Forget the Empire State Building, the White House, or the Super Bowl. The top attractions you need to visit in the USA are the National Parks! When you think of National Parks, the USA is one of the first things to pop into your head; cowboys roaming through red stone valleys, wolves prowling through Yellowstone, and hot geysers erupting from beneath.
These areas give you a chance to get back to nature, explore the wilderness, and gaze up at pristine night skies. The western United States has a plethora of National Parks, and each one is distinct and unique. We don't expect you to visit all 10 straight away, we'll give you some time...
1. Monument Valley - Arizona/Utah
If you've seen a western film you've most likely seen Monument Valley. The flat valley floor is punctuated by large sandstone towers that reach up to 1000ft tall. Horseback tours through the valley enable you to get close to feeling like a real-life cowboy. There's also a 17-mile scenic drive that you must take – do it at night and you might see the Milky Way!
2. Yosemite - California
Situated in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite is 1200 square miles of pure wilderness. Giant Sequoia trees can be found in Mariposa Grove, whilst a trip to Half Dome will leave jaws on the floor. Hetch Hetchy in the NW provides untouched hiking, powerful waterfalls and amazing blooms of flora.
3. Zion – Utah
Zion is famous for its red cliffs and its emerald pools which contain mesmerizing blue waterfalls and lush hanging gardens. The park is unique as it has 4 'life zones' containing over 200 species of birds, 80 species of mammals, and over 30 species of reptiles.
4. Grand Canyon - Arizona
One of the seven natural wonders of the world; the Colorado River has carved its path through Arizona over millions of years. Visit the Yavapai Museum of Geology to understand the history of the red rocks and visit Hermit Road and Desert View Drive to see them at their best. White-water and smooth water rafting trips down the Colorado River are also available!
5. Arches – Utah
This park gets its name from the 2000+ natural sandstone arches it contains! The two most famous are the Delicate Arch and the Landscape Arch. These are not permanent, though, as the prominent Wall Arch collapsed in 2008. Hike through The Fiery Furnace to squeeze through tight gaps in the sandstone created by millions of years of wind and water erosion.
6. Badlands – South Dakota
The Badlands just sound awesome. Picture miles of grasslands punctuated by imposing spires, deep canyons, and rock terraces. Bison, sheep, and prairie dogs call this place home. The Fossil Exhibit Trail showcases many of the fossils uncovered in the park, whilst the loop road is a firm favourite and takes in most of the best sights.
7. Carlsbad Caverns – New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns contain over 100 caves and the Cavern itself contains the Big Room which is the 5th largest cave chamber in The USA. The caves have an array of stalactites and stalagmites clinging to the roofs and floors that often join up to form impressive columns that look like they're supporting the cave! You can walk yourself through the natural entrance of the cavern or hop on a guided tour.
8. Redwood National Park – California
Home to the tallest trees on earth, Redwood is situated on the California coast and contains lush forests and endless meadows. Visit Tall Tree Grove for an epic drive through the giant trees. A little secret – Enderts beach has gentle waves and is a great pace to have a picnic, and there's a chance you could see some whales or sea lions!
9. Bryce Canyon – Utah
Hoodoos are strange and unique rock formations left by wind erosion, and Bryce Canyon is the capital of hoodoos. It has the largest concentration of them in the world and even has one resembling Thor's Hammer! There's a 3-mile hike called The Navajo/Queens Garden Loop which provides amazing scenery through the area and includes sights of many birds and small mammals.
10. Yellowstone – Wyoming/Idaho/Montana
Yellowstone is the first National Park not only in the USA, but the world! There are lots of geothermal attractions including the famous Old Faithful Geyser and The Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces which can be explored through boardwalks. The park has many great waterfalls with Tower Fall being the most famous.
Michael (TheWanderingBroksi) is a 25 year old travel blogger from London. He has a distinct love for the USA and all that it has to offer and wants to share the glorious country with you. His tips, top 10's and adventures can be found at thewanderingbroski.com, check him out on Twitter for some awesome pictures and articles from around the world!