Monday, June 22, 2009

Karen’s Travel Tips: Great National Parks of USA

There are several places one must go to when travelling to the United States of America. The must-see- National Parks-in the USA.

P.S. Please note that all images in this blog are from However, should you like to view my Photos, you can do so at my Webshots Community Album. You can also read my other Travel Blogs here.

Travel Blog References
· Contents compiled and written by Karen Toh Guek Bee.
· National Park Service, US Department of Interior,
· Wikipedia

Photography Images:
· Courtesy of,

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Yellowstone National Park was the first of its kind (and is a World Heritage Site, 1978), known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features. Yellowstone, for those who don’t realize it, is one of the largest caldera in the continent! Well, not to worry, it hasn’t blown up yet (the last big one was 2 million years ago), and if it does, we may not be alive to talk about it. :p

Image: Grand Prismatic Spring, Wikipedia.

It is located in 3 states – mainly in Wyoming, and extends into Montana and Idaho, and is the home to large variety of wildlife including the Bison, the Wolves (reintroduced in 1990), Grizzly Bears and Elk. It is well known for its Geysers - namely the Old Faithful, hot springs and its own Grand Canyon.

What to do while you’re there?
Driving, Hiking, Bicyling, Boating, Camping, Fishing, Horseback Riding are among the many activities. More importantly, viewing the natural points of interest is a must-do, at the park. Keep your eyes open for Wildlife Viewing.

Honestly, we hardly saw any grizzlys. To do that you’d have to go hiking or camping. But, be safe than sorry, as you will be in Bear Country, and while you think the cubs are cute, then beware of the ever protective Mama bear, that will be very close by. Bison and Elk are pretty common, but remember they’re wild, so if you’ve got your cameras, start snapping, but only from a safe distance.

Image: A reintroduced gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park, Wikipedia.

Where to Stay?
You can stay within the park itself at its many lodges and camping grounds, or stay at the motels just outside of the park. This is because the park is HUGE, and requires at least a week to cover the major points. Just remember that there is an entrance fee for private non-commercial vehichles, but you can buy a 7-day entrance permit to both the Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Grand Teton National Park is located in Wyoming, just south of the Yellowstone National Park. The park is named after the Grand Teton mountain (4,197m), the tallest mountain on the Teton Range, and the 2nd highest in Wyoming.

The Grand Teton can be viewed if you’re on your way from Salt Lake City, Utah heading towards the Yellow Stone national park.

According to the National Park Service (NPS), the granite and gneiss composing the core of the Teton Range are some of the oldest rocks in North America, yet the mountains are amongst the youngest in the world.

Yosemite National Park the Sierra Nevada, California

Yosemite National Park (pronounced You-sem-it-ee) was the first National Park that I visited, and I still have great memories from my trip there.

Yosemite was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984. Nothing I write can describe the awe of the park. The Valley, carved by glaciers, is one of the first wilderness parks in the USA, has some of it’s highest water falls, polished domes, and a variety of fauna thrive in the area.

What to do while you’re there?
Yosemite caters for a wide variety of visitors. There’s Auto Touring, Backpacking, Biking, Bird watching, Fishing (with a license), Hiking, Horseback Riding, Rock Climbing, Water Activities & Winter Sports, Ranger & Intepretive Programs and also bus tours. Whatever activity you choose, of whichever season you are planning to go, always check the operating hours with the national park authority. For more information on planning your visit, visit

Where to stay?
Check out the accommodation options here. All I can say, is that you have to book ahead, to avoid disappointment.

Grand Canyon National Park - Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona. One of the oldest national parks in the USA, the park is considered one of the major natural wonders of the world. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1979.

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge, carved by the Colorado River. The canyon is 446 km long, 6.4 to 29 km wide and has a depth of 1.6km.
What to do while you’re there?
For the adventurous, you can take a Mule Trip, River Trip or even a Backcountry Hiking. If you don’t have much time, then you can probably take a plane ride or a helicopter ride to get an overview of the canyon.

Where to stay?
For the day trippers.. Las Vegas, of course. For those hiking, you can stay within the park. For more information, click here.

Denali National Park & Preserve - Denali Park, Alaska

Mount McKinley or Denali (meaning “The Great One” in Alaska is the highest mountain peak in North America, and is the centerpiece of Denali National park. The mountain has been uplifted by tectonic pressure from the Pacific plate.

If you’re in Alaska, it would be a crime not to visit the Denali National Park. To access this National Park, one has to make their way through the wilderness of Alaska, by car (approximately 240 miles north of Anchorage), or by Train (See Alaska Railroad) or by Plane.

The park was originally established to protect its large mammals. This plan was conceived by Charles Sheldon who was a naturalist, hunter and conservationist. The Denali National Park and Preserve is 6 million acres large, larger than the state of Massachusetts, and is managed as three distinct units – Denali Wilderness, Denali National Park additions and Denali National Preserve.

Hence, you will see a vast landscape of wilderness of braided glacial rivers, massive peaks and tundra. You can also expect to see wildlife like Moose, caribou, grizzly bears and their cubs, Dall sheep, wolves and a variety of birds.

Denali is best seen mid-May to mid September, which is when the Denali visitor facilities are open. An ideal timeframe is a minimum of 2 nights if you are staying at a hotel near the park entrance, or if you intend to rough it out and stay in the park’s interior, you’ll need 3 to 4 nights. Click here for details on Denali Lodging.

Most visitors join a one-full-day shuttle or bus tour of Denali Park, which helps the park officials to control the number of visitors and the impact visitors would have on the environment and wildlife, as the Denali Park Road is the only road in the park, which extends some 91 miles into the park.

For more information about the Denali National Park & Preserve, and Denali National Park Travel Planning & Insider Tips by

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve - Gustavus, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is an area around Glacier Bay in southeastern Alaska, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

With glaciers retreating all over the world, due to global warming, Glacier Bay’s sixteen glaciers, twelve of which reach shorelines and calve (meaning that it sheds broken pieces of ice) to produce icebergs, attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year.

No roads lead into the park, but it is easily accessible by air travel and ferries during the summer, from Gustavus. Majority of visitors come on cruise ships.

One of the bay’s most famous glacier is the Muir Glacier, which was at one time nearly 3km wide and about 80m tall. The glacier has receded since the 1990’s. The glacier is named after John Muir, the naturalist, who visited the area and wrote about it, generating interest in the area and in its preservation.

For more information about Exploring Glacier Bay Nation Park & Preserve, click here.