Best National Parks in the World
Nature's beauty is fleeting... and global warming hasn't helped. The seasons put on the world's most spectacular show of life, death, and renewal. And this display is constantly threatened by natural disasters and human encroachment. While you still can, witness the drama in natural parks—our sanctioned stages—across the planet. From the savannahs of Africa to the jungles of South America, here are the best national parks in the world.
Why Go: Chase the Migration through Serengeti National Park and you'll have the ride of your life. This game preserve plays host to one of the largest annual wildlife movements on the planet; over a million wildebeests and other four-legged friends chase the horizon from one end of the park to the other. Between shooting (photographs of) the animals, take in the diverse terrain. Highlights of the landscape include Lobo Valley and Ngorongoro Crater. Read More»
Why Go: Considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon captivates visitors with shifting colors, incredible depth, and unique rock formations. There are numerous ways to the take in this national park, but via helicopter or raft are two of the most creative and thrilling. 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 "national park" for us. Inhabited by humans for hundreds of years, the UNESCO World Heritage Site annually draws thousands of visitors eager to behold the remains of this ancient metropolis and the natural splendor of the Andes Mountain. Hiking the historical Inca Trail from Cusco is the best way to absorb the sanctuary's majesty.
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 Fjordland 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. You'll find this park near Queenstown.
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 to the unusual reptiles (i.e. Galapagos tortoises), the creatures here enchant observers. While you probably won't tire of nature watching, you can also lounge on beaches, swim alongside sea lions, and trek across uninhabited islands.
Why Go: With numerous attractions scattered through the park, Yellowstone is the Disneyworld of national parks. In the summer, you'll even encounter full parking lots and restroom lines. Still, its popularity has not dulled its natural beauty. Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone continue to amaze visitors year after year. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Yellowstone
Why Go: You can't pass up the world's tallest waterfall, so you shouldn't miss Canaima National Park. Located in southeast Venezuela, this park boasts the awe-inspiring Angel Falls, which pours water from more than half a mile high. 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: 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. Where else can you sip wine while watching giraffes? Despite its popularity and convenience for homo sapiens, Kruger continues to host hundreds of animal species (antelope, leopards, and cheetahs among them), just waiting to be photographed.
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 neighbor's backyard. With countless ski runs, hiking trails, and mountain bike paths, this Canadian Park is a prime destination for adventure. Plus, its proximity makes a visit easier and more affordable than international destinations, like the Swiss Alps. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Banff
Why Go: You won't spot many animals here (especially at the higher elevations), but that's okay 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. Adventure seekers can explore the terrain on horse-back, a boat, or their own two feet.
Why Go: Located in Australia's rugged Northern Territory near the city of Darwin, Kakadu National Park amazes travelers with its varied geography, featuring rocky plateaus and expansive wetlands. In addition to the Aboriginal people, an amazing array of animals, including crocodiles and wild horses, also call this park home.
Why Go: Just a few hours from 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 tucked along its 750 miles of trails. While some visitors explore these attractions on foot, others admire them from afar. (Glacier Point is a popular lookout spot.) Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Yosemite