National Parks So Unique They Don’t Even Look Like Real Life

Have you ever been somewhere that looked so beautiful it completely captivated you and you forgot what planet you were even on? These places are so magical-looking that they literally seem like they’re from a different planet. It’s amazing what nature can do!

Arenal Volcano National Park — Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano National Park
Photo Credit: @santateresagem / Instagram
Photo Credit: @santateresagem / Instagram

Ever wondered what lava looks like pouring down a volcano? Here you can find out! You’ll find the active volcano right in the middle of the dense Costa Rican rainforest.

The volcano isn’t even the only sight to see. It’s surrounded by hot springs, forests, and paradise-like waterfalls.

Torres Del Paine National Park — Chile

Torres del Paine National Park
Photo Credit: @taveiraarodrigo / Instagram
Photo Credit: @taveiraarodrigo / Instagram

This park is proof that sometimes accidents make the most beautiful wonders. Due to a unique geological fault, the Paine Massif came crashing down through the earth’s crust and created a beautiful landscape. It left behind a beautiful forested countryside with bright blue lakes scattered glaciers.

Masai Mara National Reserve — Kenya

Masai Mara National Reserve
Photo Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP via Getty Images

This is where an authentic and mesmerizing safari can really be experienced. The park is home to some of the most impressive wildlife, with lions, giraffes, gazelles, and cheetahs. The park is even a site along the way during the annual wildebeest migration.

Plitvice Lakes — Croatia

Plitvice Lakes
Photo Credit: VWPics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: VWPics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you feel like pretending to be in a magical fairytale, this is the place to be. Imagine being able to stroll through 16 crystal clear lakes, surrounded by butterflies and birds, bathing in waterfalls, and visiting naturally formed caves.

Denali National Park — Alaska

Denali National Park
Photo Credit: : Arterra / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: : Arterra / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This is the land of everything extreme. From extreme weather to extreme views, this park is only fit for thrill-seekers looking for an adventure.

Even the elevation is extreme, as it ranges from 240 feet at the Yentna River to the summit of mountain Denali at 20,310 feet.

Banff National Park — Canada

Banff National Park
Photo Credit: @placepulse / Instagram
Photo Credit: @placepulse / Instagram

This park is just as beautiful in the summer, with its hikes along teal blue lakes that look like something out of the Caribbean, as it is in the winter where it makes for a skiing hot spot.

And if skiing or hiking isn’t your thing, there’s also the Banff Upper Hot Springs that make you feel relaxed just by looking at them.

Dry Tortugas National Park — Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park
Photo Credit: @southbeachhelicopters / Instagram
Photo Credit: @southbeachhelicopters / Instagram

This is a literal escape from the world as it’s so remote that you can only get there by boat or seaplane.

Once there, you’ll feel like you’ve reached paradise as you’ll be mesmerized by the collection of islands and their shimmery turquoise water, white sands, and marine life.

Death Valley National Park — Nevada

Death Valley National Park
Photo Credit: @nationalpark.frames / Instagram
Photo Credit: @nationalpark.frames / Instagram

If you’re a Star Wars fan, then you’ll probably recognize this park as one of its filming locations. The park is at the lowest elevation in North America and has some of the hottest and driest salt flats. You could have lightsaber fights that spanned giant tracts of the desert, but make sure to bring some water with you.

Iguazu National Park — Argentina/Brazil

Iguazu National Park
Photo Credit: Buda Mendes / LatinContent via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Buda Mendes / LatinContent via Getty Images

Home to arguably the most beautiful waterfall park in the world. It is right in between the Argentina and Brazil border. If you know a thing or two about plants, then you’re likely to be impressed by the 2,000 species scattered around the walkways.

White Sands National Monument — New Mexico

White Sands National Monument
Photo Credit: @Jason_Habib / Instagram
Photo Credit: @Jason_Habib / Instagram

Is it sand, or is it snow? It’s just sand that looks like snow! This is the home of the largest area of gypsum sand dunes. Don’t let its snowy look fool you, because it definitely gets quite hot out there.

