04/06/2013 10:43 am ET | Updated Jun 06, 2013

National Parks Showdown: The United States vs. The World

It's hard to forget the first time you glimpse the massive granite walls that hem Yosemite Valley or see big, fuzzy bison grazing in a Yellowstone meadow as they have for centuries. Such iconic scenes are an important part of our national heritage, soul-stirring reminders of the natural beauty this vast land has to offer. It's no secret that the U.S. national parks system is widely considered the most geographically diverse and spectacular system in the world. And no red-blooded American will let you forget it (Ken Burns, we doff our caps to you).

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But the rest of the world is pretty diverse, too (or so we hear). It's chock-full of countless other natural wonders -- regal animals, wildflower-speckled alpine meadows, mysterious underground chambers, soaring peaks -- some strikingly similar to or (dare we say it?) even better than those within our own borders. In the interest of friendly competition, we decided to take a look around and make some comparisons. Who will win: America's A-team, the original national parks; or the wild diversity of the rest of the world?

Our advice? See for yourself. If you're a national park lover but are itching to pick up some passport stamps this summer, check out these foreign alternatives to some of our best American places below.

-Megan Taylor Morrison, The Active Times

More Content from The Active Times:
The New National Parks: An Insider's Guide
Europe's National Parks: A Cheat Sheet for Americans
Drink Up, Save the National Parks
Super Safari: Iconic Animals of the National Parks

National Parks Showdown: U.S. vs. The World