Park
The world's first national park is also one of its most unique and well visited. The 3,400 square miles of Yellowstone hold geysers, mountain lakes, forests, river canyons, waterfalls, and many threatened species. Above is an aerial shot of the Grand Prismatic Spring, the third-largest hot spring in the world.
Shenandoah National Park
Encompassing a long strip of both the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjacent Shenandoah River Valley, this Virginia national park gets super popular during the fall, when leaf peepers arrive to complete the 105-mile Skyline Drive.
Grand Canyon National Park
For the past several million years, the Colorado River has been slowly but steadily grinding its way through the rock of the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. Reaching a width of 18 miles and a depth of 6,000 feet, the Grand Canyon is on a scale of few other places on Earth.
Glacier Bay National Park & Reserve
There are no roads leading to this park in southeastern Alaska, so your choices for getting there are: by raft via the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers (from Canada), by plane (usually out of Juneau), or, most commonly, by cruise ship.
Everglades National Park
Preserving one of the most significant wetland ecosystems anywhere in the world, southern Florida's Everglades protect rare species such as the Florida panther and American crocodile. The water in the park is actually an enormous river that runs from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay at a speed of about a quarter mile per day.
Death Valley National Park
Low and hot—Death Valley is home to both the lowest elevations and hottest temperatures in the US. But the landscape in this part of California is actually incredibly diverse, ranging from saltpans like the Devil's Racetrack, to snow-capped mountains reaching 11,000 feet.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Like Sequoia National Park next door, Kings Canyon is home to some seriously massive trees, including the ginormous General Grant tree. It's also home to the last remaining grove of sequoias in the world.
This article was published through a partnership with Visit the USA, inspiring travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.