The Wilderness Act was passed 50 years ago to preserve the country’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring natural places for their recreation, wildlife, historic and scientific values and to protect these places from roads, development, logging and other incursions. Signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the act has since protected nearly 110 million acres of wilderness, making it among the greatest land conservation achievements in American history.
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Now is the perfect time to step outside and appreciate the stunning national parks and wilderness areas we have around the country. Here are 10 must-see national parks to add to your bucket list.
Big Bend National Park
This preserve along the Rio Grande and Mexican border combines awe-inspiring limestone canyons with rich flora and fauna (including 60 kinds of cactus and 450 species of birds).
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
This park boasts some of the largest trees in the world. Walk amongst the Giant Sequoias, which can stretch between 200 and 300 feet into the sky.
Yellowstone National Park
Most of the world's geysers—including the famous Old Faithful—are situated on the grounds of this iconic park, along with hot springs, steaming fumaroles, and bubbling mudpots. Plus, majestic species native to America—grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk—roam the lush lands, making for thrilling camping, hiking, and boating.
Yosemite National Park
The Yosemite Valley rewards hikers and campers with an array of vistas of its many granite cliffs and waterfalls.
Grand Canyon National Park
Over the course of millions of years, the Colorado River cut a canyon 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep—creating one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
Olympic National Park
Mountain views, lush wildflower meadows, lively ocean tide pools, and ancient forests—visiting Olympic National Park means getting access to several completely different worlds.
Arches National Park
More than 2,000 natural stone arches made of stunning red sandstone (including Delicate Arch, pictured here, which stands at 65 feet tall) provide some of America's best photo ops.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Hike along the Trail Ridge Road, which follows a ridge more than 11,000 feet high for 10 miles, showcasing the Rockies' famous peaks and the lush landscape below.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Colorful rock spires, or hoodoos, created through centuries of erosion, give Bryce Canyon a distinctive look; a long history of Native American life gives it a rich backstory.
Joshua Tree National Park
Two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado, meet at this park. With its giant branching yucca trees (also known as Joshua trees), huge granite monoliths, and rock piles, the reserve has the look and feel of another world.
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