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List of All 63 National Parks in the US by State | 2023

Rich Francis

Swansea, UK

From swivel chairs to space rockets, the US has had some darn bright ideas over its short history. But of all the ideas that have changed the world, the national parks system is surely close to the top. It was way back in 1872 that the sulfur-belching lands of Yellowstone were designated as protected lands by President Ulysses S Grant. Fast forward to the 21st century and there’s now 63 protected areas representing some of the most iconic natural landscapes on the planet — and a 64th national park on the way!

You’ve got mighty canyons, snow-capped volcanos, huge forests of redwoods and Douglas-fir, rolling wastelands of whistling dunes, salt lakes that spread out below sea level, glaciers that spread out above the clouds, slopes speckled by bison, salt-sprayed beaches, palm-fringed coasts, and great deserts that make the horizon look like nothing but a mirage. Sorry for the long sentence, but we had to at least scratch the surface! Let’s explore.

List of National Parks in the US

National Parks in Alaska

Denali National Park

Denali National Park and Preserve, Denali National Park and Preserve
Denali National Park, Alaska, USA.

Denali National Park is the epitome of wilderness, a true gem of unbridled natural beauty. The park is home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife, from moose to wolves, bears, caribou, and more. Visitors can spot them on the park’s backcountry trails or take in the sweeping vistas on a scenic drive. The park’s crown jewel is undoubtedly Mount Denali, standing at a staggering 20,310 feet above sea level, this majestic peak draws mountaineers from all over the world. Adventurous visitors can take on the challenge of climbing this behemoth, while others can admire its breathtaking beauty from the comfort of the park’s many lookout points.

Denali National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. One of the park’s highlights is the Savage River Loop Trail, which features the remains of a historic copper mine that was once the lifeblood of the local economy. The park also offers an incredible range of activities, from rafting and dog sledding to flightseeing tours over the glaciers and tundra.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Denali National Park on Seeker.

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Bettles
Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska, US.

Gates of the Arctic National Park offers a truly wild and remote experience, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. With no roads or marked trails, visitors must rely on their own skills and knowledge to navigate the rugged terrain. However, for those willing to make the journey, the rewards are many. The park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and caribou. Visitors can also witness the Northern Lights, which dance across the sky in vibrant hues during the winter months. For a unique perspective on the park, visitors can embark on a dog-sledding or Nordic skiing adventure, gliding across the snow and taking in the stunning scenery.

The park’s size and remote location mean that visitors are truly immersed in nature, with no distractions from the outside world. It’s a place to disconnect from technology and reconnect with the natural world, experiencing the true wonder and majesty of the Arctic wilderness. The Brooks Range, which runs through the park, is a unique and rugged landscape, with towering mountains, deep valleys, and sweeping tundra.

Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve,
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, USA.

Glacier Bay National Park marks the spot where the colossal ice fields of the Saint Elias Mountains spill into the sub-zero waters of the North Pacific Ocean. Sounds dramatic? Well…that’s because it is. So dramatic, in fact, that over half a million people head to gawp at the mighty fjords and mountains each year, many of them on cruise ships — the park is only accessible by boat and plane. The park’s most impressive sights are its glaciers, which are constantly moving and changing as they carve their way through the landscape. Visitors can watch as massive chunks of ice break off the glaciers and crash into the ocean below, creating towering waves and thunderous crashes.

In addition to its natural beauty, Glacier Bay National Park also has a rich cultural history. The park is home to the Tlingit people, who have lived in the region for thousands of years. Visitors can learn about their history and culture by visiting the Huna Tribal House, a traditional Tlingit longhouse that serves as a cultural center for the park.

Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park and Preserve, King Salmon
Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA.

Katmai National Park is a wildlife lover’s paradise, and its most famous residents are the park’s brown bears. During the annual salmon run, these magnificent creatures flock to the Brooks River to feast on the fish. Visitors can watch as the bears fish for their meals, often coming within just a few feet of the viewing platforms. The park is also home to other wildlife, including caribou, moose, wolves, and foxes, making it an ideal destination for anyone interested in viewing Alaska’s incredible wildlife up close.

Beyond its wildlife, Katmai National Park is also home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the United States. Visitors can hike through the park’s rugged terrain, including the stunning Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. This otherworldly landscape was formed during the Novarupta eruption of 1912 and is made up of miles of ash, pumice, and steam vents. The park is also home to stunning lakes and rivers, including Naknek Lake and the Alagnak River, which offer visitors opportunities for fishing, boating, and other water-based activities.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Katmai National Park on Seeker.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park,
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA.

Kenai Fjords National Park protects nearly 550,000 acres of some of the most impenetrable but wonderful natural landscapes close to Anchorage. As the name implies, the park is home to stunning fjords, towering mountains, and dramatic glaciers that are sure to leave visitors in awe. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the Harding Icefield, a massive sheet of ice that covers over 700 square miles and is the source of many of the park’s glaciers. Visitors can take guided hikes to explore the icefield and witness the power of glacial erosion up close.

Another popular activity in Kenai Fjords National Park is wildlife watching. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including black bears, moose, and bald eagles. Visitors can also see humpback whales, orcas, and other marine mammals as they migrate through the park’s waters. The park’s protected waters are also home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea otters, seals, and sea lions. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, visitors can explore the park’s rugged terrain via a network of hiking trails, including the challenging Harding Icefield Trail.

Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk Valley National Park, Kotzebue
Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska, US.

Kobuk Valley National Park is where the Arctic meets sand dunes. Yep, you read that right. The park’s most iconic feature is the towering Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, which cover over 25 square miles and can reach heights of up to 100 feet. The dunes are a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts, offering a rare glimpse of a truly unique ecosystem.

Visitors to Kobuk Valley National Park can explore the park’s rugged terrain via a variety of hiking trails, including the 1.7-mile hike to the top of the dunes. The park is also home to the Kobuk River, a wild and scenic river that offers world-class fishing opportunities for arctic grayling and other species. For those seeking a truly off-the-beaten-path adventure, Kobuk Valley National Park offers a true wilderness experience, with no roads or trails leading into the heart of the park.

In addition to its stunning natural features, Kobuk Valley National Park is also rich in cultural history. The park is home to a number of historic sites and artifacts, including ancient burial grounds and petroglyphs left by the park’s earliest inhabitants. Visitors can learn about the park’s cultural heritage at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center, which offers a variety of exhibits and educational programs.

Lake Clark National Park

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Port Alsworth
Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, US.

Are you ready to escape to a place that feels like it’s straight out of a dream? Then look no further than Lake Clark National Park. This secluded national park is a true wilderness paradise, with its rugged landscapes and pristine waters just waiting to be explored. It’s a place where the only way to get around is by floatplane or ATV, which only adds to the sense of adventure and excitement. From the rushing rivers full of salmon to the towering peaks of the Chigmit Mountains, there’s no shortage of natural wonders to behold in this hidden gem of Alaska.

There are endless possibilities for adventure in Lake Clark National Park. One of the most popular activities is fishing for salmon in the park’s rivers, which are known for their abundant runs. Hiking is also a popular pastime, with trails ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs up the Chigmit Mountains. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, kayaking and rafting offer an exhilarating way to experience the park’s wild and scenic rivers. And of course, wildlife viewing is a must-do activity in Lake Clark – keep your eyes peeled for bears, moose, caribou, and other iconic Alaskan animals.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, USA.

Welcome to the largest single protected wilderness in the whole of the United States. At Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, think large, then double it! Not including adjoining preserves, there’s a jaw-dropping eight million acres to get through in this giant US national park. Whether you choose to take on the challenge of climbing Mount Saint Elias, or explore the vast expanse of the Malaspina Glacier – there’s no shortage of adventure to be had here.

The Edgerton Highway is your gateway to this incredible landscape. This road offers an unforgettable journey through towering peaks and rugged valleys, and it’s a great way to experience the park’s unique character. But be warned, this isn’t your average road trip – the road can be challenging at times, but the rewards are well worth the effort. From the comfort of your car, you can take in breathtaking views of the park’s mountains, glaciers, and rivers.

