As a generation obsessed with wanderlust, articles like this seem as if they’re a dime a dozen. The truth is, we’re never going to be able to see everything this universe has to offer. Your fear of missing out is completely valid. You will inevitably miss out on much more than you experience.
This doesn’t mean you should keep yourself locked up in your room until the end of time. What this means is that there is so much to see and so much you haven’t seen. In fact, while you’ve been obsessing over vistas a half a world away, there might be breathtaking sights right outside your door.
For those of you in the United States, being able to take advantage of America’s National Parks is something that we far to often take for granted. The United States is a massive country with so many different landscapes to explore. Whether you call the U.S. your home or not, America’s National Parks should be high on your to-do list.
For everyone’s sake, this list is going to be a little controversial. I’m not going to put America’s greatest hits like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone here. Chances are, you’ve already heard of these natural gems. Hopefully here you’ll discover a few new places you’ve never heard of, and can add some of these hidden gems to your next road trip.
1. Olympic National Park
If you swooned over the forests of the Pacific Northwest more than the characters of a love triangle in a certain fantasy series, you have to get yourself to Olympic National Park. Located in Washington State, there are no words more appropriate than fantastic to describe the Park. The lush green woodland looks like one you might find in the pictures of a fairytale. The temperate forests are yours to explore, but bring waterproof gear. The rainy stereotype is no lie!
2. Mammoth Cave National Park
If you’ve never toured cave before, you’re in for a real treat when you head to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. There is nothing else quite like traveling in this underground maze.
Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world! But don’t worry about losing your way. Various ranger-led activities are conducted throughout the year in this concealed labyrinth. Just be sure to check their website before you go; many of the tours are not offered in all seasons.
3. Great Basin National Park
There may be other Parks that get more the publicity in this neck of the woods, but they’re is hardly the only natural wonders around. Great Basin National Park, located Nevada, near the Utah border, is the antithesis of Nevada’s greatest tourist attraction.
Great Basin is everything Las Vegas is not. The bright lights here come not from florescent advertisements, but from the stunning night sky. In addition to being a showstopper at night, the Park has a variety of different landscapes to explore during the day. Make sure to make a visit to Great Basin to see its high deserts, snowy mountaintops, hidden caves and abundant wildlife.
4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
While Mount Rushmore in South Dakota is the traditional place to pay homage to this wilderness-loving President, it may not be the most appropriate. Instead, head one state up to North Dakota to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This Park gives visitors a real glimpse into what this barren westward landscape looked like centuries ago. Whether you imagine yourself as a passenger on a wagon train headed for the Pacific or a solitary traveler seeking starlight, it’s difficult not to see a different time when you look at this backdrop.
5. Hot Springs National Park
While it’s located in what many dismiss as “flyover country,” Hot Springs National Park is not to be snubbed. Hot Springs National Park is located in Arkansas and is, appropriately, adjacent to the city of Hot Springs. While it’s the smallest national park by area, it is one of the easiest to visit. In fact, portions of downtown Hot Springs are included in the park. When you visit, check out one of the many bathhouses in the area that take advantage of these natural hot springs.
When daydreaming about your next getaway, it’s not necessary to have to budget for a lavish hotel or expensive plane ticket. Try to look for the natural wonders in your own backyard or on your next road trip. You never know what you’re missing out on!