25 Best National Parks in the US you must visit once in your life

best national parks in the us

Are you looking for the best National Parks in the US to visit?

The US National Parks are unique natural wonders in the world; all so different with its own beauty. If you are thinking of visiting one of them, here you have all the info you need to enjoy your trip to the fullest!

Did you know that to visit all these national treasures you would need to travel to 29 states and 2 US territories?

Map of the Best National Parks in the US

25 Best National Parks of USA

Here you have the list of the best National Parks in the USA to visit in 2020:

Most beautiful National Parks in the US

Acadia National Park Bar Harbor, Maine

This Northeast USA National Park offers something for everyone, incredibly diverse landscapes and one of the first places to see the sunrise each day.

An ideal trip to Acadia would include a drive through Acadia’s Scenic Park Loop Road, a continuous 27 miles’ route that includes a ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain for sunrise or sunset.

american national parks_Acadia National Park

While visiting the park, make sure to make time to indulge in Popovers at Jordan Pond House. This is a perfect place to refuel after a morning hike and prior to afternoon adventures.

After enjoying popovers at Jordan Pond House, head over to Bar Harbor to take advantage of low tide and walk across the sand bar.

Approximately 1.5 hours before and after low tide, the Bar, the namesake of Bar Harbor, a sandbar, reveals itself and is used by kayakers to easily launch into the harbor or by hikers who wish to explore Bar Island which is part of Acadia National Park, northwest of the Town pier.

Access to the bar is through Bridge Street, but let me caution you to keep an eye on the tide as a water taxi would cost $150.00 if you get stuck on the other side.

Make sure to start your Acadia trip at the Hull Cove Visitor Center and make sure to explore Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Eagle Lake and the most photographed, The Bass Harbor Lake Lighthouse.

Ruth Mendes – Have Kiddos Will Travel

Big Bend National Park

us national parks map_Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US for lovers of the outdoors. This tiny national park is hard to get to, which means you’ll be able to enjoy it without crowds.

Once you’ve made your way to this isolated corner of West Texas, you’ll be welcomed by some of the best hikes in Big Bend. You can choose one of the trails in the Chisos Mountains or along the Rio Grande (both excellent options on hot sunny days) or through the desert (best saved for cooler winter months).

Big Bend lies on the southern border with Mexico, making a day trip across the border one of the best activities here. Bring your passport and spend the day in the tiny Mexican village, Boquillas del Carmen.

There is official accommodation at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, but cheaper lodging can be found in nearby Terlingua. This ghost town is just 20 minutes from the park’s main gates and is a tourist destination all on its own.

Erin Mushaway – Sol Salute

Bryce Canyon

best national parks in the usa_Bryce Canyon National Park

One of the best places to visit in the United States is Bryce Canyon. This is one of the smaller national parks, but it is also one of the most stunning.

The main attraction is Bryce Amphitheater (also called the Silent City). This large bowl-like canyon is crammed with hoodoos (stone pillars). It is an incredible, alien landscape.

There is an easy trail along the rim and several key vantage points, including Sunrise, Sunset and Inspiration Points, for great views. However, hiking down into the hoodoos really gives a sense of how spectacular they are.

There are several main hikes in Bryce Canyon, but the Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop Trail is perhaps the best and most popular trail in the park.

The other main thing to do is to drive from the main area to the end of the road at Rainbow Point, stopping off at the multiple lookouts and viewpoints along the way.

For evening entertainment, there is a western show near Ruby’s just outside the park that is a fun way to unwind after a day’s hiking.

James Stakenburg – Travel Collecting

Canyonlands National Park

While it’s the 23rd largest national park in the United States, Canyonlands National Park in Utah can seem much, much bigger because it’s sazo dispersed.

The Colorado and Green Rivers, along with their tributaries, divide the park into four districts: The Needles, Island in the Sky, The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon Unit. Parts of Canyonlands National Park are remote and challenging to reach – perfect for those looking for a wild backcountry adventure.

national parks in northern california_Canyonlands

Whichever part of the park you’re most interested in, you should certainly include Canyonlands on a Utah national parks road trip.

