Top Five National Parks in Alaska

Snowy mountains in the distance behind vast forest landscape in Denali National Park, Alaska.

Isolated in more ways than one, Alaska puts its unique geographical location to excellent use with 16 national wildlife refuges, as well as 17 parks, 8 of which are NPS-designated national parks.

All of these showcase the state’s undeveloped wilderness and preserve it beautifully, making Alaska an outdoor paradise unmatched in North America.

Since it’s not exactly realistic to visit every worthy site in one trip—tempting as it may be—here are the five best national parks in Alaska, so you can get as much out of your next trip to the last frontier as possible.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Root Glacier aerial view in Wrangell St. Elias in Alaska, the largest of the state's national parks.

Nearest City: Cooper Center, Alaska

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest in the United States. In total, it exceeds the acreage of Switzerland, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park combined.

The premier attraction of the park is Mount St. Elias, which stands at a staggering height of over 18,000 feet.

However, the park also contains a variety of opportunities for visitors to experience the great outdoors of Alaska.

Supporting a diverse set of hiking trails, backcountry campsites, roaring rivers, and historic mining sites, Wrangell-St. Elias is far from a one-and-done destination. You could camp out for years and still see but a fraction of everything this park has to offer.

The best time to visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is during the months of May through September, when all of the park’s facilities are open to the public. During the winter, some areas of the park close and become troubling to navigate.


Denali National Park

Mountain range in Denali, one of the most visited national parks in Alaska, United States.

Nearest City: Healy, Alaska

Previously Mount McKinley National Park, Denali is home to the tallest mountain in North America. Its towering peaks provide an intense backdrop to any visit.

Additionally, varying elevation levels provide visitors a range of ecosystems to explore.

At the lowest elevation levels, Denali National supports a dense forest referred to as the taiga.

As elevation in the park increases, the landscape becomes more barren. In fact, evidence of glaciers isn’t uncommon in these areas.

Wintertime activities practiced in Denali National Park include skiing, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding.


Katmai National Park

A mother bear and her cub standing on an offshoot at a lake in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Nearest City: King Salmon, Alaska

If you’ve heard of Katmai National Park, chances are good you also know about its large population of brown bears.

The park is located across from Kodiak Island. Besides its staggering population of brown bears, the park is best known for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

This valley was formed by the 1912 eruptions of Novarupta and Mount Katmai, and still features plenty of volcanic ash as a result.

In total, Katmai National Park covers around four million acres, which places it in between New Jersey and Connecticut in terms of size.

A large portion of Katmai’s recreation opportunities center around wildlife viewing. If you make the trip to Katmai National Park, you’ll definitely want to visit the Brooks Falls viewing platform. There, you can observe brown bears catching sockeye salmon from the falls.

Additionally, various coastal areas of the park—including Hallo Bay—normally host impressive gatherings of brown bears year-round.


Glacier Bay National Park

A cruise ship navigating the waters of Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, alongside a glacier and snowy mountain.

Nearest City: Juneau, Alaska

Located in an even more isolated area of southeastern Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park receives the majority of its visitation by cruise ship.

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, these cruise ships are normally the site of several interpretive programs once docked in Glacier Bay.

Park accommodations include the Glacier Bay Lodge. What’s more, trails throughout the park prove ideal for hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, and birdwatching.

Glacier Bay National Park provides undisturbed habitats to a variety of wildlife species, including a diverse array of birds, wolves, wolverines, and various other mammals.


Gates of the Arctic National Park

Fog rolling across a mountain valley in Gates of the Arctic Pass, Alaska.

Nearest City: Beetles, Alaska

Gates of the Arctic National Park is the northernmost park in the United States.

Seated above the Arctic Circle, Gates is famous for its protection of the Brooks Mountain Range.

While the national park is the second largest national park in the country, visitation here is normally quite low compared to other parks, due to its location.

However, the few visitors who do make the journey to Gates of the Arctic National Park are in for an unforgettable experience. Recreation in Gates includes hiking, backcountry camping, mountaineering, fishing, and hunting.

The best time to visit the national park is during the summer. Travel is easier, since there are no established roads that travel through Gates of the Arctic National Park.


An Unspoiled Paradise

Glaciers and snowy mountain caps in Alaska under a slightly cloudy blue sky.
In the outdoor world, Alaska has an impressive reputation stemming from the state’s commitment to preserve its unique landscape, as well as numerous wilderness habitats.

At times, Alaska can seem a bit daunting to explore as a tourist, due to its sheer size. Travelers might fare better using Anchorage as a starting point, since it contains the state’s largest airport.

What’s more, you can plan your trip beyond the national parks of Alaska by starting in Anchorage. The city features a vibrant scene of restaurants, bars, and historic locations.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, Texas, Florida, Oregon, and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tents, backpacks, water filters, and a solid plan.


Best National Parks in the United States

Mountains in Yosemite National Park, United States, during sunset and with a purple-pink filter applied.

A common bucket list item is to visit all 63 national parks in the United States, and that’s no easy feat.

If money, time, health, or other travel restrictions keep you from your goal, don’t worry. When it comes to nature, quality beats quantity any day of the week.

These five national parks are the best in the United States—and much easier to check off your list, with the right planning.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National, one of the most visited parks in the United States depicting a still lake reflecting the background of large cliffs and a waterfall.

Location: California

Made famous by the writings and advocacy of John Muir, Yosemite National Park is the most visited national park in the state of California.

It’s located among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and preserves a unique wilderness area. This park contains groves of giant sequoias, waterfalls, granite cliffs, impressive rock faces, and an important biological diversity.

Recreation in Yosemite National Park is led by 800 miles of hiking trails. One of the most popular trails leads to the summit of Half Dome.

Other recreational activities include backpacking and rock climbing. In the winter, you can participate in downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

While Yosemite National Park and the surrounding valley have always been a mecca of rock climbing, recent events—including the release of Free Solo, a documentary which features the free climbing efforts of climber Alex Honnold—have promoted the sport even more.

However, the park urges every rock climber to practice safe climbing practices, and only participate in climbs within their comfort and experience levels.


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park in United States with stunning view of mountains and crystal blue water with a tree-line shore.

Location: Montana

While the likes of Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon often overshadow Glacier National Park, it has much to offer its visitors.

Located in northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park is situated upon the Canadian border. In total, it encompasses more than one million acres. Additionally, it stretches across two different mountain ranges.

Visitors who plan a trip to Glacier National Park will find stunning views of glaciers. You can also hike along the highline trail, experience some of the best fly fishing in the world, and potentially catch a glimpse of several elusive and rare wildlife species.

The vast ecosystem of Glacier National Park is supported by several geological features. These include over 130 named lakes.

The flora species of Glacier National Park exceed 1,000, while more than several hundred species of wildlife call the area home.


Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park at sunset with reflections on water.

Location: Colorado

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado are unlike anywhere else in the continental United States.

These mountains are equal parts treacherous and inviting. Rocky Mountain National Park in particular, manages a diverse acreage that includes lush meadows, staggering peaks, calm creek beds, and roaring rivers.

It’s also one of the most visited national parks in the United States. While yearly visitation totals over four million, about a quarter of that comes from just a single three-week span during the summer.

Summertime visitors flock to Rocky Mountain National Park to hike, backpack, camp, and fish.

The most famous trail is the keyhole route, which gives visitors the opportunity to climb to the top of Longs Peak.


Yellowstone National Park

Golden colored rock and mineral deposits at Yellowstone National Park, with water and mountains in background.

Location: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Yellowstone was designated a national park in 1872—the first one established by the federal government.

The success, importance, and reputation of Yellowstone quickly led to further development of the National Park Service, as well as other national parks around the United States.

Yellowstone preserves a variety of mountains, lakes, rivers, and open meadows. Here, visitors may hike, kayak, fish, and view wildlife.

The wildlife of Yellowstone is very diverse. It includes large mammals such as bison, elk, wolves, and bighorn sheep.

Additionally, Yellowstone National Park maintains nine visitor centers, where you can learn more about the park, plan your trip, or chat with park rangers.


Zion National Park

Zion National Park, United States, with star-filled night sky and views of sandstone formation and desert plants.

Location: Utah

Some of the most unique parks in the United States are located in the state of Utah, and Zion National is the premier destination.

Famous for its reddish-orange layers of Navajo Sandstone, Zion Canyon attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every month.

Popular recreation activities of Zion National Park include hiking and rock climbing. The Narrows allows visitors to traverse through tight sections of Zion Canyon.

Use caution, however.  Altogether, this hike is about 12 hours from start to finish.  It also requires you to traverse more than 16 miles of uneven terrain.


An Endless Adventure

Rocky Mountains at overcast sunset with snow and greenery visible.

The top national parks of the United States are all breathtaking, each possessing unique geographical features, wildlife, and recreational opportunities.

That said, they’re far from the only parks worth visiting! “America the beautiful” isn’t just a saying. These vast parks with what seem like endless lands litter states such as California, Utah, Arizona, Florida, as well as many others.


Best State and National Parks in California


Largely thanks to Hollywood, the state of California is a mecca for arts and entertainment. However, the state also deserves status as an outdoor wonderland.

With nine national parks and an impressive 280 state parks, California certainly has much to offer, in both opportunity and acreage.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park picturing a landscape of red rocky hills with steam rolling off a small body of water

Nearest City: Redding, California

Located in the northeastern region of the state, Lassen Volcanic National Park protects one of the most breathtaking and unique natural areas in California.

The park’s most notable feature is Lassen Peak, a volcano located amongst California’s famous Cascade Mountain Range. It’s a plug dome volcano, the largest of its kind in the entire world.

However, Lassen Volcanic National Park contains more than one volcano. In fact, it’s actually one of the only places in the world with all four types.

In addition to this ensemble, Lassen also protects several volcanic lakes, an elaborate display of hiking trails, and several camping areas.


Redwood National and State Parks

An upward shot of the Redwood trees displaying their towering heights in the Redwood National Park

Nearest City: Orick, California

The Redwood National and State Parks in California are co-managed by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Located along the western coast of northern California, these protect endemic species of the area, including the coastal redwood.

Jedidiah Smith, Del Norte Coast, and Prairie Creek are three of the most popular and largest state parks included in the collection. These parks offer visitors the opportunity to walk amongst some of the largest trees in the world, set up camp within California’s idyllic western coast, and kayak along the Smith River.

The Redwood National and State Parks also manage the tall trees grove, where visitors can crane their necks and admire trees over 300 feet tall.

Entry to the tall trees grove requires a permit, obtained from the visitor centers.


Yosemite National Park

A rocky, shallow river or lake bed is lined with golden and green trees along the shoreline with towering rocky cliffs on a partly cloudy day in Yosemite National Park

Nearest City: Mariposa, California

Yosemite National Park was the third national park the National Park Service developed and protected. First created in October of 1890, it’s consistently one of the most visited parks in the United States.

The park also boasts diverse populations of wildlife, geologic formations, and dense acres of hardwood forest.

In total, Yosemite National Park covers almost 750,000 acres. Visitors will find an endless supply of outdoor experiences, several protected habitats, and opportunities to learn more about the park’s cultural ties.

Wildlife species include black bears, bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, foxes, and bobcats. You might be lucky enough to spot these upon your arrival.

However, take care to keep your distance—these wildlife species are indeed wild.


Joshua Tree National Park

Hikers walk up a small rock formation surrounded by dried out desert vegetation and Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park

Nearest City: Twentynine Palms

Featured on album covers of popular bands such as the Eagles and U2, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most iconic locations in all of California.

