" Many current national parks had been previously protected as national monuments by the president under the Antiquities Act before being upgraded by Congress. Favorite Trails: Big Trees, Tokopah Falls, Middle Fork. Furthermore, rangers also lead trips where you slog through the swamp in muck boots. Most importantly, this is hands-down one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. Get our latest sent right to your inbox. After this, they can live as long as 200 years, continuing to slowly grow. Visitors here are treated to shimmering turquoise lakes, abundant wildlife, swimming salmon, enormous mountains, and more. Boat trips on Jenny Lake are another unique and lovely experience. Favorite Trails: Dune Life Nature Trail, Backcountry Camping Trail, Interdune Boardwalk. Best Time to Go: Services are only available in summer. Speaking of landscapes that seem out of this world, Bryce Canyon (which is actually an amphitheater) is one of a kind. Must-Have Experience: Take a scenic helicopter flight over the park to view lava safely. There are over 600 miles of hiking trails here, and each is special for a plethora of reasons. Zion is one of my favorite national parks. Its various dirt roads, remote hiking trails, and incredible wildlife offer so much to each visitor. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot wild horses roaming the plains. In reality, it’s the magic of time, sulfuric acid, and dissolving limestone. Where to Stay: Sea Shore Allure, Gallows Point Resort, Estate Lindholm, Westin. Favorite Trails: Spruce Nature Trail, Hurricane Hill, Sol Duc Falls, Mink Lake, Best Time to Go: Summer sees less rain and all roads are open, Must-Have Experience: Discover the Hoh Rainforest and hike one of the many trails in the park. Must-Have Experience: Canoe through the park’s waterways to experience its true heart, or take a ranger-led boat trip. One day, I hope to see them all. In the park’s soils, scientists have found life dating all the way back to millions of years ago, when a large tropical sea thrived. The park is much more diverse than meets the eye, but the Redwood trees are the spectacular highlight. Must-Have Experience: Take a bus trip at least as far as the Eielson Visitor Center for the best scenery in the park. While this feature does occur in other caves, it’s nowhere near as prominent as it is here. Download our free national parks checklists by signing up for e-mail updates. The park’s main draw is the largest gypsum dunefield on the planet, making it unlike anything else on Earth. It was created in 1872, well before Wyoming was even a state, making it the world’s first national park.