The most accessible part of Canyonlands is Island in the Sky. Just 40 miles from the city of Moab, it’s home to the popular Mesa Arch. This arch is like a window frame capturing the stunning scene that stretches out below as far as the eye can see.

Most people visit Mesa Arch at sunrise, but the views are spectacular at sunset, too. It’s an easy half-mile hike to the arch from the main road.

The Needles area of Canyonlands has some great hiking, including the easy, 2.4-mile Slickrock trail or the more strenuous Chesler Park trail. It’s quite a detour off Highway 191 but worth the visit.

The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon Unit are the most remote parts of Canyonlands National Park. Because of the difficulty in reaching and getting around The Maze, you’ll need to plan for at least three days in the district. It’s only suitable for 4WD vehicles and experienced drivers and backpackers.

Just north of The Maze lies Horseshoe Canyon, most well-known for its well-preserved and intricate rock art.

Rebecca Arnold – Rebecca and the World

Capitol Reef National Park

While Zion and Arches get all the attention, Capitol Reef is really the unsung hero of any Utah National Parks road trip. While lines of cars pile up at other park entrances, there’s not even a kiosk here.

Highway 24 runs through the entirety of the park and the cleverly named Scenic Drive is another fantastic way to see all the slickrock, slot canyons, and Navajo sandstone formations that have withstood the ages.

all national parks in the us_Capitol Reef

Hikes like the Upper Muley Twist Canyon and Rim Overlook & Navajo Knobs will allow you to get up high and see what could be so impressive about the Waterpocket Fold – a 160km bend in the earth’s crust. And perhaps the strangest thing to do in Capitol Reef is to pick fruit from one of the 3,000 fruit trees.

Despite the fact that most of the park is an arid desert, between June to October, you’ll find the Fruita Rural Historic District to be a desert oasis.

It’s possible to book a day tour from Salt lake City and visit the most important spots of the national park.

Stay the night and experience one of the most truly underrated National Parks in the US.

Taylor – Travel Outlandish

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

You’d be hard-pressed to find a destination more beautiful than Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, home to the spectacular “Deep Blue Lake” that a gold prospector simply stumbled upon in 1853.

Revel in the views of this true-blue gem from every angle as you drive or take a ranger-narrated trolley tour around the lake along 33-mile Rim Drive.

As you circumnavigate Crater Lake, stop at as many of the 30+ overlooks as you can. It’s one of the most popular things to do at Crater Lake.

Watchman Overlook is a favorite for unmatched views of Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone that erupted from Crater Lake some 7,000 years ago.

Book a two-hour Crater Lake boat tour to cruise the perimeter of this clear-blue lake for up-close views of Wizard Island and Phantom Ship, a unique geological rock formation. If you have more time, the five-hour cruise to Wizard Island allows you three hours to explore the rugged island and savor the panoramic views.

If you really want to see Oregon’s National Park from a new perspective with a professional naturalist guide, book a 8-hour Crater Lake Private Tour.

Erin – Kidventurous

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon is one of the least visited National Monuments in the country, and yet it is completely out of this world.

About a 3.5-hour drive from Boise, Idaho, Craters of the Moon is a great destination for either a day trip or a weekend camping getaway!

The actual park itself isn’t that big. If you drive around the whole loop without stopping, it takes about an hour and a half, two hours’ tops. But Craters of the Moon goes deeper than that. Literally.

Craters of the Moon is a giant lava bed complete with numerous caves to explore! Cave exploration is completely self-guided, but there is a safety debriefing at the visitor center where headlamps can be rented! The park also has dozens of trails that wind through the lava fields!

There aren’t any cafes or food services on the park grounds, so be sure to pack plenty of snacks or food for the campsite. The main draw to the park, aside from it’s otherworldly charm, is the limited crowds.

