If you are going on a trip to the Westcoast of the United States, but you don’t know which national parks appeal to you, then read on. Below you can find an overview of the parks we did on our road trip and what is fun to do. I visited these parks around late April and early May. The parks are different in every season, so look carefully at what you want to do there and whether it is open when you are there. In each park you have a visitor center where you can ask for information from the rangers (for example, about great hikes, viewpoints or campgrounds) and where you can buy souvenirs, if you would like a memento in addition to the beautiful photos that you are going to make. You will also usually find some signs outside with the different walks and their level of difficulty.
The Most Beautiful National Parks in Western America
This canyon is a bit hidden in nature. In April it is not yet warm, so check the weather forecast if you go during that period and be sure to bring a warm sweater. Bryce Canyon isn’t really a canyon, but rather a semicircle containing an amphitheater. Here you can see jagged eroded rock formations in different colors. These have been formed by millions of years of wind, ice, water and geological activity. Here too you have several walks, but a walk along the amphitheater is the most worthwhile. At Sunset and Sunrise point you also have a very nice view of the canyon itself!
As the name suggests, ‘death’ is kind of what this national park looks like in some places. You will not find much vegetation there, but you will find unique landscapes. One of these places is Badwater Bassin, a large salt flat that is also known as the warmest place on earth. This is also the place where many movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean were shot. One of the most beautiful viewpoints can be found from Zabriskie Point, from there you have a view of the variegated hills and it is also great to do several smaller hikes in Death Valley. Also of interest: Take a look at Artist Drive and enjoy the colorful hills along the way.
This is perhaps the most famous canyon in the world, it is literally an immense canyon that is best viewed from the air. However, the prices for a helicopter or plane can be high. Would you prefer to see the Grand Canyon on foot anyway? Then it is wise to spend more than one day for this national park. There are several buses that can take you to the starting point of a hike. You can also follow a trail where you can walk into the canyon. It wasn’t my favorite park, but it’s spectacular because of its size.
Yosemite National Park
This park is located in California, about 3 hours drive from San Francisco . Yosemite is often in the media because of the famous rock El Capitan. This crag is known to mountaineers for its difficult climbing routes. Besides this rock you can spot beautiful waterfalls in Yosemite, especially if you visit around April/May when the snow starts to melt on the mountains. Do you still want to climb but is el Capitan a step too far? Then walk to Glacier point or climb Half Dome for a unique view (unfortunately these were not yet open with us).
Sequoia National Park
When you drive a little further south, you arrive at Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP. The road to here is beautiful. You drive into the mountains and see beautiful panoramas along the way. The closer you get to the parks, the thicker and taller the trees get. There were still packs of snow along the side of the road, these were sometimes as high as us and provided an extra special view. Once in the park, there are landscaped trails to take in the highlights of Sequoia National Park. For example, walk to the giant General Shermantree!
Zion National Park
Zion NP is known for its red rocks and has an extensive range of high altitude hikes. There is also an extensive fauna and flora to see in the park. First take the van to drive through the park to get a general idea of this beautiful park (scenic drive) and then choose the right tour for you if you want to hike.
As with the other parks, there are signs at the visitor center with the walks and their difficulty. Due to lack of time and the month in which we went, we opted for “the Watchmantrail”. This is a medium difficult 2 hour tour. You walk via uneven paths to the top of this hike. Once at the top you have a beautiful view of the park. For an even better overview of the park, “Angels Landing” is the best choice (tough tour, not for people with a fear of heights).
Unfortunately we couldn’t do one of our favorites, “The Narrows”, due to the high speed of the river. This tour guides you through a river between the rock walls of the canyon.
Want to See More National Parks in America?
The list of the national parks above are not the only places we have been. We also visited a few other national parks, but we didn’t stay very long here. These are:
Horseshoe Bend: Here you can see a river that runs between rocks from a viewpoint, recently you pay for this
Big Sur: More of a region than a park with breathtaking scenery, ideal for driving through
Joshua Tree National Park: Park with the typical Joshua tree trees and where other fauna and flora are also present
Can’t get enough of beautiful views and nature? Then pass the 17 miles drive located at Monterrey!
Tip to See Many National Parks in America
There are so many more beautiful parks to visit on the West Coast of America, just think of the various state parks that are not yet mentioned in this article. If you want to visit different parks, think about purchasing a National Parks pass! This is much cheaper than if you bought an entrance ticket for each park and for each person separately. Try not to cram too many parks into one holiday, but rather visit a smaller number of parks for a little longer. Also keep in mind the time differences from state to state and the long driving times between the different parks.