If you’re planning your next trip, it’s quite possible that one of the world’s national parks is your next destination. It may even be a bucket list item for you. Either way, you need to figure out which gorgeous nature reserve is worthy of your time, your planning, and, of course, your dough. That is why we searched the web to find the consensus most beautiful national parks in the world, according to travel experts, and we’ve listed them here for you.
Did you know that money might actually be able to buy you happiness? That’s right, the money you spend on your next trip may do just that. In a new study, researchers from several British universities discovered that while spending time in nature has been proven to be beneficial to one’s mental health, enjoying a half-hour in natural outdoor settings maximizes feelings of happiness and refreshment. But these benefits can only come from certain environments: the feelings of happiness and refreshment were highest when they spent time in rural or coastal areas or in protected or designated natural areas, such as national parks. It seems a trip to a national park may be just the thing you need if you’re looking to buy into some happiness.
If you’re not yet convinced, maybe the thought of decreased stress and pain will do it. Seriously, research reveals that a springtime stroll through nature while enjoying the sounds of birdsong and the patter of rain works wonders for your health. Researchers say that the sounds of water boost positive emotions and health outcomes, while bird sounds combat stress. Study authors suggest closing your eyes and being mindful of the sounds you’re hearing to boost the healthful benefits. But keep in mind that local parks may not provide the same benefits as you’re likely to still be surrounded by urban noises. If national parks weren’t on your bucket list, they probably are now! Where else can you create memories while enjoying a variety of health benefits at the same time?
Now that you’ve seen the research, you’re probably wondering which national park you should choose. Below is our list of the most beautiful national parks in the world, according to travel experts. And, of course, we want to hear from you. Comment below to let us know which national park brings you the most bang for your traveling buck!
The List: Most Beautiful National Parks in the World, Per Experts
1. Torres Del Pain National Park, Chile
When people think of Patagonia, they likely think of Argentina. But Torres Del Pain National Park in Chile placed much higher on experts’ list as a must-visit national park. “There is an iconic picture of Patagonia’s ice-slicked, granite towers reflected in a glossy blue lake that you’re likely familiar with – even if you’ve never heard of Torres del Paine,” writes Time Out. “The distinctive Cordillera del Paine, worn down into steep shards by glacial erosion, is the park’s centerpiece, and it’s a vision that hikers from all over the world flock to see. Surrounding the massif are ice fields, lenga forests and pampas with grazing guanacos – all of which have helped make Torres del Paine a legendary wilderness destination.” They recommend vising October to April for the summer trekking season; and also mention that the most famous attraction is the W Circuit, which is a four to five day hiking trail around the massif.
CN Traveler notes: “We named this national park in Chilean Patagonia a wonder of the world in 2018 and with its striking three peaks of the Paine mountain range, it’s easy to see why. A major destination for hikers, kayakers and walkers pursuing the scenic End of the World Route, it’s worth visiting and staying at eco-friendly Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, for views of hazy glacial lakes and possible fauna sightings of puma, the South American grey fox and more than 100 species of bird.”
“Torres del Paine National Park can be found in Chile’s astonishing Patagonian region,” writes Touropia. “Surrounded by steep snowcapped mountains, turquoise alpine lakes, and icy glaciers, it’s truly a sight for sore eyes. Named after the three granite ‘Towers of Paine’ that are the main icon in the park, Torres del Paine is an alluring destination for intrepid hikers, kayakers, and mountain bikers. There are several hiking circuits to choose from. The W Circuit is the best trek to start off with, taking around four to five days to complete. If you’re feeling brave, then the longer O Circuit will be much more of a challenge, taking six to ten days in total. Or you can simply relax with a leisurely kayak trip to the Grey Glacier – it’s an incredible experience!”
2. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
New Zealand is a popular travel destination for vacationers, and if you’re going to visit the country, you may as well plan to visit the number two national park on our list. The Luxury Travel Expert writes that “Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s Southern Island was established in 1952 and is part of the larger Te Wāhipounamu wilderness, a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Covering 1.2 million hectares, Fiordland National Park is home to lush rainforests, pristine rivers, crystal clear lakes, mighty cliffs, snow-capped summits, majestic ice-carved fiords, and unique flora and fauna that has been in existence since New Zealand was part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. Even on the frequent rainy days, the scenery is spectacular, with entire valley walls turning into thundering waterfalls.”
“New Zealand’s largest national park is awash with glacier-carved fjords so stunning, they’ll put Norway’s famous natural attractions to shame,” writes U.S. News & World Report. “The fjords can be found at multiple points throughout the park, though the most popular places to see them are Milford/Piopiotahi and Doubtful sounds. The park also features lakes, rainforests, waterfalls, mountains and plenty of wildlife, including some of New Zealand’s rare and endangered flightless birds like the takahe, as well as seals, penguins and dolphins, making it the getaway of choice for adventure travelers.”
Travel Awaits writes: “Highlights include the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, where you can take a boat ride to see real glow worms, and the Chasm, where a short walk takes you to an area where water appears to be sculpted around the park’s ancient rocks. Filled with lush rainforests, pristine rivers, crystal clear lakes, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and majestic ice-carved fiords, a large portion of this national park is uninhabited and is only accessible by boat or hiking.” And as for what types of animals you’re likely to encounter: “Fiordland National Park is home to plenty of wildlife, including kiwis, seals, penguins, and dolphins, and both the flightless takahe bird and the flightless kakapo parrot have been found here.”