It protects a desert shrub environment scattered with Joshua Trees.  These give the park its name.

Interestingly, however, the Joshua Tree isn’t a tree at all. Rather, it’s a unique species of yucca (Yucca brevifolia).

Composed of acreage from the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park’s ecosystem and environment is largely dictated by elevation. The Mojave Desert resides at a higher elevation, and thus is quite cooler than the lower Colorado Desert.

Visitors will find opportunities to hike, camp, rock climb, and see breathtaking sights.


Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Small forests line the shores of small lakes which sit in a valley surrounded sharp, steep mountains in Sequoia and Kings National Park

Nearest City: Visalia, California

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park reside in the southern ranges of the Sierra Nevada. Together, the two parks manage more than 1,350 square miles. These protect diverse populations of flora and fauna.

Every year, over 1.5 million visitors arrive at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park to experience its uniqueness and undeveloped acres of wilderness.

Recreation attractions include hiking trails, groves of large sequoia trees, waterfalls, and a series of developed and undeveloped camping areas.

The two parks continue to work together, largely due to proximity and overlap of species.


A Limitless Landscape

A large shallow lake reflects the tree-lined shores and barren mountainous hills at one of California's National Parks
The state of California came to fame as a natural paradise via the words of renowned naturalist, John Muir.  He is often considered the “father” of national parks.

It’s not hard to understand why California’s beauty so moved him. With a diverse landscape, extensive wildlife, and incredible natural phenomena, the Golden State deserves its nickname and then some.

That said, they’re far from the only parks worth visiting! “America the beautiful” isn’t just a saying. These vast parks with what seem like endless lands litter states such as Oregon, Utah, TexasArizona, Colorado, as well as many others.


Best State and National Parks in Oregon


With only one national park to its name, Oregon may seem like it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of outdoor recreation. However, once you dive into its collection of varied state parks, scenic areas, and natural rivers, you’ll quickly change your mind.

Crater Lake National Park

A small island covered in trees surrounded by a large, deep blue lake which itself is surrounded by tree covered mountains and cliffs in Crater Lake National Park

Nearest City: Klamath Falls, Oregon

Crater Lake, a caldera-formed body of water in the park’s center, is the deepest lake in the United States. Additionally, it’s said to hold some of the clearest and cleanest water in the entire world.

Recreation at Crater Lake National Park—the fifth oldest national park in the United States—is largely centered around the lake and its caldera walls, which provide access for several rim drives. Visitors can travel from one scenic location to the next via automobile.

Oregon’s sole national park also manages and maintains an elaborate hiking trail system. Facilities include a restaurant, camp store, several campgrounds, two lodges, and a few gift shops.

Visitors wishing to stay in the park overnight should make reservations several weeks, if not months, in advance. In the summer months, the park experiences its busiest season.


Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

The sunrise over a wispy cloudy sky, shining down tree covered hills and mountains with fog rolling off the hills and river at Columbia River Gorge

Nearest City: Roosevelt, Washington, & Arlington, Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge winds throughout the Cascade Range, following the path of the Columbia River. In total, the Columbia River Gorge stretches for nearly eighty miles, and is over 4,000 feet deep at its deepest point.

The gorge serves as the boundary between the states of Washington and Oregon. It’s also known for its abundance of idyllic scenery and waterfalls.

Now protected as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the Columbia River Gorge can be explored via automobile or hiking trails.

One of the premier attractions is Multnomah Falls. They reside near the Historic Columbia River Highway, which weaves alongside the gorge and through the mountains of northern Oregon.


Ecola State Park

Light blue water wash upon a beach at sunset with rolling green hills and mountains in the background at Ecola State Park

Nearest City: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Ecola State Park stretches across Oregon’s western coast, about three miles north of Cannon Beach. It’s revealed much about the Tillamook people that once lived there.

In 1806, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery embarked on a voyage to the area now protected as Ecola State Park. During their voyage, the group searched for a beached whale. Instead, they discovered burial canoes forged by the Tillamook.

Today, Ecola State Park is consistently visited for its hiking and sightseeing attractions, as well as its rich history.

The park—particularly Indian Beach—was featured in the 1985 cult classic The Goonies, as well as in several scenes of Twilight.


Silver Falls State Park

A large waterfall cascading down a cliff face surrounded by large trees at Silver Falls State Park

Nearest City: Silverton, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon. It protects more than 9,000 acres, and includes over 24 miles of hiking and walking trails. Additional trails are geared for horseback and bike riding.

The park is well-known for its array of large and powerful waterfalls. Its most visited waterfall is the South Falls, although the Double Falls are significantly larger. Unfortunately, they’re more remote, and troublesome to access for inexperienced or casual hikers.

Don’t despair, however: the Trail of Ten Falls will provide visitors with access to the majority of the park’s most notable waterfalls.

Sport some sturdy footwear if you plan on hiking this one, since the trail occasionally grows slippery.


Smith Rock State Park

A winding river lined with lush vegetation and trees is surrounded by large, sheer cliffs and rock formations at Smith Rock State Park

Nearest City: Redmond, Oregon

Smith Rock State Park is located in central Oregon, in the state’s high desert. As a result, the terrain and environment vary greatly from the other parks on this list.

As a climber’s paradise, Smith Rock provides a number of challenging and unique routes perfect for traditional rock climbing, sport climbing, and bouldering.

Visitors not interested in rock climbing, however, will still find several other recreation opportunities. These include hiking trails, as well as an overnight camping area.

Wildlife in Smith Rock State Park is abundant, in some areas. During your trip, you might spot mule deer, river otters, beavers, golden eagles, and a number of other interesting species.


