Summer is the best time to take a road trip and visit many of the great National Parks in the United States. Because of this, it is very fitting that July marks National Parks and Recreation Month! Unfortunately, there are no official National Parks in Nebraska (although there are a number of National Monuments), but the central location of the state makes it easy to access a number of great parks in neighboring states such as Wyoming, Colorado, and South Dakota.
The grandfather of all National Parks is Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (with parts in Montana and Idaho). Established in 1872, Yellowstone holds the distinction of being the first National Park in the United States. The park is known for its hot springs and geothermal features, as well as its wildlife, which includes bears, wolves, moose, elk, and the largest herd of wild bison in the United States. The world famous Old Faithful geyser erupts every 82 minutes.
Not to be overshadowed by Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park (located just south of Yellowstone near the Jackson Hole ski resort), is named after the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. A great place for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor recreation, Grand Teton National Park is well worth a visit any time of year.
Colorado is home to the great Rocky Mountain National Park. This massive park includes low valleys, tall peaks, and the Continental Divide which separates two distinct climate zones. The park is a favorite of hikers and skiers, but there are plenty of resorts and tourist towns such as Estes Park nearby for those less interested in nature.
Badlands National Park in South Dakota is named for its unique geographical features of eroded buttes and prairie land. The park encompasses area with a long history with various Native American tribes, and movies such as Dances with Wolves were filmed near the park. The park is located in central South Dakota, not far from other tourist destinations such as the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, and the towns of Deadwood and Sturgis.