National Parks in American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa,
NNational Park of American Samoa, American Samoa, USA.

National Park of American Samoa is a hidden gem in the Pacific Ocean that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and Polynesian culture. The park is spread across three islands – Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū – and features a range of diverse ecosystems, including rainforests, coral reefs, and volcanic peaks. One of the most popular places to visit in the park is the Pago Pago Harbor, which is the main port on Tutuila and serves as the gateway to the park. Visitors can take a boat tour of the harbor to see the stunning coastline and the surrounding mountains, or they can explore the nearby Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is home to a wide variety of marine life.

Another must-see place in the park is the Ofu Beach, which is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The beach is located on the island of Ofu and features crystal-clear waters, pristine white sand, and stunning coral reefs that are perfect for snorkeling and diving. Other notable places to visit in the park include the Mount Alava Trail, which offers sweeping views of the coastline and the rainforest below, and the Vatia Village, which is a traditional Polynesian village that offers a glimpse into Samoan culture and way of life.

Also see: 2023 Guide to National Park of American Samoa on Seeker.

National Parks in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park,
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA.

Grand Canyon National Park might just be the headline act of America. Yep, there’s probably no more iconic a natural feature on the continent than the colossal gorge that carves its way through this corner of the West. Second only to the Great Smokies in terms of annual visitor numbers, the preserve draws millions to the snaking Colorado River. The park is divided into two main areas, the South Rim and the North Rim, each with its own unique set of landmarks and viewpoints. The South Rim is the more accessible of the two, and it’s where most visitors spend the majority of their time. Some of the most popular viewpoints on the South Rim include Navajo Point, which offers panoramic views of the canyon and the Colorado River, and the Desert View Road, which winds its way along the eastern edge of the canyon and provides access to several breathtaking overlooks.

The North Rim, on the other hand, is a more remote and rugged part of the park that offers a different perspective on the canyon. One of the most dramatic viewpoints on the North Rim is the Toroweap Overlook, which is located at the end of a long and bumpy dirt road. From here, visitors can gaze down into the canyon and see the Colorado River winding its way through the rock formations below. Other notable landmarks on the North Rim include Cape Royal, which offers sweeping views of the canyon and the surrounding forest, and Point Imperial, which is the highest viewpoint on the North Rim and provides stunning views of the sunset over the canyon.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Grand Canyon National Park on Seeker.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, US.

If you’re imagining a woodland fresh from an Alfred Hitchcock screening, you can stop right now. The ‘petrified’ in the Petrified Forest National Park refers to a process of fossilization that sees minerals turn organic matter into stone. It’s a process that’s worked wonders on the I-40 between Sanders and Holbrook, where 230 square miles of land contains ancient stones that were once actually trees.

The park’s most famous feature is obviously its vast collection of petrified wood, some of which date back more than 200 million years. Visitors can take a leisurely hike along the Blue Mesa Trail, which winds through an eerie landscape of hills and spires. Along the way, you’ll pass by hundreds of logs that have turned to stone over the millennia, each one sporting its own unique color and pattern.

The Pueblo people inhabited this area for centuries, and their ruins are still visible throughout the park. The most well-known Puebloan site in the park is the Puerco Pueblo, which features a dozen or so masonry buildings that were constructed around 1250 CE. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the site, which includes interpretive signs that provide historical context. Don’t forget to visit some of the park’s most iconic locations, such as the Crystal Forest and the Agate Bridge, and take in the park’s beautiful Mars-like landscapes of painted badlands.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Petrified Forest National Park on Seeker.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park East, East
Saguaro National Park, Arizona, US.

Saguaro National Park is a vast national park in Arizona that covers over 90,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert. Home to the iconic saguaro cactus, the park is a mecca for nature lovers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the park’s two districts, the East and West, each with its unique charm and attractions. The Tucson Mountain District boasts scenic drives, hiking trails, and stunning views of the rugged Tucson Mountains, while the Rincon Mountain District features a diverse range of flora and fauna, including the rare and endangered Mexican spotted owl. April is the best time to visit the park to witness the saguaro cactus in full bloom, and visitors can also enjoy guided tours such as moonlight hikes, bird watching tours, and stargazing programs.

Saguaro National Park is not just a destination for nature enthusiasts, but also a window to the wild west. The park’s rugged landscapes and towering saguaro cacti are quintessential symbols of the American frontier, immortalized in countless western movies and novels. Visitors can also explore the city of Tucson, which is rich in cultural attractions, including the Old Tucson Studios, a famous movie set, and the nearby Pima Air and Space Museum. The park offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, birdwatching, and horseback riding, making it an unforgettable destination for anyone looking to experience the wild west firsthand.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Saguaro National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, US.

The steaming pools of mineral-rich water that bubble up from the ground in Hot Springs National Park have been magnetizing humans since before anyone can remember. First came the Native American shamans; then came the Prohibition gangsters (Al Capone even had a dip here). These days, the springs – which can hit temperatures of up to 143 F – can still be experienced through vintage spa houses. The water in these hot springs is heated deep underground and contains a variety of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Bathhouse Row is a popular destination within the park, where visitors can explore the historic bathhouses that were once used for therapeutic bathing and relaxation — and even take a dip themselves. One of the most famous bathhouses in the park is the Fordyce Bathhouse, which was built in 1915 and has been restored to its former glory. Visitors can take a guided tour of the bathhouse and learn about the history of the spa culture in Hot Springs.

Another must-visit attraction in the park is the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, which offers stunning views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. The tower is accessible via a hike or scenic drive through the park and provides visitors with a panoramic view of the park’s natural beauty.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Hot Springs National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in California

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park, Ventura
Channel Islands National Park, California, US.

Take five islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Add 145 endemic species of animal, circling blue whales, myriad dolphins, underwater forests of sea fans and kelp, white-tinged beaches, and hills of sand dunes speckled with rushrose and oak. Viola – that’s the amazing Channel Islands National Park. The islands are home to a variety of endemic species of plants and animals, including the island fox and the island scrub jay. Visitors can also explore the park’s underwater world, which is home to a variety of colorful fish, sea fans, and kelp forests. Whale watching is a popular activity, here, as the surrounding waters are home to a variety of marine mammals, including blue whales, humpback whales, and dolphins.

Access to Channel Islands National Park is limited, with the only way to reach the islands being by boat from Ventura, California. Visitors to the park can explore the islands by hiking the many trails that crisscross the landscape, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding ocean and coastline. One popular destination within the park is the Scorpion Ranch, which is home to a variety of historic buildings and offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Channel Islands National Park on Seeker.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley, Death Valley
Death Valley National Park, California, US.

Phew! It’s hot in here. Well…get used to it folks, because Death Valley National Park can bust thermometers with heat that scorches over 134 F. That’s hot enough to fry an egg on the floor! But don’t do that – they’ve actually asked people to stop. Spanning over 3 million acres, the park is known for its extreme temperatures, unique geology, and stunning landscapes. The park is home to a number of incredible attractions, including Zabriskie Point, a popular viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the surrounding badlands. Here, visitors can take in the strikingly eroded landscape, which has been shaped by millions of years of geologic activity. From the top of the point, visitors can also see the colorful layers of rock that make up the park’s iconic formations.

One of the (many) must-see attractions in Death Valley National Park is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at -85 meters below sea level. This incredible salt flat is located at the bottom of a large basin and is famous for its unique formations and otherworldly appearance. Visitors can walk out onto the flat and explore the otherworldly landscape, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Despite the harsh conditions, the basin is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including the rare Badwater snail, which is found nowhere else in the world.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Death Valley National Park on Seeker.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park,
Joshua Tree National Park, California, US.

