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Aug 07, 2012

The Best of Outdoors National Parks

A small herd of bison in Yellowstone National Park.
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Every month here at Falcon.com we try to introduce you to cool towns across the country that would fulfill any outdoor lover’s wish list. This month, to switch it up, we’re doing a collective view on the country’s best national parks:

Best views: When it comes to having the best views, Grand Canyon National Park wins out over all. Majestic, vast, and colorful, a view of the Grand Canyon in all her glory will render you speechless. And in the park, no two views are alike. Every seat in the house offers up a different masterpiece, whether it’s the nearly 360-degree breath-taking view from Lipan Point on the South Rim or the crimson sunrise over the eastern part of the park at Maricopa Point. Be sure to have your camera fully charged for a trip to the Grand Canyon.

Most family friendly: Acadia National Park offers up a ton of fun activities for people of all ages. Young kids will enjoy the ranger-led tour of the park’s mysterious tide pools and forests, or the 1-mile loop trail at Jordan Pond. For older children, try the 4-mile Ocean Path (out and back), where you can stop to watch rock climbers on the 60-foot precipice of Otter Cliff or take in the sunset at Otter Point. At the end of a hot day of hiking, the family can cool down at Sand Beach or opt for the warmer temperatures at the tranquil Echo Lake, which is lifeguard-protected from June through August.

Best for climbing: When it comes to providing ideal climbing spots, Yosemite National Park is king. As one of the world’s greatest climbing areas, Yosemite serves as an endless playground for experienced climbers, who travel long distances for the chance to try their hand at the most challenging—and rewarding—climbing routes. El Capitan and Half Dome are arguably the most famous spots in the park, but a number of other locations—of varying degrees of difficulty—make this the perfect climbing park.

Best for easy hikes: Glacier National Park features mountain fastnesses clad in glaciers, azure lakes, and sparkling waterfalls that are perfect for the hurried hiker looking to experience a relatively mild hike or two in the park’s beautiful landscape. Trails in Two Medicine Valley offer excellent wildlife observation—like bighorn sheep and golden eagles—while loops around Lake McDonald, the largest body of water in the park, offer up dense forest trails.

Best for camping: Grand Teton National Park provides plenty of campgrounds for summer getaways, including established campgrounds (some specified as tent-only) and backcountry camping. July and August are the busiest times of the year for camping, so reservations in the coveted campgrounds are recommended. Note that black bears and grizzly bears are active in the park, so be sure to follow all established guidelines when camping.

Best for wildlife observation: For great wildlife observation, go no further than Yellowstone National Park, which has the largest concentration of wildlife in the continental United States. Included among those who call Yellowstone home is the majestic grizzly bear, the resplendent elk, and, of course, the bison, which can weigh over 2,000 pounds. When observing the wildlife, be sure to keep a safe distance and to not disturb the animals or their habitats.

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