When you travel to the Midwest in the United States of America, there's one thing you cannot escape: the landscapes. Everywhere you look, wide, open land fills your vision and refuses to quit. The national parks found in the Midwest follow this pattern of stunning natural beauty and are paired with a long history that's intimately tied to the fabric of American culture.
From the geyser areas in Yellowstone National Park to the rugged and sharp Grand Teton mountain range, every visitor will find their happy place. This part of the country is home to an abundance of wildlife, and when you visit any of these parks you'll be immersed in a part of the rich natural beauty and cultural heritage of America.
Perhaps the most renowned park on this list, Yellowstone National Park is expectedly full of natural wonders for tourists to explore and experience. The most well-known and arguably the most impressive part of the park is the amazing expanse of geothermal activity in Yellowstone. There are over 10,000 hot springs, fumaroles and geysers. Old Faithful takes the cake as the most famous landmark within Yellowstone, and contrary to its "reliable" name, this geyser actually spouts every 35-120 minutes. Beyond the geothermal wonders is the largest concentration of mammals in the continental United States—grizzly bears, black bears, mule deer, moose, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, and more can all be spotted in Yellowstone.
Despite its name, Glacier National Park does not simply showcase glaciers. There are sky-scraping mountain tops that shoot from the plains, hundreds of turquoise alpine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and millions of brightly blooming wildflowers that cover the land in the springtime. In addition to the plants and natural wonders, there are the iconic animals that call Glacier National Park home, including mountain goats and grizzly bears. And the glaciers aren't just something to pass by—there are 25 active glaciers within the park boundaries, although their status as active is under threat. Some experts expect the glaciers may be merely a trickle by 2020.
In Grand Teton National Park , you will find incredible mountain vistas and quiet lakes, plus a full 320km of hiking trails so you can hike through the space and find exactly the right angle to take in the dramatic landscape and take a winning photograph of the Grand Tetons. This National Park is located in north western Wyoming just south of Yellowstone National Park and is a popular destination for climbers, hikers and photographers looking to get snapshots of the Tetons rising into the sky. Beyond mountain-focused activities, water-lovers can find their home in Grand Tetons too, with kayaking, boating and more adventures available.
Many people are surprised to learn that there is a National Park in northeastern Ohio--and in fact, the park was only given National Park status in 2000. There are plenty of trails to take hikers through gorges and vistas of tree-covered hills where any hint of urban living is out-of-sight, out-of-mind. While this national park is less vast than the others on this list, there is still value and beauty to be found in Cuyahoga Valley. Locals jog along its trails, kids sled down its hills in winter, and nature-lovers head into the pockets of greenery to bird-watch.
Stark and bare landscapes are the name of the game in the Badlands National Park. Located in South Dakota, this park is full of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires. It was given the National Park designation in 1978, and since then archaeologists, travellers and adventurers have flocked to the site to uncover fossils, do some extreme rock climbing and take in the drastic and petrified landscapes. While it isn't a traditional idea of beauty, seeing the Badlands rock formations in person will definitely leave a lasting impression.
As with any adventure into the unknown, protecting your holiday and your health are of primary concern. With an adventure sports travel insurance policy you can explore the national parks as you see fit (within reason of course) without worrying about the unknown and the unexpected. Then get back to nature and back to adventure in the United States National Parks in the Midwest region!
Image courtesy of Flickr user Jeff Gunn