12 Best National Parks In USA To Visit This Year
America has some of the unique parks in the world right in your backyard. From snow-capped peaks and glaciers to the world’s oldest, largest and tallest trees, America’s national parks are home to the world’s treasures.
These natural areas are ideal for hiking, camping, exploring, learning about cultures and natural history, or just admiring the wonders of the universe.
Most national parks of the United States are easily accessible and well placed for visitors. Many of them are just a few hours’ drives from the main cities. Information visitor centers help you familiarize yourself with the features, and the park staff is there to make your visit easy and enjoyable.
Pack your car for a day trip, weekend getaway, or week-long adventure, and be sure to check the National Park Service website for possible closings or make a campsite reservation. Hit the road with our list of the best national parks in America.
1. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
As one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, it’s also one of America’s most visited parks. No matter how many times you visit the Grand Canyon, it’s hard not to be surprised.
The size and complexity of the cannon cannot be described. Multicolored rocks, exposed by the mighty Colorado River that flows more than a mile below, are a photographer’s dream. The canyon is huge, over a million acres, and stretches along the river for an impressive 277 miles.
The viewpoints along the south rim of the Grand Canyon give you the best views and photos. The canyon’s colors change throughout the day, but the best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon.
If you’re in good shape and want to descend into the canyon, the Bright Angel Trail is one of the best hikes in the park. He goes down to the river. This hike or any part of it should not be taken lightly.
2. Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite contains some of the most famous natural sites in the United States. From Half Dome and El Capitan to Yosemite Falls, these landmarks, along with impressive drives to stunning views, hiking trails leading to waterfalls, and giant sequoia trees, will imprint Yosemite forever in your mind.
Yosemite National Park spans 1,200 square miles, but most of the main attractions are in the Yosemite Valley. With four million visitors a year, this can lead to congestion and crowds, so plan your day and start early.
If you want your trip to be truly unforgettable, give Yosemite Camping a try. But be sure to book well in advance.
3. Zion National Park, UT
Cliffs, narrow canyons, massive waterfalls, and the Virgin River flowing along the bottom create a varied landscape that distinguishes Zion among Utah parks.
One of the most popular activities in the Zion National Park is hiking. Some of the most famous trails in the US are here, including the spooky and spectacular Angel’s Landing hike. If you are afraid of heights, stay away from them. There are great hiking trails for all abilities throughout the park.
Other activities include canyoning, horse riding, bird watching, and rock climbing. Look out for climbers perched precariously on the stone walls as you take the ferry along the main road through the park.
The car tours are unique here. The access road leading to the park from the east is a zig-zag descent covering the narrow and historic Mount Zion. The Carmel Tunnel was cut from sandstone and virtually unchanged since its completion in 1930.
Please note that vehicle size restrictions apply, and a permit is required to pass through the motorhome tunnel.
4. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is famous for its unique geological features. Some of the top attractions are bubbling clay pots, colorful pools, steaming vents, and of course, geysers, including Old Faithful. Yellowstone National Park has one of the largest collections of geysers and hot springs in the world.
Covering over two million acres, Yellowstone offers more than just spa activity. The park is home to a herd of bison, and its huge hairy beasts can be easily spotted from the park roads. If you are camping in Yellowstone, you might hear the scary sounds of wolves howling at night.
Most of Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, but sections also extend to Montana and Idaho.
5. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, CA
These two parks protect some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. Other parks may be more popular for hiking and camping, but standing in front of a 3,200-year-old giant sequoia is an experience like no other. Here it is easy to imagine the times when nature ruled the Earth and humanity was not influenced.
These massive trees only grow to this size in a few specific parts of the world, and the United States is lucky to have the largest and best collection. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are approximately four hours from San Francisco or Los Angeles.
Both parks offer hiking trails, some of which are within walking distance of these ancient giants. Others are long walks that will take you back to remote areas.
Camping can be found in Sequoia NP as well as Kings Canyon NP. Winter road closures restrict access to some campgrounds and much of Kings Canyon.
6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
Sulfated steam, bubbling orange lava, and incredibly black landscapes are an attack on your senses. The world here lives under your feet.
The volcano is unpredictable, and for safety reasons, the park may close at any time. In 2018, the park was closed due to an eruption and damaged several attractions, including the famous Thurston Lava Tube, which remains closed.
For the best possible experience, consider staying at the edge of the caldera at Volcano House. This is the only cottage in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
7. Death Valley National Park, CA
The lowest point in North America is in Death Valley, but that’s just the beginning of discovering some great things. This heat-ravaged valley is full of wonderful hikes, extensive viewpoints, drifting dunes, and scenic rides.
The extreme severity of Death Valley is part of what makes it so intriguing to visitors. Unique and beautiful views are scattered throughout the park. One of the most unexpected delights in this seemingly desolate place is the springtime wildflower display. Pick it up at the right time, and you will see the rocky desert floor turn into tons of colors.
8. Denali National Park, AK
If you think the Colorado or Montana mountains are gorgeous, you’ll be amazed when you reach Denali National Park. Mount Denali rises to an unbelievable 20,304 feet.
It’s a wild country. Backpacking, camping trips, mountain adventures, rafting, and wildlife viewing are popular park adventures.
Please note that private vehicles are not allowed on the road of one park. However, there are many bus options available.
9. Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Mesa Verde National Park offers an up-close look at some of the most spectacular cliff houses in America.
These over 700-year-old structures perched on a cliff in the recesses of the massive canyon wall. For royal recognition, take the White Cliff Palace or Balcony House tour.
In addition to the houses on the cliff, the park protects an additional 5,000 ancient archaeological sites. Some of the best and biggest are within easy walking distance of the park’s main road.
10. Olympic National Park, WA
The Olympic National Park consists of rugged coastlines, mountains, and ancient forests. No matter what adventure you have planned, you can probably do it in the Olympic National Park.
Along the coast, you will find ocean adventures such as beach walks and exploring the tidal pool. Inland, ancient forests tempt with hiking trails that wind through moss-covered trees, then the mountains begin, and the climbing possibilities begin.
The Olympic National Park is a popular day trip from Seattle and over two hours from the city center.
11. Canyonlands National Park, UT
If You Want the Grand Canyon Without the Crowds, That’s a Great option. Near Moab, Canyonlands National Park offers astonishing landscapes of immense peaks, hills, arches, and deep canyons not far from Arches National Park.
The park has several sections leading to spectacular views of the valley and an island in the Sky District, the park’s most popular area. The more remote area of the Needles is home to hills, fairy chimneys, and unique rock formations. This is a great place to go hiking and camping around Moab.
Four-wheel drive is a popular pastime in the park, especially in The Maze. This section is to the west of the other two and is really for off-grid explorers. If you long for solitude, this is the place to come.
If you’re heading to the islands in the sky, be sure to make a stop at Dead Horse State Park on the way.
12. Redwood National and State Parks, CA
While the redwoods claim the title of the world’s largest, the redwoods claim the title of the world’s tallest: the Redwood State and National Parks mosaic house, the world’s most amazing collection of tall trees.
These trees rise over 300 feet, the height of a 28-story building. Peaceful trails wind through coastal forests, with huge trees at every turn. Giant ferns and other strange plants cover the forest floor, and clean streams reach the shoreline.
As the name suggests, Redwood National and State Parks are a series of parks located along Highway 101.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best National Parks In USA
Is Reno better than Vegas?
Reno has heart, history: Reno has much more respect for its deep history than Las Vegas, which is a transient city that oozes corporate influence. Reno is a real community with real people, whereas Las Vegas looks like a mishmash thrown together in an attempt to pump money into the bottom dollar.
What is the #1 national park?
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. America’s most-visited national park, which saw a staggering 11.3 million visitors in 2016, straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, and is abundant with plant and animal life, scenic hiking trails and Appalachian mountain culture.
What 5 states have no national parks?
States without National Parks are: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho (see above,) Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Is Yellowstone or Yosemite better?
The biggest park in the lower 48 states. For the wildlife or the geothermal features alone, Yellowstone would outclass Yosemite, but the park also boasts a full slate of outdoor activities – more than a thousand miles of hiking trails, 2,000 campsites, and year-round lodging – to rival anything Yosemite has to offer.
Which is better Zion or Yellowstone?
Based on the facts at hand, it seems like Yellowstone is a more family-friendly National Park to visit than Zion, offering up a greater variety of activities and for a range of skillsets. However, if you’ve got what it takes to explore Zion then there’s not doubt that it’s the better park for the thrill-seekers.
Why is Mackinac Island no longer a National Park?
The park was established on the condition that it remain a state park or it would revert to the United States. This restriction caused a problem in the 1960s when the city proposed to lease land from the park for an expanded airport for the island.
What is the least visited National Park?
Some of them are hard to reach, like National Park of American Samoa or Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic, the least-visited national park last year, with 2,872 recreational visits. Visitors have to take a boat or seaplane to get to Dry Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico and Isle Royale on Lake Superior.
What is the only state without a National Park?
Delaware is the only state in the country without a National Park, but maybe not for long. National parks showcase natural beauty like Yosemite and historic venues like Independence Park. Delaware is the only state in the country without a National Park, but maybe not for long.
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12 Best National Parks In USA To Visit This Year