Activities & Adventure 14 MINS READ

The 15 Best National Parks in The USA

The 15 Best National Parks in The USA

Activities & Adventure 14 MINS READ
Hiker at sunset in North Cascades National Park, USA

Spanning across several miles of acres, the United State’s national parks are the perfect destinations for the adventure-seekers who are hailing from concrete jungles and seeking to experience nature in all its glory. 

Home to a wide variety of wooshing features, from century-old glaciers and active volcanoes to pristine lakes and emerald-green forests, the country’s 63 national parks are simply the perfect setting for a nature-centric vacation. 

Whether you’re dreaming of hiking challenging trails or stargazing in the desert, you’re sure to find a national park that is just perfect for you.

To help you make up your mind, and pick your next destination, we’ve rounded up the 15 best national parks in the USA. Have a look at the list below and take your pick!

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Sprague Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado.

Why Visit It: 

Located in north-central Colorado, the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is an otherworldly destination crammed with an array of natural features. While exploring this bountiful national park, visitors will come across immense protected mountains, alpine tundras, emerald-green forests, and mountain lakes.

These untouched natural environments are safe havens for several animal species, including endangered creatures like the Canada Lynx, the Mexican Spotted Owl, and the North American Wolverine.

When To Visit: 

The RMNP has something that offers possibilities of things to do at every time of the year. For comfortable weather and fewer crowds, visit the park during the spring. June to September when the snow is completely melted, and the majority of the roads and trails are open, is also a prime time to go to the national park.

Top Things To Do: 

Visitors can explore the park’s immense natural beauty through 355 miles of hiking trails, which range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs, or through scenic drives on the local road system. While meandering through the roads of the Rocky Mountains, expect to marvel at lowland meadows, sparkling rivers, and subalpine forests. All that at more than 12,000 feet in elevation!

Other activities on offer include wildlife viewing — the park is home to 60 species of mammals, 280 recorded bird species, and 11 species of fish —picnicking, stargazing, fishing, and camping.

Recommended Read: The Best Waterfall Hikes In The Rocky Mountain National Park

Find Places To Stay in Colorado, USA

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

A young woman travels Bryce Canyon national park in Utah, United States.

Why Visit It:

The Bryce Canyon National Park is a sight to behold. Gloriously located in southern Utah, this gorgeous wonderland welcomes over two million visitors each year thanks to its heavenly natural beauty that encompasses the largest collection of hoodoos (spiral-shaped rock formations) in the world.

Thanks to its high elevation and clean air, this eye-popping national park also boasts one of the darkest night skies in the country, making it a prime location for stargazing, aside from being home to more than 100 species of birds, dozens of mammals, and more than a thousand plant species.

When To Visit:

Boasting luminous and pleasant weather, May through September is a great time for visiting the Bryce Canyon National Park. However, this is peak season, which means more crowds and higher rates. If you want to avoid the summer tourist season, visit the park in April or October.

Top Things To Do:

Covering 35,835 acres, the Bryce Canyon National Park graces visitors with a plethora of exciting things to do. Outdoor enthusiasts can uncover the park through the local hiking trails, which range from easy to strenuous or explore Bryce Canyon from the back of a horse.

The most adventurous visitors will also love camping on the park’s designated sites, which offers the perfect opportunity to spend a few days surrounded by wildlife.

During your visit, expect to get face to face with a variety of wild creatures like mountain lions, coyotes, squirrels, and black bears!

Find Places To Stay in Utah, USA

Yosemite National Park, California

The Yosemite National Park in California, United States

Why Visit It:

Thanks to the grandeur of its mountains, lush forested valleys, towering sequoias, extensive meadows, and pristine waterfalls, the Yosemite National Park is often regarded as one of the most romantic getaways In Northern California. 

Nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the US and captivates visitors with 750 miles of scenic trails, and other stunning natural features like a massive sequoia grove (Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias), snow-powdered peaks, glaciers, and gorgeous granite cliffs.

When To Visit:

Late spring, especially May, is a prime time for visiting Yosemite National Park. The weather is pleasantly hovering around 20ºC, the flowers are blooming, the waterfalls are on their pick, and the summer crowds have not yet arrived. 

