US National Parks List & Map (+ Printable Checklist & Map)

Our 63 US National Parks across America are a collection of some of the most pristine and beautifully preserved landscapes in the world. From sea to shining sea, nationally protected treasures are filled with stunning views, remarkable wildlife, and historic landmarks.

Explore America’s Wonders: Unveil, Scratch, and Discover with Our National Parks Lists & Map!

Discover America’s 63 National Parks: Diverse landscapes, endless adventure! From lush forests to rugged canyons, our parks offer hiking, camping, rafting, and more. Start exploring today!

The diverse landscapes are mind-blowing! A wide array of forests, vast canyons, and tranquil coastlines will captivate even the casual observer.

Are you seeking adventure? The opportunities are endless! Offering some of the best hiking, camping, backpacking trips, whitewater rafting, kayaking, stargazing, glamping, mountain biking, and rock climbing. There is even sand boarding and cave exploring (also known as caving or spelunking).

With this comprehensive national park guide, it is our mission to help you make the most of any cross-country road trip you may be planning, a visit to any of the 63 US National Parks or among the full list of all 429 National Park Service Units of the National Park Service (NPS).

These units include national monuments, national battlefields, national historic sites, national lakeshores, and, of course, the 63 official US National Parks.

This USA National Parks Ultimate Guide includes a printable checklist, map, and other great NP resources.

Explore America’s Wonders: Unveil, Scratch, and Discover with Our National Parks Lists & Map!

Discover America’s 63 National Parks: Diverse landscapes, endless adventure! From lush forests to rugged canyons, our parks offer hiking, camping, rafting, and more. Start exploring today!

Below is a list of all 63 US National Parks in America and US territories. We have visited many of them. A lot of them are linked to exciting articles (in blue font) and helpful resources!

US National Parks List of All 63 Parks

national parks map and list - printable checklist

Scroll below for free downloadable National Park maps, checklists, and more!

History of National Parks of the United States

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner famously said, “The National Parks are the best idea we ever had.”

America’s 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once famously said, “There is nothing so American as our national parks… The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”

His famous words still ring true today. America’s national parks genuinely are places of wonder enjoyed by millions of visitors each year. Have you ever wondered, though, how the National Park Service (NPS) as we know it today came about? The answer lies in a deep, rich, and exciting part of our nation’s history.

Establishment of the National Park Service (1916)

By August of 1916, the Department of Interior supervised 14 national parks, 21 national monuments, and the Hot Springs and Casa Grande Ruin reservations. However, there wasn’t a consolidated organization or form of leadership that operated them. Because of this lack of leadership, many parks and monuments were in danger from competing interests. 

Future park directors Stephen T. Mather and Horace Albright, as well as the National Geographic Society, journalists, railroad interests and other organizations, pushed for establishing an organization that would ultimately be in charge of the parks. 

Because of this, congress passed what is frequently referred to as the Organic Act. The Organic Act helped to establish the US National Parks Service and immediately put all current parks under its jurisdiction and management. This critical legislation helped set the stage for the NPS’s ultimate mission and helped exemplify its policies and philosophies. 

Want to know more about the history of our US National Parks? Read more here!

US NATIONAL PARKS LIST & SUMMARY (Information About All 63 Parks)

Below is a brief summary for each of the 63 US National Parks. It includes a short overview of the park, state it’s located in, year it was established, size of the park, best time to visit, top attractions and activities, wildlife to see, where to stay, and more!

CLICK on your favorite National Park below to quickly jump to the summary!

Table Of Contents
  1. 1. Acadia National Park
  2. 2. American Samoa National Park
  3. 3. Arches National Park
  4. 4. Badlands National Park
  5. 5. Big Bend National Park
  6. 6. Biscayne National Park
  7. 7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  8. 8. Bryce Canyon National Park 
  9. 9. Canyonlands National Park
  10. 10. Capital Reef National Park
  11. 11. Carlsbad Caverns National Park 
  12. 12. Channel Islands National Park
  13. 13. Congaree National Park 
  14. 14. Crater Lake National Park
  15. 15. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  16. 16. Death Valley National Park
  17. 17. Denali National Park
  18. 18. Dry Tortugas National Park
  19. 19. Everglades National Park
  20. 20. Gates of the Arctic National Park
  21. 21. Gateway Arch National Park
  22. 22. Glacier Bay National Park
  23. 23. Glacier National Park 
  24. 24. Grand Canyon National Park
  25. 25. Grand Teton National Park
  26. 26. Great Basin National Park
  27. 27. Great Sand Dunes National Park
  28. 28. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  29. 29. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  30. 30. Haleakalā National Park
  31. 31. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
  32. 32. Hot Springs National Park
  33. 33. Indiana Dunes National Park
  34. 34. Isle Royale National Park
  35. 35. Joshua Tree National Park
  36. 36. Katmai National Park
  37. 37. Kenai Fjords National Park
  38. 38. Kings Canyon National Park
  39. 39. Kobuk Valley National Park 
  40. 40. Lake Clark National Park
  41.  41. Lassen Volcanic National Park
  42. 42. Mammoth Cave National Park
  43. 43. Mesa Verde National Park
  44. 44. Mount Rainier National Park
  45. 45. New River Gorge National Park
  46. 46. North Cascades National Park
  47. 47. Olympic National Park
  48. 48. Petrified Forest National Park
  49. 49. Pinnacles National Park
  50. 50. Redwood National Park
  51. 51. Rocky Mountain National Park
  52. 52. Saguaro National Park
  53. 53. Sequoia National Park
  54. 54. Shenandoah National Park
  55. 55. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  56. 56. Virgin Islands National Park
  57. 57. Voyageurs National Park
  58. 58. White Sands National Park
  59. 59. Wind Cave National Park
  60. 60. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
  61. 61. Yellowstone National Park
  62. 62. Yosemite National Park
  63. 63. Zion National Park

1. Acadia National Park

People commonly call Maine’s Acadia National Park the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.” This spectacular national park boasts the tallest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the U.S. Tide pool and estuarine habitats can be found here in addition to forest and freshwater habitats. This park has many lakes, rivers, streams, and even a few waterfalls. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Maine /1919 / 47,000 acres

acadia national park rocky coastline maine
Rocky coastline of Acadia National Park, Maine

Best time to visit: September-October 

Top Attractions:

  • View the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain
  • Hike the Precipice Loop Trail
  • Take a drive on the scenic Park Loop Road
  • Swim at Echo Lake and Sand Beach
  • Bike ride on the old Carriage Roads
  • See the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, canoeing and kayaking, bicycling, scenic drives.

Wildlife to See: North American beavers, foxes, otters, porcupines, snowshoe hares, coyotes, and bobcats

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days 

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: There are four campgrounds within the park. These include the Schoodic Woods, Seawall, Blackwoods, and Duck Harbor Campground. 

There are also numerous towns outside of the park with lodging. Such towns include Bay Harbor, Bass Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Mt Desert, Trenton, and Tremont. 

More Information: Acadia National Park

Nearby towns & other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Mt Desert, Bar Harbor, Trenton, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, and Bass Harbor. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and Saint Croix Island International Historic Site are about two and a half hours from Acadia. 

2. American Samoa National Park

This remote yet remarkable national park is the only national park south of the equator. Because of its extremely isolated setting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it’s one of the least visited US national parks. American Samoa is a series of three separate islands: Ta’u, Ofu, and Tutuila. The park offers visitors a chance to experience authentic American Somoa culture. Visitors can also explore tropical rainforests plus snorkel, and dive through coral reefs. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): U.S. territory of American Samoa / 1988 / 13,500 acres

American Samoa_Camel Rock near the village of Lauli'i
American Samoa National Park. Camel Rock near the village of Lauli’i

Best time to visit: April-September (this is the dry season in the area).

Top Attractions:

  • Take the Mount Alava Trail and hike to the top of Mount Alava.
  • Take a boat tour to Aunu’u Island.
  • Explore the pristine beaches.

Popular Activities: Hiking, diving, snorkeling, swimming, and wildlife viewing.

Wildlife to See: Flying Foxes (fruit bats), sea turtles, reef fish, geckos, skinks, and numerous exotic bird species.

Suggested Stay: One week

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: Camping is prohibited in the park, but numerous hotels and lodges are scattered about on the islands. You can also arrange to participate in a homestay program with the NPS.

More Information: National Park of American Samoa

Nearby towns & other NPS Units: Pago Pago is the capital and largest city in the territory and has hotels and lodges. 

3. Arches National Park

Arches consists of the world’s densest collection of magnificent sandstone arches. More specifically, there are over 2,000 of them. In addition to the spectacular arches, you’ll find various other rock formations like towering mesas and balanced rocks. The park also contains a collection of excellent hiking trails. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Utah / 1971 / 76,519 acres

arches national park in utah delicate arch
Delicate Arch sits upon the snow-covered landscape at arches in the winter.

Best time to visit: April-May and September-October

Top Attractions:

  • Hike to Delicate Arch
  • Explore the Fiery Furnace area
  • See Landscape Arch
  • Visit Double Arch
  • Hike the Park Avenue Trail
  • Hike Devils Garden Trailhead
  • Explore The Windows Section

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, bicycling, canyoneering, horseback riding, camping, and backpacking. 

Wildlife to See: Mule deer, coyotes, porcupines, desert cottontails, snakes, black-tailed jackrabbits, rock squirrels, antelope squirrels, lizards, chipmunks, hawks, eagles, and a variety of songbirds.

Suggested Stay: Two days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: Devils Garden Campground is the only campground within the park. No lodges exist inside of Arches. There is also a large selection of hotels in the nearby town of Moab.

More Information: Arches National Park

Nearby towns & other NPS Units: The city of Moab is just outside of the park. Canyonlands National Park is only around a half-hour’s drive from Arches. 

4. Badlands National Park

This spectacular and rugged moonlike landscape is home to a collection of unique rock formations like sandstones, siltstones, pinnacles, eroded buttes, and spires. Photographers enjoy perfect conditions for taking pictures of lovely sunrises and sunsets. Native bison and bighorn sheep meander around the nation’s largest mixed-grass prairie habitat. Visitors can enjoy several backcountry wilderness experiences within Badlands. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): South Dakota / 1978 / 244,000 acres.

badlands national park at sunset
Badlands National Park with stunning sunset

Best time to visit: April-May and September-October.

Top Attractions:

  • Drive Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240)
  • See Yellow Mounds Overlook 
  • See Big Badlands Overlook
  • Visit Pinnacles Overlook
  • Hike Notch Trail
  • Hike Door Trail
  • View live prairie dogs at Roberts Prairie Dog Town

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, and scenic drives.

Wildlife to See: Bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, black-footed ferrets, and pronghorn.

Suggested Stay: Two days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: There are two established campgrounds in the park. Those being Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground. Backcountry camping is allowed anywhere in the park as long as it’s a half mile away from the park’s roads and trails and isn’t visible to people. The Cedar Pass Lodge is located in the park and has cabin rentals available for visitors. The town of Interior, S.D., is only about seven minutes from the park and has a limited selection of hotels. The nearby town of Wall, S.D. is about a half hour outside Badlands and has several hotels available. 

More Information: Badlands National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Interior, S.D. is 3 miles from the park. Wall, S.D. is 29 miles outside of the park. The Minuteman Missle National Historic site is only about 15 minutes from the park.

5. Big Bend National Park

This remote national park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert near the far western stretches of Texas. Here, solitary mountain ranges are surrounded by desert stretches while rivers continue cutting canyons into ancient limestone rocks.  The combination of desert, rivers, and mountains makes this landscape an incredibly diverse area. Furthermore, the park lets visitors experience superb stargazing as the skies here are some of the darkest in the country. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Texas / 1935 / 801,163 acres

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend, Texas
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Best time to visit: October-April

Top Attractions:

  • See Santa Elana Canyon
  • Take a ride on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
  • Visit the Chisos Mountains
  • Hike the Lost Mine Trail
  • Hike the Window Trail
  • See Balanced Rock
  • Visit Emory Peak

Popular Activities: Hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, scenic drives, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Black bears, coyotes, mule deer, diamondback rattlesnakes, blacktail jackrabbits, southwestern earless lizards, bats, butterflies, and scorpions. 

Suggested Stay: Three days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: There are four campgrounds in the park. These sites include the Chisos Basin Campground, Rio Grande Village Campground, Cottonwood Campground, and the Rio Grande Village RV Park. There are also some primitive backcountry campground sites in the park. The Chisos Mountain Lodge, located in the park, has a selection of rooms and cottages. It is the only lodge in the park. Terlingua and Lajitas are the two closest towns to Big Bend National Park. Both towns have some hotel and lodging accommodations and are about an hour outside of the park.

More Information: Big Bend National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: The nearest towns are Terlingua and Lajitas. Part of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River flows right through Big Bend National Park.

6. Biscayne National Park

This unique national park is 95% water-based. It protects a mix of coastal waters, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and small islands. The ideal way to explore this unusual national park is by boat. Visitors to this park are rewarded with top-tier snorkeling and scuba diving. 

Biscayne National Park_boca chita lighthouse
Boca Chita Lighthouse at Biscayne National Park

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Florida / 1980 / 172,971 acres

Best time to visit: October-May

Top Attractions:

  • Walk along Convoy Point Jetty Trail
  • Visit Boca Chita Key
  • Visit Adams Key
  • Go kayaking in Jones Lagoon
  • Have fun snorkeling the Maritime Heritage Trail (a series of underwater shipwrecks)
  • Go snorkeling near the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse
  • Visit Elliot Key

Popular Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding. 

Wildlife to See: Sea turtles, manatees, endangered Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly, over 600 native species of fish, plus various neo-tropical waterbirds. 

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: There are only two campgrounds in the park. One is on the island of Boca Chita Key. The other is on the island of Elliot Key. There is no lodging in the park, but there are plenty of lodging and hotel opportunities in the nearby city of Miami.

More Information: Biscayne National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Miami is the largest nearby town to the park and is less than an hour away. Everglades National Park is only about a half hour away from Biscayne. 

