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A Day In The Park...

Where in the National Park System do you want to visit? Traveler's "A Day In The Park" series offers overviews of the units of the park system, starting with the 59 "national parks." Check back to see which units have been added.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Thunder Hole at Acadia/Michael Rickard

"Raw, rugged, and surf-splashed" well define Acadia National Park, which at anchor in the Atlantic just off Maine's coast quite easily could also be described as a Yankee blue blood of the National Park System.

Read the overview.

Arches National Park, Utah

Turret Arch at sundown/NPS, Kait Thomas

Arches National Park is one of the world's, not just one of the United States', most incredible national parks.

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Sculpted landscapes and dramatic sunsets are common at Badlands National Park/NPS, Larry McAfee

Eerily eroded "badlands" -- what other word would you use to describe these naked hills? -- are front and center in Badlands National Park, evidence of the harsh environment and the poor soils. But there's more geology to the Badlands than just its namesake hills.

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Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big horizons, big skies, big mountains, and big sunrises are just some of the big aspects of Big Bend National Park/Rebecca Latson

"Big" is a great descriptor for Big Bend National Park, where the park's more than 801,163 acres range from desert lands to mountain peaks and are rimmed on the south side by one of the country's great rivers.

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Biscayne National Park, Florida

The wet underside of Biscayne National Park/NPS, Shaun Wolfe

A subtropical wilderness surrounded by urbanized Florida, Biscayne National Park is a tantalizing water world inviting you to get wet.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

The chasm of Black Canyon National Park/NPS, Lisa Lynch

A dark and scary place? Some might think that of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, a place where the sun's rays only reach the bottom of the canyon at midday, and where the cliffs are so steep and intimidating that few climbers seem up to the challenge.

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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is an amazing place, no matter the season/Kurt Repanshek

Southern Utah's national parks all are red-rock wonders. Zion National Park features towering cliffs of stone. Arches National Park showcases a one-of-its-kind collection of stony arches and windows. Canyonlands National Park is a maze of canyons, and Capitol Reef National Park offers a sprawling rockscape.

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Canyonlands National Park, Utah

The Needles District offers trails that take you through the formations that poke above the landscape, like here in Chesler Park/Kurt Repanshek

One of the most fascinating parks in the National Park System, at least geologically, is Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. Baked by time like some multi-layer geologic tort, Canyonlands features a landscape cut by canyons, rumpled by upthrusts, dimpled by grabens, and even pockmarked, some believe, by ancient asteroids.

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Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park is an oft-overlooked member of Utah's "Mighty Five" national parks/NPS

There are five national parks in Utah, and Capitol Reef National Park very likely is the one you've never heard about, but the one you definitely should put on your bucket list. Why? Because seemingly few people have discovered it, and it's not a next door neighbor of any of the other four. And if you like rugged and wild Western landscape that's carved out of the Colorado Plateau, this is the place to head.

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park

A "gypsum chandelier" is one of the wonders of Lechuguilla Cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park/Dr. Jean K. Krejca, Zara Environmental LLC

As beautiful as above-ground landscapes are in the National Park System, if you head underground you'll find stunning vistas that will leave you breathless. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico is, arguably, the biggest cave draw in the park system, and perhaps the most beautiful.

Read the overview.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide