If you live in or near the West, you have multiple choices, and they all rock. We’re talking primarily granite, sandstone, shale and limestone — all geologic manifestations responsible for jaw-dropping rock formations.
Dramatic sandstone formations grace Utah’s national parks, and each park also is known for inspiring contemplation of nature’s beauty by day and at night, when the stars form a vast canopy above. Your itinerary may include Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park.
Yosemite National Park in Northern California never fails to astonish visitors. Here, spectacular granite cliffs rise 3,000 feet, soaring sequoia trees reach for the sky and rowdy waterfalls — including one of the tallest in the continental U.S. — are scattered throughout the park.
Straddling two deserts in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park offers wide-open spaces and an other-worldly landscape. If you travel offseason, you can explore that famous geyser and the metamorphic rock at Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park in relative solitude.
Saguaro National Park, in southern Arizona, is home to arresting cacti that can grow to 50 feet tall and “layer-cake” Javalina Rocks, situated along the park’s eight-mile Cactus Forest Drive. Next, drive north 328 miles to a place likely on most travelers’ bucket lists: Grand Canyon National Park, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Farther east in Arizona, be dazzled by fossilized trees at Petrified Forest National Park.
In northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park specializes in mountains, lakes and a road with the glorious name of Going to the Sun. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado promises family fun year ‘round.
And on the western edge of Washington, Olympic National Park is known for its coastal drives and mountain trails. The park also delights visitors with numerous scenic overlooks, one the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. and a plethora of rushing waterfalls.