You can find an entire campsite to yourself in the offseason, and truly embrace nature at its fullest without having to elbow through tour bus drop-offs.

One of the best experiences is spending the night in a tent under the stars. If you don’t know which tent to buy, don’t miss this ultralight tents guide.

Kay– The Awkward Traveller

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower is located in Northeastern, Wyoming. Although the name of this monument is slightly controversial, it is considered one of the places to visit in the US. What makes Devils Tower unique is the spectacular butte, from which the park draws its name.

This incredible tower is made from igneous rocks, and it soars more than 1267 feet into the air. This formation was created millions of years ago when boiling lava shot up from the earth’s core and into the upper layers of the earth’s surface. Over time these layers wore away, and the tower as we know it today was revealed.

According to some local travel guides, it is an essential part of Native American culture; More precisely for the Lakota people, who have many myths and legends surrounding the formation of Devils Tower. It was the first United States National Monument and was established in September 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. You may recognize this monument from the Steven Spielberg movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” where it was featured predominantly.

One reason why you should visit the park is that it one of the best places to go rock climbing in America. For the free solo climbers out there, you may not find a more spectacular place to rock climb in the world, not even at African National Parks. The abundance of wildlife such as bald eagles, prairie dogs, and white-tailed deer, is an added perk. For an experience of a lifetime, visit the Devils Tower!

Lydia – Africa Wanderlust

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most remote National Parks in the US. It is located around 80 miles southwest of Key West, Florida.

Because of its remote location, you can expect to find a pristine landscape that offers an adventure of a lifetime. You can join the guided tour of historic Fort Jefferson, or simply enjoy the white-sand beach with crystal-clear, blue water.

If you want to take advantage of the water, you can go swimming and snorkeling in Dry Tortugas. You can also arrange a kayaking tour if you bring your own kayaks on the ferry, as well as camping on this pristine land.

To get to Dry Tortugas National Park, you can start your journey in Key West with either the Yankee Freedom III ferry or via a seaplane for a day trip.

Halef and Michael – The Round The World Guys

Everglades National Park

usa national parks tours_Everglades

Covering the southern tip of Florida in the US, the Everglades National Park is so much more than the ’river of grass’ and alligators. Sadly, over 50% has been lost to development and agriculture, however, the 1.5 million acres that remain are incredible to explore. And the adjacent Big Cypress Preserve adds even more area to explore.

Everglades National Park is in the sub-tropics with only two seasons. The wet season starts in April and can last through November. During this time of year, it can get extremely buggy with mosquitoes and no-see-ums, and hiking trails can be underwater or too muddy to hike. But paddling that time of year and wildlife viewing from a kayak is pretty amazing.

The dry season from November through March is when the Glades come alive with migratory and shorebirds including herons and egrets. The days are warm but not nearly as hot as in the summer.

So it’s important to plan your visit to coincide with the time of year when most wildlife can be observed, and outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and kayaking can be enjoyed.

With such diversity of ecosystems within the park, there are so many things to do in the Everglades. There are opportunities for birdwatchers, nature lovers, campers, hikers, and kayakers.

Stop into a visitors’ center or do a guided tour to learn more. Or take an airboat ride or kayak tour to see areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. Whatever your interests, the Everglades offers unparalleled outdoor activities and raw, natural beauty.

Lori – Travlinmad

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park in Montana is one of America’s most beautiful and popular natural wonders. With over 740 miles of trails it’s a hikers’ paradise and with the abundance of wildlife roaming the 1489 sq. miles of valleys and dense forests, there’s ample opportunity to pull out the camera and binoculars.

Join an expert guide on a Morning Nature Walk or book a Half-Day Whitewater Rafting Trip.
us national parks road trip_Glacier National Park

Sadly, the active glaciers for which the park is named, are diminishing but there are still several to be seen along with idyllic meadows, turquoise lakes, waterfalls, rugged mountain peaks, and glacial valleys.

If you only do one thing in Glacier National Park it should be to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road which offers some of the most exceptional scenery in the United States.

