The Beauty of US National Parks

There are so many beautiful places here in the United States that are wonderful to visit and enjoy nature. Our National Parks offer a spectacular view of protected beauty found in our country. Many of you can't visit these parks yourself, so I'm sharing some photos from our trips so you can enjoy the beauty of the National Parks from the comfort of your own home. Maybe they will even inspire you to go out and see some natural beauty near you.

photography national parks utah washington montana idaho

Over the past few years, my family has made trips to some national parks. They have been such amazing day trips and have created lasting memories and a love of nature in our children. They have been trips where we were able to get outside, go on hikes, talk about nature, the animals and plants that we saw, and how we can take care of this wonderful Earth that we live on.
When visiting National Parks, they have maps for you. Those show you roads, hiking trails, places of interest, restrooms, visitor centers, and more. Most of the maps that we have gotten have in depth information about the hikes - which is really good to know beforehand so you can plan which ones to go on. They generally tell you the difficulty of the hike, how long, and elevation climb. That is very helpful information, especially if you have small children that will be going with you.

While editing the pictures for this blog post, I remembered the fun we had and told my husband that next year we need to buy an annual pass. If you happen to have a 4th grader in your home, you can get a free pass for the year as well! Check out this page to find out more about passes you can get.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located near Moab, Utah, on the east side of the state. It has over 2,000 stone arches and some of the best family hikes that we have been on. Balanced Rock and Sand Dune Arch were favorite hikes for my children and myself.

sand dune arch arches national park utah

Sand Dune Arch is a sheltered short hike through red sand and has a nice breeze blowing through it - which makes it a perfect stop for the hot mid-afternoons.

Arches national park skyline arch red rock

Skyline Arch is an easy hike from the road. I liked how the arch was at an angle.

As you travel through Arches, there are so many beautiful rock formations to see. The Fiery Furnace is absolutely stunning to look at and has labyrinth passages that are only accessible with a permit and a ranger guided tour.

Arches national park three gossips pinnacle

Near the beginning of the drive through the park is a stretch that has unique sandstone pinnacles. Make sure to take advantage of the pull offs so you can get a look at the Three Gossips and the Courthouse Towers.

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef is the northern-most park in central Utah. Where Capitol Reef ends, Grande Staircase Escalante National Monument (technically not a park, but I'm not sure of the difference) starts, then runs into Bryce Canyon and all the way south to almost the Grand Canyon. Capitol Reef has canyons, domes, towers, arches, and petroglyphs, as well as some pioneer history still there. We did not make it up to the Cathedral Valley monoliths, but I have heard that they are a sight to see.

capitol reef national park chimney rock utah

Stopping at Chimney Rock is a great beginning to your visit to the park. Seeing the striations of the rock and thinking of the powerful river that created these beautiful formations is quite awe inspiring. Don't miss visiting Panorama Point either, looking out over the park is an amazing experience.

capitol reef national park petroglyph panel rock art

I loved seeing the petroglyphs and thinking about the people that created the rock art. You can visit the Petroglyph Panel Boardwalk while traveling on Hwy 24.

capitol reef national park fremont river

If you decide to hike to Hickman Bridge, a natural bridge, plan to stop at the trailhead and visit the Fremont River. There is a small area with rocks that you can sit on and watch the river flow by.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon was the first national park that we visited when we moved to Utah. It has a stunning view of canyons of hoodoos. Hoodoos are pillar shaped rock formations that have been created by erosion. There are plenty of trails and viewpoints that will keep you busy for a whole weekend.

bryce canyon national park red rock utah panorama

bryce canyon national park pinnacle hoodoo red rock

bryce canyon national park hoodoo red rock

The viewpoints in Bryce are all from above and if you want to see the hoodoos from below you generally have to hike down into the canyon to see them. There is one little section of the park that you drive down below them. Visit the Mossy Cave trail and you will be below these formations and it is breathtaking.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon is located between Twin Falls and Idaho Falls in Idaho. It has dried lava fields, lava tube caves, cinder cones, and spatter cones. I almost didn't include this because it doesn't have the automatic awe-inspiring beauty of the other areas. There is beauty in the desolate fields, the dried lava flow, and the surrounding area though.

craters of the moon dried lava flow field

There is a paved walkway through the lava fields so you can see plenty of the lava flow fields throughout the area. They even have signs with information about the different types of flows and the history of the area. It was interesting to read about the astronauts using the area to train for Moon landing missions.

craters of the moon dried lava flow

These lava flows are the only ones you can see in this condition in the continental United States.

craters of the moon indian tunnel lava tube cave

The Indian Tunnel was an amazing lava tube cave that we explored. There isn't a paved path through the tunnel, to get to the exit you have to scramble over loose rock and climb small boulders.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is well known for Old Faithful geyser, but the park is full of interesting natural beauty and wildlife. We took two days to visit the park (one day the southern loop, the next the northern loop) and I would love to go back to see some of the places we didn't have time to visit. If you are interested in geological sites, relaxing water areas, or seeing wildlife - you should plan a visit to this beautiful area.

yellowstone national park bison buffalo calf family

Viewing the animals in their natural habitat is amazing. Just remember to be safe - rangers advise you to view close animals from the safety of your car and not to touch the animals.

yellowstone national park grazing elk

yellowstone national park river

There are plenty of spots along the rivers and lake to enjoy sitting on the banks for a picnic, dangling your feet into the water, fishing (purchase a permit first!), or resting and enjoying the sunshine.

norris geyser basin yellowstone national park

The visits to the geyser basins were so interesting. You can walk on the boardwalk to see a closer look at the geyser areas.

To see more pictures of must see areas at Yellowstone, visit my other post here.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mt Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington and is actually a volcano, but hasn't erupted for 1,000 years.  You can see it's beauty from quite a bit of Western Washington and it is much loved by the residents there. Most locals call it the Mountain.

us national parks mt rainier mountain

Mt Rainier holds a special place in my heart. I grew up in Tacoma, WA and every day that was clear you could see the Mountain. Yearly trips up to Paradise during the summer were a part of my life. I was glad to be able to take my children there for a visit this summer when we visited family in Washington.

us national parks mt rainier trees

us national parks mt rainier flowers

Picnic areas are plentiful when visiting Mt Rainier. Take a few minutes to explore the natural vegetation, you never know what beauties you will find. 

us national parks mt rainier narada falls

The short hike to Narada Falls was a perfect that day. We were able to stretch our legs, find small streams, and enjoy the cool misty spray of the falls.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing photos from some of the beautiful National Parks here in the United States. What have been your favorite national parks to visit? I would love to hear about them in the comments. We are planning more trips next year and I would love some ideas of where to visit!


Back to Top