The best national parks in USA

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This is a carefully selected guide to the most breathtaking and unique national parks in the United States. With over 60 national parks, some among the best national parks in the world, each offers its own blend of natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and rich cultural history. This list has been created to highlight the parks that stand out for their exceptional landscapes, wildlife, and opportunities for adventure and contemplation. Two of these parks are also on our list for "The best places to visit in the world"

Sustainable travel

As visitors to these national treasures, it is important to remember our role in preserving their natural beauty. Responsible tourism, including adhering to park rules, staying on designated trails, and practicing Leave No Trace principles, ensures these parks remain unspoiled for future generations. While many parks offer lodging options, from campgrounds to hotels, the availability varies, and it’s advisable to plan accommodation in advance. Exploring these parks often involves driving, with many offering scenic drives and parking areas, yet it’s essential to be mindful of wildlife and natural habitats. Here you can view the best national parks in USA map

What to Explore

From the awe-inspiring depths of the Grand Canyon to the rugged peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, each park in this list promises unique experiences. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of outdoor adventure, the peacefulness of nature, or simply a scenic escape, these national parks offer something for every traveler. Let this guide inspire your next journey into the best parks in America's. Also read "The most beautiful national parks in the world" and more about United States, a young but prominent nation with lots to explore

Grand Canyon National Park

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Grand Canyon National Park, nestled in Northern Arizona, is a monumental testament to nature's grandeur and geological history. This expansive park offers visitors a multitude of ways to explore its depths and vistas.

Begin your journey along the Canyon Rim Trail for breathtaking views, starting from Mather Point and extending to the scenic Hermit Road with nine exceptional overlooks. For a blend of education and sightseeing, the Trail of Time offers a fascinating insight into the canyon's geologic past. Families will delight in the Junior Ranger program, engaging children in the park’s rich ecology and history.

Hermit Road, a haven for breathtaking scenery, is accessible by shuttle, foot, or bicycle, providing a serene experience along the canyon’s rim. Cyclists can explore the South Rim through rentals and guided tours, offering a unique perspective of the canyon's majesty.

Photography enthusiasts will find endless opportunities to capture the awe-inspiring landscape, turning their visit into lasting memories. For a different experience, the Desert View Drive, open year-round to private vehicles, presents a 23-mile journey showcasing expansive views of the canyon and the Colorado River.

Each of these activities in Grand Canyon National Park promises an immersive experience, allowing visitors from all over the world to witness the beauty and majesty of one of nature’s most spectacular creations. This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the US!

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Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in Wyoming, is one of the most beautiful national parks also renowned as the world's first national park. This park is a treasure trove of geological wonders, home to more than half of the world’s geysers, including the iconic Old Faithful. Its unique geothermal landscape features bubbling hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles, attracting visitors who are fascinated by its otherworldly beauty.

Wildlife in Yellowstone is as varied as its terrain. The park is a haven for large herds of bison, elk, and other wildlife, including grizzly bears and wolves, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Yellowstone's vast wilderness offers a plethora of hiking trails that range from easy strolls to challenging backcountry treks, appealing to outdoor adventurers of all skill levels. The park's scenic beauty is also accessible through its extensive network of roads, providing stunning views of its diverse landscapes - from the vast Lamar Valley to the majestic Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

A visit to Yellowstone is not just a journey through a natural wonder but a step into a living laboratory, where visitors can learn about conservation, the complexity of ecosystems, and the importance of preserving natural habitats. This unique blend of geological wonders, rich wildlife, and educational opportunities makes Yellowstone National Park a truly inspiring and unforgettable destination. Being one of the best national parks in USA, it's on our top 100 places to visit.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado is a treasure trove of natural wonders, attracting millions of visitors each year. Known for its towering peaks, with sixty mountains over 12,000 feet, including the famous Longs Peak, the park is a haven for hikers and climbers. The Continental Divide, cutting through the park, offers breathtaking vistas and the opportunity to cross this iconic geographic feature.

What sets the park apart are its varied ecological zones, from lush montane meadows to the sparse alpine tundra. This diversity creates a habitat for an array of wildlife, including herds of elk and majestic bighorn sheep. Visitors are often drawn to the park for its scenic drives, especially the Trail Ridge Road, renowned as the highest paved road in the National Park system, offering unparalleled views of the alpine world.

From leisurely nature walks around Bear Lake and Alberta Falls to challenging mountain adventures, and the winter allure of ice climbing, Rocky Mountain National Park encapsulates the beauty and spirit of the great outdoors, making it a unique and cherished destination.

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Acadia National Park

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One of the best national parks on the east coast

Acadia National Park in Maine, often referred to as the "Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast," is a captivating blend of natural beauty and adventure. Known for its rugged coastline, the park features a variety of short yet thrilling hiking trails that lead visitors to breathtaking viewpoints overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Scenic drives through the park reveal hidden beaches, dramatic cliffs, and historic lighthouses, offering a picturesque journey through Maine's maritime landscape.

A significant draw to Acadia is the charming coastal town of Bar Harbor, providing a quaint and cozy retreat with its unique local culture and delightful dining experiences. Autumn is a particularly magical time to visit, as the park transforms into a vibrant palette of fall colors, drawing nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

What sets Acadia apart is its accessibility to both avid hikers and those preferring leisurely explorations. The park's diverse landscape, from mountain peaks to ocean shorelines, ensures a unique experience for every visitor, making it a cherished destination for its natural diversity and scenic beauty.

