east coast midwest National Parks road trip travel Uncategorized west coast

U.S. National Parks

The United States is home to 63 national parks. Each one has something unique to offer. From breathtaking views, powerful waterfalls, or amazing natural wonders. Each National Park has something amazing to see.

Some of the most beautiful places in the world can be found within the U.S. National Park system. Discover the worlds largest cave system. Or the tallest trees on earth. Or even find a National Park that protects the greatest number of endangered species.

Trying to visit even half of the national parks would be a big accomplishment, let alone visiting them all. Below you will find a brief description of each of the 63 national parks to see which ones you might want to visit.

East Coast

The East Coast of the United States is home to 13 different and unique national Parks. For the below list we are considering all the national parks east of the Mississippi river. The east coast has the newest national park as well as the most visited one.


Acadia National Park is located in Maine on the Atlantic Coast. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast of the US. It is one of the first places in the US to see the sun rise on the first day of Summer.   


Biscayne National Park is located south of Miami on the northern portion of the Florida Keys. Most of this park is underwater.


Congaree National Park is located along the Congaree river in South Carolina. This swampy area is the largest old growth flood plain in the US and home to some of the tallest trees on the East Coast. 

Cuyahoga Valley

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio is a bit different than many of the other National Parks in the US. Here you can take a scenic train ride or visit many historic homes.

Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas National Park is the most difficult national Park to visit on the East Coast. Located 68 miles west of Key West, this park you can’t drive to. You have to take a boat or seaplane to visit this unique national park.


Everglades National Park is located in southern Florida and helps protect 36 different species including the American crocodile and Florida Panther. 

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is located in both North Carolina and Tennessee. This is the most visited national park. Hiking is the main draw here and it is really beautiful in the fall.  

Hot Springs

Hot Springs National Park located in Arkansas is very unique. People have been enjoying the hot springs long before the US was a country. 

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes National Park is located in Indiana along the shores of Lake Michigan. You can find sandy beaches and dunes at this interesting national park. 

Isle Royale

Isle Royale National Park is located in Lake Superior in Michigan. One of the biggest draws here is to learn about the unique relationship between the wolf and moose populations that call the island home.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is the world’s largest known cave system. There are over 400 miles worth of passages to discover. Some people even claim that Mammoth cave is one of the entrances to the center of the earth. That is if you believe hollow earth theory. 

New River Gorge

New River Gorge National Park located in West Virginia is the newest national park. It became a national park on December 27, 2020. Some of the best white water rafting can be found here.


Shenandoah National Park is located in Virginia. The Skyline Drive is part of this tiny but long national park. There are 75 overlooks on this 105 mile long drive.


The Midwest is home to another 24 unique and amazing National Parks. The Midwest has the smallest National park that comes in at 91 acres and the first national park in the US. 


Arches National Park located in Utah is home to 2,000 sandstone arches. Perhaps the most famous is Delicate arch. 


Badlands National Park is located in South Dakota and has some stunning views. Be sure to keep a lookout for bison, prairie dogs, or the endangered Black-footed ferret. 

Big Bend

Big Bend National Park is located along the Rio Grande River which forms the Mexico-US border. Big Bend national park is also an international dark-sky park. On clear nights you can see thousands of stars and even the Milky Way.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in Colorado along the Gunnison River. Many people visit to go rock climbing and rafting. 

Bryce Canyon 

Bryce Canyon in Utah is home to some interesting structures. You will find hundreds of hoodoos. These tall, multicolored sandstone formations are something you have to see in person. 


Canyonlands National Park is also located in Utah. This is another national park that offers some breathtaking views. On October 14, 2023 you can see the Annular Solar Eclipse from this National Park.

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park is located in south central Utah. From the right location you can see for miles upon miles. Canyoneering has become a popular recreational activity in recent years. 

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico is home to 117 caves. The longest cave is 120 miles in length. 

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch is the smallest National Park. It comes in at just 91 acres. Come see the arch that was built to commemorate the expedition by Lewis and Clark. 


Glacier National Park is located in Montana and is home to 26 glaciers. Each of the glaciers are rapidly receding. There is a chance that they will all be gone by 2030. You better pay a visit before it is too late. 

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is one of the most well known national parks. The canyon is 277 miles long, up to 15 miles wide, and up to one mile deep. It really is a sight to see. 

Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park is located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The Teton mountain range runs through the park that helps create the perfect backdrop. 

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in Colorado. Some of the sand dunes are as tall as 750 feet. Rent sand sleds and take a trip down one of the many sand dunes in the area. Stay the night and look up since Great Sand Dunes national park is an International Dark Sky Park.

Guadalupe Mountains

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in Texas. Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas. Hiking and camping are popular at this national park.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has some of the best preserved archaeological sites in the US. Check out Cliff Palace for something really unique.

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest National Park located in Arizona gets its name from the petrified wood found around the area. Many dinosaur fossils are protected throughout the park.

Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain National Park located in Colorado has some stunning views. The towering mountain ranges are breathtaking. 


Saguaro National Park in Arizona is named after the large cactus that is found all around this area. This is the only place where Saguaro cactus grow naturally.

Theodore Roosevelt 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is the only national park named after a single person. There are approximately 100 miles of scenic drives to take while visiting. 


Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota is named after French fur traders. Unique landscaping which was formed by glaciers is a big draw to this national park near the US-Canada border. 

White Sands

White Sands National Park is located in New Mexico. The national park is within the White Sands Missile Range and does close from time to time when tests are being conducted. The first atomic bomb was tested at the missile range back in 1945. 

Wind Cave

Wind Cave National Park is located in South Dakota. It is one of the longest caves in the world.


Yellowstone National Park is located mainly in Wyoming but parts are also in Montana and Idaho. It was the first National Park in the United States and most likely the first national park in the world. Hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, and more are found all around this 2.2 million acres national park.


Zion National Park in Utah has some of the best trials and scenic drives out of all of the Midwestern national parks. The Angels Landing trail could have the most scenic view out of any national park.

West Coast

The West Coast has 14 different national parks. Nine of them are in the state of California. Below you will see which park is home to the tallest trees in the world and which one recorded the highest temperature in the US. 

Channel Islands

Channel Islands National Park is located in California. Most of the park is underwater. Boats are the only way to get to the five islands that are protected.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is home to the deepest lake in the US. The lake was once an ancient volcano that collapsed thousands of years ago. 

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is located on the border of California and Nevada. It is the hottest, driest, and lowest place in the US. Temps have been recorded above 130 F here. 

Great Basin

Great Basin National Park can be found in Nevada. This national park is very remote and offers some of the darkest skies anywhere. 

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is located in California and covers a large part of the Mojave Desert. The landscape is made up of dry lakes, mountains, sand dunes, and of course, Joshua trees.

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon National Park is another Californian national park. Here you can find giant Sequoia trees and the second largest measured tree, the General Grant Tree.

Lassen Volcanic

Lassen Volcanic National Park can be found in California. Funny enough this national park was established in 1916, a year after the last eruption of the Lassen volcano. This park is also home to the largest lava dome volcano in the world. 

Mount Rainier 

Mount Rainier National Park is located in Washington state. This national park is popular with climbers. You can also find 26 named glaciers here.

North Cascades

North Cascades National Park located in Washington state is the perfect place to go for a hike in the North West. 


Olympic National Park is another park located in Washington state. It covers a wide range of landscapes from Pacific Coast shoreline to rainforest and high peaks.


Pinnacles National Park can be found in California. The national park is named after a portion of an extinct volcano that has been eroded over the years.


Redwood National Park is located in California. This national park is home to the tallest trees on earth.


Sequoia National Park is found in California. This national park protects a giant forest but is also home to over 200 caves.


Yosemite National Park is located in California. This park is home to one of the largest waterfalls in North America. Here you will also find El Capitan and Half Dome.

Alaska, Hawaii, and US Territories 

Some of the most difficult national parks to get to call this home. However, you won’t be disappointed if you get a chance to visit any of these 12 amazing national parks. Volcanoes, Glaciers, mountain ranges, and more can be found within these national parks. 

American Samoa

American Samoa National Park is located in the South Pacific on the Samoan Islands. This national park has white sand beaches, volcanic mountains, rainforests, and coral reefs. The islands are also home to brown boobies, which are large seabirds.


Denali National Park is one of the parks located in Alaska. It is home to the tallest mountain in North America and only has a single road in the park leading to Wonder Lake.

Gates of the Arctic

Gates of the Arctic National Park is located in Alaska. This northernmost national park is home to Alaska Natives. This park also has no park facilities. 

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park is another park that can be found in Alaska. When first discovered the entire bay was covered in ice. Now the glaciers have receded by more than 65 miles. 


Haleakala National Park located in Hawaii is a very important national park. This national park protects the greatest number of endangered species within any US national park.

Hawaii Volcanoes

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located in Hawaii as you would expect. Also as you would expect the main draw for this national park are the volcanoes, which are two of the most active in the world.


Katmai National Park can be found in Alaska. This national park is over 3 million acres and protects the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. This is also the location of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century when Mount Katmai erupted on June 6, 1912.

Kenai Fjords

Kenai Fjords National Park is yet another national park found in Alaska. Only one area is reachable by the public by road. Otherwise, you will have to take kayak and boat tours.

Kobuk Valley

Alaska’s Kobuk Valley National Park is home to the largest sand dunes in the Arctic. Try to plan your visit when around half a million caribou do their migration. 

Lake Clark

Lake Clark National Park is found in Alaska. This national park is home to four, yes four, active volcanoes.

Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park is located in the Atlantic. This park preserves mangrove forests, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and sandy beaches.

Wrangell St. Elias 

Wrangell St. Elias National Park can be found in Alaska. This is the largest national park covering over 8.3 million acres. Glaciers, mountains, and volcanoes can all be found in this national park.

The United States has so many wonderful places to visit. While there may only be 63 recognized national parks, there are so many places that fall under the National Park system. Places that are National Memorials, National Battlefield Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, and much more. The above list was just the national parks to visit. 

This post may contain affiliate links. It is at no extra cost to you for clicking a link, but helps me out. For more info click here.

If you are planning on checking out all of these amazing places be sure to pick up a National Parks Passport. You can get your passport stamped at all the different locations within the National park system. Places like Gettysburg, Washington, DC, Independence Hall, Everglades NP, and so much more. 

How many of the 63 National Parks have you visited? Are there any that you didn’t know about? Which one is a must see for you? Let us know in the comments below.  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: