Favorite National Parks and What to See While You’re There

National Parks are some of the most sought-after vacation destinations, and it’s no surprise. These places full of history and natural wonder make for great family vacations right here in the United States.

TravelandLeisure.com has identified some of their favorites and tapped into park experts who offer tips for enjoying each one.

As a member of Global Discovery Vacations, you can find beautiful resort condominiums close to many of these National Park attractions.

Badlands National Park – South Dakota

The Badlands is ruggedly beautiful and draws visitors from all around the world. Ancient mammals like the rhino, horse and saber-toothed cat once roamed these parts, so consider that when walking the trails.

Pro Tip: Drive the Badlands Highway 240 Loop Road as the two-lane highway is considered one of the nation’s top scenic drives. You’ll see some of the most amazing buttes, cliffs and multi-colored spires of Badlands National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

With unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms, the canyon is decorated for 277 river miles and is a full mile deep. It overwhelms all senses with its natural beauty and immense size.

Pro Tip: The South Rim is open all year long, so plan trips accordingly as the North Rim is only open through mid-October (October 15th this year to be exact). 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — Michigan

According to Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services Merrith Baughman, the beaches and forests of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are best visited in the fall. The stunning colors are something to behold and the temps are still warm enough for swimming.

Pro Tip: Visit the Port Oneida Rural Historic District if you love turn-of-the-century farmhouses, beautiful views of Lake Michigan and secluded beaches.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico

Flying bats and flowering cacti are what set Carlsbad Caverns apart in New Mexico. Spring and summer are the best time to visit according to the park’s Public Affairs Specialist Valerie Gohkle.

Pro Tip: Walk the Natural Entrance Trail all 750 feet down Carlsbad Cavern. If you take the elevator, you miss a lot of beautiful scenery.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area — Arizona and Nevada

The best part of Lake Mead National Recreation area is you have many types of topography in one place, including mountains, valleys, canyons and lakes. The weather can be unpredictable, so Public Affairs Specialist Christie Vanover suggests wearing a life jacket, which you can get for free at stops like Boulder Beach and Cottonwood Cove.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Redstone Picnic Area. The red sandstone everywhere will make you feel like you just landed on Mars.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park — North Carolina and Tennessee

A favorite with Global Discovery Vacations members, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for the foggy tendrils that wind through the mountains. However, most people go for the fantastic hiking trails and opportunity to see wildlife up close.

Pro Tip: Looking for a peaceful hike? Public Affairs Representative Dana Soehn suggests the “quiet walkways” along the Newfound Gap and Little River Roads.

Visiting a National Park will give you some serious perspective on the vast wonders of our world, and hopefully bring you and your family vacation memories to last a lifetime.

And what better way to see these and many other destinations than booking a condominium resort vacation with Global Discovery Vacations?

Have you visited any National Parks? Which are your favorites and what tips do you have for first-time visitors?

A native of New Jersey, Victoria isn't entirely sure how she ended up in Kansas City, but has enjoyed writing, editing, creating, communicating and marketing for high-profile accounts throughout the city ever since. In her spare time, Victoria is active with local community and city theatre.