National Parks Seen On the Big Screen

America’s national parks aren’t just scenic, often they make the scene. Check out these national park locations you may or may not recognize from your favorite films.

Photos

Gem Hunter's Paradise

Gem Hunter's Paradise

Covering over 275 square miles, White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is a paradise for stargazers. The park is so remote that light pollution is among the lowest in the entire US. Here, you can clearly see the Milky Way and a shooting star! Visit photographer Nick Parisse’s website to see more of his photos. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Chisos Mountains

Chisos Mountains

High in the Chisos Mountains, a hiker surveys the land as he decides which trail to take. Big Bend is often referred to as “3 parks in one” because of its size and diverse environments -- mountains, desert and river. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Chihuahuan Desert

Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert, one of the wettest in North America, has dense shrubbery that blankets the Chisos Basin. Here, the sun begins to set behind the mountains as a cold front moves in. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Backcountry Critter

Backcountry Critter

A tarantula makes its way across a backcountry trail in Big Bend National Park, TX. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Pinnacles Trail

Pinnacles Trail

Cacti cover a meadow along the Pinnacles trail in Big Bend National Park. Fall temperatures are mild, and colorful flora is still blooming in the winter. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Rio Grande

Rio Grande

A narrow stretch of the Rio Grande acts as a natural border between the US and Mexico. This view from Santa Elena Canyon, located in the southern region of the park, shows the US on the left and Mexico on the right. The Chisos Mountains are also visible in the distance. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Even on an overcast day, the sun still finds a way to illuminate the mountains. This photo was taken on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

The Big Room

The Big Room

A cluster of stalactites hang from the ceiling of “The Big Room” in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Cozy Home for Bats

Cozy Home for Bats

With a little natural light, this is a view from inside Carlsbad Caverns. In the summer months the caverns are home to thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Stunning Stalagmites

Stunning Stalagmites

Light shines on the cavern floor and ceiling, providing visitors with a view of huge stalagmites that can take thousands of years to form. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Scenic Walkway

Scenic Walkway

Visitors get an amazing view of this scenery along a walkway that turns into the entrance of the deepest part of Carlsbad Caverns -- nearly 750 feet deep. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Mineral Deposits

Mineral Deposits

Massive mineral deposits mushroom up from the floor of the caverns. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Natural Cavern Entrance

Natural Cavern Entrance

The natural entrance to the caverns is a paved switchback trail leading visitors underground to discover numerous geological wonders. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Stargazer's Heaven

Stargazer's Heaven

Even the light from a full moon and a few passing clouds couldn’t diminish the clarity of the stars in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, in Salt Flat, TX. Stargazers should add this park to their must-see list. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of America’s least-visited parks. It’s hard to understand why with unobstructed views like this. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Tejas Trail

Tejas Trail

Visible on the left, the sun lights up the switchbacks along the mountainside on Tejas Trail. The strenuous 10-mile, round-trip hike offers visitors some of the most beautiful views in the park. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Devil's Hall Hike

Devil's Hall Hike

The spectacular hike into “Devil’s Hall” brings visitors around mountains and through a dry river channel. In an effort not to unnecessarily detract from the natural views, rock cairns act as trail markers. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Devil's Hall

Devil's Hall

Here’s a view from “Devil’s Hall” as the path narrows. “Hiker’s Staircase” is visible in the foreground. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Epic Mountain View

Epic Mountain View

This is one of many mountain views visitors will encounter while on a backcountry hike through Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument offers visitors several recreational activities, including picnicking, hiking, camping, scenic drives and sledding. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Morning at Monument

Morning at Monument

The sun breaks through the clouds on an early morning in White Sands National Monument. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Capoeira on a Dune

Capoeira on a Dune

A well-traversed dune is the perfect place for this traveler to occupy his time and practice the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

National Park Camping

National Park Camping

It’s time to pack up camp and move along as the sun rises. White Sands offers backcountry camping for guests who want to sleep under the stars. Visit Nick Parisse’s website to see more of his photos. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Natural Bridge Caverns

