Which of These 8 National Parks of the World Have You Visited?
Famous landmarks, local culture and distinctive cuisine are some of the myriad factors which comprise of a total experience when visiting another land tucked away in some far corner of the world; but the natural topography also lends towards its uniqueness — and what better way is there to acquaint yourself with such wondrous beauty as roaring waterfalls, majestic glaciers, placid lakes, dense jungles and indigenous fauna than to visit a national park?
Which of These 8 National Parks of the World Have You Visited?
A series of topographic maps for eight of the most popular national parks in the world has been created — and this article from Expedia.ca can ultimately inspire you, lending initial insights and compelling you to launch more detailed research pertaining to these gems which interest you.
I have been given express written permission to use the images in this article. Verbatim text from the aforementioned article is in quotes above each “topographic map”, with brief notes added by me for some of the destinations below each “topographic map.”
1. Zion National Park — Utah, United States of America
“Southern Utah’s Zion National Park is a 148,000-acre wonderland, with 270-million-year-old rock layers that have eroded to form some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. Its towering cliff walls, waterfalls and narrow canyons make it a hikers paradise, with options for any skill level or age group. The infamous Angels Landing Trail takes you on a 5-mile round trip with awe inspiring views in every direction. And if you want to chill amongst nature and spot wildlife, Zion won’t disappoint. The park is home to 67 species of mammals, 291 species of birds and 900 species of plants.”
I have been to all 50 states and numerous national parks and monuments in the United States; but the national parks in Utah is sorely lacking in my personal travel experiences.
The last time I was in Utah was in October of 2017; but I did not have enough time to explore Zion National Park and most of the national parks in that state — although I did visit Glen Canyon National Park — so I am thinking of one day devoting time to explore that state.
- Bryce Canyon
- Capitol Reef
- Cedar Breaks
- Glen Canyon
- Golden Spike
- Mormon Pioneer
- Natural Bridges
- Old Spanish
- Pony Express
- Rainbow Bridge
- Timpanogos Cave
2. Banff National Park — Alberta, Canada
“Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest National Park and home to the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains. The park spans around 6,640 sq km of mountainous terrain, and it’s jam packed with scenic valleys, snow-capped mountains, glistening glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers. Each year millions of visitors come to marvel at the flower-packed Sunshine Meadow and the jagged peaks of the Icefields Parkway. And then there’s the dreamy, emerald waters of Lake Louise. Keep your eyes peeled for grizzly bears and caribou during your adventures; the park wilderness is home to some of North America’s wildest creatures.”
I have been to both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The beauty is significantly unmatched, in my opinion.
You may want to visit the Rocky Mountains of Canada prior to the start of tourist season — consider starting your visit later this month — as well as the inevitable inundation of throngs of people. Here is a list of the articles I have already written up to this point pertaining to my visit to the Rocky Mountains of Canada last year — I still have plenty more trip reports to write — as well as articles when I visited the Vancouver area yet again a few years ago; and articles with offers which are still valid.
- Free Entry Into National Parks in Canada All Year Long
- Happy Birthday Number 150, Canada!
- Meet Some of My New Animal Friends From the Canadian Rocky Mountains
- Can You Find the Red Chairs in This Photograph?
- Spectacular Views of Peyto Glacier and Peyto Lake
- Lake Louise From a Slightly Different Perspective
- Tangle Creek Falls is So Easy to Visit
- A Stop at Morant’s Curve in Banff National Park
- Johnston Canyon: An Introduction
- The Lower Falls of Johnston Canyon
- The Upper Falls of Johnston Canyon
- A Quiet Moment at Silverton Falls in Banff National Park
- Gap Lake — A Good Starting Point
- Unimpressed With My First Stay at Delta Hotels & Resorts
- How I Saved Hundreds of Dollars on One Car Rental
- Earn 1,000 IHG Rewards Club Points Per Stay at Select Hotel Properties in Western Canada
- Earn 1,500 Bonus Hilton Honors Points in Canada Plus Bonus Airline Miles
- WestJet Rebrands as Canada Air For 150th Birthday of Canada
- Overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver
- Consider Lynn Canyon Instead of Capilano Park When in North Vancouver
3. Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park — Jiuzhaigou, Ngawa, Sichuan, China
“Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park has been described as an extravaganza of natural wonder – and we can’t disagree. The snowy mountain tops, tranquil grasslands and waterfalls make it a dreamlike experience. The forest covers an area of 74,132 acres and is home to giant pandas and golden monkeys, who live comfortably amongst the incredible diversity of flora. Visit in autumn to see the park explode into colour, or during winter to see the Panda Lake Waterfall freeze into a world of crystals. But no matter when you go, don’t miss the spectacular Shuzheng, Rize and Zechawa valleys.”
I have only been to China once; and that was on an unexpected overnight stay in Shanghai — so I did not visit this national park.
If you are a member of IHG Rewards Club, some hotel properties in China are currently available at only 5,000 points per night; and that may help towards you considering visiting this national park. I intend to post an article with a list of those hotel properties.
4. Göreme National Park — Göreme, Turkey
“Göreme National Park looks like something from a fairy tale. The area has been beautifully sculpted over time by natural erosion, and the landscape is home to the enchanting ‘fairy chimneys.’ But despite their name, fairies didn’t build them. The unusual rock formations are a result of a geologic process that started millions of years ago with volcanic eruptions. The ash that rained over the region hardened into rock, which slowly eroded to create pillars standing as tall as 130 feet. Though it sits in the popular Cappadocia region of Turkey, this magical place looks like it could be on a planet far, far away.”
