Which iconic National Park is for you?
North America. Sum up this place in one word: I C O N I C. Iconic landmarks. Iconic food. Iconic culture. Iconic landscapes. Thought being on a group tour meant you’d miss out on exploring ‘merica’s best natural assets? Wrong. From Alberta to Alaska, we’ll trek through, fly across, ski down and gape over some of the best national parks NA has to offer. But which one is for you?
If you like…sheer-granite cliff faces and thundering waterfalls
Yosemite National Park – California
Chances are you’ve heard of Yosemite (yo-sem-it-ee). Or if not, it’s been your laptop screensaver at some point. With over 4 million visitors each year, this baby sure is popular. And for good reason. From towering granite structures to bright green meadows, gushing waterfalls, crystal-clear pools and plenty of wildlife – Yosemite is the OG of Californian National Parks.
Start your day exploring the valley floor where you get great views of the monstrous Half Dome and El Capitan. Then head up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls. Hot tip: bring your swimwear in summer, you can take a dip in the pool at the top. Built up an appetite? Tuck into a hearty pizza at Half Dome Village later – surrounded by views of Glacier Point and Royal Arches.
If you like…snow-capped mountains and pine-fringed aquamarine lakes
Banff National Park – Alberta
Banff is like National Geographic on steroids. Discovered by three railway workers in 1883, Canada’s first ever national park is now one of the world’s most desirable locations. And when you catch your first glimpse of the post-card perfect scenery, there’s no question as to why.
Start your day filling your SD card with all the aesthetically pleasing angles of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Then take the #1 bus to the base of Sulphur Mountain. Here, you can take your pick between hiking up to the summit or paying for the gondola to the observation deck. Prefer a bird’s eye view? Take an heli-tour over the park’s awe-inspiring lakes and glaciers. Or up the ante with a Via Ferrata rock climbing and adventure hiking tour. Prefer things at 0kmph? Banff Upper Hot Springs. Nuff said.
If you like…intensely dramatic ravines and electric coloured gorges
Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
You’ve seen pics. Watched the movie. Read the books. But nothing quite prepares you for the overwhelming GRAND-ness of this place. Seriously, it’s hard to look away. One of the world’s seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon region is the perfect combination of almost-painful beauty, centuries of geographical history and sheer size.
Honestly, it’s a bit of a journey to get there but once you catch that first glimpse of the South Rim – the holy sh*ts will be flying left and right. Trust us. Absorb all the incredible views on-foot along the paved Rim Walk or take to the skies with a heli-tour. Round up your visit with a history lesson that’s you know, not boring, at the Grand Canyon Visitor Centre. Then tick “see the Grand Canyon” off your bucket list.
If you like…raw-wilderness and colossal ice-fields
Jasper National Park –Alberta
Less tourist-pampering than its southern cousin, Jasper has all the awe-inspiring, rugged beauty you’d expect from a Canadian National Park – but with the addition of one monstrous glacier and acres upon acres of desolate backcountry just waiting to be explored.
Make the most of your two nights here by first jumping aboard an ice explorer tour across the Athabasca Glacier. At an altitude of 2,700 metres, you’ll roll across the ice in a specialised all-terrain vehicle – learning all the fascinating fun facts as you go. Then opt to explore the extensive trail network on foot or on two-wheels. This is what you came for. And if you’re muscles are still recovering from Banff, there’s some pretty awesome hot springs here too.
Got around two weeks? Do it on the 10 Day Canadian Rockies
Got longer? Do it on the 21 Day West Coast Cruiser
If you like…sweeping desert landscapes and mighty brick-red formations
Monument Valley – Utah
Three guesses what Monument Valley is famous for – hopefully you didn’t need all three. The star of countless Hollywood movies and famous marketing campaigns, the sandstone monoliths of this barren landscape are nothing short of spectacular in real life.
Named the ‘Valley Between the Rocks’ by the local people, Monument Valley straddles the Arizona-Utah border and sports views of Highway 163 (made famous by that 90’s classic: Forrest Gump). If you’re visiting with us, you’ll get to experience 30+ miles of secluded off-roads and restricted areas on a private Jeep Tour – with a fascinating lesson on Navajo culture to boot. Now that is what we call a real experience.
Do it on the 25 Day Road Trip USA