America's Best National Parks

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2009 6:20 PM CDT
Denali National Park, Alaska.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 6 more images

(Newser) – In the recession, international air travel is down and national park attendance is way up. Forbes runs down the crème de la crème of America’s national treasures, but be warned: “It's been incredibly hard to get camping space at most national parks,” one travel agent says.

  • Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii: Home to Mt. Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world. The park is "an exhilarating up-close crash course in the forces that shape the earth's profile," one travel author raves.

  • Denali National Park, Alaska: Sure, it boasts Denali, the tallest peak in the US, but the real draw is animal life. "Botswana is always wonderful," says the author, "but for the American safari, head to Denali."
  • Zion National Park, Utah: This "riot of rugged scrubland" got the most votes from Forbes' panel. "The narrow canyons are phenomenal—the colors astounding," a travel expert says.
  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tenn. and NC: The huge expanse is the most popular in the US by visitors, and the old-growth forests are "breathtaking any time of year," the travel author says.
  • Acadia National Park, Maine: Once the playground of the Northeast's millionaires, cycling and fishing are now popular at the seaside wonder.
  • National Mall, Washington: Yup, the stretch of green and the reflecting pool between the Capitol and the Potomac are in a national park. "It is Washington's—and therefore America's—backyard," the author says.
For the full list, click the link below.