Tucked away in southeastern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a desert wonderland known for its otherworldly landscape and unique geological features. The park covers over 790,000 acres and is named after the distinctive Joshua trees that dot the landscape. These trees are actually a species of yucca plant and can grow up to 40 feet tall. They have a twisted, spiky appearance and are known for their unusual silhouette against the bright blue sky. In addition to the Joshua trees, the park is also home to a variety of unique rock formations, including the aptly named Skull Rock and the popular bouldering spot, the Great Burrito. The park is a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers, and photographers, as well as anyone seeking a unique outdoor experience.

One of the most popular areas within Joshua Tree National Park is the Hidden Valley. This enclosed valley is surrounded by massive rock formations and is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including coyotes, jackrabbits, and quail. The valley gets its name from the fact that it is hidden from view until you enter the area. Once inside, visitors can explore the many trails that wind through the valley, taking in the unique rock formations and strange anthropomorphic shapes that seem to be cast in stone.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Joshua Tree National Park on Seeker.

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park,
Kings Canyon National Park, California, US.

Don’t want the crowds of Yosemite but do want hulking granite domes in the Sierra Nevada? Kings Canyon National Park is a hidden gem nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, offering stunning vistas and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. The park is home to a variety of geological formations, and visitors can hike along iconic trekking routes like the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. One of the park’s main attractions is its giant sequoia trees, some of which are thousands of years old and among the largest trees in the world. The General Grant Tree is one such example and is one of the top attractions in Kings Canyon. It is the second-largest tree by volume in the world, second only to the General Sherman tree in nearby Sequoia National Park.

Beyond hiking and exploring the sequoias, visitors to Kings Canyon National Park can also enjoy a variety of other outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, and rock climbing. The park is home to several campgrounds, including the popular Grant Grove Village, which offers easy access to many of the park’s main attractions. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a relaxing weekend getaway, Kings Canyon National Park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park Headquarters, Mineral
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, US.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a world of stark contrasts. One minute you’ll be gazing at harsh lava fields and smoking calderas, as plumes of sulfur and smoke twist and turn in the dry air. The next, you could be navigating a forest of fragrant red firs and aspens, spotting wildflowers and butterflies in hidden alpine valleys. One of the park’s most popular attractions is Bumpass Hell, a geothermal site named after a local miner who fell into a boiling mudpot. Visitors can hike along the boardwalk trail and witness the bubbling mud pots, steaming vents, and brightly colored hot springs that make up this otherworldly landscape.

Just outside of the park, visitors can explore the town of Chester, which offers a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as access to the popular Lake Almanor. The lake offers opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing, as well as a number of campgrounds and picnic areas. For those looking for a unique adventure, nearby McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park boasts a stunning 129-foot waterfall, as well as opportunities for hiking and fishing.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Lassen National Park on Seeker.

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park,
Pinnacles National Park, California, US.

Pinnacles National Park is a haven for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Located in California, the park is home to a unique landscape forged by ancient volcanoes and tectonic plates. The park is divided into two halves, the east and west entrances, and each offers a different experience. At the west entrance, visitors can explore the towering spires and jagged peaks of the High Peaks Trail. This trail offers a challenging hike that rewards with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

At the east entrance, visitors can delve into the Bear Gulch Talus Cave, a natural wonder that was created when a massive boulder tumbled into a narrow canyon. The cave is a popular destination for cavers and adventurers who want to explore its twisting passageways and narrow crevices. The park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including California condors, coyotes, and bobcats. Visitors can often spot these creatures on the park’s many trails, such as the Balconies Cave Trail or the Bench Trail.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Pinnacles National Park on Seeker.

Redwood National Park

Redwood National and State Parks,
Redwood National Park, California, US.

A tree-hugger’s paradise, the Redwood National and State Parks spill down the California Coast Ranges to a roaring Pacific Ocean. Together, the conglomeration of reserves covers nearly 140,000 acres, ranging from the California-Oregon state line to the woods south of the Klamath River. The ginormous specimens of Tall Trees Grove (some trees there are over 370 feet!) are one of the main draws, but visitors can also fern-filled canyons, bridle trails, and deserted beaches.

Hiking is a popular pastime, here, with trails ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks. The James Irvine Trail is a particularly scenic route, leading hikers through old-growth redwood forests and over babbling streams. The park is also home to over 200 miles of stunning coastline, offering opportunities for beachcombing, tidepooling, and whale watching. Offshore, the waters are popular with kayakers and anglers, while the Klamath River is a prime spot for fishing and rafting. Nearby, visitors can explore charming coastal towns like Trinidad and Crescent City, or venture inland to the Smith River National Recreation Area, where crystal-clear waterfalls and swimming holes await.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Redwood National Park on Seeker.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park,
Sequoia National Park, California, US.

Where else in the world can you drive through a toppled tree trunk and scale to mountain lookouts above the clouds on the Great Western Divide? Answer: Nowhere except Sequoia National Park. Sequoia National Park is a land of giants, where the trees are the main attraction. The park is home to five of the 10 largest trees in the world, including the General Sherman tree. Standing at a whopping 275 feet tall and with a base circumference of over 100 feet, General Sherman is the largest known living single-stem tree on earth. The Giant Forest, where General Sherman is located, is also home to over 8,000 other sequoias, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. For a more adventurous experience, head to the High Sierra Trail, which takes you through some of the most stunning and rugged landscapes in the park. Hike through alpine meadows, cross raging rivers, and trek up steep mountain passes for breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

In addition to the trees and trails, Sequoia National Park is also home to some incredible underground wonders. The park is home to over 240 known caves, including the Crystal Cave, which is one of the most popular things to do in Sequoia National Park. With its stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations, the Crystal Cave is a mesmerizing and otherworldly experience. Another must-visit spot is Moro Rock, a granite dome located on the edge of the Great Western Divide. Climb the stairs to the top of the rock for panoramic views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains and the San Joaquin Valley below. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventurer, or just looking for a beautiful escape, Sequoia National Park has something for everyone.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Sequoia National Park on Seeker.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park,
Yosemite National Park, California, US.

Yosemite National Park is one of the headline acts of the Golden State. Legendary among free climbers (if you haven’t watched Free Solo yet, now’s the time) and visited by more than four million people each year, it’s something truly special. The heart of it all is the awesome Yosemite Valley, which is guarded by the sheer walls of El Capitan and the Half Dome. Hiking is abundant. Waterfall watching abounds. Scenic drives are everywhere. What more could you want?

The park’s centerpiece is the stunning Yosemite Valley, which is home to some of the most iconic landmarks of the American West. The granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome dominate the skyline, attracting rock climbers from around the world to attempt their summits. Hikers can explore over 800 miles of trails that wind through the park’s pristine wilderness, from the easy stroll to Mirror Lake to the challenging trek up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls. In the spring, visitors can witness the thunderous power of the park’s waterfalls, including Yosemite Falls, which drops a staggering 2,425 feet. In the fall, the valley is ablaze with color as the leaves of the deciduous trees turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red.

Beyond the valley, Yosemite National Park offers even more adventures. The Tioga Road winds through the high country, passing stunning alpine meadows and crystal-clear lakes, before cresting the Tioga Pass at 9,945 feet. Visitors can explore the Tuolumne Meadows area, hike to the summit of Mount Dana, or marvel at the otherworldly formations of the Mono Basin. The park also offers a range of activities, including rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, and stargazing.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Yosemite National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park,
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, US.

Named Black Canyon because the sunlight only touches the depths of the canyon for a few minutes each day, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The park is home to several lookout points that offer breathtaking views of the rugged terrain, towering cliffs, and deep canyons. Devils Lookout and Pulpit Rock Overlook are just some of the must-visit vistas that offer jaw-dropping panoramas of the Black Canyon. For those who want to explore the park’s wild side, there are many hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous, including the challenging Inner Canyon trail that takes visitors deep into the canyon. Hikers can navigate the steep drop-offs, narrow ledges, and rugged terrain, and marvel at the stunning views.

