Think national parks are just for burly, flannel-clad men, or Reese Witherspoon a la "Wild?" Think again. You don't have to be a pro hiker to take advantage of this country's bounty of national parks.
With 58 very diverse national parks in the United States, travelers can find everything from staggering canyons to glaciers and virtually untouched coral reefs—making it possible to plan a family vacation, a romantic getaway with your special-someone, a multi-generational family reunion, or an adventurous weekend with your best buds. Regardless of your activity level, or preference for sandy beaches or pine-covered forests, there's definitely a park out there fit for your trip.
These protected oases are the perfect escape from the daily urban or suburban grind. And while some, like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains see millions of visitors a year (the latter gets more than 9 million tourists), little-known national parks can provide us with a place to enjoy the land as it was intended to be enjoyed: unspoiled, and teeming with wildlife, like final slivers of the frontier.
Varying terrain and hikes ranging from easy to strenuous can be found at every park—though some are more suited, in general, for specific types of travelers. Arches National Park, located in Northeastern Utah, is a great destination for a family with younger children that may not be capable of hiking for long distances. Many of the park's features, for example, are just a stone's throw away from the road.
For the more active traveler eager to get away from the crowds and into some of our country's most vast and remote wilderness, Washington State's Olympic National Park may be a better option. Summiting Mt. Olympus, the range's 7,980-foot peak, requires technical climbing skills, as you'll face vertical cliff faces and icy glaciers.
Thanks to the varied terrain and distinct geographic offerings, our expansive national park system ensures that there is a wilderness adventure that will meet anyone's expectations: no passport required.