best national parks in usa

Don’t try to do too much! As a younger American man, I felt like I didn’t really know my own country until I started exploring the national parks. Though if you do find yourself in LA en route to Joshua Tree, be sure to check out my Los Angeles travel guide. This is a land of immense power and staggering volcanic beauty. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridge line of the Great Smoky Mountains, is a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. He is an advocate for off-beat responsible travel and the preservation of the world's wild places and spaces. Tucked away in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park is probably the most truly wild park on my best national parks in the USA list (within mainland America). Don’t know where to base yourself? Best Time to Visit: Spring, Summer, and Fall. They can be quite aggressive during the mating season. For me, the feeling one gets when you are standing in a grove of ancient Sequoias must be close to something like attaining enlightenment. My First Summer in the Sierra is Muir’s account of his adventures and observations while working as a shepherd in the Yosemite Valley, which later became Yosemite National Park as a direct result of Muir’s writings and activism. Mammoth Caves is the longest known cave system in the world, with roughly 400 miles that have been explored and mapped. Bryce Canyon is a top national park filled with microclimates primarily due to the vast elevation differences found throughout. Your email address will not be published. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem”, a region of protected land spread over 16,000 square miles. Towering pinnacles of sandstone jut up into an endless desert sky. What to pack for this kind of a backpacking trip depends on several things. Here you’ll find the park’s most famous landmarks – Half Dome and El Capitan – as well as excellent hiking trails through the natural monuments. Towering slabs of sticky granite towering 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Once you stand at the base of El Capitan, you can not fully fathom how Alex Honnold climbed it without a rope in under 4 hours. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. From high mountain lakes to pristine rivers in the valley below, Grand Teton National Park is a feast for those who love the mountains. We took the 25 most-visited national parks and ranked them -- from Yosemite and the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Before we dive into my best national parks in the USA list, you should have an idea of what to bring along for the journey. For those who love thinking about and exploring caves, Mammoth Caves National Park is the ultimate destination. Chris is also a founding member of, Airbnb's Most Unique Properties Worldwide. We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Bryce Canyon … These volcanoes are (very) active mind you. Yellowstone has massive wilderness areas, so that shouldn’t be too difficult. The Site is dedicated to providing facts and information for the knowledge and entertainment purpose. Get to know some of the trademark rosy-amber canyons and waterfalls that make Zion one of the best national parks in the USA. Exploring the park on foot is the only way to escape the crowds and flashing cameras. Join me as I break down the highlights and natural wonders each national park offers backpackers, what to pack for your national park backpacking trip, USA national park maps, backpacker safety information, and much more. The Mountains of California — John Muir’s detailed account of his experiences traveling through the national parks in California (before they were national parks). Best US National Parks You Need To Visit 1. My good friend had to evacuate her home with her family. However, for a true escapist experience, head to the North Rim. Dry Tortugas National Park is part of the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, established by UNESCO in 1976. Let me list out 10 best National Parks in the USA. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Obviously, the more time you have to explore the top American national parks, the better. There are no established trails in the backcountry FYI. Being a student is one of the most incredible experiences especially for learners in... Earth and world is a place where you can find different known and unknown facts of our planet Earth. The National Park inhabits numerous plant species, as well as, 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. You now have an idea of just how massive and diverse the USA national park scene really is. Native American rock paintings offer up glimpses of the past. The wilderness spreads across 1.2 million acres of land, truly a natural wonder created by the mighty Colorado River, six million years ago. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. It is no wonder 3 million visitors a year come to Zion National Park. Explore the great outdoors at one of America's can't-miss national parks. Arches truly is a red-rock wonderland. Towering right above Jackson Hole Valley with jagged snow-topped peaks approximately covers 310,000 acres of land. Yosemite is least fragmented, yet one of the largest habitat block of Sierra Nevada. Due to its close proximity to Kings Canyon Nation Park and Yosemite National Park, you can really pack a lot in between these three parks if you only have four or five days to explore. First things first. Meanwhile, the Snake River appeals to kayakers, rafters and those who simply fancy a float; historic districts like Menor’s Ferry and Mormon Row attract history buffs interested in the 19th-century past of this piece of Western Frontier. You do really want to get onto the ice if you can! Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best national parks in the USA because of its awe-inspiring mountains. National Parks in the USA 1. From the deserts of California to the coral reefs of the Virgin Islands, from the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to subarctic Alaska, the spectrum of America’s ha… The snowy solitude of winter creates a serene landscape in National Parks all over America and the cold ensures fewer people jostling to take in the views. Please come here and experience it for yourself. This unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, received nearly 6 million rec recreational visitors in 2016, which is the second highest in all of U.S. after Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The options are endless. Also Read: 10 Most Naturally Beautiful Countries In The World. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). Check in with the NPS to assess dangers and difficulty. Life on Hawaii’s Big Island might sound dreamy as hell on the surface — and in many ways, it is — though as recent events have shown us, all hell can break loose at a moment’s notice. Yosemite Park in north-central California has been inspiring people for centuries. This national park is one of the most popular national parks in the US, but for a damn good reason. Smoky Mountain National Park is is a biodiversity powerhouse. There is also some fantastic river rafting and hiking to be had in the area as well. In addition to the huge trees, rugged peaks, sunshine-filled canyons, awesome hiking trails, and abundant wildlife… the cave systems are something unto themselves. The centerpiece of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which runs up to 15 miles long and dives up to half a mile (depth), cutting through the rust and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. From beautifully rugged mountain terrain to amazing marine wonderlands, the parks of the USA’s southern states are a sight to behold. As of July 2018, the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano continues to dramatically change the landscape of the Big Island. People come from the world over to take in the spectacular geothermal activity that has transformed Yellowstone’s landscapes into something otherworldly. © 2020, The Broke Backpacker. Zion (Utah) 5. Arches National Park is a US National Park located in eastern Utah. How to choose the right tent to take backpacking – Every traveler needs a good tent. Snow-capped mountains, jut out of saw-toothed glaciers. That is what Glacier is about. I am sure if politicians and developers had their way, the Everglades would have been developed into hideous strip malls long ago. This national park is defined by its dry, desolate landscapes. You might half expect a wooly mammoth to stumble out of the bush. You can also find many unique accommodation options near Joshua Tree NP – from restored camper vans to stargazing tiny houses, you’ll find all sorts of special places. Alone on the Wall — Alone on the Wall recounts the seven most astonishing achievements of Alex Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. To name a few, bear, rattlesnake, deer, and bird populations are abundant. Known for recreational activities like auto touring, backpacking, biking, camping, and hiking, some of which also require permits; astronomy is also popular in the park due to its dark skies. A visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is bound to be a mind-blowing experience. My First Summer in the Sierra — Another important book by John Muir. Is America a safe place? The world-famous Delicate Arch certainly won’t be around forever. The park features a vast network of hiking trails including a section of the long-distance Appalachian Trail. Most of the national park remains closed due to volcano danger/damage. Experts estimate that when the “supervolcano” that Yellowstone National park sits on top of erupts, it will likely be the most devastating natural event in US history. Denali may be one of Alaska’s most popular national parks, but it is certainly worth traveling too. A little tight on budget, but still want... We are all aware of the importance of saving the planet and nature. Glacier National Park spread over 1 million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges and that are sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Since 1916, when the National Park Service was created, the United States has preserved wilderness areas within a system overseen by the US Department of the Interior. This group comprises of metamorphosed sandstones, phyllites, schists, and slate. Will you be setting off into the wilderness for a multi-day backpacking trip? There is arguably no other country on our gorgeous planet where you can you find such a deep level of staggering beauty, diversity, and outdoor adventure potential that is reflected in the American national