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What Drives an All-American Western Adventure: 9 Must-See National Parks

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This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.
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Adventure is at the heart of the American spirit. Always looking for a higher peak to summit, another forest to trek and a new river to run, the country is a hotbed for outdoor exploration. There are 59 protected parks across the country plus another 154 U.S. Forest Service forests, but the best way to explore the natural grandeur of America is the National Park Service in the west. From Alaska's 20,310-foot-tall Denali mountain to Oregon's 1,943-foot-deep Crater Lake to the scorching heat of California's Death Valley, here's what drives the ultimate exploration of the stunning American west.

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1. Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park
WY, 82190
(307) 344-7381
Visit Website
Yellowstone is the first U.S. National Park, established in 1872, a place so grand it inspired a nation to reconsider how it treats its landscape. Spanning Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, the 3,472-square-mile park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and it features 11,000-foot peaks, iconic geysers (including Old Faithful), a great early 1900s lodge, and an incredible number of native wildlife, including 67 species of mammals, 285 species of birds, and 16 species of fish. Yellowstone shows how a nearly untouched ecosystem thrives when left largely alone.

2. Inyo National Forest

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California, perhaps best known for its traffic-clogged cities, is also home to more National Parks than any other state, with a total of nine. Inyo National Forest, 200 miles due north of L.A., boasts the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states, the 14,495-foot Mount Whitney. This preserve in the Eastern Sierras also offers many recreational opportunities, from swimming and fishing in the region’s many pure lakes and rivers to skiing, hiking, backpacking, and camping.

3. Denali National Park and Preserve

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238 George Parks Hwy
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755
Known as the last frontier, Alaska is America’s most wild state. It’s caretaker to seven of the country’s 10 largest National Parks, including Denali National Park, which extends over 6 million acres and includes North America’s highest peak, Denali, rising to 20,310 feet above sea level. The remote park is known for its unique mix of grand forests, glaciers, valleys, and mountains. It’s worth the trip.

4. Crater Lake National Park

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Rim Dr.
Crater Lake, OR 97604
(541) 594-3000
Visit Website
Home to the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest in the world, Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park belongs on anyone’s bucket list. Warm days and brisk nights during the spring and summer months make for perfect hiking and camping weather, while over 533 inches of average annual snowfall make visiting during the winter a completely different but equally amazing experience. Each season offers a unique way to see and experience the incredible landscape created by the collapse of a volcano some 7,700 years ago. Plus, there’s an island there called Wizard Island, which you can swim and fish from.

5. Death Valley National Park

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Hwy 190
Death Valley, CA 92328
(760) 786-3200
Visit Website
Looking for the hottest, driest, and lowest place in America? Welcome to Death Valley. The below-sea-level-basin is a land of extremes, a four-hour drive east of L.A. The Park’s lowest point is Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, while Telescope Peak is its highest, reaching an imposing 11,049 feet. Though morbidly named by a group of lost pioneers during the Gold Rush winter of 1849-1850, the remote area is actually home to diverse and thriving plant and wildlife. It also has a record high temperature of 134 degrees, which means it’s best to check the forecast before visiting.

6. Grand Canyon National Park

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Entrance Rd
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
(928) 638-7888
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Arizona and dedicated in 1919, the Grand Canyon National Park is the nation’s 15th oldest National Park and covers 1.2 million acres of grandeur. Also, the canyon itself is, not for nothing, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But if a picture is usually worth a thousand words, here it’s worth even more. Do a Google Image search for Grand Canyon National Park, and then make plans to visit.

7. Redwood National and State Parks

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Home to nearly half of California’s remaining old-growth redwoods, Redwood National and State Park contains trees up to 2,000 years old. Sequoia National Park may contain the largest living organisms on Earth — its sequoia trees — Redwood’s redwoods are the tallest, standing up to 379 feet tall. With 131,983 acres included in the park—including nearly 40 miles of untouched coastline—this incredibly lush forest can inspire even the most ardent city dweller.

8. Yosemite National Park

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Northside Dr
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
(209) 372-0200
Visit Website
An iconic rock climbing and landscape photography destination, Yosemite National Park begs to be explored. Located in California’s High Sierra mountains, the nearly 1,200-square-mile park offers endless hiking trails, granite domes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls. It’s what inspired the great naturalist and author John Muir to start the conservation movement; it’ll inspire you, too.

