Big Bend National Park was recently named the #1 spot in North America for bird-watching and stargazing by leading travel site Tourlane. Known as “Texas’ Gift to the Nation,” Big Bend features 360 different bird species within its 1,250 square miles. The national park’s remote West Texas location, just across the Rio Grande from Mexico, also makes it perfect for dark-skies stargazing.
Big Bend is listed in fifth place in Tourlane’s guide for the 30 best national parks in the United States. Tourlane’s North American Travel Experts researched all 62 of our national parks in honor of the National Park Service’s 104th birthday celebration August 25. All national parks are offering free admission Tuesday, August 25 in honor of the anniversary.
Photo: Grand Canyon courtesy of Tourlane
Tourlane’s top 30 national parks were selected from the following criteria: ● Number of animal species ● Number of bird species ● Number of activities on offer ● Overnight accommodation offering ● Accessibility from major U.S. metropolitan areas. Big Bend scored well in all categories except proximity to any major U.S. metro areas. Apparently Terlingua ghost town doesn’t qualify as a major metropolitan area.
“2020 is the perfect year to travel domestically and explore the best national parks that the U.S. has to offer,” said Arlett Walleck, Senior Travel Product Manager for North America and Iceland. “National parks offer visitors a chance to escape crowded cities, while still being easily accessible by car from major population centers.”
Yosemite National Park
Photo: Yosemite courtesy of Tourlane
Yosemite National Park in California took first place honors, while Florida’s Everglades and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming are listed in second and third place. Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the country, dating back to 1872. The Grand Canyon drew the most visitors, attracting almost six million people to gaze at its amazing rock formations. It was ranked #13 in the travel guide.
Parks chosen for the top 30 needed to have at least one of the following six animal species living there: bears, bison, wild cats, elk, wild horses, and wolves. Yellowstone scored high in this category with a variety of mammals residing in the park. Big Bend’s listing only shows bears, but Big Bend’s 360 bird species was tops in that category.
Big Bend Activities
Photo: Big Bend sunset courtesy of Tourlane
The parks also needed to offer at least two of these ten activities: bicycling, birdwatching, boating, canoeing, climbing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and boat cruises. Yosemite National Park and Florida’s Everglades scored top marks in this category, with at least seven activities each. Big Bend also scored high with six available activities: hiking, biking, birdwatching, boat trips, fishing, and kayaking.
Parks were also rated based on available accommodations, and Big Bend scored top marks with both camping and lodging available for overnight guests.
View more information about all 30 national parks and learn more about the research at tourlane.com. Tourlane is a leading online provider of tailor-made dream holidays from Travel Experts. The company combines proprietary technology with specialized Travel Experts’ experience and knowledge in their planning.