parks—really there is every type of landscape imaginable — and each one is totally epic in its own way too. Sequoia National Park situated in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, in the United States, established on September 25, 1890. Blessed with 8 million square acres of uninhabited wilderness, the adventure possibilities here are endless. There is an abundance of wildlife in Arches. Discover some of the best natural beauty the region has to offer as we take in spots including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited park, and the awe-inspiring Mammoth Cave National … Choosing the right backpack – Your backpack is good. There are some fantastic hiking trails for those seeking to get out into the Maui wilderness. Sequoia National Park … Take a dip in Yellowstone Lake. Finding the right backpack, sleeping bag, camping hammock, travel jacket, and backpacking stove for yourself is just as important as planning the details of your national parks trip. Your email address will not be published. Also, read about Also, read about National Parks in Canada. Arches National Park isn’t just a Utah highlight, it is high on the list of best national parks in the USA, without a doubt. Best National Parks in the USA: West Coast, Best National Parks in the USA: East Coast, How to choose the right tent to take backpacking, accommodation options near Joshua Tree NP, tourist that gets seriously injured or killed by a buffalo, treehouses, cabins and lodges in Tennessee, General Sherman (the largest tree in the world), Trail Ridge Road (highest paved road in the US). Really, it is like a great sea of orange, yellow, red, brown, and all of the shades between. This is Glacier Bay. Get a glimpse of just how wild and remote Maui was before the tourist hordes came. The rivers are teaming with trout. The turquoise waters of the Colorado River strike a great contract with the orange and red shades of the Canyon walls. Located in the U.S. state of Montana, on the Canada–United States border with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Alaska is America’s final frontier. Yellowstone National park is home to a variety of large mammal species. The artistic touch of mother nature has left Bryce Canyon with one of the most iconic landscapes in America. Best Time to Visit: Summer (expect basically 24 hours of daylight). The park encompasses the Teton mountain range, the 4,000-meter Grand Teton peak, and the valley known as Jackson Hole, a popular ski-resort town. MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe review – The ultimate lightweight backpacking stove to fuel your adventures. This 145-year-old National Park is covered with pristine lakes and dramatic peaks. Thanks for your support. MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person tent review – My favorite backpacking tent on the market. In fact, there’s a while village dedicated to hosting visitors! You have made it to the northernmost national park in the USA. If you come in the fall, you will see the world-famous colors of the leaves as they change on deciduous trees. Rivers and epic... #2 Sequoia National Park. Glacier Bay is a great place to spot whales, puffins, and other spectacular wildlife. Established, in 1980, Kenai Fjords is a relatively new national park. You don’t have to be the most famous park to make it onto my best national parks in the USA list. For more inspiration, check out What’s in my backpack? Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular US national parks, one of our biggest tips for … There are no two ways about it, 2020 has been an absolute disaster. The great thing is, however, very few, if any of the cruise people ever set foot any reasonable distance inside the park. The park is a sprawling 6 million acre wilderness home to towering mountain peaks, grizzly bears, pristine rivers, and stunning long valleys. Why not get a quote from them yourself? Be sure to consult with the NPS website and always carry a good map with you! The park is a vast sprawling landmass of protected alpine tundra, forests, lakes, and some of the highest mountain peaks in the country (Alaska excluded). The landscapes found in Glacier Bay National Park, both on the coast and in the interior are simply mind-blowing. Being that Glacier National Park is in the far reaches of Northern Montana, it receives a fraction of the visitors Yellowstone does. The trails weave through impressive slot canyons, hidden swimming holes, and jaw-dropping landscapes. Best Time to Visit: All year round normally, but as of July 2018, now is not the time to visit. Located in the south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Zion National Park named after the Hebrew word “refuge”, nestles in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. The air smells different. From alligators and poisonous snakes to rare orchids and bizarre insects… Everglades NP is simply a nature lovers dream come true. It is the most beautiful national parks in the USA. Glacier National Park is a biosphere reserve, a World Heritage Site, and one of the world’s first international peace parks, in addition to being a US National Park. Canyonlands is another magnificent marvel of the power of natural erosion. Many a smuggler, pirate, migrant, and sailor have passed through these turquoise waters at some point in time. Granted