When it comes time to rest after a day of adventure consider staying in one of the historic lodges within the park or opt for one of the many options in nearby Whitefish or East Glacier.

Sarah Hughes – Live, Dream, Discover

Grand Canyon National Park

Visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona is a bucket list item for many people.  Over 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year, one of the top national parks in the US.

The Grand Canyon National Park is located in the Northwest of Arizona near Flagstaff.  You could spend several days visiting the Grand Canyon and going to both the North Rim and the South Rim of the canyon.

My favorite spot is the Grand Canyon viewpoints on the South Rim.  Hopi Point is the best Grand Canyon lookout point because it offers unobstructed views of the canyon.

At Hopi Point you can view the mesas in the canyon, the Colorado River, and it is the perfect place for sunset.  Do note though this is a very popular place to visit along the west rim of the Grand Canyon.

No matter where you decide to visit in the Grand Canyon it is sure to be an amazing experience.

Nicole LaBarge – American SW

Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor to the north, Yellowstone National Park. However, Grand Teton has a unique beauty of its own with the bonus of far fewer crowds. There are so many things to do in Grand Teton National Park including hiking, history, wildlife watching, and cowboy culture.

The star of the park is the Teton Mountain Range. These craggy and snow-covered peaks dominate the western skyline. The easiest way to experience the mountains is to drive the scenic park roads. There are lots of roadside pullouts with great views of the mountains. Glacier View Turnout and Teton Point Turnout were two of my favorite stops.

To get a little closer to the mountains, head to the Jenny Lake area. You can take a short boat cruise on the lake, then go for an easy hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. More adventurous hikers can walk all the way around the lake or up into the nearby mountains.

Photographers shouldn’t miss the historic barns on Mormon Row. The weathered wooden barns stand out in contrast to the majestic mountain backdrop. It’s especially beautiful in the pink light of sunrise.

Taryn – Happiest Outdoors

Haleakala National Park, Maui

Haleakala National Park is located on the Hawaiian Island of Maui and is home to the dormant volcano Haleakala. There are several ways to experience this rugged landscape and explore this beautiful park, one of the most beautiful national parks in the US.

One of the best ways to experience Haleakala National Park is to watch the sunrise above the clouds at 10,000 feet on top of Haleakala Crater.

Book here an 8-hour Sunrise & Breakfast Tour to Haleakala National Park where you will watch the most breathtaking sunrise on Mt. Haleakala!

If you’re not a morning person then watch the sunset below the clouds but don’t forget a sweatshirt because yes at 10,000 feet, it gets cold on Maui!

If you’d rather explore with a ‘hands-on’ approach, there are several hikes inside the park that will leave you speechless. Traverse the crater floor on the Sliding Sands Trail to feel like you stepped foot onto Mars. Or hike the 4-mile round trip Pipiwai Trail through bamboo forests and past ancient banyan trees to a 400-foot waterfall that will give you the ultimate Hawaiian experience.  

However, you choose to experience Haleakala National Park you won’t be disappointed and it will be a highlight of your trip to Maui.

Jess – I’m Jess Traveling

Joshua Tree National Park

must see national parks_Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park in California is a must-see park thanks to its unique and striking scenery.

Scattered across the park’s desert landscape are larger-than-life boulders, stands of furry-looking cholla cactus, hidden palm oases, and spiky-leafed Joshua Trees.

The park can be enjoyed with a scenic drive from one end to the other, stopping at impressive viewpoints along the way. However, the best way to experience the park’s exceptional setting is to embark on some of the nature trails or longer hiking routes.

Depending on the trail you choose, you could come across a palm oasis, ancient petroglyphs, skull-shaped boulder, cactus garden, or rock-framed reservoir.

JT National Park is located in southeastern California, about an hour drive from Palm Springs. Since the park is so big and there are several trails to explore, you should dedicate a full day to see the park. Besides, you can find here where to stay in Joshua Tree National Park, including camping, glamping and best hotels in and around the park.