Oregon: Diverse and Wild

A large waterfall cascades down a large cliff face with a white bridge passing just in front of the waterfall
From waterfalls to extreme rock-climbing routes, the national park and state parks of Oregon have plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts.

Just be sure to book your campsites early, and map routes beforehand when possible: the summertime brings a flood of visitors to the state parks of Oregon, but particularly Crater Lake National.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, Texas, California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tents, backpacks, water filters, and a solid plan.



Best State and National Parks in Utah


Within the “Big Five” most popular national parks located in the state of Utah, visitors can explore natural arches, breathtaking canyons, and a host of other unique landscapes.

Utah also manages a collection of state parks, all with stunning geography, and endless opportunities to make your next trip to the Beehive State one incredible outdoor adventure.

Zion National Park

A lush, green landscape sit in a valley of towering cliffs at Zion National Park

Nearest City: Springdale, Orderville, Cedar City, Utah

Best known for the 15-mile long Zion Canyon, which is made up of reddish Navajo Sandstone, Zion National Park has quite a bit to offer its visitors.

Other notable features include a slot canyon named The Subway, as well as Mount Carmel.

Several hiking trails meander throughout the canyons and other geographical features, such as the Kolob Arch.

Additionally, several areas are designated for rock climbing and mountain biking. Climbers should definitely check out the Spaceshot, Moonlight Buttress, Prodigal Son, and Touchstone.

The Zion Lodge and three nearby campgrounds allow visitors overnight stays. Visitation in the park reaches its peak during the summer months of May, June, and July.


Canyonlands National Park

A long road runs through a valley of massive red cliffs at Canyonlands National Park

Nearest City: Moab, Utah

Filled with canyons, mesas, and buttes, the 337,598 diverse acres of Canyonlands National Park are divided into four distinct districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Colorado and Green Rivers.

Recreation throughout these four regions is varied, and guarantees adventure. Visitors commonly embark on float trips via kayaks and rafts, on the Green and Colorado Rivers.

However, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking across the other three regions of the park are just as popular.

Island in the Sky is the most visited district, while the Needles—with its array of impressive rock formations—is the second most visited.


Arches National Park

A red rock formation in the form of an arch is depicted in the foreground at Arches National Park

Nearest City: Moab, Utah

Arches National Park is most well-known for—you guessed it—the series of arch formations present throughout its landscape.

In total, Arches national Park contains more than 2,000 arches. The most notable of these is the Delicate Arch, which is highlighted by a backdrop of the La Sal Mountains.

While the Delicate Arch is breathtaking, visitors can also enjoy backpacking, rock climbing, and even canyoneering—using rock climbing equipment to descend, and explore, a canyon.

Due to its dark skies, Arches National Park is also popular for astronomers and novice stargazers alike.


Capitol Reef National Park

Deer grazing on a grassy plain in front of a large, red cliff at Capitol Reef National Park

Nearest City: Torrey, Utah

Somewhat of a combination of Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park contains a number of unique rock formations, slot canyons, and natural bridges.

However, the park is best known for the Waterpocket Fold which, indirectly, grants the park its name.

The Waterpocket Fold is a rocky spine that extends throughout the park, and is very hard to traverse. “Capitol Reef” comes from the dome-shaped formations that protrude along the Fold.

Recreation in Capitol Reef National Park includes several auto-tours, hiking trails, and plenty of opportunities for photography and sightseeing.

The park also manages the Fruita Campground, where visitors may stay overnight.


Dead Horse Point State Park

A river runs through the deep valley that is created from the towering red rock cliff faces at Dead Horse Point National Park

Nearest City: San Juan County, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park contains some of the most dramatic overlooks of the Colorado River in all of Utah.

From the park, visitors can also take in Canyonlands National Park and its surrounding landscape.

The most notable hiking trails in Dead Horse Point State Park are the East and West Rim Trails.

Together, these two trails span eight miles. They feature a number of loops and off-shoots, where visitors can explore the park’s environment.

The park also maintains and manages 17 miles of single-track mountain biking trails. These trails vary in difficulty and range from easy to expert.

You may be lucky enough to spot several unique wildlife species here: the park is home to the Gray Fox, Gambel’s Quail, River Otters, and a slew of other species.


Utah is Waiting

Sweeping rocky mountainous views covered in a light snow on a mostly cloudy day
The state and national parks of Utah provide endless views and unique formations to explore, whether you prefer the calm of a guided tour, or the thrill of rock climbing.  What’s more, its outdoor community is strong and inclusive.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tents, backpacks, water filters, and a solid plan.


Best State and National Parks in Florida


While a huge portion of the Sunshine State’s tourism is owed to its beaches, amusement parks, and active nightlife scene, Florida also boasts one of the largest national parks in the country, as well as a series of smaller national and state parks.

In other words, Florida has so much more to offer than mouse ears and sunny shores.

Everglades National Park

A colorful yellow, red, orange, and purple sunset over a marsh at Everglades National Park

Nearest City: Florida City, Everglades City, Florida

Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. The park protects the southernmost portion of the original Everglades environment, and continues to draw more attention as an important ecological site, every single year.

The park was created in 1934, declared a biosphere reserve in 1976, listed as a world heritage site in 1979, and then upgraded to a wetland of international importance in 1987. Impressively, only two other locations in the entire world appear on all three of these lists.

The Everglades largest claim to fame, however, is its biodiversity. More than 800 species live in Everglades National Park alone.

Visitors may be lucky enough to spot a number of these species—including the once-threatened Florida Panther or American Alligator—while kayaking, hiking, camping.

If stargazing is your thing, both the remote Flamingo and Ten Thousand Islands regions of the park offer superb nighttime views.


Dry Tortugas National Park

Light turquoise waters surrounding an abandoned brick building at Dry Tortugas National and State Park

Nearest City: Key West, Florida

Making up the latter portion of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, Dry Tortugas National Park is best known for its sea life and undisturbed coral reefs.