7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This park is home to some of North America’s oldest rocks, steepest cliffs, and rugged rock spires. For millions of years, intense weathering and the Gunnison River have slowly shaped the region into the craggy, vertical canyon we see today. The park offers a series of impressive overlooks plus the chance to take a challenging yet rewarding hike down to the base of the Gunnison River. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Colorado / 1999 / 30,750 acres

black canyon national park_river gorge
River gorge of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Best time to visit: April-October

Top Attractions:

  • Drive the East Portal Road
  • Drive the South Rim Road
  • See the Painted Wall
  • Visit Pulpit Rock Overlook and Exclamation Point
  • Drive the North Rim Road and its overlooks

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, fishing, rock climbing, and wildlife watching. 

Wildlife to See: Black bears, river otters, mountain lions, Rocky Mountain bighorn rams, short-tailed weasel, rattlesnakes, eagles, elk, coyotes.

Suggested Stay: Two days

Current Conditions: Current conditions at the park can be found here.

Where to stay: There are three campgrounds in the park: One on the South Rim, one on the North Rim, and one at the bottom of the canyon called East Portal. There aren’t any lodges within the park. The nearest lodging and hotels are in the nearby towns of Montrose or Gunnison. 

More Information: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Montrose, CO, and Gunnison, CO, are the nearest towns. Nearby NPS units include the Curecanti National Recreation Area, Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, Grand Mesa National Forest, Uncompahgre National Forest, and Gunnison National Forest. 

8. Bryce Canyon National Park 

This striking national park is home to a fantastic display of geologic wonders. The largest concentration of hoodoos, which are irregular columns of rock, can be found within the confines of this park. The park has no shortage of scenic drives that offer breathtaking overlooks of this beautifully rugged section of Utah. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Utah / 1928 / 35,835 acres

bryce canyon national park
A double rainbow appears over the valley at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Best time to visit: April-October

Top Attractions:

  • Hike the Navajo Trail
  • Hike Queens Garden Trail
  • Visit Inspiration Point
  • Visit Bryce Point
  • See Sunrise Point and Sunset Point
  • Visit the Bryce Amphitheatre

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, bicycling, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Utah prairie dogs, mule deer, porcupines, peregrine falcons, Rocky Mountain elk, hummingbirds, and pronghorn.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: Current conditions in the park can be found here.

Where to stay: Two campgrounds exist in the park, North Campground, and Sunset Campground. The Lodge at Bryce Canyon provides 114 rooms that consist of lodge suites, motel rooms, and cabins. The nearby towns of Bryce Canyon City, Tropic, and Cannonville offer several hotel and lodging accommodations. 

More Information: Bryce Canyon National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Bryce Canyon City, Tropic, and Cannonville. Some nearby NPS units are Cedar Breaks National Monument, Dixie National Forest, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. 

9. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands rewards visitors with stunning views of seemingly endless canyons and buttes carved out by the Green and Colorado Rivers. Plenty of scenic hikes are present in this rocky and rugged national park. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Utah / 1964 / 337,550 acres

canyonlands_mesa arch sunrise
The sun rises in front of Canyonland’s Mesa Arch. Sunrise is the best time to visit the arch as the sun illuminates the canyon and brings its orange-red color to life.

Best time to visit: March-May and September-October

Top Attractions:

  • Take the hike to the famous Mesa Arch
  • See the Grand View Point Overlook
  • View the Green River Overlook
  • Visit Shafer Canyon and Shafer Trail Viewpoint
  • See Upheaval Dome
  • View the White Rim Overlook
  • See the Aztec Butte

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, backpacking, boating, bicycling, and stargazing.

Wildlife to See: Bobcats, mountain lions, foxes, skunks, desert cottontails, porcupines, black-tailed jackrabbits, eagles, hawks, lizards, and snakes.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: The two campgrounds in the park are the Island in the Sky Campground and the Needles Campground. There are no lodging facilities within the park. However, the nearby town of Moab has plenty of hotel and lodging accommodations. 

More Information: Canyonlands National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Moab is the closest and most convenient town to the park. Arches National Park is only about a half hour away from Canyonlands. 

10. Capital Reef National Park

This incredibly stunning but often underrated national park is an absolute gem in south-central Utah. This remote area is in the center of red rock country. It comprises canyons, rock domes, bridges, and countless cliff faces. The hiking and scenic driving opportunities here give other parks in the state a run for their money.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Utah / 1971 / 241,900 acres

things to do capitol reef national park
Hiker at Capitol Reef National Park

Best time to visit: March-June and September-October

Top Attractions:

  • Hike the Hickman Bridge Trail 
  • Hike to Cassidy Arch
  • Drive through Cathedral Valley
  • Drive through the 16-mile round-trip Scenic Drive
  • Get homemade pies at the historic Gifford Homestead
  • See the orchards at Fruita Rural Historic District
  • Visit the Fremont Petroglyphs

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, camping, picking fruit at the orchards, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Desert Bighorn Sheep, mountain lions, mule deer, Yellow-bellied Marmots, American Beaver, Gray Foxes, and Canyon Bats.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: The Fruita Campground is the only developed campground within the park. There are also two primitive campgrounds in the park. Those being the Cathedral Valley Campground and the Cedar Mesa Campground. 

Outside the park, there are some campgrounds and RV sites in the town of Torrey, 11 miles West of the park, and some in Caineville, 19 miles east, and in Hanksville, 37 miles east of the park. Torrey is your best bet when it comes to finding hotels and lodging. There are a few lodges and hotels in this town, but not an excess of them. Remember, this is a very remote portion of Utah. 

More Information: Capital Reef National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns nearby include Torrey, Caineville, and Hanksville. Bryce Canyon National Park is about two hours away from Capital Reef. 

11. Carlsbad Caverns National Park 

This park is home to a vast network of more than 119 caves. These cave systems house a variety of natural geologic wonders such as stalactites, stalagmites, large tunnel systems, and limestone cave chambers. Above the caves in the sprawling Chihuahuan Desert lies a beautiful landscape full of deep, rugged canyons, ancient sea ledges, magnificent flowering cactuses, and abundant native desert wildlife. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): New Mexico / 1930 / 46,770 acres

carlsbad caverns national park
Inside the caverns at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions: 

  • You could choose to explore the caverns on your own through a self-guided tour or choose to have a guided ranger tour
  • There are also tons of hiking trails to explore the desert above the caverns
  • Guided ranger tours watching native bats emerge from the caves and stargazing tours are also popular

Popular Activities: Cave touring, hiking, wildlife viewing, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Javelina, pronghorn, mule deer, cougars, ringtails, Chihuahuan Desert pocket mouse, 17 different species of bats, Texas banded gecko, Mottled rock rattlesnake, and Northern mockingbirds. 

Suggested Stay: One day

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: The park has no overnight lodging or campgrounds. Primitive camping is allowed, but only in the backcountry and with a free permit. The town of Carlsbad, New Mexico, has numerous hotel and lodging accommodations and is only 20 miles northeast of the park.

More Information: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Carlsbad is the most convenient nearby town. Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas is only about 40 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns.

12. Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park protects five of the eight stunning Channel Islands and their surrounding ocean habitat. For thousands of years, these islands have been secluded from the mainland. They are seemingly untouched by man, giving a feel for what coastal southern California used to be many years ago. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1980 / 249,354 acres

Rock near Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California
Coastline near Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

Best time to visit: There is no wrong time to visit the park. However, the summer months are the time to go if you want to engage in water-based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and swimming. 

Top Attractions:

  • Go scuba through the Kelp forest of Anacapa Island
  • Kayak through the sea caves and rugged coastline of Santa Cruz Island
  • See the incredibly rare Torrey Pine trees on Santa Rosa Island
  • Hike to Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island
  • Hike to Cavern Point on Santa Cruz Island
  • See the seals and sea lions of San Miguel Island
  • Go on a whale-watching boat tour

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, boating, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling. 

Wildlife to See: Island Fox, Island Spotted Skunk, Island Deer Mouse, Island Night Lizard, Channel Island Slender Salamander, Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake, Baja California Tree Frog, Townsend’s Big-eared Bat, California Sea Lion, Harbor Seal, Northern Elephant Seal, Sea Otter, Bottlenose Dolphin, Gray Whale, Blue Whale, Humpback Whale, California Spiny Lobster, California Brown pelican, Western Gull. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: There is one established campground on each of the five islands. Those being: above the Landing Cove on Santa Barbara, on the east islet of Anacapa, at Scorpion Canyon on Santa Cruz, at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa, and above Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel. Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands have limited backcountry camping options. This is a very wild and remote national park. 

No lodging or hotels exist on the islands. Plenty of hotels and lodging facilities are available in major mainland cities such as Santa Barbra, Ventura, and Los Angeles. 

More Information: Channel Islands National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby cities include Santa Barbra, Ventura, and Los Angeles. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is about an hour from the Channel Islands Visitor Center in Ventura.  

13. Congaree National Park 

This incredibly biodiverse national park hosts the most significant unimpaired stretch of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest still left in the southeastern United States. This is a relatively small national park that is easily accessible. Congaree has plenty of outdoor recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): South Carolina / 2003 / 26,000 acres

congaree national park
A wooden boardwalk crosses through the cypress tree forests at Congaree National Park.

Best time to visit: March-May and October-November

Top Attractions: 

  • Kayak or canoe on Cedar Creek 
  • Visit Wise Lake
  • Hike the Boardwalk Loop Trail
  • Hike the Weston Lake Loop Trail
  • Visit the General Greene Tree, the largest Cypress tree in the park

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking, and canoeing. 

Wildlife to See: Alligators, deer, otters, feral pigs, bobcats, turkeys, turtles, snakes, catfish, and alligator gar. 

Suggested Stay: One day

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions within the park here.

Where to stay: The park has two designated front-country campgrounds: Longleaf Campground and Bluff Campground. Backcountry camping is permitted in the park but requires a free permit. There are no RV sites in the park. However, several state parks within the area have RV sites. The nearby city of Columbia, located 20 minutes outside the park, has plenty of lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Congaree National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: The city of Columbia is just outside the park. The beautiful and scenic Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests are about an hour and ten minutes from Congaree. 

14. Crater Lake National Park

Oregon’s Crater Lake is arguably one of America’s most beautiful, serene spots. The lake is the deepest in the USA and also one of the purest. Crater Lake is fed only by rain and snowfall, which prevents outside pollutants from flowing in. Visitors get lost gazing at the vivid blue waters of this magnificent spot in the Cascade Mountain Range. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Oregon / 1902 / 13,180 acres

crater lake national park
The deep blue color of Crater Lake’s frigid waters is a sight unlike anything in the world!

Best time to visit: July-October

Top Attractions:

  • Go on a boat tour of the lake that also takes you to Wizard Island
  • Take Rim Drive for a scenic tour around the lake in the comfort of your car
  • Hike the Cleetwood Cove and Watchman Peak Trails

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and stargazing.

Wildlife to See: Black bears, elk, porcupines, coyotes, pikas, bobcats, striped skunks, red foxes, Mazama Newt, Cascades frog, Western Toad, Northwestern Salamander, woodpeckers, various songbirds, Rainbow Trout, and Sockeye Salmon.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here.

Where to stay: Mazama and Lost Creek Campgrounds are the two designated campgrounds in the park. Backcountry camping is permitted in some areas of the park but requires a free permit. There are sites in the campgrounds that accommodate RVs. Other lodging accommodations within the park include the Crater Lake Lodge and The Cabins at Mazama Village. The cities of Chemult (42 miles away), Shady Cove (55 miles), and Klamath Falls (57 miles) all have lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Crater Lake National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Chemult, Shady Cove, and Klamath Falls. Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a little under two hours away from Crater Lake. The Umpqua National Forest is also nearby to the park.

15. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers visitors access to flourishing forests, peaceful farmlands, and serene rolling hills. The centerpiece of the park is the wild Cuyahoga River which winds about through the park. There are even several waterfalls plus a scenic train ride through the valley. What’s more, the park is located a short distance from the cities of Cleveland and Akron. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Ohio / 2000 / 32,570 acres

Cuyahoga National Park_Blue Hen Falls
Cuyahoga National Park’s Blue Hen Falls is a peaceful place to relax and listen to the water trickle down against the rocks.

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions: 

  • Hike or ride your bike on the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail
  • Hike to Tinker’s Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook
  • Take a train ride on The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
  • Hike to Bridal Veil Falls
  • Hike The Ledges Trail
  • Hike to Deer Lick Cave
  • Visit Brandywine Falls
  • Hike to Blue Hen Falls
  • See the Everett Covered Bridge

Popular Activities: Hiking, bicycling, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Coyotes, foxes, moles, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, shrews, mice, bats, deer, minks, salamanders, newts, frogs, toads, Eastern Box Turtle, Northern Water Snake, and the Red-Shouldered Hawk.

Suggested Stay: Two days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: Cuyahoga Valley no longer offers camping within the park. Camping or staying overnight in parking lots is prohibited. There are several campgrounds at various state parks within driving distance of Cuyahoga. Nearby towns with lodging and hotel accommodations include Peninsula, Brecksville, Hudson, Valley View, Cuyahoga Falls, Akron, and Cleveland. 

More Information: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Peninsula, Brecksville, Hudson, Valley View, Cuyahoga Falls, Akron, and Cleveland. The James A. Garfield National Historic Site is only about 30 to 40 minutes away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

16. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is a land of extremes. This arid landscape has a steady drought, and summer temperatures frequently exceed 110°F. In fact, the world record for the highest air temperature was recorded here at a scorching 134°F. Despite the extreme heat of the park, a magnificent landscape full of rugged canyons, meadows packed with wildflowers, and snow-covered mountains and dunes are all found here. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1994 / 3,422,024 acres

Sandstone ridges at Death Valley National Park.
Sandstone ridges at Death Valley National Park.

Best time to visit: November-March

Top Attractions:

  • Hike to the salt flats of Badwater Basin (The lowest point in North America)
  • See the Zabriskie Point Overlook
  • Take a look at the Ubehebe Crater
  • Visit Dante’s View Overlook
  • Walk to see Zabriskie Point Overlook
  • Hike Mosaic Canyon
  • Hike to Darwin Falls
  • Hike along the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
  • Visit Racetrack Playa
  • Drive through Twenty Mule Team Canyon
  • Experience some of the best stargazing in the world

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, photography, backpacking, and stargazing.

