We hope you’ve had a chance to enter the second annual Zhou National Parks Pass Sweepstakes Giveaway! If not, be sure to enter below, before it’s too late!
This Earth Day (4/22/22) we will award 3 lucky winners an Annual National Parks Pass for a full year of adventure in some of the most awesome outdoor spaces on earth!
With 63 National Parks to choose from, our prize winners will need a little help deciding where to start. With that in mind, we put together a list of our 8 top favorite, not-to-be-missed National Parks that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The rest is up to you!
And remember, you’ll need a reservation to some of the more popular parks during peak times of the year, so before you go be great, do your research!
Top 8 National Parks You Should Visit Before You Die!
- Zion National Park.
OK, we’re from the heart of Utah, so we’re a little biased. We think our state’s most famous natural treasure is God’s own backyard and should be at the top of the list. With majestic canyon walls, gorgeous red and pink sandstone cliffs and spectacular scenery everywhere you look, this stunner of a National Park is the epitome of greatness and a perfect place to start your multi-park adventure.
Forest trails along the Virgin River will keep hikers busy and photographers snapping away. From the lush hanging gardens of Weeping Rock to the breathtaking views of Angel’s Landing (a trek that requires a hiking permit), you won’t find a better way to spend a day or a weekend (yes, there’s plenty of camping).
Want a more relaxing vibe? Book a horseback tour, or take a slow cruise along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
[Hiking permit link: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/angels-landing-hiking-permits.htm ]
- Grand Canyon National Park
Our most iconic national park, the Grand Canyon should be at the top of your bucket list. Over one mile deep and a whopping 18 miles wide, it’s one of the world’s seven natural wonders.
Stand near the rim for the incredible, thrill-inducing views. Or better yet, head for one of the many hiking trails or ride a mule all the way to the bottom and back. (For a unique overnight stay, rent one of the popular dorm rooms or cabins at the bottom of the canyon. But you’ll need to book way in advance.)
Experienced hikers may want to take on the 20-mile Bright Angel Hiking Trail, which takes days to finish (and some powerful vegan fuel like Zhou Nutrition Plant Complete to get you through). Hikers of all levels will find less challenging but equally gorgeous trails – there’s lots to choose from!
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, this park is a hiker’s dream. Known for its amazing scenery and diverse plant and animal life – over 19,000 species have been logged so far, and they’re still counting – its biggest claim to fame is the great Appalachian Trail that begins in the mountains of Georgia and runs through the park on its way to Katahdin, Maine. Every year, more than 3,000 people set out to hike the whole trail, but at 2,180+ miles, only about a quarter of them make it to the finish line.
You’ll love the tree-lined, rugged mountain views and plentiful wildlife. Be sure to keep an eye out for the magnificent black bears (just don’t get too close!)
- Yosemite National Park
If sheer cliffs and plunging waterfalls are more your style, this California beauty will check all your boxes. Just east of Fresno, Yosemite is one of three national parks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Sequoia and King’s Canyon are the other two).
Formed by glaciers millions of years ago, this geological treasure is home to deep valleys, steep granite walls and ancient giant sequoias, as well as Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest and most impressive waterfall.
Visible throughout a lot of the park, the Half Dome is a popular spot for experienced hikers to climb to the top. But it’s a tough go, so make sure you’re up for it. (And be sure to pack plenty of Zhou’s Lyte-Up to keep you going!) Also remember, you’ll need to get a hiking permit.) https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm
- Arches National Park
Yeah, we know. We’re back to Utah again. But one look at these stunning photos will convince you: Arches National Park is downright amazing, and one more reason to visit our great state.
Once an inland sea, the park is now a dry seabed featuring 119 miles of the most extraordinary red rock formations in the world. A one-day hike could take you past “Delicate Arch,” featured on Utah license plates, or “Landscape Arch,” the largest arch formation on the planet, an impressive 306 feet across. Stay a while to take in the more than 2000 freestanding sandstone arches, hoodoos and canyons 65 million years in the making!
- Everglades National Park
Starting just west of Miami and stretching to the Florida Gulf Coast, Everglades National Park is one-of-a-kind. Sometimes called the River of Grass for its prairie-like look and wind-swept sawgrass marshes, the Everglades is actually a very slow moving river jam packed with subtropical plant and wildlife.
Airboats – flat-bottomed boats that speed across the top of the water without damaging the delicate ecosystems – along with canoes and kayaks are the best ways to navigate the marshes and mangrove forests of this beautiful swampland. You’ll also find excellent camping and plenty of hiking trails.
A little advice: Summers in the subtropics can be brutal. For the best Everglades experience, go during the dry season, in winter and spring, when the weather is cooler and the humidity is low. (If you must go during the hot months, be sure to bring along a jar or two of Hydro Fuel to help keep you well hydrated.)
- Mammoth Cave National Park
For something totally different, head underground! Mammoth Cave National Park, just northeast of Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a sprawling line-up of natural limestone caves, passageways and tunnels. It’s the largest cave system in the world, clocking in at more than 400 miles, with another 600 miles still unexplored!
Guided tours come in all sizes, from one to six hours long. For the hard-core explorers, there are rugged, unlit sections that require you to carry a lantern. (Be sure to bring a jacket or sweater, as weather under the earth can be quite cool.) Stunning river valleys, forests and tons of wildlife will keep you busy above ground as well.
- Bryce Canyon National Park
In the spirit of All Great Things Come from Utah, we think there’s one more park here you need to see before you kick that bucket! Massive, spire-shaped red rocks come up from the earth to give the landscape an otherworldly look. But it’s not Mars; it’s Bryce Canyon National Park, said to have the greatest concentration of hoodoos on the planet.
Start at one of the scenic overlooks for a view of the canyon, which is not one canyon but a series of them carved into the rim of the plateau. Then walk down to the many short trails for an up close look at the insanely beautiful rock formations. Make time to hike the famous Navajo Trail, then head over to Sunset Point for one incredible finish to your day!
(As a perk, Bryce Canyon is just one hour from Zion National Park, so you can hit both parks on the same leg of your trip.)
That’s it for our list. We’ll be announcing the three winners in just a few days, and we’re sure you could be one of them! Greatness awaits, so feel free to start packing!
And don’t forget: Zhou Nutrition’s Active Line is the best way to Fuel Your Adventure. Whether you’re headed for the National Parks, to the gym for a workout, or out for a run or a hike, our complete line of sports supplements provides clean, smooth energy and stamina or powerful hydration to help keep your electrolytes in check.
Now go be great… we know you will!