Natural Bridge Caverns

Go 211 feet underground to see the deepest part of the largest caverns in Texas. Natural Bridge Caverns -- located near New Braunfels, TX -- continues to be an active and growing cavern system, with water flows causing the underground formations to retain their waxy luster. Visitors can take several different types of guided tours, including the Bracken Bat Flight Tour for an up-close view of the Bracken Cave, home to the world’s largest bat colony. 960 1280

Natural Bridge Caverns  

Meramec Caverns

Meramec Caverns

While camping in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, we recommend a trip to Meramec Caverns to see how an ancient limestone “Wine Table” and an entire 7-story mansion were built underground. In addition to these unique attractions, pre-Columbian Native American artifacts have also been found in the caverns, formed from the erosion of large limestone deposits millions of years ago. Every year, more than 150,000 visitors walk through the 4.6-mile cavern system. 960 1280

Alan Copson, Getty Images  

Caverns of Sonora

Caverns of Sonora

Halfway between Big Bend National Park and San Antonio, TX, the Caverns of Sonora is one of the most active caves in the world, with more than 95% of its formations still growing. Outdoor enthusiasts can camp in a tent or RV nearby. You can’t leave this natural landmark without tasting fresh cream and butter fudge made at the caverns. 960 1280

Stephen Saks, Getty Images  

Moaning Cavern

Moaning Cavern

Located in Vallecito, CA, Moaning Cavern received its mysterious name from what some believe to be a moaning sound from the cave that lured gold miners to the entrance in the 1850s. Today, visitors can take a walking tour or rappel down a 165-foot-tall vertical shaft located in the cavern’s main chamber. Moaning Cavern is home to some of the oldest human remains discovered in America; it is the final resting place for the bodies of prehistoric people who fell into its opening. 960 1280

Courtesy of Moaning Cavern, Cave and Mine Adventures  

Polar Caves

Polar Caves

The Polar Caves were created about 50,000 years ago when a continental glacier descended over the White Mountains in Rumney, NH, creating an amazing series of caves and passageways. In addition to exploring the caves, families can go on a scavenger hunt for minerals and hidden gems at the Klondike Mine, walk the nature trails to learn about local Native American tribes and visit the Maple Sugar House and Museum. 960 1280

Courtesy of Polar Caves Park, visitwhitemountains.com   

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

With its vast chambers and complex labyrinths, Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world’s longest known cave system, which measures more than 400 miles long. The park offers a variety of guided cave tours -- including a ranger-led nature trek for kids -- as well as camping, horseback riding, biking and other activities to explore the beauty of Kentucky’s Green River Valley. 960 1280

Danita Delimont, Getty Images  

Carlsbad Cavern National Park

Carlsbad Cavern National Park

Visit Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico to see more than 118 known caves formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone over millions of years. Most of the formations found inside Carlsbad Cavern were active and growing during the last ice age, when there were pine forests above the cave. 960 1280

Name_Thats_Not_Taken / iStock / Getty Images  

Ohio Caverns

Ohio Caverns

One of Ohio’s most popular tourist attractions, Ohio Caverns features some of most colorful crystals in the US. It’s an all-day family adventure at this 35-acre park. It’s not uncommon to see visitors panning for gemstones and minerals. A limestone, tree, historic and natural wonders tour are also available for amateur explorers. 960 1280

Stanislav Vitebskiy, flickr  

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Explore the natural beauty of Kartchner Caverns Park in Arizona. And below, hidden from view, explore 2.4-mile passages that were discovered by local archaeologists in 1974. The Throne Room and the Big Room are the 2 major features of the caverns. The Throne Room contains the world’s longest soda straw stalactites and a 58-foot-high column called Kubla Khan. The Big Room is closed during the summer each year because it is a nursery roost for over 1,000 cave bats. 960 1280

Business Wire, Getty Images  

Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

More than a million and a half visitors from around the world visit Virginia’s Luray Caverns every year. This subterranean wonderland has paved pathways for people to stroll through the caverns to see Giant’s Hall, Frozen Fountain, Dream Lake, Saracen’s Tent, the Stalacpipe Organ and more! 960 1280