Rhonda – Travel? Yes Please!

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park 

national parks and monuments_Monument Valley

Arizona’s Monument Valley has an otherworldly feel and it’s one of the prettiest national parks in the US. Towering sandstone rock formations decorate the red dirt of the vast valley, where visitors can drive the 17-mile loop road to explore the stunning landscape.

Monument Valley is often mistaken for a national park, but it’s actually within the Navajo Nation and is owned and operated by the Navajo tribe. Which is what makes visiting the park so special: The opportunity to learn about the land from the descendants of its original inhabitants.

Incredible local guides (we recommend Navajo Spirit Tours) can take visitors to parts of the park that are only accessible on Navajo-led tours. Driving the main loop road is great, but if you don’t take a tour then you’re missing out!

Book here a 3-Hour Sunset Tour of Monument Valley to watch the park with the most beautiful colors of the day!

They’ll reveal the best spots to snap perfect photos and fill you in on the history of every landmark you see, all while explaining the intricacies of Navajo life and culture.

Visit Monument Valley not only to take in the iconic landscape but also to connect with the Indigenous people who have always called it home.

Emily – Two Dusty Travelers

Pictured Rocks National Shoreline

Pictured Rocks

Although Pictured Rocks is called a National Shoreline, in essence, it is a National Park running along the southern coast of Lake Superior.

It is not one of the big park names that everyone knows, so it does not get the huge crowds many parks draw.  Yet, with its unique and stunning landscape, full services, and diverse things to do, we think it is one of the best places to visit in the US. 

Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake, influences area weather and is often a reckoning force. Its power carved the colorful sandstone formations and cliffs along the shore, the pictured rocks, and it caused at least 20 shipwrecks in seafaring days.

The 2-hour boat tour to discover the beautiful formations with their fanciful names, like Miner’s Castle and Battleship Row, or the glass bottom boat tour to see the ship skeletons beneath the water, are favorite things to do. 

Other ways to enjoy the water include sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and licensed scuba diving in the shipwreck area. 

There are plenty of things to do Pictured Rocks on land too. The 200 miles of hiking trails encompass a variety of environments, from wetlands, old-growth white pine forest, upland maple forest, sandstone canyons, and the biggest sand dunes you’ll ever see. These trails also lead to a plethora of overlooks, waterfalls, and beaches. 

There are also a number of Ranger-led activities, including serenity beach walks, lantern walks, lighthouse tours, wilderness canoe adventures, and a Junior Ranger Program for the youngsters.

Roxanna – Gypsy With a Day Job

Rocky Mountain National Park

best national parks for hiking_Rocky Mountain National Park

If you’re looking for classic high alpine views and incredible wildlife viewing, you’ve got to check out Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, one of the coolest national parks in the US.

Located just outside of Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the best hikes in Colorado. Start your day off right with an easy sunrise stroll to Dream Lake. Living up to its namesake, this lake boasts unbeatable sunrise views.

Continue along Trail Ridge Road (open during the summer only) for incredibly scenic views. You can stop at many spots along the road to soak in dramatic scenes of the Continental Divide and even hike along some of the Rocky Mountain National Park’s best hiking trails. You’re sure to spot wildlife as the park is home to a variety of animals such as black bears, bighorn sheep, rams, elk, and moose.

Avid hikers and seasoned mountain climbers will love the endless opportunities for rock climbing, alpine climbing, and even summiting one of Colorado’s most famous 14ers (14,000 -foot peaks) Long’s Peak.

Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect place to have a real wilderness adventure. Just keep in mind that many of the park’s busiest trailheads fill up quickly, so you may need to bus into the park if you plan to arrive later in the day.

As always, remember to leave it better than you found it. Pack out all trash, including things like banana peels and apple cores. Don’t feed or approach the wildlife (it’s dangerous and harms the animals), stay on the trail, and follow all signage and ranger instructions.

