December 6, 2021

Breathtaking national parks

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US: Unplug from technology and reconnect with nature in these breathtaking national parks

Technology opened a new world of possibilities to stay connected at all times. But, as studies suggest, this is taking a toll on the wellbeing of millions around the world. That said, it should be a priority to take a break from routine and focus on spending quality time with friends and family. And, what better way to do this that than with a road trip to one of America´s most popular national parks?

Below you will find the top five U.S. destinations to explore when in need of a little detox from the inbox and mindlessly scrolling social media.

1.    Great Smoky Mountains. When it comes to visual incentives to put the phone down, nothing beats the beauty and magnetism of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in the southeastern United States and best known for the forests that majestically rise along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, its diverse flora and fauna attracted more than 11 million visitors in 2018, representing a figure that is nearly double the number of the second most popular U.S. national park.

One of the best qualities of this reserve is that it can be explored on four wheels by touring the scenic highway that traverses it, making it an ideal destination for families searching for an unforgettable automobile adventure! Children and adults alike will be awed by the fact that the name “Smoky” comes from the natural fog that is often suspended over the range is caused by the vegetation exhaling chemicals that give the area a magical feel.

Experts agree that the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains is during the summer months of June, July and August, while those looking to enjoy the autumn foliage should head there in October. To traverse the mountains, visitors can rent a car from transportation providers like Alamo Rent A Car.

2.    Grand Canyon. What better excuse to visit America’s second most popular national park – located in northwestern Arizona and often considered one of the Wonders of the World – than during its Centennial year anniversary! The birthday events will extend throughout 2019, one more reason to celebrate with families and friends the Grand Canyon’s overwhelming beauty and gargantuan size, with its iconic canyon measuring 446 river km long, up to 29 km wide, and 1.6 km deep.

With a South Rim that remains open all year and the North Rim open for the season, the park received more than six million recreational visitors in 2017, representing the second highest count of all-American national parks. Motorists shouldn’t miss notable vehicle accessible lookout points such as Point Imperial, Roosevelt Point, and Cape Royal on the North Rim and the unique 56 km driving tour along the South Rim. 

3.    Rocky Mountain. Who wouldn’t want to feel on top of the world? Located in north-central Colorado and with a footprint of 1074 square km of stunning mountain environments, the third most popular U.S. national park is really a sight to be seen! Only 122 km from Denver International Airport, the main features of the park include alpine lakes and a diverse wildlife that inhabits various environments such as wooded forests and mountain tundra.

In 2018 more than 4.5 million recreational visitors entered the park that distinguishes itself from the rest by being one of the highest national parks in the nation with elevations from 2,396 to 4,346 m, the highest point of which is Longs Peak. With five distinct regions or geographical zones within the park, Rocky Mountain has something for everyone and won’t leave any visitor unimpressed.

Drivers should not forget to explore the Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved highway in the United States with its highest point located at 3,713 m, 77 km long and with many large turnouts at key points to take a breath and enjoy the scenery.

4.    Zion. Utah’s first national park has 590 km2 of mountainous beauty, with its main attraction being the Zion Canyon, a 24 km long and up to 800 m deep natural marvel with fiery walls and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone marked by the erosion of the Virgin River.

Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions, the park attracts millions of visitors each year with its unique geography and wide variety of wildlife, with numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals, and 32 reptiles that will undoubtedly distract you from your phone’s notifications.

Drivers will enjoy the 9.7 km long road into Zion Canyon, ending at the Temple of Sinawava, which is named after the coyote god of the Paiute Indians.

5.    Yellowstone. Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho and established in 1872, it was the first national park in the world, still extremely popular today due to its wildlife but especially for its world-famous geothermal attractions such as Old Faithful geyser. Each year, visitors are awe-struck by the heat-loving organisms known as thermophiles that inhabit one of the hottest environments on earth.

Grizzly bears, wolves and free-ranging herds of bison and elk inhabit Yellowstone with hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles documented, including several that are either endangered or threatened.

Motorists will enjoy the paved roads that allow close access to the major geothermal attractions, such as hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles and geysers, as well as some of the lakes and waterfalls. 

Yellowstone is a seasonal park, so visitors are expected to research in advance about the current conditions, as well as its operating seasons and hours, road conditions, lodging and dining options.

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