Top Things To Do:

The variety of things to do in Yosemite is so gloriously wide, that visitors have no trouble filling up the itinerary when visiting the park. 

Adventure-lovers who are seeking to experience nature in a unique way can take the opportunity to go camping in the park, and spend days on end hiking on the local trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, and fishing.

When the nice weather descends, don’t miss the chance to indulge in a variety of water activities like swimming, kayaking, boating, and rafting.

Couples who want to dial up the romance factor to a ten will have a memorable time while stargazing at Yosemite’s breathtaking night sky, which gets completely dotted with twinkling stars!

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Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Why Visit It:

Encompassing the major peaks of the 40-mile-long Teton Range, in northwestern Wyoming, the Grand Teton National Park is a true playground for mountain lovers. The park’s jaw-dropping mountainous scenery is embellished with crystalline alpine lakes, ancient rocks, and a diverse array of wildlife, including over 300 bird species.

When To Visit: 

Mid-May to late September when the days are sunny, the night skies are clear, and the humidity is low is a great time for visiting Grand Teton National Park.

Top Things To Do: 

A mecca for mountain enthusiasts, the Great Teton National Park is the perfect place for adrenaline-filled activities such as hiking, climbing, and mountaineering. 

But there are gentler options, too! Those include wildlife viewing sessions — expect to see grizzly and black bears, bison, moose, elk, pronghorn, and more —, scenic drives, fishing, and boating.

Find Places To Stay In Wyoming, USA

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park in Washington State, USA

Why Visit It:

Diversity sets the tone of the Olympic National Park, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Protecting more than 900,000 acres, the park encompasses four regions —  the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west-side temperate rainforest, and old-growth forests — and three distinct ecosystems. Not by chance, it’s a perfect destination for those who want to experience nature in all of its glory.

Wildlife comes in a spectacular variety in the Olympic National Park, as the local ecosystems are inhabited by hundreds of creatures, including over 300 species of birds, and mammals like ground squirrels, red foxes, coyotes, and grizzly bears.

When To Visit:

Summer is a great time to visit the Olympic National Park. The weather is warm, the trails are clear, and the night sky is simply perfect for stargazing sessions.

Top Things To Do:

With such a diversity of ecosystems, Olympic National Park, it’s not a surprise that the Olympic National Park offers a wide variety of things to do. Visitors can explore de tide pools at Kalaloch’s Beach 4 and Mora’s Hole in the Wall, go on adventurous hikes on the temperate forests, stargaze on the mountain peaks, and go fishing.

Find Places to Stay in Washington, USA

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

People canoeing in the Colorado River, in the Grand Canyon National Park.

Why Visit It:

Located in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park comprises endless miles of layered bands of red rock that depict millions of years of geological history. The park’s most prominent feature is the Grande Canyon, which is a majestic water-carved canyon, and it’s home to a wide variety of wild creatures. 

While exploring the park, which was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, visitors can come across almost 500 species of birds, several mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

When To Visit:

Spring (March through May), and fall (September through November) is a great time for visiting the Grand Canyon. The daytime temperatures are brisk, and crowds are thin if compared to the summertime.

Top Things To Do: 

Walking and hiking are the most popular activities for those who visit the Grand Canyon. Exploring the park on foot is the best way of marveling at the multitude of majestic red rocks framed by the sun-drenched desert.

Find Places To Stay in Arizona, USA

Zion National Park, Utah

Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah

Utah’s first national park, the Zion National Park is a wonderland encompassing massive pinkish sandstone cliffs, high plateaus, gorgeous canyons, springs, and waterfalls, which are a true sight to behold.

While the billion old geological features are the main attraction of the park, there are several natural marvels to be uncovered there. Zion’s diverse topography is home to an array of wild species, from mule deers to foxes, aside from a variety of habitats like a desert, woodlands, and river banks, making this park a playground for nature lovers.

When To Visit:

Although the park is open year-round, the most popular time for visiting is April through October. In case you’re looking for a quieter time away from the crowds, off-peak months of October through March are the best time to visit.

Top Things To Do:

The array of activities on offer in Zion National Park is wide and generous. Adventurous visitors can go backpacking, cycling, camping, canyoneering, and even horseback riding in the park.