protection by the U.S. government in 1864, Yosemite and its … Need helping finding a place to stay? Yosemite (California) 4. How to choose a backpacking stove – If you want to save money and eat well at camp, you need a stove. Best national parks (57) #1 - Zion National Park The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, home to five out of the ten largest trees in the world. Evidence of a past Native American presence can be found throughout the park. One of the tourist attractions in California, Yellowstone National Park is a land of 2.2 million acres spread across the U.S. States of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. One of the most beautiful National Parks in the USA, Grand Canyon National Park acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1979, situated in northwestern Arizona. Due to the sensitive nature of many of the arches found with the park, be respectful and don’t contribute their destruction. Such is life. Roads have been destroyed. Best sleeping pads to take backpacking – Your back and weary bones will thank you. Yes, the USA has its huge cities and historic towns, but the vast majority of the country still consists of rugged mountain ranges, empty deserts and deep forests. Yellowstone is basically one giant pressure cooker. Best time to visit: Anytime that is not the middle of summer. Whether you want to hike, ski, or float the snake river with a beer in hand, there is something for every backpacker in Grand Teton National Park. When it comes to impressive desert landscapes, the Grand Canyon is king. Dry Tortugas National Park is an ecological wonder located at the very bottom of the Florida Keys. Check out all the places seen in this video: https://www.touropia.com/best-national-parks-in-the-usa/ The USA is a really big place. Much respect…. Basically, they are spire/pillar-shaped rock formations jutting out from the canyon floor. It is one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA. Many communities have been affected. Have fun in the US, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver. Ranier National Park is one of the many gems of the Pacific Northwest region of the USA. Save the world, one backpack at a time. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. There are quite a few awesome accommodation options as well, so you can stay at Glacier National Park a bit longer if you want. The Gates of the Arctic National Park is a treasure of the world. The park is famous for its orange-red hoodoo rock formations punctuated by outlying pine forest. It is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. The South Rim- home to the Grand Canyon village and the well-worn Bright Angel Trail, is particularly popular among sightseers and hikers. Shenandoah National Park is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains: one of my favorite places in the whole country. Wildlife lovers can enjoy looking out for more than 100 species of birds, dozens of reptiles and mammals, and more than 1,000 interesting plant species. Don’t be that tourist that gets seriously injured or killed by a buffalo. Yosemite is defined by its almost impossibly large walls of granite; the result of millennia of glaciation and erosion. When you think of stunning waterscapes, places like Acadia national park in Maine and Olympic national park in Washington probably come to mind. In winter, … Best National Parks in the USA: West Coast #1 Yosemite National Park. Close, Chris Lininger is a writer, photographer, and guide from California. Do you need travel insurance when you visit? The quintessential Grand Canyon experience is actually descending into the canyon itself. Rainer than tourists, which totally changes the feeling of a national park. This is a super remote, ultra beautiful part of Alaska, that should only be taken on by serious/experienced backpackers. Best of luck on your USA national parks adventure! Alpine trekking and world-class rock climbing routes. Aside from just being a pretty landscape, it has a ton of amazing and unique geothermal features, like … Wildlife, too, finds refuge in the wild lands in America’s national parks. This. The mystical Kenai Fjords National Park is a land of ice, glaciers, ultra-clear lakes, abundant wildlife (including wales and eagles), and some of the most beautiful landscapes found in North America. Both are VERY dangerous to humans. Don’t be so foolish and selfie-greedy that you get within a few feet of the buffalo just to take a good picture. It takes some effort to get here, but once you do, it is bound to be the backpacking trip of a lifetime. Acadia National Park spreads across 49,052 acres of land, which comprises of 30,300 acres of Mount Desert Island, 2,728 acres of Isle Au Haut and 2,366 acres of the Schoodic Peninsula. I know. Over the last ten years, I have crisscrossed the country multiple times getting to know some of the very best national parks in the USA. Utah truly is the state that keeps on giving to my best national parks in the USA list. For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. Miles and miles of glacier-carved mountains, untouched lakes, wildflowers, snow-capped peaks, deep forests, and meandering rivers. National Parks Outdoors and Adventure Travel's Best Hiking Camping Gem Hunter's Paradise Covering over 275 square miles, White Sands National Park is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Want to know how you can show your support – find out here! Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone is not your average park. Best travel jackets for backpackers – Find the right jacket based on your intended outdoor activities. Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico) 8. The US is home to 58 national parks, all filled with breathtaking landscapes and rampant wildlife...so narrowing this list down to 10 was difficult. National Parks have been created all around the world with a sole purpose of preserving our ecosystem. Prior to colonialization of Europeans, Native Americans had been coming to visit the area in and around the Grand Canyon for eons. Every year without fail, some aloof tourist is sent to the hospital due to general stupidity and lack of common sense. There is some excellent skiing and winter-related sports to be had here too. From vast variety of plants/tree species to the animals that call the Smokies home; the park is teaming with life. Check in with the National park Service website for up to date details. Blessed with rugged, wild coastline dotted with lighthouses and a range out craggy, high mountains, it is no wonder that Acadia attracts millions of visitors each year. The park is home to glaciers, forests, stunning wildflower explosions in the spring/summer, and plenty of activities for outdoor junkies. Check in the NPS before setting off to explore. But nature has a way of protecting itself. This is the land where the buffalo used to roam en masse in the north-west corner of Wyoming. Whilst internationally, Shenandoah National Park might not be super famous, it is still one of the best national parks in the USA. If you are making a national park road trip of the USA, arguably one of the most scenic drives in the west is on the road going through the center of Zion. Kindly share and do post your comments. If the Grand Canyon were a book, it would be the geological story detailing millions of years. If you plan on tackling some multi-day backpacking or river trips here, make sure you come prepared to set forth into a true wilderness area. Yet Voyageurs national park in … Enjoy what you do get to see and explore the places you connect with until your heart’s content. I love this park because it reflects an America that once was: wild, untamed, radically beautiful, and isolated. It is on this side that you’ll find the most amenities. Yucca trees (Joshua trees) have always fascinated me, and Joshua Tree National has them in abundance (obviously). The distances within the USA can be huge, so plan accordingly when sorting out your national parks itinerary. is a treat to the eyes and to the soul. Open grasslands down in the valley are home to a large population of elk and deer species. Glacier National Park borders Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada—the two parks are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Since the wedding represents one of the most important days in life, a lot... Travelling can do so much good for our physical and mental well-being. Denali is certainly a top pick on my best national parks in the USA list. Great Smoky Mountain National Park is home to the oldest mountains in the US and draws more visitors than any other national parks in the country. *all or some of these highlights may have been impacted by the 2018 volcanic eruption. For many of America's national parks, the winter season is the best time to visit, when cold temperatures bring a fresh look to our nation's most beautiful landscapes. It was initially created as the Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916,However, later park was renamed Lafayette National Park in 1919, and was given its current name of Acadia in 1929. Best Camping Hammocks – Get to know the amazing world of #hammocklife. Campers love the national parks. A backpacking trip here is bound to be the adventure of a lifetime. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. If you like mountain biking or rock climbing, Joshua Tree is perfect for that. That said, there are a few awesome hiking trails here too. Camp out under the desert stars as the creatures of the desert come out of their daytime retreats. There’s plenty of accommodation near Yosemite. It is one of the largest fauna, thus, being one of the most popular in the Continental United States. The park receives a staggering 4 million+ visitors every year. This travel guide will help you get to grips with 25 of the best national parks in the USA. Best Time to Visit: Winter, Spring, and Fall. Even if you’re only going for a short time, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Comment document.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "a22ea7adcad137263acafca4f63b7c11" );document.getElementById("bb6136472c").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. All rights reserved. Canyonlands is up there with the most epically beautiful desert national parks in the USA for sure. The lowest elevation scales 3,666 feet at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 feet at Horse Ranch Mountain. Sounds pretty damn good. Our National Parks — John Muir’s classic collection of wonderful sketches and descriptions of the national parks of America. 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