Best National Parks in the World
With so much beauty to behold, it's not easy to choose which natural wonders are best to travel to – but this list will help. Based on factors like accessibility, abundance of wildlife, camping opportunities and breathtaking natural landmarks, U.S. News compiled a ranking of the best national parks in the world by using reader votes and expert insights. We need your input to help determine next year's ranking, so vote for your favorite destinations below.
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With numerous attractions scattered throughout its 3,400-plus square miles, Yellowstone is a national treasure – and America's first national park. But its age has not dulled its natural beauty: Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful continue to amaze visitors year after year. While here, you'll also want to take time to visit less-crowded gems such as Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake.
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Just a few hours east of San Francisco, Yosemite offers visitors a plethora of impressive natural wonders to behold. Scenic landscapes, such as the famous Tunnel View Outlook and Tuolumne Meadows, and renowned landmarks, including Half Dome and El Capitan, are just a few of Yosemite's greatest attractions. What's more, the park boasts a whopping 800 miles of trails.
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Glacier National Park is Montana's crown jewel. The whopping 1 million-acre park, which was named after the remains of glaciers from the last ice age, offers captivating mountainous scenery left and right. Here you'll find more than 700 lakes, a National Historic Landmark (Going-to-the-Sun Road) and the famous Highline Trail, which follows the Continental Divide.
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You can't beat the views at this world-famous Arizona park. The Grand Canyon continually wows visitors with its shifting colors, vast depth and incredible rock formations. Whether you're in the air, rafting down the Colorado River or simply exploring with just your two feet, the majesty of the Grand Canyon will leave you completely breathless.
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Serengeti National Park is world-renowned for playing home to the great migration. Every year, more than a million wildebeests and other four-legged friends cross the park in search of food and breeding grounds. Predicting when this momentous event will occur can be tricky, so if you don't have that kind of flexibility, a traditional safari is your best bet.
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Most travel to this park in the state of Utah to see the stunning Zion Canyon, but its trails are just as impressive. For an unforgettable trek, hike the sky-high Angels Landing or brave the Narrows, which is the slimmest section of Zion Canyon. For something less strenuous, try the popular Canyon Overlook Trail or the Pa'rus Trail.
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Whether viewed from under the sea or high in the air, the world's largest coral reef system deserves a spot on any traveler's bucket list. But with devastating coral bleaching occurring, you'll want to make the trip sooner rather than later. In addition to ample snorkeling and diving opportunities, the region also offers incredible beaches, wildlife habitats and even a scenic railway.
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Torres Del Paine National Park#8 in Best National Parks in the World
You may spot animals like penguins and whales here, but the landscape is the true star of the show. Located in Chilean Patagonia, Torres Del Paine National Park encompasses more than 700 square miles of stunning geographical features like Grey Glacier and the famous Cuernos del Paine. The most popular hikes include the W route and the Circuit, both days-long treks.
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South Africa's iconic Kruger National Park is one of the most tourist-friendly game parks in Africa. Kruger is also home to hundreds of animal species (antelope, leopards and cheetahs, to name a few). What's more, the national reserve boasts a variety of excursions and luxury lodges in addition to camping spots.
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Often overlooked for its northern neighbor, Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is a not-so-hidden gem. The park offers enviable scenery along its miles of scenic trails, including on popular pathways, such as the Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon Trail. The park also features plenty of outdoors activities for all seasons and opportunities to spot a wide range of wildlife, from black bears to bison.
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Spanning the Continental Divide, this 415-square-mile national park in Colorado is home to more than 350 miles of hiking trails and the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of nearly 11,500 feet. Spot must-see sights like Longs Peak, Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain along the popular Emerald Lake Trail.
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Fiordland National Park#12 in Best National Parks in the World
New Zealand's largest national park is awash with fjords so stunning they'll put Norway's famous natural attractions to shame. The fjords were carved by glaciers and can be found at multiple points in the park, though the most popular places are considered to be Milford and Doubtful sounds. The park also features lakes, mountains and plenty of wildlife, making it an adventure traveler's ultimate destination.
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After Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon is Utah's most popular national park. This southwestern Utah wonder is awash with unique hoodoos (tall, thin spikes of rock formed by erosion), which can be found in stunning mass at the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. Take in the views at Inspiration Point, then venture into the canyon at Sunrise Point to get a closer look at the amphitheater's striking natural architecture.
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As the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper offers no shortage of outdoor fun. Come here to enjoy all the adventure activities under the sun, including hiking, biking and boating in the summer, and snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking in the winter. No matter when you visit, take time to stargaze – Jasper is the second-largest dark sky preserve in the world.
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Like the name suggests, you'll find a bounty of natural arches in this eastern Utah park – more than 2,000. The most iconic stones are Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch, but visitors are also wowed by the Balanced Rock and Windows Section, the latter of which is home to the largest arches in the park.
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Olympic National Park offers snow-capped mountains, moss-covered rainforests and more than 70 miles of coastline across its nearly 1 million acres. To see all of its majesty, you'll no doubt need more than a few days, as the distance between to attractions can take hours to reach. Must-visit spots include the dreamy Hoh Rain Forest and the stately Hurricane Ridge.
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Swiss National Park#17 in Best National Parks in the World
Swiss National Park encompasses 65 square miles of verdant land, giving visitors access to 50 miles of trails that weave in and out of valleys backed by the renowned Swiss Alps. While hiking, be sure to lookout for wildlife, including the alpine ibexes, a wild goat that lives among the mountains.
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Travelers make the trek to this destination – located about 65 miles south of Seattle – for views of the park's namesake, Mount Rainier, the tallest peak in the Cascade Range. Visit the Paradise area to see fields of colorful wildflowers or drive up to Sunrise for 360-degree views of the active volcano and surrounding valleys.
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Masai Mara National Reserve#19 in Best National Parks in the World
Located just north of Serengeti National Park, the Masai Mara National Reserve is easily one of the most popular safari parks in all of Africa. That's because the reserve plays host to the famous wildebeest migration, which takes place from July to October. If you can't travel that time of year, you'll be more than pleased with a safari, where lions, cheetahs and leopards are known to make appearances.
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People travel to this California park on the banks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range for photo ops of the striking, massive sequoias – the largest trees in the world. Visit the Giant Forest grove to see the largest living sequoia in America (and the world), the General Sherman tree.
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