Wildlife viewing is a popular pastime in the park, here, with mule deer, black bears, coyotes, and mountain lions among the many animals that roam the area. Fishing is also a popular activity in the park, with several species of trout found in the Gunnison River. The park’s wilderness area is perfect for those looking for solitude and unspoiled nature.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on Seeker.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve,
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, US.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home of the tallest sand dunes in North America. The park boasts more than 30 square miles of sand dunes, some of which reach heights of over 700 feet. For hikers, there are several trails that wind through the dunes, like the 4.3-mile round-trip Mosca Pass Trail, which leads to stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Those seeking a thrill can rent sandboards or sleds and ride down the towering dunes, such as the High Dune or the Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America. Wildlife enthusiasts can catch a glimpse of black bears, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep within the park’s boundaries, or go birdwatching to spot the rare mountain plover or the graceful sandhill crane.

Along with outdoor activities, visitors can explore the park’s cultural history by visiting the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center and Museum. The center features exhibits on the park’s ecology and geology, as well as the fascinating human history of the area. Guided tours are also available, including ranger-led hikes, night sky programs, and cultural history tours. The park hosts several annual events and festivals, such as the Sand Dunes Music Festival and the Night Sky Festival, which offer visitors a chance to enjoy live music and stargazing.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Great Sand Dunes National Park on Seeker.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, US.

Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwestern Colorado, is a unique and fascinating destination that offers visitors a glimpse into the history and culture of the Ancestral Puebloans. The park is home to over 5,000 archaeological sites, including the world-renowned Cliff Palace, a complex of 150 rooms and 23 kivas built into a cliff face. Visitors can take guided tours of the Cliff Palace and other ruins, or explore the park’s hiking trails and scenic overlooks to get a better sense of the ancient way of life.

In addition to the impressive architecture of the Ancestral Puebloans, Mesa Verde National Park is also home to a rich collection of rock art, including pictographs and petroglyphs. These intricate images offer insights into the spiritual and cultural beliefs of the Ancestral Puebloans and are a testament to their creativity and ingenuity. The park’s extensive cave dwellings, which were built into the cliffs to provide shelter and protection from the elements, are also a testament to the resourcefulness of these ancient people.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park,
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, US.

Think Colorado, think Rocky Mountains. That’s just how it goes. From the moose-spotted meadowlands to the alpine tundra of the wind mountaintops, Rocky Mountain National Park offers different types of adventure and weather for every type of traveler. The park covers over 415 square miles and includes over 300 miles of hiking and climbing trails, 150 lakes, and several stunning mountain peaks, including Longs Peak, which stands at over 14,000 feet. Climbers, hikers, snowshoe walkers, skiers – they all come for a taste of the wild beneath the gaze the northernmost fourteener in the Rockies).

A highlight of Rocky Mountain National Park is Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in North America. The road climbs to over 12,000 feet and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The park’s famous alpine tundra is home to several rare and endangered species, including the Colorado state flower, the Rocky Mountain columbine.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Florida

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park,
Biscayne National Park, Florida, US.

Mostly underwater, save for a few white-sand keys that could easily feature in Robinson Crusoe, Biscayne National Park is where the Sunshine State meets the ocean. This marine wonderland encompasses the northernmost section of the Florida Keys and boasts some of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems in the region. The park is made up of over 170,000 acres of pristine waters, coral reefs, and mangrove forests, all of which provide a habitat for a vast array of marine life. Visitors can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems through a range of activities, including kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

One of the highlights of Biscayne National Park is the Florida Reef, which stretches for more than 170 miles and is the third-largest coral reef system in the world. The reef is home to a variety of coral species, including elkhorn corals, star corals, and brain corals, as well as countless fish species such as zebrafish, angelfish, and parrotfish. The park is also home to the endangered sea cow, or manatee, which can be spotted swimming in the park’s shallow waters. Visitors can take guided snorkeling or diving tours to explore the reef and its diverse marine life, making for a unique and unforgettable experience.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park,
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, US.

Dry Tortugas National Park is the reward for sailors and seaplanes willing to venture beyond the rum-spilling bars of Key West. And what a reward it is! The park’s crystal-clear waters are teeming with all sorts of curious creatures – amberjacks, stingrays, sea turtles – and full to the brim with coral gardens. The park covers a total area of 100 square miles, with the majority of it being water. For experienced divers, the park’s highlight is the Windjammer wreck, a 19th-century sailing ship that rests on the ocean floor.

On top of the breathtaking marine life and underwater delights, the park also features the historic Fort Jefferson, a six-sided masonry fort built in the mid-19th century to protect the Gulf of Mexico. It is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere and took over 30 years to build. The fort was once used as a prison during the Civil War and held notable prisoners, including Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was convicted for his involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Visitors can take a guided tour of the fort and learn about its fascinating history, as well as explore the picturesque island that surrounds it.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park,
Everglades National Park, Florida, US.

Everglades National Park is to Florida what Yosemite is to California. A real chart-topper, it spreads its great grass rivers and hardwood hammocks through a whopping 1.5 million acres at the southern end of the Sunshine State. Airboats are the main MO of visiting. They’ll whiz you on high-octane tours through prairies and waterlogged swamps. Keep your eyes peeled for snapping alligators, marsh rabbits and monitor lizards as you go! But, the best part about Everglades? The weather! Everglades National Parks takes the top spot on our list of the best national parks to visit in the winter.

There are plenty of fun things to do near Everglades National Park for those looking to experience the beauty of southern Florida beyond the park. Head to the nearby Big Cypress National Preserve, where visitors can explore the swampy terrain by foot, kayak, or canoe. Another popular spot is the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, where you can spot Florida panthers, alligators, and a variety of bird species. For a little bit of luxury, check out the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, which offers hotel rooms, a casino, and a range of outdoor activities like airboat rides and alligator shows. And of course, no trip to southern Florida is complete without trying some of the local seafood cuisine, like fresh stone crab or grouper.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Everglades National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Hawaii

Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā National Park,
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii, US.

Revered as the ‘House of the Sun’ by the Early Hawaiians, mighty Haleakalā stands tall above the legendary beaches and resort towns of Maui that spread below. Peaking at over 10,000 feet, it’s a smoke-belching volcano that hisses and splutters and seethes across a Mars-like landscape of cinder cones and lava rocks. It’s the perfect place for a sunrise or sunset experience, with breathtaking views over the island and beyond. And don’t miss out on the opportunity to hike up to Haleakalā Observatory and stargaze under some of the clearest skies in the world, with the Milky Way stretching out above you.

Haleakalā National Park offers a unique cultural experience, with opportunities to learn about Hawaiian traditions and history. Visit the Kīpahulu District, where you can explore ancient Hawaiian agricultural terraces and temples, or attend a cultural program where you can learn traditional crafts or dance hula. And don’t forget to sample some delicious Hawaiian cuisine, from fresh seafood to tropical fruits and shaved ice.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Haleakalā National Park on Seeker.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, US.

Forever shifting and changing shape thanks to the magma spews and massive volcanic eruptions, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the place to go to get a feel for the Hawaii’s untamed geology. The park is home to two active volcanoes, including Kilauea, which has been erupting continuously since 1983. Hiking trails offer stunning views of lava fields, steam vents, and otherworldly landscapes. And after a day of exploring, soak in the natural beauty of the park’s lush forests, waterfalls, and beaches.

One of the most popular activities in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a visit to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook, which provides incredible views of the Halema’uma’u Crater, the site of Kilauea’s ongoing eruption. Visitors can also take a ranger-guided tour of the Thurston Lava Tube, a natural tunnel formed by flowing lava. For a more adventurous experience, sign up for a guided hike to the active lava flow, where you can witness molten lava flowing into the ocean. And if you’re looking to relax, the park’s nearby Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is one of the best black sand beaches in Hawaii, offering unique and striking scenery.

National Parks in Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, US.

