Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
This was the year Instagram grew up. The no-longer-only-square photo app added 100 million users, rolled out innovative ads to leading brands, and became a booming business for pro athletes, photographers, and other “influencers.”
The upside of all that growth? Innovative shots. And lots of data. To take advantage of both, we teamed up with Instagram to determine the most-photographed national parks of 2015. Here we present our favorite images from the 25 parks that appear most frequently in your photo feed.
25. Great Falls
The Potomac River rushes over jagged rocks in the Virginia park.
24. Lassen Volcanic
The dunes in this park appear to be painted red due to oxidized volcanic ash.
Visitors hiking the 12-mile Barnes Creek Trail get close-up views of wildflowers, young alder, and vine maple trees.
22. Hawaii Volcanoes
Visitors to the park are treated to the results of nearly 70 million years of eruptions and two active volcanoes, including Kīlauea, one of the most active in the world.
Bighorn sheep share the prairies with bison, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets.
20. Great Sand Dunes
Home to 750-foot-tall dunes, this Colorado park is framed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which reach 13,000 feet.
Pelicans bob in the Florida Bay along the Guy Bradley Trail, a one-mile stretch known for its bird and butterfly watching.
Hazel Mountain Overlook offers expansive views of Buck Ridge, Hazel Mountain, and, in the distance, Old Rag Mountain.
The Nenana River winds through wintry Alaskan mountains for over 40 miles through the park.
16. Mount Rainier
After hard rain, the weather clears enough to display a colorful sunset.
15. Death Valley
A lone figure walks the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
The Redwood Canyon Grove in this park is the largest sequoia grove on the planet.
Nate Levesque, a Maine-based photographer, snapped the stars over Little Hunter’s Beach on a clear night on the east side of the park.
12. Crater Lake
Photographer James Whelan captured this snowy view of Crater Lake at sunrise.
Fog rises off of Lake McDonald, a body of water that’s ten miles long, 500 feet deep, and was once covered by glaciers.
10. Grand Teton
Golden clouds are reflected in the ice of this frozen pond at Schwabacher Landing, home to beavers, ospreys, and spotted frogs.
9. Bryce Canyon
The park has the largest quantity of hoodoos or tent rocks—tall pillars of rock caused by erosion—in the world.
8. Great Smoky
While Great Smoky, which divides North Carolina and Tennessee, isn’t the most Instagrammed park, it is the most visited. Clingmans Dome, pictured here at sunrise, is the highest point in the park.
One of Utah’s most popular national parks, Arches, features over 2,000 natural red rock formations.
6. Joshua Tree
Lightning from an early-evening thunderstorm illuminates a yucca plant.
The Lion Geyser, named for the roaring sound it emits during an eruption, sends up white and black steam at sunset.
4. Rocky Mountain
Van-based adventure photographer Thomas Woodson skins up a run amidst the five commanding spires known as the Ptarmigan Towers.
Canyoneering the steep sandstone cliffs is a major draw for visitors of Utah’s first national park.
2. Grand Canyon
Mather Point at the South Rim is one of the most popular spots in the Arizona park to watch the sun set.
Climber Tommy Caldwell hangs from a rigged rope on the Dawn Wall route on El Capitan in California’s Yosemite, the most-Instagrammed national park of 2015. After 19 days, he and fellow climber Kevin Jorgeson completed the first free ascent of the route on January 14.
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