5 Can’t-miss National Park Sights

First-time visitors will be in awe when visiting these incredible spots across America’s national parks.

The General Sherman Tree at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The General Sherman Tree at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stepping foot inside a national park is like stepping into another planet, it’s just otherworldly.

Here’s the one location we recommend first-time visitors see for an unforgettable experience in five of the national parks we have visited.

The General Sherman Tree at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park 

While California’s Sequoia National Park is already famous for being home to the world’s largest trees, there’s one tree that’s still bigger than them all.

The General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest tree by volume, standing at a whopping 275 feet and with a diameter of more than 36 feet at its base.

You can just sit and stare at it, thinking about how long that tree has been there. In this forest of massive sequoia trees, it’s impressive to see that there’s this one that just stands out above and beyond the rest of them.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

We chose Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail because it is lesser known and lacks the name recognition of other park highlights that includes Newfound Gap Road, Clingmans Dome, and Cades Cove.

Its name derived from a “roaring” mountain stream, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail twists and turns for six-miles, forming a one-way looping scenic drive through the Great Smoky Mountains. The narrow roadway only allows cars—trucks, trailers, and RVs cannot fit on this road.

oaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cedar Pass Campground at Badlands National Park 

For a camping experience you’ll never forget, head to the Cedar Pass Campground in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, the Cedar Pass Campground has 96 level sites with scenic views of the badlands formations.

Looking at a rock wall in the Badlands is like looking back through time. The layers and colors in the Badlands’ strange formations were formed over millions of years.

Cedar Pass Campground at Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cedar Pass Campground at Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s not quite the Grand Canyon, but some of the overlooks in Badlands National Park can compete for spectacular grandeur and photogenic beauty. Visitors will not be disappointed with the picture making opportunities to be found in this jewel of America’s National Park system.

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park 

© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Cliff Palace in Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park is widely considered to be the best and most intact set of Native American ruins anywhere in the country. As the largest cliff dwelling in North America, the cliff homes are an architectural marvel to behold as they stand carved directly into the rocky facades.

You can stand in awe of this incredible marvel of ancient architecture as you wonder why they are here, how on Earth they were able to build these dwellings. and why they left. What’s interesting is that a lot of national parks protect natural areas, which this does as well, but it’s also protecting these unbelievable manmade marvels.

Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park 

Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can stand at Mather Point for hours and never look at the same thing twice. Look down and you’ll get remarkable views of the Colorado River and fascinating rock formations below.

There’s a trail for those who want to hike from the top to the bottom, which is a remarkably scenic experience.

It feels like you’re going on a journey to the center of Earth as you look down and see all these different layers of rock that are millions of years old. You’re literally looking at millions of years of history in different colors as the rocks go from shades of greens and reds to dark black.

Worth Pondering…

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

—Rachel Carson

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