UNESCO World Heritage credentials join with national park status to make Mammoth Cave National Park one of the largest underground tunnel systems in the world. It runs for a mega 400 miles through the subterrane of Kentucky, sprouting into hidden chambers and rooms and bottomless pits that are said to descend to the very center of the planet. One of the most interesting aspects of Mammoth Caves National Park is the human history that’s intertwined with the natural one. The caves have been used for thousands of years by indigenous peoples, and were even mined for minerals in the 19th century. Visitors to the park can explore the remnants of these early mining operations, including a few preserved buildings that show what life was like for miners in the 1800s.

Beyond the cool temperatures of the caves themselves, there’s also plenty of other things to explore in this Kentucky park. Above ground, you’ll find a forested landscape of winding trails, sparkling rivers, and even a few ghost towns to visit. There are also guided tours of the caves themselves that offer a glimpse into the geological forces that created this unique landscape.

In addition to the natural wonders of Mammoth Cave National Park, there are also a variety of non-outdoorsy attractions in the surrounding area. For history buffs, the nearby town of Cave City features a number of museums and historic sites, including the National Corvette Museum, which celebrates the classic American sports car. For those seeking thrills, Dinosaur World offers the opportunity to walk among life-size replicas of the prehistoric beasts, while the Kentucky Action Park and Jesse James Riding Stables provide adventure with ziplining, go-karting, horseback riding, and more. And for a taste of local culture, visitors can head to the nearby towns of Glasgow and Bowling Green to explore charming downtown areas with boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants serving up Southern comfort food.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Mammoth Caves National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park, Porter
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana, US.

Just across the water from the hustle and buzz of Chicago, Indiana Dunes National Park is a haven of shimmering beaches and thistle-topped sand hills. It’s not your typical desert landscape, but rather a rich tapestry of dunes, wetlands, prairies, and forests. With over 15,000 acres of protected land, it’s a paradise for hikers, birdwatchers, and beachgoers alike. One of the best things about the park is the diversity of ecosystems, which means there’s always something new to explore. You can climb the sandy peaks for stunning views of Lake Michigan or trek through the woods in search of rare plants and wildlife. The park also has an interesting history, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years.

If you’re planning a visit to Indiana Sand Dunes National Park, be sure to pack your swimsuit and sunscreen. The beaches here are some of the best in the Midwest, with soft sand and crystal-clear water. You can swim, paddleboard, or just soak up the sun with a good book. The park also offers ranger-led programs and events throughout the year, so be sure to check the schedule. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try camping overnight under the stars. There are both drive-in and hike-in campsites available, so you can choose your own adventure.

National Parks in Maine

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park,
Acadia National Park, Maine, US.

Breathe deep. The salt air is strong on the granite domes of Acadia National Park. Acadia is a treasure trove of natural beauty that encompasses Mount Desert Island —and then some. Besides the iconic peaks and sandy beaches, there’s also the Schoodic Peninsula, known for its rugged coastline and charming fishing villages. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, Acadia is New England’s favorite destination for rock climbing, camping, cycling, and even stargazing, thanks to the park’s Dark Sky status.

Hike or drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain— one of the the first places that sees the sunrise in the United States. Don’t miss leaf-peeping season (Acadia is one of the best places in the world to see fall foliage) in nearby Bar Harbor, one of the region’s best whale watching outposts. And be sure to visit the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers, a longstanding tradition that dates back more than a century.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Acadia National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Michigan

Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park,
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan, US.

Isle Royale National Park is about as close to Canada as it’s possible to get without straying over the border. Like a stroke of a paintbrush, it dashes through the waters of Lake Superior just eight miles from the top edge of the United States. And it’s a frontier in more ways than one. It’s a place that’s so remote and isolated, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an era where nature was the only ruler. The island is only accessible by ferry or seaplane, so you can expect to leave the hustle and bustle of civilization behind as soon as you step foot on the island. One of the unique things about Isle Royale is the abundance of wildlife that roams freely across the island, including wolves and moose. It’s the perfect destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and wildlife watchers.

For those who want to explore the park at a more leisurely pace, there are plenty of opportunities for boating and fishing on the many lakes and streams that dot the island. Visitors can wander on paths like the Tobin Harbor Trail through twisted pine trees or kayak in deserted bays and pebbly coves. Isle Royal is known for having a rich history of copper mining, and visitors can explore the remnants of the historic mining operations while in the park.

National Parks in Minnesota

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park, International Falls
Voyageurs National Park, Michigan, US.

Virtually contiguous with the lake lands of Ontario, Voyageurs National Park accounts for 218,000 acres of northern Minnesota. The park, located in the tippy top of Minnesota, is a true wilderness adventure. With its countless lakes and waterways, it is a kayaker’s paradise. During the summer, visitors can explore Rainy Lake and Kabetogama on kayaks, canoes or paddleboards. For those who prefer to stay on land, the park has a variety of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the forests, lakes, and wildlife. Visitors can keep an eye out for moose, beavers, and loons among other wildlife.

When planning a visit to Voyageurs National Park, it’s important to note that the official NPS campsites are only accessible by water. This means that visitors will need to rent or bring their own kayaks, canoes or boats to get to the campsites. For those who prefer to stay in more traditional accommodations, there are plenty of lodges and resorts nearby, like Northern Lights Resort and Grand View Lodge.

National Parks in Missouri

Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis
Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri, US.

Gateway Arch National Park isn’t your run-of-the-mill sort of US national park. First off, it’s the smallest of all the parks in the country, clocking in at under 200 acres. Second, it’s smack bang in the middle of downtown St. Louis. Yep, there are no arduous hiking trails to the tops of volcanos to be found here. However, you do get a startling monument to the westward expansion of the United States and loads of history about the Louisiana Purchase. Not a bad trade off, huh?

Visitors can take a ride to the top of the famous Gateway Arch, an iconic symbol of the westward expansion of the United States, for a stunning view of the city and the Mississippi River. The Gateway Arch Museum is also a must-see attraction, here, with exhibits that explore the history of the arch and its significance to the nation. And don’t miss the chance to explore the park’s historic Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott case was heard.

If you’re looking to stretch your legs, there are plenty of mellow options available at Gateway. Take a stroll along the Mississippi Riverfront where you can enjoy views of the river and the city skyline. For a more active adventure, rent a bike and explore the Riverfront Trail or take a guided walking tour to learn about the park’s history and architecture. And with its central location in downtown St. Louis, Gateway Arch National Park is the perfect spot to start your exploration of the city’s many other attractions, including museums, theaters, and restaurants.

National Parks in Montana

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park,
Glacier National Park, Montana, US.

Glacier National Park, often referred to as the “Crown of the Continent,” is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is home to more than 700 miles of hiking trails, including the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is a 50-mile long scenic drive that offers breathtaking views of glaciers, valleys, and alpine lakes. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy biking, fishing, and camping in the park. For those who prefer to take it easy, a leisurely drive on the Many Glacier Road is highly recommended, where you can spot wildlife such as elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.

Another must-see attraction in the park is the stunning Lake McDonald, which is the largest lake in the park and offers boat tours and fishing opportunities. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the park’s historic lodges and learn about the park’s rich history and culture. To fully experience the park, it’s recommended to spend at least two to three days exploring its many wonders. It’s important to note that the park is busiest during the summer months, so visiting in the shoulder season (May and September) may offer a quieter and more peaceful experience.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Glacier National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Nevada

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park,
Great Basin National Park, Nevada, US.

Small but stunning, Great Basin National Park and the ridges of the South Snake Mountains dash across the eastern edge of Nevada. With an area of over 77,000 acres, the park offers a diverse landscape ranging from ancient forests to barren mountain peaks. Wheeler Peak, the highest point in the park, rises to an impressive 13,063 feet and offers spectacular views of the surrounding terrain. IThe park is also an excellent destination for stargazing due to its remote location and low levels of light pollution. In fact, Great Basin National Park is home to the renowned Great Basin Observatory, which hosts public stargazing events and houses a state-of-the-art telescope.

