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BY EMILY BUNKER
Best Drive-To National Park Vacations
Your curiosity has led you from coast to coast in search of Mother Nature’s most impressive stretches of land and sea. Now it’s time to take that passion up a notch in honor of National Park Week on April 17-25.
The U.S. National Park Service cares for 63 national parks, preserving some of the most magnificent and meaningful places in the country. From canyons to mountains to deserts, these parks are home to all kinds of outdoor adventures — perfect for the nature-savvy bucket lister. And the best part? Nearly 30 national parks are within driving distance of your Club Wyndham and WorldMark resorts, available through Wyndham Club Pass.
Here’s how you can help celebrate National Park Week. Pick your favorite national park from the list below, ranging from three of the most visited parks to hidden gems. Then book your nearby resort and get going on an unforgettable vacation.
Take in millions of years of stunning geological history at Grand Canyon National Park, home to one of the world’s largest canyons and arguably the most iconic landscape in America. The South Rim is the most accessible section year-round, and you can hike around the edge or even descend into the canyon itself. Plus, take your sightseeing experience up a notch with helicopter or river rafting tours.
Witness the majesty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the U.S. Explore the unbroken chain of mountains that run the span of the park, the highest of which is Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet. Meander through wildflower fields, forests, and waterfalls all while trying to catch a distant glimpse of the symbol of the Smokies, the American black bear. Be sure to wake up early at least once to see the namesake low-hanging fog.
Part of Utah's Mighty Five national parks, Zion National Park (pictured above) has arguably the most dramatic landscape in the country, a surreal blend of winding canyons and sheer cliffs with colors that will leave you awestruck. Zion brims with bucket list adventures — from gorge walking through the Narrows to the iconic Angels Landing hike. If you’re looking something less physically demanding, try horseback riding or a shuttle drive through Zion Canyon.