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To celebrate National Keep America Beautiful Month, Pack Up + Go is highlighting the natural wonders of our nation! Check out this list of the 5 most popular National Parks to help us recognize their beauty.

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The Great Smoky Mountains

Known as the Salamander capital of the world, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited park in the United States! Travelers come from all corners of the world to climb Clingmans Dome or sightsee at Cades Cove. The expansive mountain range that stretches across the park is between 200-300 million years old, boasts over 800 miles of trails + is absolutely free to all visitors. On your next drive through the park, grab a booklet from the Visitor Center and auto tour some of the 384 miles of road that make up the Smokies!

Hidden Gems: boulder field and waterfall of Rainbow Falls, the views from Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower, elk-watching in Cataloochee Valley


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The Grand Canyon

Although The Grand Canyon isn’t the largest national park, it is still larger than the entire state of Rhode Island! Due to its size, the park has the ability to create its own weather. The Grand Canyon is recognizable to its visitors due to the popular views + attractions surrounding the rim. No trip to The Canyon is complete without hiking into the basin on the Rim Trail, facing your fear of heights on the GC Skywalk, or connecting with your adventurous side on a River or Mule trip! Make sure to map out the activities you plan to do on your next visit - it takes 5 hours just to travel from the North Rim to the South Rim.

Hidden Gems: the refreshing waters of the Havasupai falls, the slot canyon Cathedral Wash, the only lodging below the rim of the canyon at Phantom Ranch


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The Rocky Mountains

This impressive National Park represents about 100 different mountain ranges over 415 square-miles. The far-reaching boundaries of the Rocky Mountains protect the natural wildlife, towering mountain peaks + bodies of water. Experience these beautiful aspects of the park while hiking trails such as the Mills Lake Hike and Alberta Falls, or traversing the open roadways of the Trail Ridge Road and Pikes Peak Mountain. If you’re looking to engage with the environment on a more personal level take a look at this tailored list of park activities.

Hidden Gems: wildlife viewing on the Coyote Valley Trail, the ghost town of Lulu City, the strenuous but rewarding views of Granite Falls


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Zion

Nestled deeply between miles of red rock, Zion National Park extends as far as the eye can see. In 1909, the park was named Mukuntuweap National Monument, but reached National Park status in 1919 when its breathtaking views caught the eyes of enthusiastic tourists. Zion is known for many famous features - the adrenaline-pumping Angel’s Landing + the waist-high water of The Narrows are only two of the many places that shouldn’t be missed during a visit. After a long day of utilizing the park’s free shuttle system, be sure to stay for the amazing sunset views and stargazing that Zion has to offer.

Hidden Gems: the seclusion of Hidden Canyon, the view from above the cliffs at Cable Mountain, the Historic Civil Engineering Landmark of Zion-Mt Carmel Highway and Tunnel


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Yellowstone

North America’s largest super volcano sits actively below the surface of Yellowstone. The volcano accounts for the 1,000-3,000 annual earthquakes the park experiences each year as well as the 500+ geyers that drew in about 4.12 million visitors in 2018. Along with famous attractions such as Old Faithful, Hayden Valley + the Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone is home to the nation’s oldest herd of bison. Take in the unique landscape of the park with all the other nature lovers at Yellowstone, don’t be afraid to become a tourist in your own country!

Hidden Gems: the historical testament of Queen’s Laundry Bathhouse, sights of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Point Sublime, the 45-foot eruption at Lone Star Geyser


We’d also like to welcome our newest National Park - Indiana Dunes was given the distinguished title just two months ago!

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Indiana Dunes

On February 15, 2018, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was upgraded to status of a National Park! With over 3.6 million visits last year alone it’s understandable as to why the lakeshore was named the first National Park in Indiana. The park spans 15 miles along Lake Michigan and consists of 15,000 acres of dunes, prairies + forests. On your next visit try some of the locals’ favorite activities - flying Kites across the picturesque skies of West Beach or birdwatching on the Calumet Dunes Trail System!

Hidden Gems: secluded swimming at Kemil Beach, a guided sunset hike up Mount Baldy, climb the tallest sand dunes through the 3 Dune Challenge


Do you have a favorite National Park? Let us know in the comments below!

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