The USA has a heap of incredible places, fun cities and cultures to explore during a trip. That being said, you can’t really forget about the awesome nature, too. You see, there are almost sixty of the best national parks in the USA that are dotted all across the country.
Though, this amount can make it hard to pinpoint a mere few to visit, especially with so many to choose from. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of my favourite and best national parks in the USA that you should consider visiting.
You see, the National Park Service is well over 100 years old, with nature and geology itself being millions of years old. Now, in my opinion, one of the best things about exploring the national parks is that they are all so completely different and varied. After all, that’s the beauty of having such a vast country with different climates and landscapes.
Anyway, before I ramble on anymore, I wanted to share some of the best national parks in the USA that are dotted all across the country. Hopefully, no matter which state you’re visiting, you’ll be able to find at least one close by.
Have the best trip!
1.) Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Believe it or not, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited parks and best national parks in the USA. The area is the perfect spot to visit, especially if you’re a keen hiker.
If that’s you, then make sure to join part of the famous Appalachian Trail run through the park itself. Plus, they have the beautiful Alum Cave Trail that’s well worth a ramble upon. The whole area is stunning.
If hiking isn’t for you, then take in the vistas and stunning views via a self-drive exploration of the park. It’s pretty handy, especially if you’re short on time.
2.) Grand Canyon National Park
Everyone has heard of The Grand Canyon, it’s one of those National Parks that has become immortalised in our memories of America. With the Grand Canyon itself being over one mile (1.6 km) deep, 18 miles (29 km) and 277 miles (445 km) long, the Grand Canyon contains one of the largest canyons in the whole world.
Located in the scenic American West, you can soak up the gorgeous views of the red rock bands lining the canyon and include a visit to the information centres that share more about Native American cultures.
It really is one of the best national parks in the USA to visit, especially if you’re already in Las Vegas or (relatively) nearby in places like Monument Valley.
3.) Yosemite National Park
Located east of Fresno (California), Yosemite National Park is easily one of the best national parks in the USA to visit. This is especially true due to its iconic half Dome and Yosemite Falls.
I hiked/rambled Half Dome a few years back and it can be quite tough, especially on hot sunny days, so make sure to pack lots of water and listen to local safety advice whilst there. After all, no one likes a reckless hiker.
Now, if you want to get to Half Dome itself, you’ll also need to get a permit from the National Park. You can do this, here. Just make sure to plan ahead as permits go fast.
Oh, and don’t forget to see Glacier Point and Mirror Lake, too. It’s stunning here.
4.) Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous parks in the world for its geothermal activity and vivid formations.
Founded atop a volcano, Yellowstone has some incredible natural sights to see. For instance, it has spots like; Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs and is home to bears, elk, antelope, and bison, too.
Now, they’re easy to spot if you’re patient enough, just make sure to treat all the animals with respect and not go too close. It really is one of the best national parks in the USA and easy to visit if you’re driving through Wyoming or heading from Chicago to LA on a road trip.
Plus, if you’re hankering to stay within Yellowstone itself, check into the Old Faithful Inn that’s got all the cabin vibes.
5.) Everglades National Park
Located in Southern Florida, to the west of Miami and stretching to Florida’s Gulf Coast (near the Florida Keys), the Everglades National Park is home to alligators, panthers, snakes, and one of the world’s most precious landscapes.
For a real thrill, hop on an airboat through the marshlands, mangroves, coastal prairies and cypress trees, all whilst searching for wildlife. Oh, If you’re looking for something a little different, then make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Skunk Ape, which is the Bigfoot of the Everglades.
6.) Mammoth Cave National Park
Located northeast of Bowling Green, Kentucky, is the world’s longest cave system that is amazing to explore.
You see, Mammoth Cave National Park has over 400 miles (644 km) of tunnels and pathways. Plus, a shed load more that haven’t been explored, too. This all means you’ll have plenty to see on a tour, deep underground in one of the best national parks in the USA.
One word of advice, be sure to bring an extra layer of clothing, as the temperature underground drops significantly when underground – you will get chilly.
Once here, make sure to see Frozen Niagara, with its waterfall-like flowstone formations, and Gothic Avenue, which has a ceiling covered with signatures from the 19th century.
Oh, and take a walk through Fat Man’s Misery, a narrow section of a cave tunnel that truly lives up to its name. Just make sure to have a light lunch before.
7.) Zion National Park
Being Utah’s first park, Zion National Park is known for its steep red, cream, and pink coloured sandstone cliffs that are stunning. Now, if you’re a keen hiker, you’ll easily find this one of the best national parks in the USA to explore, especially due to its forest trails along the Virgin River.
Also, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive has some epic views if you fancy a little more laid-back exploration of the park itself.
There’s also a heap of camping and horseback tours available, as well as the Zion Human History Museum, which is a great place to visit on those chillier days.
8.) Acadia National Park
For a stunning New England national park, head to Maine’s stunning Atlantic coast. Acadia National Park, mainly located on Mount Desert Island, is easily one of the best national parks in the USA if you want a coastal park. Think rocky beaches, beautiful forests, and granite mountains.
There are, around, 57 miles (92 km) of trails to explore here, too. Plus, if you fancy a swim, you can head to one of the safe swimming areas in the park at Sand Beach. Though, always stay safe around the sea!
Oh, and don’t forget to visit the picturesque town of Bar Harbor too, it’s a great starting point to Acadia.
9.) Sequoia National Park
Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Sequoia National Park is famous for its massive sequoia trees that stand so tall!
Now, it’s most famous resident has to be General Sherman (a massive tree in the Giant Forest). As if those names don’t sound cool enough, there is also a Crystal Cave located in the park, and the Tunnel Tree, which is a toppled tree that was cut so that the road could pass through it.
10.) Denali National Park
To experience one of the United States most remote areas, you’ll want to visit Denali National Park in Alaska. It’s easily up there as one of the best national parks in the USA and it’s totally idyllic.
With a mind-boggling 6 million acres (2.4 million hectares) of wilderness to explore, there are a few things that should definitely can’t be missed.
Make sure to see Mount McKinley, which, at 20,310 feet (6,190 m) tall, is the tallest mountain in North America. Also, there’s a heap of tundra, spruce forests, and glaciers make up the stunning terrain of this region. Though, just remember, be on the lookout for grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and caribou that roam these wildlands, too.
In the chilly winter months, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are activities are pretty fun. Though, only go out with a guide as weather conditions can change dramatically and very fast.
Finally, Don’t Forget Tribal Parks
Although, technically not one of the national parks in the USA, tribal parks are offered many of the protections that national parks have and are equally as beautiful.
Plus, it’s really easy to visit if you’re already in the area and on a road trip around the Nevada, Utah and Arizona states.