Over the last five years, there have been more than 1.5 billion visits to America's grand national parks. Of course, the vast majority of these jaunts have taken place during the day, when lakes, mountains, canyons and wildlife are easy to explore. But in many ways, the real wonder begins once the sun has set.
Many of the northern parks, like Denali in Alaska and Yellowstone in Wyoming, feature spectacular northern lights displays. Iconic sights like erupting geysers and snow-capped peaks take on new beauty under the silvery light of the moon. And desolate parks like the Badlands and Death Valley can appear downright spooky...in a completely thrilling way.
Those who want to see what happens after dark can book camping trips, or enjoy special nighttime tours — including astronomy treks in Utah's Bryce Canyon, Milky Way jaunts in California's Joshua Tree, and twilight journeys to watch bats take flight in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns. There are even workshops for teaching national park night photography.
In other words: Forget the sunshine. Check out these spectacular images to see for yourself why nighttime is the best time for exploring national parks.