<p>Blue whales, manta rays, and whale sharks thrive in the plankton-rich environment of <a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150772-d152201-Reviews-Loreto_Bay_National_Marine_Park-Loreto_Baja_California.html" target="_blank">Loreto Bay National Marine Park</a> in the Sea of Cortez. The water’s often rough, but the abundance of outsized marine creatures, combined with the stunning scenery—desert landscapes flanking turquoise water—make this park a top spot for sea kayaking tours. (<a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/explore-la-paz-sea-of-cortez-trip" target="_blank">Dive into Mexico’s pristine Sea of Cortez</a>.)</p>

Sea Kayak, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Blue whales, manta rays, and whale sharks thrive in the plankton-rich environment of Loreto Bay National Marine Park in the Sea of Cortez. The water’s often rough, but the abundance of outsized marine creatures, combined with the stunning scenery—desert landscapes flanking turquoise water—make this park a top spot for sea kayaking tours. (Dive into Mexico’s pristine Sea of Cortez.)

Photograph by Andrew Peacock, Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

15 life-changing experiences in North America’s national parks

Make the most of your trip to these spectacular landscapes.

Travelers are dreamers who act on their inspirations. The new National Geographic book Epic Journeys: 245 Life-Changing Adventures is for the people who go beyond their comfort zones to experience the wild beauty of the natural world. The book features adrenaline-fueled forays to all seven continents. (See the most breathtaking national parks around the world.)

While the spirit of exploration spans the globe, being an intrepid traveler doesn’t have to mean summiting Mount Everest or surveying icebergs in Antarctica. Some of the planet’s wildest places—launchpads for all sorts of discoveries about the world and yourself—are in North America’s national parks. We’ve selected 15 mind-blowing adventures to inspire your inner explorer.

This story originally appeared in the October/November 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveler.
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