Our Top 10 Favorite National Parks of the West

We love National Parks !

We love them so much we can’t begin to rate them because they are so diverse and so wild and beautiful .

But we do want to share some of our favorites and we we enjoy them so much.

So here is our Top 10 National Parks of the West, with a script following beneath video.

Number 10 – Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

We love these wide open badlands with their dramatic landscapes and the bison that wander throughout it, sometimes even through our campsites.

We like hiking along the Little Missouri River and climbing the trails for scenic overlooks.

No wonder it was the favorite get away from it all place for President Theodore Roosevelt, whose love of conservation led to the formation of America’s National Parks .

Something also we like out here – the nearby town of Medora and the Medora Musical, an old-fashioned variety type music show set in a spectacular outdoor theater and held each night of the summer.

See why we come back to Theodore Roosevelt National park each year?

Number 9 – Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado

This place is known for its well-preserved Native American cliff dwellings.

There are more than 1,000 of them in structures built within caves and under outcroppings in cliffs. The ruins are the largest archaeological preserve in the United States, scattered across 81.4 square miles. The park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt and there are lots of spots to see them and even crawl through them.

The sandstone dwellings are in excellent condition and the U.S. Forest Service does a great job explaining everything.

This is a huge park. To get to the cliff dwellings, you drive 23 miles up a winding mountain road, climbing to about 8.500 feet from the 6500 at the campground level. There are several great hiking trails, too, for all levels.Sunsets are spectacular. And sunrises are peaceful in the clear, clean mountain air.

Number 8 – Rocky Mountain National Park on the Continental Divide in Colorado

Remember John Denver’s song Rocky Mountain High? Visit here and you’ll want to sing it…. If you can catch your breath. At 12,000 feet and the top, the ground is tundra and a great hiking trail gives spectacular views.

Bighorn sheep live up here, enjoying the view.

Trail Ridge Road has been dubbed the “highway to the sky” and it is, in just about every book of best drives you'll find, in the Top 10. It winds 48 miles between Estes Park on the park's east side and Grand Lake on the west. Eleven miles of the highway travel above treeline, offering thrilling views, lots of wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their RV.

We drove our Class B Roadtrek RV up here with no problems. There are lots of turnouts to stop where you can get acclimated to the altitude and try to sing Rocky Mountain High…. Colorado’s official state song.

Number 7 – Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

There are two places you can visit here…the South Rim, which is the most popular because it’s most accessible. And the North Rim, which we usually find less crowded but equally spectacular.

All we can say about the Grand Canyon is that…. It truly is…. Grand!  In fact, just isn't a strong enough superlative to describe the jaw-dropping majesty of the Grand Canyon. As awesome as photos of the canyon may be, they don’t do justice to the incredible beauty of the landscape.

There are plenty of hiking trails along the top of the canyon. If you are in good shape and can devote most of the day to it, we recommend hiking down into the canyon on the North Kaibob Trail.

If driving is your thing, try the Cape Royal Trail drive that offers great views of the canyon, Angels Window, and the Colorado River.

Like most national parks, the Grand Canyon is not particularly dog friendly, though. But on the North Side there is a great hike that leashed dogs can do that starts from the Visitor's Center and runs along the canyon wall to Bright Angel Point. It's only a half mile out and back but there are plenty of little side perches you can take that get you off the trail and very close to the edge.

You and your dog will love it!

Number 6 – Saguaro National Park in Southern Arizona

This impressive desert park has 2 sections, on either side of the city of Tucson. The park is named for the large saguaro cactus, native to its desert environment.

In the western Tucson Mountain District, Signal Hill Trail leads to petroglyphs of the ancient Indian people who first lived here. In the eastern Rincon Mountain District, Cactus Forest Drive is a loop road with striking views of the desert landscape.

Summertime is too hot for our tastes. We like to visit in mid Spring. It is perhaps the most peaceful place we have ever been. “Instant peace,” were the exact words Jennifer used. A total unwinding.

There are great hiking and mountain bike trails all throughout the park, which encompasses over 500 square miles.

Don’t even attempt a hike without bringing lots of water. Nothing dehydrates faster than the desert,

Number 5 –  Bryce National Park in Utah

This 37,000 acre park consisting of a spectacular red rock canyon shaped like a natural amphitheater, about 20 miles long, three miles wide and up to 800 feet deep. It is a place where erosion has carved delicate and colorful pinnacles and spires called hoodoos.

