The Alps in Europe, the Himalayas in Asia and the Andes in South America all sound very exotic to us. But the US and Canada also have some of the best, grandest, most accessible mountains in the world.
If you haven’t taken the time to explore and experience them at these Crown Jewels of our National Park systems, why not this year?
Here’s a brief and bright summary of those I’ve personally experienced. We’ll start from the north and work our way down:
Banff & Jasper National Parks—Alberta, Canada
Banff is Canada’s first national park, and the world’s third. Our family vacationed in Banff when I was a teenager in the 70s. What memories! Nick and I honeymooned here almost 25 years ago, too. We’re absolutely due to go back, and our kids have never seen it.
Glacier National Park—Montana
How’s this for cool: “As the Crown of the Continent, Glacier is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and to Hudson’s Bay.” (from the National Park Service website)
DON’T MISS Going-to-the-Sun Road and Logan Pass.
Yellowstone National Park—Wyoming
The world’s first national park, Yellowstone contains almost half the world’s geysers. Known for its wildlife and Old Faithful. This Park sits on the caldera of an ancient supervolcano. A bit unnerving, I must say!
Grand Teton National Park—Wyoming
Not quite as popular as its geyser-spouting neighbor directly to the north, the Tetons are strikingly beautiful. This iconic American scene of the Snake River was made famous by photographer Ansel Adams.
DON’T MISS Jenny Lake and Inspiration Point. (NOTE: There’s major trail reconstruction in this area in 2017-18, so be sure to plan ahead for closures!)
Rocky Mountain National Park—Colorado
Great camping, hiking and backpacking—but without the grizzlies that roam the northern Parks. Makes one breathe a little easier! 20 mountain peaks over 13,000 feet in Rocky. Spectacular.
DON’T MISS Trail Ridge Road.
Grand Canyon National Park—Arizona
Not mountains, exactly, but the second most-visited Park in the US and famous worldwide. Most people just visit the rim. In fact, most people just visit the South Rim. There’s also the North Rim, and…don’t miss this guest post by AOJ reader Alison Givand about her family’s camping trip on the floor of the Grand Canyon.
DON’T MISS Desert View Drive, South Rim.
So there you have it.
Some of the best mountains in the world, which happen to be in North America.
Where will your travels take you this summer? Consider these western jewels, especially if you’ve not been there yet. You definitely won’t regret it!
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.