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Adventurous Woman at the edge of a cliff is looking at a beautiful landscape view in the Canyon during a vibrant sunset. Taken in Zion National Park, Utah, United States. Sky Composite Panorama

National Parks

Parks offer grand views and adventure!

 

Utah’s “Mighty Five” National Parks

Southern Utah is home to a unique collection of five spectacular national parks, each traversed by scenic roadways for comfortable viewing and crisscrossed by hiking/biking trails with wilderness campsites for open-air journeys of discovery.

Start your “Mighty Five” tour near Moab at Arches National Park with its 2,000+ natural sandstone arches before heading over Canyonlands, which features the Grand View Point lookout and whitewater rafting trips. Capitol Reef offers fairly easy hikes through gorgeous landscapes and connects via Scenic Byway 12 to Bryce Canyon and its popular Sunset Point rim trail. Zion National Park is a fitting finale with a popular scenic drive and nature hikes beneath sheer canyon walls along the Virgin River. Each of the parks has visitor-center staff with advice on local highlights and nearby towns with lodgings for rest stops between each new day’s adventure.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers more than 815 square miles that contain some of the highest peaks and most biodiverse valleys in the Eastern United States.

View from the Newfound Gap overlook over the vast wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Great Smokies’ popularity as America’s most-visited national park is directly related to its accessibility: U.S. Highway 441 is the main thoroughfare and has numerous well-marked side roads to awesome overlooks like the Clingmans Dome observation tower and preserved historic villages like Cades Cove. There are also more than 850 miles of hiking trails, including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail, ranging from challenging climbs to meadow strolls so that everyone can enjoy the natural wonders. Biking, horseback riding, and fly fishing are among the other popular park activities. Get a map or app at either of the main-entrance visitor centers to help navigate your Great Smoky Mountains National Park exploration.

Cape Lookout National Seashore — North Carolina

Completely undeveloped part of the southernmost Outer Banks, accessible only by ferry or boat, with 56 miles of shell-laden coastline, wild horses, and overnight stays in beachfront campsites or rustic cabins.

Congaree National Park — South Carolina

More than 41 square miles of old-growth floodplain forest, with kayak trails, hiking paths, and a 2.5-mile boardwalk beneath a cathedral canopy of the South’s tallest pines (170 ft.) and most ancient hardwoods. (500+ years)

Everglades National Park — Florida

America’s largest tropical nature preserve, 1.5 million acres accessible by driving tours, boat excursions, paddles on the Wilderness Waterway, and loop-trail hikes to observation towers and backcountry campsites.

Gulf Islands National Seashore — Florida and Mississippi

A two-state swath of undeveloped and permanently protected land on the Gulf of Mexico, with historic sites and pristine beaches on the Florida Panhandle and six wild Mississippi barrier islands accessible by boat.

Hot Springs National Park — Arkansas

More than 5,500 acres of thermal springs and mountainside hiking/biking loops of up to 10 miles long, with trailheads that start just steps from the comfortable lodgings and lively attractions of downtown Hot Springs.

Grand Canyon National Park — Arizona

America’s most stunning panoramas on 1.2 million wilderness acres, with South Rim driving tours to popular overlooks, spectacular North Rim hiking trails, mule rides to the canyon floor, and rafting on the Colorado River.

Reposted from an article in Ideal-LIVING Magazine, 2023 Summer Issue – Best Places to Live

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