Since the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in the USA in 1872, the concept of national parks has taken root in the USA and around the world. New national parks are being planned worldwide, with every inch of protected land representing progress for humankind to live in harmony with nature. China has also been gradually planning national parks recently, with 10 pilot sites already prepared and the first national parks scheduled to be realized by 2020.
Now, let’s look at some of the famous national parks around the world with their unique landscapes. From the welcoming grasslands of Africa to the towering glaciers of Patagonia, national parks across the globe not only protect unique natural environments and biodiversity but also offer visitors the chance to experience the wonders of the earth. Here are 10 of our favorite national parks.
1. Yellowstone National Park, USA
Yellowstone National Park was not only the world’s first national park but is also widely regarded as one of the best national parks in the world. Spanning the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park covers an area of approximately 9,000 square kilometers. Known for unique geological wonders such as hot springs, steam pools, mud flats, and blowholes, more than half of the world’s active geysers are found here, including the famous Old Faithful Geyser. It is also home to bison, grizzly bears, moose, and wolves.
The park’s public facilities are well built, with more than 500 kilometers of ring roads linking all the major attractions in each area. The park also has a total of over 1,500 kilometers of hiking trails and more than a dozen campsites for camping.
2. Iguazu National Park, Brazil & Argentina
Iguazu National Park straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil and is accessible from both countries. The Iguazu Falls, 80 meters high and 2,700 meters wide, are located in the heart of the national park. The water vapor from the falls nourishes the surrounding vegetation. The park is a rare natural museum worldwide for its rich variety of plants, most notably the giant rosewood tree, which stands 40 meters high.
The forest is also home to South America’s iconic tapirs, giant otters, anteaters, howler monkeys, jaguars, and large crocodiles. Visitors can walk through the rainforest in addition to viewing the waterfalls.
3. Zion National Park, USA
Tucked away in the epic wilderness of southwestern Utah is the 593 square kilometer Zion National Park, of which Zion Canyon is the star attraction. In the 24km-long, 800m-deep Zion Canyon, you’ll find the iconic red sandstone cliffs. Many famous sights and hiking trails include Weeping Rock and Angel’s Descent.
The high season here is from April to October when shuttle buses take visitors to all the popular classics. Come in the low season, and you can explore the more remote areas of Zion National Park.
4. Swiss National Park, Switzerland
The Swiss National Park is the only national park in Switzerland and one of the first in Europe, established in 1914. It has always maintained strict rules to preserve the park’s pristine appearance. For example, hikers are forbidden to leave the officially defined hiking trails, there are no campsites, and they are closed in winter.
Although many restrictions exist, car and tour bus tours are allowed through the only road in the park. Visitors can still enjoy in-depth views of the Alps, flower-filled meadows, and animals such as wild goats and rock antelope.
5. Banff National Park, Canada
Banff National Park was Canada’s first national park, established in 1885. Its most famous calling card is the glacial lakes and the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. Just 130 kilometers west of Calgary, the vast Banff National Park is home to thousands of glaciers, Canada’s largest cave system, magnificent glacial lakes, and numerous hiking trails. The park is well equipped with modern lodges, caravans, and campgrounds.
6. Fjords National Park, New Zealand
The Fjords National Park, located on the southwestern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, bordering the Tasman Sea, covers 12,120 square kilometers and is one of the largest national parks in the world. A dozen glacier-carved fjords make up this national park, with rocky shores, cliffs, lakes, and waterfalls dotted throughout the park.
Explore the park’s waters to your heart’s content by boat, kayak, or scuba dive, and see dolphins, penguins, and seals from a safe distance. On land, you’ll find three of New Zealand’s official ‘Superb Walks’ along cascading waterfalls, majestic granite peaks, and crystal clear lakes.
7. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Located west of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa, Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park covers 25,063 square kilometers and is one of the largest national parks in the world and one of the oldest ecosystems on earth. Here you can see various large animals such as lions, elephants, and giraffes on the welcoming African grasslands. Still, there is nothing more fascinating about the park than the annual migration of more than one million hornbills and 200,000 zebras.
The Serengeti is the twilight full of mystery and infinite life, and the ever-present story of survival of the fittest makes this land so fascinating.
8. Five Fishing Villages National Park, Italy
More than the vast wilderness and elusive wildlife, the main feature of the Cinque Terre National Park is the five small colorful fishing villages scattered along the Mediterranean coastline. Although only 39 square kilometers, this small national park is rich in natural and cultural beauty, with rugged coastal hiking trails and quiet coves, as well as historic churches, villas, and monasteries. The Mediterranean atmosphere and unique human dimension give this small park a special significance.
9. Parque Nacional Baione, Chile
Located at the southern end of the Andes, in the middle of Patagonia, Parque Nacional Baiene is named after the huge blue granite that towers over the park. Its beautiful lakes, numerous glaciers, and towering granite peaks are world-famous, and its staggering mountains and transparent lakes attract visitors from all over the world.
It is a hiker’s paradise, with countless trails through the park’s glacial lakes and meadow flowers. It is also one of the world’s biosphere reserves, home to animals such as pumas, moose, and Andean vultures.
10. Lake District National Park, England
Located in Cumbria in the North West of England, the 16 sparkling lakes are one of its highlights, in addition to the highest Pennines in the UK, small, rural towns with simple folklore, and stretches of coastline. Not only is it a delightful landscape, but it also nurtures a rich cultural heritage that has kept the English literati coming back for more. The past seems to come to mind through some of the sculptural art, stone ruins, and historic houses. It is simply the perfect place to combine natural and human history.