Wildlife to See: Roadrunners, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Desert Tortoise, Jackrabbits, coyotes, Sidewinder Snake, Desert Iguana, Red Spotted Toad, and the Sagebrush Checkerspot Butterfly.

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here.

Where to stay: There are several developed campgrounds in the park. These campsites include Furnace Creek, Texas Springs, Sunset, Stovepipe Wells, Emigrant, and Wildrose campgrounds. There are some primitive campgrounds here as well. These include Thorndike, Mahogany Flat, Eureka Dunes, Homestake, and Saline Valley campgrounds. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a free permit. 

There are also several lodging locations in the park. These include Stovepipe Wells Village, The Oasis at Death Valley, The Ranch at Death Valley, and Panamint Springs Resort. Cities outside the park with lodging and hotel accommodations include Beatty, Pahrump, Shoshone, and Lone Pine. 

More Information: Death Valley National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Several nearby towns are Beatty, Pahrump, Shoshone, and Lone Pine. Some other nearby NPS units include Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and the Mojave National Preserve. 

17. Denali National Park

This remote and wild national park consists of taiga forests that turn into high alpine tundra and snow-covered mountains. The park’s crown jewel is the 20,310-foot-tall Denali, America’s highest peak. A variety of animals roam this uninhabited and undeveloped land. Getting a good look at Denali is the number one thing you want to do when visiting this rugged national park in Alaska. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1917 / 4,740,091 acres

denali national park_snow-capped peak of Denali towers over the wild Alaskan landscape
The snow-capped peak of Denali towers over the wild Alaskan landscape.

Best time to visit: June-September

Top Attractions:

  • See the impressive Denali
  • Hike Horseshoe Lake Trail
  • Walk along the Savage River Loop Trailhead
  • Drive the Denali Park Road
  • Hike the Mount Healy Overlook Trail
  • Visit Wonder Lake

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, bicycling, photography, fishing, and river rafting. 

Wildlife to See: Grizzly and black bears, moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep, wolves, arctic ground squirrels, marmots, and foxes. 

Suggested Stay: Two days

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: Popular campgrounds in the park include Riley Creek, Savage River, Sanctuary River, Teklanika, Igloo, and Wonder Lake Campgrounds. There are no lodges inside the park. However, some privately owned lodges and hotels are outside of the park in the nearby towns of Healy and Cantwell. 

More Information: Denali National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Healy and Cantwell. Other nearby NPS units to Denali are Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. 

18. Dry Tortugas National Park

This park is situated about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. A large portion of the park is comprised of mainly open water but also consists of seven small islands. Dry Tortugas has stunning aquamarine waters and spectacular coral reefs teeming with wildlife. 

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Florida / 1935 / 47,125 acres 

Dry Tortugas National Park_Fort Jefferson and surrounding waters
Beautiful ariel shot of Fort Jefferson and surrounding waters at Dry Tortugas National Park.

Best time to visit: October-February

Top Attractions:

  • Go snorkeling at Garden Key
  • Check out Fort Jefferson
  • Take a dip in the water at North Swim Beach
  • Explore Loggerhead Key and Bush Key

Popular Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, camping, fishing, and historic tours. 

Wildlife to See: Sea turtles, sharks, lobsters, octopuses, squids, coral, Goliath groupers, hermit crabs, stingrays, and various tropical reef fishes. 

Suggested Stay: One day

Where to stay: There is only one campground on the island of Garden Key. No other lodging exists in the park. Key West is the nearest city outside the park and has lots of lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Dry Tortugas National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: The nearest town to the park is the city of Key West, 70 miles away. Some of the closest NPS units to Dry Tortugas are Everglades National Park, Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, and the National Key Deer Refuge. 

19. Everglades National Park

This is the most accessible and most popular of Florida’s National Parks. The landscape and habitat of the Everglades is a unique one found nowhere else in the world. The Everglades’ subtropical marsh region allows visitors to catch sights of exotic animals like American Alligators, American Crocodiles, manatees, and Florida Panthers. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Florida / 1947 / 1.5 million acres

everglades national park_florida
Stunning ariel shot over Everglades National Park. 

Best time to visit: November-April

Top Attractions:

  • Visit Shark Valley
  • Hike Anhinga Trail
  • Walk along Pa-hay-okee Trail
  • Visit Mahogany Hammock
  • See Long Pine Key
  • Take the Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail
  • Go on a local airboat tour

Popular Activities: Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, biking, fresh and saltwater fishing, and camping.

Wildlife to See: American Alligators, American Crocodiles, Manatees, Florida Panthers, Roseate Spoonbills, Great Blue Herons, Wood Storks, River Otters, White-Tailed Deer, and the Banded Water Snake. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days.

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: Two campgrounds in the park are the Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground. The two campsites are the only lodging facilities in the park. 

More Information: Everglades National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby cities and towns to Everglades include Homestead, Key Largo, Leisure City, Richmond West, South Miami Heights, The Hammocks, Cutler Ridge, and Palmetto Estates. Some nearby NPS units are Big Cypress National Preserve and Biscayne National Park.

20. Gates of the Arctic National Park

This is the nation’s least visited national park due to its extraordinarily wild and remote location deep in the Alaskan wilderness. There are no roads or established trails in the park. Visitors to the park are graced with sights of glacier-carved valleys, boreal forests, vast stretches of dry polar deserts, multiple Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the rocky peaks of the Brooks Mountain Range.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1980 / 8.5 million acres

Dark sky over The Maidens (Mountains), Aquarius Valley, Arrigetch Peaks, Gates of the Arctic National Park. Brooks Range. Wilderness. Alaska.
The Maidens Mountains, Aquarius Valley, Arrigetch Peaks @ Gates of the Arctic National Park

Best time to visit: June-September

Top Attractions: 

  • Visit the Kobuk Wild River
  • See the John River
  • Kayak on the Koyukuk River
  • See the Frigid Crags mountain range
  • Kayak on the Tinayguk River
  • Kayak on the Kugururok River
  • Visit Boreal Mountain

Popular Activities: Hiking, backpacking, kayaking, camping, and wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife to See: Caribou, Brown Bears, Dall’s Sheep, Snowshoe Hares, Lynx, Beavers, Birds, and Muskox.

Suggested Stay: Visitors to this park stay for days and sometimes weeks. But you MUST be proficient in outdoor survival and wilderness backcountry skills. You are on your own in this park, miles away from any civilization. 

Current Conditions: You can find the current conditions of the park here.

Where to stay: There are no designated campsites in the park and no lodging whatsoever. The closest towns to the park are Fairbanks, Bettles, and Anaktuvuk.

More Information: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Fairbanks, Bettles, and Anaktuvuk. Nearby NPS units include Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Kobuk Valley National Park, and Noatak National Preserve.

21. Gateway Arch National Park

The famous Gateway Arch is an American icon in St. Louis, Missouri, that draws millions of visitors every year. The arch symbolizes the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. 

gateway arch national park_st louis Missouri
Visitors gaze upon the imposing 630-foot Gateway Arch.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Missouri / 2018 / 91 acres

Best time to visit: All year.

Top Attractions:

  • Take the retro elevator to the top of the arch
  • See the museum displays and exhibits
  • Visit the Old Cathedral and Old Courthouse

Popular Activities: Sightseeing, museums, photography, and brisk walks. 

Wildlife to See: Birds, squirrels, and rabbits.

Suggested Stay: One day. 

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: There is no camping or lodging inside the park. However, Gateway Arch is located right in St. Louis, so plenty of lodging and hotel accommodations are nearby. 

More Information: Gateway Arch National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Other nearby NPS units include the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. 

22. Glacier Bay National Park

This massive national park is home to millions of acres of towering glaciers, temperate rainforests, untamed coastlines, sprawling mountain ranges, and ancient fjords. There are no roads that head into this park, so it is best experienced by boat or plane. Taking a boat tour or cruise of the park is spectacular since you’re up close and personal with the shifting glaciers. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1980 / 3.3 million acres

glaciers at Glacier Bay National Park
A tour boat takes visitors around the vast glaciers at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. NPS photo

Best time to visit: June-September

Top Attractions:

  • See some of the park’s thousands of glaciers
  • Visit Bartlett Cove
  • Tour the park on the Spirit of adventure (a small cruise ship that travels through the park)
  • Visit Sebree Island

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, cruising, photography, and wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife to See: Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Porcupines, Bald Eagles, Moose, Wolves, Mountain Goats, Humpback Whales, Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, Stellar Sea Lions, Tufted Puffins, Sea Otters, Orcas, and the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days.

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The park’s only campground is the Bartlett Cove Campground. Glacier Bay Lodge is the only lodge within the park. Outside of the park, the nearby town of Gustavus has several popular inns, lodges, and B&B’s.

More Information: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include Gustavus, Juneau, and Bartlett Cove. Nearby NPS units include the Tongass National Forest and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. 

23. Glacier National Park 

Glacier National Park is one of the most magnificent places on earth and is frequently referred to as the “Crown of the Continent.” This park is packed with a plethora of natural wonders, including rugged mountains and valleys, alpine meadows, gorgeous lakes, and icy glaciers.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Montana / 1910 / 1 million acres

glacial lake with mountains in background at Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is often referred to as the “Crown of the Continent” due to its pristine alpine beauty.

Best time to visit: June-September

Top Attractions:

  • Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road
  • Visit Wild Goose Island
  • Hike to Hidden Lake and Grinnell Glacier
  • Hike the Highline Loop
  • Drive to Logan Pass
  • See Two Medicine
  • Visit Many Glacier
  • Swim in Lake McDonald

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Grizzly and black bears, mountain lions, mountain goats, marmots, beavers, muskrats, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, lynx, pikas, and eagles.

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days.

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campsites inside the park, including Avalanche Campground, Bowman Lake Campground, Kintla Lake Campground, Logging Creek Campground, Quartz Creek Campground, Rising Sun Campground, Two Medicine Campground, and Cut Bank Campground. 

However, other campsites in the park require reservations, including Apgar Campground, Fish Creek Campground, Many Glacier Campground, St. Mary Campground, and Sprague Creek Campground.

Other lodging options within the park include:

  • The Village Inn Motel
  • Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Rising Sun Motor Inn
  • Swiftcurrent Motor Inn
  • Many Glacier Hotel
  • The Apgar Village Lodge
  • Motel Lake McDonald
  • Granite Peak Chalet
  • Sperry Chalet

More Information: Glacier National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include West Glacier, East Glacier Park, Whitefish, Kalispell, St. Mary, Hungry Horse, Columbia Falls, Bigfork, Pinnacle, Essex, Browning, and Cut Bank. Some nearby NPS units to the park include the Flathead National Forest and the Kootenai National Forest.

24. Grand Canyon National Park

This iconic National Park in Northern Arizona surrounds some 278 miles of the wild Colorado River and surrounding uplands. The awe-inspiring landscape consists of steep-walled canyons, raised plateaus, rushing rivers and streams, and a semi-arid desert typical of the southwest.  Surprisingly, there’s even a lush forest within the nearby Kaibab National Forest full of flourishing ponderosa pines, aspen and juniper trees, rolling green meadows, and colorful wildflowers. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Arizona / 1919 / 1,218,375 acres

Grand Canyon national park
The view over the south and north rim sections of the Grand Canyon from a helicopter. 

Best time to visit: March-May and September-October

Top Attractions: 

  • Hike Bright Angel Trail
  • See Hopi and Moran Points
  • Visit the Desert View Watchtower 
  • Take a train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway
  • Hike the South and North Kaibab Trails
  • See the Historic Navajo Bridge
  • Hike the South Rim Trail
  • Take the East Rim Drive
  • See Havasu Falls
  • Go white water rafting on the Colorado River
  • Drive through the Kaibab National Forest
  • Experience various horseback riding tours

Popular Activities: Hiking, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife watching, photography, and horseback riding. 

Wildlife to See: Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Elk, Mule Deer, Hog-nosed Skunk, Mountain Lion, Ringtail, Javelina, Mexican Spotted Owls, California Condor, Greater Short Horned Lizard, and the Mohave Green Rattlesnake.

Suggested Stay: To see most of the main attractions and top experiences in this park, you want to plan on spending at least 5-7 days at Grand Canyon.

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The South Rim Campgrounds of Mather Campground and Trailer Village are open all year. Some seasonal campgrounds only open during certain times of the year. These sites are Desert View Campground, Ten-X Campground, North Rim Campground, and the DeMotte Campground. 

Lodging inside the park includes Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, Maswik Lodge, and Grand Canyon Lodge. 

More Information: Grand Canyon National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns by the South Rim of the Grand Canyon include Tusayan, Valle, Williams, Cameron, Tuba City, and Fort Valley. Towns near the North Rim of the park include Jacob Lake, Fredonia, and Kanab. Nearby NPS units include the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

25. Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is easily one of the country’s best and most popular national parks. Here, you’ll find sights like the jagged snow-capped peaks of the Tetons, the wild and serene nature of the Snake River, countless pristine alpine lakes, and a valley floor teeming with wildlife. 

grand teton national park_milky way galaxy in view
The Milkyway galaxy rises above the Grand Tetons.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Wyoming / 1929 / 310,000 acres

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions:

  • Hike the Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon Trails
  • Take the 42-mile Scenic Loop Drive
  • See Schwabacher Landing
  • Visit Jackson Lake and Taggart Lake
  • Drive Signal Mountain Summit Road
  • View the Snake River Overlook
  • Hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point
  • See the iconic barns of Mormon Row

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, photography, and scenic drives. 

Wildlife to See: Grizzly and black bears, bison, moose, elk, pronghorn, eagles, garter snakes, Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Some campgrounds within the park include Gros Ventre Campground, Jenny Lake Campground, Signal Mountain Campground, Colter Bay Campground, Colter Bay RV Park, Colter Bay Tent Village, Lizard Creek Campground, and Headwaters Campground. 

Some lodging sites within the park include American Alpine Club Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch, Colter Bay Cabins, Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch, Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain Lodge, and Triangle X Ranch. 

More Information: Grand Teton National Park 

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include Jackson, Teton Village, Driggs, Dubois, Moose, Wilson, Kelly, and Moran. Nearby NPS units include Bridger-Teton National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, and the Shoshone National Forest. 

26. Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is an unexpected lush oasis that juts out of the surrounding arid desert. Here you’ll find the impressive 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak Mountain, the ancient Lehman Caves, multiple subalpine lakes, rolling sage-covered foothills, grassy streams, and forests of aspen and juniper trees. The world’s longest-living trees, Great Basin Bristlecone Pines, are also found here. The park also hosts some of the best stargazing opportunities in the U.S. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Nevada / 1986 / 77,000 acres

Bristlecone Pine Grove Trail in Great Basin National Park
Bristlecone Pine Grove Trail in Great Basin National Park.

Best time to visit: June-October

Top Attractions: 

  • Tour the Lehman Caves
  • Hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak
  • Visit Stella and Teresa Lakes
  • View Lexington Arch
  • Hike the Bristlecone Trail
  • Hike the Lehman Creek Trail
  • Stargaze wherever there’s a clear and open horizon. 

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, guided tours, scenic drives, photography, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Water Shrews, Yellow-bellied Marmots, Beavers, Sagebrush Voles, Porcupines, Bighorn Sheep, Pygmy Rabbits, and Ringtail Cats.

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds within the park, including Lower Lehman Creek Campground, Upper Lehman Creek Campground, Wheeler Peak Campground, Baker Creek Campground, Grey Cliffs Campground, and Snake Creek Campground. 

Because there is a lack of lodges within the park, you will want to consider some lodging and hotel accommodations that are in the nearby town of Baker or Ely, NV. This is 5 miles east, and Ely, NV, 70 miles west. 

More Information: Great Basin National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns include Baker, NV, and Ely, NV. Some NPS units by the park include the Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area and the Dixie National Forest.

27. Great Sand Dunes National Park

This fantastic park has an incredibly diverse landscape packed with wetlands, forests, tundra, grasslands, alpine lakes, and towering sand dunes. The park is also an excellent location for stargazing. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Colorado / 1932 / 149,000 acres

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Hikers at the top of a dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Best time to visit: All year. Keep in mind though winters in the park can be frigid.

Top Attractions: 

  • Make the trek to the top of Star Dune (North America’s tallest dune)
  • Take the hike to the top of High Dune
  • Take a shot at Sandboarding and Sandsledding
  • Visit Zapata Falls
  • Hike Mosca Pass Trail
  • Go swimming or tubing in Medano Creek

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, wildlife viewing, sand sledding, sandboarding, photography, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Kangaroo Rats, Mule Deer, Black Bears, Abert’s Squirrels, Mountain Lions, Pronghorn, Elk, Pikas, Marmots, Bighorn Sheep, Snowshoe Hares, Beavers, Badgers, Bison, Bullsnakes, Short-horned lizards, and Bald Eagles.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Piñon Flats Campground is the only established campground within the park. However, several campgrounds are located within 40 miles of the park. These include Oasis Campground, Zapata Falls Campground, Rustic Rook Resort, UFO Watchtower and Campground, Base Camp Family Campground and RV Park, and Cool Sunshine RV Park. 

There are also no lodges within the park. There are, however, a series of lodges, hotels, and cabins outside the park, such as Great Sand Dunes Lodge, Oasis Camping Cabins, Oasis Duplex Motel, and Zapata Ranch. 

More Information: Great Sand Dunes National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns nearby the park include Mosca, Hooper, and Alamosa. A few nearby NPS units include the Pike-San Isabel National Forest and the Gunnison National Forest. 

28. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Situated on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains is America’s most visited national park. The park is well known for its vast assortment of plant and animal life, ancient stretches of rolling mountains, and traces of authentic Southern Appalachian mountain culture. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): North Carolina and Tennessee / 1926 / 522,427 acres

great smoky mountains national park_sunset
Sunset at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Best time to visit: April-October

Top Attractions:

  • Drive through Cades Cove Loop, Drive Newfound Gap Road
  • Hike to the top of Clingman’s Dome
  • Take a swim at The Sinks
  • Take the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
  • Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail
  • Hike to Rainbow Falls

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, wildlife viewing, scenic drives, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: White-tailed deer, elk, black bears, raccoons, turkeys, woodchucks, salamanders, chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes, and bobcats.

Suggested Stay: 5-7 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are ten developed front country campgrounds in the park, including Abrams Creek Campground, Balsam Mountain Campground, Big Creek Campground, Cades Cove Campground, Cataloochee Campground, Cosby Campground, Deep Creek Campground, Elkmont Campground, Look Rock Campground, and Smokemont Campground. 

The only lodge within the park is the LeConte Lodge which can only be reached by foot. However, towns surrounding the park have plenty of options for hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds.

More Information: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to the park include Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Townsend, Cherokee, and Bryson City. Some nearby NPS units include the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest. 

29. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

This national park in Western Texas is full of rugged canyons, towering mountains, and vast deserts and dunes. The starry night skies here let you peer into the Milky Way Galaxy.  The park preserves the world’s largest Permian fossil reef, various desert plants, and animals, plus the four tallest peaks in Texas. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Texas / 1972 / 76,293 acres

Guadalupe Mountains National Park_Sunset on El Capitan Trail
Sunset on El Capitan Trail at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Best time to visit: April-May and September-November

Top Attractions:

  • Hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak
  • Hike to the top of Hunter Peak
  • Hike Devil’s Hall Trail
  • Visit the Frijole Ranch Museum
  • Hike the Permian Reef Trail
  • Visit the Salt Basin Dunes
  • Walk along the Pinery Trail
  • Take the Smith Spring Trail Loop
  • Visit Pratt Cabin
  • Visit El Capitan Lookout
  • Visit Dog Canyon
  • Take the McKittrick Canyon Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, photography, historical sites, wildlife viewing, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Kit fox, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat, badger, Texas banded gecko, Mule deer, javelinas, western diamondback rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, desert centipedes, elk, black bear, gray foxes, striped and hog-nosed skunks, porcupines, ringtails, rock squirrels, and black-tailed jackrabbits.  

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The park has three developed campgrounds, including Pine Springs Campground, Dog Canyon Campground, and the Frijole Horse Corral Campground. This is the only lodging in the park. The closest towns with lodging and hotel accommodations are Carlsbad, Van Horn, and Dell City. 

More Information: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to the park include Carlsbad, Van Horn, and Dell City. Some other NPS units nearby include Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the Lincoln National Forest. 

30. Haleakalā National Park

This unique national park on the Hawaiian Island of Maui is an area of volcanic landscapes, sub-tropical rain forests, red and orange rock gardens and deserts, rushing waterfalls, and perfect ocean vistas. The centerpiece of this park is the lofty peak of Haleakalā, a 10,023-foot dormant volcano. Sunrises at the top of Haleakalā are said to be the best in the entire world. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Hawaii / 1961 / 30,183 acres.

Haleakala National Park Volcano
Haleakala National Park Volcano

Best time to visit: All year round. 

Top Attractions: 

  • View the sunrise and sunset from the summit of Haleakalā
  • Hike into the Haleakalā Crater through the Sliding Sands Trail and the Halemau’u Trail
  • Hike the Pīpīwai Trail
  • Drive to Pu’u’ula’ula overlook (the tallest point on Maui)
  • Go stargazing on Pu’u’ula’ula
  • Visit the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o
  • See Waimoku Falls and Makahiku Falls

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, stargazing, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Hawaiian goose, Hawaiian Petrel, sea turtles, bats, and seals

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Two campgrounds within the park include the Hosmer Grove campground and the Kīpahulu Campground. There are also three historic cabins within the park: the Kapalaoa, Palikū, and Hōlua cabins. You have to hike to the cabins, though, as they are located in the Haleakalā Crater. 

The campsites and wilderness cabins are the only lodging available in the park. The nearest town with lodging and hotel accommodations is Kula. 

More Information: Haleakalā National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include Kula, Maui, Kihei, and Wailea. Nearby NPS units include Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. 

31. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

This national park is home to a couple of the most active volcanoes in the world: Mauna Loa and Kīlauea. In addition to the rumbling volcanoes, the park offers visitors a chance to hike through some wild rainforests and take part in some spectacular scenic drives. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Hawaii / 1916 / 335,259 acres 

Close-up of Kilauea Volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, lava can be seen flowing straight into the Pacific Ocean. 

Best time to visit: All year round.

Top Attractions:

  • Visit the Thurston Lava Tube
  • See the Halemaumau Crater and the Kīlauea Iki Crater
  • Visit the Hōlei Sea Arch
  • See the Sulphur Banks
  • Hike Devastation Trail
  • See the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs
  • See the various lava flows
  • Drive Chain of Craters Road
  • Take a ride along Crater Rim Drive

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, photography, and wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife to See: Hawaiian hoary bat, Hawaiian goose, Hawaiian petrel, hawksbill sea turtle, Green Sea Turtles, Humpback Whales, Hawaiian Monk Seal, Rock Crab, Sea Urchins, Happy Face Spider, and the Kamehameha Butterfly. 

Suggested Stay: 1-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are two drive-in campgrounds in the park, which include the Nāmakanipaio and Kulanaokuaiki campgrounds. The only lodge within the park is the historic Volcano House. Volcano Village also has many vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts just outside the park boundary.

More Information: Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns and cities near the park include Volcano, Hilo, Pāhoa, and Kailua-Kona. Some nearby NPS units include the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and Haleakalā National Park. 

32. Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park, located in Arkansas, is a conveniently located and accessible national park with no shortage of activities for visitors.  You’ll find ancient thermal springs, spectacular mountain views, unique geological formations, superb wooded hikes, and lots of flowing creeks here. Visitors also can check out the illustrious architecture of the historic bathhouses. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Arkansas / 1921 / 5,550 acres

hot springs national park waterfall
A flowing hot spring at Hot Springs National Park.

Best time to visit: April-October

Top Attractions:

  • Take a dip in the hot springs
  • Go for a bike ride in the park
  • Visit Bathhouse Row
  • Hike the Hot Springs and North Mountain trails for some scenic views
  • Hike Sunset Trail
  • Take the Hot Springs Mountain Scenic Drive
  • Drive to Hot Springs Mountain Lookout Point

Popular Activities: Hiking, bicycling, photography, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. 

Wildlife to See: White-tailed deer, groundhog, chipmunk, black bear, and squirrel.

Suggested Stay: One day

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There is one campground in the park named the Gulpha Gorge Campground. Also in the park is the historic Hotel Hale, which provides lodging accommodations for the night. The park is right near Hot Springs, which has plenty of lodging, hotel options, and other accommodations. 

More Information: Hot Springs National Park 

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near the park include Hot Springs, Euclid Heights, Morning Star, Bonanza Springs, Spring Lake, Fountain Lake, Piney, and Ozark Lithia. Nearby NPS units include the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. 

33. Indiana Dunes National Park

This beautiful national park along lake Michigan in Northern Indiana is known for its rich plant and animal biodiversity and fabulous coastline. Here, you’ll find over 50 miles of trails that run through numerous ecosystems, such as changing sand dunes, deciduous forests, open prairies, and thriving wetlands.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Indiana / 2019 / 15,070 acres

indiana dunes national park hiking
A man walks along one of the wooden staircase boardwalks found at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Best time to visit: April-October

Top Attractions:

  • Go for a swim in Lake Michigan
  • Visit the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
  • Hike the Dunes Succession Trail
  • Hike The Paul H. Douglas Trail
  • Take a walk on West Beach
  • Take the Tolleston Dunes Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, wildlife viewing, and photography.

Wildlife to See: Northern short-tailed shrew, eastern mole, little brown bat, eastern red bat, big brown bat, eastern cottontail, eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, eastern gray squirrel, eastern red fox squirrel, red squirrel, southern flying squirrel, white-footed mouse, prairie deer mouse, Norway rat, house mouse, meadow vole, common muskrat, red fox, common raccoon, beaver, and white-tailed deer.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There is one campground in the park called Dunewood Campground. The campground is the only lodging within the park. However, the nearby towns of Chesterton, Michigan City, and Portage have plenty of lodging and hotel options. 

More Information: Indiana Dunes National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns and cities to the park include Chesterton, Michigan City, and Portage. Some nearby NPS units include the Huron National Forest and the Manistee National Forest. 

34. Isle Royale National Park

This national park is comprised of one large island surrounded by a collection of 450 smaller-sized islands. Isle Royal is one of the least visited national parks in the U.S. This is due to its incredibly remote location in Northern Michigan near the Northwestern half of Lake Superior. 

Here you’ll find a stunning landscape of boreal and northern hardwood forests, crystal clear lakes and streams, and the surrounding waters of mighty Lake Superior. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Michigan / 1940 / 572,000 acres

Rock Harbor Lighthouse Isle Royale National Park Michigan
Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Best time to visit: June-October

Top Attractions: 

  • Visit Rock Harbor
  • See the Rock Island Lighthouse
  • Hike Mount Ojibway Trail
  • Catch the view at Lookout Louise
  • See the historic Pete Edisen Fishery
  • Check out Scoville Point
  • Visit Suzy’s Cave
  • See Passage Island
  • Hike the Greenstone Ridge Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, boating, wildlife viewing, backpacking, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Red fox, wolves, moose, otter, beaver, elk, snowshoe hares, loons, ermine, mink, and muskrats. 

Suggested Stay: 4-5 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The park has 36 different campgrounds all across the island. You can find more info about each of the campsites here. Besides the campgrounds, the only other lodging in the park is the Rock Harbor Lodge, located at the island’s northeast end, and the Windigo Camper Cabins. 

More Information: Isle Royale National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: There are few nearby towns or cities by Isle Royale. This park is 56 miles from the mainland of Michigan and 18 miles from the shoreline of Minnesota. That being said, the nearest city to the park is Grand Portage, Minnesota. Some nearby NPS units include the Superior National Forest and the Ottawa National Forest.

35. Joshua Tree National Park

This park protects a unique ecosystem where two ecologically distinct deserts, the Mojave and Colorado, meet one another. A vast variety of animals and plants live here, including the famous Joshua Tree. 

