Some of the world’s most spectacular national parks may be found right here in the United States. Some of the world’s oldest, biggest, and tallest trees may be found in American national parks, along with snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers.
You may go hiking, camping, sightseeing, learning about other cultures and natural history, or just thinking about the expanse of the cosmos in these natural locations.
American national parks are often well-designed and simple to reach. Many are within a day’s drive of large cities. There are helpful park rangers and educational resources in the visitor centers to help you get the most out of your time in the park.
There has been an advancement in the number of visitors to several parks, notably the more well-known ones, in recent years. Parks may need advanced online reservations to guarantee entry due to tourist cap regulations.
Many parks have constructed shuttle bus systems to accommodate the increase of tourists during peak season by closing roadways that were previously available to private automobiles. The miles-long traffic congestion and empty parking lots it eliminates actually enhance visitors’ enjoyment of their time at the park, despite initial impressions to the contrary.
Nature’s Playground: Top 17 National Parks in the USA
There are almost 63 national parks in the United States, ranging from the most popular and well-known to the most distant and unknown, with yearly visitor counts reflecting the latter category.
There are several national parks that, if given a chance, absolutely everyone should visit. Start your vacation planning by visiting some of the top 17 national parks in the United States, which you can read below.
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Zion National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
- Olympic National Park
- Denali National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Redwood National Park
- Arches National Park
- Acadia National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Big Bend National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
This park has a high number of visitors since it is home to one of the greatest natural attractions in the world and one of the top and best national parks in the USA. You can never get tired of the Grand Canyon‘s majesty, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
The canyon is impossible to adequately describe due to its immense size and intricacy. A photographer’s delight, these rainbow rocks were revealed by the surging Colorado River more than a mile below. The canyon is enormous, stretching 277 kilometers down the river and covering more than a million acres.
You can obtain the greatest views and images of the Grand Canyon from the vantage spots along the South Rim. Early morning and late afternoon are ideal for enjoying the canyon at its most colorful.
The Bright Angel Trail is honestly one of the greatest walks in the park if you are in decent shape and wish to descend into the canyon. It gradually descends into the water. Any part of this trek is not to be taken lightly.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of America’s top national parks in the state of California. Yosemite National Park is a 1,200-square-mile area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that is famous for its waterfalls and huge sequoia trees. This lovely park was designated as a protected area in 1864, but it wasn’t given the status of a national park until 1890.
Visitors to Yosemite typically go out on foot to explore some of the park’s 750 kilometers of trails. Planning beforehand is essential because the difficulty of these paths ranges from very basic to highly challenging. You should be ready for a variety of terrains, including mountains, valleys, and flat areas.
If you wish to spend the night in the park, there are lots of lodges and campgrounds available. If you’re looking for a place to eat in the middle of the wilderness but still feeling linked to society, Yosemite Village has you covered.
Zion National Park
If you find yourself in Utah, you just must visit Zion National Park, as it is one of the finest national parks in the USA. Hikers who want a challenge will find the park’s more difficult paths to be just up their alley. Zion Canyon, which is encircled by red cliffs, is the park’s most eye-catching feature.
If you’re a hiker, you should definitely think about going across The Narrows. The length of this trail across the narrowest part of Zion Canyon is 10 miles. It’s a lengthy slog upstream, but the route is well worth the effort. Hiking up Angels Landing, a natural stairway that rises 1,500 feet, is another fantastic option.
While the park’s most well-known trails are among its toughest, hikers of varying skill levels will find plenty to love here. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is popular among visitors since it is 60 miles long and passes through nearly all of the park’s highlights.
Yellowstone National Park
This park, covering 2.2 million acres, is among the most well-known in the whole country and America’s top national parks in America. Old Faithful, the most well-known geyser in the United States, may be found in Yellowstone’s geothermal zones. These three states are all represented in one enormous national park.
Several habitats can be found here because it spans three states. Black bears, grizzlies, bison, elk, and wolves may all be found in the South Central Rockies. Yellowstone’s hiking paths are unparalleled due to the wide variety of terrains they cover.
In addition to the iconic Old Faithful, visitors should also make time to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, Lamar Valley, Artist Point (home to towering waterfalls), and Uncle Tom’s Trail.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is another fantastic California national park and one of the greatest national parks in the USA. The park takes its name from the sequoia trees, which are among the world’s tallest and grandest. Visitors to this area come mostly to take pictures of the massive trees and winding waterways.
Beyond the towering trees and winding rivers, visitors to the park will find beautiful fields and an abundance of wildlife. Whether you just have an hour or a whole day to explore Sequoia National Park, you must see the General Sherman Tree in Giant Forest.
The tree’s circumference is 36 feet, and its height is 275 feet. In terms of volume, this tree is the biggest in the world. You may also go horseback riding, fishing, and rock climbing in addition to trekking to some of the world’s tallest trees.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
If you ever find yourself on the main island of Hawaii, you absolutely must take the time to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Two active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, are under the park’s protection.
Volcanic eruptions and gas and ash clouds sometimes force the closure of certain areas of the park, although other portions usually stay accessible. Any scheduled closures will be posted on their website. Within the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is worth seeing for its collection of endangered species.
The Crater Rim Drive is an attractive option because of its beautiful scenery. The route takes you through some steam vents and the well-known Jaggar Museum, where you can learn more about the volcanoes in the park.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and is one of America’s top national parks. This park contains a wide variety of habitats that showcase everything that makes the Pacific Northwest so special. It would take at least a week to see everything the park has to offer.