However, the national park, which lies 65 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, also contains a number of other recreational attractions, as well as Fort Jefferson.

Construction of Fort Jefferson began in 1846, but never finished. Made up of over three million bricks, it’s the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere—even while incomplete.

Other popular recreational activities at Dry Tortugas National Park include snorkeling, SCUBA diving, kayaking, and hiking. The park also offers ranger-guided tours.


Biscayne National Park

Light turquoise waters surround a small, lush, green island at Biscayne National Park

Nearest City: Homestead, Florida

Located south of Miami, about ninety-five percent of Biscayne National Park is water. It protects Biscayne Bay, as well as some of the largest barrier reefs in the world.

Four distinct ecosystems comprise the park’s environment: the mangrove swamp, Biscayne Bay, limestone keys, and barrier reefs. All protect a diverse series of flora and fauna.

In fact, an incredible sixteen endangered species live in and around these four ecosystems.

Prepare for an otherworldly experience while visiting. SCUBA divers and snorkelers will rejoice as they explore the rich and diverse waters of the park, while other visitors can enjoy wildlife-watching alongside park rangers.


Anastasia State Park

Seagrass in the foreground of a beach with crashing waves in the background at Anastasia State Park

Nearest City: St. Augustine, Florida

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive at Anastasia State Park to enjoy its beautiful and enticing beaches.

While in Anastasia, you can enjoy beachcombing, swimming, surfing, camping, fishing, sunbathing, and several other outdoor activities. The park is well-outfitted with campsites, nature trails, picnic areas, and outdoor grills.

In addition to its popularity as an outdoor playground, Anastasia State Park contains the archaeological site that unearthed the coquina stone. This stone was used in the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos, which resides in St. Augustine, Florida.


Honeymoon Island State Park

A small white sand beach surrounded by blue-green waters on a mostly cloudy day at Honeymoon Island State Park

Nearest City: Dunedin, Florida

Honeymoon Island State Park formed after a hurricane in 1921 split the larger barrier island.  It sits across Hurricane Pass from Caladesi Island and protects 2,785 acres.

The park’s gem is its breathtaking beaches, which welcome more than a million tourists annually—making it the most visited state park in Florida.

This sunbather’s paradise also protects a diverse set of wildlife. Many bird species migrate to the park throughout the year, and tourists consistently spot pods of dolphins from the shores.


Explore the Sunshine State

A sunset on a rocky beach on the Florida coast
Florida really does live up to its nickname: its warm, island-like feel makes it one of the most popular tourist spots in America—and one of the most diverse ecosystems out there.

Besides the traditional outdoor adventures you’d find in most state or national parks, Florida throws in the extra thrills of water-themed activities, from snorkeling to diving.

Outdoor enthusiasts, families, and honeymooners alike can explore the gorgeous views and vivid, varied ecosystem this state has to offer.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, TexasCaliforniaColoradoNevadaArizona and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tentsbackpackswater filters, and a solid plan.


Fun Things to Do While Traveling in Italy


Rich with ancient ruins, historically famous paintings and sculptures, and a culture that prides itself on family, food, and love, it’s no wonder Italy is among the top 5 travel destinations in the entire world.

Whether going solo or in a group, there are endless fun and exciting activities to do while traveling in Italy. Start with four of the most popular cities: Milan, Rome, Venice, and Florence.




A large dramatic fountain display in front of Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Italy

Castello Sforzesco

You absolutely have to take a tour of one of the most influential and important landmarks in Italy.

This castle was built around the 15th century, and was renovated shortly after. Leonardo Da Vinci lived in this castle for 17 years, in fact, and even designed one of the rooms himself.

You can also participate in a guided tour, which takes you through the museum and explains the history of the castle and the Dukes of Milan.

This institution has become a museum of sorts. It allows visitors to step back into the past, to see what life was like for prestigious artists and noblemen.


La Casa Maledetta

An excellent and invigorating experience awaits you at La Casa Maledetta.

This spooky house hasn’t been inhabited for close to 100 years, following a tragedy.

Enjoy live action roleplay at this cursed house: participants get the chance to interpret some fictional characters, as they act out different scenarios given to them.

Actors will also enhance the event, and help you experience a real-life psychological thriller unlike any other.




Tourist taking in the historic views at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy


This ancient monument is a massive marble structure, impeccably preserved and just as grand today as it was when ancient Romans first gathered in its walls.

It was constructed to hold over 50,000 people, who would witness battles of strength, might, and valor.

Today, visitors can get a taste of the past by visiting the Colosseum, doing a walk-through, taking pictures, and watching reenacted scenes by professionals.

Near the Colosseum, there is also a flurry of merchants, both authentic and more familiar foods (such as Burger King, for the less adventurous members of your group), knick-knacks, and painters waiting to do a portrait.

Once you leave your tour, you can choose to shop in the nearby strip mall, or go out for a night on the town at a nightclub.

While the streets are always bustling, the real fun starts at midnight!


Wine Tasting

Vino reigns supreme! A wine tasting experience is a must while traveling in Italy, as you’ll find it at nearly every table, for every meal.

While in Rome, enjoy a two-hour wine tasting in the city’s historic center. You’ll get to sample 6 premium wines, including a Rosè, two red wines, two white wines, and a sparkling variety.

Additionally, enjoy a delicious selection of perfectly paired Italian cured meats, olives, salami, cheeses, taralli, and bread.




A gondolier wearing a striped red and white shirt piloting his gondola through the Grand Canal in front of the colorful buildings in Venice, Italy

Gondola Ride Through the Grand Canal

Ah, the famous gondola ride: an upper echelon of romance. While you’re traveling Italy, why not finally make it a reality?

You can enjoy a shared ride in a gondola through the beautiful canals while sightseeing. The tour takes you through smaller canals, eventually ending in the Grand Canal.