Visitors to the park also enjoy fantastic geologic formations and incredibly dark and starry night skies.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1994 / 795,200 acres

Joshua Tree National Park hiking
A woman jogs down the empty road leading through Joshua Tree National Park.

Best time to visit: October-May

Top Attractions:

  • Visit Skull Rock
  • Hike the Arch Rock Nature Trail
  • Check out Keys View
  • Take a tour of Keys Ranch
  • See the Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Take the Hidden Valley Nature Trail
  • Take the Split Rock Loop Trail
  • Go for a drive on the Geology Tour Road

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Fox, bobcat, bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed antelope, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, Mojave Desert Tortoise, Desert Spiny Lizard, and coyotes. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days.

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Some first-come, first-served campgrounds include Hidden Valley, White Tank, and Belle Campgrounds. Campgrounds that require reservations include Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ryan Campground, Indian Cove Campground, Black Rock Campground, and Cottonwood Campground. 

There is no lodging available inside the park. However, there are lodging and hotel accommodations in the nearby towns of Joshua Tree City, Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert. 

More Information: Joshua Tree National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns nearby the park include Joshua Tree City, Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert. A few nearby NPS units include the Cleveland National Forest and the San Bernardino National Forest. 

36. Katmai National Park

This fantastic national park in Alaska is home to a tundra biome full of lakes and ponds, deep valleys, glacial moraines, and four rugged stratovolcanoes. 

Visitors also flock here to see the brown bear and salmon spectacle. Hundreds of brown bears come to the Brooks River to feast on salmon, jumping over Brooks Falls every summer. It makes for a unique sight unseen at any other national park. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1980 / 4.3 million acres

katmai national park grizzly bear cubs
Katmai National Park

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions:

  • Watch the bears at Brooks Falls
  • Hike to the top of Dumpling Mountain
  • Check out Naknek Lake
  • Spend a day exploring the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
  • Check out Savonoski Loop

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography.

Wildlife to See: Brown bears, moose, caribou, red fox, wolf, lynx, wolverine, river otter, mink, marten, weasel, porcupine, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and beaver.

Suggested Stay: Three days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The Brooks Camp Campground is the only designated campground in the park. Lodges inside the park include the Brooks Lodge and the Grosvenor Lodge. There is also some lodging outside the park in King Salmon, Naknek, Homer, Kodiak, and Anchorage.

More Information: Katmai National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns include King Salmon, Naknek, Homer, Kodiak, and Anchorage. Other NPS units by the park include the Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve, the Ugashik National Wildlife Refuge, and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

37. Kenai Fjords National Park

This awe-inspiring national park is home to a diverse amount of environments and landscapes. The park is made up of several biomes, including a tundra environment, a marine ecosystem, and even a coastal rainforest.

A stunning rocky coastline, impressive fjords, and glacier-covered mountain peaks cover the landscape. The park is also home to the Harding Icefield, the largest icefield within U.S. borders.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska/ 1980 / 607,805 acres

Porcupine bay at Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska
Porcupine bay at Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Best time to visit: May-September

Top Attractions:

  • Hike the Harding Ice Field Trail
  • Hike to Exit Glacier
  • Visit Fox Island
  • Hike through the Glacier Overlook Trail
  • See Pederson Glacier
  • Go white water rafting down Six Mile Creek
  • Go kayaking amongst the glaciers
  • Take a plane ride sightseeing tour
  • Go for a wildlife cruise through the coast and fjords

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, boating, white water rafting, wildlife viewing, photography, and plane tours. 

Wildlife to See: Brown and black bears, wolves, moose, bald eagle, Horned Puffin, Tufted Puffin, sea otter, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise, Steller sea lion, harbor seal, orca, fin whale, gray whale, humpback whale, minke whale, and sei whale. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The Exit Glacier Campground is the only designated campground in the park. There are three public-use cabins available in the park during warmer months. There is also one lodge in the park known as the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge.

Camping is available in the nearby Chugach National Forest, and lodging and hotel accommodations are in the nearby town of Seward. 

More Information: Kenai Fjords National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Seward, Cooper Landing, and Nikiski are the closest towns to the park. Some of the nearest NPS units to the park are Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

38. Kings Canyon National Park

This park is home to a wide glacial valley featuring towering mountains and cliffs, caverns, winding rivers, flower-filled meadows, and numerous waterfalls. The world’s second tallest tree, General Grant, is also located in the park. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1940 / 461,901 acres

family hikes through the mountains in Kings Canyon National Park
A family hikes through the mountains in Kings Canyon National Park.

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions:

  • Visit the General Grant Tree
  • Hike the Zumwalt Meadows Trail
  • Drive through the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
  • Hike to Roaring River Falls
  • Hike the Grant Grove Trails

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, scenic drives, photography, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Gray fox, bobcat, striped and spotted skunks, black bear, woodrat, pocket gopher, white-footed mouse, California quail, scrub jay, lesser goldfinch, wrentit, acorn woodpecker, gopher snake, California kingsnake, striped racer, western whiptail lizard, and the California newt.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds in the park, including Azalea Campground, Crystal Springs Campground, Sunset Campground, Canyon View Campground, Sheep Creek Campground, Moraine Campground, and Sentinel Campground. 

Several lodges in the park include the John Muir Lodge, Grant Cove Cabins, and the Cedar Grove Lodge. Sequoia National Park is right near Kings Canyon National Park and has the Wuksachi Lodge. 

More Information: Kings Canyon National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns nearby the park include Three Rivers, Visalia, Tulare, and Fresno. Nearby NPS units include Sequoia National Park and the Inyo National Forest.

39. Kobuk Valley National Park 

This remote Northwestern Alaskan national park is home to a unique landscape of nearly two million acres of boreal forest and mountains, plus the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. These dunes make up the largest active, high-latitude dune field on the entire planet. 

Every year, half a million caribou migrate through the dunes and the Kobuk River for their annual migration. This is also one of the few places to view the infamous midnight sun. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1980 / 1.75 million acres

Kobuk Valley National Park
Lush forests, grasslands, lakes, and meandering rivers found at Kobuk Valley National Park

Best time to visit: June-July

Top Attractions:

  • Hike along the Kobuk Giant Sand Dunes
  • See the caribou cross the Kobuk River
  • Take a scenic plane tour
  • View the midnight sun
  • See the Aurora Borealis

Popular Activities: Hiking, backpacking, plane tours, boating, fishing, wildlife viewing, stargazing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Grizzly bears, wolves, wolverines, foxes, porcupines, moose, and caribou.

Suggested Stay: 5-7 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Kobuk Valley is incredibly remote, and there are no established campgrounds in the park. The only way to get here is by plane, as there are no roads leading into the park. 

Most visitors enjoy backcountry camping on the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes themselves and on Onion Portage, located on the north bank of the Kobuk River. Other than overnight backcountry camping, there are no other lodging facilities in the park.

More Information: Kobuk Valley National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Most visitors stay in the town of Kotzebue, AK, and Bettles, AK, while they wait for their chartered flights to the park. Some of the nearest NPS units are Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Noatak National Preserve, and Cape Krusenstern National Monument. 

40. Lake Clark National Park

Another one of Alaska’s National Parks, Lake Clark provides visitors with magnificent sights of a rugged, wild, and diverse landscape. You’ll find alpine tundra, boreal forests, freshwater rivers and lakes, coastal beaches, salt marshes, active volcanoes, and mountains covered with snow and glaciers. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1980 / 4,030,006 acres

Upper Twin Lake Lake Clark National Park Alaska
Upper Twin Lake, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Best time to visit: June-August

Top Attractions: 

  • Kayak or canoe on Turquoise and Twin Lakes
  • Hike the Upper Twin Lakes Loop
  • Watch the bears
  • Hike to Tana­lian Falls
  • See Chinitna Bay
  • See Silver Salmon Creek
  • Visit Kontrashibuna Lake
  • Hike the Telaquana Route

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, backpacking, and photography.

Wildlife to See: Brown bears, black bears, caribou, Dall sheep, moose, wolves, salmon, rainbow trout, bald eagles, and trumpeter swans. 

Suggested Stay: 5-7 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: For the most part, since this is a trail-free national park, campers may camp wherever they like. Some popular camping locations include the Hope Creek primitive camping area, the sedge meadow north of the slough in Chinitna Bay, and one privately owned campground at Port Alsworth. 

You can make reservations for one rustic cabin called the Priest Rock Public Use Cabin. 

There are also numerous privately owned lodges within the park’s boundaries. The following locations listed are where lodging is available within the park: Port Alsworth, on Lake Clark, Upper Twin Lake, Tuxedni Bay, Crescent Lake, Silver Salmon Creek, and Chinitna Bay. 

More information about camping and lodging in the park can be found here

More Information: Lake Clark National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include Homer, Kenai, and Soldotna. Some of the nearest NPS units include Katmai National Park and Preserve and Kenai Fjords National Park.

 41. Lassen Volcanic National Park

This spectacular national park is one of the nation’s lesser visited national parks but has no shortage of natural wonders. The land here is volcanically active full of steaming fumaroles, boiling pools and mudpots, and an active volcano known as Lassen Peak. 

Additionally, plenty of life and thriving ecosystems exist here, such as mixed conifer forests, red fir forests, subalpine regions, wildflower meadows, and pristine mountain lakes and streams. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1916 / 106,000 acres

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park

Best time to visit: June-October

Top Attractions:

  • See Lassen Peak
  • Hike through Bumpass Hell
  • Go swimming in Summit Lake and Lake Helen
  • Visit Kings Creek Falls
  • Drive the Lassen Park Highway
  • Go fishing or kayaking in Manzanita Lake
  • Hike the Devil’s Kitchen Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, stargazing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Black bear, mule deer, marten, brown creeper, mountain chickadee, white-headed woodpecker, long-toed salamander, bats, and pika. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds within the park, including Butte Lake Campground, Juniper Lake Campground, Manzanita Lake Campground, Summit Lake Campground, Warner Valley Campground, Southwest Campground, and Lost Creek Group Campground. 

The Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins are also within the Manzanita Lake Campground. 

The only hotel-type lodging within the park is the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. 

The nearby towns of Burney, Redding, Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, Chester/Lake Almanor, and Susanville have hotel and lodging accommodations. 

More Information: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near the park include Burney, Redding, Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, Chester/Lake Almanor, and Susanville. Nearby NPS units include the Lassen National Forest, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and the Plumas National Forest. 

42. Mammoth Cave National Park

This fun national park is home to the longest cave system in the world. There are over 400 miles of limestone cave systems at Mammoth Cave. Exploring the passageways through the caves, both big and small, is a truly incredible experience. 

The park also protects various river valleys, rolling hills and meadows, and mixed-deciduous/coniferous forests.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Kentucky / 1941 / 52,830 acres

Mammoth Cave national park_kentucky
Walking path at Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Best time to visit: All year round. 

Top Attractions:

  • Take a self-guided or ranger-guided tour of the caves
  • Hike Cedar Sink Trail
  • See the Green River and Echo River
  • Hike to Sunset Point
  • See the Turnhole Bend Overlook
  • Visit the Green River Bluffs Overlook
  • Drive to the Doyel Valley Overlook

Popular Activities: Cave tours, hiking, photography, wildlife viewing, kayaking, horseback riding, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Kentucky Cave Shrimp, the Indiana Brown Bat, Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, Eastern small-footed bat, northern long-eared bat, deer, raccoon, opossum, gray squirrel, rabbit, woodchuck, muskrat, beaver, red fox, coyote, owls, and wild turkey. 

Suggested Stay: One day

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The park has three front-country campgrounds, including Mammoth Cave Campground, Maple Springs Campground, and Houchin Ferry Campground. 

The Lodge at Mammoth Cave offers a mix of modern hotel rooms and historic cottages within walking distance of trails and cave tours. 

The nearby towns of Bowling Green, Brownsville, Munfordville, Cave City, Horse Cave, and Glasgow all have lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Mammoth Cave National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to the park include Bowling Green, Brownsville, Munfordville, Cave City, Horse Cave, and Glasgow. Some other NPS units nearby include Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. 

43. Mesa Verde National Park

This national park in Southwestern Colorado is widely known for its well-preserved and ancient Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and structures. Mesa Verde also preserves ancient Puebloan Native American culture. 

The park sits in a transition zone between the arid, dry scrublands to the south and the forested, lush mountain environment of the Rocky Mountains to the north. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Colorado / 1906 / 52,000 acres

ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings found at Mesa Verde National Park
Spectacular shot of the ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings found at Mesa Verde National Park 

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions:

  • Take a tour of the ancient cliff dwellings
  • Hike the Petroglyph Point Trail
  • Visit the Spruce Tree House
  • Hike the Point Lookout Trail
  • Drive the Mesa Top Loop Road
  • Explore the Far View Sites

Popular Activities: Hiking, guided tours, historical sightseeing, scenic drives, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife to See: Bobcats, coyotes, mule deer, rabbits, weasels, lizards, snakes, owls, gray foxes, mountain lions, black bears, elk, marmots, and porcupines.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Morefield Campground is only four miles from the park entrance. The Far View Lodge is situated near the center of the park, 15 miles from the park entrance. Outside of the park, the nearby towns of Mancos and Cortez have lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Mesa Verde National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: The towns of Mancos and Cortez are only around 10-15 minutes from the park’s entrance. Some nearby NPS units include the San Juan National Forest and Canyonlands National Park. 

44. Mount Rainier National Park

The awe-inspiring national park is full of icy glaciers, ancient old-growth forests, wildflower meadows, pristine alpine lakes, gushing waterfalls, and numerous wetlands. The park’s centerpiece is the 14,411-foot Mount Rainier which stands as an icon over the state of Washington. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Washington / 1899 / 236,400 acres

mount rainier national park_washington
Majestic mountain lake view, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Best time to visit: June-September 

Top Attractions:

  • Visit Myrtle Falls
  • Hike the Skyline Trail
  • Explore Paradise Valley
  • Visit the Grove of the Patriarchs
  • See Narada Falls
  • Hike the Tipsoo Lake Loop
  • Hike the Snow Lake Trail
  • Visit the Christine Falls Viewpoint
  • Hike the Wonderland Trail
  • Hike the Mt Fremont Lookout Tower Trail
  • Ride the Mount Rainer Gondola to Crystal Mountain for the best view of Mount Rainier

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Mountain goats, elk, deer, black bears, marmots, pikas, golden-mantled ground squirrels, chipmunks, Cascade red fox, salmon, trout, char, and whitefish.

