This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States National Park Service, which was founded in 1916 to, “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill that changed the history of the United State’s wild natural lands forever.

To celebrate the centennial, here is a selection of the most interesting National Parks to explore throughout 2016. Whether you love to hike, camp, fish, or boat, these parks are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life!

Yellowstone National Park

best national parks in the us yelowwstone

Yellowstone National Park is a classic destination for tourists who come from around the world. With bursting geysers like Old Faithful, glistening rivers, and deep canyons, Yellowstone is a treat for the eyes. The grand Montana mountains surround the epic beauty of the park, which is a safe haven for many of the country’s most interesting animals. Wolves, bison, bears, and antelope make home among the rolling hills of alpine geography.

Yosemite National Park

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Located within California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is famous for it’s ancient sequoia trees, steep mountain views, and towering waterfalls. Many people come specifically to climb the heights of Half Dome and El Capitan, which reach heights over 8,000 feet. The unique peaks and the sprawling vistas they create are the epitome of Yosemite’s charm. And the bonus? It’s only about three hours away from San Francisco, which makes the park extremely easy to access.

Everglades National Park

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In Florida, the Everglades National Park feels like a world of it’s own. Mangrove trees twist and curl through dense waterways, where alligators, moccasins, and turtles hide from the hot sun. The swampy ecology is diverse, with thousands native of species roaming the lengths of the park. Located near the metropolis of Miami, it’s a snap to visit the slow-paced beauty of the Everglades for a week-long holiday or a simple day trip. Don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen!

Grand Canyon National Park

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Not only is the Grand Canyon the United State’s 15th oldest National Park, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Considered one of the “Seven Wonders of the Natural World,” the giant gorge of the Colorado River is truly a sight to behold. It’s size is indescribable and many people believe photographs can’t even capture the overwhelming beauty of the park. The South Rim is where most tourists stay upon visiting the Grand Canyon, due to it’s camping and dining facilities. The North Rim is undeveloped and completely wild!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Bordering the line between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the country. Rolling mountains (that are often adorned with wispy fog), lush forests, and gentle hikes make the Smoky Mountains an easy getaway for families of all ages. Easily accessed through Gatlinburg, Tennessee or Cherokee, North Carolina, the park retains it’s beauty during all four seasons.

Created by Mandy Burkholder

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