National Parks Inspire 20 Stunning Photos that Motivate Your Photography

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National parks are a great place to find inspiration to take stunning photos. Some of the best places to immerse yourself in nature is by going to one of the world’s many national parks. To inspire you to get outdoors and capture more nature photography–and support the National Parks–we’ve curated 20 jaw-dropping photos that were all taken in a national park.

Browse through the shots to see how many of the locations you’ve been to, and to see how many more of them you want to visit. If you’re like me, your travel photography destinations list will be getting a little longer after seeing these photos!

1. National Parks | The Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park: Rainbow From Pima Point

Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, is the 15th site in the United States named a national park. The park’s central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River often considered one of the Wonders of the World. The park, which covers 1,217,262 acres (1,901.972 sq mi; 4,926.08 km2) of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, receives more than six million recreational visitors each year, which is the second highest count of all American national parks after Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

2. National Parks | Banff National Park

Banff National Park: Moraine Lake in June

Banff National Park is Canada‘s oldest national park and was established in 1885. Located in the Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometers (68–112 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometers (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbors to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial center of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.

3. National Parks | Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic

Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in WyomingMontana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

4. National Parks | Haleakala National Park

Stars Above Haleakala, Haleakala National Park, Maui, HI

Haleakalā National Park is an American national park located on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. The park covers an area of 33,265 acres (134.62 km2), of which 19,270 acres (77.98 km2) is a wilderness area. It was originally created as part of the Hawaii National Park along with the volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the island of Hawaiʻi in 1916. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was made into a separate national park in 1961. The park area was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. The name Haleakalā is Hawaiian for “house of the sun.” According to a local legend, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here in order to lengthen the day. The Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 was proposed to observe the Hawaiian spelling, but it did not become law.

5. National Parks | Timanfaya National Park

Caldera at the heart of Timanfaya

Timanfaya National Park (SpanishParque Nacional de Timanfaya) is a Spanish national park in the southwestern part of the island of LanzaroteCanary Islands. It covers parts of the municipalities Tinajo and Yaiza. The area is 51.07 square kilometres (19.72 sq mi). The parkland is entirely made up of volcanic soil. The statue “El Diablo” by César Manrique is its symbol.

6. National Parks | Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

From the depth of the crack

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, established on August 1, 1916, is an American national park located in the U.S. state of Hawaii on the island of Hawaii. The park encompasses two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive shield volcano. The park provides scientists with insight into the birth and development of the Hawaiian Islands, and ongoing studies into the processes of volcanism. For visitors, the park offers dramatic volcanic landscapes, as well as glimpses of rare flora and fauna.

In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987. In 2012, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was depicted on the 14th quarter of the America the Beautiful Quarters series.

As of May 10, 2018, the park is closed to the public in the Kīlauea volcano summit area, including the visitor center and park headquarters, due to explosions and toxic ash clouds from Halemaʻumaʻu crater, as well as earthquakes and road damage.

7. National Parks | Everglades National Park

Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias, Everglades National Park, Woodbridge, Virginia

Everglades National Park is an American national park that protects the southern 20 percent of the original Everglades in Florida. The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River. An average of one million people visit the park each year. Everglades is the third-largest national park in the contiguous United States after Death Valley and YellowstoneUNESCO declared the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve in 1976, and listed the park as a World Heritage Site in 1979, while the Ramsar Convention included the park on its list of Wetlands of International Importance in 1987. Everglades is one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.

8. National Parks | Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park (LakotaMakȟóšiča[3]) is an American national park located in southwestern South Dakota. The park protects 242,756 acres (379.306 sq mi; 98,240 ha) of sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles, along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. The National Park Service manages the park, with the South Unit being co-managed with the Oglala Lakota tribe. The Badlands Wilderness protects 64,144 acres (100.225 sq mi; 25,958 ha) of the park as a designated wilderness area, and is one site where the black-footed ferret, one of the most endangered mammals in the world, was reintroduced to the wild. The South Unit, or Stronghold District, includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances, a former United States Air Force bomb and gunnery range, and Red Shirt Table, the park’s highest point at 3,340 feet (1,020 m).

9. National Parks | Denali National Park

National Parks

Denali National Park and Preserve is an American national park and preserve located in Interior Alaska, centered on Denali, the highest mountain in North America. The park and contiguous preserve encompass 6,045,153 acres (9,446 sq mi; 24,464 km2) which is larger than the state of New Hampshire. On December 2, 1980, a 2,146,580 acres (3,354 sq mi; 8,687 km2) Denali Wilderness was established within the park. Denali’s landscape is a mix of forest at the lowest elevations, including deciduous taiga, with tundra at middle elevations, and glaciers, snow, and bare rock at the highest elevations. The longest glacier is the Kahiltna Glacier. Wintertime activities includes dog sleddingcross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. The park received 642,809 recreational visitors in 2017.

10. National Parks | Arches National Park

https://pixabay.com/en/stone-arch-geology-formation-stone-828730/

Arches National Park is a national park in eastern Utah, United States. The park is adjacent to the Colorado River, 4 miles (6 km) north of Moab, Utah. More than 2,000 natural sandstone arches are located in the park, including the well-known Delicate Arch, as well as a variety of unique geological resources and formations. The park contains the highest density of natural arches in the world.

The park consists of 76,679 acres (119.811 sq mi; 31,031 ha; 310.31 km2) of high desert located on the Colorado PlateauThe highest elevation in the park is 5,653 feet (1,723 m) at Elephant Butte, and the lowest elevation is 4,085 feet (1,245 m) at the visitor center. The park receives an average of less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rain annually. Administered by the National Park Service, the area was originally named a national monument on April 12, 1929, and was redesignated as a national park on November 12, 1971. The park is expected to receive 1.8 million visitors in 2018.