Meg Atteberry – Fox in the Forest

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park is a must-see U.S. National Park. It may be one of the most overlooked parks in the country, but it should be on your radar.

Located in south-central Colorado, just north of the city of Alamosa, Sand Dunes National Park is something out of this world. Some of the sand dunes reach as high as 700+ feet.

With so much open space and dunes, you can easily pick out a dune and make it yours for the day. If you are adventurous, then try out sandboarding! But be sure to rent one of the specialized boards or sleds because they are uniquely made for sand surfaces.

Another cool thing about this park is that it is technically open 24 hours. The park is just as fun to enjoy at night as it is during the day. With little light pollution in south-central Colorado, the sand dunes are an amazing place to sit out at night and enjoy the stars.  

Josh & Liz – Peanuts or Pretzels Travel

Sequoia National Park, CA

Sequoia National Park, United States

Sequoia National Park is nestled into the tall Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California. It’s one of the must-see natural wonders of California!

The big draw of this California National Park is that it’s home to the largest trees in the world! The groves of sequoias here are absolutely massive, and the park is home General Sherman, which is the tree with the most mass in the whole world. Its diameter reaches over 100 feet!

Other than marvel at the massive Sequoia trees, you can also do a lot of hiking in Sequoia National Park. There are quite a few trails winding through the trees and over beautiful viewpoints, snaking their way up granite outcroppings like Morro Rock (one of the most popular hikes). From here you’ll be able to look out over all the southern sierras and even get a view of the peak of Mt Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48.

Sequoia National Park is a great addition to any California road trip itinerary and is a natural stopover between Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park or Los Angeles. More roads will be open if you go in the summer.

Kimmie Conner – Adventures & Sunsets Blog

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a fantastic underrated national park that is located in Virginia. This national park is a great place to visit in the Summer and Fall. There are countless trails to explore and many areas to watch the sunset.

One of the main highlights of this national park is the Skyline Drive, which runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even if you are not an avid hike, it is so easy to experience this national park. All you have to have to do is drive down Skyline Drive and take in all the beauty at all the overlooks.

One of the most popular trails in the Shenandoah National Park is the Old Rag Loop Trail. This trail is a distance of 9.2 miles, elevation gain of 2,380 feet, and is listed as strenuous. Why is it so popular if it is so difficult? Mainly because of all the scrambles throughout the hike!

Towards the peak of the trail, you have to scramble up some rocks to get to the top. It is an enjoyable yet challenging hike. It is one of the best things to do in Shenandoah National Park.

Michelle Stelly – The Wandering Queen

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the only national park in North Dakota and is one of the hidden gems in the U.S. It is such a beautiful part of the country that not many people get to experience due to its remote location.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located near the border of Montana and sits just outside of the charming western town of Medora. This little town surprisingly has some delicious burgers, ice cream, and a very popular musical production during the summer months.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has a few hiking trails, but my favorite was the Painted Canyon Nature Trail that starts right at the Visitor’s Center and takes you on a gradual descent into the canyon. There you will see tall prairie grass, bushes, and desert-like rock formations while you are walking amidst the streaks of color “painted” on the canyon.

In addition, there are two scenic driving loops to view the landscape, bison, wild horses, and prairie dogs that roam the area.

While not as popular as other national parks out West, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the best places to visit in the U.S. because you can take a quiet moment to appreciate just how grand this land of ours truly is and how small we are in comparison.

Margie DQ – DQ Family Travel

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is the original National Park.  The park was created on March 01, 1872. The park is a wonderland of natural wonders and wildlife. The park offers a range of things to do for everyone from geyser gazers to wildlife lovers to hikers.

First-time visitors to Yellowstone should plan on spending a couple of days in the park.  The park is massive and while it is possible to do the Grand Loop in one day. It is much less stressful to take your time and plan on spending a day in each of the park’s four main areas – Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Canyon.

Old Faithful is home to the Upper Geyser Basin and the famed geyser Old Faithful. Old Faithful erupts on a predictable schedule of about every 90 minutes.  This Basin is home to the most active geysers in the world.

