Some of my most memorable holidays have been to national parks. These places are more than just clichéd family holiday destinations – they are Nature’s showcase of unique wildlife and unsurpassed natural beauty. The untouched natural beauty of these national parks makes them appealing to every age group and life stage. On my holidays to national parks around the world I’ve come across couples on a romantic getaway, families with young children, retired couples and groups of friends.
Local is lovely
You don’t have to travel far to visit beautiful national Parks. Snowdonia National Park is right on your doorstep, and is home to the largest natural lake and the highest mountain in Wales. It’s the third largest national park in the UK. Visitors to Snowdonia can explore 823 square miles of moors, jagged peaks, wetlands and beautiful beaches. The diverse range of habitats makes it an amazing place for walking, climbing and biking. Surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty, holiday cottages in Snowdonia ensure you can feel close to nature, without travelling too far from home.
Considering its size, the UK is home to a surprising number of beautiful natural assets that have been preserved and protected from development through the formation of national parks. With national parks like Exmoor National Park, Brecon Beacon’s National Park, Cairngorms National Park, South Downs National Park as well as England’s largest national park – Lake District National Park, you never have to travel very far to reach untouched countryside.
Where the wild things are
If you don’t mind traveling further afield, you can visit one Africa’s national parks where you’ll find an amazing variety of wildlife. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous for its annual wildebeest migration. The best way to appreciate the untouched beauty of the 5,700 square miles of grassland and forests is by hot air balloon.
The Kruger National Park in South Africa is another national park treasure in Africa. At 7,580 square miles, it’s larger than some small European countries. Visitors enjoying a safari holiday at the Kruger National Park will get to see Africa’s “Big Five”: lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhinoceros.
If you’re more interested in bears than lions, you can always visit Glacier National Park in Montana, USA. It is home to one of North America’s largest grizzly populations. Along with bears, visitors will probably spot wildlife like lynx, mountain lions, deer, moose and mountain goats.
Archaeological treasures and geological wonders
National Parks are not all about the wildlife. There are also some archaeological treasures and geological wonders located in these protected areas. In Australia’s Northern Territory, you’ll find the Kakadu National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kakadu has cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites that record the lives of the Aborginal people and the original hunter-gatherers who inhabited the region. Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, USA, is another national park with archaeological sites, including the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world.
Some of the world’s best geological features can be seen in national parks. A perfect example of this is the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. It’s not hard to see why it’s one of the world’s most photographed national parks. The way the Colorado River has carved its way through the landscape over millions of years has created a geological wonder. Another great example of this is Fiordland National Park, on New Zealand’s South Island. The rugged granite mountains, pristine lakes and deep valleys have been influenced over hundreds of thousands of years by the region’s fiords.
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming also has amazing geological formations including the geothermal feature that the park is best known for – Old Faithful Geyser. The vast national park has grasslands, forests, canyons and rivers, and is home to bison, elk, wolves and grizzly bears. With boating, camping, hiking, and fishing on the cards, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream holiday destination.
Rest, relaxation and artistic inspiration
The captivating beauty of nature has inspired poets, artists and photographers for centuries, so if you’re looking for a little artistic inspiration, you should plan a holiday to one of these beautiful national parks.
My favourite national park is Banff National Park, which was established in 1885 and is one of Canada’s most beautiful regions. The scenery is truly awe-inspiring. Located in Alberta and encompassing the Canadian Rockies, the towering rugged peaks, pristine turquoise lakes, glaciers and peaceful surroundings make Banff National Park the perfect place to go for some rest, relaxation and artistic inspiration.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park in Japan is another inspirational national park that has been immortalized by Japanese poets and artists. The national park includes Mt Fuji, tranquil lakes, hot springs and forest-covered mountains, and is one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions.
For something inspirational and out of the ordinary, there is Plitvice National Park in Croatia. The area has a unique system of 16 interlinked lakes, surrounded by forests and is simply spectacular. There are well-maintained paths that make walking through Plitvice National Park a pleasure.
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