PHOTOS: Best national parks to visit on your next vacation

WASHINGTON — Nature buffs looking to explore the outdoors have a lot of options in the U.S.

It’s not easy to choose which national park to travel to on the next vacation.

U.S. News & World Report released its list of the best national parks in the U.S. for 2018.

Check out the list in the gallery below.

10. Olympic National Park Established in 1938, Olympic National Park, which sits about 75 miles west of Seattle, appeals to hiking and backpacking enthusiasts. Experienced hikers will love Mount Ellinor Trail, while beginners can stick to easier paths like Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail. Be sure to keep an eye out for Olympic marmots — Olympic National Park is the only place in the world where you can find these cat-sized rodents. There are also ample water activities, ranging from boating to fishing to exploring tide pools. Remember to stay off the rock formations (unless you’re an experienced climber), as they are often covered in unstable snow and fractured rocks. (iStock / Getty Images Plus) (iStock / Getty Images Plus)
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UT - AUGUST 12:  Bristlecone Point is illuminated by the setting sun above hoodoos viewed from Sunset Point overlooking Bryce Amphitheater on August 12, 2016 in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
9. Bryce Canyon National Park  Home to the most extensive collection of hoodoos — or thin rock formations — in the world, Bryce Canyon National Park spans 35,835 acres across southern Utah. Most visit the park to take advantage of its trails, such as Navajo Loop Trail and Tower Bridge Trail, which run the gamut in their degree of difficulty and subsequently appeal to all experience levels. The weather in Bryce Canyon National Park is extremely variable because of its high elevation, so plan on arriving during the summer months when it’s safest to hike. Many previous visitors also note that the park is memorable in the winter when the snow offers a stark contrast to the desert landscape. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Ethan Miller)
8. Rocky Mountain National Park Sitting about 75 miles northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park boasts 355 miles of hiking trails. Be sure to stop by the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to learn more about popular routes like the Ouzel Falls Trail and Emerald Lake Trail before starting your trek. If you’re not as enthusiastic about hiking and camping, the park is also a prime place for fishing, horseback riding and scenic drives on routes such as the Trail Ridge Road, a traveler favorite. Photography and wildlife enthusiasts can also seek out some of the 70 mammal species and roughly 300 kinds of birds that populate the park. (iStock/Getty Images Plus) (iStock/Getty Images Plus)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2011, file photo, a lunar eclipse is framed within Turret Arch at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
7. Arches National Park Arches National Park encompasses a collection of red rocks that make visitors feel more like they’re on Mars than near the northern edge of Moab, Utah. Sandstone monuments like Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock scatter the park, which spans nearly 77,000 acres. The otherworldly atmosphere draws avid photographers in droves, while the wonky landscapes attract adventurous hikers and rock climbers. Note that Arches National Park is in a high desert region, meaning temperatures can vary widely throughout the day, sometimes by as much as 40 degrees. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File) (AP)
FILE - This Sept. 16, 2015, file photo shows Zion National Park, near Springdale, Utah. A group of state attorneys general on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, urged the National Park Service to scrap its proposal to more than double the entrance fee at 17 popular national parks. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
6. Zion National Park Sitting pretty in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park provides some of the most interesting and unusual color palettes found in nature. The precipitous cliffs that define the park transition from cream to pink to red as they rise, and they are complemented by the park’s beautiful sunsets and often clear skies. Check out The Narrows if you want to see the most famous part of the park and Zion Canyon’s narrowest section. Alternatively, make the expedition to the park’s more remote areas, such as the Kolob Canyon, for some world-class rock climbing and hiking routes. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File) (AP/Rick Bowmer)
Teton mountains reflect on the Snake river at Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
5. Grand Teton National Park The area that makes up Grand Teton National Park has played host to groups ranging from a number of American Indian tribes to fur trappers to ranchers. Situated in Wyoming’s northwest corner, the 310,000-acre national park is now one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the world. Grand Teton National Park encompasses the majority of the Grand Teton mountain range (where it derives its name), as well as the northern section of Jackson Hole. Climbing and mountaineering are the most adrenaline-pumping options available in the park, but you can also participate in lower-impact activities like fishing, bird-watching, hiking and horseback riding. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pabradyphoto) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pabradyphoto)
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013, file photo, the Grand Canyon National Park is covered in the morning sunlight as seen from a helicopter near Tusayan, Ariz. Arizona officials on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, guaranteed that the Grand Canyon National Park will remain in full operation if Congress fails to pass a budget and a government shutdown ensues. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
4. Grand Canyon National Park  Located in northwestern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring site. This national park and UNESCO World Heritage site consists of an 18-mile-wide and 1-mile-deep gorge, which was carved by the Colorado River. Nearly 6 million travelers entered the park in 2016, making it the second-most visited of all U.S. national parks. There are a variety of trails to appeal to both seasoned hikers (Bright Angel Trail) and first-time adventurers (Rim Trail). Not much of a hiker? You can also admire the views on the Grand Canyon Skywalk or while rafting the Colorado River. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File) (AP/Julie Jacobson)
