There are 98 national parks in the U.S. and Canada alone—and each has its own range of impressive natural features. Here, some of the terminology to help you sound like a pro about all the sights you’ll see.
A thin spire of rock that towers over a dry basin, like in Bryce Canyon. Also called a fairy chimney or tent rock.
Fine-grained particles of rock produced by glacial erosion that can alter the color of a body of water, such as the emerald Lake Louise.
From the German for “trench,” a graben (like Jackson Hole, for example) is a collapsed block of land between two parallel fault lines.
A large igneous rock that formed miles below the earth’s surface. The granite rock of Mount Rushmore is a batholith.
A large crater, like the Yellowstone Caldera, is caused by the collapse of land after a volcanic eruption.
An accumulation of glacial debris like soil and rock that gives Canada’s glacially-fed Moraine Lake its name.
As in Mesa Verde National Park, a mesa is a flat-topped mountain or hill that is similar to a butte but larger.
Which national park do you most want to visit? Tell us in the comments!