The National Parks of Western America
As well as America’s many cities and manmade monuments several of the most enviable locations can be found within the boundaries of almost 60 protected areas of natural beauty. The national parks of the USA are without a doubt some of the world’s most intrinsically stunning landmarks and from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone, if you get the chance to visit or stay over then you won’t be disappointed.
One of the areas that’s most blessed with national parks is the west and states, such as: Utah, Arizona, California and Washington, all present a unique and thoroughly absorbing reflection of America’s commitment to preserving the natural world.
Below are just five of my favourite national parks that you’ll find towards the Pacific coast and if you’re looking for ginormous trees, towering sandstone sculptures and the greatest canyon on earth, then you know where to head.
Considered to be the world’s first ever national park, Yellowstone presents an exceptional glimpse at both the landscapes and the original inhabitants of the northwest. With a spectacular collection of geothermal sites, including the Old Faithful Geyser, it’s become a haven for flora and fauna with several different ecosystems calling the park’s boundaries home. Horseback riding, camping and fishing (with a licence) are all great activities in Yellowstone although, catching a glimpse of wildlife, including: lynx, goats, grizzlies and moose is often one of the most memorable highlights.
Arizona’s undisputed tourist hot spot, the Grand Canyon, is simply stunning and there’s a massive industry based around viewing the landmark that includes helicopter flights, canyon tours and the recently developed Skywalk that’s owned by the Native American Hualapai tribe. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the natural geology of the area as well as the original culture of the inhabitants however, as you’ll be pretty much surrounded by some of the most breath taking views on the planet, photography is usually an intrinsic part of every visit.
Thundering waterfalls, sheer granite cliffs and the iconic giant sequoias make a trip to Yosemite national park a must for anyone interested in getting away from it all. Although almost 4 million people visit each year there’s still plenty of wide open spaces for everyone to enjoy and the chance to stay overnight and enjoy the sounds of the forest is a truly exciting experience. Most people that make the journey are into their hiking and there’s a whole spider’s web of trails and well-trodden footpaths to lead you through alpine woodlands, flower-strewn meadows and those all-important gigantic sequoias.
Utah’s finest is home to a wealth of truly unique sandstone formations that have been carved over time by the elements to form a fascinating landscape of plateaus, towers and arch ways. The view from the top of Angel’s Landing as the sun goes down is well worth a visit in itself however, other features, including: Emerald Pools, Virgin River and the Three Patriarchs, all hold particular significance to photographers and geologists alike. Hiking, horse riding and climbing are all actively encouraged and if you’re looking to push your old boots to their limits then check out the Narrows which is considered one of the top hikes in the area and can take up to 12 hours to complete.
The magical shadows of Arches national park at sun rise and sun set are simply enchanting and thanks to over 2000 sandstone arch ways you’re bound to find your own private point from where to make the most of millions of years of natural erosion. This is a photographer’s and hiker’s paradise and exploring the innumerate columns and towers will take you into a lunar landscape that’s simply out of this world. One of the ‘must see’ highlights of any visit to USA national parks is the freestanding landmark of Delicate Arch that stands at over 60 feet tall and has become an iconic feature of both the state and the park itself.