It takes a minimum of three hours to drive to the 13 viewpoints along the park's 38-mile round-trip scenic drive. But this park has more to offer. Bryce Canyon is famous for its night sky and the lack of artificial light. To highlight this, the parks service runs a "Dark Rangers" program introducing visitors to the wonders of the night.
The rim of the canyon is between 8,000 to 9,100 feet above sea level. In summer, daytime temperatures are in the 80s but fall to the 40s by night.
Many visitors pair a trip to Bryce with nearby Zion National Park, whose east entrance is just 78 miles away.
Zion's massive canyon walls surround visitors as they trek through the park. These unique sandstone cliffs range in color from cream, to pink, to red and give an amazing show during sunrise and sunset.
One of the nation's most unique and spectacular hikes takes place along the canyon floor. Simply called The Narrows, visitors hike through the Virgin River up into the park's canyon. The walls get narrower and narrower along the way and the river gets higher, making hiking a wet but enjoyable experience. But be warned, the narrow canyon walls leave out most of the sunlight and the running river brings in cold water. Flash floods and strong currents also present real dangers that can be life-threatening.
#2: Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk.
But what really bring people to this massive park are the geysers and hot springs. Walk along boardwalks with bubbling water and mud surrounding you. Stare at amazement as the geysers spew boiling water into beautiful fountains up in the air. Of course, the most famous – and predictable – geyser is Old Faithful.
But there is more to this park. It boasts its own "Grand Canyon" which features the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.
The Lower Falls is 308 feet high and can be seen from various lookout points, including one at the lip of the falls. It is often described as being more than twice the size of Niagara, although this only refers to its height and not the volume of water flowing over it.
For something completely different, check out Mammoth Hot Springs. These features are quite different from thermal areas elsewhere in the park. Travertine formations grow much more rapidly than sinter formations due to the softer nature of limestone. As hot water rises through limestone, large quantities of rock are dissolved by the hot water, and a white chalky mineral is deposited on the surface.