With the U.S. National Park Service celebrating its centennial this year, it’s a good time to take a moment to appreciate the majestic beauty of our national parks.
Of the 59 parks, I am highlighting 15 that I believe produce the best Instagram accounts.
After all, scrolling through photos of beautiful landscapes on Instagram is the cheapest vacation for your mind!
#1 Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado
This account is populated by photos of mountain vistas and elk spotted along Trail Ridge Road, which winds up to a high point above 12,000 feet in elevation. Shots of gleaming water bodies such as Emerald Lake, Sky Pond, Odessa Lake, and Lily Lake are featured. Hikers wander across mountain trails.
#2 Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming, Idaho and Montana
Bison, grizzly bears, pelicans and wolves wander through the account of the nation’s first national park. Natural wonders make appearances, such as steaming hot springs and waterfalls. Geysers, including Old Faithful, erupt in front of crowds of tourists.
Bison and fire, two forces that have shaped Yellowstone for a long time. In this shot, smoke from the Buffalo Fire rises from the ridges above rutting bulls in Lamar Valley. We'll be talking about both at tonight's Instameet in Lamar Valley. Join us at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch at 7pm for a tour of the facility and a sunset walk. Full details in our bio. For today's fire update, check out the blog at go.nps.gov/YellFireBlog. #Yellowstone #instameet #wildfire
#3 Yosemite National Park – California
Imposing granite monolith rock formations loom over deep valleys and verdant meadows. The park is also famous for its dramatic waterfalls and giant sequoia trees. Wildflowers dot the impressive landscape. Wildlife such as the California spotted owl make appearances.
This is known as Wosky pond, named for John B. Wosky, the park's assistant superintendent from 1935-1952, who once got his vehicle stuck in the mud here. The meadow beyond is known as Slaughterhouse Meadow. Back in the day it was difficult to have fresh meat delivered to the residents and visitors of Yosemite, and so cows were raised in the meadows of the valley and brought to a slaughterhouse located here to be killed and cut into meat. And now? Now, it's just a pretty view with an interesting history. #Yosemite #NationalPark #YosemiteHistory
#4 Glacier National Park – Montana
Stunning blue lakes dot the craggy landscapes. The juxtaposition of water and mountains dominates many of the photos, with the former offering stunning mirror images of the latter. Glaciers and mountain snow create a wintry landscape.
#5 Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
The textured ridges of the Grand Canyon spread out under open skies in photo after photo. The Little Colorado and larger Colorado River cut through the dramatic landscapes. This is a geologist’s dream.
Setting sunlight on Wotan's Throne, a prominent feature viewed from Cape Royal on the North Rim. Wotan's Throne was named after an ancient Germanic God by the geologist Clarence Dutton who accompanied Major John Wesley Powell on his 1881 expedition through Grand Canyon. The expedition was Powell's third through Grand Canyon. Dutton named many features in Grand Canyon. He believed that Grand Canyon was such an important feature in the world that it's names should reflect all of the world's cultures. He chose names that honored mythologies and legends from around the world. – rc
#6 Zion National Park – Utah
The Zion Canyon offers similar landscape views as the Grand Canyon. Wildlife such as the California condor, Mexican spotted owl,nighthawk, and rattlesnakes also make appearances.
#7 Big Bend National Park – Texas
The mighty Rio Grande River cuts through canyons and a desert landscape. The Chisos Mountains also loom in photos. Vegetation pictured includes cactus, prickly pear, ocotillo, and lechugilla. Wildlife include the gray fox, roadrunner, and hummingbird.
#8 Great Smoky Mountains – North Carolina and Tennessee
America’s most visited national park posts plenty of closeup photos of flowers and black bears, sweeping southern Appalachian landscape at sunrise and sunset. Fog floating across the mountains reflects the park name.
#9 Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
Orange-hued towering rock spires (or hoodoos) loom in Bryce Canyon, cutting a dramatic scene day or night. They pierce both bright blue skies and starry nights.
#10 Kenai Fjords National Park – Alaska
This lesser-known park features impressive frozen ice, glaciers and orcas (killer whales) frolicking in cold Alaskan waters. The massive Harding ice field is the park’s most dominant feature. Puffins, moose, and sea otters also make appearances. This is a winter wonderland!
#11 Lake Clark National Park – Alaska
Mountains, granite spires, and clear blue waters spread out under the Alaskan sky. Wildlife include lynx, sockeye salmon, brown bears, foxes, and mink.
The east portion of “K’q’uya Vena” / (red salmon Lake) or #KijikLake, with “Nanchixdghanux” (our nose touches it) mountain on the north shore. North of Lake Clark is the Kijik(Qizhjeh) #NationalHistoricLandmark. Kijik NHL is a documented cultural landscape with more than a dozen archeological sites. These sites are affiliated with the inland Dena'ina Athabascan people, who continue to live in the Lake Clark region today. #Athabasca #Athabascan #DenainaWordOfTheDay #LakeClarkNPS #NatureAlaska
#12 Olympic National Park – Washington
The park encompasses the Olympic Peninsula along the Pacific Ocean. Photos feature the diversity of verdant forest, craggy mountains, lakes, and wildlife.
#13 Saguaro National Park – Arizona
This Southwestern park is home to the iconic and large saguaro cactus. Many of the photos feature the saguaro as the star of the show, contrasting against the sky in full light, at sunset, or nighttime.
Today was a beautiful day for the 100th birthday of the @nationalparkservice. Here's to many more wonderful days of adventure and we hope to see you soon to #findyourpark. Thank you for sharing your experience at the park @85701. This makes us speechless and envious to witness such a breathtaking sunset. (CH) #saguaronationalpark #nationalpark #NPS100 #americasbestidea #todaywasagoodday
#14 Mount Rainier National Park – Washington
The iconic Mount Rainier volcano looms in the backdrop of many of the park photos. The park features mountaineers maneuvering through wintry snowscapes and hikers wandering through lush green forests.
Today is #NationalNaturePhotographyDay! The votes are in, and your favorite photo was the winner of the #PeopleInThePark category, @lha_luke! He will be taking over our account beginning on June 20th, to share his best photos of your favorite park. Great job @lha_luke and everyone else who entered the contest. Make sure to keep tagging photos with #mountrainiernps to be featured on our page! -cm #mountrainiernps #mountrainier #mrnp #npwest #nps100 #pnw #findyourpark #encuentratuparque
#15 North Cascades National Park – Washington
Cascading waterfalls, snow-capped mountain peaks, and glaciers shine in this profile. The photos make it clear why the region is nicknamed the “American Alps.”
"Alder branches and thick vine maple stands, stinging nettle and devil's club, a moss-covered gully climbed to gain the cedar forest where the huckleberry grows – all to reach the gem-like water of the largest mountain lake east of the Cascade Crest. Bright and inviting, that first cold plunge re-invigorates like nothing else can. Fish rise and leave tiny ripples in the glass surface, waterfalls continue their plunge from high above, and the quiet yet ever present rhythm of the wilderness flows on." 📸: @crystalann_b #findyourpark #nps100 #hike #climb #backpack #explore #northcascades #outside #upperleftusa #pnwonderland #pnwlife