Zion is home to 291 species of birds, making it a prime location for bird watching.

Find Places To Stay in Utah, USA

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Why Visit It: 

Home to more than 700 miles of scenic trails, the Glacier National Park, in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, is a mecca for hikers who are seeking an authentic experience in the midst of nature.

While walking throughout the park, expect to catch a glimpse of sky-high mountains, spectral forests, alpine meadows, turquoise lakes, and other pristine ecosystems.

The most fantastic feature of this beguiling national park, however, is the collection of massive glinting glaciers that began forming million years ago.

When To Visit:

 June through September is the best time to visit Glacier, as it’s when the weather is pleasant and the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road  — a scenic mountain road in the park —  is open.

Top Things To Do:

With endless miles of otherworldly trails for all levels, Glacier National Park is a match made in heaven for hikers. Other exciting activities on offer include backcountry camping, biking, fishing, and boating.

Find Places To Stay in Montana, USA

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring seen in Yellowstone National Park.

Why Visit It:

Visited by millions of people each year, Yellowstone National Park should be on every nature’s enthusiast bucket list. The oldest national park in the United States, Yellowstone spreads across nearly 3,500-sq.-miles, mostly in Wyoming, but also in Montana and Idaho.

Some of the park’s most eye-popping natural features include alpine rivers, stunning canyons, hot springs, geysers, extensive grasslands, and several geological wonders that are worth being seen.

When To Visit:

While winter and spring are the best time to visit Yellowstone to avoid crowds, summer (mid-June to mid-September) offers the best weather conditions for explorings the park.

Top Things To Do:

There are several ways to explore and experience the magnificence of Yellowstone. Visitors can indulge in nearly 1,000 miles of trails, bike, ride a horse, have scenic picnics, boat, and go wildlife watching. 

Find Places To Stay in Montana, USA

Acadia National Park, Maine 

Acadia National Park, Maine

Why Visit It:

Diversity is the hallmark of the Acadia National park. Located along the mid-section of the Maine coast, the park encompasses a variety of habitats, including dense forests and woodlands, more than 20 mountains, nearly 64 miles of coastline, and century-old granites.

Home to several wild creatures, from whales to moose and bears, the Acadia National Park draws almost 4 million visitors a year, and it’s one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States. 

When To Visit:

The best time for visiting the Acadia National Park is September through October. The weather is brisk, yet pleasant, the summer crowds are gone, and visitors can catch a glimpse of the radiant fall foliage. 

Top Things To Do:

With such a diverse amount of things to do, it’s not a surprise that Acadia has something to offer everyone. Adrenaline junkies can go biking in more than 40 miles of historic carriage roads, or hike their way through forests, rugged coastlines, and mountainous peaks.

Gentler options for those who prefer a quieter time around nature also abound in Acadia. Not by chance, the park is considered one of the best destinations for kid and family-friendly vacations in the US. Activities include stargazing, swimming in Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach, and exploring the park’s tidepools.

Find Places to Stay in Maine, US

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The Milky Way's Arch above Joshua Tree

Why Visit It:

Spread across nearly 800,00 acres in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a true natural marvel. The park is a patchwork of ecosystems comprising both Colorado and the Mojave deserts, and the Little San Bernardino Mountains. 

But the park’s most instantly recognizable features, unarguably, the Joshua Trees, a picturesque looking plant known for its twisted and spiky shape. Other wooshing attractions of the Joshua Tree National Park include fascinating geologic formations, like granite monoliths, rugged canyons, sand dunes, dry lakes, and more.

When To Visit:

Spring is a great time to visit Joshua Tree. The weather is pleasant, the crowds are light, and the wildflowers are blooming.

Top Things To Do:

Boasting one of the darkest nights in Southern California, Joshua Tree is one of the best places for stargazing in the United States. Visitors can pitch a tent in one of the park’s campgrounds and spend the night marveling at the Milky Way with an unaided eye.

Adventure-seekers can also explore 300 miles of hiking trails, and go rock climbing, while wildlife-lovers can try to spot several species of bird, from white-crowned sparrow to the American robin.

