Top 10 NPS Sites to See America First

During the 1930s, there was a travel advertising campaign with the promotional tagline “See America First.”  It was created because many Americans were taking their tourism dollars overseas and never exploring their home country.  With international travel currently restricted due to the pandemic, there has never been a better time to discover the United States of America.  Below we present more than a dozen famous world travel destinations with their similar National Park Service (NPS) counterparts.  For more vacation ideas within American borders, check out all of our Top 10 Lists.

The NPS system also contains some of the world’s best caves (Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Timpanogos Cave National Monument) and places to watch active lava flows (Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park).  Learn more in our guidebook to the 62 National Parks, A Park to Yourself: Finding Adventure in America’s National Parks (available on Amazon).

10. European Alps or Torres del Paine, Chile

Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

See and climb iconic mountain spires in Wyoming or visit California’s three National Parks in the Sierra Nevadas (Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite).

9. Cappadocia, Turkey

Bandelier National Monument (New Mexico)

Native Americans also carved out homes from soft tufa rock between AD 1150 and 1550.

8. Tropical Caribbean Islands

Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

Snorkel in turquoise waters at the farthest west Florida Key, or go fully tropical as the NPS also manages Virgin Islands National Park.

7. Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park (Montana)

Great hiking and backpacking is found throughout this park and another that borders Canada: Washington’s North Cascades National Park.

6. Amazon River

Everglades National Park (Florida)

Boats provide the best means to explore this subtropical wilderness with incredible wildlife diversity.

5. Iceland’s geysers and hot springs

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming-Montana-Idaho)

About 75% of the world’s geysers are found within this one park, and similar geologic wonders can be found at California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park.

4. Lascaux Cave art in France

Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

The 3,000-year-old Great Gallery stretches over 200 feet at the bottom of Horseshoe Canyon, or check out the pictographs in Texas’ Amistad National Recreation Area.

3. New Zealand and Norway’s tidewater glaciers

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Witness one of nature’s great spectacles here or at Kenai Fjords National Park (also in Alaska).

2. Galapagos Islands

Channel Islands National Park (California)

Similarly, cold ocean currents create ideal conditions for wildlife above and below the high tide line.

…and finally our #1 place to See America First:

1. African safari

Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Large herds of grazing animals with associated predators can be found in central Alaska or Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park.

Honorable Mentions

-Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

Devils Postpile National Monument (California)

Hexagonal rock columns form when lava cools under certain conditions (they can also be found outside Hong Kong).

-Rainbow Mountains, China

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

Similar to Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, images of the Painted Hills will have you wondering if there is a photo filter

-Mayan and Aztec pyramids, Mexico

Poverty Point National Monument (Louisiana)

Named a World Heritage Site in 2014, these 72-foot tall earth mounds were the largest man-made structure in North America about 3,700 years ago.

-Hot springs

Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Everyone loves to soak in a hot spring, either undeveloped (like at Yellowstone National Park) or part of a resort (Olympic National Park).

-Changing of the Guard in London, England

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery (Virginia)

This ceremony takes place adjacent to an NPS site: Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee National Memorial.

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