Michael Orso, Getty Images  

Jewel Cave

Jewel Cave

South Dakota’s Jewel Cave is the third-longest cave in the world, with over 166 miles of passages. Fun fact: The largest room discovered in Jewel Cave is called the "Big Duh," which measures 570 feet long, 180 feet wide at its widest point and 30 feet tall. We recommend the wild caving tour for experienced cavers. During this strenuous, 3- to 4-hour tour, visitors learn about low-impact caving, caving techniques, caving safety and equipment. 960 1280

  

Lost Sea Caverns

Lost Sea Caverns

Head to Sweetwater, TN, to visit the largest non-subglacial underground lake in the US (and the second largest in the world) called The Lost Sea. Most cavers may know this cave system as Craighead Caverns, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and named after Chief Craighead, the former owner and Cherokee Indian. A wide range of Cherokee artifacts, including pottery, weapons and jewelry, are located a mile from the cavern’s entrance. Don’t miss seeing the tracks of a giant Pleistocene jaguar whose tracks were found deep inside the cave in 1939. 960 1280

Courtesy of Cameron Cech, The Lost Sea Adventure  

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Located below Arkansas’ Ozark National Park, Blanchard Springs Caverns offers different levels of tours for amateurs and professional cave dwellers. Tours wind through water-carved passages, including an underground river and the world’s largest flowstone. The cave is often called the "living cave" because it is constantly changing. 960 1280

Jason Crader / iStock / Getty Images  

Ape Cave

Ape Cave

Explore the longest, continuous lava tube in the US. Washington State’s Ape Cave -- a popular hiking destination with spectacular views of Mt. St. Helens – was formed from volcanoes of the Cascade Mountain Range in western North America. One popular spot in the 2-mile passageway includes a formation called “Meatball,” a block of cooled lava that fell from the lava tube ceiling while lava was still flowing through the cave. 960 1280

andipantz, iStock  

Niagara Cave

Niagara Cave

Located in Harmony, MN, Niagara Cave has been rated one of the Top 10 caves in the US by travel media outlets. It features a 60-foot waterfall, a sluice to mine for gemstones and fossils, a 10-acre picnic area and hiking trails. And for couples looking for a place to tie the knot, this cave also features a wedding chapel. 960 1280

Damian Entwistle, Flickr, CC-BY-NC-2.0  

Cook Miles Jack

Cook Miles Jack

Cook Miles Jack mixes up dough to make Navajo Fry Bread at Earl's Restaurant in Gallup, NM. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

The view from El Morro National Monument encompasses sparse New Mexican desert and scrubby trees. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument is covered in petroglyph carvings thanks to generations of Native American visitors and Spanish conquistadors. 960 1280

  

Celia Harrison

Celia Harrison

Celia Harrison talks about the cheese business at Sweetwater Valley Farm, a dairy farm in Sweetwater, TN. 960 1280

  

The Lost Sea

The Lost Sea

The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN, is America's largest underground lake. 960 1280

  

Sweetwater Valley Farm

Sweetwater Valley Farm

Sweetwater Valley Farm in Sweetwater, TN makes dozens of flavored artisan cheeses. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument towers over central New Mexico's desert landscape. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

A view from El Morro National Monument. 960 1280

  

Earl's Restaurant

Earl's Restaurant

Earl's Restaurant in Gallup, NM, is a local institution that dates back to 1947. 960 1280

  

Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog

Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog

The bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dog is doused in mayo and served with a grilled pepper. 960 1280

  

The Lost Sea

The Lost Sea

Tour guide Will Harder escorts sightseers around the Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

Ruins of an old pueblo building can be found on the slopes of El Morro National Monument 960 1280

  

Sweetwater Valley Farm

Sweetwater Valley Farm

Flavored artisan cheeses from Sweetwater Valley Farm. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument. 960 1280

  

El Guero Canelo

El Guero Canelo

At El Guero Canelo in Tuscon, AZ, customers line up to sample their famous Sonoran hot dog. 960 1280

  

Bandera Volcano Crater

Bandera Volcano Crater

The Bandera Volcano crater can be found near El Morro National Monument in central New Mexico. 960 1280

  

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument hides a secret spring that was once a refuge to thirsty travelers in central New Mexico. 960 1280

  

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