Kobuk Valley National Park,
Alaska - 847 visitors
Kobuk Valley National Park is located in Northwestern Artic Alaska, entirely
above the Artic Circle, at the northern limit of the Boreal forest. Delimited by
the Warring Mountains in the South and the Baird Mountains in the North, it is
the centerpiece of a vast ecosystem, of which the most visible inhabitants are
the caribou of the Western Artic herd. An unexpected feature of the park are its
vast and actively moving sand dunes, where in summer the temperature can climb
above the 100s F. A rarity in the Artic, they are a relic of the last ice age,
when glaciers deposited sand there.
Lake Clark National Park,
- 5,549 visitors
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve was created to protect scenic beauty
(volcanoes, glaciers, wild rivers and waterfalls), populations of fish and
wildlife, watersheds essential for red salmon, and the traditional lifestyle of
local residents. Lake Clark's spectacular scenery provides a true wilderness
experience for those who visit.
3) American Samoa National Park - 6,774
Samoa, a chain of mountainous islands clothed in tropical rainforest, is ringed
with rugged cliffs, glistening beaches, and biologically rich coral reefs. The
Samoan village leaders and the U.S. Congress have set aside the finest samples
of the islands' land and seascapes as a national park. The U.S. Congress
established the National Park to preserve and protect the tropical forest and
archeological and cultural resources of American Samoa, and of associated reefs,
to maintain the habitat of flying foxes, preserve the ecological balance of the
Samoan tropical forest, and, consistent with the preservation of these
resources, to provide for the enjoyment of the unique resources of the Samoan
tropical forest by visitors from around the world.
4) Gates of the Arctic National Park,
Alaska - 10,942 visitors -
The Brooks Range is an alpine arctic mountain range which stretches across the
entire northern portion of Alaska. Gates of the Arctic National Park and
Preserve encompasses the central Brooks Range, preserving intact a variety of
arctic and subarctic ecosystems. Here in this remote, wild land, natural
processes function as they have for thousands of years, ensuring the survival of
arctic adapted plants and animals, and the people who depend on them. The park
is a valuable natural laboratory for scientific research.
5) Isle Royale National Park, Michigan -
Isle Royale’s physical isolation and primitive wilderness challenged human use
for centuries; ironically today it has become the Island’s main attraction.
Accessible only by boat or seaplane, visitors come to experience this island
park through hiking its trails, paddling its inland waterways, exploring its
rugged coast, or venturing into the depth of its shipwrecks.
6) North Cascades National Park, Washington
- 19,534 visitors
Jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers adorn
the North Cascades National Park Complex. Three park units in this mountainous
region are managed as one and include North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake,
and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. These complementary protected lands
are united by a contiguous overlay of Stephen Mather Wilderness.
7) Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida -
A large military fortress, Fort Jefferson, was constructed in the mid-19th
century in effort for the United States to protect the extremely lucrative
shipping channel. Low and flat, these islands and reefs pose a serious
navigation hazard to ships passing through the 75-mile-wide straits between the
gulf and the ocean. Consequently, these high risk reefs have created a natural
“ship trap” and have been the site of hundreds of shipwrecks. A lighthouse was
constructed at Garden Key in 1825 to warn incoming vessels of the dangerous
reefs and later, a bricktower lighthouse was constructed on Loggerhead Key in
1858 for the same purpose.
8) Wrangell-St. Elias
National Park, Alaska - 61,085 visitors
You must see Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve to believe it. Number
and scale loom large here, magnified by splendid isolation. The largest U.S.
national park, it equals six Yellowstones, with peaks upon peaks and glaciers
after glaciers. Follow any braided river or stream to its source and you will
find either a receding, advancing, or tidewater glacier. The park lets you
sample representative Alaska wildlife as well as historic mining sites. Hike its
mountains, float its rivers, ski its glaciers, or fly over this landscape and
you witness living geology. You sense discovery, the feeling you might be the
first to see such sights.
9) Great Basin National Park, Nevada -
In the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees
grow on rocky glacial moraines. Come to Great Basin National Park to experience
the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm, the
darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves. Far from a wasteland,
the Great Basin is a diverse region that awaits discovery.
10) Katmai National Park, Alaska
- 82,634 visitors
Katmai National Monument was created in 1918 to preserve the famed Valley of Ten
Thousand Smokes, a spectacular forty square mile, 100 to 700 foot deep ash flow
deposited by Novarupta Volcano. A National Park & Preserve since 1980, today
Katmai is still famous for volcanoes, but also for brown bears, pristine
waterways with abundant fish, remote wilderness, and a rugged coastline.
America's Best Nature Top Ten
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