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What are the best national parks in the United States?

I'll be travelling around the States this summer (July/August) and would love to visit some national parks. I'll be arriving and leaving from L.A., so expect I'll be mostly on the West Coast. Thanks a lot!
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That's a broad question--around LA? You've got Channel Islands NP, which is off the coast, and then Joshua Tree to the east (but not far). Go for the former if you want aquatic environs, or head to J Tree for truly epic rock climbing, bouldering, hiking, and backpacking/climbing. To the north? Kings Canyon/Sequoia, which offers huge trees, big vistas, and really cool higher-altitude hiking. Further north? Yosemite (where I just visited), one of the country's most dramatic landscapes. Think a 3000-foot-plus-tall canyon with waterfalls gushing to the valley floor and miles of backcountry that's seldom seen by the typical tourist. Also, this year boasts the largest snowpack in recorded history, which as turned on every waterfall in the park into gushers. Of course, further east you've got Death Valley, and Grand Canyon. And I won't even start to talk about Utah. My advice? Think about what you want to do and plan from there. Each park has its advantages. But if you want to hike and backpack, I'd say hoof it up to Yosemite or Kings Canyon.
  • Nathan
     answered this on June 22, 2011 at 09:30 AM
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