Suggested Stay: 4-5 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: Some campgrounds within the park include the Cougar Rock Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground, and White River Campground. The park’s only hotel and lodging accommodations are the Paradise Inn and the National Park Inn. 

The nearby cities of Tacoma, Seattle, and other surrounding towns have many hotel and lodging accommodations. 

More Information: Mount Rainier National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to Mount Rainier include Seattle and Tacoma. Some other nearby NPS units include the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. 

45. New River Gorge National Park

This is America’s newest national park and is home to the “New River,” a rugged whitewater river that flows north and traverses through deep sandstone canyons. 

The New River is one of the oldest rivers on the entire continent. Stunning mountain views, serene hikes through wooded forests, and great whitewater rafting experiences are all trademarks of this spectacular national park. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): West Virginia / 2020 / 70,000 acres

new river gorge national park
The iconic New River Gorge Bridge on a brisk fall day.

Best time to visit: April-November

Top Attractions:

  • Visit Sandstone Falls
  • Walk the catwalk on the New River Gorge Bridge
  • Drive along the Fayette Station Road
  • Hike the Castle Rock Trail
  • Hike the Long Point Trail
  • Take a whitewater rafting trip
  • Go tubing on the upper New River

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, tubing, kayaking, white water rafting, wildlife viewing, photography, and scenic drives. 

Wildlife to See: Beaver, black bears, mink, river otter, groundhog, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrel, chipmunk, and white-tailed deer.

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The park only has several primitive campsites. Among these are the Stone Cliff Beach Campground, Army Camp Campground, Grandview Sandbar Campground, Glade Creek Campground, War Ridge/Backus Mountain Campground, Brooklyn Campground, Thayer Campground, Meadow Creek Campground, and Gauley Tailwaters Campground. 

Developed campgrounds can be found at state parks and private campgrounds near the park.

The park has no lodges or hotel facilities. However, nearby towns do have lodging and hotel accommodations. Additionally, Hawks Nest and Pipestem Resort State Parks have lodges, and Babcock, Bluestone, and Pipestem Resort State Parks have cabins available. 

More Information: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to the park include Fayetteville, Hinton, Oak Hill, and Beckley. Some nearby NPS units include the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. 

46. North Cascades National Park

This is another underrated national park less than three hours from Seattle. North Cascades National Park is a true gem in the state of Washington. 

Here you’ll find a marvelous landscape of jagged mountain peaks, turquoise alpine lakes, thick temperate rainforests, spectacular waterfalls, and hundreds of glaciers. In fact, there are over 300 glaciers in the park – the most in the contiguous United States. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Washington / 1968 / 505,000 acres

north cascades national park_Mount Shuksan
Mount Shuksan at North Cascades National Park

Best time to visit: June-September

Top Attractions:

  • Take a drive on the North Cascades Highway
  • Hike the Washington Pass Overlook
  • Go for a swim in Diablo Lake
  • Visit Stehekin Valley
  • Hike the Maple Pass Loop
  • Hike the Blue Lake Trail
  • Visit the Diablo Dam
  • Visit Ladder Creek Falls
  • Hike to Gorge Creek Falls
  • Hike the Cascade Pass Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, swimming, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Marmots, elk, moose, mountain goats, black bears, wolverines, river otters, cougars, lynxes, wolves, and bobcats.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds within the park. These sites include Newhalem Creek Campground, George Lake Campground, Goodell Creek Campground, Lower Goodell Creek Group Campground, Colonial Creek North Campground, and Colonial Creek South Campground. 

There are twenty-five boat-in camps along the backcountry shorelines of the park. You can find more information about those sites here

Lakeview Campground, Purple Point Campground, and Harlequin Campground are all located in Stehekin. A couple of lodging options are inside the park, including the Ross Lake Resort and the North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin.

More Information: North Cascades National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to the park include Newhalem, Diablo, Ruby, Marblemount, Corkindale, Cedar Crossing, Anacortes Crossing, and Barron. Some nearby NPS units include the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. 

47. Olympic National Park

Another one of Washington’s unforgettable national parks, Olympic National Park, is a landscape of sheer beauty and diversity. The park hosts a varied collection of sprawling snow-capped mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, vibrant old-growth temperate rainforests, rolling wildflower meadows, plus a rugged and rocky coastline. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Washington / 1938 / 922,700 acres

olympic national park_ruby beach
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park

Best time to visit: June-September 

Top Attractions: 

  • Hike along the scenic Hurricane Ridge
  • Walk along Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach
  • Hike to Marymere Falls and Sol Duc Falls
  • Hike the Second Beach Trail
  • See the Hoh Rain Forest
  • Check out Lake Crescent
  • Take the Ozette Loop hike
  • Go for a ride on the Olympic Peninsula Loop Drive

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, sea otters, raccoons, beavers, mink, black bears, wolves, Roosevelt elk, Olympic Marmot, Black-Tailed Deer, cougars, salmon, trout, and char.

Suggested Stay: 4-5 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: There is a wide variety of campsites within the park. Some of these include Deer Park Campground, Dosewallips Campground, Fairholme Campground, Graves Creek Campground, Heart O’ the Hills Campground, Hoh Campground, Kalaloch Campground, Mora Campground, North Fork Campground, Ozette Campground, Queets Campground, South Beach Campground, Staircase Campground, Sol Duc Hot Springs RV Park & Campground, and Log Cabin Resort RV & Campground.

There is also a number of lodging options inside the park. Such areas include the Kalaloch Lodge, Lake Crescent Lodge, Log Cabin Resort, and Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.

There are also lots of other lodging and hotel accommodations in nearby towns and communities. A few towns on the North Peninsula of the park include Port Angeles, Sequim, and Port Townsend. Towns near the West Peninsula include Forks, La Push, Lake Quinault, Sekiu, and Neah Bay. Some towns near the East Peninsula of the park include Hoodsport, Quilcene, Brinnon, Shelton and Olympia.

More Information: Olympic National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some of the closest towns to Olympic include Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend, Forks, La Push, Lake Quinault, Sekiu, Neah Bay, Hoodsport, Quilcene, Brinnon, Shelton and Olympia. Some nearby NPS units include the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge and the Olympic National Forest. 

48. Petrified Forest National Park

This fantastic national park in Northeastern Arizona is home to one of the world’s most sizable and colorful concentrations of petrified wood deposits. The wood found here is millions of years old and is the petrified remains of various coniferous trees, tree ferns, and some ginkgo trees. 

The park also contains fossil beds, a badlands section, incredible rock formations of buttes and mesas, ancient ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs, colorful wildflowers, and other native wildlife, plus a collection of scenic lookouts. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Arizona / 1962 / 146,900 acres 

arizona places to visit_petrified forest national park
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Best time to visit: September-May

Top Attractions:

  • See the Painted Desert
  • Hike the Blue Mesa Trail
  • Visit the Rainbow Forest
  • See petroglyphs near the Newspaper Rock area
  • Hike the Crystal Forest Trail
  • Hike the Giant Logs Trail
  • Drive the Blue Mesa Road Loop
  • See various paleontological exhibits at the Rainbow Forest Museum & Visitor Center

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, museums, historical exhibits, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Black bear, pronghorn, elk, cottontail rabbit, coyote, Kit Fox, bobcat, Mule deer, badger, Striped skunk, Black-tailed jackrabbit, Collared Lizard, Greater Short-horned Lizard, Prairie Rattlesnake, and California King Snake. 

Suggested Stay: One day

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: There is no camping or lodging of any kind in the park. However, numerous private campgrounds exist throughout Navajo and Apache Counties, in and near Holbrook, Sun Valley, St. Johns, Joseph City, and other communities.

More Information: Petrified Forest National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near the park include Holbrook, Sun Valley, St. Johns, and Joseph City. A few nearby NPS units include the Apache National Forest, the Tonto National Forest, and the Coconino National Forest.  

49. Pinnacles National Park

This is one of America’s newer national parks and is only ten years old. The landscape here consists of a rugged area full of chaparral, oak woodlands, mountainous terrain, talus caves, rock spires, towering pinnacles, and canyon formations.

The land here was formed as a result of an ancient volcano that erupted around 23 million years ago. Subsequent lava eruptions and flows slid across the valley and shaped the park into the way we see it today. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 2013 / 26,000 acres

Pinnacles National Park_Bear Gulch Reservoir
The Bear Gulch Reservoir in Pinnacles National Park

Best time to visit: October-June

Top Attractions:

  • Hike the Balconies Cave Trail
  • Hike the Condor Gulch Trail
  • Hike the Bear Gulch Cave Trail
  • Go rock climbing at Tourist Trap and Discovery Wall

Popular Activities: Hiking, rock climbing, photography, and wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife to See: Black-tailed deer, bobcats, gray foxes, raccoons, jackrabbits, brush rabbits, ground squirrels, mountain lions, chipmunks, and bats. 

Suggested Stay: Two days.

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: Pinnacles Campground is the only campground in the park. It is also the only lodging available here. However, the nearby communities of King City, Hollister, and Soledad have some lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Pinnacles National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to Pinnacles include King City, Hollister, and Soledad. Some NPS units nearby include Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, plus the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 

50. Redwood National Park

Redwood National and State Parks are home to the tallest and oldest trees on the planet. The average height of the mature trees here is between 200-240 feet tall, and they are anywhere from 800-1,500 years old. 

Besides these towering and ancient trees, a beautiful and wild landscape typical of Northern California exists here. The park protects misty coastal mountains, extensive prairies, oak woodlands, pristine wild rivers, and about 40 miles of rocky coastline. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1968 / 131,983 acres

roadtrip ideas redwood national park
Towering redwood trees grow alongside lush green ferns that flourish on the forest floor

Best time to visit: All year round. 

Top Attractions:

  • Stop by Fern Canyon
  • Hike to the Tall Trees Grove
  • Hike to Enderts Beach
  • Ride your vehicle on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway
  • Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Grove
  • Take a drive through the Bald Hills Road
  • Hike the Dolason Prairie Trail
  • Go kayaking on the Smith Wild and Scenic River

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, wildlife viewing, scenic drives, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: California sea lions, giant green sea anemones, bald eagles, Roosevelt elk, salamanders, and banana slugs.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here

Where to stay: There are several developed campgrounds in the park. These sites include Jedediah Smith Campground, Mill Creek Campground, Elk Prairie Campground, and Gold Bluffs Beach Campground. Various nearby private, state, and public lands also provide camping opportunities. Public agencies that have camping options outside the park include California State Parks, Humboldt County Parks, Six Rivers National Forest, and the Smith River National Recreation area.

Eight basic cabins in the park are usually reserved months in advance. Besides the campsites and cabins, the park has no lodges or overnight accommodations. 

There are other lodging, hotel, and camping options in the nearby towns of Brookings, Crescent City, Klamath, Orick, Trinidad, McKinleyville, Arcata, and Eureka. 

More Information: Redwood National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns nearby Redwoods include Brookings, Crescent City, Klamath, Orick, Trinidad, McKinleyville, Arcata, and Eureka. NPS units near the park include the Six Rivers National Forest and the Klamath National Forest.

51. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park in Northern Colorado is a spectacular landscape of flowering meadows, beautiful alpine lakes and streams, thick forests, and lofty mountain peaks. Seventy-seven mountain peaks are over 12,000 feet within the park. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Colorado / 1915 / 229,062 acres

rocky mountain national park_near denver colorado
A road winds through the high alpine country in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Best time to visit: June-September

Top Attractions: 

  • Hike the Bear Lake Trail
  • Drive along Trail Ridge Road
  • Hike the Emerald Lake Trail
  • Drive the Old Fall River Road
  • See the Alluvial Fan
  • See Alberta Falls
  • Visit Lily Lake, Sprague Lake, and Dream Lake
  • Hike Adams Falls Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, scenic drives, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Bighorn sheep, bears, elk, mountain lions, moose, pikas, coyotes, marmots, and deer.

Suggested Stay: Three days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are numerous campgrounds within the park. These sites include Aspenglen Campground, Glacier Basin Campground, Longs Peak Campground, Moraine Park Campground, and Timber Creek Campground. There are no lodges to stay at within the park. However, various nearby towns have plenty of lodging and hotel accommodations.

More Information: Rocky Mountain National Park 

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns and cities near the park include Estes Park, Grand Lake, Lyons, Boulder, Denver, Winter Park, and Granby. Nearby NPS units include the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests. 

52. Saguaro National Park

This national park in Southern Arizona protects the nation’s largest cacti species, the Saguaro Cactus. The park also consists of desert scrub and desert grassland habitats. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Arizona / 1994 / 91,327 acres 

saguaro national park_arizona desert landscape at sunset
Saguaro cactus and Arizona desert landscape at sunset

Best time to visit: October-April

Top Attractions:

  • Hike the Valley View Overlook Trail
  • Visit the Signal Hill Petroglyphs
  • Drive the Cactus Forest Drive
  • Drive the Bajada Loop Drive
  • Hike the Desert Discovery Nature Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Roadrunners, horned lizards, Gila monsters, kangaroo rats, and collared peccaries. 

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds located inside the park. They include Manning Campground, Spud Rock Spring Campground, Happy Valley Saddle Campground, Juniper Basin Campground, Grass Shack Campground, and Douglas Spring Campground. There are no lodges inside the park. However, there are many lodging and hotel options in the nearby city of Tucson. 

More Information: Saguaro National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns and cities near the park include Tuscon, Catalina Foothills, Drexel Heights, Flowing Wells, Casas Adobes, Oro Valley, Green Valley, and Marana. Nearby NPS units include the Coronado National Forest and the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

53. Sequoia National Park

This astonishing national park is home to the largest and oldest trees on earth, the giant sequoia. These trees only grow in the unique environment of the western Sierra region. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1890 / 404,063 acres

sequoia national park
A woman runs through the infamous Tunnel Long inside Sequoia National Park. 

