TripAdvisor(R), the world's most popular and largest travel community, today announced its top 10 U.S. national parks according to TripAdvisor travelers and editors. TripAdvisor's 2009 travel trends survey of more than 3,000 U.S. respondents showed 73 percent plan to visit a national park in 2009, up from 62 percent in 2008. Searches on TripAdvisor for "national park" and "national parks" also increased 21 percent in the first five months of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008.
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(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090604/NY27550 ) (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080902/TRIPADVISORLOGO ) 1. Angelic Views: Zion National Park, Utah
The stunning red monoliths and canyons of the park invite visitors to explore its beauty by camping, biking, touring by car, hiking, and more. Adventurous travelers can embark on the exciting Angel's Landing hike and the views make the daring climb well worth it. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "It's the best view in the entire park, and best hike I have ever done! Do not miss it!"
2. World Wonder: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
One of the first national parks in the U.S., it is home to the immense and striking Grand Canyon, one of the stunning natural wonders of the world. Whether you hike from rim to rim or simply snap some photos, travelers agree the Grand Canyon is a must-see that will leave you speechless. As one TripAdvisor traveler said, "It is just a jaw dropping, stunning view - everywhere you look!"
3. Grand Sands: White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Rolling dunes of white sand as far as the eye can see make this national monument a truly unique site to experience. Travelers can drive or hike through the sands, or even sled down the hills of this seemingly endless "sea" of gypsum crystals. As one TripAdvisor traveler puts it, "What an incredible visual. It's like nothing you've ever seen before! You could walk around for hours."
4. Lava Camps: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Visitors to this park are inundated with amazing things to see and do, from exploring lush rainforest to experiencing two highly active volcanoes. The park's breathtaking volcanic landscapes are reason enough for a visit, but the park offers myriad ways to experience the naturally beautiful area, such as biking or camping. One TripAdvisor traveler suggests, "Don't forget to walk through the Thurston Lava Tube, and to get a good view of the steam vents."
5. Good Wood: Redwood National and State Parks, California
Climbing more than 350 feet into the sky, more than 110,000 acres of these immense coast redwoods are protected in this treasured group of parks. These gentle giants can live for more than 2,000 years, and are part of an eco-system that includes a host of other fascinating flora and fauna. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "Any time you have a chance to stand in a redwood grove and feel the peace and silence washing over you like a healing balm, you need to do it!"
6. A Rockin' Park: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada
An amazing exhibit of the Mojave Desert's geological features and animal and plant life, this conservation area is home to a distinctive red sandstone landscape. The colorful formations can be enjoyed on a 13-mile scenic loop by car, or by hiking or biking this protected area. One TripAdvisor traveler said, "It's so surreal - like looking at Mars! Highlight of my trip!"
7. Trail Mix: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park boasts matchless mountain vistas and picturesque lakes, and more than 200 miles of hiking trails make it easy for travelers to take in the dramatic landscape that pairs the Teton Range with the lush greens and blues below. One TripAdvisor traveler said, "We hiked to Cascade Canyon on our trip to the Tetons... it was breathtaking."
8. Pacific Peak: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier, an active volcano that is surrounded by glaciers, rises majestically above the park, at times wearing a shroud of mist around its peak. Visitors can enjoy the many trails and scenic drives the park offers, and the brave can also attempt the climb to Mount Rainier's summit. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Even if you just drive through the park and stop at the lookouts, you will be amazed at the views."
9. Roam at Half Dome: Yosemite National Park, California
Known the world over for its diverse offering of awe-inspiring natural landscapes, especially its many waterfalls, Yosemite also gives visitors the chance to scale its impressive peaks. Travelers rave about the view that rewards those who brave the climb up Yosemite's Half Dome, a major rock formation that affords famously striking views. As one TripAdvisor traveler said, "The view on the top is amazing, just amazing. It is a true wonder."
10. Maine-ly Excellent: Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia is distinctive for the jaw-dropping beauty of its shoreline and its extensive wildlife, and its historic carriage roads running through the park let visitors easily explore the beauty of this east coast landmark. The granite majesty of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest on the eastern shore of the U.S., rises above the park and gives early birds a remarkable view of the sunrise. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "The clear day made for a phenomenal view of Bar Harbor and its surroundings."
"As Americans look for inexpensive travel ideas this summer, many are seeking out the amazing natural beauty that lies in our country's own back yard," said Michele Perry, vice president of global communications for TripAdvisor. "National Parks can offer travelers an active, affordable and often awe-inspiring escape outdoors."
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