6 Awe-Inspiring National Parks That Must Be Seen to Be Believed [LIST]

A winning mix of breathtaking scenery and diverse wildlife make these some of the most beautiful spots in the world

Aug 6, 2014
Special Collections: THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Yosemite National Park - Shutterstock image

Take a tour through some of the most incredible national parks on the planet and prepare to marvel at the best of what each continent (except for Antarctica) has to offer.

1. FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK

WHERE: South Island, New Zealand
WHAT: New Zealand's largest national park includes 14 stunning fjords (a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs) as well as lakes and waterfalls, and it even boasts a rainforest type environment.
FASCINATING FACT: The impressive landscape of Fiordland National Park was used as a backdrop in The Lord of the Rings films. For those LOTR fans out there, the park set the scene for sections of Argonath on the Anduin River and areas south of Rivendell.
NOT TO BE MISSED: It's all about the fjords here and it doesn't get much better than the park's deepest, Doubtful Sound. This fjord has a rich variety of flora and fauna including New Zealand Fur Seals and Fiordland Crested Penguins.

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park - Shutterstock image

2. TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

WHERE: Southern Patagonia region, Chile
WHAT: A combination of mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, ancient forests and fjords make up this impressive park that houses some of the world’s most classic trekking routes.
FASCINATING FACT: The park is awash with Andean Condor - the land bird with the largest wingspan in the world, reaching an impressive 10 feet.
NOT TO BE MISSED: The real star of the show at this park is the Cordillera del Paine - a small mountain group formed from three jagged stone peaks called Torres Del Paine that tower over the entire area.

Cliffs of Los Kuernos, Torres del Paine National Park  - Shutterstock image

3. LAKE DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK

WHERE: Cumbria County, England, UK
WHAT: As well as being famous for its spectacular collection of lakes and mountains, the area, known also as The Lakes, inspired artists and writers such as Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and J.M.W. Turner.
FASCINATING FACT: The Lake District is home to Britain’s wettest place, Seathwaite, which receives about 140 inches of rain per year.
NOT TO BE MISSED: The Lake District's only true lake - Bassenthwaite Lake. While there are many bodies of water in the region, they are officially known as 'meres' or 'waters' whereas only Bassenthwaite has the official title of a lake. It is 4 miles long, 70ft deep and home to the rare vendace fish species.

Vew of Grasmere, The Lake District National Park - Shutterstock image

4. SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

WHERE: Northern Tanzania
WHAT: Sprawling across 5,700-plus square miles, the Serengeti is home to thousands of animals including hyenas, giraffes, elephants, lions and hippos. Usually a vast golden savannah, the area is transformed into an endless green carpet filled with wildflowers after the rainy season.
FASCINATING FACT: The Serengeti boasts one of the oldest ecosystems on earth and the climate, flora and fauna have remained unchanged for millions of years.
NOT TO BE MISSED: Often labeled the "Greatest Show on Earth," the annual wildebeest migration sees around 1.5 million wildebeest as well as 400,000 zebra and 200,000 gazelles move throughout the Serengeti and nearby Masai Mara ecosystems.

Thirsty Zebras, Serengeti National Park - Shutterstock image

5. GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

WHERE: Border between North Carolina and Tennessee, United States
WHAT: The vast expanse of seemingly endless forest is America's most visited national park and is known for the diversity of its plant and animal life, with over 4,000 plant species, 140 tree species and an estimated 1,600 black bears.
FASCINATING FACT: The park is known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” since approximately 30 species of the lizard-like amphibians live there.
NOT TO BE MISSED: A dip at the bottom of Grotto Falls, a 25-foot high waterfall that offers some cool refreshment during summer hikes through the Trillium Gap Trail.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park at sunlight - Shutterstock image

6. GUILIN AND LIJIANG RIVER NATIONAL PARK

WHERE: Guangxi region, China
WHAT: The almost surreal landscape of this huge region is dominated by a gorgeous maze of limestone cones, cylinders and hills known as karst peaks that have inspired Chinese poets and artists.
FASCINATING FACT: The Li River which runs through the park is such an important part of Chinese culture that it is featured on the currency.
NOT TO BE MISSED: A boat trip along the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo in order to breathe in the fresh air and take in the stunning landscape on both sides of the river. 

View from Li River in Guilin, Guilin and Lijiang River National Park -  Shutterstock image

YONI COHEN, EDITOR & WRITER
A Geography geek to his core, Yoni is a proud introvert and is happiest when traveling, dancing, baking, doing yoga, running or taking pictures of beautiful flowers. He writes about mindfulness, introversion, travel and the benefits of slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life.

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