When you think of national parks, you may envision hikes surrounded by bison, bears and birds. But in some, there are 'trails' under water, where the flora and fauna are as great as anything on land.
Several US national parks are obvious choices for scuba diving, like Dry Tortugas’ reefs. However, these lesser-known spots often offer lower prices and fewer crowds.
Scuba through Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal features
Majestic geysers shooting from the earth are Yellowstone National Park’s claim to fame. But did you know you can experience these geothermal features from an underwater vantage point?
At 390ft (119 m) deep and 125 square miles (324 km), Yellowstone Lake is one of the world’s largest high-altitude lakes, and temperatures range from cold to scalding hot as vertical spires erupt.
Popular dive sites include West Thumb Geyser Basin, Firehole River at Mystic Falls, and vast fields of rising geothermic gas bubbles at Mary Bay that divers describe as "swimming through champagne."
New South Wales
Dive with sea lions in Redwood Forest National Park
Tall Trees Grove is a bucket-list hike, but if you look down rather than up, this park has other treats in store. Head to the shoreline of Gold Bluffs Beach, then take a dive boat out to Reading Rock.
Its underwater walls and ledges offer the best diving in the park, where you could encounter sea lions and even spot a shark. Redwood’s Wilson Creek Beach has easy shore diving on calm water days.
New South Wales
Observe arctic wildlife while diving in Glacier Bay National Park
Getting an avalanche report isn’t usually on the prep list for a dive trip. However, Glacier Bay National Park’s snowy surrounds are just as breathtaking below the surface.
You might think a summertime dive trip could offer warmer water and extended visibility in Alaska’s 20 hours of daylight, but that’s also when algae blooms can block the view.
Instead, go in mid-May to June or September through October. You’ll come face-to-face with rockfish and halibut at Libby Island, anemones and nudibranchs at The Laundry, or sea lions at Graves Rocks.
But the real star of Glacier Bay diving is South Marble Island. Huge white-plumed anemones wave at vibrant starfish, tube worms, triton snails and crabs, which are visited by pods of humpback whales.