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The 10 Best International National Parks

10. CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK
The 10 Best International National Parks
Yellowstone National Park is known for a lot of things, but perhaps not everyone knows that when it comes to our national parks, this beauty was the pioneer of its time. The park’s scenic geysers, vast forests, and stunning mountain peaks inspired its visitors to advocate for the conservation of the area’s natural landscape. In 1872, Congress named Yellowstone the first national park and established some of the procedures that would become the foundation for the preservation and care of over 400 public parks nationwide. What began as a relatively small movement in the wilds of Yellowstone spread across the nation, and throughout the world—today there are more than 1,200 national parks in more 100 countries.

As the U.S. National Park Service celebrates 100 years this fall, we, along with our friends at Audley Travel, have put together a list of our favorite international parks inspired by some of the great U.S. national parks. In other words, if you’ve got a soft spot for the high peaks and snow-capped mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park, just wait till you get a look at the Atlas Mountains in Morocco’s Mount Toubkal National Park.

Photo by Canterbury/Flickr
By Kyana Moghadam, AFAR Contributor
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    10. CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK
    10. CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK
    If you love Florida Everglades National Park, get to Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.

    This tropical rainforest is of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, and promises one of the best adventures for viewing some of the Costa Rica’s rarest wildlife—think Scarlet Macaws, squirrel monkeys and a tree frog in every color. It’s a popular place for hiking and camping, with a swimming hole around every corner.

    Photo by Global Water Forum/Flickr
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    9. GÖREME NATIONAL PARK
    9. GÖREME NATIONAL PARK
    If you like Arches National Park, visit Göreme National Park in Turkey

    A visit to the Göreme National Park is a visit to the past—back to the 4th century to be exact. The Göreme valley is a vast volcanic landscape full of mountain ridges, or “fairy chimneys”, that were created by centuries of erosion. As if this natural wonder wasn’t amazing enough, the remains of underground towns and ancient dwellings are scattered throughout the park—making it the perfect place for a history lesson, and oddly enough, one of the best places in the world for a hot air balloon ride.

    Photo by Anita Gould/Flickr
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    8. PACIFIC RIM NATIONAL PARK
    8. PACIFIC RIM NATIONAL PARK
    If your heart skips a beat for Acadia National Park's rocky coastline, check out Pacific Rim National Park in Canada.

    Rainforest, waterfalls, vast beaches, and caves a plenty—Canada's Pacific Rim National Park park is 126,500 acres of pure wild. A popular place for backpackers looking for an escape from the hustle of the mainland, the park's West Coast Trail offers 47 miles of just that.

    Photo by Colin Knowles/Flickr
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    7. NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK
    7. NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK
    If you love Yellowstone National Park for the wildlife, visit Nairobi National Park in Kenya.

    When you visit Nairobi National Park, chances are you will come home with a photo of at least one leopard, zebra, or giraffe with the cityscape of Nairobi in the background. Only a 20-minute drive from the center of the largest city in East Africa, the national park is home to black rhinos, zebras, giraffes, hippos, leopard, and lions.

    Photo by Takeoff Digital/Flickr
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    6. SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK
    6. SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK
    If you love Denali National Park, plan a trip to Skaftafell National Park in Iceland

    Skaftafell National Park has everything you might associate with Iceland: waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, ice caves, and picturesque mountain cottages atop green hills. It’s a mountain climber’s paradise, and any photographer's dream.

    Photo by Ron Kroetz/Flickr
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    5. MOUNT TOBKAL NATIONAL PARK
    5. MOUNT TOBKAL NATIONAL PARK
    If the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park are your thing, venture to Morocco's Mount Toubkal National Park.

    Whether the word “park” triggers images of a relaxing afternoon or a vigorous hike up a mountainside, Mount Tobkal National Park has got you covered. Residents and tourists alike make the journey to take in the stunning views of the Atlas Mountains or to hike along the highest peaks of North Africa, often stopping for a visit at one of the local Berber villages along the way.

    Photo courtesy of Lauren Reis
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    4. KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
    4. KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
    If you live for the wild nature of the Olympic National Park, visit Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. 

    One of the largest remaining monsoon forests in Asia, Khao Yay was Thailand’s first established national park and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to a number of amazing species, including elephants, bears, otters, gibbons, and large pythons. While the park is super popular with locals who want to view the many waterfalls and diverse wildlife, the hiking trails that wind around the area are relatively empty.

    Photo courtesy of Pablo Cuneo/Flickr
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    3. LOS GLACIARES NATIONAL PARK
    3. LOS GLACIARES NATIONAL PARK
    If your a fan of Glacier Bay National Park, check out Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina

    Argentina has so many beautiful national parks, it’s hard to choose just one. If you have to pick one, visit the unbelievable Los Glaciares National Park—you won’t believe your eyes. There are 47 large glaciers within the park, and a number of ways to explore this natural beauty by kayak, hike, or horseback.

    Photo by Reeve Jolliffe/Flickr
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    2. ULURU KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK
    2. ULURU KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK
    If Canyonlands National Park is your favorite spot, head to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia

    It seems like every hour spent at Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is a golden hour. The iconic image of Uluru-Kata is the giant sandstone monolith that sits within the 515 sq. miles of this Australian land, and it is said that the rock’s shade of red changes according to the sun. An extremely important monument to Australia’s indigenous cultures, the park is a sacred site that bears markings of human settlement more than 10,000 years ago.

    Photo by Richard Fisher/Flickr
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    1. ZHANGJIAJIE NATIONAL PARK
    1. ZHANGJIAJIE NATIONAL PARK
    If you're looking for a view you just can't find in the U.S., head to Zhangjiajie National Park in China

    When you are in Zhangjiajie national park, it’s hard to believe you are still on earth. In 1982 this forest became China’s first national park, but the legends of its first human inhabitants date back 100,000 years ago well into the Neolithic Age. As one of the many stories go, a strategist named Zhang Liang sought refuge in the forest after fearing that the first emperor of the Han Dynasty was out to kill him. He lived out his days in the forest, but his name carries on in the national park.

    Photo by Tefl Search/Flickr
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    WHAT’S NEXT . . .