Did you know that there are 63 National Parks you can visit in the United States? Most are on the west coast but the east coast has a few too. Now not all of the National Parks are the same. Some are huge like Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park in Alaska which covers over 8 million acres. Others are small like Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri which covers only 192 acres.
However, each has their own unique reason for you to pay a visit. From breathtaking views to out of this world formations. You won’t be disappointed after you visit any of the 63 National Parks. All will leave you speechless and wanting to visit the next one.
Below you will find our top 10 National Parks to visit. You will see our reasoning for why that National Park made the list along with some notable information about each park. Will you be one of the lucky few people who get a chance to visit all 63 National Parks in your lifetime? I know it is a goal of mine. Is it a goal of yours?
Yellowstone National Park was the park that started it all. Yellowstone was not only the first National Park in the United States. It was the first National Park in the World. Yellowstone covers over 2 million acres and is in 3 states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho).
Yellowstone is unique for a couple of different reasons. For one, Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. It is also the site of the Yellowstone super volcano. The world’s most famous geyser also calls Yellowstone home. Old Faithful is know around the world and erupts every 44 minutes to 2 hours.
Of course, there are more than one geyser in Yellowstone but Old Faithful is the most well known. But geysers aren’t the only interesting geological feature in Yellowstone. Hot springs can also be found around the park. The third largest one in the world (Grand Prismatic Spring) calls Yellowstone National Park home.
Yellowstone is one of the most popular National Parks in the US. After one visit you will understand why so many people revisit this park year after year. You will find herds of Bison roaming the land. As well as Elk, Bears, and even wolves. You will also come across miles upon miles of hiking trails. If you really want to take this park in, it would take you weeks to see everything that it has to offer.
May thru October are the best times to visit when the park is fully open. July is the busiest month to visit Yellowstone. From November to April much of the park is closed for winter and only one road is open.
Arches National Park in Utah has to be one of the most unique of all the National Parks in the United States. No where else in the world will you find so many arches in such a small area. Now this park is not small by any means and covers over 76,000 acres.
The main draw here is Delicate arch. However, it is not an easy hike out to the arch. The 3 mile round trip will take around 2.5 hours and covers some difficult areas to hike through. For those not up to the challenge there are two view points that are much easier to reach and still offer stunning views of Delicate Arch.
Other notable places to see within Arches National Park are the Devil’s Garden, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, and many more. Most of these locations can be accessed by wheelchair and are a short distance from the parking areas. After one visit you will want to come back at different times of the year to catch the rising or setting sun between the arches.
Don’t skip a visit at night either. Some of the darkest skies can be found at Arches National Park. Some even claim that you can see the rings of Saturn with a pair of binoculars in the right conditions.
Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited National Park in the United States. Located in Eastern Tennessee and a portion of North Carolina, millions of Americans have access to this National Park. It is less than 10 hours from Orlando, Chicago, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Atlanta.
But just because it is close to millions of Americans isn’t the only reason this is the most visited National Park. The views of the surrounded mountains are breathtaking. Some of the most spectacular views on either coast can be found within the Great Smoky Mountains.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities to do here. Hundred of miles of trails can be found within the park. 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail also cut through the park. Besides hiking to see the amazing and powerful waterfalls and stunning views. You can drive the miles of roadways to see the amazing views. There are plenty of pull offs and parking lots to spectacular overlooks that will leave you amazed.
Zion National Park was the first National Park in Utah and still remains popular today. Some of the best scenic drives through any National Park can be find at Zion. In the busier months you have to take a shuttle throughout the park but in the winter months you can drive yourself.
Just remember to pull off the at the pull off areas when viewing the surroundings. Don’t stop in the middle of the road.
Besides the scenic drives. Rock climbing is also very popular at Zion National Park. However, I would advise against your first time trying it to be at this beautiful National Park.