There are lots of hikes you can take in and around the canyon. Paved trails along much of the rim are permissible for leashed dogs. Pets are not welcome on the dirt and gravel trails that drop below the rim.

If you want to do an under the rim hike,  set aside a full day.

When we like to hang out between Sunrise and Sunset Points – about a half mile apart, watching and photographing the changing colors as the sun set.

You will love this park!

Number 4 – Zion National Park, also in Utah, about 70 miles to the west of Bryce

This place is so spectacular and beautiful that the early pioneers called it Zion, like the Holy Place in the Bible. And indeed, standing under the soaring, multi-colored sandstone cliffs, gazing down into the canyons or hiking upstream in a the strong current of the Virgin River to get deep into where Zion canyon starts to narrow, there is no way to describe it other than intensely mystical, almost religious in its awesomeness.
Zion is not a place where you will drive around in your RV – or your car for those of you with toads. Leave your vehicle in the campground or visitor center. There are only 800 parking spots at the various vantage points, hiking trails and attractions at Zion. So the way to get to them is on the park service busses that run every few minutes from 6 am to 8:30 pm

There are a variety of hikes, ranging from easy to very challenging. If you are in good shape, I highly recommend the Narrows Trail, which starts out as a mile long paved trail and then empties into the Virgin River. You then wade the river – upstream. You can go as far as you want, until the canyon walls are so narrow you can touch both sides at once.

It’s tough going in spots. But, oh, so worth it, one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken

Number 3 – Banff National Park and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise is in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada, and known for its turquoise, glacier-fed waters ringed by high peaks that make for postcard-like photographs.

Beautiful it is.

Banff is Canada's oldest national park and was established in 1885. Located in the Canadian Rockies  an hour west of Calgary.
It offers views in every direction of  postcard-perfect mountains, some nearly 12,000 feet high.

A great way to experience the park is on the Banff Legacy Trail, a nonmotorized, paved trail for the likes of walking, cycling, and in-line skating. Incorporating scenic views, the 16-mile trail runs primarily along Trans-Canada 1 and the wildlife fence from the park’s East Gate to the Bow Valley Parkway.

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular day hikes in Banff National Park. It’s fairly easy, making it perfect for families and people of almost any fitness level and age. It’s accessible year round, including the winter. You’re rewarded with a gorgeous view of a waterfall.

Allow four days to fully explore this place

Number 2 Glacier National Park in Northern Montana

We try to visit this park every year.

When it comes to beauty and sheer landscape drama, Glacier can’t be beat.

Start by taking a bus tour on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile road that connects the parks’ east and west sides makes its way up to Logan Pass at the 10,000 foot level. It just may be the most beautiful drive you have ever been on.  The road twists and turns and is bordered with steep rock walls on one side and thousand foot drop-offs, without guard rails, on the other.

There are so many places to hike at Glacier.

And wildlife abounds. Moose, bear, elk, mountain goats and deer are common sights.  Make sure that you always carry bear spray when hiking here. We see black bear and grizzlies on every visit.

Number 1 – Yellowstone National Park

This was America’s first National Park and it is our number one favorite, a place so big it lies in part of two states, Montana and Wyoming.

We were warned many years ago that the place will get in your blood and you will keep coming back, again and again. We now visit every year.

So if you haven’t been there yet, I pass along the same warning. It will grab hold of you.

It’s that spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and very personal with it.

Spend a day or two visiting the spectacular thermal areas, including Old Faithful. There are easy hikes and boardwalks that will get you very close.

Visit Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. There are great hikes to spectacular waterfalls.

We always spend a day in the northeast section of the park in expansive Lamar Valley, a popular wolf and grizzly watching area also populated by large herds of bison.Just talking about it makes us anxious to get back.

So those are our 10 favorite National Parks of the West. We know, me missed a bunch. And we’ll feature those in future visitors.

But we hope this video helps you understand our love of the RV Lifestyle… which lets us get out there and explore those parks up close and very personal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
2) Glacier National Park (Montana)
3) Bampf National Park and Lake Louise (Canada) (Alberta)
4) Zion National Park (Utah)
5) Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
6) Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
7) Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
8) Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
9) Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)
10) Theordore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

 

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