One of the biggest perks to being a travel nurse, physical therapist or allied professional is the opportunity to explore the U.S. from coast to coast and experience all that our country has to offer including our beautiful National Parks. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called national parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” For nearly 100 years, this best idea has been nurtured by the National Park Service. Over time, the number of national parks has increased and the mission has become more complex as the range of services they offer has grown beyond parks to meet the needs of thousands of towns and cities across the country.
In 2017, over 331 million people visited at least one of America’s 58 National Parks. In honor of Park and Recreation Month, you should take advantage of the beauty these parks offer by visiting at least one this July.
Top Ten National Parks
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS
Coming in at number one is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which drew more than eleven million visitors last year. This is about twice the number of the second most popular park. Most visitors see the park from a mountain-skimming scenic highway. Many take to the more than 800 miles of hiking trails across North Carolina and Tennessee.
In 2017, 6.2 million people witnessed the wonders of one of the largest canyons on Earth. A mile deep and up to 18 miles wide at spots, the Grand Canyon is so vast that even from the best vantage point only a fraction of its 277 miles can be seen.
Rising in Utah’s high plateau country, the Virgin River carves its way through Zion Canyon to the desert below. The park’s striking vertical topography including rock towers, sandstone canyons, and sharp cliffs attracted 4.5 million visitors in 2016.
Sweeping vistas are a main attraction at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The park contains 150 lakes and 450 miles of streams, plus ecosystems ranging from wetlands to pine forests to montane areas to alpine tundra.
“No temple made with human hands can compete with Yosemite,” wrote John Muir, whose crusading led to the creation of the California park in 1890. Over four million visitors come to this temple annually, most of them spending time in the Yosemite Valley. This mile-wide, 7-mile-long canyon was cut by a river and then widened and deepened by glacial action.
The world’s very first national park remains the showpiece of the National Park Service, visited by 4.1 million people last year. The vast reserve which covers 2.2 million acres in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana has craggy peaks, explosive geysers, alpine lakes, deep forests, and a wealth of wild animals. The stars are bison, bears, sheep, moose, and wolves.
Sea and mountain meet at Acadia National Park in Maine. Most of the park is on Mount Desert Island, a patchwork of parkland, private property, and seaside villages.
More than three million people a year explore the unspoiled terrain of Olympic National Park in Washington State. No roads cross through the park, which contains three distinct ecosystems: temperate rain forest, subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, and rugged Pacific shore.
The peaks of the Teton Range, regal and imposing as they stand nearly 7,000 feet above the Wyoming valley floor, make one of the boldest geological statements in the Rockies. The park’s jewel-like lakes, blue and white glaciers, and naked granite pinnacles enticed more than 3.3million visitors last year.
Rounding out the top ten most popular parks is Glacier National Park. This park covers over a million acres in Montana and attracted 3.3 million people in 2017. The park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is considered by many to be one of the world’s most spectacular drives.
Whether you are on assignment in California or Maine, we encourage you to get out and explore a National Park near you. Want to visit them all? MedPro can help! Contact us today to discuss all of our nation-wide job opportunities.