World's Best National Parks
With so much organic beauty in the world, it's not easy to choose which natural wonders to explore next — but this list will help. Based on factors like accessibility, abundance of wildlife and natural aesthetics, U.S. News compiled a list of the best national parks in the world. We've ranked these top outdoor destinations, from the savannahs of Africa to the jungles of South America, by relying on insight from experts as well as user votes. We need your input to help determine next year's ranking, so vote for your favorite parks below.
Why go: During the Migration through Serengeti National Park (one of the largest annual wildlife movements on the planet), more than a million wildebeests and other four-legged friends chase the horizon from one end of the park to the other. Highlights of the landscape include Lobo Valley and Ngorongoro Crater. Read More»
Why go: Made famous by Charles Darwin, this chain of islands hosts an incredible array of wildlife. From the colorful insects to the chirping birds and unusual reptiles, the creatures here enchant observers. You can also lounge on beaches, swim alongside sea lions and trek across uninhabited islands. Read More»
Why go: One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon captivates visitors with shifting colors, incredible depth and unique rock formations. Whether you're in the air, on the Colorado River or on solid ground, be sure to photograph the canyon from multiple vantage points. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Grand Canyon
Why go: In 1981, the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and the surrounding area were declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary — which is close enough to a "national park" for us. Inhabited by humans for hundreds of years, this UNESCO World Heritage Site draws thousands of visitors annually who are eager to behold the remains of this ancient metropolis.
Why go: With numerous attractions scattered through the park, Yellowstone is the Disney World of national parks. In the summer, you'll even encounter full parking lots and long restroom lines. Still, its popularity has not dulled its natural beauty: Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful amaze visitors year after year. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Yellowstone
Why go: South Africa's iconic Kruger National Park is perhaps the most tourist-friendly game park in Africa. It boasts a vast array of campsites, safari packages, family excursions and luxury lodges. Kruger also hosts hundreds of animal species (antelope, leopards and cheetahs among them).
Why go: Thanks to Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, many people have fallen in love with New Zealand's dramatic landscape. Nowhere in the country is more picture-perfect than Fiordland National Park. While the Sutherland Falls impresses visitors, it's the Milford Sound (a deep fjord carved by a glacier) that steals most of the thunder.
Why go: Located in southeast Venezuela, this park boasts the awe-inspiring Angel Falls, which pours water from more than a half-mile up. A UNESCO world heritage site, Canaima has a unique geographical formation called a "tepuis," a massive rock plateau that covers roughly 65 percent of the park.
Why go: Just a few hours east of San Francisco, Yosemite is a small world unto itself. This park encompasses diverse landscapes such as Mariposa Grove and Tuolumne Meadows. It has famous monuments, like Half Dome and El Capitan, and plenty of hidden treasures along its 750 miles of trails. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Yosemite
Why go: You won't spot many animals here, but that's OK because the landscape is the true star of the show. Located in Chilean Patagonia, Torres Del Paine National Park encompasses more than 400,000 acres of stunning geographical features, like its four lakes, Grey Glacier and Paine Massif — the jagged stone peaks that crown the park.
Why go: Boasting Mount Everest (the tallest peak on the planet), Sagarmatha National Park in eastern Nepal is a monumental place by any stretch of the imagination. While only the bravest attempt to scale the Himalayas, the less daring can marvel at the surreal terrain from the foothills.
Why go: Close your eyes and picture the snowy peaks of Switzerland. Now, turn to face north and open your eyes. There, you'll see Banff National Park in our northern neighbor's backyard. With countless ski runs, hiking trails and mountain bike paths, this Canadian park is a prime destination for adventure. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Banff