There are a number of park gates scattered over the peninsula, but Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rainforest, Lake Crescent, and Rialto Beach are among the most frequented destinations. Unless you’re planning on climbing any of the mountains in the park, hiking is rather easy.
There is a lovely glacial lake, several waterfalls, and snow-capped mountains at Hurricane Ridge, in addition to the famous Tree of Life on the shore.
Denali National Park
The stunning Denali National Park may be found in Alaska, the US state with the second-most national parks and one of the best national parks in the USA, Denali National Park. It’s one of the few attractions in the state open all year and packed with things to do and see.
The best season to visit Denali, in terms of temperature and crowds, is from May through September. These are the best months to explore the region on foot because there isn’t usually any snow on the ground.
Denali is special because it’s the highest mountain in the United States and also one of the few spots in the country where you can glimpse the Northern Lights. If you want to see this without leaving the United States, winter is the best time to go.
Joshua Tree National Park
If you can only visit one California national park, make it Southern California’s Joshua Tree, as it is one of the top national parks in the USA. The park is a desolate wilderness with cactus gardens, rock formations, and climbing walls.
This national park is great for campers because it has over 300 campsites to choose from. Permission is usually needed for such. The park’s remote location from the bright lights of major California towns means that the night sky is unobstructed by artificial light.
If you’re looking for a spot to stay while exploring the park, Joshua Tree is your best bet. There is also a wide range of affordable dining, shopping, and hotel alternatives in the area.
Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is one of the most well-known national parks in the world and one of America’s top national parks. The park spans over 138,000 acres and is home to some of the country’s most stunning stands of redwood trees. It’s no secret that the redwoods are the main draw to this park, but there are also plenty of other sights to view.
Tide pools, prairies, meadows, and pristine beaches are a few of the additional highlights of a visit to Redwoods National Park. Off the coast, you could be lucky enough to spot whales on their annual migration. You may also encounter cougars, coyotes, river otters, black bears, and seals.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah, just north of Moab, and spans about 77,000 acres. The distinctive sandstone formations that can be seen from nearly every vantage point in this massive national park have earned them international renown. This park is surely one of the best national parks in all of America.
Arches are prominent, as one might expect from the name. The park is home to about 2,000 arches, each of which is as stunning as the next. Among the park’s 2,000 arches, Landscape Arch, Double Arch, and Delicate Arch are among the most well-known.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just appreciate the stunning scenery, a visit to Arches National Park is a must. If you visit the park’s visitor centers, you may learn a lot about its past and the geology of the area.
Acadia National Park
Another one of America’s top national parks is Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park is located in Maine and is a great place for families, friends, and lovers to spend time together. This park, located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, is well worth your time. It covers an area of around 50,000 acres.
Bar Harbor, located on the Atlantic coast and known for its seafood, is where most park visitors stay. Less than half an hour will get you to the park’s beautiful lakes, woodlands, and hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails from the heart of town.
Jordan Pond, Thunder Hole, Cadillac Mountain, and Echo Lake are just a few of the highlights of the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
When discussing the best national parks in the USA, Rocky Mountain National Park has to be mentioned. This national park in Colorado straddles the world-famous Continental Divide and should not be missed.
The mountains, alpine tundra, and virgin woods along the Continental Divide are all safely tucked away from human interference. There are hundreds of miles of trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, but two of the greatest are Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road.
Keyhole Route is a vertical rock that leads climbers to Longs Peak, the highest peak in the park. The trails near Bear Lake are perfect for those who want something simple without sacrificing the stunning scenery.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, located in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, is the best of America’s national parks and covers an area of 1,583 square miles. The peaks and valleys formed by glaciers may be found all around the state, all the way to the border with Canada.
The park is huge, spanning two mountain ranges, and is home to more than 700 lakes. The Trail of the Cedars and Iceberg Lake Trail are two of the finest hiking routes in the area. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is great if you like picturesque drives through the park.
There are many free, family-friendly activities provided by park rangers in Glacier National Park. Grizzly bears, cougars, and other large mammals are possibly being spotted.
Big Bend National Park
You can find Big Bend National Park in southwestern Texas. The park encompasses the entirety of the Chisos Mountains and a sizable portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. In Big Bend, you may enjoy many different types of outdoor activities, as well as picturesque drives and other sights. This park is, without a doubt, one of the top national parks in the USA.
The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is a fantastic route. It takes you through the park’s biggest attraction, the Sam Nail Ranch ruins. Hikers will love the Santa Elena Canyon, which was sculpted by the Rio Grande.
The canyon’s sheer walls provide for some stunning photography. Near the park’s border with Mexico is where you’ll find Langford Hot Springs, another must-see attraction. The pools and the historic bathhouses are open for your enjoyment.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of the top and best national parks in the USA, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. The park got its name from a central range of mountains within it, and visitors can enter from either state. Most visitors use the entry that is closest to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
You may enjoy a trip to this national park at any time of the year. However, the park is considered to be at its most beautiful in the late fall and early spring. This park is a great destination for those who enjoy spending time outside.
Many of the prominent hiking paths welcome hikers of all ages and experience levels. You may also camp out beneath the stars, enjoy horseback riding around the park, explore historic structures, and more.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is often regarded as one of the finest national parks in the Eastern United States. Almost 200 thousand acres of woodland are protected in this national park in Virginia. The park is open to the public all year round, but it really comes into its uniqueness in the fall when the leaves change color.
Many of the park’s hiking paths, including sections of the Appalachian Trail, wind for miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking the Shenandoah River Cataracts, Skyline Drive, or Hawksbill Mountain are all excellent options.
The hotels and campgrounds inside the park are the finest places to stay if you want an authentic experience, although adjacent cities are also an alternative.