One of the main attractions of Great Basin National Park is Lehman Caves, a wild underground network of limestone caverns that boasts a range of unique geological formations. Guided tours are available for visitors to explore the caves and learn about the history and geology of the area. The park is also home to several rare plant species, such as the bristlecone pine, which is one of the longest-living organisms on the planet. The Snake Range, where the park is located, is considered a sky island, a term used to describe isolated mountain ranges surrounded by low-elevation deserts. This unique ecosystem provides a home to a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep.

National Parks in New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico, US.

Descend beneath the Guadalupe Mountains and discover what’s certainly one of the most enthralling cave systems in the US at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Discovered in 1898, this national park is home to a staggering 119 known caves. The largest and most famous of them is the Carlsbad Cavern, which stretches over 30 miles and features a vast underground chamber known as the Big Room. Beyond caverns, there is a seemingly endless array of chambers and channels here weave through strange mineral formations and resplendent water pools fringed by dustings of oxide, not to mention stalactites with curious names like the Totem Pole and the Iceberg Rock.

In addition to exploring the caves, visitors can also enjoy the park’s rugged desert terrain, which is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. The park is a popular destination for hiking and wildlife viewing, with opportunities to see desert animals like rattlesnakes, coyotes, and even the occasional mountain lion. During the summer months, visitors can watch thousands of bats emerge from the caverns at dusk, making for a truly unforgettable sight.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Carlsbad Caverns National Park on Seeker.

White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park,
White Sands National Park, New Mexico, US.

Wear the sunnies for this one, folks! Yep, the ‘white’ in White Sands National Park really is white. It unfolds along more than 270 square miles of stunning white gypsum sand dunes, which are formed from gypsum crystals left behind from a long-gone shallow sea. The dunes are constantly shifting and changing, creating an otherworldly landscape that’s perfect for exploration. Visitors can hike along the dunes, sled down the hills, or take part in ranger-led full-moon hikes to experience the park’s beauty at night. The park also offers guided tours and educational programs that provide a deeper understanding of the area’s unique ecology and history.

The White Sands area has been inhabited for over 10,000 years and has served as an important crossroads for many different cultures throughout history. Visitors can explore the park’s rich history by visiting the Alkali Flat Trail, which takes visitors through an area that was once a lakebed and is now a salt flat. The park also features a museum and visitor center, where visitors can learn about the region’s geology, ecology, and cultural history.

Also see: 2023 Guide to White Sands National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park,
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, US.

Named for the US president who once escaped to North Dakota backcountry after a family tragedy in 1884, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park mixes badlands with mountains and offers glimpses of the iconic American bison. The reserve is split into three: North, South and Elkhorn. The first sports rugged canyons dotted with colossal boulders. The second is about rolling grass badlands and buffalo. Elkhorn, meanwhile, is the place to go to trace the history of Teddy Roosevelt.

Visitors can explore the park’s winding trails on foot or by car, taking in breathtaking views of the North Dakota Badlands along the way. As one of the best places in the country to see bison in their natural habitat, the park offers ample opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. For history buffs, a trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is not complete without visiting the Elkhorn Ranch site. This is the location where Theodore Roosevelt retreated after the death of his wife and mother on the same day in 1884. Here, visitors can walk in the footsteps of one of the nation’s greatest presidents, exploring the preserved cabin and grounds where he lived and worked.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Theodore Roosevelt National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, US.

The Great Smokies are the jewel in the crown of Appalachia. They roll through Tennessee and North Carolina in a fog of hazy ridges and moss-caked forests, babbling streams and rock bluffs with lookouts you’ll never forget. Well…you and the other 12 million people who choose to visit this iconic reserve each year. Yep – Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the single most popular US national park of them all. It’s a well-deserved accolade, too, what with 850 miles of hiking path to conquer, wild fly-fishing spots, and fun-filled nearby towns like Asheville and Pigeon Forge to get through.

Apart from hiking, visitors can enjoy scenic drives along the park’s winding roads, with countless overlooks to stop and take in the breathtaking views. For a more leisurely experience, visitors can take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad or explore the historic buildings and exhibits in the park’s various museums and visitor centers. Fishing enthusiasts can cast a line in one of the many streams or rivers, and campers can spend the night under the stars at one of the Great Smoky Mountains’ many campsites and campgrounds.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park,
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio, US.

Sandwiched between Cleveland and Akron on the eastern fringes of the built-up Midwest, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is something of an unexpected bout of wilderness in the Buckeye State. It might only be 35,000 acres big, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty. In autumn, the park is ablaze with color as the hickory forests are painted with vibrant reds and oranges. Summer brings an abundance of wildflowers that bloom around cascading waterfalls.

The 21-mile Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail is a popular attraction for hiking and biking in Cuyahoga Valley, winding through lush forests, past historic locks, and providing stunning views of the Cuyahoga River. The park is also home to numerous waterfalls, including the impressive 65-foot Brandywine Falls, which can be accessed by a short hike. In the winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on designated trails, or take a scenic train ride through the snow-covered landscape. For those interested in history, the park has several sites that highlight its Native American and early pioneer past, including the historic Hale Farm and Village.

National Parks in Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park,
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, US.

Just when you thought the West Coast couldn’t give you anymore scorchers on the national park front, Oregon comes up with the magnificent Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake National Park, located in the southern Cascade Mountains, is home to sone of the deepest and most pristine lakes in the world (1,949 feet, to be exact). The 6-mile-wide caldera was formed over 7,000 years ago, following the eruption of Mount Mazama, and is now filled with incredibly clear blue water. The lake is fed solely by snow and rainfall, making it one of the purest bodies of water on earth. Visitors can take boat tours to Wizard Island, go fishing for rainbow trout, or hike the many trails that surround the lake, including the popular Garfield Peak Trail, which offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Crater Lake National Park is not just about the lake itself; it is a wild terrain of various ecosystems, from subalpine forests and meadows to high desert terrain. Keep an eye out for black bears, mountain lions, elk, and gray wolves as you explore. In the winter season, the park transforms into a magical winter wonderland, offering visitors the chance to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. For those who wish to stay the night, the park has a range of accommodations, from camping grounds and rustic cabins to historic lodges, making it an all-year-round destination for visitors who seek adventure and relaxation.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Crater Lake National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in South Carolina

Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park, Hopkins
Congaree National Park, South Carolina, US.

A great inland sea of loblolly pines, oaks, cypresses, and gums that spreads through South Carolina, Congaree National Park is home to some of the largest trees in the US – nay, the world! It’s said that the heftiest specimens of a whopping 15 species reside within the park between the snaking boardwalk trails and mosquito-buzzing creeks. Congaree is best-explored by water. Kayaking and canoeing along the Congaree River offers a unique perspective of the park, with views of the towering trees, hanging vines, and wildlife. The park is home to tons of endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and the Carolina eastern diamondback terrapin. Visitors can also hike along the boardwalks and trails that wind through the park, immersing themselves in the rich history and ecology of this unique ecosystem.

In addition to the natural wonders of the park, there are also cultural attractions to explore. Congaree National Park is located in the heart of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, an area that celebrates the rich African-American heritage of the region. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the Gullah/Geechee people through tours, exhibits, and programs offered by the park.

National Parks in South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park,
Badlands National Park, South Dakota, US.

A C-shaped swathe of carved mountains all dappled by different hues of red and orange, the Badlands National Park represent South Dakota’s raw and wild. As visitors drive down highway 240 that winds through the upper part of the park, they are treated to breathtaking vistas of sun-cracked canyons and walls of rock in every direction. Down south, things switch from grassy plains roamed by bison to dusty ridges watched over by bighorn sheep.

The park’s interior offers visitors an opportunity to explore several short hikes, like the Fossil Exhibit Trail, which features a boardwalk showcasing several types of fossils. Visitors can also stop by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to learn about the park’s history, geology, and ecology.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Badlands National Park on Seeker.

Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park,
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, US.

