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These 7 high-altitude national parks offer incredible mountain views

These US national parks, nestled within or near towering mountain ranges, boldly stand testament to the grandeur and resilience of nature’s wonders and power. From the iconic Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the icy expanses of Denali in Alaska, each park has a unique story shaped by millennia of geological processes and human exploration. 

Let’s explore rugged trails, scenic viewpoints, and the diverse ecosystems of these national parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Spanning over 415 square miles, Rocky Mountain National Park, boasts towering peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. This park is home to over 300 miles of hiking trails. Keen adventurers can traverse the landscape to witness the grandeur of iconic peaks such as Longs Peak and Hallett Peak. 

With Trafalgar you’ll drive along the Trail Ridge Road, a designated national scenic byway and the highest continuous paved highway in America. It winds through the park, offering unparalleled panoramic mountain views, reaching elevations over 12,000 feet. 

As the landscape transitions from dense forests to subalpine zones, wildlife such as elk, bighorn sheep, and marmots thrive. This alpine sanctuary is also a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

View over a lake, looking towards forest and mountains in the distance in Rocky Mountain National Park

TAKE A TRIP: Welcome to Colorado

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

In the untamed wilderness of Alaska, North America’s tallest peak – Denali – dominates the landscape. Towering at 20,310 feet, this majestic summit presides over six million acres of tundra, boreal forest and ice-capped mountains. The park’s diverse ecosystems range from low-elevation taiga forests to high alpine tundra, providing a habitat for a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and Dall sheep.

There are a million ways to explore, from hiking to ziplining, ATV adventure to fixed-wing scenic flights. Here you’re even far enough north to even witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights with mountain views. It’s the perfect national park for those seeking both solitude and the grandeur of Alaska’s wilderness.

Moose crossing a river, with snow-capped mountains in the background, in Denali National Park

TAKE A TRIP: Majestic Alaska

Yosemite National Park, California

A jewel in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Yosemite is a masterpiece of nature. This park is renowned for its towering granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees. The iconic Half Dome and El Capitan dominate the skyline, challenging rock climbers and captivating onlookers with mountain views. 

Standing among towering sequoia trees sets the tone for your adventure with Trafalgar. You’ll go beyond simply hiking trails and learn about its history. Visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, home to more than 500 mature trees and the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite. Back in 1864 President Lincoln signed legislation protecting this grove and Yosemite Valley. It made US history to set aside this scenic, natural area for federal protection, especially as the country was embroiled in the Civil War.

There are short trails, like the Big Trees Loop or Grizzly Giant Loop, that get you up close with huge trees and mountain views with minimal effort. Keep your eyes open for black bears, mule deer, and a myriad of bird species!

View across the Merced River, looking towards Bridal Veil Fall, Yosemite National Park

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Glacier National Park, Montana

Rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and ancient glaciers define the “Crown of the Continent” – Glacier National Park. Encompassing over a million acres, the park boasts a diverse ecosystem teeming with wildlife. Keep your eyes open for grizzly bears, mountain goats, and elusive wolverines. 

The iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road winds through the park, offering breathtaking vistas of glacial valleys and snow-capped peaks. Glacier National Park is (unsurprisingly) renowned for its 26 glaciers. Its alpine environment has been shaped by ice for thousands of years. As climate change threatens its glaciers, Glacier National Park stands as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between nature’s wonders and the impact of a changing world.

Trafalgar guests will join a special MAKE TRAVEL MATTER ® Experience with Blackfeet and Cherokee member Mariah Gladstone. She’ll welcome you to her traditional land for storytelling and history before you sit down for lunch.  

View looking across a blue glacial lake and hillside towards a mountain ridge in Glacier National Park

TAKE A TRIP: Secrets of the Rockies and Glacier National Park

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Towering above the Snake River Valley, the rugged and jagged summits, including the iconic Grand Teton, create a dramatic skyline at this national park. Grand Teton attracts both mountaineers and nature enthusiasts to this reserve.

Spanning over 300,000 acres, this special park encompasses pristine alpine lakes, lush meadows, and diverse wildlife habitats. The 40-mile-long Teton Mountain Range is ever-present as a picturesque backdrop. 

With Trafalgar, guests can join an Optional Experience that takes adventurous travelers on the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram. It summits Rendezvous Mountain for 360-degree mountain views of the Tetons, Jackson Hole, the Snake River Valley, Grand Teton National Park and the summit of the Grand. 

TAKE A TRIP: Five Epic National Parks

King’s Canyon National Park, California

Nestled in the southern Sierra Nevada of California, King’s Canyon is a gem of geological wonders and towering sequoias. This park is named for the spectacular King’s Canyon, a glacially-carved marvel that plummets deeper than the Grand Canyon. It’s also home to a towering peak: North Palisade. Standing proudly at 14,242 feet, this majestic summit is a magnet for avid mountaineers. It offers challenging routes and panoramic mountain views of the surrounding alpine landscapes. 

But beyond its granite peaks, King’s Canyon is home to diverse ecosystems, from subalpine forests to alpine meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers. Sit back and take in the views from the Trafalgar coach as you travel along the Kings Canyon Scenic byway. You’ll end up at Zumault Meadow Trail, where nature’s diversity is on display.

Sunset view over the hills of Kings Canyon National Park

TAKE A TRIP: California High Country Adventure

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Spanning the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone is a natural haven. Its unparalleled mountain views are broken up by more than 500 geysers! The diverse terrain is adorned with rugged mountain ranges, the most notable being the Gallatin, Absaroka, and Beartooth Mountains. 

These towering peaks and alpine plateaus offer a dramatic backdrop to Yellowstone’s iconic geothermal features. Marvel at Old Faithful, the thousand-year-old geyser that has been shooting water into the sky every 90 minutes for centuries. Stop at Lake Yellowstone, containing the largest number of wild cutthroat trout in North America, before viewing Artists Point.

View of river running through a canyon in Yellowstone National Park

TAKE A TRIP: Scenic Parks Explorer

Those are the best mountain views at some the USA’s most popular national parks. Are you planning a nature adventure to celebrate International Mountain Day? Let us know in the comments…

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