Mammoth Hot Springs is home to the great hot springs Terrance and has an amazing boardwalk around this unique geothermal formation.

Lamar Valley is often called the Serengeti of North America. Visitors often see bison, elk, wolves, and bears in this valley.

Yellowstone Canyon is home to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and some of the best hiking in the park. 

Jennifer Melroy – National Park Obsessed

Yosemite, one of the best National Parks in the US

One of the most popular visits on a West Coast USA road trip is the Yosemite National Park in California, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.

national parks in southern california_yosemite

If you are going to visit Yosemite, one of the most visited national parks in the US, keep in mind that you cannot access some of the most interesting areas due to the closure of roads in winter. The Tioga Road mountain road or the Mariposa Road area is closed in the winter months due to ice and snow.

Book here a day trip to Yosemite from San Francisco with guide and pickup included.

There are many things to do in Yosemite, but the essentials that you cannot miss are:

Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Yosemite Waterfalls (Yosemite has 3 of the highest waterfalls in the world), Mirror Lake, Tunnel View Viewpoint (where you have the best panoramic views of Yosemite Valley), Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point.

Sara – Mindful Travel

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in Utah around a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas.  It is a great park to visit with lots to see and do and a place you can easily spend 1 or 2 days. 

The park has a shuttle bus from the visitors’ center which takes you around the park with stops at all the trailheads so you don’t have to worry about finding a parking space.  Other option is booking a full-day tour from Las Vegas.

Zion National Park, United States

The most popular hikes are The Narrows and Angels Landing. The Narrows is a hike through the river up to Orderville Canyon which takes around 2 hours one way.  It’s not an easy hike as at some points you can be up to your neck in the water. You also need to make sure you have checked the weather forecast with the rangers beforehand to make sure no flash floods are expected. 

Angels Landing hike takes you high up in the park to 450m. It is a tough hike up the steep switchbacks and at some points, there are sheer drops. The views from the top though make it worth it.

If you are looking for something a little gentler, then the riverside walk to the start of the Narrows is a great 2.2 miles’ round trip and a very easy and gentle walk as well as the Pa-rus trail which runs along the river from the visitors’ center to Canyon Junction.

Clare – ilive4travel

U.S. National Parks Frequently Asked Questions

How many National Parks are in the US?

There are 62 national parks operated by the National Park Service (2019).

Which is the most beautiful national park in USA?

That’s difficult to answer! Every park has its own beauty. Which one do you like the most? From glaciers to deserts to majestic peaks, the national parks in the USA are diverse but equally beautiful.

What is the most visited National Park?

The top 5 most visited National Parks in the US are Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Zion National Park and Yellowstone National Park, in this order.

Who takes care of the national parks?

The National Park Service takes care of all national Parks in the US since 1916. In the NPS website you can find all the information about conservation, history, and passes.

What are the smallest national parks?

The smallest US National Park is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial covering just 0.02 acres.

What is the largest national park in the US?

The largest US National Park is the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve covering 13.2 million acres.

Which is the least visited US national park?

The 3 least visited National Parks in the US are located in Alaska: Gates of Arctic National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Kobuk Valley National Park.

What is the newest national park in the US?

The newest national park in the US is the Indiana Dunes National Park added in 2019.

Popular Tours to National Parks in the US

If you want to save time and visit several national parks in one trip, you can book one of the best valued tours by travelers:

Don’t forget Travel Insurance if visiting the US National Parks

I always travel with insurance, even if I travel inside my own country. 

No matter how well you plan and research a trip, there are always things that happen beyond your control. I had to use it several times and it saved my trip! 

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One response to “25 Best National Parks in the US you must visit once in your life”

  1. […] is not on the coast but it is an incredible place for nature lovers. Yosemite is one of the best National Parks in the US and it is located about 3 hours from San Francisco. Lakes, waterfalls, granite mountains, redwoods, […]

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