10 National Parks You Must Visit Before You Die
Montana: Glacier National Park
With more than 700 miles of trails that weave paths through icy blue lakes, jagged glacier-carved mountain peaks, and stunning fields of wildflowers, this Montana gem is an absolute must-see. For a serious photo op, grab a bike and cycle down the Going-to-the-Sun road. It cuts through the Rocky Mountains and crosses the Continental Divide with stunning views along the way. At the end, try SUP or kayaking in one of the 100+ lakes. This park almost hits Canada, though, so be sure to bring warm layers as the weather can change quickly.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Hike to Hidden Lake
Utah: Zion National Park
You know the Grand Canyon has spectacular canyon views (and we don't disagree), but the pink, red, and orange sandstone cliffs in Utah make for a sight unlike anything you've ever seen. But it's not all dry desert in this Southwestern locale. You'll find waterfalls, a hanging garden, and rivers that cut through the rocks as well.
Fit-Girl Favorite: The Narrows wading hike
North Carolina and Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountain National Park
This may be the most visited park in the country, but with 816 square miles spanning two states, you'll find plenty of space for solitude. You can spend part of your day on the Appalachian Trail, one of the country's most iconic pedestrian passageways, and then make your way to plenty of hiking trails that jut off it into wooded forests. The lush greenery and rolling hills create a sunset reminiscent of a watercolor painting.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Watch sunset or sunrise from the Chimney Tops after a rewarding hike
Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park
This is Mother Nature at her finest. Nothing beats the majestic stance of the Grand Teton Mountains, jagged and snowcapped under a bright blue sky. While summiting the Grand Teton peak at 7,000 feet is a popular bucket list item for serious mountaineers, there's plenty to do for the slightly less extreme. As this is one of the wilder and more rugged parks on our list, you'll want to be prepared for some tough climbs, forceful rapids, and possible encounters with big-time wildlife. Hey, we said you'd get an adventure!
Fit-Girl Favorite: Fly fish in Jenny Lake (but hike there first!)
Virginia: Shenandoah National Park
We love this park for its accessibility to Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. Just a few hours outside of our nation's capital you'll find sprawling greenery with manageable hills. Seriously, you don't have to ascend very high to catch some spectacular shots, so this park is great for family day hikes or trail-running training for the serious outdoorswoman.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Take a trail run on Old Rag Loop
Washington: Olympic National Park
This park has it all—craggy coastline, towering mountains, and an almost Amazonian rainforest. It rains here, so you'll want to pack a waterproof jacket. But you'll be so distracted by the scenery that you won't even notice the drizzle. Shameless Instagram plug: The contrast of well-watered greenery and glacier-clad mountain peaks create an image that needs no filter.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Take the 3.2-mile trail to summit Mount Ellinor
Texas: Big Bend National Park
As one of the most remote and least visited national parks in the country, this park is a nature-lover's playground. Plus, its large ecological diversity makes it educational as well as fitness-friendly. This park is especially cool at night, as the wide-open Texas sky spreads over the vast landscape, revealing every constellation.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Hike to Boquillas Hot Springs
Maine: Acadia National Park
Start your day off early here and be the first person in the whole country to catch the sunrise. Since you're so far east, you'll see it before anyone else and it's guaranteed to be gorgeous. While you're there, scale a couple rock faces to the top of Cadillac Mountain, or walk along the shores of one of Acadia's waterways.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Hike Beehive Trail
Oregon: Crater Lake National Park
Known for the collapsed volcano turned epic lake, this park centers around the water. As it turns out, the lake is the deepest in the entire country, and arguably one of the most untouched. In summer months you can hike the rim; when it gets cold, you can snowshoe for unimaginable views.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Cliff jumping into the lake
Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve
Float along pristine, glassy waters as you wind between centuries-old glaciers. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, sea otters, and orcas, and you may even notice some glaciers shifting. If kayaking isn't your thing, try ice climbing to get familiar with the looming glaciers and gain a new perspective on the hood.
Fit-Girl Favorite: Kayak Glacier Bay