If hiking is a favorite pastime, the national parks have a lot to offer. You can find hikes with grand vistas and multi-day treks into the backcountry. Here are the top five national parks for hiking vacations this summer.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in California is one of the most well-known parks in the United States. The grand granite rock faces, deep green forests, and running rivers make this an ideal location to spend a summer break. For easy hiking and breathtaking scenery, Lower Yosemite Falls puts you in the middle of nature, where you can see the tallest waterfall in the country. The hike is about one-half mile, and it is paved, making it suitable for hikers of all ages and experience levels.
Zion National Park
Utah is home to some of the most mesmerizing landscapes globally, and several national parks, national monuments, and state parks have been established for public use. If you are into intense and challenging hikes, one of the best national parks for hiking in Zion National Park. Part of The Narrows trail goes through waist-deep water, so be prepared! You can choose a 3.5-mile loop for a nice half-day excursion, or the 16-mile loop will take the entire day.
Wheeler Peak Wilderness
New Mexico is emerging as an outdoor lover’s paradise with many of the same features as other states in the four corners but far fewer visitors. The state is also home to one of the most challenging hiking trails in the country. Located near the Red River in northern New Mexico, Wheeler Peak Wilderness is surrounded by forest and vast grassy plains. The trail is just over eight miles long and takes you to the peak of the mountain, where you find alpine lakes, forests, and an abundance of wildlife, such as elk and mule deer.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
You will be surprised to find immense dunes in the American southwest, and Great Sand Dunes National Park feels like you are on the other side of the world. Located about four hours from Denver, the park features several easy hiking trails on the dunes. Camping is also available so that you can make a weekend of it!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Excellent hiking can be found beyond the southwest. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, check out the Appalachian Trail. It covers 71 miles, and you can choose the sections that are best suited for your experience level. Hiking trails start at Fontana Dam, and there is camping nearby.