Don Wildman Shares His Top 5 Favorite National Parks

Five national parks. Five amazing adventures.

Don Wildman, host of Mysteries at the Museum, Monumental Mysteries and Greatest Mysteries, is well-traveled when it comes to our country’s national parks. To celebrate the National Park Service turning 100 this year, he’s sharing his top five favorite national parks and the reasons why he loves them.

From his first solo backpacking trip to family vacations, his top picks hold special memories. Some parks you might guess, and some might surprise you. Watch the video to see which one is his all-time favorite. 

Video: Travel Channel's Top 5 National Parks

Don Wildman shares his top five favorite national parks.

Travel Channel's Top 5 National Parks

 02:10

Don Wildman shares his top five favorite national parks.

Plan a Trip to One of Don's Favorite Parks

Bass Head Lighthouse
Bass Head Lighthouse

Bass Head Lighthouse

Acadia National Park is the first US National Park built east of the Mississippi River. Bass Harbor Lighthouse (pictured), located on Mount Desert Island, was built in 1858. Head here for a quiet getaway with picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean. 960 1280

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Acadia's Islands

Acadia's Islands

More than 2 million people visit Acadia National Park each year. According to the US National Park Service, the average visitor spends 3 to 4 days in the area, which allows some time to visit some of the small islands that are also part of majestic national park. 960 1280

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Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain

Travel like the President, and visit Bar Harbor, ME. Put on your best walking shoes, and take a hike up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. 960 1280

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Biking Near Somes Sound

Biking Near Somes Sound

Go biking on a scenic park road by Somes Sound, a body of water that runs deep into Mount Desert Island. The sound almost splits the island in 2, and is often described as the “only fjord on the East Coast.” 960 1280

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Jordan Pond

Jordan Pond

As beautiful as it might seem, outdoor enthusiasts and their pets are not allowed to wade in the clear waters of Jordon Pond. Some types of boating are permitted in the pond, which sits between the Penobscot Mountain and 2 mountains known as the “Bubbles.” 960 1280

Maine Office of Tourism  

Bass Harbor

Bass Harbor

Visit Bass Harbor, ME, a serene fishing village located on the southwest section of Mount Desert Island. And if you’re looking for lobster, you’ve hit a goldmine. This well-protected natural harbor ranks as one of the most lucrative lobster-producing ports in Maine. 960 1280

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Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole

Experience the crack of the waves as they slam into the rocky shores of a small inlet called Thunder Hole. Water is forced out of the end of the inlet -- a small cavern -- which creates a water spout as high as 40 feet and thunderous roar. 960 1280

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Carriage Road Bridges

Carriage Road Bridges

This is just one of Acadia National Park’s Carriage Road stone bridges. Don’t look for any car traffic on these bridges. The 57-mile network are free of motor vehicles, but hikers, bikers, horseback riders, cross-country skiers, and limited snowmobile activities are allowed. The bridges are made from the granite found on Mount Desert Island. 960 1280

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Kayaking on Long Pond

Kayaking on Long Pond

Go kayaking, and enjoy the beautiful scenery along on Long Pond. There are 2 Long Ponds. “Little” Long Pond is located west of the Seal Harbor. This area is located outside of the park, and it is great place for a scenic walk. The larger Long Pond -- sometimes referred to as “Great” Long Pond -- is further west of Somes Sound and Echo Lake. 960 1280

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Acadia's Luxury Homes

Acadia's Luxury Homes

Explore the area near and around Arcadia National Park. Take a short road trip, and gawk at some of the amazing luxury home along the road. 960 1280

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Rocky Cliff Climbing

Rocky Cliff Climbing

Climb to new heights! Visit Acadia National Park for awe-inspiring sea-cliff climbing. Experienced climbers must register in logbooks at Otter Cliffs’ South Wall of the Precipice and Canada Cliffs. Great Head offers some incredible and generally hard climbing over the ocean. But for beginners, we suggest you head to South Bubble. 960 1280

