Now, whilst I've only been to seven out of fifty eight as someone who isn't a native or ever lived in the US I think I've done pretty well. Again, whilst seven is a small number, I do believe that I have been to amongst the best.
Bryce National Park, Location: Utah
Visitors in 2017: 2,571684
Famous for: The ‘Hoodoos’
On a typical clear night in the US it is possible to look up into the night sky and see up to 2500 stars. However, at Bryce Canyon with up to 100 miles of visibility, it’s possible to see almost three times that number. In fact on a clear day Bryce is known for being home to some of the most exquisite views in the USA.
Speaking of Canyons.. Bryce isn't actually a canyon at all. It’s a natural amphitheater. Photo below from one of the ‘easier’ hikes the park has to offer.
Badlands National Park, Location: South Dakota
Visitors in 2017: 1,954325
Famous for: Pinnacles and Spires
The Badlands are home to a vast number of mammal fossils. Species of Camel and Rhino have been found. Marine fossils have also been discovered, suggesting that the terrain was once covered by water 75 million years ago.
The entire park is open and people are encouraged to hike all the trails.Unfortunately you can just bring along a shovel and dig up the dirt in the hope you'll find some fossils for yourself. Excavation must be left to palaeontologists.
Yosemite National Park, Location: California
Visitors in 2017: 4,336890
Famous for: El Capitan, Half Dome, Grand Meadows and giant Sequoias
Yosemite was originally inhabited by the Miwok Indian tribe. When in 1851 L.H.Bunnel of the Mariposa Battalion came to name the park he Chose Yosemite which he originally believed meant ‘Grizzly Bear’ In fact Yosemite or Yohhe’meti was one of two words frequently mentioned by the native Indians. The other word was ‘Awooni’ which referred the appearance of the valley and literally means ‘large mouth. Yosemite on the other hand literally means ’to kill’, which when given the time may well have been in reference to the white people who were taking over the park. If that is the case; Yosemite National Park literally translates to ‘to kill the white people’ National Park
Zion National Park, Location: Utah
Visitors in 2017: 4504812
Famous for: Angels Landing and ‘The Narrows’
Zion offers many memorable hikes including ‘The Narrows’ and as pictured, ‘Angels Landing’. Angels Landing was named after a group Mormons were passing through and declared that only angels would be able to land on top of the 454m rock. That being said, since the trail opened in 1926 it has claimed the lives of 15 people. Most fall due to sheer panic and deaths have included serious hikers. In fact, the hike which is graded a level 3 difficulty is not for the faint hearted, the unfit or people with physical medical problems. From the start to finish there is an elevation gain of 1500ft and a series of 21 gruelling switchbacks called ‘Walter Wiggles’ which lead up to Scout’s Lookout. (where many people turn back) If after completing that you feel ready to complete the next step there are a series of thinner pathways with chains to help hikers stabilize. This is all before the final half mile which is a scramble up the final 500m or so. If you’re thinking the way up will be terrifying I can confirm that the way down is twice as terrifying. Here I am pictured after completing the beast on my descent.
Canyon National Park, Location: Arizona
Visitors in 2017: 6,264,238
Famous for: The South Rim
The Grand Canyon creates its own weather. The changes of elevation in the Canyon have a huge impact on temperature and precipitation. Thus, weather can drastically change depending on your location in the canyon. The wettest and coldest region is t the Bright Angel Ranger Station of the North Rim and just 8 miles away at Phantom Ranch is the hottest.
I have been lucky enough to visit the Grand Canyon 3 times and I have visited both the North and South Rim. The photo featured is from January 2018. The one time I have been in the winter months.
Yellowstone National Park, Location: Wyoming
Visitors in 2017: 4,116,524
Famous For: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring
Studies suggest that the super volcano which resides under the park is overdue an eruption as the most recent one took place around 640000 years ago. So what would happen if Yellowstone did erupt? Would it mean the end of the world? Well no.. Naturally, it would cause complete devastation in the park itself and surrounding areas ( 100km) but the rest of the world wouldn’t be in complete danger. An eruption would cause short term destruction in the Mid West and the Pacific North West would come under heavy ash fall. Salt Lake City in Utah would also receive around 3ft of ash. As for the rest of the world. There wouldn’t be a summer for several years but ultimately civilisation wouldn’t end, it would however just be a change for the worse. For now, I think I’ll just be content with ‘Old Faithful’ as pictured erupting.