If you love the outdoors, you need to add visiting these national parks to your bucket list. See what we rank as the best national parks to see.
You don’t have to travel across the world or in an exotic location to have an unforgettable trip.
So much of the world’s beauty lies in our own backyards. And, in fact, more Americans than ever before are venturing on road trips to experience all the wonder that comes from the Great Outdoors.
Let’s get into the best national parks you need to place on your bucket list!
1. Yosemite, California
Home to more than 20 stunning waterfalls, gorgeous landscape, and beautiful rock and forest formations, over 4 million people make their way to Yosemite each year.
Yosemite is home to all kinds of adventures from camping to rock climbing to horseback riding to swimming.
The main highlights in Yosemite include Half Dome (you’ll need a permit to go hiking), El Capital, Bridalveil Fall, and Tuolumne Meadows.
2. Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is stunning- that’s the plain and simple truth. The stunning panromantic views automatically make it one of the best national parks in America.
The canyon itself is massive- about a mile deep and 10 miles in width, and it’s over 6 million years old (with some rocks dating back to 2 billion years).
The Grand Canyon is home to all sorts of family-fun activities, and it’s also great for hiking enthusiasts looking to set their sights inside the canyon.
Main highlights include North Rim, Bright Angel Trail, Havasu Falls, and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
3. Yellowstone, Wyoming
Famously cited as one of the first (and best national parks) in the world, Yellowstone certainly doesn’t disappoint its visitors.
Yellowstone runs on continuous volcanic activity, and you’ll get to experience all the resulting geysers, hot springs, and mud-pots associated with those formations.
Yes, you’ll get to see real lava flowing, and what could be cooler than that?
Furthermore, if you’re an animal lover, Yellowstone has it all- from all kinds of bears to bison to wild horses.
The top highlights include Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Lake.
4. Zion, Utah
Zion is truly home to some of the most epic adventure you can experience. Enjoy the huge sandstone cliffs and hike around, taking in all the stunning scenery.
There are tons of Zion park lodging options that allow you to experience the park’s dynamic beauty (including all those killer starry nights).
Other highlights of Zion include hiking the Narrows, exploring the Subway, and climbing up Lady Mountain.
If you are making your way to Utah, you can plan out several other national park visits on your way through Zion
5. Joshua Tree, California
If you’re a rock climber, Joshua Tree is your playground. Where most of the best national parks turn ice cold in the winter and spring times, you’ll get balmy temperatures here in Southern California.
On the flip side, if you visit during the summer months, you’ll be in scorching 100+ degree temps, so plan accordingly!
Joshua Tree is a famous rock climbing spot for climbers and boulderers all around the world. Don’t climb? Try your hand at scrambling or hiking up the different rock formations.
You’ll also experience some truly unforgettable sunsets and stargazing experiences.
Highlights in Joshua Tree include Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, Lost Horse Mine, and Jumbo Rocks.
6. Hawai’i Volcanoes, Hawaii
Yes, the best national parks can be close to the beach, and this one is truly magnificent.
If you needed another compelling reason to visit Hawaii (how many reasons does someone need), then go for the active erupting volcanoes.
In this park, you may be lucky and get to witness molten lava flowing down the volcano into the ocean. Talk about an unforgettable sight.
You’ll also just get to trek on lava throughout your hike, and that’s pretty cool in it of itself, right?
7.Grand Smoky Mountains, North Carolina/Tennessee
Famously known as one of the most visited national parks in the United States, this park covers 816 total square miles.
The Appalachian Trail runs directly in the center of the park, and there are currently more than 800 miles of direct hiking trails.
Highlights include Chimney Tops Trail, Fontana Dam, and Clingmans Dome. Another fun fact? There are at least 19 different firefly species here!
8 Grand Teton, Wyoming
Even though Grand Teton is close to Yellowstone, it’s still considered one of the best national parks, and it shouldn’t be missed!
Grand Teton is home to numerous mountains, valleys, lakes, and rivers, and it’s rich with wildlife and animals.
It’s smaller than Yellowstone at only 484 miles, but it has plenty of unforgettable hiking, backpacking, and incredible sights.
9. Arches, Utah
Have you ever stood somewhere and only been able to see orange all around you? Probably not. If you visit, Arches, however, that’s exactly what it will look like.
This park has more than 75,000 acres of different canyons, rocks, petrified dunes, and sandstones- stretching out in every single dimension.
You can drive or hike through most of the park, depending on your preferences. With that said, the famous highlights include Delicate Arch (yes, the famous classic arch), Fiery Furnace, and Double O Arch.
10. Acadia National Park, Maine
When most people think about the best national parks, they think about the Midwest or West Coast.
They don’t necessarily think about Maine, but it’s home to some truly stunning and exciting sights up in Acadia.
From hikes to lakes to unforgettable beaches, Acadia leaves room for awe and wonder everywhere you turn.
Be sure to check out Schoodic Point, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Cadillac Mountain.
Final Thoughts on the Best National Parks
Adventure awaits in your home state- or just a road trip away! Before you start looking abroad for an unforgettable experience, consider the virtues of all that America can offer!
Are you interested in learning more about the top travel tips in North America? Be sure to check out our blog today!