Best time to visit: May-October

Top Attractions: 

  • Visit the General Sherman Tree
  • Drive through Sequoia National Park’s Tunnel Log
  • Hike Moro Rock Trail
  • Visit Crystal Cave
  • Hike Crescent Meadow Trail
  • Visit Tokapah Falls and Roaring River Falls
  • Hike Big Trees Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Gray foxes, bobcats, striped and spotted skunks, black bears, woodrats, pocket gophers, white-footed mice, California quails, scrub jays, lesser goldfinches, wrentits, acorn woodpeckers, gopher snakes, California kingsnakes, striped racers, western whiptail lizards, and California newts.

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here.

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds in the park, including Azalea Campground, Crystal Springs Campground, Sunset Campground, Canyon View Campground, Sheep Creek Campground, Moraine Campground, and Sentinel Campground. 

The Wuksachi Lodge is located in the Giant Forest area of the park. Several other lodges are also within the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park. They include the John Muir Lodge, Grant Cove Cabins, and the Cedar Grove Lodge. 

More Information: Sequoia National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns nearby the park include Three Rivers, Visalia, Tulare, and Fresno. Nearby NPS units include Kings Canyon National Park and the Inyo National Forest.

54. Shenandoah National Park

This wonderful National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. It is located only 75 miles outside the bustling metropolis of Washington, D.C. Visitors to this park can enjoy the sights of flower-filled meadows, rushing waterfalls, serene forests, and stunning mountain vistas. The park is also home to a plethora of wildlife. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Virginia / 1935 / 197,438 acres

shenandoah national park fall foliage autumn
Shenandoah National Park fall foliage

Best time to visit: September-November and March-May

Top Attractions: 

  • Hike to the top of Old Rag Mountain
  • Go for a ride on the Skyline Drive
  • Visit Dark Hollow Falls and Rose River Falls
  • Hike the Bearfence Mountain Trailhead
  • Hike to the summit of Marys Rock
  • Visit the Luray Caverns
  • Hike to Hawksbill Mountain

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Spotted skunks, black bears, bobcats, shrews, moles, voles, coyotes, white-tailed deer, big brown bats, and grey squirrels. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are several campgrounds in the park, including Mathews Arm Campground, Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground, Loft Mountain Campground, and Dundo Group Campground. 

There are also a few lodging accommodations and options inside the park. These include the Skyland Lodges and Cabins, Big Meadows Lodge, and the Lewis Mountain Cabins. There are also six primitive cabins in the park that are maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. 

More Information: Shenandoah National Park 

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near Shenandoah include Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Waynesboro, Staunton, Winchester, and Washington, DC. Some nearby NPS units include the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. 

55. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This national park in Western North Dakota protects the area where Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands. There are three separate sections within the park, each of which is unique. 

The Little Missouri River flows through the entire park. It was established in honor of the influence the landscape had on President Theodore Roosevelt, who, in his younger years, hunted and ranched in the area within the park. 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
Buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

State / Year Established / Size (acres): North Dakota / 1978 / 70,446 acres

Best time to visit: May-October 

Top Attractions:

  • Take the Scenic Loop Drive
  • See Oxbow Overlook
  • See the Painted Canyon Overlook
  • Drive the Petrified Forest Loop
  • Hike the Caprock-Coulee Trail
  • See the River Bend Overlook
  • Visit the Elkhorn Ranch Site
  • Hike Buckhorn Trail and Sperati Point Trail
  • Visit the Maltese Cross Cabin

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, historical sightseeing spots, wildlife viewing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Bison, feral horses, elk, white-tail and mule deer, pronghorn, and prairie dogs. 

Suggested Stay: 2-3 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are two campgrounds at the park. These include Cottonwood Campground and Juniper Campground. No lodges exist within the park. However, several nearby towns have lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include Medora, Belfield, Dickinson, Watford City, and Beach. Other nearby NPS units include the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site and the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site.

56. Virgin Islands National Park

This picturesque national park located in the tropical Atlantic is like a paradise on earth. You’ll find a diverse mixture of terrestrial, coastal, and marine environments here. Tropical forests, mangrove forests, coral reefs, seagrass beds, white sand beaches, and mountainous terrain can all be found within the park’s landscape. 

The park is perfect for those who want numerous outdoor day trip activities and those who would merely like to relax on the beach. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands / 1956 / 14,737 acres

us virgin islands national park
Virgin Islands National Park

Best time to visit: December-June

Top Attractions:

  • Visit Cinnamon Bay
  • Visit Trunk Bay Beach
  • Hike the Reef Bay Trail
  • Visit Salt Pond Bay
  • Go to Watermelon Cay
  • Visit Hawksnest Beach
  • Go for a ride on the North Shore Drive
  • Hike the Francis Bay Trail
  • See the Annaberg Sugar Plantation

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, sailing, windsurfing, camping, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, wildlife viewing, historical sites, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Sea urchins, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, squids, mollusks, sea stars, sea turtles, whales, sharks, stingrays, reef fish, deer, mongooses, and pigs. 

Suggested Stay: 5-7 days.

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There is one campground located in the park known as the Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground. There are no lodges within the boundaries of the park. However, outside the park, the island of St. John has plenty of lodging accommodations, including beach resorts, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and vacation villas.

More Information: Virgin Islands National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Two of the main cities on the island include Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. There are no nearby NPS units to this park as it is in the Atlantic Ocean, far from the U.S. mainland. 

57. Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park is a transition area between land and aquatic ecosystems. You’ll find a wonderful and wild landscape here full of rocky outcrops and ridges, tall cliffs, wetlands and bogs, islands, streams and rivers, small lakes, and the park’s four large lakes. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Minnesota / 1975 / 218,055 acres

Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park

Best time to visit: May-October 

Top Attractions: 

  • Visit the Ellsworth Rock Gardens
  • See the Beaver Pond Overlook
  • Visit Kettle Falls and Junction Bay Falls
  • Hike the Locator Lake Trail
  • Visit Rainy Lake and Crane Lake
  • Hike the Echo Bay Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, camping, fishing, photography, and stargazing. 

Wildlife to See: Bald eagles, loons, double-crested cormorants, owls, warblers, black bears, moose, gray wolves, and beavers. 

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are 147 frontcountry, 14 backcountry, and two primitive campsites within the park. You can find out more information about those campsites here. It should be noted that with the exception of two hike-in primitive campsites, all the campsites are only accessible by watercraft. 

The Kettle Falls Hotel is the only lodging available in the park. However, the nearby town of International Falls, MN, has many lodging and hotel accommodations. 

More Information: Voyageurs National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Nearby towns to the park include International Falls, Kabetogama, and Crane Lake. One nearby NPS unit is the Superior National Forest. 

58. White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park in New Mexico protects a large portion of a 275-square-mile gypsum dune field, the largest gypsum dune field in the entire world. 

The vast, glistening white, wave-like dunes within the park make you feel like you’re in another world. People of all ages enjoy sand sledding down the magnificent dunes and seeing the various wildlife that calls the park home. 

White Sands National Park
A magnificent sunrise over White Sands National Park. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): New Mexico / 2019 / 176,000 acres

Best time to visit: September-May

Top Attractions:

  • Go for a ride along Dunes Drive
  • Hike the Playa Trail
  • Go for a stroll on the Interdune Boardwalk
  • Hike the Dune Life Nature Trail
  • Go sand sledding down one of the park’s many dunes

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, sand sledding, scenic drives, stargazing, and photography. 

Wildlife to See:  Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, rabbits, and porcupines.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The only type of camping available within the park is backcountry camping. However, all backcountry camping is closed due to habitat rehabilitation and has no set reopening date. 

Although there aren’t lodges within the park. There are many lodging and hotel accommodations in the nearby town of Alamogordo. 

There are also numerous public and private campgrounds and RV parks within one hour’s drive of the park. These campgrounds are located in the Lincoln National Forest, the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area, and Oliver Lee State Park. 

More Information: White Sands National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include Alamogordo and Las Cruces. Nearby NPS units include the Gila National Forest, Lincoln National Forest, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

59. Wind Cave National Park

This national park is home to two distinctly different landscapes, one of which is entirely underground. The above-ground part of the park consists of a landscape of rolling mixed-grass prairies, wooded hillsides, and ponderosa pine forests. 

The underground section of the park consists of relatively rare boxwork cave formations. The Wind Cave is one of the world’s longest and most complex caves.

State / Year Established / Size (acres): South Dakota / 1903 / 33,847 acres

wind cave national park
Beautiful overlook at Wind Cave National Park

Best time to visit: April-October

Top Attractions:

  • Take a tour of the Wind Cave
  • Visit Wind Cave Canyon
  • Hike the Lookout Point Trail
  • Hike the Rankin Ridge Trail
  • Drive along Pigtail Bridge

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, cave tours, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs.

Suggested Stay: 1-2 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The Elk Mountain Campground is the only campground in the park and has 62 campsites. There are no lodges within the park. The nearby towns of Hot Springs and Custer have other hotel and lodging accommodations. Additionally, other campgrounds are located in the nearby Custer State Park, which borders Wind Cave National Park. 

More Information: Wind Cave National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near the park include Hot Springs, Custer, and Rapid City. Some nearby NPS units include the Black Hills National Forest, the Oglala National Grassland, and Badlands National Park.

60. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

This is the country’s largest national park and is six times as large as Yellowstone. Wrangell-St. Elias is a vast and wild area with grand and impressive landscapes everywhere you look. 

Here, you’ll find countless glaciers, meandering rivers, rocky coastal beaches, waterfalls, fjords, and four different mountain ranges. Nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States can be found within the park.

Mount Saint Elias in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Alaska
Mount Saint Elias in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Alaska / 1980 / 13.2 million acres 

Best time to visit: Mid May-Mid September

Top Attractions:

  • Take a ride along the scenic Nabesna Road and McCarthy Road
  • Visit the abandoned mining towns of McCarthy and Kennecott
  • Hike the Root Glacier Trail
  • Visit the Gilahina Trestle & Hiking Trail
  • Take a scenic plane tour flying over the park

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, flightseeing tours, river rafting, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, photography, historical sites, and wildlife viewing.

Wildlife to See: Lynx, wolverines, beavers, martens, porcupines, foxes, coyotes, marmots, river otters, ground squirrels, pikas, voles, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, porpoises, and whales.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There is only one established campground in the park, known as the Kendesnii Campground. This campground has ten designated campsites. There are also several primitive campsites on several pullouts along the Nabesna Road. 

Furthermore, several rustic public-use cabins exist in the park. These cabins are in remote locations and have very limited, basic accommodations. 

There are also several lodges available in or around the park. These include the Ulti­ma Thule Lodge, the Ken­ni­cott Glac­i­er Lodge, and the McCarthy Lodge and Ma John­son Hotel. 

More Information: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some nearby towns to the park include McCarthy, Alcan Border, Beaver Creek City, Kennecott, Glennallen, Snag Junction, Chitina, Gakona, and Koidern. Other nearby NPS units include the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark and the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge.

61. Yellowstone National Park

An icon of the American West, Yellowstone is an incredibly well-known and popular national park. The park contains a wide variety of natural features and landscapes. Here you’ll find a series of extraordinary canyons, dense forests, open meadows, pristine alpine lakes and streams, numerous waterfalls, hot springs, and bursting geysers, including the infamous Old Faithful Geyser. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Wyoming (small portions of the park are in Idaho and Montana) / 1872 / 2.2 million acres

bison in yellowstone national park
Bison herd with calves in Lamar Valley, Neal Herbert

Best time to visit: June-October 

Top Attractions:

  • Visit Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Visit Old Faithful
  • See Thumb Geyser
  • See the Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Visit Yellowstone Lake
  • Take a drive through Hayden Valley
  • Visit the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River
  • Visit Gibbon Falls and Tower Falls
  • See Artist Point
  • Drive the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway
  • Visit the Sapphire Pool
  • Hike to the top of Mount Washburn
  • Hike the North Rim Trail

Popular Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, photography, scenic drives, and camping.  

Wildlife to See: Elk, mule deer, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, wolverines, and lynx. 

Suggested Stay: 4-5 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are 12 campgrounds available in the park. These campgrounds include Bridge Bay Campground, Canyon Campground, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Grant Village Campground, Madison Campground, Indian Creek Campground, Lewis Lake Campground, Mammoth Campground, Norris Campground, Pebble Creek Campground, Slough Creek Campground, and Tower Fall Campground. With the exception of Mammoth Campground, all campgrounds have to be reserved in advance. 

There are a total of nine lodges within the park. Some are hotel-style, and some are cabin-style totaling over 2,000 rooms. Such lodges include Canyon Lodge and Cabins, Grant Village Lodge, Lake Hotel and Cabins, Lake Lodge Cabins, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge, Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and the Roosevelt Lodge. 

More Information: Yellowstone National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near the park include Jackson Hole, West Yellowstone, Bozeman, Cody, Gardiner, Big Sky, East Yellowstone, and Cooke City. Other nearby NPS units include Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

62. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is easily one of the most picturesque landscapes found anywhere in the world. Looking out over the iconic Yosemite Valley, you can catch impressive views of the Half Dome and El Capitan granite monoliths. The park also contains a collection of towering sequoia trees, beautiful lakes, superb hiking trails, and breathtaking waterfalls.

Vernal Falls cascades down the rocks at Yosemite
Vernal Falls cascades down the rocks at Yosemite. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): California / 1890 / 748,000 acres

Best time to visit: May-September

Top Attractions:

  • See Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls
  • Visit the Tunnel View scenic overlook
  • See the Tuolumne Meadows
  • Visit the Mariposa Grove
  • Visit Tenaya Lake
  • Hike Mist Trail
  • Hike the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail
  • Hike Panorama Trail
  • Take a drive on Tioga Pass
  • Hike to the top of Half Dome

Popular Activities: Hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, camping, and photography. 

Wildlife to See: Black bears, Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, Sierra Nevada Red Foxes, mountain lions, mule deer, mice, gophers, chipmunks, marmots, and coyotes. 

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: There are multiple campgrounds in Yosemite. These sites include Upper Pines Campground, Lower Pines Campground, North Pines Campground, Wawona Campground, Bridalveil Creek Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, Crane Flat Campground, Tamarack Flat Campground, White Wolf Campground, Yosemite Creek Campground, Porcupine Flat Campground, and Tuolumne Meadows Campground.