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Sand Beach

Sand Beach

Nestled in a small inlet between the granite mountains and rocky shores of Mount Desert Island, Sandy Beach’s water temperature rarely exceeds 55 degrees in the summer. Visitors can access the beach via the Park Loop Road -- just after the park fee entrance station on the northeastern side of the island. And if you don’t have wheels, the Island Explorer Shuttle Bus has a pickup and drop-off point at the beach, and it stops every half hour during the summer peak season. 960 1280

Maine Office of Tourism  

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Discover the highest waterfall in North America -- and the sixth largest in the world: Yosemite Falls. At 2,424 feet, the waterfall is a major attraction in the park, located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. It’s best viewed in late spring when snowmelt flows most vigorously. 960 1280

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Half Dome

Half Dome

The granite dome in the background is Yosemite’s most popular rock formation: Half Dome. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 feet above the valley floor -- hikers can ascend it with the use of cables. 960 1280

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Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows

Discover this meadowy section of Yosemite along the Tuolumne River. Wild, wonderful plant and tree species to explore include Ross’s sedge, Lodgepole Pine and dwarf bilberry. The area also offers day-hike and camping opportunities (the park service campground is open July through late September). 960 1280

Steve Dunleavy, Wikimedia Commons  

El Capitan

El Capitan

Rock climbers will find few vertical rock formations as challenging as El Capitan (left, background). At one time “El Cap,” which stretches roughly 3,000 feet from base to top, was considered impossible to climb. Today, the most popular route to tackle is The Nose, which follows the rock’s huge projecting front. 960 1280

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Valley View

Valley View

Thank the 145-mile-long Merced River: It’s responsible for carving out the glacial valley known as Yosemite Valley. The valley is about 8 miles long and a mile deep, with an amazing vantage point offered at Valley View. This turnout is located near the park exit, traveling west on Northside Drive. 960 1280

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Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome

Got 3 hours to spare? Take a short hike (2.8 miles roundtrip) up the granite rock formation of Lembert Dome, which rises 800 feet above Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. Then bask in the satisfaction of knowing you hiked up a real mountain. 960 1280

Ava Weintraub, flickr  

Tunnel View

Tunnel View

Journey along State Route 41 and you’re in for a treat: The viewpoint known as Tunnel View offers a breathtaking snapshot of Yosemite Valley and several of its attractions -- El Capitan, Half Dome and the waterfall Bridalveil Fall (pictured, right). 960 1280

Bala Sivakumar, flickr  

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

The Cathedral Range of mountains stretch through Yosemite -- and Cathedral Peak is their star attraction. At a height of 10,911 feet, the granite peak was first scaled in 1869 by naturalist John Muir -- perhaps the first person to undertake a class-4 climb anywhere in the Sierra Nevada range (of which Cathedral is a sub-range). 960 1280

Steve Dunleavy, flickr  

Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Looking to meet someone special? Head to Yosemite’s Bridalveil Fall. The 617-foot waterfall owes its name to a legend from the Ahwahneechee Native American tribe: They believed that inhaling the mist of the waterfall would improve one’s chances of getting married. 960 1280

Matt Haughey, flickr  

Glacier Point

Glacier Point

One of Yosemite’s best viewpoints is Glacier Point. Located on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, the overlook rises to an elevation of 7, 214 feet -- with great views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Fall (a 317-foot waterfall) and Nevada Fall (594 feet). 960 1280

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Vernal Fall

Vernal Fall

After an afternoon hike, cool off with the gentle mist sprays from a nearby waterfall. That’s what you’ll experience when you take a 2- to 5-hour hike near Vernal Fall. The hike starts at the Happy Isles trailhead and reaches the base of the waterfall. 960 1280

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Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Visitors look up at one of the largest living things on Earth: a giant sequoia. It’s also one of the oldest. Within Yosemite’s mariposa grove of 500 giant sequoias, visitors will find trees more than 3,000 years old. 960 1280

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Nevada Fall

Nevada Fall

Within a small glacial valley (Little Yosemite Valley), you’ll find Nevada Fall. The 594-foot waterfall owes its name to its location – it’s the nearest waterfall to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Meanwhile, the Native American name for it is Yo-wy-we, meaning “wormy” water, signifying the twists of the falling water. 960 1280

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