I have never been to Turkey — although I almost went last year; but almost does not count — so I cannot comment on this national park.
5. Torres del Paine National Park — Magallanes Region, Chile
“Torres del Paine National Park is thought by many to be South America’s best national park. Its ancient forests, glaciers and lakes make it a must-see destination. Dominating the landscape are the granite pillars. Soaring almost vertically above the Patagonian steppe, they loom over the natural splendor and pure wilderness below. This park isn’t for the faint hearted, though. Whether you’re traveling by foot, horseback or even boat, Torres del Paine can get pretty wild and unpredictable. After a full day of activities, relax and enjoy the reward of a beautiful sunset on the lagoon.”
Chile is another country which I almost visited in recent years — again, almost does not count — and I intend to keep this national park in mind when I eventually do travel to Chile.
However, I have been to Iguazu Falls in Iguazu National Park in both Argentina and Brazil — and visiting there is practically a requirement, in my opinion. Give yourself three days and two nights for the optimum visiting time.
6. Fiordland National Park — Southland, New Zealand
“Fiordland National Park has scenery capable of taking your breath away. Here, pristine snow-capped mountains, glistening fjords, icy lakes and ice-carved valleys compete for room. Rivers flow through the forest, and the diverse flora and fauna provide homes for plants and animals that have evolved to be completely unique to the area. Visitors can’t miss Milford Sound — a fjord carved out by glaciers during the ice ages – where waterfalls flow from cliffs 1,000 metres tall. Towering above is Mitre Peak, an iconic mountain that stands 1,692 metres above sea level.”
I drove to Milford Sound during the month of May years ago; and it is simply breathtaking. Even the drive of one hour and 40 minutes along the narrow road of Highway 94 from Te Anau was amazingly scenic — but watch those sharp curves on the downhill slope through the mountainous terrain towards Milford Sound.
Be sure you cruise out on Milford Sound to soak in the natural beauty of the fiords. Once you visit, you will never forget your experience. I know I have not forgotten it.
I may one day write an article that includes a “classic” trip report of my experience, of which I have both photographs and video.
7. Jostedalsbreen National Park — Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
“Famous for its wide variety of natural landscapes, Jostedalsbreen National Park has everything from lush valleys to bare mountains and glaciers. It’s home to the biggest glacier in mainland Europe, Jostedalsbreen, which covers nearly half of the park and divides two of the world’s longest fjords, the Sognefjord and the Nordfjord. The park is truly a visual wonder for visitors, but blink and you might miss something; the landscape is constantly changing due to the movement of the glaciers. Thawed water often creates new glacial rivers, which provide one of the most distinctive features of the park.”
I considered Norway as a destination for later this year; but I scrapped that idea. I still have never been to Norway; but one day, I will go.
Remember that you can explore Norway with unlimited flights within two weeks between Sunday, July 1, 2018 and Friday, August 31, 2018 for one price with Widerøe, depending on within which zones to which you travel. The Explore Norway ticket is valid for unlimited travel in Norway for two weeks — with Norway divided into 3 zones — and you can choose between traveling in one zone, two zones or the whole of Norway.
8. Kilimanjaro National Park — Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
“Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Africa’s highest mountain and one of the continent’s most incredible sights: Mt Kilimanjaro. The highest free-standing mountain on planet Earth, its accessible high summit attracts visitors from around the world. Climbers of any level can enjoy this natural wonder, but those who don’t fancy a hike will be content to just stare at it in awe. There’s also plenty to see on lower land: lush rainforest, alpine meadows, and a walk across the lunar landscape towards the twin summits of Kibo and Mawenzi.”
I have never been to Tanzania or Kilimanjaro National Park; but I was rather close when I was on safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, as it borders Tanzania and Serengeti National Park.
If you would like to see some of the animals which I photographed during a safari in which I participated in Kenya back in 2015 — I still have additional articles to post, including one featuring hippopotami — please refer to these photographic essays…
- Cheetah — When I was unexpectedly treated to witnessing a cheetah surprising its prey, killing it and feasting on it
- Giraffe — When I simply hung around with the awkward but graceful giraffes
- Zebra — Watching zebras and their sometimes quirky behavior was interesting to me
- Lion — Viewing of the lion with one eye with his lioness companion
- Elephant — Hanging out with elephants at a watering hole
- Buffalo — Enjoying hanging out with elephants at a watering hole and witnessing the migration of large herds of cape buffalo
- Monkey — Observing playful vervet monkeys
- Baboon — Watching an olive baboon nursing her young
- Rhinoceros — Spotting a lone black rhinoceros crossing the road
- Flamingos — Dozens of pink greater flamingos; as well as pelicans and other waterfowl
- Birds — …as well as the different varieties of birds which I spotted while on safari in Kenya
…as well as of the people of the Maasai society.
- An Introduction and Welcome to a Maasai Village
- Homes Constructed With Cow Manure?!? In Villages of the Maasai People of Kenya, Yes
- How to Create Fire Without Matches or Lighters by Maasai People: A Photographic Essay
- Maasai People of Kenya: A Photographic Essay of Random Images
There truly is no better way to see the natural wonders of our world than to visit one of its national parks. Many national parks often offer a wide range of experiences — usually with something for everyone, from an active wild adventure to simply complete relaxation. They also offer a glimpse into what that country or region was like from years ago when it was untouched by human development — as well as a safe haven for indigenous flora and fauna.
Which of these eight national parks have you visited — and which national parks would you have wanted to see included on this list accompanied by a topographical “map”?
Lake Louise is located in Banff National Park. Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.