US National Parks to Wander this Summer

From Mt. Rainier to Zion; from Glacier to Denali + many more


We all keep a checklist of must-see places, don’t we? Some keep them in a notebook with photos, while others in their desires. As summer is around the corner, it’s time to mark off some items from that list.

For those of you who are still deciding where to go, let me give colors to your list. Since the National Park Service just turned 100 years old! You can celebrate the start of second century by visiting a national park in 2017.

And take this as an opportunity to evoke your soul by experiencing the beauty and diversity of this planet.

Great moments will naturally unfold if you are out there doing what you love doing.

My best moments were often captured off the beaten path, away from the documented must see places. In this post, I’m sharing the places I’ve visited and fallen in love with in the last two years.

1. North Cascades National Park, Washington

Underrated and overly beautiful. Not many people outside WA has heard of it. Less than three hours from Seattle, this alpine landscape beckons. Here you can explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers, listen to cascading waters in forested valleys, and witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth’s changing climate.

One of these weekends, you’ll definitely find me wandering here.

Colchuck Lake. See my original post here: https://medium.com/vantage/unfold-10258dc4f872

2. Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

I’ve visited this place more than ten times in the last two years. Every time I see it from my office commute, I feel something in my heart, and my eyes get stuck at its sublime beauty. Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon on the Washington landscape.

Go here at Sunrise, and you’ll realize that magic is real.

3. Olympic National Park, Washington

This place is blessed with rain, which makes this beauty thrive and maintain its charm. Each summer day feels enchanted here, from golden sunsets to transcendental waterfalls. Simple yet visually striking, the scenery evokes feeling of awe, isolation, and respect.

With its incredible forms of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of this Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast variety of wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinct ecosystems, which includes glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline.

Sunset hike at Mt. Storm King

4. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

It’s the deepest lake in the USA and perhaps the most pristine on earth. It’s one of those places where the heart beats a little faster, eyes want to stay wide open, you see all possible colors in the surrounding, it feels like summer in light and winter in the shade, and eventually, all things merge into one. The magic of this place is not to be missed.

Extend your trip by visiting beaches on the West Coast or by exploring astounding waterfalls in Portland.

5. Zion National Park, Utah

When I landed in Zion, I was in a different world. The setting sun was reflecting its orange hue to huge rocks, a water stream was flowing with the wind and all the trees were embracing a different kind of green. The kind that you can only find in the deepest of jungles. I took the narrows path to go deeper in Zion, going with a layer of running water beneath my feet. It felt cold but in a worthwhile way. It made me more connected to nature and with its elements.

When you go to Zion, you can totally rely on its shuttle service which will take you its most beautiful and accessible spots.

6. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon will overwhelm your senses through its immense size. The magic of this place is hard to capture in any photograph. It stays grand from the first stroke of the light to the very last one. Just that feeling of being in Grand Canyon is not to be missed.

Wandering the canyon’s hidden worlds offers a chance to reflect on processes bigger than you. It is a cathedral to earth’s past where you’re often forced to reconcile with hundreds of millions of years of change.

Extend your trip by visiting Antelope canyon and Horseshoe band.

7. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree is an amazingly beautiful, rugged landscape that abducts your heart and makes you never want to leave. The unusual form and unrelenting resilience of the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) inspire many who come to pay homage to the high desert.

A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by powerful winds and occasional torrents of rain. Night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add up to the wonders of this vast wilderness in southern California.

If not camping then you can find many friendly Airbnb’s nearby.

8. Glacier National Park, Montana

Marvelous moments are likely to happen on a daily basis in Glacier. The trick is to be in the right place at the right time to witness it.

It is a national park and biosphere reserve. Together with Waterton Lakes National Park, it is the world’s first international peace park and a world heritage site. No other place in America has those four designations.

At Glacier National Park, you can find easy access to many lakes, so, get your kayak and explore more of this beauty.

9. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

It’s such an incredible place, unlike anything, I’ve ever been to. 
It is the world’s first national park. Here you get a chance to explore mountains, forests, and lakes altogether and witness the unfolding of nature’s drama. Also, marvel at a volcano’s hidden power, amidst colorful hot springs, mud pots, and geysers.

Pack your patience! Hundreds of thousands of people visit Yellowstone during the months of June, July, and August. It’s a big place with winding roads, and busy traffic makes drive longer than expected.

10. Denali National Park, Alaska

Peaks of Denali will undoubtedly make you feel tiny but in a worthwhile way. Its sweeping landscapes and six million acres of wild land inspire awe. 
Here you can experience relatively low-elevation taiga forest to high alpine tundra, culminating in North America’s tallest peak, 20,310' Denali.

Take a detour, that is where the real experience starts in Denali.

During your visit, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes, calm your senses. There, it’s solely about you and rest of the world. Whether it’s your first or your thousandth voyage to the nature, I am sure you will unfold something new about your existence.

It all exists, erstwhile it was in nature, now it breathes in your soul.

So, where are you going next?


Let me know what you think of this story by leaving your responses below. Follow me on Instagram and 500px to see latest happenings. Shot with Canon 5DM3 85mF1.2 & 16–35mF4. Color graded using VSCO in Lightroom.