11. National Park | Redwood National Park

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The Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) are a complex of several state and national parks located in the United States, along the coast of northern California. Comprising Redwood National Park (established 1968) and California’s Del Norte CoastJedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks (dating from the 1920s), the combined RNSP contain 139,000 acres (560 km2), and feature old-growth temperate rainforests. Located entirely within Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, the four parks, together, protect 45% of all remaining coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) old-growth forests, totaling at least 38,982 acres (157.75 km2). These trees are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth. In addition to the redwood forests, the parks preserve other indigenous florafauna, grassland prairie, cultural resources, portions of rivers and other streams, and 37 miles (60 km) of pristine coastline. In 1850, old-growth redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of the California coast.

12. National Parks | Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park (/brs/) is an American national park located in southwestern Utah. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m).

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a national monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and was redesignated as a national park by Congress in 1928. The park covers 35,835 acres (55.992 sq mi; 14,502 ha; 145.02 km2); and receives substantially fewer visitors than Zion National Park (nearly 4.3 million in 2016) or Grand Canyon National Park (nearly 6 million in 2016), largely due to Bryce’s more remote location. In 2016, Bryce Canyon received 2,365,110 recreational visitors, representing an increase of 35% from the prior year.

13. National Parks | Kenai Fjords National Parks

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14. National Parks | Glacier National Park

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Glacier National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Montana, on the Canada–United States border with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1 million acres (4,000 km2) and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem,” a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles (41,000 km2).

The region that became Glacier National Park was first inhabited by Native Americans. Upon the arrival of European explorers, it was dominated by the Blackfeet in the east and the Flathead in the western regions. Under pressure, the Blackfeet ceded the mountainous parts of their treaty lands in 1895 to the federal government; it later became part of the park. Soon after the establishment of the park on May 11, 1910, a number of hotels and chalets were constructed by the Great Northern Railway. These historic hotels and chalets are listed as National Historic Landmarks and a total of 350 locations are on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1932 work was completed on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, later designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, which provided greater accessibility for automobiles into the heart of the park.

15. Wrangell–St. Elias National Parks and Preserve

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Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve is a United States national park and national preserve managed by the National Park Service in south-central Alaska. The park and preserve was established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This protected area is included in an International Biosphere Reserve and is part of the Kluane/Wrangell–St. Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park and preserve form the largest area managed by the National Park Service in the United States by area with a total of 13,175,799 acres, an expanse that could encapsulate a total of six Yellowstone National Parks. The park includes a large portion of the Saint Elias Mountains, which include most of the highest peaks in the United States and Canada, yet are within 10 miles (16 km) of tidewater, one of the highest reliefs in the world. Wrangell–St. Elias borders on Canada’s Kluane National Park and Reserve to the east and approaches the U.S. Glacier Bay National Park to the south. The chief distinction between park and preserve lands is that sport hunting is prohibited in the park and permitted in the preserve. In addition, 9,078,675 acres of the park are designated as the largest single wilderness in the United States.

16. Yosemite National Park

National Parks

Yosemite National Park is an American national park lying in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park, which is managed by the U.S. National Park Service, covers an area of 747,956 acres and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

On average, about 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the 5.9 square miles of Yosemite Valley. The park set a visitation record in 2016, surpassing 5 million visitors for the first time in its history. Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. First, Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln‘s signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. Later, John Muir led a successful movement to establish a larger national park encompassing not just the valley, but surrounding mountains and forests as well—paving the way for the U.S. National Park system.

17. Yellowstone National Parks

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Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in WyomingMontana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years. Aside from visits by mountain men during the early-to-mid-19th century, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. Management and control of the park originally fell under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior, the first being Columbus Delano. However, the U.S. Army was subsequently commissioned to oversee management of Yellowstone for a 30-year period between 1886 and 1916. In 1917, administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service, which had been created the previous year. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined more than a thousand archaeological sites.

18. Rocky Mountain National Park

View of Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3,000 miles from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States. Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast RangesCascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west.

The Rocky Mountains formed 80 million to 55 million years ago during the Laramide orogeny, in which a number of plates began sliding underneath the North American plate. The angle of subduction was shallow, resulting in a broad belt of mountains running down western North America. Since then, further tectonic activity and erosion by glaciers have sculpted the Rockies into dramatic peaks and valleys. At the end of the last ice age, humans began inhabiting the mountain range. After Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, began exploring the range, minerals and furs drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never experienced dense population.

19. Glacier National Park

St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Montana, on the Canada–United States border with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1 million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem,” a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles.

The region that became Glacier National Park was first inhabited by Native Americans. Upon the arrival of European explorers, it was dominated by the Blackfeet in the east and the Flathead in the western regions. Under pressure, the Blackfeet ceded the mountainous parts of their treaty lands in 1895 to the federal government; it later became part of the park. Soon after the establishment of the park on May 11, 1910, a number of hotels and chalets were constructed by the Great Northern Railway. These historic hotels and chalets are listed as National Historic Landmarks and a total of 350 locations are on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1932 work was completed on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, later designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, which provided greater accessibility for automobiles into the heart of the park.

20. Sequoia National Park

Beetle Rock Sunset #1, Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, in the United States. It was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,064 acres. Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet, the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level. The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. They were designated the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976.

The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park’s General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other giant sequoias. The park’s giant sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Indeed, the parks preserve a landscape that still resembles the southern Sierra Nevada before Euro-American settlement.

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Published Thursday, May 17th, 2018 Pin It

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About the Author: Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is an adventure and fine art photographer based in Hawaii. When she's not climbing volcanoes or swimming with sharks, you could probably find her relaxing in a hammock with a book somewhere near the ocean.