With its enormous skyscraper cities and huge highways, the USA is certainly a place where the term ‘urban sprawl’ applies.
This is great if you’re a fan of fast-paced city breaks, but no so enticing if you’re someone who views a holiday as a chance to escape it all and get back to nature.
However, the USA is so vast that, between the concrete jungles of LA, New York and Miami, there are many thousands of square miles of pristine wilderness areas just waiting to be explored.
This is reflected in microcosm in the north west of the USA, where for every metropolis – Seattle, San Francisco and Salt Lake City – there is seemingly a stunning national park.
In fact, as travel around America goes, you can’t go far wrong with the following national park itinerary in the north west, especially if you like your scenery and wildlife on a particularly grand scale:
Seattle to Mount Rainier National Park
Fly into Seattle in Washington, just south of the Canadian border, and immediately escape the hustle and hustle of Kurt Cobain’s hometown by travelling the short distance to Mount Rainier National Park.
Although it’s one of the less well-known of the USA’s 59 national parks, that’s not a reflection of its scenery, which is simply stunning.
At its heart is the 14,410-feet-high volcanic Mount Rainier, the most glaciated peak in the contiguous USA. Around it lies wildflower meadows and ancient forests, teeming with wildlife, such as the mighty black bear.
Yellowstone National Park via Missoula
If you can tear yourself away from Mount Rainier, make the trek inland to Yellowstone National Park via Missoula Montana.
While Mount Rainier might fly under most tourist’s radars, Yellowstone is one of the most famous, thanks to its spectacular geysers that put on geothermal displays you can set your watch to.
The most popular of these is Old Faithful, but there’s more than enough space and attractions in Yellowstone for you to escape the crowds.
Salt Lake City via Grand Teton National Park
Such is the beauty of the north west that before you even reach the next urban area – Salt Lake City – you’re exploring yet another national park.
Grand Teton is a stunning place dominated by the jagged peaks of the Teton mountain range. And with no fewer than 200 miles of trails, the hiking is of the highest quality. While you walk, keep an eye out for golden eagles soaring above and herds of bison roaming the valleys.
San Francisco via Yosemite National Park
San Francisco and its famous man-made attractions is your ultimate destination, but first up are the Yosemite landmarks created by Mother Nature.
Half Dome and El Capitan dominate the skyline in this much-loved park, the first impressions of which for most people are formed before they even arrive by the stunning photos of Ansel Adams.
It’s even better in real life, with the scale of the giant sequoia trees, towering waterfalls and precipitous cliffs only fully appreciated first hand. Indeed, such is their magnificence that even the Golden Gate Bridge won’t seem quite as spectacular once you reach San Fran.
So there you have it. A journey through the USA with more national parks than cities; more trees than buildings; and more animals than humans – who would have thought it?