Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns memorably referred to America’s national parks as our country’s “best idea.” Here are five of our favorite national parks and the Go Ahead tours that can take you there.
Grand Canyon National Park
The 1,900 square miles of Grand Canyon National Park comprise some of the most awe-inspiring views in the American southwest, but nothing compares to the Grand Canyon itself. Thousands of years of erosion by the Colorado River scoured away the layers of sedimentary rock that form today’s canyon walls. Visitors to the canyon’s South Rim—like the travelers on Go Ahead’s U.S. National Parks Tour—are treated to sweeping views of the nearly mile-deep canyon dropping below their feet.
Yellowstone National Park
America’s first national park is still one of our favorites. With attractions such as Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring and Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone is a geological wonder. The wildlife here is among the most diverse in North America, with Yellowstone hosting pilot programs to revive the endangered bison and timberwolf herds that once roamed the area. The park draws more than three million visitors annually, but with more than 3,400 square miles in which to roam, you’ll never feel cramped. Explore Yellowstone for yourself on Go Ahead’s America the Beautiful: Red Rocks to Mt. Rushmore.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is truly a hidden gem. Its remote location ensures that the park receives fewer visitors than others, but for those who trek into the wilds of southern Utah, a spectacular display awaits. More than 8,000 feet above sea level, rust-colored spires of stone slice into the sky, creating otherworldly landscapes you’ll have to see to believe. Bryce Canyon itself is actually an enormous amphitheater—listen for your own echo on Go Ahead’s U.S. National Parks Tour.
Zion National Park
Mormon settlers built their first ranches in the Virgin River Valley in 1847, convinced that this was the promised land prophesied by their leader, Joseph Smith. After Utah became a state, President William Howard Taft designated this stretch of land the Mukuntuweap National Monument. Lucky for us, the name didn’t stick, and in 1918, the area became known as Zion National Park. Named for the Hebrew word for the promised land, the sheer cliffs of Zion are easy to imagine as part of heaven.
Denali National Park
Home to North America’s tallest mountain, Denali National Park is larger than five American states. Perhaps even more amazing, the park is serviced by a single, solitary road snaking through the Alaskan wilderness. Come discover the serenity and tranquility of America’s 49th state on Denali National Park and Wild Alaska.
Do you have a favorite national park? Let us know in the comment section!