3. Yosemite National Park, USA
It’s true (as it says below) that this park is legendary to Americans. In fact, there may not be a person inside or outside of the U.S. that hasn’t heard of this park, which makes sense being that it’s one of the oldest, and most beautiful, national parks in existence.
Time Out writes: “This California pin-up is one of the USA’s oldest and largest national parks, established in 1890 and encompassing 1,190 square miles of natural hyperbole. It’s legendary among Americans, and for good reason. Home to ancient giant sequoias, the 2,425-foot-drop Yosemite Falls (one of North America’s tallest waterfalls) and sheer granite cliffs towering like skyscrapers over the valley meadows of the High Sierras – Yosemite is a famous source of national pride. It’s also an easily accessible holiday destination, thanks to accommodations, restaurants, shuttle buses, 360 miles of paved roads and 800 miles of developed trails within the park boundaries.” As far as when to visit, they share that there are fewer crowds from May to June. They also mention that there can be road and camp closures in the fall and winter due to snowfall.
According to Outside Magazine, “now a haven for rock climbers, trail trekkers, and auto tourists, the park includes more than 800 miles of dirt paths through giant sequoia stands, wildflower-lined lakes, and alpine meadows. Consider renting a bike and wheeling across the famed Valley Multi-Use Path to take in the sights from the basin floor.”
Touropia writes that “Yosemite is one of the most well-known national parks in the USA, and for good reason. It’s truly extraordinary! Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Yosemite boasts an unforgettable landscape of granite clifftops, cascading waterfalls, abundant lakes, trickling streams, and enormous sequoia groves – the largest trees on Earth. Tucked within the magical landscape, there are over 1,200 kilometers of hiking trails catering for all fitness levels.” They say that “Whichever route you take, aim to make your way eventually to Glacier Point for an exceptional view over the Yosemite Valley. If you don’t feel like hiking, however, there are horse riding, rock climbing, skiing, and golfing opportunities here too. Not to mention 300 species of vertebrate animals – 85 of which are mammals that are native to the area. With over 150 bird species for avid bird watchers, you won’t want to forget your binoculars!”
4. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The Serengeti. Who hasn’t heard of it? And of the animals that populate it? If you want your adventure to include wildlife, then this is the park for you. And if you plan a trip here, booking a safari is a must.
Tour Scanner writes that “Serengeti National Park is located in Tanzania and is one of the most famous national parks in the world for its amazing wildlife. It’s well known for its year-long migration of over 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest and the 250k-plus zebra that call the park ‘home’. The park is situated in the Serengeti ecosystem and attracts more than 350k visitors per year from tourists.”
“Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is the world-renowned home of The Great Migration,” writes U.S. News & World Report. “Every year, roughly 2 million wildebeests and hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles cross the park in search of food and breeding grounds. Predicting when this momentous event will occur can be tricky, so if you don’t have that kind of flexibility, a traditional safari experience is your best bet.” And as far as what you’ll see should you visit: “You’ll have the chance to see Serengeti’s incredible landscape, as well as animals like the Big Five – leopards, lions, elephants, buffaloes and rhinoceroses.”
Outside Magazine mentions: “The Africa of lore awaits at Serengeti: lions surveying their kingdom atop grassy kopjes, leopards prowling in dense riparian areas, and each year from May through October, a migration of more than 1.3 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, and 500,000 gazelles through the park and into neighboring Maasai Mara National Reserve. This expansive park covers more than 5,700 square miles of golden hillsides and ungulate-freckled plains and is hands down one of the best places to safari on earth.”
5. Yellowstone National Park, USA
It’s one of the oldest national parks and its establishment had a domino effect, leading to the establishment of many other national parks across the globe. And if you’re thinking of traveling here, you’re probably thinking one thing: geysers.
“Yellowstone was established in 1872 as America’s first National Park – an idea that spread worldwide – to protect the majority of the earth’s geysers, as well as other thermal wonders that make up an otherworldly landscape composed of steam, bubble, and boiling mud,” writes The Luxury Travel Expert. “Located largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone’s vast wilderness includes mountain ranges, lakes, waterfalls and geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Grand Teton National Park, located just south of Yellowstone, offers even more amazing scenery. The main reason for most tourists to visit Yellowstone is to observe the amazing wildlife: grizzly and black bear, bison, bighorn sheep, elk and moose roam the plans and valleys.”
“Sprinkled with hundreds of sweltering geysers like the ‘Old Faithful’ and thousands of mud pots and hot springs, Yellowstone National Park seems oddly otherworldly,” writes Touropia. “Located on the largest super volcano ever found, there is nowhere quite like it anywhere else on the globe. Established in 1872, it was the very first national park in the world, created to protect the park’s fascinating wildlife and astonishing natural beauty. Part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the park is a wildlife watching paradise. There are gray wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears here, just to name a few.”
EnVols writes, “Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful and visited natural wonders in the United States. Located in Wyoming, it is one of the first American national parks. It was established in 1872 and is known for its geysers, wild animals and breathtaking landscapes. It is also home to a large population of Virginia deer.”
“You will find Yellowstone National Park atop a volcano hot spot in Wyoming, but the thing that will explode will be your mind as you soak in the dramatic canyons, lush forests, and alpine rivers,” writes Tour Scanner. “Make the most of your trip by visiting one of the hot springs and witnessing gushing geysers that include the famous Old Faithful. Yellowstone is one of the best national parks in the world to study the geological activity of the Earth.”
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