2020 marked not only a new year, but a new decade. It was shaping up to be a great year for travel and adventure—that is, before a global pandemic put everyone's plans on hold. National Park popularity was at an all-time high. Americans and foreigners alike were dreaming of exploring the 62 American National Parks. Trading our outdoor adventures for indoor quarantines, we all began looking past ourselves and toward the plight of others. We began giving each other space, and each of us started doing our part to flatten the curve of the COVID 19 pandemic.
While we are all staying at home, we can still dream up new adventures. We can still make bucket lists and plans for ideal excursions into the great outdoors. Let's do a little bit of dreaming. After all, dreaming is free!
Which parks would you like to visit once we are all able to travel again? Need help deciding? We put together a brief list of our top 5 favorite National Parks and why we think these are the best travel choices for 2020. (This wasn't an easy task, because we love ALL of the National Parks!)
Read on for helpful travel advice, fun facts, and juicy park tidbits. And as you'll see from the illustrations by our staff artists and collaborating artists Kai Carpenter and Kenneth Crane, these parks also served as inspiration for some of our most popular illustrated poster art!
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only the most-visited National Park in the U.S., but it is one of our favorites, and it's located right here in the Appalachian, Tennessee/North Carolina region! Practically in our backyard, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a skip and a hop down Highway 40 from our Nashville art studio.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous for its year-round activities and attractions, its incredible scenery, its history, and its wildlife. Waterfalls, campsites, cabins, fishing, river rafting, canoeing, mountain bike paths, hiking trails, and scenic vistas add to the beauty that is the Great Smokies.
To celebrate the park, our Anderson Design Group artists created over 40 vintage travel posters of the Great Smokies. And every time we go back, we find inspiration for new artwork! If you're planning a trip to this fantastic National Park, we recommend checking out Alum Cave, Big Creek, Cades Cove, and the tremendous Chimney Tops.
2. Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park holds a special place in our hearts. Not only is this incredible feat of nature a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but this canyon is arguably America's most famous natural landmark. Children all across the U.S. grow up reading about the Grand Canyon in their school books, dreaming of one day visiting the natural wonder.
Coming in at just under 2,000 square miles in size, the Grand Canyon tells a story of millions of years of erosion by both water and wind. The canyon displays incredible, striated rock patterns and a rainbow of colors. Spires, cliff faces, plateaus, and a river bed at the canyon floor more than a mile down from the canyon's rim are just some of the incredible attractions of this National Park.
Having visited the canyon and explored its majesty, our art team at Anderson Design Group finds endless inspiration in America's most celebrated canyon. Grand Canyon National Park is featured in more than a dozen of our original travel posters. If you're planning a trip to one of the most incredible natural features in the world, we encourage you to check out the views and vistas at Bright Angel Trail, the Desert View Watchtower, and the beautiful Kaibab Trail.
3. Rocky Mountain National Park
An ideal park for wilderness enthusiasts and also a protected region rich in ecological diversity, Rocky Mountain National Park offers much to its visitors. The park is home to over 100 individual mountain peaks, including the famous Longs Peak, standing at 14,259 feet above sea level! This park is also home to elk herds, bears, bighorn sheep, cougars, moose, mule deer, marmots, and dozens of bird and insect species.
Ourselves lovers of the incredible peaks of the American Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park has brought us no shortage of inspiration for our artwork. We've created half a dozen vintage travel posters of some of the incredible vistas you'll find in the park. We've also handcrafted retro illustrations and classic poster designs of the park's flora and fauna.
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to several attractions, including the Trail Ridge Road (the highest continuous highway in the country), no less than 150 beautiful lakes, and no less than 29 picturesque waterfalls. We recommend visiting this park in either June or August. Both months offer good weather for hiking and camping while also avoiding the July tourist rush (park rangers say they experience rushes of up to 27,000 visitors per day in July!)
4. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park. Where do we even begin? Yellowstone National Park was the first American National Park ever created, designated as it was in 1872. And coming in at 3,472 square miles in size, it is also one of the largest National Parks in the lower 48 States.
The best term we can use to define Yellowstone is "one of a kind." Let's not forget, this park sits atop a giant, underground volcano! And while each National Park in the roster brings us something special and unique, Yellowstone exceeds even the most imaginative expectations. The park is home to no less than 300 active geysers, plus 290 waterfalls and 1,800 archaeological sites. The park also features 92 trailheads that provide access to more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, allowing visitors to experience all of the wonder and beauty of America's first National Park.
Fascinated by the forces of nature seen nowhere else in the world but Yellowstone, our team created several classic poster designs of the park. Styling our artwork after the Golden Age of Illustration, these works reflect the grandeur of America's first National Park. If you're making plans to visit Yellowstone this year, be sure to check out fantastic attractions like Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Tower Falls, and Yellowstone Lake.
5. Yosemite National Park
Famous for Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park is an archaeological treasure trove, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a beautiful nature preserve all rolled into one. Archaeologists have proven that humans have lived in the Yosemite region for more than 3,000 years. Furthermore, there are Sequoia trees still alive and growing in the park that date back just as far!
Yosemite Valley is famous for its panoramic views, its stunning waterfalls, its lush, verdant valley floor, and the incredible mountain peaks that enclose and protect the valley. It is a natural paradise. One can see why humankind has been drawn to the valley for so many centuries.
For us, Yosemite Valley and the park in general serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting our nation's natural lands, ecosystems, and resources. The Yosemite Valley has been a source for the coexistence of man and nature for thousands of years. Inspired by that relationship and the importance of continuing it, Anderson Design Group created several vintage travel posters for the park, displaying in retro art and handcrafted vintage design just how unique and meaningful this park is. If you're making travel plans for Yosemite, we recommend visiting Mariposa Grove, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and, of course, the incredible Yosemite Valley.
Traveling to America's National Parks
We look forward to several travels of our own in 2020! Each year we make trips to National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments, etc. And we hope you will do the same! And remember, your friends at Anderson Design Group have the classic and vintage poster art to serve as souvenirs and memorabilia from your travels.
Visiting any of the 62 American National Parks is a fantastic, unforgettable experience. Doing so reminds us of the importance of the parks and the importance of conserving our natural lands. That's why, at Anderson Design Group, when you purchase any of our artwork, we set aside a portion of our profits and donate them to the National Parks Foundation. When you grow your art collection with handmade vintage art from our local Nashville art studio, you're supporting Nashville artists and helping to protect the National Parks at the same time!
From ADG founder Joel Anderson and his sons Nathan, David, and Benji—who love to hike and shoot reference photos in the Parks as often as possible—"We hope you keep your spirits up while you are confined to your healthy space. Go online, read books, and dream BIG about which National Parks you'd like to visit later this year. Once you have decided where to go, we hope you will celebrate your travels with our National Park art!"
See you at one of the 62,
Anderson Design Group Writing Staff