These mysterious and serene canals can be enjoyed for 30-minute rides. It’s a great date idea, or simply a time to take in the atmosphere and be inspired.


Carnival Mask Treasure Hunt

There’s a personal treasure waiting for you in the maze of the Venetian streets!

A treasure hunt can be a fun time for the family, a friendly competition between buddies, or a couple’s adventure.

If you find your treasure, you’ll win a genuine carnival mask handcrafted by a local producer. They can even incorporate elements of your personality, or customize certain aspects however you like.

While doing the hunt, you must take a photo of three or more locations that will be highlighted on a map for you. This is a great way to discover the streets of Venice.


Gelateria lit prominently, and towering neighboring buildings against a sunset sky in Florence, Italy


Tour of the Gelateria

Real Italian gelato is an experience like no other.

Florence is the birthplace of authentic Italian gelato, made with care and quality ingredients. You’ll only pay €2 for a small, but handmade and organic cup of gelato.

Since the shop is only big enough to accommodate a handful of people at a time, you can step outside to enjoy the weather and admire the piazza (town square) while you’re there.

The Gelateria della Passera should be a stop on your list when visiting Florence. It’s also a short distance away from the world-famous Ponte Vecchio (a massive bridge with a remarkable amount of merchants).


Teatro del Sale

This is one of the most beloved institutions in Florence. It’s a restaurant/theatre, housed in a former 14th-century convent.

Grab your membership card upon arrival, as this event offers members-only entertainment that gives you the true Italian experience.

Every night there are wonderful performances, decadent dishes—announced by world-class chef Fabio Picchi—and diverse music.

The food is served canteen-style, and you can enjoy rock, jazz, tango, and even classical music while you eat.


An aerial view of historic buildings and red-roofed town surrounded by a teal river and sunset sky in Italy

There is truly so much to do when it comes to discovering and embracing the Italian culture. From musical events, to water activities, food tours, and more, there’s something for the whole family while traveling in the beautiful country of Italy.

For more travel recommendations, check out this year’s must-see destinations, the coolest day trips out of New York City, or the best restaurants in Portland.

Eating Healthy While Camping or Bike Touring


When planning a trip, you might see it as a reason to splurge or indulge.  After all, you’re on vacation! While takeout and your favorite chipotle hack can certainly be included in your meal plans, some trips—such as camping or bike touring—require healthy eating habits to maintain proper energy levels.

Not only that, but your options are usually far more limited. Fear not: this lack of options can actually enrich your experience. Roughing it under the stars goes well with roughing it at the picnic table.

For those embarking on long adventures, making your own meals and choosing your fuel wisely isn’t just wise: it’s a necessity, one that becomes more crucial, the further off the beaten path you venture.


Equipment You’ll Need for Healthy Eating on the Go


Camping Stove and Pot

Preparing hot meals on the road is as easy as investing in a small camping stove and pot. Additionally, in the long run, it’s much cheaper than paying for cooked food.

Try the Olicamp Micro Stove or the Esbit Alcohol Stove, along with a portable pot and utensils.

The gas canisters on which the Olicamp runs are lightweight, and easy to find in stores. One container will provide you with weeks of daily hot meals.

When it does run out, many gas stations and hardware/outdoor supply stores will carry similar canisters. That accessibility is critical for long hiking trips or tours, since populated areas can be few and far between.

Alcohol-powered stoves are another great option, and are generally more lightweight than gas stoves: the latter requires you to carry sizable fuel canisters, whereas an alcohol stove—though slower to cook—is far more portable.

If you’re not sure which to choose, consider your priorities. Do you need to keep your load light, or is time of the essence?


man stirring a meal inside a camping stove while sitting on the grass


Optional—but Helpful—Extras to Pack

Some luxuries to add to your cooking setup can include the collapsible X-Seal Plate and Mug Set by Sea to Summit, or this Morakniv Outdoor Knife.

Aluminum is widely accepted as the best material for on-the-go cookware, since it allows heat to travel uniformly throughout the vessel. This, in turn, leads to less burning and sticking.

If you’re mostly going to be traveling by car, your options are more far-reaching.

You could pack an entire grill, if you wanted to, even a cooler, mini-fridge, and a blender for smoothies.

However, if you’re taking a more self-contained approach (bikes or walking), look for collapsible, multi-functional cookware designed for durability.

Don’t forget to pack some water! Of course you could always stop by a gas station and grab your favorite snack and water. Or, you could always bring along your water filter or hydration pack.



Grocery Shopping Before Your Trip: The Staples

Carrying a few bulk staples will ensure you’re always covered for delicious and nutritious fuel, no matter what’s open or nearby.

Easy-to-use, nonperishable items include pasta, rice meals, nut butters, crackers, dry fruit oil, oatmeal, beans, and spices.

Canned fish can be an emergency protein source, along with any form of jerky.

If you’re going to be on the move, either on foot or by bike, have those essentials on hand when you depart, and stock up on perishable items along the way.

It’s always a plus to have canned vegetables available, too, in case you make a pasta or rice meal. Or, if you can, purchase fresh vegetables at produce stands, grocery stores, or farmer’s markets during your trip.

Topped with olive oil or pesto, this can make for a quick but delicious tent-side dinner.

For breakfast, oatmeal is a classic go-to because of its versatility.

Fresh or dried fruit, peanut butter, or even savory additions can liven up any bowl, and provide steadily-releasing fuel for the longest of excursions.


Campfire Snacking

The simple thrill of sparking your own flame is even better when you pair it with the classic snack-on-a-stick, whatever the ingredients entail.

Though delicious, the standard marshmallows aren’t exactly healthy. For more filling options, try hot dogs, sausage, peppers, or corn on the cob.


fresh corn, cucumbers, and peppers on a wood table


Keep Ingredients in Mind

Many portable snacks and staples out there claim to be healthy…but are they?

