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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

Celebrating the National Parks of North America

By Kirsty Parsons - 16th March 2022

Yellowstone National Park celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2022. it was created to preserve and protect Yellowstone’s unique beauty, geology, wildlife and cultural heritage for future generations.

Since then, more than 60 other national parks have been established in the USA, protecting vast swathes of the country. Whilst in Canada there are some 48 national parks with Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, the oldest at 137 years. The parks have undoubtedly lived up to their founding principles, and millions of visitors are welcomed every year to explore and enjoy the natural splendours of these much treasured places.

On our walking holidays in North America we visit 11 different national parks. Here’s our favourite thing to do at each of the parks we go to starting with Yellowstone, the great granddaddy of them all.

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Yellowstone National Park

Search for wolves with an expert guide

It’s incredibly difficult to name just one unmissable activity at Yellowstone as the park has so much unique geology, wildlife and scenery to offer, but spending a day with an expert wolf guide in search of these primeval animals is an exceptional privilege. The Lamar Valley is one of the best places to find Yellowstone’s wolves, and your guide will help you track them as well as giving you loads of fascinating information about their biology and behavior. An utterly unforgettable experience!

Wildlife Walks: Yellowstone & the American Rockies

National Parks of America Yellowstone White Wolf Yellowstone
White wolf of Yellowstone
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Banff National Park

Drive the Icefields Parkway

Named as one of the top drives of the world, the 144 miles of the Icefields Parkway is a sensational road trip. The highway links Banff and Jasper parks and is lined by thrusting mountain peaks, over 100 glaciers and numerous turquoise lakes. The vistas are absolutely jaw dropping and you’ll find yourself stopping every few miles to take yet more photos. If you want to stretch your legs en route there are several walks to viewpoints including the short trail to Athabasca Glacier and the hike to Parker Ridge.

Gentle Walking Canadian Rockies

National Parks of north America Banff icefields parkway
Icefields Parkway
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Grand Canyon National Park

Hike the Bright Angel Trail

Once you’ve finished admiring one of nature’s greatest wonders from the top, there’s really only one way to go - down! Bright Angel is the most accessible trail for day walkers, dropping around 1,000m from the canyon’s rim in a series of zigzags to eventually reach Plateau Point from where you can see all the way down to the Colorado River at the base of the canyon. Fortunately there’s a water stop and some welcome shade at Indian Garden en route. The climb back out is a bit arduous but worth the effort to say you’ve walked into the Grand Canyon.

Walking the Grand Canyon & the American Wild West

National Parks of America Grand Canyon trek
Hiking in the Grand Canyon
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Rocky Mountain National Park

Look for elk on the Ute Trail

Look for elk on the Ute Trail. Rocky Mountain is particularly renowned for its large elk population, as well as its superlative scenery. Travel to the park in the autumn months when the elk are in their rutting season, and you’ll be able to see bull elks displaying their huge racks of antlers and fighting to impress their harem. You’ll also hear their characteristic ‘bugle’ or roar which carries for miles through the beautiful valleys. The Ute Trail is one of the best places to walk to observe the elk herds.

Wildlife Walks: Yellowstone & the American Rockies

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Elk in the Rocky Mountains
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Arches National Park

Take a sunrise walk to Delicate Arch

One of the most iconic of all Utah’s landmarks, Delicate Arch is best seen from up-close as the first rays of the sun cast their soft light on the sandstone arch. You’ll also avoid the tourist masses at this time of day and get great photos of the arch framing the beautiful La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Walking the Grand Canyon & the American Wild West

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Delicate Arch
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Grand Teton National Park

Ride the aerial tram to Rendevous Mountain

To appreciate the awe-inspiring sweep of the Teton Mountains ride the aerial tram from Teton Village. You’ll be whisked up 1,200m in just 15 minutes to the summit of Rendevous Mountain at 3,185m which offers panoramic views of the entire Teton Range as well as the Snake River Valley and the town of Jackson Hole below.

Wildlife Walk: Yellowstone & the American Rockies

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Aerial tram in Teton National Park
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Zion National Park

Take in the views from Observation Point

The sandstone overlook of Observation Point is situated at almost 3,000m and can only be reached by foot. It’s quite a hike to get there via a whole lot of switchbacks and the sheer walls of Echo Canyon, but the sweeping vistas from the top justify the hard work, with all of Zion laid out beneath you. Awesome!

Walking the Grand Canyon & the American Wild West

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View from Observation Point
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Bryce Canyon National Park

Walk through the hoodoos on the Fairyland Loop

The majority of visitors to Bryce only see the park by looking down from the viewpoints along the rim trail but walk down amidst the multi-coloured hoodoos and you will get a totally different perspective. The Fairyland Loop Trail will take you away from the crowds, past numerous, aptly named rock formations including Tower Bridge and the Chinese Wall.

Walking the Grand Canyon & the American Wild West

National Parks of America Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon hoodoos
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Jasper National Park

Hike the Bald Hills Trail

There are of course numerous spectacular hiking trails in Jasper National Park but we particularly recommend the Bald Hills Trail. It’s not too challenging, nor too busy, but it does culminate in one of the best viewpoints of the whole park at the old fire lookout point. From this rather barren spot you are rewarded by absolutely magnificent views down to Maligne Lake as well as six soaring summits over 3,000m and numerous glaciers hanging from their slopes. Simply sublime!

Gentle Walking Canadian Rockies

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Maligne Lake
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Canyonlands National Park

Enjoy the view through Mesa Arch

Mesa is the unmissable viewpoint in Canyonlands so can be pretty popular, especially at sunrise. Framed by delicate span of the arch you can see the vast landscape of Canyonlands below and the lofty La Sal Mountains beyond. If you look carefully, you can also see another arch – Washer Woman – in the distance.

Walking the Grand Canyon & the American Wild West

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Mesa Arch
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Yoho National Park

Take a waterfall walk

Yoho is the smallest of the Canadian Rockies’ parks but it sure does pack a punch. Its name derives from a native Cree word meaning awe and it’s easy to see why it was so named. Along with towering mountains and glacial lakes, water plunges down the vast cliff walls to the valley floor below creating many dramatic falls including the highest Takakkaw Falls at 254m, as well as Angel’s Staircase Falls and Laughing Falls. All of these can be seen in one fabulous walk.

Gentle Walking Canadian Rockies

National Parks of north America Yoho waterfall
Takakkaw Falls

For departure dates, prices and detailed itineraries view all our holidays in the USA and Canada, and start planning your next awesome adventure.

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