Annie Daly—If it were up to us, we would call America the land of the free and the home of the … amazing national parks. We are so fortunate to have such natural beauty and wonder right at our fingertips. From the stunning arches of Utah to the blue beauty that is Oregon’s Crater Lake, our national parks definitely deliver in the dream-setting department.
Fortunately, we have National Park Week — in other words, seven days each year to honor these 59 national treasures. And what better way to get down with the celebration than to bring in those who just may love the land the most? We asked a slew of top travelers — both the Yahoo Travel Explorers and the Yahoo Travel staff — to share their favorite nature selfies. Full disclosure: We use the term “selfie” loosely — in this case, to define any photo of our travelers in a park. Read on to find out which parks our travelers love the most and why, and be sure to tell us which one is your favorite. Happy National Park Week!
Lindsay Taub, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
“The Grand Canyon is the only national park in which I’ve gone whitewater rafting. The best part about doing so is that you get to see places, like hidden waterfalls and caves, that can only be accessed by the river or overnight hikes. Also, in between the rapids, the silence and gentle whirling sound of the Canyon is unlike anything you can witness from above.”
Matt Gibson, Zion National Park, Utah
“It’s one of the most spectacular national parks in the United States. The towering valleys, orange and pink stone, and eerily bright blue sky make it visually stunning, and the trails there are some of the most challenging (and dangerous) I’ve ever been on.”
Cailin O’Neil, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
“Of all the places I’ve traveled to in the world, the Grand Canyon is one of those spots that impresses me over and over again. If you haven’t been, you are guaranteed to have a jaw-dropping experience. Words can’t express just how huge, vast, and beautiful of a place it really is.”
Annie Daly, Joshua Tree National Park, Calif.
“I’m a big ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ fan, and the first time I went to Joshua Tree, I felt like I was Calvin’s alter ego Spaceman Spiff and I walking around Spiff’s alternate universe. Put another way, I felt like I was on Mars!”
Ayngelina Brogan, Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai, Hawaii
“This beautiful setting is now a historic park to preserve the culture and history of two leper colonies that once existed on the island. It may seem like a tragic place to visit, but it’s really the story of perseverance when struck with adversity.”
Lanee Lee Neil, Arches National Park, Utah
“Astonishment. Laughter. Pure joy. These are the reactions Delicate Arch stirs when you round the corner and see it for the first time!”
Eric Rubens, Mount Rainier National Park, Wash.
“Mount Rainier is an amazing place. Whether you’re watching the sunrise at the base of Mirror Lake or climbing some of its beautifully wooded trails, you’ll be awed by the beauty of the Cascade mountain range. The Wonderland Trail, which circumnavigates the peak for 93 miles, was full of beauty and adventure.”
Sherry Ott, Kalaupapa Historic National Park, Molokai, Hawaii
“It’s a fascinating place with a tragic history as a remote leper colony. And when I say remote, I mean remote. The only way to get to this slice of island paradise, aside from flying in, is by mule down the tallest sea cliffs in the world, which is a 1,700-foot descent via 26 narrow switchbacks. What an adventure!”
Lanee Lee Neil, Yosemite National Park, Calif.
“I can’t describe it better than iconic landscape photographer Ansel Adams once did: Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. In all its majestic beauty, it begged me for a #scarftravels photo!”
Christine Amorose, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
“I decided to do a U.S. road trip because I had been to so many incredible natural wonders elsewhere in the world, but I had never seen the Grand Canyon. It was the first big stop on my trip, and it certainly didn’t disappoint — I even got to see a massive thunderstorm roll in over the canyon!”
Nadine Sykora, Yosemite National Park, Calif.
“Having done the road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles and back two times now, Yosemite is my favorite spot to stop off. It’s the perfect place to break up the drive and go out for a little hike. Plus, the rock faces, waterfalls, and valleys are all must-sees!”
Leah Ginsberg, Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
“Even though it’s in Maui, it’s actually quite freezing up that high—you’re standing above the clouds, which is amazing by itself. Then, slowly, color begins to streak across the sky, mostly faint oranges, pinks, and blues. But then there’s this one moment where just the very tip of the sun explodes above the horizon, and it’s on fire, florescent. Then the whole sun rises and it’s morning. Definitely worth the 3:30 a.m. wakeup call.”
Jessie Festa, Joshua Tree National Park, Calif.
“Joshua Tree has a beautiful yet eerie feel. There are branches twisting up from the almost-barren landscape, cacti and Dr. Seuss-like Joshua trees, plus bold cloud formations and a rocky mountainside. There are so many hikes and climbs to explore that you can easily spend days exploring all this park has to offer!”
Annie Daly, Zion National Park, Utah
“One of my favorite songs in the world is “Road to Zion” by Damian Marley, and I felt like I was walking right up the road to Zion in Zion National Park in Utah. Zion is actually a Hebrew name, which defines the connection between God and humanity — and I definitely felt all sorts of spiritual on my golden journey.”
Jo Piazza, Joshua Tree National Park, Calif.
“Joshua Tree is like nowhere else on the planet. You feel like you’ve entered an alien landscape.”
Lindsay Taub, Craggy Pinnacle Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, N.C.
“I need and crave mountains. I’m not sure where it comes from, since I grew up a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, but mountains have always spoken to me as a place where I find my center. Something about drinking fresh water off the mountain and being the only one surrounded by acres upon acres of rugged terrain is enchanting to me.”