Wind Cave National Park holds the honor of being the first ever cave to gain national park status anywhere on the globe. It’s another of the American reserves dedicated by keen naturalist Teddy Roosevelt, which means it got its tags way back in 1903. The focal point? How about one of the longest and densest underground cave systems around. A whopping 150 miles of tunnels and chambers exist here beneath the rolling South Dakotan prairie. The cave system at Wind Cave National Park is unique due to its unusual formations, such as boxwork, a honeycomb-like structure that is rarely found in other caves. Visitors can explore the cave through ranger-led tours that range from easy to strenuous. Along the tours, visitors can see unique features such as frostwork, cave popcorn, and the cave’s signature calcite fin formations.

Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota offers more than just underground systems. The park’s prairies and forests offer an abundance of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. Bison, elk, and prairie dogs are just some of the animals that visitors can see in their natural habitats. Additionally, Wind Cave National Park is part of the larger Black Hills area, which offers a range of attractions, including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park.

National Parks in Texas

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park, Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, Texas, US.

Rolling down from the Chisos to the Chihuahuan, from mountains to desert, the Lone Star State’s Big Bend National Park could be your chance to channel that inner John Wayne. It’s daunting stuff. At 1,200+ square miles, the park hosts all sorts of habitats and corners, from the babbling Rio Grande to the pine-scented pinnacles of Emory Peak. But that’s Texas for you: Nothing in half measures. Especially not rancher-trodden outback, canyon trails, rivers, bluffs, and waterfalls.

One of the most popular activities for visitors is hiking along the canyon trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are trails of all levels of difficulty. Along the way, you might spot local wildlife like javelinas, roadrunners, and coyotes. Beyond the hiking trails, Big Bend offers plenty of other opportunities for adventure. Visitors can float down the Rio Grande on a rafting trip, go birdwatching, or explore the park’s fascinating geological features. In the evenings, the park’s clear skies are perfect for stargazing, with opportunities to spot constellations, shooting stars, and even the Milky Way.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Big Bend National Park on Seeker.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Salt Flat
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas, US.

Virtually contiguous with the southern end of Carlsbad Caverns National Park over in New Mexico, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the more off-the-beaten-path joys of Texas. The park’s remote location, nestled in the far west corner of Texas, makes it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can experience the incredible diversity of the Chihuahuan Desert by exploring the park’s canyons, peaks, and valleys, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a paradise for extremists, offering a range of exciting activities for visitors. At 8,749 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas and an absolute must-visit for hikers seeking a challenging trek. The strenuous hike to the summit offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the desert terrain below. For those seeking a more relaxing outdoor experience, McKittrick Canyon is the perfect spot. In autumn, the canyon transforms into a picturesque landscape, featuring stunning fall foliage that evokes New England scenery. The canyon is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, and wild turkeys.

National Parks in Utah

Arches National Park

Arches National Park,
Arches National Park, Utah, US.

Arches, arches, and more arches – that’s what’s on the sightseeing map of the aptly-named Arches National Park. A paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, the park offers a variety of adventure activities, all of which are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. Hiking in the park is an excellent way to explore the trails and view the stunning arches. You can take a leisurely stroll along the road-side vistas, or challenge yourself to a more strenuous hike, like the Devil’s Garden Trail, which leads to eight different arches. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try slacklining, a fun activity that involves balancing on a narrow strip of webbing suspended between two anchor points. Road biking is another popular activity in the park, with several scenic routes to choose from.

There are more than 2,000 of the naturally formed wonders in this stunning corner of Utah. The park’s unique geological formations, including towering red rock fins, balanced rocks, and, of course, its many arches, are nothing short of awe-inspiring. You can drive the park’s scenic route to get a bird’s eye view of the landscape, or simply take a moment to sit and appreciate the natural beauty around you. As the sun sets, the rocks take on a warm, orange glow that is truly breathtaking.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park,
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, US.

You can only imagine how the first Mormon pioneers would have felt when they roamed westwards to discover the eye-watering Bryce Canyon back in the 1850s. Probably not unlike how the first visitors to this awesome Utah park feel these days, the moment they lay eyes on that sea of vanilla and vermillion rock, stacked in jagged hoodoos for as far as the eye can see.

Bryce Canyon National Park is home to one of the most unique geological formations in the world. The park’s signature hoodoo formations were formed over millions of years through the process of erosion, as wind, water, and ice carved away the sedimentary rocks to reveal the colorful spires that can be seen today. The hoodoos are not only beautiful, but they also provide important habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. The park is home to over 400 species of plants, including bristlecone pines that can live for thousands of years, and a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, coyotes, and mountain lions.

While hiking is the most popular activity in the park, visitors can also enjoy horseback riding, stargazing, and ranger-led programs. The park’s unique geology also makes it a popular destination for geologists and other scientists who come to study the ancient rocks and the processes that shaped them.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park on Seeker.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park,
Canyonlands National Park, Utah, US.

In Moab you get two for one: The Arches and the Canyonlands. Canyonlands National Park is a vast, rugged wilderness that covers over 300,000 acres of southeastern Utah. The park is divided into four districts, each with its unique landscapes and attractions. The Island in the Sky is the most accessible and popular district, offering breathtaking views of the canyons and mesas from atop a 1,000-foot plateau. The Needles district is renowned for its colorful spires and rock formations, as well as its world-class hiking trails. The Maze, a remote and challenging district accessible only by 4×4 vehicles or backpacking, offers solitude and adventure for experienced wilderness explorers. Finally, the rivers and canyons of the Horseshoe Canyon Unit provide a glimpse into the area’s rich cultural history with well-preserved rock art panels and archaeological sites.

Canyonlands National Park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, four-wheel driving, rafting, and stargazing. The park’s rugged terrain and remote location make it an excellent place to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the natural world. Visitors can explore the park’s vast network of trails, from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks, and witness the stunning vistas of red rock formations, deep canyons, and high mesas.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, US.

Stretching across the heart of the Beehive State in a 60-mile spread of Western-worthy outback is Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. It’s named for the peaked domes of Navajo sandstone that loom like the tops of US capitol buildings throughout the preserve. Capitol Reef National Park is a treasure trove of geological wonders that dates back over 65 million years. The park is home to a unique collection of geological formations, including domes, cliffs, canyons, and arches. The park’s most iconic feature is the Waterpocket Fold, a massive geological formation that stretches for 100 miles and rises up to 7000 feet above sea level. The Waterpocket Fold is a unique feature, as it is a monocline, meaning that it has a single slope that forms a steep incline.

Other features of Capitol Reef National Park include enormous walls of red rock and dark and shady gorges. Strangely, there’s also a small oasis of fruit orchards in the midst of it all; clusters of almond and pear trees once planted by the pioneers.

On top its fascinating geology, Capitol Reef National Park boasts a rich cultural history. The area was once inhabited by the Fremont people, who left behind a wealth of petroglyphs and rock art that offer insights into their way of life. The park also features several historic structures, like the Fruita Historic District, which is home to a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and Gifford Homestead. This homestead is still in operation today, and visitors can sample locally made pies and jams.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park on Seeker.

Zion Canyon

Zion National Park,
Zion National Park, Utah, US.

Catch your breath. Look up. Zion National Park is Utah at its finest. Flaming rocks dashed with crimson and salmon tower to the cloudless skies. Prickly pear cacti jut from the dust. Bighorn sheep hop over the rock faces.

Zion National Park is not just a feast for the eyes, but also a haven for adventure seekers. The park’s centerpiece is the Zion Canyon, which is over 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, offering visitors the chance to hike through narrow canyons and towering rock formations. One of the park’s most popular trails, the Angels Landing Trail, takes hikers along a narrow ridge with sheer drops on either side and offers panoramic views of the canyon. The park is also home to some of the best rock climbing in the United States, with challenging routes that attract climbers from around the world. The park’s diverse terrain provides opportunities for canyoneering, backpacking, and mountain biking as well.

