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4 National Parks You Must Visit

1 year ago / by Preetam Kaushik
national park
Image credits: Shutterstock

The Grand Canyon. Big Sur. Yosemite. When you think about biodiversity in American national parks, these are usually the first names that come to mind. Not surprising, because they are in fact some of the most renowned parks in the USA. But if you were to take a deep-dive into actually researching the wide range of biodiversity nestled in America, you are likely to look at more names such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Here are some of the most biodiversity-rich national parks in the US.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is one of the greatest national parks for wildlife watching in America. With the greater Appalachian mountains looming in the horizon, this park is dotted with streams and rivers, making it the ideal home for more than 200 bird species, 67 native species of fish, over 80 reptiles and amphibians, and about 65 mammals, including the most famous attraction of the park – the black bear, along with the white-tailed deer.

The closest airports to the Smokies are McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville on the Tennessee side of the park and Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina. McGhee Tyson is about 30 minutes to an hour’s drive away from the park, depending on where you want to enter.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

If you’re willing to brave the scorching heat of spring or summer in the Arizona wilderness, fate might just reward you by ticking off the famed wildflower season this park is known for. The white flowers of the park’s namesake saguaro cacti, the yellow desert marigolds and the prickly pear cactus flowers are some of the chief attractions for hobbyists and photographers from all over the world.

To get to this park, take Houghton Road exit (275) north to Escalante Road ( about 8 miles), take a right onto Escalante Road and go about 2 miles to a dead end into Old Spanish Trail on the boundary with Saguaro National Park East. Take a left and go 400 yards or so and the park entrance is on the right.

Glacier National Park, Montana

If towering mountains, deep valleys and wildflower-covered meadows excite you, this is where you would want to be. Situated in northern Montana, bordering Canada, this is home to some of the healthiest grizzly bear populations in North America. Other than watching grizzlies, you can also see gray wolves, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer, elk and mountain goats, the park’s official mascot. If you’re into outdoorsy adventures, this park offers epic hiking trails, cycling, fishing, boating, landscape photography and camping activities.

Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) is the gateway to northwest Montana and the closest airport to Glacier National Park. The airport is in Kalispell, just 12 miles from the town of Whitefish and 30 miles from the West Entrance of Glacier National Park.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Undoubtedly the most unique national park in the US, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is where you’ll find two of the most active volcanoes on Earth: Mauna Loa and Kīlauea. The latter has been constantly erupting since 1983, causing the park to constantly change its landscape. Besides vast lava-covered slopes and enormous craters, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park also has lots of lush rainforest scenery, including what the locals call kīpuka, overgrown oases of old native forest surrounded by more recent lava flows.

Once in Hawaii, if you are traveling from Kailua-Kona, it is 95 miles southeast on Highway 11, or 125 miles through Waimea and Hilo via highways 19 and 11.

If you’re looking for a different kind of travel destination this summer, might we suggest making a trip out of seeing these museums? Check out Museum Musings