Granola bars are one excellent example of this: while they contain nutritious, whole ingredients like nuts and berries, many also boast a shocking amount of sugar, guaranteeing a mid-trail crash.

Some tips to help you choose the best products:

  • Go for whole wheat, rather than white. For rice, choose brown over white whenever possible. Whole grain goods are less processed, and therefore retain more nutrients than their refined counterparts. They also satisfy hunger better.


  • Keep sugar and sodium to a minimum. Granted, you’ll be exercising quite a bit while camping or bike touring but eating healthy isn’t just about caloric intake and output.  Sugar and sodium, in excess, can still increase blood pressure and wreak havoc on energy levels. Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many “healthy” foods contain more salt or sugar than you’d never expect. Tomato sauce and certain breads are one sneaky example.


  • Eat fresh as often as possible. This is extremely difficult when on the move, especially if you don’t have a cooler handy, but some careful route planning can ensure you encounter a fresh food source every day, or close to it.  That said, the right canned or dehydrated products can be healthful, too. Since eating healthy while camping or bike touring ultimately comes down to convenience, the adage “some is better than nothing” holds pretty true here.


A woman on a bike taking a break in the bike lane to drink water


Eating (and cooking) healthy meals while camping or traveling isn’t easy, by any stretch. Then again, neither is blazing a new trail, or riding a bike across an entire state!

Remember that the better you eat, the better you can hike or ride…and the more enjoyable your trip will be, as a result.

If you’ll be going on a longer and more rural adventure don’t forget a backpack! This is a vital tool that would allow you to carry a tent, water filter and anything else you may need.

Lastly, plan your first bike tour. You wouldn’t want to get going somewhere without some sort of direction. Failing to plan is planning to fail!

Comparison of the Best Personal Blenders


Whether you’re on a fitness kick or having an inexplicable craving for kale, personal blenders are a convenient way to get your fix.

Frankly, not everyone needs a full-size, high powered blender. Maybe you’re not that serious about blending to shell out much cash.  Perhaps you just don’t have the counter space to devote to such bulky equipment.

If you fit into either of these camps, then a personal blender will work wonders for you.


Nutri-Ninja Fit Personal Blender

Nutri-Ninja personal blended pictured with accessories

The Nutri-Ninja Fit is perfectly balanced in every way: neither overly strong nor weak in any category, but rather, just right.

When you consider the compact size and elegant design of the Nutri-Ninja Fit, you’ll be forgiven for getting caught off guard by its sheer power and whip.

What’s more, the Nutri-Ninja Fit comes equipped with a 700-watt motor that’s practically whisper-quiet, compared to most personal blenders.

The superb utility of the Nutri-Ninja Fit does not outdo its stunning visual aesthetics, however. In other words, yes: it looks as good as it blends.

Small enough to be easily stored away after use, this portable and sleek beauty is ideal for on-the-go consumption: its 16-oz cups are marked with measurements.

On the cons side, it has limited volume, which isn’t great if you want to blend just a little more. It also lacks common buttons and automatic programming options of similar models.

That said, it’s easily one of the best personal blenders you can buy, and undoubtedly the best to gaze at as it graces your kitchen counter.

Find it on Amazon here.


Magic Bullet Blender

Magic Bullet personal blender filled with various fruits pictured with accessories

If you’re looking for a basic and quintessential blender, choose the Magic Bullet Blender. It’ll get the job done, plain and simple.

Fast and designed simply, the Magic Bullet suits on-the-go lifestyles well.

Despite its 250-watt motor, it is strong and durable enough to blend frozen fruit. This is assuming, of course, that you add the correct amounts of liquid, as is the case with most personal blenders.

However, it’s not great at more challenging ingredients, due to low wattage. If you like to mix things up with nuts or seeds, seek out a more powerful model. Ditto on ice, which produces varied results, according to user reviews.

Thanks to its sleek and cylindrical shape, cleaning up is a snap. When you consider its price, size, and ease of use, you probably won’t find a better bargain on the market. As an added bonus, the small footprint of this blender allows you to store alongside a water filter in a backpack for hiking or use it in a tent without taking too much valuable space.

Find it on Amazon here.


NutriBullet NBR-1201

NutriBullet personal blender pictured with additional accessories

It goes without saying that the NutriBullet is akin to the Magic Bullet, but larger—and more visually appealing.

In most cases, bigger is better…but in this race of convenience, that might be a drawback. Simply put, the NutriBullet lacks the versatility that its smaller cousin provides.

However, convenience alone isn’t all you have to consider when comparing personal blenders.

The Nutribullet excels in blending and style and might prove more durable than similar models. This makes it ideal for travelers who bring their blenders on the road (or the office commute).

With that in mind, however, its actual travel attachments are less than sturdy, though the blender itself can weather a great deal.

In terms of storage convenience, a larger-than-average base and bulky design will make this challenging for small kitchens.

Find it on Amazon here.


Oster BLSTPB-WBL My Blend

Blue, black, and white Oster personal blender filled with berries and ice

The Oster design will definitely appeal to fitness fanatics.

Though perfect for people who only have to blend together their pre-workout or recovery protein shake, the Oster has very narrow containers, which makes it challenging to clean if your smoothies or shakes contain solid ingredients.

Furthermore, due to the tint of the containers, they continue to look stained…even after a thorough (and difficult) scrubbing.

It’s also got the grating drawback of being incredibly noisy, and its design is less than pleasing, in terms of aesthetics.

All in all, this affordable blender will get the job done, though its longevity is up for debate.

Find it on Amazon here.


Nutri-Ninja Pro Personal Blender

Black and Silver Ninja Professional personal blender

Similar to the NutriBullet, the Nutri-Ninja Pro is massive—to the point where the word “personal” is no longer a suitable adjective. The cups are a whopping 24 ounces.

