The United States is incredibly diverse and beautiful, and home to 423 national parks! The U.S. national park system spans across more than 84 million acres, with parks in each of our 50 states.
There is no better time to get outside, reconnect with nature, and explore our breathtaking country. Here’s my guide to 10 of the best U.S. national parks.
1) Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a stunning national park, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is arguably one of the beautiful parks in California, with incredibly gorgeous views.
Yosemite offers excellent hiking to waterfalls and swimming pools. If you are a climber, there are incredible and historic climbs like El Capitan and Half Dome.
Make sure you go online to reserve a day pass at least a week in advance. If you want to stay in the park overnight, there are different accommodations such as on-site lodging and also campsites, all of which you will need to reserve in advance. Yosemite National Park is breathtaking and a must-visit.
2) Zion National Park
Zion National Park is filled with beauty at every turn. Located in Utah, Zion is known for its tall, red sandstone cliffs. As you pass through the beautiful trails, you’ll see incredible waterfalls, emerald pools and the Virgin River that runs through everything. You can hike through what are called the ‘narrows’ and be surrounded by red sandstone.
There are three different campgrounds in Zion National Park. Be sure to make reservations online, in advance of your arrival. The best time to visit this beautiful park is spring or fall because summer temperatures can be unbearable and rise above 95 degrees.
3) Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is known for its pretty aspen trees and sweeping mountain ranges. There is a lot to do and see in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can camp, take a drive through the aspens down the well-known Trail Ridge Road, or spend a day at the lake fishing, or take a hike in the surrounding forest.
The weather in this area of Colorado is known for its extreme and irregular patterns because of the elevation. Be prepared for warm days and very cold nights. The best time to visit is between June and September.
4) Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is filled with huge sequoia trees and is located in Northern California. You can go camping in the middle of all these massive, beautiful trees and immerse yourself in the wonders of the forest with an array of plant and animal life surrounding you.
If you are just passing through Sequoia National Park, make sure you stop to see the largest tree in the world, The General Sherman Tree, and stand in awe of its beauty. If you spend enough time outside in this national park, you might be able to see Mule Deer or some of the 200+ different types of bird species that dwell here.
There have been sightings of black bears and mountain lions, so each campsite is equipped with a food storage container. Permits for day hikes are not required unless you want to climb Mt. Whitney.
5) Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, is a beautiful area with pretty waterfalls and mountains. Yellowstone contains the largest supervolcano on the continent and is home to an incredibly diverse ecosystem. Be sure to look out for moose, elk, and bison on your visit.
Spend some time at Yellowstone Lake or take a look at the hydrothermal waters that burst with water! There are both campgrounds and lodging options that you can reserve in advance online.
The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park for good weather is the summertime in July or August. At higher elevations, you’ll even be able to see the lovely wildflowers blooming!
6) Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is located in Florida and spans over 1.5 million acres. These beautiful wetlands contain mangroves, marshes, and a ton of wildlife, including over 300 different species of birds.
Make sure to check out the Eco Pond where can view alligators, turtles, and flamingos. You can take a kayak on the Florida River and maybe even spot a dolphin or manatee!
The best time to visit Everglades National Park is from November to March. You can pay for your day pass at the gates or online and the pass is good for a week from the date of purchase.
7) Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park, in Oregon, is surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests. It is most famous for Crater Lake in the center of the park, from which it gets its name.
The coloring of the lake is a deep, vibrant blue that will have you pulling your camera out to snap photos. On your visit, you can go hiking with the lake as your backdrop, and visit the Crater Lake National Park Science Learning Center to learn about the park’s wildlife.
You do not have to make reservations to visit this national park and there is no limit to the amount to people they admit. The best times to visit are during the months of July, August, and September.
8) Denali National Park and Preserve
Denali National Park and Reserve is a must-visit destination in Alaska. The breathtaking views of the tallest peak in North America and all of the glaciers are indescribable. At this national park, you’ll feel small as you take in spectacular views of snow-covered mountains and witness the impressive and unique ecosystem.
While in Denali National Park, make sure to look out for moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. There are a total of six campgrounds and you can find a site to reserve and make a reservation online in advance.
9) Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona and is stunning. Sitting at the top of the canyon, you can look over the beautiful rock formations and hike into the valley where you’ll see to see animals and plants thriving alongside the riverbanks. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, bison, and elk all roaming around.
Lodging is available at Grand Canyon National Park, just make sure you go online and make a reservation well in advance because they fill up quickly. Also, make sure you buy an entrance pass online before you visit or bring your credit/debit card because they do not accept cash at the entrance gate.
10) Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is located in Maine and is spectacular. Here you can expect to see granite formations and cobble beaches, and witness a wide range of biodiversity and coastal habitat all throughout the park.
During your visit keep an eye out for foxes, hawks, and owls, and be sure to go hiking, bicycling, bird watching, and star-gazing. If you enjoy foraging mushrooms, this national park is full of many different species!
You can purchase your entrance pass for Acadia National Park either in person or online before arrival. There is currently no camping or overnight parking due to Covid-19 restrictions but this may change so be sure to check their website for updates.
The Best U.S. National Parks Wrap Up
I hope you found this article on the best U.S. National Parks helpful! I also suggest checking out Moab in Utah for incredible hiking with otherworldly views! If you have questions or tips for our readers please leave these in the comments below.
Have you been to any of these U.S. National Parks? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below!
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