America is a beautiful place, and we're fortunate to have an expansive network of national parks that showcase the stunning country we live in.
Well, usually. Thanks to the ongoing government shutdown, each and every one of the 401 sites operated by the National Park Service will be closed to the public. If you're currently reading this from within one of said parks (lucky you), you have two days to leave.
With Mother Nature closed for the foreseeable future, here are 13 breathtaking images of the national parks we once knew and loved. Here's to you, parks.
Grand Canyon National Park
Yosemite National Park
Everglades National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Redwood National Park
Zion National Park
Mount Rainer National Park
Glacier National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Acadia National Park
Also on HuffPost:
Acadia National Park, Maine
The historic unpaved carriage roads in <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/maine/acadia-national-park-and-mount-desert-island/" target="_blank">Acadia National Park</a> are closed to motorized vehicles, making for an idyllic setting to hike or bike the park’s blazing reds, oranges, and yellows afforded by maple, birch, and poplar trees. Alternately, you can drive the scenic loop along the rocky coastline. We recommend doing both.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
The deep blue abyss of <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/oregon/crater-lake-national-park/" target="_blank">Crater Lake National Park</a> collects in a dormant volcano crater surrounded by 2,000-foot cliffs. This is a breathtaking sight that's set in a harsh environment with a very short window for visits. Even in July, there’s still snow on some of the hiking trails, and by mid-October you're too late—it’s already winter again. The best time to visit is September, when the weather is crisp and the summertime tourists are long gone.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Tetons have large stands of deciduous trees—cottonwoods, aspen, willows— whose leaves blaze yellow and orange come fall. There’s also plenty of wildlife action in <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/wyoming/grand-teton-national-park/" target="_blank">Grand Teton National Park</a> as elk spar and sound their mating bugle, bull moose search for a mate, and bears scramble for berries before hunkering down for hibernation.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
This area may be best known for it’s volcanoes (all four types found in the world are represented here), but the remote wilderness of <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california/lassen-volcanic-national-park/" target="_blank">Lassen Volcanic National Park</a> also serves up a splendid cornucopia of fall colors. The golden palette, courtesy of aspens, oaks, and sagebrush, paint a startling contrast to the crystal blue lakes, giant lava pinnacles, steamy sulphur vents, and jagged craters.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Fall foliage at <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/washington/mount-rainier-national-park/" target="_blank">Mount Rainier National Park</a> is very different than in the more eastern parts of the country, but just as spectacular. Starting in late September, every huckleberry bush, aspen, cottonwood, vine maple, elderberry, willow, and tamarack (western larch), bursts into hues of gold, amber, and crimson.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Fall colors are scarce at <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/washington/olympic-national-park/" target="_blank">Olympic National Park</a>, with only occasional splashes from maple trees among the evergreen trees. But there’s an even bigger draw in autumn—salmon spawning season, when you can watch Coho salmon leap up the Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers.
Redwood National Park, California
Redwoods, the tallest tree species on Earth, don’t change color in the fall, but that doesn’t diminish the experience. These are the planet’s most majestic forests, soaring more than 300 feet. Visitors flock to the <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california/redwood-national-park/" target="_blank">Redwood National Park</a> in the summer, but come fall it’s deserted enough to spot a black bear, mountain lion, elk, or bobcat.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
The famous Trail Ridge Road in <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/colorado/rocky-mountain-national-park/" target="_blank">Rocky Mountain National Park </a>tops out at over 12,000 feet, providing an exceptional vantage point to view the vibrant gold aspens. The park is dominated by a species known as the quaking aspen, which has a flat stem causing its leaves to quiver at the slightest breeze. The effect is mesmerizing in the sunlight.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
Welcome to the <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/tennessee/great-smoky-mtns-national-park/" target="_blank">Great Smoky Mountains National Park</a>, home to the largest stands of old growth forests in the Eastern U.S. Maples are the stars, with a supporting cast of poplar, birch, and oak. Expect jaw-dropping displays of yellows, oranges, reds, and even purples.
Yosemite National Park
The spectacular <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california/yosemite-national-park/" target="_blank">Yosemite National Park</a> is mostly evergreen trees, and not known for its fall foliage. This makes it ideal for autumn visitors, who get the park’s normally overrun granite cliffs, ancient giant sequoias, and waterfalls practically to themselves in October and November.