On the plus side, it pulverizes just about anything you throw into it, so that extra counter space might be worth sacrificing.

While it can’t boast the portability, convenience, and low volume of other personal blenders, it does have power on its side. Furthermore, it’s still smaller and quieter than most standard-size models.

Overall, this is a great option for people seeking a blender straddling the line between personal and full-size.

Find it on Amazon here.

Pink, berry smoothie in a glass with black straw sitting in front of a window with a banana, raspberries and blueberries


When shopping for personal blenders, consider size, convenience, customer reviews, functionality, and performance.

While smaller or quieter models certainly hold appeal, they might lack the power you need for your favorite ingredients. Likewise, more powerful personal blenders often come at the cost of space…and silence.

After you’ve found the best blender for your needs, be sure to experiment with different fruits and veggies to make a great smoothie recipe.



Best State and National Parks in Texas


The state and national parks of Texas contain some of America’s most incredible natural gems. 

Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of its park system is Big Bend National Park, which features acres of desert, mountains, and riparian environments practically side-by-side. 

However, your exploration won’t end there: there’s also Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Palo Duro Canyon, and several other smaller state parks. 

Due to Texas’s massive size, landmarks are often hours apart—but this isolation only adds to the magic of every must-see natural wonder travellers can hope for while visiting the Lonestar State. 

Big Bend National Park

A star-filled sky displaying a prominent milky way in Big Bend National Park

Nearest City: Alpine, Texas

If you don’t believe the motto that “everything is bigger in Texas,” Big Bend National Park will definitely change your mind. 

In total, Big Bend protects over 800,000 acres. Within this expanse of land lies portions of the Chihuahuan Desert, Chiso Mountains, and several other rich and diverse natural environments. 

The cultural history of Big Bend National Park is just as rich. Several archaeological sites in the park have unearthed years of human evidence, most of which dates back about 10,000 years. These archaeological sites have also unearthed dinosaur fossils. 

Today, visitors can explore numerous hiking trails that meander throughout the park’s desert, mountains, and canyons.  You’ll also find areas to camp, birdwatch, and backpack. 

Additionally, Big Bend National Park was internationally designated as a Dark Sky Park in 2012. It is one of the least light-polluted areas in the United States. 

This means stargazing is truly out of this world, and an experience like no other. 


Guadalupe Mountains National Park

A large, barren, grey cliff face in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Nearest City: Dell City, Texas


Guadalupe Mountains National Park resides east of El Paso, within the Guadalupe Mountain Range. 

Compared to Big Bend National Park, the Guadalupe Mountains receive far less visitors per year. 

However, the park has quite a bit to offer, and is revered for its isolation and stillness. 

The most prominent feature of the park is Guadalupe Peak which, at a height of 8,749 feet, is the highest point in Texas. It can be reached by visitors via the Guadalupe Peak Trail, beginning at the large parking lot adjacent to the campground. 

Additionally, visitors can hike the Bowl Trail and the McKittrick Canyon Trail, among others, and find several unique flora and fauna—including the Texas Madrone. 


Big Bend Ranch State Park

A muddy river flows through the valley of steep rocky cliff faces at Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas

Nearest City: Alpine, Texas

Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest state park in Texas. Adjacent to the aforementioned national park of the same name, Ranch State shares a similar landscape. 

However, this state park separates itself in terms of access to the Rio Grande River. Connect with an outfitter to whitewater raft down the Rio Grande. 

If rafting is not for you, don’t be discouraged. Big Bend Ranch State Park also is home to the Madrid Falls (the second biggest waterfall in Texas).

There’s also a number of hiking trails.  An expansive backcountry just begs to be explored. 

Additionally, the park still follows open range policies.  It works alongside a number of cattle ranches that operate on its property. 


Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Green desert vegetation fills the canyons constituted of red rock cliffs at Palo Duro Canyon National State Parks, Texas
Image Credit: Andrew Chin on Flickr

Nearest City: Canyon, Texas

The most notable element of Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a series of paintings from famous American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe.  She lived near Palo Duro Canyon and visited frequently. 

Visitors arriving at the park today will find the second largest canyon in the United States—which is just as grand as another very famous canyon—and a number of opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

Along the canyon walls, the park maintains 16 trails that offer visitors the opportunity to hike, bike, and horseback ride. Some of these trails pass by notable rock formations, such as the Lighthouse. 


Colorado Bend State Park 

A waterfall flows through dense, leafy trees at Gorman Falls / Colorado Bend National State Parks
Image Credit: John Hill on Flickr

Nearest City: Bend, Texas

Named for a large curve in the nearby Colorado River, Colorado Bend State Park is relative unknown—even to some residents. But it holds a number of hidden caves, breathtaking waterfalls, and natural springs. 

Visitors can embark down the Spicewood Springs Trail, which will take them across Gorman Creek to a number of deep swimming pools as well as Gorman Falls, the most popular location in the park. 


Relish in the Differences 

A sunset against a cloudy sky picturing the desert vegetation in the valleys at Guadalupe Mountains, Texas

Texas boasts many things, including immense state pride, no state taxes, and great barbeque.

However, with national parks such as Big Bend and Guadalupe, and state parks such as Palo Duro Canyon and Colorado Bend, Texas should also be recognized as an outdoor powerhouse. 

Sure, you won’t find anything similar to the large 14,000-foot peaks of Colorado, or the snowy Cascades of California.  But you will find plenty of natural wonders that make Texas wholly unique. And while not a national park, but more of a sight-to-see would be a Tesla’s Gigafactory to supercharge it’s growth.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, ArizonaFlorida, Alaska, Nevada, and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tentsbackpackswater filters, and a solid plan. After all, national and state parks are some of the coolest places to travel.