When we hear the words “National Parks” we tend to automatically think of all the magnificent national parks the United States has to offer – that’s 423 across all states and territories. But once you’ve taken that Great American Road Trip to the beauty of our parks, how about considering traveling to one of the hundreds of amazing national parks outside of the US?
There are more parks on this planet than you could ever expect to visit in a lifetime, so I’ve selected 10 here to start with. Once you are finished with these, there are plenty more to choose from.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Look at any list of must-sees in Croatia, and you will find that Plitvice Lakes National Park is always at the top. 2 hours from the capital city of Zagreb, it is one of Europe’s oldest national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will be transported into a lush oasis of magnificent waterfalls, breathtaking canyons, walkable paths, and azure lakes. A shuttle is available so guests who don’t want to walk can enjoy the park’s serenity.
Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
If a trip to the Galapagos is not yet on your bucket list, it should be. The pristine and diverse environment of the Galapagos is a nature lover’s dream. 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, it is the Galapagos that Darwin introduced to the world in On the Origin of Species, along with the theory of evolution that was inspired by his observations in the archipelago. Swim with penguins, watch the frolicking seals, and observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat, – humans take a back seat to the wonders of the Galapagos.
Banff National Park
The beauty of the Canadian Rockies cannot be denied. Banff, Canada’s first national park, is located west of Calgary and features turquoise lakes, a picture-perfect town, abundant wildlife, and alpine landscapes that are a nature lover’s dream come true. Whether you are a ski buff or prefer summer activities such as canoeing or paddleboarding, you will never be bored.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Nothing stirs the imagination than the Serengeti which spans northern Tanzania. Its Maasai name Serenget means “Endless Plain”, and its 5,791 square miles live up to that. If it’s your dream to see the Big 5 (lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo), you’ll find them here.
Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
Western Europe’s largest national park features just about every single geological feature Iceland has to offer – waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, lava fields, and more. Many sites are attractions unique to Iceland, such as Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe; Hljóðaklettar, a series of curious volcanic plugs; and Snæfell, the highest freestanding mountain in Iceland.
Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
This park is home to two volcanoes – Arenal volcano and Chato volcano. Chato has been inactive for 3,500 years and has a collapsed crater with a picture-perfect lagoon. But Arenal? It’s active and has had consistent lava flows since 1968. Lake Arenal at the base of the volcano supplies 12% of Costa Rica’s hydroelectric energy. Between the volcano tours, rain forest and over 200 species of wildlife, a trip here will make a great addition to your Costa Rican vacation.
Huangshan National Park, China
Huangshan translates into “yellow mountain”, and is a range with peaks reaching as high as 6,115 feet. This natural landscape in Eastern China is so captivating and precipitous, that it took centuries to construct the paths and stairways that wind through the forest. Hikers will love the challenge while artists and photographers will delight in the scenery and natural light filtering through the mists and clouds.
Tulum National Park, Mexico
About an hour and a half from Cancun lies Tulum, a beautifully preserved compound of Mayan ruins and stunning subterranean formations. Dating back to somewhere between the 13th and 15th centuries, Tulum was one of the last Mayan cities to fall to the Spanish. Now, it is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. Note that there is also the town of Tulum that is enjoying a rise in popularity, but it is not the same as Tulum National Park.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia
TulumThis is not a land-based park, but a park nonetheless and one worthy of a mention. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the world, stretching for 1,616 miles and consisting of 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. It covers an area larger than Great Britain and is the largest living feature on earth and the only one visible from space. If that doesn’t rate a visit, then nothing does!
Lake District National Park. England
A trip to the Lake District of England can be a vacation by itself. It’s both a region and a national park in Cumbria in northwest England. It’s home to Scafell Pike, the country’s highest mountain, Wastwater, England’s deepest lake. Charming communities such as Bowness-on-Windermere, and Keswick are perfect places to stay while taking in the breathtaking scenery and gorgeous sites. Do you have Peter Rabbit fans in your family? Beatrix Potter was so captivated by the Lake District that she eventually made it her home. It was here that she wrote the stories that gave life to her famous rabbit.
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