This is also a great location for sand dune sledding.

Tongariro National Park — New Zealand

Tongariro National Park
Photo Credit: @mr_zeleigood / Instagram
Photo Credit: @mr_zeleigood / Instagram

Welcome to New Zealand’s oldest national park. If you think you recognize it, it’s because it’s home to Mount Doom, the volcano in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films.

There is a reason they chose this volcanic location with unique landforms and its wide range of plants and wildlife.

Yellowstone National Park — Idaho

Yellowstone National Park
Photo Credit: @elitenature / Instagram
Photo Credit: @elitenature / Instagram

This was the first national park in the U.S. all the way back in 1872. Now, it’s a giant wilderness that’s right on top of a volcanic cliff. Imagine this: alpine rivers, forests, canyons, bears, wolves…sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it?

Los Glaciares — Argentina

Los Glaciares
Photo Credit: David Silverman / Getty Images
Photo Credit: David Silverman / Getty Images

If you wanna be ice king or queen for a day, this is where you want to be. The mountain is basically made of ice and glacial lakes.

Unfortunately, global warming is causing some of the ice to melt and to fall into the water, so if you want to witness it in person, you better get there soon.

Galapagos — Ecuador

Galapagos
Photo Credit: @betoviedo / Instagram
Photo Credit: @betoviedo / Instagram

Calling all animal lovers to the home of some of the most unique animal life in the world. There are 18 islands here, but only five are inhabited by humans, which gives the wildlife a better chance. The islands are home to tropical animals as well as animals like the Galapagos penguin—something you’d think would only exist closer to the poles.

Doi Inthanon National Park — Thailand

Doi Inthanon National Park
Photo Credit: @mikegabbert / Instagram
Photo Credit: @mikegabbert / Instagram

This is a park that looks like it came straight out of a coloring book thanks to its bright green scenery. Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand, so the views from there onto the valley below are breathtaking.

Petrified Forest National Park — Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park
Photo Credit: @ramesh_ks01 / Instagram
Photo Credit: @ramesh_ks01 / Instagram

No need to be petrified, there’s nothing actually scary about this park. It is mesmerizing because of its fossilized forest frozen in time for millions of years! The park is famous for its undulating rock formations and winding canyons.

Lassen Volcanic National Park — California

GettyImages-823723234
Photo Credit: Diego Cupolo / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Diego Cupolo / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Volcanic forces shaped this park with acres of colorful boiling mud pots. It has 150 miles worth of trails that feature forests, meadows, and volcanic peaks that will make you wonder what planet you’re on.

They say the park was named after an early settler who burned a leg after falling into a pool.

Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park — China

Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park
Photo Credit: Prisma Bildagentur / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Prisma Bildagentur / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When you think of China, you probably think of busy city life, when in fact, it is also home to one of the most unique and beautiful national parks. Under clear blue skies you’ll find five-colored lakes and vibrant green forests that explode in color in autumn.

Göreme National Park — Turkey

Göreme National Park
Photo Credit: Marji Lang / LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Marji Lang / LightRocket via Getty Images

Here’s a new item to add to your bucket list that you wouldn’t have even thought of. Between the Open Air Museum, the cave churches, and the century-old murals, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time or into a movie. It’s not all man-made, either: the cone-shaped rock formations will surely catch your eye too.

Cinque Terre National Park — Italy

Cinque Terre National Park
Photo Credit: @necesitando / Instagram
Photo Credit: @necesitando / Instagram

If you’re one of those indecisive people who can’t decide between going on a beach vacation or immersing yourself in little villages and local culture, this park has it all.

The villages are so colorful and full of cute boutiques and Italian restaurants, and they overlook hiking trails, swimmable blue water, and sandy beaches. You get both nature and culture all in one.