Social isolation is the key to flattening the curve of Covid-19 infections across the country, relieving the strain on hospitals. You’re saving lives by staying home and watching Netflix. But in the coming months, restrictions will lift and you’ll once again be able to go places and do things. In between movie marathons and baking sprees, you might as well plan what you’ll do once the pandemic has receded in memory to “remember how weird 2020 started?”
After you’ve picked your first post-quarantine brunch and happy hour spots, we recommended heading to a National Park to enjoy the fresher-than-ever air. In this time of uncertainty and fear, take comfort in the fact nature is thriving. There’s 58 national parks across the country, and they’re not called America’s Best Idea for nothing. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best for you to check out once quarantine ends, here are the first five.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon cuts a 2,000 foot deep gorge into the Precambrian rock of western Colorado. Sheer rock walls make a dramatic plummet to the Gunnison river flowing beneath. Because so many visitors head to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, this national park is one of the least visited. Even during the busy summer season, early risers can catch a breathtaking sunrise in solitude. It’s a remote National Park, 5 hours from the airport and off major interstates. But if you’re an outdoors person looking to test their mettle against nature, Black Canyon rewards the independent and adventurous.
Joshua Tree National Park
There’s a reason it’s beloved by influencers, LA-gurus, and lifestyle mavens. Once you experience the brutal beauty of this national park, you won’t be able to get enough of it. The night sky over Joshua Tree is notoriously dark, perfect for stargazing. Joshua trees, namesake of the park, cover the higher elevation of the Mojave Desert with strange cactus-like vegetation. At lower elevations, in the Colorado Desert, you’ll find dunes, dense cactus gardens, and striking rock formations.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
On the opposite end of California from the desert climate of Joshua Tree, you’ll get up close to behemoth Sequoia trees towering over a lush green rainforest. The duel parks encompass two unique experiences. Check out some of the largest trees in the world while hiking through Sequoia, then head to Kings Canyon to see powerful waterfalls, and the deepest canyon in the United States.
Badlands National Park
You’ll feel as though you’ve landed on an alien planet walking amongst the unique rock formations of the Badlands. The park’s known for its rich fossil beds, where researchers often discover the fossilized remains of mammals like bison and saber-tooth cats, and prehistoric three-toed horses. The winding buttes and canyons offer great overlooks, and hiking trails to explore and spot fossils on your own.
Grand Canyon National Park
The only place in America that lives up to the hype. It’s the longest canyon in America, and the park covers almost 2,000 square miles. Plan to spend some serious time at this national park because there are so many ways to explore. Check out the views from a scenic overlook, or ride in an airplane or helicopter to experience the full scope of the park. You can either hike down to the river bed at the base of the canyon, or take a mule ride down. Experience the river through whitewater rafting and waterbuses, or just hike alongside the shore.