This Sept. 4, 2017 photo shows a view of Glacier National Park in Montana from the park's famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
3. Glacier National Park This national park spans more than 1 million acres and encompasses three mountain ranges and 130-plus named lakes in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. Thanks to Glacier National Park’s size, countless activities are always available. Visitors can use the lakes for fishing and boating while avid hikers explore the park’s multitude of trails. There are multiday treks that span large portions of the park, such as the Cracker Lake Trail, or shorter jaunts like Hidden Lake Overlook, which is known for its population of mountain goats. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz) (AP/Beth J. Harpaz)
El Capitan
2. Yosemite National Park Sprawling across nearly 750,000 acres in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most iconic rock formations and waterfalls in the world. Yosemite Valley is the most popular area of the park, where you can snap photos of rock features like Glacier Point and Half Dome. There are also numerous hiking trails, including ones that travel through the picturesque Tuolumne Meadows and to the towering Vernal Fall. The park is world-renowned for its rock climbing, but you can also partake in more traditional park activities like camping, fishing and bird-watching. What’s more, the park is home to the oldest downhill skiing area in California, Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass). (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File) (AP/Ben Margot)
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2016 file photo, a herd of bison grazes in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. A new superintendent was named Wednesday, June 13, 2018, to Yellowstone National Park, one of the crown jewels of the park system, after his predecessor said he was being forced out by the Trump administration following a dispute over bison. Cameron "Cam" Sholly will replace Dan Wenk, who has been superintendent since 2011, according to the Department of Interior.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
1. Yellowstone National Park The first national park in the United States — and the world — Yellowstone National Park is best known for Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs and other geothermal features. Spread across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, this massive park boasts a variety of breathtaking attractions, including Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley. You will be able to scratch the itch for any outdoor activity of your choice — the park offers everything from backpacking to biking to boating. While you’re sure to see some buffalo during your visit, keep an eye out for bears, foxes, wolves and other Yellowstone inhabitants. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) (AP/Matthew Brown)
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BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UT - AUGUST 12:  Bristlecone Point is illuminated by the setting sun above hoodoos viewed from Sunset Point overlooking Bryce Amphitheater on August 12, 2016 in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2011, file photo, a lunar eclipse is framed within Turret Arch at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - This Sept. 16, 2015, file photo shows Zion National Park, near Springdale, Utah. A group of state attorneys general on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, urged the National Park Service to scrap its proposal to more than double the entrance fee at 17 popular national parks. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Teton mountains reflect on the Snake river at Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013, file photo, the Grand Canyon National Park is covered in the morning sunlight as seen from a helicopter near Tusayan, Ariz. Arizona officials on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, guaranteed that the Grand Canyon National Park will remain in full operation if Congress fails to pass a budget and a government shutdown ensues. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
This Sept. 4, 2017 photo shows a view of Glacier National Park in Montana from the park's famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
El Capitan
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2016 file photo, a herd of bison grazes in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. A new superintendent was named Wednesday, June 13, 2018, to Yellowstone National Park, one of the crown jewels of the park system, after his predecessor said he was being forced out by the Trump administration following a dispute over bison. Cameron "Cam" Sholly will replace Dan Wenk, who has been superintendent since 2011, according to the Department of Interior.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

When it comes to which park to choose, travelers mostly head toward those locations offering a lot of different activities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“The ones that are the most popular are the really large national parks where you don’t only have hiking but you’ve also got fishing, you’ve got kayaking, in the winter you can do snowshoeing in some and even skiing,” said Erin Shields, assistant managing editor of travel at U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to physical activities to keep moving, these parks also offer opportunities to see and experience local animals.

“There’s also a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities in these parks where travelers can see some bears, buffalo, elk and things like that,” Shields said. “A lot of photographers really enjoy that.”

The best national parks in the U.S. include:

1. Yellowstone
2. Yosemite
3. Glacier National Park
4. Grand Canyon
5. Grand Teton National Park
6. Zion National Park
7. Arches National Park
8. Rocky Mountain National Park
9. Bryce Canyon National Park
10. Olympic National Park


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