When US President Ulysses S. Grant inked a document designating Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” and placing it “under exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior,” the first national park was created. The concept caught on fast, and today, there are more than 1,000 national parks in more than 100 countries that preserve places with breathtaking natural beauty, geographic wonders, and distinctive flora and fauna that are accessible to the general public and unaltered by man.
Here are our picks for the most stunning National Parks in the world, however beauty is subjective. So, let’s a take a look at them.
10. CANAIMA NATIONAL PARK, VENEZUALA
Canaima National Park, which spans 3 million hectares in southeast Venezuela along the border with Guyana and Brazil, is the sixth-largest national park in the world. Table mountains (tepui), which make up the majority of the park’s terrain, create an amazing landscape of sheer cliffs and waterfalls. Since the tepuis represent distinct biogeological entities, they are of tremendous geological importance. Angels Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, is also located in Canaima (979 m or 3211 ft). Jimmy Angel, an American bush pilot and gold prospector, is honoured by having his name given to the waterfall, which he discovered in 1937. The falls are so tall that before the water ever gets close to the earth, the strong winds atomize it and transform it into mist.
9. AUSTRALIA’S KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Kakadu National Park, which spans a wilderness region almost as large as Switzerland, is Australia’s largest National Park. This enduring location in the Northern Territory, three hours’ drive from Darwin, is placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for both its nature and its thriving Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal people are the oldest living civilisation on earth, having inhabited this area for more than 50,000 years. Additionally well-known are the park’s roaring waterfalls, verdant rainforests, and meandering marshes. The 10,000 crocodiles in Australia and the 280 distinct bird species that make up its exotic biodiversity may be found in Cahill’s Crossing and Yellow Water Wetlands, respectively.
8. NATIONAL PARK OF CORCOVADO, COSTA RICA
It is one of the planet’s most biologically diverse locations, and the untamed beauty of its old-growth wet forests, cloud forests, mangrove swamps, and desolate beaches is spectacular. It is situated on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica’s southwest region. Tropical wildlife, including Red Macaws, tapirs, quetzals, red-eyed tree frogs, boa constrictor boas, and numerous types of monkeys, is abundant in the Serena Ranger Station area of this national park. Consider yourself incredibly fortunate if you see a mountain lion or a jaguar hunting turtles, come across a tapir on the beach, come across a group of peccaries, or see the bull shark’s fins as it enters the rivers along the coast.
7. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, UNITED STATES
As the world’s first national park, Yellowstone was created in 1872 with the goal of conserving the vast majority of the planet’s geysers as well as other thermal wonders that contribute to a surreal environment of steam, bubbles, and boiling mud. Yellowstone’s enormous wilderness, which is mostly in the northwest corner of Wyoming and stretches into Montana and Idaho, is home to mountain ranges, lakes, waterfalls, and geological marvels like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Just south of Yellowstone, at Grand Teton National Park, is even more breathtaking beauty. The majority of visitors come to Yellowstone primarily to take in the incredible wildlife, which includes grizzly and black bears, bison, bighorn sheep, elk, and moose that wander the mountains and valleys.
6. NEW ZEALAND’S FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK
On the southern island of New Zealand, the greater Te Whipounamu wilderness, a UNESCO World Heritage Area, includes the 1952-founded Fiordland National Park. Fiordland National Park, which spans 1.2 million hectares, is home to lush rainforests, immaculate rivers, clean lakes, huge cliffs, snow-capped summits, stunning ice-carved fiords, and unusual flora and wildlife that have existed since Gondwanaland, the supercontinent that once included New Zealand. The vista is breathtaking even on regular rainy days, when entire valley walls transform into rumbling waterfalls. Highlight is the breathtaking Milford Sound with Mitre Peak, one of New Zealand’s most photographed summits standing 1692 metres (5551 feet) above sea level.
5. YOSEMITE NATONAL PARK, UNITED STATES
Yosemite, a park in California, was one of the first to be protected in 1864 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yosemite Valley, the main attraction of the park, is flanked by towering granite mountains, dense pine forests, and magnificent waterfalls. But Yosemite National Park is so much more than simply a large valley with waterfalls; it also contains deep valleys, expansive meadows, ancient, gigantic sequoias, and more than 800 miles of breathtaking trails. No matter the season, the park is appealing: spring brings flowing waterfalls, summer allows for engaging in all outdoor activities, fall offers colourful foliage and fewer visitors, and winter transforms the park into a snowy wonderland for cross-country skiing and other winter sports.
4. SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA
The oldest and most well-known national park in Tanzania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently named the seventh wonder of the world. The Great Migration, an annual 1,200-mile trek of 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras chasing the rains in a race for survival while being preyed upon by an astounding number of predators, is what makes the Serengeti famous. Visit the area at the right time of year, such as in June, when 40 km (25 miles) long columns of animals make their annual migration north through waters populated with crocodiles, or when they repopulate during a brief population explosion that results in more than 8,000 calves being born every day (February).
3. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, USA
The state of Montana, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, are home to the one million-acre wilderness region of Glacier National Park. The park was created in 1910 to conserve its natural woods, alpine meadows, rough mountains, glacially sculpted valleys, and magnificent lakes. It should not be confused with Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. Grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, wolverines, wolves, and mountain lions all have thriving populations in their different environments. For intrepid travellers seeking adventure and seclusion, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise with more than 740 miles (1200 km) of trails.
2. NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK, NAMIBIA
Namibia, one of the least populous nations in the world, is hardly the place to get lost. But for those who like unmatched natural landscapes and wildlife viewing, it is a favourite vacation spot. The Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game park in Africa and home to a portion of the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, and the Naukluft mountain range, is the best example of this. The park’s most impressive sections are Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, which have surreal vistas with reddish-colored dunes that are among the highest in the world and black tree skeletons (the highest being the one nicknamed “Big Daddy,” about 380 m or 124 ft high).
1. CHILE’s TORRES DEL PAIN NATIONAL PARK
The Torres del Paine National Park, located in Chile’s Magallanes 12th district, was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and is widely regarded as one of the planet’s most pristine areas. Vertical granite peaks, enormous ice rivers, wind-swept plains, and native beech forests that are home to guanacos, foxes, and pumas are just a few examples of its amazing natural splendour. Although multiday treks are the real deal here, anyone can appreciate the park’s major landmarks simply by driving around, even though the most breathtaking views will need a little work. Be sure to catch the sunrise, when the Torres del Paine Massif’s horns turn purple and then crimson.
So, there you have the best of the best to choose from in 2023 for your dream travel destination. Make your New Year memorable with these remarkable national parks.