Recommended Read: The Ultimate California Travel Guide 

Find Places To Stay in California, USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Landscape at Oconaluftee Overlook between Cherokee NC and Gatlinburg TN

Why Visit It:

If escaping to the great outdoors and enjoying nature at its best, the Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect place to go. The most visited national park in the United States, the “Smokies” is located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, and it’s renowned for comprising some of the highest mountains in eastern North America.

One of the best ways of experiencing the park is by hitting the local hiking trails, which lead to gorgeous views of waterfalls, old-growth forests, and towering mountains. While exploring the wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains, get ready to catch a glimpse of the famous American black bear — the park’s most famous resident — blooming wildflowers, and even historic buildings like houses, barns, and churches.

When To Visit:

October and November are some of the most amazing times for visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During these months, the weather is crisp, and visitors can enjoy sweeping views of the fall’s color explosion.

Top Things To Do:

While hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park, there are several other ways of enjoying nature in the Smoky Mountains. These include horseback riding, picnicking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Find Places to Stay in Tennessee, USA

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Gorgeous Crater lake on a summer day

Why Visit It:

Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is famous for being home to the wooshing caldera of Crater Lake, which was formed by the collapse of a massive volcano known as Mount Mazama approximately 7,700 years ago. Aside from the ever-blue lake — the deepest and most pristine in the United States —, the park also encompasses a variety of native plants, endless acres of old-growth forests, and pinnacles.

When To Visit:

Summer (July to early September), is the perfect time for visiting the Crater Lake National Park. The major local attractions, such as the Rim Drive, are open, the wildflowers are on their peak, and there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, and camping.

Top Things To Do:

From exploring ninety miles of trails that meander through dense forests to driving the historic 33-mile Rim Drive and exploring gorgeous landscapes, the Crater Lake National Park offers a variety of things to do.

Find Places To Stay in Oregon, USA

Everglades National Park, Florida

: Aerial view of the Ten Thousand Islands in Everglades National Park, Florida

Why Visit It:

The Everglades National Park is a prime destination for those who want to experience a different side of Florida. Away from the hustle and bustle of tempting cities like Miami, Everglades is a 1.5-million-acre wetland preserve that consists of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine Flatwoods that are inhabited by hundreds of animal species.

When To Visit:

November through April, when the humidity is low, as well as the mosquito levels, and the skies are clear, is the best time for visiting “The Everglades.”

Top Things To Do:

A great way of uncovering Everglades’ unbeatable collection of ecosystems is by going on a canoe and kayak trail. While meandering your way through the park’s water trails, you’ll be able to spot everything from cypress trees and mangroves, to small ponds and the open waters of Florida Bay. During the trip, expect to come across alligators, crocodiles, turtles, and several bird species.

Find Places To Stay in Florida, USA

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier and Eunice Lake as seen from Tolmie Peak

Why Visit It:

Fulfilling almost every idea of how a nature escape should be, the Mount Rainier National Park is a sprawling Washington state reserve located southeast of Seattle. The park’s crown jewel is the mighty Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot  active volcano framed by gorgeous valleys, sparkling waterfalls, subalpine meadows, glaciers, and endless acres of subalpine meadows.

When To Visit:

The summer months of July and August are the very best time for visiting Mount Rainier National Park, as the weather is luminous, the wildflowers are blooming, and the sky is clearer.

Top Things To Do:

There are several ways of enjoying the park’s immense natural beauty. One of the best is definitely wilderness hiking through the local trails, which leads visitors through a variety of ecosystems, from forest paths to subalpine ridges.

Find Places to Stay in Washington, USA

Frequently Asked Questions About National Parks in The USA

What are the most beautiful national parks in the USA?

From the West Coast to the East Coast, the United States is filled with some of the most awe-inspiring National parks in the world. The most beautiful are Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Olympic National Park.

What is the most visited national park in the USA?

Welcoming over 12 million people a year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States.

What is the oldest national park in the USA?

Yellowstone, which was designated as the first national park in the United States — and in the world — by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.

Which U.S. state has the most national parks?

California, which is home to nine of the country’s 423 national parks.

How many national parks there are in the United States?

There are 63 National Parks in the United States.

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