Other lodging facility options range from basic tent cabins to deluxe and luxurious rooms. These lodges include The Ahwahnee, Curry Village, White Wolf Lodge, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, High Sierra Camp, Glacier Point Ski Hut, Housekeeping Camp, and Wawona Hotel.

More Information: Yosemite National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Some towns near the park include El Portal, Lee Vining, Oakhurst, Bass Lake, Mariposa, Groveland, Twain Harte, and Yosemite West. Other nearby NPS units include the Sierra National Forest, the Stanislaus National Forest, and Devils Postpile National Monument. 

63. Zion National Park

Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion National Park is truly a land of wonder. An expansive canyon landscape exists here with winding rivers, slot canyons, and towering cliffs. 

Angel’s Landing, arguably one of the world’s most challenging hikes, rewards you with unforgettable views of Zion Canyon. 

A hike through The Narrows offers the unique experience of traversing upstream through the Virgin River along a narrow slot canyon. The Narrows hike is only an average of 20-30 feet wide. 

State / Year Established / Size (acres): Utah / 1919 / 146,600 acres

Best time to visit: Spring and Fall have the best weather. However, the park can be incredibly crowded during those times of the year. Winter in the park sees far fewer visitors if you’re seeking to avoid the crowds. 

Best times to visit zion national park
Observation Point in Zion National Park. NPS/Christopher Gezon

Top Attractions:

  • Hike through The Narrows
  • Hike Angels Landing
  • Hike through The Subway
  • Hike the Emerald Pools Trail
  • Drive through the Mount Carmel Highway
  • Take a ride on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

Popular Activities: Hiking, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, canyoneering, camping, bicycling, backpacking, and wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife to See: Mule deer, foxes, bats, bighorn sheep, rock squirrels, petite kangaroo rats, ringtail cats, mountain lions, bobcats, porcupines, skunks, raccoons, bats, and beavers.

Suggested Stay: 3-4 days

Current Conditions: You can find current conditions in the park here. 

Where to stay: The park has three campgrounds: Watchman Campground, South Campground, and Lava Point Campground. 

The only lodge in the park is the Zion Lodge which has motel rooms, cabins, and suites available. 

There are plenty of lodging and hotel accommodations outside the park in the nearby towns of Springdale, Rockville, Mt. Carmel Junction, Hurricane, St. George, and Kanab.

More Information: Zion National Park

Nearby towns and other NPS Units: Several nearby towns to Zion include Springdale, Rockville, Mt. Carmel Junction, Hurricane, St. George, and Kanab. Other nearby NPS units to the park include the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Dixie National Forest, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area.

Complete List of all 429 National Park Units & Sites

Today, there are currently 429 units (sometimes called “sites”) within the National Park Service. Many people commonly refer to these units as “parks,” however, only 63 of them are technically called “national parks.” Having said that, the 429 units that make up the National Park Service sprawl over 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. You can find at least one NPS unit in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C. Click here to see the complete list of all 429 National Park Units/Sites.

Wright Brothers National Memorial outer banks NC
Kill Devil Hills USA – 13 March 2015 – Wright Brothers National Memorial

Printable National Parks United States Map 2023

Click here for your FREE printable National Parks United States Map pictured below (multiple color options)

national parks map and list printable checklist
CLICK HERE for your FREE Downloadable National Parks List & Map (multiple versions)

USA National Parks Checklist + Map 2023

CLICK HERE for your FREE National Parks Checklist + Map 2023 (pictured below)

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Secure your FREE downloadable national parks checklist and travel journal!

national parks list and map 2023

US National Parks List by State

We have listed each national park by state below. Although there are 429 National Park Units, only 63 have the title “national park.” Keep in mind that some national parks are in multiple states as they cross borders. The state with the most national parks is California at 9.

  • ALASKA: Denali, Glacier Bay, Gates of the Arctic, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Katmai
  • ARIZONA: Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro
  • ARKANSAS: Hot Springs
  • CALIFORNIA: Channel Islands, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Yosemite, and Sequoia
  • COLORADO: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain
  • FLORIDA: Dry Tortugas, Biscayne, and Everglades
  • HAWAII: Hawai’i Volcanoes and Haleakala
  • IDAHO: Yellowstone
  • INDIANA: Indiana Dunes
  • KENTUCKY: Mammoth Cave
  • MAINE: Acadia
  • MICHIGAN: Isle Royale
  • MINNESOTA: Voyageurs
  • MISSOURI: Gateway Arch
  • MONTANA: Glacier and Yellowstone
  • NEVADA: Great Basin
  • NEW MEXICO: Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands
  • NORTH CAROLINA: Great Smoky Mountains
  • NORTH DAKOTA: Theodore Roosevelt
  • OHIO: Cuyahoga Valley
  • OREGON: Crater Lake
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: Congaree
  • SOUTH DAKOTA: Badlands and Wind Cave
  • TENNESSEE: Great Smoky Mountains
  • TEXAS: Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains
  • UTAH: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion
  • VIRGINIA: Shenandoah
  • WASHINGTON: Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades
  • WEST VIRGINIA: New River Gorge
  • WYOMING: Yellowstone and Grand Teton
  • AMERICAN SAMOA: National Park of the American Samoa
  • US VIRGIN ISLANDS: Virgin Islands National Park

Frequently Asked Questions

How many US National Parks are there?

Have you ever wondered how many national parks there are in the U.S.? You’ve likely heard various numbers thrown out there regarding the number of U.S. national parks. It can get somewhat confusing for people when discerning the difference between the number of National Park Service “units” and true national “parks.” Let’s look at the difference between them.

According to the naming designation by the U.S. Congress and the National Park Service, there are currently 63 U.S. National ParksHowever, there are 429 national park units within the parks service. Differentiating between these two categories is essential. National park “units” include the 63 actual U.S. national parks and different park naming designations as well. For example, some of these involve naming titles such as national monuments, lakeshores, battlefields, riverways, historic sites, etc. 

Best times to visit zion national park
Observation Point in Zion National Park. NPS/Christopher Gezon

How many National Park Units (sites) are there?

Today, there are currently 429 units (sometimes called “sites”) within the National Park Service. Many people commonly refer to these units as “parks.” The 429 units that make up the National Park Service sprawl over 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. You can find at least one NPS unit in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C.

Many of the NPS units that are often called “parks” are technically not true national parks. In reality, there are only 63 actual national parks that hold that title. A wide selection of other naming designations is given to these NPS units. More specifically, there are actually nineteen different naming designations!

Want to see the list of all 429 park units and their designations like battlefields, monuments, memorials, preserves, and others? Click here for the complete list of the 429 National Park Units!

climbing devil's tower
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

What is a National Park?

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner famously said, “The National Parks are the best idea we ever had.” But what is the simple definition of a National Park? Millions of people visit America’s vast array of national parks every year. However, few stop to think about what it actually is.

A National Park is a portion of land or water set aside by the government for preservation purposes. They often hold some ecological or cultural significance. Land, plants, and animals are all preserved within the boundaries of a National Park. 

Did you ever wonder how many National Parks are in the United States? What qualifies a park as a National Park? The answers may surprise you! Click here to read more.

grand teton national park wyoming
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

What was the first National Park in the US?

Over a hundred years ago, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed The National Park Service Organic Act. The 35 National Parks in existence at the time, plus those yet to be created, were all granted permanent protection under this new federal bureau.

However, the first National Park in the United States was Yellowstone, when on March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law. This was the creation of the United State’s first actual National Park. 

Many have visited and experienced the awe-inspiring beauty of Yellowstone. The Park is iconic, from the otherworldly sight of the Grand Prismatic Spring to the infamous Old Faithful geyser and Yellowstone Lake’s serene appearance.

Once Yellowstone became the country’s first National Park, more than two million acres of the public domain in the Montana and Wyoming territories were set aside.

national parks wyoming yellowstone grizzly
Yellowstone National Park in the winter

What is the History of the U.S. National Park Service?

America’s 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once famously said, “There is nothing so American as our national parks… The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”

His famous words still ring true today. America’s national parks genuinely are places of wonder enjoyed by millions of visitors each year. Have you ever wondered, though, how the National Park Service (NPS) as we know it today came about? The answer lies in a deep, rich, and exciting part of our nation’s history.

America’s first national park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872. The National Park Service itself was established in 1916 and manages 429 individual units consisting of over 85 million acres in all 50 states.  We dig into more history about the National Park Service here.

national park service
A ranger speaks with a visitor at Arches National Park. NPS/Chris Wonderly

How many people visit America’s National Parks every year?

National Parks are popular destinations for tourists and travelers. Discover how many people visit US National Parks each year and the one with the most visitors.

By their very nature, National Parks easily attract a sizable number of visitors every year. Those who visit National Parks do so for a variety of reasons. Many individuals visit America’s National Parks because of their sheer beauty and unparalleled recreational activity opportunities. 

US National Parks had an incredible number of visitors in 2021. During that year, the National Parks received 297,115,406 visitors! 

Which US state has the most National Parks?

With a whopping total of 9 National Parks, California holds the title for the state with the most in America. The diversity of each National Park in California is immense. You’ll find beauty in the lush evergreen Redwood forests in the Coastal Northwest part of the State, all the way down to the sprawling desert conditions of Joshua Tree National Park.  Here they are:

  • Yosemite
  • Joshua Tree
  • Redwood
  • Lassen Volcanic
  • Death Valley
  • Pinnacles
  • Sequoia
  • Kings Canyon
  • Channel Islands
kings canyon & sequoia national park
Kings Canyon National Park, California
sequoia trees in sequoia national park california
Sequoia National Park, California

What is the Most Visited National Park?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America. Situated on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, this spectacular area receives the most visitors annually of any national park in the country.

It is known for its wide variety of plant and animal life, rugged misty mountains, and authentic Southern Appalachian mountain culture.  For more details on this amazing park, like visitation statistics, why it’s so popular and the activities to enjoy there, read more here!

most visited and popular national park in us
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the fall
american samoa least visited
American Samoa National Park

What is the Least Visited National Park?

When most people think of National Parks, they imagine the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. But what about the smaller parks that you’ve probably never even heard of? What is the least visited park in the US? These are parks that are more difficult to get to, making them isolated and untouched in many ways. These parks reside in Alaska, American Samoa, Florida, and even Michigan.

The least visited parks include Gates of the Arctic, National Park of American Samoa, Isle Royal National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park. Let’s take a closer look into these beautiful yet unknown parks. We will show you why you should be one of the few people to go out and visit them. Read More here!

What is the Newest National Park in the US?

new river gorge bridge - newest national park
New River Gorge Bridge: New River Gorge National Park, WV

Many of America’s well-known National Parks, such as the Great Smoky MountainsGrand Canyon, and Yellowstone, have been around for decades. But did you know that our newest National Park was recently established at the end of 2020? 

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is the newest National Park in America and was established in 2020. There are also no shortage of things to do and sights to see in this often-overlooked National Park. 

Are US National Parks Free for Seniors, Military or on Holidays?

Active Military individuals can obtain a free annual pass to the national parks for themselves and their dependents. Military Veterans have the bonus of qualifying for a free Lifetime Access Pass to the National Parks. Gold Star Families are also eligible to receive the Lifetime Access Pass. 

Seniors get added perks too when visiting National Parks for free. Seniors who are 62 and older can acquire a Lifetime Access Pass to the Parks for $80 or an Annual Pass for $20

Those with provable permanent disabilities can obtain a free Lifetime Access Pass

what is a national park yosemite NP

Which national parks require a reservation in 2023?

Are you considering taking a trip to one of our nation’s spectacular national parks in 2023? If so, you may want to do some research into what parks will require reservations for this coming year. 

2022 was another increasingly busy year throughout the National Park System. Some parks in 2022 had a pilot reservation system which they plan on keeping throughout 2023. Other parks have opted for a timed entry or ticket system to help assist crowd management and to make the visitation experience much more enjoyable.                   

Most notably, Yosemite has had a temporary ticketed entry system in 2022, which will not continue into the 2023 season. However, other popular national parks such as Arches, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain have decided to renew their reservation system for 2023. 

Various other national parks used different means to limit visitation numbers during busy times and in heavily visited areas. 2023 will see other national parks require a reservation system of some type. You can learn more here.

national parks annual pass

How can I get an annual or lifetime national park pass?

Annual passes or “Interagency” passes are year-long passes that provide access to more than 2,000 recreation areas managed by six Federal agencies. They cost $80.00 and can be purchased by anyone 16 years or older.  You can purchase them at the USGS.gov site here.

Access Pass: A free Lifetime Access Pass is available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship. 

What is the history & meaning of the National Park Service Arrowhead Logo?

The Arrowhead logo used by the National Park Service is easily recognizable today and has a rich history. Many people have undoubtedly seen the famous arrowhead logo used by the National Parks Service (NPS). However, few stop to ask what the National Park Service arrowhead logo actually symbolizes and the history behind it.  This often-overlooked logo has a rich and fascinating history. The components symbolized within it are arguably even more captivating. 

The National Parks Service arrowhead logo was approved as its official emblem in 1951 and represents the three core values of the organization: conservation, preservation, and recreation. Now you’re likely asking yourself, “What do the images depicted in the arrowhead logo represent? How did it come about, and who designed it?” 

meaning of national park service logo
National Park Service Arrowhead Logo

Scratch Off Map of United States

Looking for a great way to track your travels across the USA and the US National Parks of America? These best-selling gifts for travelers are a perfect way to do it! Mark your travel memories for years to come with beautifully customized graphics in a gift-ready package tube. Frame and display where you’ve been to spark exciting conversations with family and friends. Your trips across famous landmarks and the National Parks of America will inspire everyone! (Note: you scratch off each state or national park as you visit it)

Scratch off map of United States with National parks scratch off map
Scratch Off Map of United States with National Parks Poster Looking for a great travel activity and a keepsake of places and national parks you’ve visited? CLICK IMAGE for details!

National Parks Scratch Off Map Poster

national parks scratch off map poster
National Parks Scratch Off Poster – Track Your Travels Across all 63 US National Parks! CLICK IMAGE for more details!
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