National Parks of the Rocky Mountains

People standing at the bottom of massive sand dunes
Great Sand Dunes National Park. Nancy Rose / Getty Images

When most people picture a national park, they imagine the glaciers, wildflowers, lakes, and blue skies of the Rocky Mountains. But there's more to this area than just mountains. From historical lands to sand dunes, this region offers amazing parks to all who visit. Learn about each one and plan your trip now.

01 of 09

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

Created by the forces of water, carving amazing pinnacles and gullies, The Badlands and its cliffs have been transformed for the past half million years. The Badlands Wall may not be the typical attraction for some tourists, but the landscape of Badlands is a sight to behold.

02 of 09

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
GingerSnapsSherry / Getty Images

This 27,705-acre Colorado park draws fewer than 180,000 visitors per year, making it one of the least visited national parks in the U.S. national park system. No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths visible here.

03 of 09

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker's paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Relive the days of old through historic chalets, lodges, transportation, and stories of Native Americans.

04 of 09

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

With the magnificent Teton Range as a backdrop, this park is one of the most uniquely beautiful spots in the United States. Towering more than a mile above the valley known as Jackson Hole, the Grand Teton rises to 13,770 feet above sea level.

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05 of 09

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, San Luis Valley, Alamosa County, Colorado, USA
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

In this high mountain valley are the tallest dunes in North America, flanked by some of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains. The park and preserve protects much of the Great Sand Dunes' natural system, including alpine tundra and lakes, forests, streams, dunes, grasslands, and wetlands. The dunes were deposited over thousands of years by southwesterly winds blowing through the passes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Depending on the time of day, the dunes turn different shades of rust, brown, pink, cream, gray, and gold.

06 of 09

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dream Lake, with view of Hallett Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Brad McGinley / Getty Images.

Peaks towering more than 14,000 feet shadow wildlife, wildflowers, lakes, and forests in these 415 square miles of the Rockies. This park is most well known for its large animals, particularly elk and bighorn sheep, but also offers opportunities to view a variety of other wildlife as well.

07 of 09

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Bison crossing Little Missouri River, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Situated in the North Dakota badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to a variety of plants and animals, including prairie dogs, bison, and elk.

08 of 09

Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park interior
Blaine Harrington III / Getty Images

This park features one of the world's longest and most complex caves, with an outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. The park also includes one of the few remaining mixed-grass prairies, home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs.

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09 of 09

Yellowstone National Park

Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming, USA.
Carmen Martínez Torrón / Getty Images

Mixing geothermal activity with the natural world of the Wild West, Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park exemplifies iconic Americana. Established in 1872, it was our country's first national park and helped establish the importance of protecting the United State's natural wonders and wild places.