HOW WOULD YOU go about designating, managing, and protecting the prime wilderness areas of the United States, a country of 3.8 million square miles and many of the most spectacular natural features in the world? Despite the enormity of the task, the US National Park Service has done a phenomenal job.
Americans and those who visit the US from abroad have access to 59 different national parks, whose characteristics and opportunities, taken together, are more diverse than those of anywhere else in the world. From the frigid peaks of Gates of the Arctic’s Brooks Range, to the subtropical wetlands of Florida’s Everglades. From the below-sea-level simmer of California’s Death Valley, to the mist lifting off the ridges of Shenandoah in Virginia. From glaciers to mangroves to waterfalls to canyons to towering forests — if you visited all 59 of America’s national parks, you would have a pretty thorough understanding of our planet’s geology and ecology.
Many of these park names will be familiar to you. Some you may be hearing for the first time. But whether they see 10 million annual visitors (Great Smoky) or barely a 1,000 (Kobuk Valley), all are worth a trip. Here’s some inspiration to get you planning.
This post is proudly produced in partnership with Brand USA, with whom Matador is currently working to produce a series of monumental videos showcasing the best of the US national park system. Stay tuned for more.