One thing to remember is not to rush out before sunset. While you won’t be able to see the sun setting. The soft orange glow, shines upon the different cliffs leaving you with amazing views. When the sun sets and the stars start to shine you would also be rewarded for waiting. Just like Arches National Park, the night sky here will leave you in awe.
Yosemite National Park in California offers so much for so many. Photographers love the inspiration from being in Ansel Adams “backyard”. Rock climbers from all around can’t wait for the chance to climb El Capitan or Half Dome.
Yosemite NP is also a very car friendly national park. No need to get out of your car with the many scenic drives within the park. You can find short drives of 30 minutes or take the most famous scenic drive in the park along Tioga Pass which will take you nearly 2 hours to complete.
Camping is another popular activity in and around Yosemite. Everything from RVing to backpacking can be found within the park. Can you think of anything better to do on cool summer evening than siting by the campfire surrounded by nature?
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky has over 400 miles of caves making it the world’s largest known cave system. That is about the distance from New York City to the Virginia/North Carolina boarder along I-95. Who knows who many more passages will be discovered in the massive cave system.
While cave tours are the most popular thing to do in Mammoth Cave. Other activities can be done as well and are less claustrophobic. Kayaking and fishing along the Green River are popular for families with young child who aren’t too keen with being in the dark. Hiking is another popular and easy activity to do.
The trails are easy and the scenery is beautiful. As you walk around the Kentucky wilderness. Picture what lies below your feet. Maybe there is a cave passage that has yet to be discovered.
Glacier National Park can be found in Montana. Sadly, it may not be around for much longer. Originally it was suggested that all the glaciers would melt by 2020. Lucky, that didn’t happen but now they may all be gone by 2030.
You better hurry if you want a chance to see glaciers at Glacier National Park. While the hike may be difficult for some, the pay off is well worth it.
Glacier National Park is also a Dark Sky Park and one of your best chances to catch the Northern Lights in the lower 48. Of course, your best chance to see the Northern Lights is at night and in the winter. From May through October head over to Lake MacDonald to get your shot of the Milky Way as it reflects in the lake below.
Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona and makes for a great day trip from Vegas or Phoenix. Of course, you can make the trip even longer by taking a river trip and see the Grand Canyon from a completely different viewpoint. Many visitors look down upon the mighty Colorado River. Here’s your chance to look up.
Of course, you could always hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Just note that it many of you more than a day to get to the bottom and come back up. Don’t forget that you are in the desert and it gets hot. Hiking in the middle of the day isn’t a smart idea. Also note that no trail from the rim to the river is easy.
Dry Tortugas in Florida might just be the most interesting and hardest to get to National Park in the lower 48. The only way to get here is by boat or seaplane. That is part of the appeal to this interesting National Park.
You can spend the day exploring Fort Jefferson. Or you can pack a tent and camp overnight. Which ever you choose you can be sure that most of your friends and family never experienced something quite like this.
Acadia National Park in Maine is considered the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast. Here you will find breathtaking sunrises, scenic drives, and wonderful marine life. If you are lucky you may even see whales out in the distance.
Hiking is a popular activity at Acadia. You can hike through the forest, along the coastline, or to the summit of one of Acadia’s Mountains. True is you there are plenty that weave all three into one.
Like most of the other National Parks, Acadia offers some awe inspiring night skies. It is also one of the best spots on the east coast for stargazing. It will be hard to find a better location with beautiful scenery than Acadia National Park.
Is 2021 the year you start exploring all the wonderful National Parks the US has to offer? Have you visited any of the 63 National Parks? If so let us know how many and which was your favorite.
Everyone has a different opinion and that was the 10 National Parks we think you should visit. Of course, if you can make it to Alaska or Hawaii then you should definitely put them on your list as well. However, the 10 National Parks we listed are easy to get to with the exception of Dry Tortugas. But hey that one is in Florida and not far from the Florida Keys.
Looking for more places to visit? You have to check out our 200 places to visit in the US list. The US is filled with unique, interesting, wonderful, amazing, and mysterious places to see. Where will your next adventure take you?
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