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3 National Parks You Must Visit in Your Lifetime

National Parks

The three grandest National Parks in the U.S. are Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Glacier National Park.

Each is unique and beautiful in its own right. If you could only see three parks in your life, these three are the ones you must see.

#1: Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. This makes it a must-see National Park. The Canyon stretches an impressive 277 miles. It is up to a mile deep and as wide as 18 miles in some places.

Grand Canyon National Park offers several enjoyable things to do. For the outdoorsy types, there is hiking and biking. They have guided tours to the most popular sights.

A unique tour is the mule trip that takes you into the Canyon. They also have rafting trips, trail rides, and a train ride.

Entrance fees

Grand Canyon National Park has entrance fees.

  • A single, non-commercial vehicle is $35, this admits all passengers.
  • Pedestrians and bikers are $20 per person.
  • Motorcycles are $30, this admits all passengers.

There are days when entrance fees are waived. These days are likely to be crowded.

Lodging and expenses

There are many opportunities for lodging inside of the park as well as outside the park. Lodging outside the park is often less expensive than lodging inside the park.

Lodging in the park is the best way to view a National Park. Lodging options include:

  • Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim
  • Mather Campground near Canyon Village at the South Rim
  • Trailer Village for RVs in Canyon Village at the South Rim
  • Desert View Campground at the South Rim
  • Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim
  • North Rim Campground
  • Phantom Ranch at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

Camping is less expensive than staying in one of the lodges. Family camping sites are $18 and Group Camping sites are $50.

Lodging at any of the lodges costs an average of $100-200. If you can afford to stay a couple of nights, it is well worth the price.

#2: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is unique among the National Parks as it was the first one to celebrate the geological and hydrothermal wonders of the world.

This Park has tons of great adventures to offer. Their half-day and full day bus tours are a must for anyone hoping to see the grand beauty of Yellowstone.

There are plenty of trails to hike and a variety of animals to see. Whether you are hoping for a sighting of a buffalo or a moose or even a bear, you are sure to see at least one. Possibly all three.

Bike trails are available and Old Faithful is always a sight to see. Yellowstone National Park offers a cowboy breakfast and Horseback riding tour as well.

Entrance fees

Entrance Fees to Yellowstone are similar to those of Grand Canyon National Park. These entrance passes are good for 7 days.

  • $35 = A Single, non-commercial vehicle
  • $20 = Pedestrians, bikers, etc
  • $30 = Motorcycles and Snowmobiles

Lodging and expenses

There are many places to stay in and around Yellowstone National Park. Average costs in the park can range from $50 to $400 for rooms in the lodges. If you are looking to save some money grab a room outside of the park.

All park tours leave from lodges in the park so if you are taking a park tour you will need to spend the night in the park or be at the gate in the morning first thing so that you can get to your pick-up location lodge and catch your tour.

Campgrounds are also available for those who want to save a little money and stay in the park. Campground costs range from $20-35.

#3: Glacier National Park

There is nothing more beautiful or majestic than the mountains and ice glaciers of Glacier National Park.

The best time of year to visit is right after they have opened Going-to-the-Sun Road. The waterfalls created by melting snow and ice are beautiful.

Hiking, biking, and backpacking trails are available throughout the park. Two of the most popular tours are the Sun Tours and the Red Bus Tours. Other great things to do are boating, fishing, skiing, and a variety of ranger-led programs.

Entrance fees

Entrance Fees for Glacier National Park are the same as both Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. These fees are for a 7-day Permit. There is no one or two-day permit option.

  • $35 = A Single, non-commercial vehicle
  • $20 = Pedestrians, bikers, etc
  • $30 = Motorcycles and Snowmobiles

For a list of days that have Free Entrances see their website. Free Entrance days are often crowded as Glacier is a popular destination.

Lodging and expenses

Lodging is available in and around Glacier National Park. Lodging in the park is available on many levels from camping to cabins, to lodges.

The average cost of camping in Glacier is $10-25. The average cost of a room is $50-300.

Image by Erik Jacobson

Post Author: Lillia Hall

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April 2024