It will come as no surprise that Canada and the USA (the world’s second and third largest countries respectively) do wilderness better than most, and thanks to the National Park Service these vast landscapes will be protected in perpetuity. The main draw is, of course, the sublime natural landscapes and we can recommend the top activities – from canyoneering to whale watching – to get the most out of your visit. Read on for a roundup of the top national parks in North America and what to do in each...
Go Canyoneering in... Zion National Park, Utah
Sandstone cliffs rise tall around Zion’s lush Jurassic-like valleys, making this one of the Utah’s most photogenic national parks. The desert, mountains, woodland, canyons and rivers are best explored on foot, but for the bold, a canyoneering adventure will have you hiking, swimming and rappelling your way through the park.
See Geysers in... Yellowstone National Pak, Wyoming
An oldie but a goodie, Yellowstone was the very first national park and it remains one of the top national parks in North America. Extraordinary waterfalls, geysers and petrified forests characterise the landscape, and it’s understandable why the forests are so petrified – Yellowstone sits on the caldera of a supervolcano that is responsible for geysers such as Old Faithful, capable of shooting boiling water 150ft into the air. Beat that, Vegas.
Walk Through a Lava Cave in... Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
The stunning Volcanoes National Park encompasses 333,000 acres of volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforest. Only here can you walk through a 500-year-old lava cave and emerge into rainforest, drive around the rim of Kilauea – the world’s most active volcano – and catch sight of blistering lava flows meeting the ocean.
See Whales in... Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
Situated on the wild west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park is one of the top national parks in North America for whale watching. Over 20,000 grey whales pass by en route to their Arctic feeding ground in March and April, while humpbacks and orcas can be spotted from May to October. Other things to do include kayaking among clusters of islands, hiking through temperate rainforest and relaxing on sandy beaches.
Wildlife Watching in... Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
The only road in Denali National Park is closed to most vehicles, ensuring that this vast wilderness remains intact and the many wildlife species are left free to roam. Mount Denali, which at 20,310 ft tall is the highest peak in North America, dominates the landscape, while at lower levels the glacial valleys, boreal forest and arctic tundra are home to grizzly bears, caribou and lynx. For animal lovers, nothing beats a day of wildlife watching accompanied by an expert guide who can teach you about the creatures, big and small, that call the park home.