Just across the road from the majestic Canyonlands national park, Arches hits our top five purely for the impressive natural phenomena which earned the park its name. With over 2000 naturally formed arches dotting its already astounding boulder strewn desert plains, this park seems to defy gravity with huge stone bridges stretching seemingly impossible distances.
With a sparse, desert landscape, the sandy rock here is eroded over thousands of years to form the famous arches. These formations are collapsing and forming even today with the most recent collapse being Wall arch, which tumbled down in 2008.
Even with the town of Moab only five minutes from the park entrance, the park is still a remarkable place from which to view the night sky. On a cloudless night the milky way can be seen easily and the stars are so bright that they seem to twinkle constantly. Although Bryce Canyon boasts some of the darkest night skies in the continental US, Arches is definitely a place for star gazers to get lost in the cosmos.
Out of the thirteen national parks we visited, we decided the above five to be our favourite due to the varied landscape and scenery provided by each. Each and every park we visited was incredibly different and we enjoyed our time in every one. If you have the time to explore the national parks in the western USA, then you will be spoilt for choice!
If this post had been a top ten instead of a favourite five, we would have had no problem filling all ten slots. For that reason we have decided to give an honourable mention to the parks that just missed out on making our list. Joshua Tree NP in southern California was the setting for one of the most magical sunsets we have ever seen. Also, getting that perfect picture at Grand Tetons NP where iconic mountains tower over reflective lakes and sweeping grass plains was worth the visit in itself. Finally, the geology of Bryce Canyon NP, with its precarious hoodoos created one of the most surreal environments that we encountered on our travels.
How many of the USA’s national parks have you explored? Which parks were your favourites? We would love to hear from you, let us know if there’s a place you believe should be on our list!