Biden Visits Stimulus Work at National Parks

The Obama administration's love of the national parks continues this week, with Vice President Joe Biden visiting Yellowstone National Park today and the Grand Canyon on Tuesday.

The visit comes just one week after President Obama and his family vacationed at Maine's Acadia National Park. Last summer, the first family also vacationed at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

VIDEO: Travel writer Karen Schaler on Americas top national parks.
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Biden's trip is more political than vacation. He is visiting two of the best-known national parks to check on the progress of park improvements funded by the stimulus program. About $25 million from the $862 billion stimulus went to construction and maintenance projects in the national parks.

So given all the White House attention to the national parks, we decided to take a look back at some of our favorites across the country.

From sunset at the Grand Canyon to the lava at Kilauea to the eruptions of Old Faithful, the parks leave memories that will last for decades.

They have a way of mesmerizing visitors and reminding us of why we travel.

"When you step out of the tour bus or out of the car and stretch your legs and walk over and look at the rim of the Grand Canyon, there's a great paradox that goes on. You suddenly feel you're insignificant, yet that makes you bigger, it makes you feel connected to everyone else and everything else," said filmmaker Ken Burns, who did a six-part documentary on PBS, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."

Burns told ABC News that he chose to focus on the national parksbecause they are "an utterly American invention."

"Nobody else had ever set aside land in the past. Only kings did that. Only rich people got that," Burns said. "In America, in a democratic experiment everybody could own this land."

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For Burns, the parks are not so much about nature but about the connections that natural beauty helps bring.

"I've watched families look down in awe, grab each other's hands, look into each other's eyes and then you realize that's the real magic of the national parks," he said. "They're not just showing you spectacular natural scenery, they're also permitting you to have experiences with those closest to you in ways you've never had before."

There are 58 natural national parks in the U.S. But the National Park Service also oversees another 333 battlefields, memorials, parkways, seashores, recreation areas and monuments. They include everything from Abraham Lincoln's birthplace to the Statue of Liberty to a memorial in Pennsylvania for the 9/11 victims of United Airlines flight 93.

With that many parks, it's a hard task to narrow down a list of the 10 best. We know everybody has their own personal favorites -- and by choosing only 10, we also left some of our favorites off the list. (The Petrified Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park are just two of our favorites that missed the cut.)

These 10 parks represent some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring natural formations in the country.

But first, we had to ask Ken Burns about his favorite national park. The filmmaker said that most favorites are based on personal experiences. He was in Yosemite for the first shoot of his documentary and remembered that in 1959, when he was six years old, his dad took him to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

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