Most locations make for a pretty picture at sunrise or sunset, but the world’s national parks are a feast for the eyes any time of day or night. These protected areas offer some of the best scenery in the world, from majestic mountaintops to sprawling deserts to lush green forests and more. The national parks are beyond beautiful — and the awe-inspiring landscapes, flora, and fauna make for pretty fantastic Instagram pics all year round. Keep your camera handy because the incredible natural wonders of these parks are definitely worth capturing.
Often called “Wildflower National Park,” this is one of the most ecologically diverse parks in the world. If you visit in spring, you’ll get the chance to see a myriad of beautiful plants in bloom, while autumn promises a spectacular explosion of yellow, orange, red, and magenta foliage. In winter, the snow-capped mountains and frosty white trails are a photographer’s dream. And summer is the best time to get pics of the wild animals that trek through the leafy forest day and night.
If you’re a nature lover, chances are you’ve already seen pics of this national park in Klapparstigur, Iceland. It’s the biggest national park in Europe and is filled with obscenely gorgeous glacier caves and stunning white crystal peaks that will fill your Instagram profile with prize-worthy photos.
Most people who visit this northeastern Arizona wonderland drive through the park on the main roads, only stopping at the scenic overlooks. A better way to capture that perfect Insta shot is to hop out of the car and explore some of the smaller trails that lead out into the badlands. The park is filled with colorful layers of rock dating back to the Triassic period. It’s a work of art, coloring the landscape with beautiful red, pink and purple hues that look splendid in the Arizona sunshine.
Situated just below Yellowstone in northeastern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is only a fraction of the size and has a fraction of the crowd. That means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture all the natural beauty on film without gobs of tourists getting in the way. The landscape is stunning, with the rocky peaks of the Tetons soaring as much as 7,000 feet above sea level. Whether you’re pointing your camera at the alpine lakes, the beautiful foliage, or the jagged mountain tops, you'll have countless opportunities for Instagram gold.
Iguazu National Park is home to Iguazu Falls, one of the biggest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The park is enormous and stretches across the border of Brazil and Argentina, but the Argentinian part has both the falls and tons of cool wildcats and exotic birds. And definitely check out Devil’s Throat, the best place to capture the stunning beauty of the falls.
Zion National Park was the first national park in Utah. Many of the archaeological and geographical features in the park have biblical references, like Mount Moroni, Kolob Canyon, and Court of the Patriarchs, and they all make for magical photos. But Zion Canyon is the main draw for Instagram-worthy shots. It’s the famous 15-mile stretch running through the vibrant red Navajo Sandstone.
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, Yosemite is one of the most inspirational places on the planet. If you’re a fan of ‘gramming iconic landmarks, this park has plenty of them, from El Capitan to Half Dome to Yosemite Falls and more. You can catch some pretty stunning waterfalls, beautiful trees and mountains, and amazing wildlife all year round.
One of the most famous of Utah’s many fabulous parks, Arches National Park features over 2,000 sandstone arches that make for stunning photos in any kind of light. In addition to the spectacular sandstone, there are tons of other geological treats, including windows and soaring stalactites that look awesome on film. Just make sure you get a shot of Delicate Arch before you leave.
This park is packed to the brim with... you guessed it, fjords! It’s a perfectly magical setting, straight out of Lord of the Rings, which, by the way, was filmed in New Zealand. It also boasts New Zealand’s deepest lake, Lake Hauroko. There are plenty of ways to explore this park, from hiking to boat tours to cycling and more, and they all offer great photo ops.
If you love pristine forests, alpine meadows, and watching animals roam in their natural habitat, head to Glacier National Park in Montana. This gem features over 700 miles of trails, great for hiking and snapping pics. It’s one of the best national parks for those seeking a bit of solitude — there’s so much room you can probably stake your claim on your very own trail.
OK, so this park isn’t for the faint of heart, as the name implies. Death Valley is a basin in the desert located below sea level, and it often sets record temperatures for both high temps and droughts throughout the year. On occasion, a rainstorm will encourage a field of wildflowers to crop up, but even without the blooms, it's a striking landscape that looks exquisite on film.
The Grand Canyon is easily the most recognizable name on any list of America’s national parks. And with good reason! It's a true wonder to behold. The canyon is a vast gorge cut out by the Colorado River over the last 17 million years or so, and it’s worth a visit just to marvel at the sheer scale of it. The canyon is around 250 miles long, nearly 20 miles wide, and almost a mile deep in certain places!
Redwood National Park is a lovely place to wander deep into the redwood forest — you’ll feel like you’re on the set of a new Disney fairytale! The giant trees and branches can cut out a lot of the natural light, so bring a tripod and set your camera or phone on a slow shutter speed to get that perfect shot.
If buttes and spires are your thing, Badlands National Park in South Dakota won’t disappoint you. With barely 250,000 acres of sharp rock erosion, mixed-grass prairie, and some pretty cool land mammals, it’s a national wonder with a little something for everyone. The park is also home to some of the best-known Oligocene fossil deposits.
It’s hard to imagine a cooler Instagram photo than a volcano erupting with hot lava, right? Hawaii Volcanoes National Park features not one but TWO active volcanoes that you can actually explore. It’s kind of a trek to get to the calderas, but it’s totally worth it to see the flaming red lava falling into the ocean below.