National Parks Of The US – The Oldest National Parks To Visit

One thing that makes the United States unique is its breathtaking national parks. National parks are federal designations that are given for pieces of land that are considered to be very special. They are preserved by the federal government for the enjoyment of the general public. The designation of national parks in America began in the latter half of the 19th century. Here are the oldest national parks of the US you should visit.

Yellowstone National Park

(Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia)

Yellowstone National Park is the first ever national park to be designated in the country. The national park was designated in March of 1872. The national park is located in the northwestern section of the US state of Wyoming with small portions also located in the states of Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is famous for its stunning geysers.

Over half of the world’s active geysers are found at this national park. There are between 500 and 700 geysers that are active at the national park every year. In addition to the geysers, there are other compelling hydrothermal features at the national park including hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles. All of these hydrothermal features are found in areas of Yellowstone National Park called thermal basins.

Thermal basins are accessed by walking onto boardwalks. A boardwalk is the best way to view the geysers and other hydrothermal features. There are also designated trails available that also offers breathtaking views of thermal basins if you prefer them. Yellowstone National Park is also notable for its large population of bears. In fact, the national park is known as bear country.

Wolves and bisons are among other groups of animals that populate the national park. Yellowstone National Park is also home to Yellowstone Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in North America that is above 7,000 feet in elevation. The scenic lake sits at an elevation of 7,732 feet above sea level.

The entrance prices for the national park are $35 for non-commercial vehicles, $30 for motorcycles and snowmobiles, and $20 for individuals arriving on foot or bicycle. The entrance passes are good for up to seven days after being purchased. An onsite visitor’s center known as Albright Visitor Center is housed within the national park. There are exhibits regarding the national park as well as a bookstore there.

Hotel Suggestion: Gray Wolf Inn and Suites

This hotel is located on South Canyon Street in West Yellowstone, Montana which is located just northwest of Yellowstone National Park. This hotel has two new onsite amenities. The first one is outdoor patios with fire pits. The other new amenity is a fitness center. In addition to these new amenities, the hotel also offers an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

There is continental breakfast available at the hotel. If you are looking to dine out, a few choices include Taqueria Las Palmitas, Three Bears Restaurant, and Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon. All of the hotel’s rooms have coffee makers, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The hotel’s suites will have full kitchens along with separate bedrooms and living/dining areas. WiFi is available in all the rooms and suites.

The average rate for a standard room range from $104 to $474. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Sequoia National Park

(Photo courtesy of LGalcan via Wikimedia)

Sequoia National Park is the second oldest national park to be established in the US. The national park was designated in September of 1890. It is located in the US state of California in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The national park is renowned for being the home to Giant Forest.

Giant Forest is home to incredibly large trees known as giant sequoias. One of these is called the General Sherman Tree. This is the largest tree in the world. This tree is 275 feet tall and measures at over 36 feet in diameter at the base. The trunks of the giant sequoias are known to stay wide until they reach up to sixty feet above the base.

The giant sequoias help to give Sequoia National Park the nickname of A Land of Giants. The Giant Forest is home to multiple hiking trails which will allow you to see unique features like the General Sherman Trees, Moro Rock, Round Meadow, and Tokopah Falls. There is also a museum located within the Giant Forest known as the Giant Forest Museum.

There, you can learn about the area and check out the small onsite book store. In addition to the Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park also contains the western slope of soaring Mt. Whitney which is the highest mountain peak in the contiguous US at 14,505 feet high. The entrance fees for the national park are $35 for vehicles and $20 for individuals. The passes are good for up to seven days after the purchase.

Hotel Suggestion: Wuksachi Lodge

This hotel is located on Wuksachi Way inside Sequoia National Park. This breathtaking hotel has a stone and cedar mountain lodge architectural design. It is surrounded by a sequoia forest, making for a serene hotel stay. There is an onsite restaurant at the hotel called the Peak Restaurant. An onsite shop is also available at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s rooms have an upscale, natural decor that involves natural granite rock, oak, cedar, and hickory woods into the design. As nice as these rooms look, there is one problem. It is that there is no WiFi in the rooms unfortunately. The hotel does offer WiFi in certain areas, but it is very slow. So, don’t expect to do much except maybe checking a few things like e-mail, the weather and some social media.

This is due to the remoteness of the surrounding area in which this hotel is located. All of the rooms at the hotel offer scenic views of the surrounding sequoia forest and mountain peaks. There are coffee makers and mini refrigerators in all the hotel’s rooms. The average rate for a standard room range from $124 to $331. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

Yosemite National Park

(Photo courtesy of Johan Viirok via Wikimedia)

Yosemite National Park was established in October of 1890. That makes this the third oldest national park to be designated in the country. It is located within the Sierra Nevada mountains in the central section of California. Yosemite National Park is famous for a wide variety of breathtaking environments. These include granite cliffs, waterfalls, deep valleys, giant sequoia groves, glaciers, and more.

There are numerous waterfalls throughout the national park. One such waterfall is Yosemite Falls. This is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. Yosemite Falls is about 2,425 feet long. It is divided into three waterfalls known as Upper Yosemite Fall, the Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Fall. The best time to see the waterfalls in Yosemite National Park would be during the spring.

That is because this is when the snow begins to melt into water which will then flow down from the upper areas to the lower areas of the national park. This results in stunning waterfalls. The most famous landmark in Yosemite National Park is Half Dome. This stunning granite rock formation measures at 5,000 feet high above the valley floor.

You can get close and personal with Half Done by hiking on Mirror Lake Trail. This is a paved trail that travels for one mile to Mirror Lake and then circles the lake for five miles. In addition to Half Dome and Mirror Lake, you can also get gorgeous views of spots like Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, and Washington Column.

The entrance fees for the national park are $35 for vehicles, $30 for motorcycles, and $20 for individuals arriving by foot or bicycle. The passes to Yosemite National Park are good for up to seven days after being purchased. If you would like to learn about the history of Yosemite National Park and how it became an inspiration for other national parks across the country, you can head to Pioneer Yosemite History Center.

Hotel Suggestion: Yosemite Valley Lodge

This hotel is located on Yosemite Lodge Drive within Yosemite National Park. It is close to Yosemite Falls which is the waterfall that I mentioned earlier. This scenic hotel is designed with wood and glass meant to reflect its surroundings. The Mountain Room Restaurant and Base Camp Eatery are the two onsite restaurants available at the hotel. There is an outdoor swimming pool at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites offer stunning views of the scenery that Yosemite National Park is renowned for. They all offer mini refrigerators and coffee makers. There is WiFi available in all of the rooms and suites, however, the speeds are very slow due to the remoteness of the surrounding area. So, keep that in mind.

The average rate for a standard room range from $192 to $749. You can view your booking options and/or browse some photos by going here.

These are the original national parks of the US that you will want to visit. All of these national parks were designated in the latter half of the 19th century before automobiles even existed. You will also want to check out this post to learn about the newest US national parks to visit. What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these national parks before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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