Yosemite is one of the most well known national parks in the world. With over 3.7 million visitors every year, this California park is an incredibly popular nature destination in the United States. Yosemite National Park is known for its awe-inspiring granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and over 800 miles (1,300 km) of hiking trails. Half Dome, a massive granite cliff jutting out of the earth, is one of the famous icons of the park, along with Cathedral Peak and El Capitan. Most of Yosemite’s iconic peaks, lakes, and waterfalls are located in the tourist-heavy 7 square mile (18 sq. km) area of Yosemite Valley, but the entire park actually encompasses an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 sq. km). Yosemite has the honor of being the first national park ever designated, thanks in large part to conservationists like John Muir and Galen Clark. These men and others worked hard to protect the park both for the impressive diversity of plants and animals that lived there, and also for the enjoyment of future generations. Today, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a favorite destination for hikers, rock climbers, campers, and nature lovers of all kinds.
Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world, is a destination like no other. The falls are part of the Zambezi river, which forms a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. At the falls the Zambezi river cascades an amazing 108 meters (360 feet) over a width of 1,708 meters (5,604 feet). The falls were named after Queen Victoria by the European explorer David Livingstone who is thought to be the first European to view the falls. The native name of the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya which means ‘Smoke that Thunders’. Victoria falls is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited by roughly a million tourists per year. One particularly popular feature of the falls is Devil’s Pool, a pool at the edge of the falls where people can swim and look over the falls without being pulled over by the current due to a natural rock wall that creates the pool. This can only be done from September to December when the river flow is at a safe level. Devil’s Pool is located on the Zambian side of the falls and is accessed from Livingstone Island, while most of the viewing areas of the falls are located on the Zimbabwean side. Visitors can view the falls from both countries, but there are considerable visa charges involved in doing so, on top of the day pass charges each country assesses to visit the falls. Visitors can find accommodations in Livingstone, Zambia, and the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The picturesque Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada is known for its breathtaking mountain scenery with calm clear lakes framed by jagged snow covered peaks. The national park is the largest of its kind in the Canadian Rockies, covering a total area of over 10,878 square kilometers (4,200 square miles). Within Jasper National Park lies an amazing collection of lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, glaciers, and massive mountains. Visitors to the park can enjoy a vast array of activities, including hiking and mountain biking on extensive trails, skiing at Marmot Basin, fishing, swimming, kayaking, whitewater rafting and boating on many of the lakes and rivers, plus camping in numerous areas. For those looking for some quiet relaxation, Miette Hot Springs is the perfect place to go. Tourists can visit the park via car or motorcycle, or by train. The closest international airport is in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta. Also nearby is Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Niagara Falls, located in both Ontario, Canada and New York, USA, is the name of a group of three individual waterfalls: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Canadian Falls (aka Horseshoe Falls). Together, these waterfalls are the most powerful in North America. Niagara Falls is situated between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, New York, USA and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Horseshoe Falls has the highest drop at 173 feet (53 meters), while the waters flowing over American Falls tumble about 100 feet (30 meters). More impressive, though, is the sheer amount of water flowing over Niagara Falls, up to 202,000 cubic feet (5,700 cubic meters) per second during peak flow. A small island called Goat Island separates the American and Canadian sections of the falls. Niagara Falls is a very popular tourist destination, drawing over 28 million tourists per year. Visitors can take a tour on the iconic Maid of the Mist boat, enjoy a ride on the Niagara Scenic Trolley, or splurge on a Flight of Angels helium balloon ride for a unique aerial view. At night, Niagara Falls is lit up by colorful floodlights creating a breathtaking scene like no other.
The famously beautiful Glacier National Park is located in the US state of Montana. The park is massively large, encompassing over 1,000,000 acres (4,000 square km). In the mid 1800s the park was named for its roughly 150 glaciers, though only 25 remain today and it’s estimated that all the glaciers will have melted by 2030. With over 130 lakes, two mountain ranges, over 700 miles of hiking trails, and many miles of scenic road, the park is a popular hiking, camping, and scenic driving destination for all manner of tourist. The nearest airport is in Kalispell, Montana, and the Amtrak train line stops at East and West Glacier, but most visitors choose to drive to the park. The park is also home to historic chalets and hotels if you’re looking for a more relaxed than rugged experience.
One of the most popular waterfalls in Yosemite National Park of California in the United States, Vernal fall measures 97 meters (317 feet) high. A hike along the Mist Trail to the fall takes visitors very close to the fall where they become shrouded in its mist. The hike to Vernal Fall is short at only 2.1 km (1.3 miles) long. At the top of the fall hikers enjoy a rest at the Emerald Pool, named for its deep green color, which is a small lake where some visitors choose to swim, though it is against the park rules and can be dangerous if care is not taken. Travelers who wish to visit Vernal Fall should make it a part of a greater trip to the awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park where many other spectacular natural sights can be enjoyed. Accommodation is plentiful at the park and includes hotels as well as campgrounds. There is a $20 fee to enter Yosemite National Park.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, the Gullfoss is a 2-tiered waterfall with a total height of 32m (105ft). Also known as the Golden Falls, the Gullfoss is part of the Hvítá river. Nearby attractions include the Haukadalur geysers and Þingvellir national park. Together, these 3 sites are called the Golden Circle. Because of the popularity of the falls there is hotel accommodation nearby, but most visitors opt to stay in Reykjavík and visit the falls on the Golden Circle day trip.
The stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park lies in the Lika region of Croatia. The park is surrounded by the mountains Plješevica, Mala Kapela, and Medveđak, which are part of the Dinaric Alps. The 16 blue-green Plitvice Lakes, which are separated by natural dams of travertine, are situated on the Plitvice plateau. Waterfalls connect the lakes, and the tallest waterfall is Veliki Slap at 70 meters (230 feet) tall. The Plitvice lakes area boasts a large variety of interesting and colorful flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy walking and hiking the many pathways and trails, or exploring the lakes by boat. The park itself has 3 hotels and a campsite, otherwise visitors can find accommodation at any of the number of villages and cities nearby.