Next Up

10 Awe-Inspiring National Park Nature Events

Discover mysterious rocks that move, fiery lava flows and geysers that boil and bubble. US National Parks are packed with amazing nature events.

1 / 11
Photo: Jody Overstreet

Put These National Park Nature Events on Your Bucket List

You don't have to take a hair-raising roller coaster ride for thrills or buy a pricey ticket to see beautiful plants in a botanical garden. You don't even need a trip to the zoo to watch amazing wildlife. Everything you're looking for — the excitement, beauty and fun — is waiting for you in America's national parks. Currently, there are 63 national parks and a total of 425 if you count National Seashores, National Historic sites and others. Read on for our picks of the most awe-inspiring nature events happening in national parks. Before you go, make sure the park is open and that you'll visit during the season or time of day that the event is likely to occur.

see the national park for you based on your zodiac sign

More photos after this Ad

2 / 11
Photo: Tim Rains/National Park Service

1. Sundogs at Denali National Park

Sundogs might look like rainbows, but they're actually dense, colorful patches of sunlight that appear to the left or right, or on both sides, of the sun. While rainbows typically appear after a rain, sundogs like this one, at Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve, may mean rain is on the way. They're formed when the sun is low in the sky and shines through a thin layer of ice crystals in the atmosphere. Like prisms, the crystals refract the light. When the moon shines through the crystals at night, these phenomena are called moondogs. Sundogs aren't visible every day, but they're not especially rare, either.

check out the most drivable national parks

More photos after this Ad

3 / 11
Photo: National Park Service

2. Eruptions in Hawai'i's Volcano National Park

There are only a few places in the world — volcanoes, cracks or other openings — where molten rock breaks through the surface of the Earth and flows out as lava. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, on the Big Island of Hawai'i, is home to two of the most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Eruptions release rocks, ash, lava and gases and can be deadly and destructive, but when no activity is expected, stop at the visitors center for information on trails and safety precautions. Then take Crater Rim Drive or Chain of Craters Road for incredible views of craters, lava tubes, cinder cones and more. Volcanic eruptions are fearsome but fascinating natural events, revealing clues about Earth's geology.

check out these national park bucket list adventures

More photos after this Ad

4 / 11
Photo: Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service

3. Aurora Borealis in Glacier National Park

Alaska's official tourism site, Travel Alaska, predicts more Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights activity, for the next two years. That's because sunspots, caused by changes in the sun's magnetic field, peak about every 11 years. The last peak was in 2014, so geophysicists expect more displays of the shimmering green, blue and violet lights to appear at high latitudes in 2024 and 2025. Glacier National Park in Montana is a great place to see them, thanks to its low light pollution and dark skies. Before you go, check the Aurora Forecast for recommended viewing times and locations. Other places to look for this spectacular nature event: Voyagers National Park in Minnesota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

see these under the radar national parks

More photos after this Ad