My 10 Favorite National Parks

Photographer, travel blogger and perpetual wanderer Alison Turner (@alisontravels) shares her top national park destinations, and the photos to back up her picks.

By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

Photo By: Alison Turner

White Sands National Monument

This would have to be my favorite park to visit that allows dogs to explore with you. If you want to stay the night, pay $3 for the backcountry camping pass. You will have to haul everything in and out, but it's so worth it. The quiet nights and sunrise are unlike anything I've ever experienced elsewhere.

Redwood National and State Parks

A great way to feel completely insignificant is to visit this forest. The tall redwood trees will make you feel a bit like you took a step back in time.

Yellowstone National Park

This is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. It was more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Over the years, I've visited several times and the best time to visit (in my opinion) is late August or early September. The kids and crowds thin out by then and the weather is gorgeous.

Arches National Park

Even if you only have time for a drive-through, it's worth it. However, I would plan on going during the off season (late fall to early spring) to score a spot at Devils Garden, the park's only campground, and take an early hike to Delicate Arch.

Joshua Tree National Park

This is the best place to climb a boulder and sleep among the stars.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

I went during the off season so I had the park to myself. If you want to bring a dog along, the off season (read: not summer) is best since the sand is cool to the touch and safe for paws. The views are simply amazing and if you want to hike to the top, you're in for a great workout.

Capitol Reef National Park

This is the best park to visit if you don't like crowds. There is always an exception, but I took a hike to a natural arch and was the only person on the trail. The drive to and from the park is exceptional as well.

Olympic National Park

I spent a month here during the summer without any reservations and lucked out at several campsites. There is even a hot spring as well as endless places to explore.

Bryce Canyon National Park

I like to call this park a mini grand canyon without the massive crowds. It is quite spectacular to see. I recommend waking up before the sun to watch it rise on one of the many lookout spots. Simply beautiful.

Lava Beds National Monument

My second favorite national monument is mostly unknown. I stumbled upon it driving and instantly fell in love. There are so many caves to explore and because it's self guided, you can go at your own pace. Bring a headlamp and a flashlight and go as far inside of a cave as you feel comfortable. Feel daring? Turn off all your lights.

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