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Guide to the National Parks of the United States
(National Geographic) ISBN 978-1426203930 1426203934

A comprehensive resource to U.S. national parks, this National Geographic guidebook also describes national marine sanctuaries, wilderness areas, national wild and scenic rivers, national forests, grasslands and recreation areas. Thirteen of the American national parks are also U.N. World Heritage sites and 22 are international biosphere reserves.

Guide to the National Parks of the United States helps you plan national park trips with information on how to get there, when to go, weather, how to visit, nearby excursions, maps, activities, entrance fees, rules about pets, facilities for the disabled, special advisories and where to stay (campgrounds, hotels, motels and inns).

Easy to read, comprehensive and well-organized, this National Geographic book is ideal for planning a visit to American national parks, as well as finding information when you are in the parks. The 480-page travel guide organizes national parks alphabetically, by region, with information on geography, history, flora and fauna, topographic setting, wildlife and U.S. NP websites.

Yosemite National Park attractions

For example, the Pacific Southwest chapter includes Yosemite National Park, its size (747,956 acres) and number of visitors per year (3.3 million). The U.S. NP guidebook describes the most popular attractions in Yosemite, how to get there and how long it takes to see them. (E.g., take the shuttle bus, rent a bike, hike or take the two-hour tram tour to see Yosemite Valley.)

Yosemite information includes hiking trails, such as the 1.5-mile trail to the top of 317-foot-high Vernal Falls to view 594-foot-high Nevada Falls. You will find prices, such as the cost of a guided tram tour of the giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove ($11 for adults, $5.50 for children).

Camping in Yosemite

A sidebar provides information on Yosemite campgrounds, lodges, hotels, Yosemite opening times, entrance fees and facilities for the disabled. An Excursions section describes side trips from Yosemite to Stanislaus National Forest in Sonora, Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lake and Sierra National Forest in Mariposa.

Nearly 400 color images illustrate national park landscapes like The Needles at sunset in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, and wildlife, like the greater roadrunner bird. Graphics depict cave formations in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, and a 3-D cross-section of Carlsbad Caverns NP in New Mexico.

National park maps

More than six dozen detailed color maps locate national park visitor centers, park headquarters, main roads, nearby towns, trails, campgrounds, picnic sites, waterfalls and other attractions.

Many national park descriptions include a list of excursions. For Big Bend National Park in Texas, for example, the U.S. National Park guidebook suggests a 196-mile float trip down the Rio Grande.

Driving tours

Suggested itineraries include mileage and time required for the drive, hike or tour. For example, the Panther Junction to Chisos Basin Tour, in Big Bend NP, advises you to pick up maps, hiking information and safety tips at the Panther Junction Visitor Center. The driving tour includes a hike to the South Rim and lookout points, like Juniper Canyon Overlook.

The Colorado Plateau chapter introduces you to the largest concentration of National Parks in the USA, including Grand Canyon, Zion and Canyonlands NP. It shows you where to find Native American history in the pueblos and solstice markers of the Petrified Forest in Arizona, the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Colorado and the Canyonlands petroglyphs in Utah.

Driving directions to Zion

The National Geographic parks guide describes how to get to Zion National Park in Utah (from Cedar City, Utah, to the Kolob Canyons Entrance), when to go (main season, March to October) and what to do in Zion. (On a one-day visit, drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. On another day, take a morning walk in Zion Canyon and a late-afternoon drive in Kolob Canyons.)

The chapter explains that Zion National Park, established in 1919, attracts 2.5 million visitors annually. Mormon pioneers named the canyon Little Zion, because the sculptured rock peaks looked like temple spires. The best place to view the 3,000-foot-high cliff walls along the Virgin River is from the bottom of Zion Canyon.

Where to find visitor centers

A one-page summary of information and activities lists the Zion National Park headquarters location and phone number, opening seasons, road accessibility, Visitor Center locations, entrance fee, facilities for the disabled, things to do, special advisories, campground locations and costs, hotels, motels and inns.

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the U.S.


  • The Gift of the Parks
  • Using the Guide
    • Map & Introduction
    • Acadia
    • Biscayne
    • Congaree
    • Cuyahoga Valley
    • Dry Tortugas
    • Everglades
    • Great Smoky Mountains
    • Hot Springs
    • Isle Royale
    • Mammoth Cave
    • Shenandoah
    • Virgin Islands
    • Voyageurs
    • Map & Introduction
    • Big Bend
    • Carlsbad Caverns
    • Guadalupe Mountains
    • Map & Introduction
    • Arches
    • Bryce Canyon
    • Canyonlands
    • Capitol Reef
    • Grand Canyon
    • Great Basin
    • Mesa Verde
    • Petrified Forest
    • Saguaro
    • Zion
    • Map & Introduction
    • American Samoa
    • Channel Islands
    • Death Valley
    • Haleakala
    • Hawai'i Volcanoes
    • Joshua Tree
    • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
    • Yosemite
    • Map & Introduction
    • Badlands
    • Black Canyon of the Gunnison
    • Grand Teton
    • Great Sand Dunes
    • Rocky Mountain
    • Theodore Roosevelt
    • Waterton Glacier
    • Wind Cave
    • Yellowstone
    • Map & Introduction
    • Crater Lake
    • Lassen Volcano
    • Mount Rainier
    • North Cascades
    • Olympic
    • Redwood
    • Map & Introduction
    • Denali
    • Gates of the Arctic
    • Glacier Bay
    • Katmai
    • Kenai Fjords
    • Kobuk Valley
    • Lake Clark
    • Wrangell-St. Elias
  • Index
  • Map key, Index and Abbreviations


National Geographic staff

More information on U.S. National Parks:

Haleakala National Park Maui

Hiking, Canoeing and Bird Watching in Florida Everglades NP

The National Parks - America's Best Idea

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