With hundreds of stunning National Parks spread across the globe narrowing it down to just fifteen was no easy task. However here are some of the most breathtaking protected lands in the world.
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Plitviče Lakes National Park is a 295-sq.-km forest reserve in central Croatia. It’s known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water with an electric boat link available across the 12 uppers and 4 lower lakes.
Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona, is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon, with its layered bands of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history. Viewpoints include Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station and architect Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and her Desert View Watchtower.
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Jiuzhaigou National Park is a network of valleys in China’s Sichuan province. In the northern Shuzheng Valley, Nuorilang Waterfall cascades from the edge of a large tree-fringed lake. With the Zharu Monastery is a place of worship for the park’s Tibetan villages.
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The Norwegian National Park encompasses the largest glacier on the European mainland. The park was established by royal decree on 25 October 1991, and then in 1998, it was enlarged to the northwest. The park now covers 1,310 square kilometres, with the glaciers covering about 800 square kilometres of the park.The highest peak in the park is Lodalskåpa at 2,083 metres.
Situated in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains in Yosemite National Park. It’s famed for its giant, ancient sequoia trees, and for Tunnel View, the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. In Yosemite Village are the Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery, with prints of the photographer’s renowned black-and-white landscapes of the area.
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In a spectacular landscape, entirely sculpted by erosion, the Göreme valley, and its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries. Located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia cover the Turkish landscape.
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Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Mostly in Wyoming, the park spreads into parts of Montana and Idaho too. Yellowstone features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful.
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The semicircular waterfall at the heart of this site is some 80 m high and 2,700 m in diameter. Taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide, Iguazu Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left a large crack in the earth. During the rainy season of November – March, the rate of flow of water going over the falls may reach 450,000 cubic feet (12,750 cubic m) per second.
Canada’s oldest National Park, Banff is abundant with Rocky Mountain peaks and turquoise glacial lakes. It is simply, a picture-perfect mountain town and village, abundant wildlife and scenic drives come together in Banff National Park – Canada’s first national park and the flagship of the nation’s park system.
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Located in South East China, this park is renowned for its limestone hills and cones all with fascinating names like ” Elephant Trunk” and ” Dragon Head.” These have inspired many generations of poets and scholars alike. Bar far the best way to take in these breathtaking scenery is by taking the 30-mile boat trip along the Lijiang River from Guilin to Yangshuo.
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The park is famous for its massive ice cap, which is the biggest in the world outside of Antarctica and Greenland, and named after the multiple glaciers that form at its end. It is recognised as one of the most beautiful places in the world and was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1981.
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The Hawaiian island of Maui is home to the dormant Haleakalā Volcano and endangered Hawaiian geese. The park covers a total area of 33,265 acres with the main feature undoubtedly being the famous Haleakalā Crater. With its huge size, 6.99 miles across, 2.0 miles wide, and some 2,600 ft deep. The interior of the crater is dotted by numerous volcanic features, including large cinder cones.
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Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile’s Patagonia region, is known for its soaring mountains, bright blue icebergs that cleave from glaciers and golden pampas (grasslands) that shelter rare wildlife such as llama-like guanacos. Some of its most iconic sites are the 3 granite towers from which the park takes its name and the horn-shaped peaks called Cuernos del Paine.
Photo Credit: Laura Piacenti
Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the “Big 5”: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos. Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles, and storks. Mountains, bush plains, and tropical forests are all part of the landscape here.