Beyond its stunning natural beauty and adventure opportunities, Zion National Park also has a rich cultural history. The park was home to several indigenous communities, including the Paiute and the Anasazi, who left behind a wealth of cultural artifacts and rock art. In Zion, you’ll also find awe-inspiring historic buildings and structures, including the Zion Lodge, which was built in the 1920s and is a National Historic Landmark. The park offers several ranger-led programs and exhibits that provide insights into the area’s rich cultural history and natural wonders.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Zion National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park,
Virgin Islands National Park, US Virgin Islands, US.

Greek blue and rainforest green are the color palette of the US Virgin Islands, home of the heavenly Virgin Islands National Park. Covering just over 60% of the island of Saint John, the park ranges from colorful coral reefs to jungles awash with orchids and palms. Do not miss Trunk Bay and its cotton-hued sand, or the uber-romantic Honeymoon Beach. Visitors to Virgin Islands National Park can also explore over 20 hiking trails, including the popular Reef Bay Trail, which winds through the rainforest and past ancient petroglyphs.

The park offers opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, and snorkeling around the protected coves and bays. The coral reefs are home to over 500 species of fish and other marine life, making it a popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. Visitors can also learn about the island’s rich history, including its pre-Columbian inhabitants and the legacy of the island’s sugar plantation era, at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center and historic sites.

National Parks in Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park,
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, US.

Not far from Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park beckons folk away from the big city with its sylvan hills and scenic motor routes. Covering the bucolic Blue Ridge Mountains, the park is long and thin, centering on the 105-mile Skyline Drive that offers a new vista of valley bottom or distant peak at every turn in the road. The park is rich in history, with notable sites including Rapidan Camp, which was the summer retreat of President Herbert Hoover, and the ruins of a 19th-century resort called Brown’s Mountain that was destroyed by fire in 1909.

Waterfalls and lovely backcountry campsites are all ripe for the taking if you’re looking to leave the asphalt and hit the trails instead. For those looking for a more strenuous adventure, the park has over 500 miles of hiking trails. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park, providing hikers with access to some of the most beautiful vistas in the eastern United States. In the fall, the park’s forests burst into a kaleidoscope of colors, making it a popular spot for leaf-peeping.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Shenandoah National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, US.

Mount Rainier National Park emanates out from the hulking peak – the highest in the Cascades – that sits at its center and gives it its name. Wherever you are in the reserve, there’s rarely a moment when the snow-mantled summit of the mighty mountain won’t be within eyeshot. Around it swirls beautiful springtime wildflower meadows and gushing waterfalls fed by ancient glaciers.

Located just a couple of hours from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is home to more than 25 glaciers and snowfields, making it is a popular destination for winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing. In the summer, the park hosts a diverse ecosystem of forests, meadows, and rivers, providing a home for a variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer, elk, and mountain goats. Visitors can take guided ranger walks to learn more about the park’s flora and fauna, or explore on their own on over 260 miles of trails. For those seeking a more leisurely experience, the park’s scenic drives offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Mount Rainier National Park on Seeker.

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park West Entrance, Marblemount
North Cascades National Park, Washington, US.

One road in, one road out – that’s the remoteness of the North Cascades National Park. Even the winding, wiggling route of the 20 highway offers only glimpses of this 500,000-acre wilderness, which reaches all the way north to the US-Canada border in a medley of summits that easily surpass 9,000 feet. With more than 300 glaciers, the park is often called the “American Alps” and is a paradise for mountaineers and backcountry skiers. The park’s isolation and rugged terrain have kept human development to a minimum, creating a stunning and unspoiled natural environment perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life.

The park is a crucial habitat for many endangered species, like the grizzly bear and gray wolf, which have started to make a comeback in the region after years of absence. While respecting the untouched surroundings, visitors can explore the park’s many trails and waterways and experience the pristine wilderness firsthand, whether they are trekking through high alpine meadows, kayaking on the turquoise waters of Ross Lake, or fishing for trout in one of the park’s many streams. For those who seek solitude and adventure in the great outdoors, North Cascades National Park is a must-see destination.

Also see: 2023 Guide to North Cascades National Park on Seeker.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park, Port Angeles
Olympic National Park, Washington, US.

Wet but wonderful, Olympic National Park spans the vast Olympic Peninsula to the west of Seattle. It’s is one of the few US national parks where you can range from snowy glaciers to salt-washed coastline in a single day. In fact, thanks to Hurricane Ridge Ski Area, it’s even possible to don the salopettes by morning and hit the waves with your surfboard in tow by afternoon!

One of the most unique features of Olympic National Park is its temperate rainforests, which receive more than 150 inches of rainfall per year. The Hoh Rainforest, located on the west side of the park, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors, with moss-draped trees, ferns, and wildflowers creating a magical atmosphere. The park’s coastline is also a highlight, with rugged sea stacks, tidepools, and wide sandy beaches. Inland, visitors can explore the park’s extensive trail system, including the famous Hoh River Trail and the strenuous Mount Olympus climb.

Spanning over 1,400 square miles of diverse landscapes and ecosystems, Olympic National Park is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including rare species like the Olympic marmot, Pacific fisher, and spotted owl, as well as iconic species like elk, black bears, and bald eagles.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Olympic National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park

New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia, US.

New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia’s first national park, is an underrated adventure spot located in the center of the Appalachian Mountains. Previously a mining town that boomed in the late 1800s, the now-protected area consists of 53 miles of free flowing white water that continue to carve out the 1000 foot sandstone cliffs. It is the deepest river gorge in the Eastern United States and offers countless opportunities for exploration. With whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, fishing, and picturesque riverscapes, there’s an activity for any type of visitor.

The park offers stunning views of the river, cliffs, and forests, particularly from its numerous overlooks and trails. Visitors can enjoy hiking the many trails in the park, which range from easy strolls to challenging hikes that require a bit of experience. During the fall, hardwood forests transform into a colorful display of red, orange, and yellow foliage, making it a popular destination for spotting fall foliage in the US. New River Gorge National Park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including over 1,400 plant species and 60 species of mammals, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. The park offers some of the best bird-watching opportunities in the region, with over 200 species of birds sighted in the area.

Also see: 2023 Guide to New River Gorge National Park on Seeker.

National Parks in Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park,
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, US.

Straddling the Snake River and the ski runs of Jackson Hole, and home to some of the most gnarled and craggy peaks in the Rockies, Grand Teton National Park can seem like a tailor-made playground for those who like to whiz downhill or scramble up it! Grand Teton National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with activities like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and fishing attracting adventurers from all over the world. Mountaineers like the legendary Jimmy Chin have tested their skills on the park’s famous peaks, while others prefer to enjoy the park’s beauty from the comfort of its scenic byways.

One of the most popular attractions in the park is the T.A. Moulton Barn, which has become a must-visit destination for anyone looking to capture the perfect Insta shot. The barn, built in the early 1900s, is located on Mormon Row and has been photographed countless times against the stunning backdrop of the Teton Mountains.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Grand Teton National Park on Seeker.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, US.

Yellowstone National Park hardly needs any introduction. The oldest of the US national parks, and one of the most visited, it continues to wow all who explore its spouting geysers, hot springs, mud pots, prismatic pools, and brooding mega volcano. The sprawling park, which covers an area of 2.2 million acres, is primarily located in Wyoming, but also extends into Montana and Idaho. It’s a haven for geothermal stuff, like Old Faithful, a geyser that erupts every 90 minutes, and the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States.

Aside from its geothermal wonders, Yellowstone is also wildlife mecca, and visitors are likely to spot bison, bears, elk, wolves, and other animals while exploring the park’s vast wilderness. Those who like to visit National Parks in the winter will find Yellowstone’s trails transformed into a wonderland of snow-covered landscapes, making it a popular destination for cold-weather adventure seekers. The park’s vast array of winter activities include skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and even ice climbing.

Also see: 2023 Guide to Yellowstone National Park on Seeker.