See Incredible Photos of National Parks from Space

It might be hard to resist planning a trip to these parks once you see them from above.

space view crater lake national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA

By Marie McGrory

There are plenty of things you cannot see from outer space: your home, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal. Most man-made structures are hard to enjoy from beyond the edges of low Earth orbit (save for, debatably, the Great Wall of China). Nature, on the other hand, takes on a whole new kind of beauty from the edges of our atmosphere.

In 2016 the National Park Service saw over 330 million visitors across its 84 million acres. On the ground level, those numbers are huge. From space, the numbers seem a bit more manageable. While considering your next trip, explore some of these iconic sights the way our national bird might: from above.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

space view olympic national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WILLIAMS, NASA

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams made this composite image of Olympic National Park, highlighting some of the park’s well-known glaciers and rugged peaks.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

yellowstone national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY DIGITALGLOBE/GETTY IMAGES

The iconic Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser Crater of Yellowstone stand out in this satellite image, but the lesser known Opal Pool and Turquoise Pool are worth exploring as well. The parking lot and highway to the right give you a true sense of scale in relation to these massive natural wonders.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

space view grand canyon national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY MAPS4MEDIA/GETTY IMAGES

The jagged edges of the Grand Canyon rim are intersected by an extensive stretch of snow, giving this satellite image a wonderfully intricate, abstract look.

KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

space view kenai fjords national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA

It can be challenging to find your bearings amidst the depth, colors, and textures of this aerial look at Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords. Jagged pieces of ice break off into melted blue waters in this satellite image.

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK

space view katmai national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WILLIAMS, NASA

Rich blues and bright whites dance through the light and shadows around Katmai National Park. Clouds roll in from the right, but from the sky they appear to blend with the white mountains.

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK

space view biscayne national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

This view of Biscayne National Park provides a glimpse into the dramatic and diverse shades of blue as the depth changes around Biscayne Bay. The pristine greens of the national park islands of Sands Key, Elliott Key, Totten Key, and Old Rhodes Key stand in stark contrast to the coast and the islands around it.

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

space view grand teton national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

Though you cannot see a state line crossing from space, this view shows the vastness of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, as well as neighboring cities of Driggs, Darby, and others in Idaho.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

space view acadia national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

This park blends in seamlessly with its surroundings on Mount Desert Island and the inlets and islands surrounding match the lush green terrain.

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

space view death valley national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WILLIAMS, NASA

Just north of Funeral Peak, the Badwater area of Death Valley National Park exposes its intricate layering of springs and accumulated salts that make up the “bad water” in the pool of the basin. The Badwater basin is also the lowest point in North America and an elevation of 282 feet.

HAWAI’I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

space view hawai'i volcanoes national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

HAWAI’I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

Kilauea, one of five volcanoes that created the island of Hawai’i, is protected by Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in the southeast of the Big Island. Kilauea is still one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

space view great smoky mountains national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN AND JOSHUA STEVENS, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

On the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, you’ll find the peaks and rivers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the terrain looks serrated and harsh from above, the rushing mountain streams are a beautiful sight from the ground or the sky.

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