9. Timberline Lodge

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Timberline Highway
Timberline Lodge, OR 97049
(503) 272-3311
Visit Website
Nestled within the Mount Hood National Forest, Timberline Lodge is one of America’s most iconic great lodges, built in the late 1930s as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration. As such, each and every architectural element of the grand lodge was created by artisans, rather than general construction workers. From sculptural iron door knobs and structural details to hand-carved wood decorations, there’s unique ornamentation everywhere. A two-story fireplace makes the main room and dining area one of the country’s best places to enjoy a hot chocolate after a day on the slopes. And, yes, it was used for exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining."
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

1. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, WY, 82190
Yellowstone is the first U.S. National Park, established in 1872, a place so grand it inspired a nation to reconsider how it treats its landscape. Spanning Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, the 3,472-square-mile park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and it features 11,000-foot peaks, iconic geysers (including Old Faithful), a great early 1900s lodge, and an incredible number of native wildlife, including 67 species of mammals, 285 species of birds, and 16 species of fish. Yellowstone shows how a nearly untouched ecosystem thrives when left largely alone.
Yellowstone National Park
WY, 82190

2. Inyo National Forest

Independence, CA 93526
California, perhaps best known for its traffic-clogged cities, is also home to more National Parks than any other state, with a total of nine. Inyo National Forest, 200 miles due north of L.A., boasts the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states, the 14,495-foot Mount Whitney. This preserve in the Eastern Sierras also offers many recreational opportunities, from swimming and fishing in the region’s many pure lakes and rivers to skiing, hiking, backpacking, and camping.

3. Denali National Park and Preserve

238 George Parks Hwy, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755
Known as the last frontier, Alaska is America’s most wild state. It’s caretaker to seven of the country’s 10 largest National Parks, including Denali National Park, which extends over 6 million acres and includes North America’s highest peak, Denali, rising to 20,310 feet above sea level. The remote park is known for its unique mix of grand forests, glaciers, valleys, and mountains. It’s worth the trip.
238 George Parks Hwy
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755

4. Crater Lake National Park

Rim Dr., Crater Lake, OR 97604
Home to the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest in the world, Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park belongs on anyone’s bucket list. Warm days and brisk nights during the spring and summer months make for perfect hiking and camping weather, while over 533 inches of average annual snowfall make visiting during the winter a completely different but equally amazing experience. Each season offers a unique way to see and experience the incredible landscape created by the collapse of a volcano some 7,700 years ago. Plus, there’s an island there called Wizard Island, which you can swim and fish from.
Rim Dr.
Crater Lake, OR 97604

5. Death Valley National Park

Hwy 190, Death Valley, CA 92328
Looking for the hottest, driest, and lowest place in America? Welcome to Death Valley. The below-sea-level-basin is a land of extremes, a four-hour drive east of L.A. The Park’s lowest point is Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, while Telescope Peak is its highest, reaching an imposing 11,049 feet. Though morbidly named by a group of lost pioneers during the Gold Rush winter of 1849-1850, the remote area is actually home to diverse and thriving plant and wildlife. It also has a record high temperature of 134 degrees, which means it’s best to check the forecast before visiting.
Hwy 190
Death Valley, CA 92328

6. Grand Canyon National Park

Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
Arizona and dedicated in 1919, the Grand Canyon National Park is the nation’s 15th oldest National Park and covers 1.2 million acres of grandeur. Also, the canyon itself is, not for nothing, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But if a picture is usually worth a thousand words, here it’s worth even more. Do a Google Image search for Grand Canyon National Park, and then make plans to visit.
Entrance Rd
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

7. Redwood National and State Parks

California
Home to nearly half of California’s remaining old-growth redwoods, Redwood National and State Park contains trees up to 2,000 years old. Sequoia National Park may contain the largest living organisms on Earth — its sequoia trees — Redwood’s redwoods are the tallest, standing up to 379 feet tall. With 131,983 acres included in the park—including nearly 40 miles of untouched coastline—this incredibly lush forest can inspire even the most ardent city dweller.

8. Yosemite National Park

Northside Dr, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
An iconic rock climbing and landscape photography destination, Yosemite National Park begs to be explored. Located in California’s High Sierra mountains, the nearly 1,200-square-mile park offers endless hiking trails, granite domes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls. It’s what inspired the great naturalist and author John Muir to start the conservation movement; it’ll inspire you, too.
Northside Dr
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

9. Timberline Lodge

Timberline Highway, Timberline Lodge, OR 97049
Nestled within the Mount Hood National Forest, Timberline Lodge is one of America’s most iconic great lodges, built in the late 1930s as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration. As such, each and every architectural element of the grand lodge was created by artisans, rather than general construction workers. From sculptural iron door knobs and structural details to hand-carved wood decorations, there’s unique ornamentation everywhere. A two-story fireplace makes the main room and dining area one of the country’s best places to enjoy a hot chocolate after a day on the slopes. And, yes, it was used for exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining."
Timberline Highway
Timberline Lodge, OR 97049

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