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Zion National Park

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Zion National Park in Utah, is a destination of extraordinary beauty, known for its towering red cliffs and unique geological formations. The park's scenic landscape is a paradise for hikers, with trails ranging from easy walks along the Virgin River to challenging treks like the famous Angel's Landing, offering panoramic views of the canyon.

One of the park's most unique features is The Narrows, a hike through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, where the walls are only a few feet apart in places. This hike, partly through the river, provides an unforgettable experience of the park's stunning slot canyons.

Zion is also a haven for wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, and a variety of bird species, making it an ideal spot for wildlife viewing. The park's diverse ecosystems range from desert terrain to lush river valleys, supporting a wide range of flora and fauna.

Visitors can also explore the park by car along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which offers access to major trailheads and viewpoints. The park's shuttle system helps preserve the natural environment while providing convenient access to its key attractions.

The combination of Zion's natural beauty, challenging hikes, unique geological features, and abundant wildlife makes it an inspiring destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

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Yosemite National Park

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One of the best national parks on the west coast

Yosemite National Park, located in the heart of California's Sierra Nevada mountains, is a place of breathtaking beauty and natural wonders. Visitors from around the world come to marvel at its iconic landmarks such as the imposing granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan, the tranquil and scenic Yosemite Valley, the ancient and towering sequoias in Mariposa Grove, and the spectacular Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America.

What makes Yosemite unique is not just its stunning landscapes but also the range of activities it offers. Hiking enthusiasts have over 750 miles of trails to explore, from easy walks to challenging treks. Rock climbers find their haven scaling the famous cliffs. Families enjoy picnicking, birdwatching, and participating in the park’s educational programs.

In winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland, perfect for skiing and snowshoeing. And for those who simply want to relax and take in the views, there are numerous spots for peaceful contemplation.

Yosemite's combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and serene landscapes makes it a must-visit destination, offering something unique and inspiring for every traveler.

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Everglades National Park

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One of the best national parks on the east coast, US

Everglades National Park, located in southern Florida, is a unique and vast wetland ecosystem unlike any other in the world. Spanning over 1.5 million acres, it's not only a national park but also a designated World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance. This vast, subtropical wilderness enchants visitors with its rich biodiversity, picturesque landscapes, and unique outdoor adventures.

One of the primary attractions of Everglades National Park is its diverse wildlife. It's one of the only places on Earth where alligators and crocodiles coexist. Birdwatchers flock here to glimpse the myriad bird species, including the rare and colorful Roseate Spoonbill and the majestic Great Blue Heron. The park is also home to the endangered Florida panther and the West Indian manatee, making wildlife viewing a top reason for visits.

The unique landscape of the Everglades offers a variety of ways to explore, from walking and biking trails to canoeing and kayaking routes. The Anhinga Trail is a popular boardwalk for a leisurely walk to observe wildlife, especially alligators sunbathing or swimming. For a more adventurous experience, the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway challenges kayakers and canoers with a route that winds through mangrove forests and open bays.

Additionally, the park's guided airboat tours are a must-do for many visitors. These tours provide an exhilarating way to traverse the vast "River of Grass" and get up close to the park's unique ecology and wildlife.

As a traveler, it's essential to respect this fragile ecosystem. Staying on designated paths, not disturbing wildlife, and following park regulations help preserve the park's natural beauty for future generations.

The Everglades' subtropical climate means warm temperatures year-round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season from November to March, when weather conditions are more comfortable and mosquitoes are less prevalent.

In summary, Everglades National Park offers an escape into a world of natural wonders, where the beauty of untamed wilderness awaits to be explored, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

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Glacier National Park

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Glacier National Park in Montana, often called the "Crown of the Continent," is a land where sky-piercing mountains meet lush valleys. Known for its stunning alpine scenery and the remnants of glaciers from the last ice age, the park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike.

Visitors are drawn to its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, a breathtaking drive that offers spectacular views and access to a variety of hiking trails. The park's extensive trail network invites hikers to explore pristine wilderness, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear lakes. Glacier National Park is also a wildlife lover's paradise, home to grizzly bears, mountain goats, and moose, offering ample wildlife viewing opportunities.

The park’s glaciers, though receding, remain a poignant reminder of nature’s impermanence and lend a unique character to the landscape. Beyond its natural beauty, the park holds cultural significance, sharing its history and landscape with Native American tribes. This blend of majestic scenery, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage makes Glacier National Park a truly unique and inspiring destination.

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Katmai National Park and Preserve

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Katmai National Park in Alaska, is a remote and unspoiled wilderness known for its extraordinary wildlife and volcanic landscape. The park's most famous residents are the brown bears, especially around Brooks Falls, where they gather to catch salmon leaping upstream – a truly spectacular sight and a major draw for wildlife enthusiasts. This unique spectacle of nature, where visitors can safely observe bears in their natural habitat, is a primary reason for traveling to Katmai.

Apart from bear watching, Katmai's landscape is dotted with active and dormant volcanoes, including the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a dramatic reminder of the 1912 Novarupta eruption, one of the largest in the 20th century. Hiking through these volcanic landscapes offers a glimpse into the raw power of nature.

The park's rugged terrain, encompassing lakes, rivers, and forests, is also a haven for fishing, kayaking, and trekking, providing an immersive wilderness experience. Katmai's combination of unique wildlife, volcanic history, and pristine natural beauty makes it an exceptional destination for adventurers seeking to experience the wild, untamed heart of Alaska.

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Grand Teton National Park

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Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, is a breathtaking destination that captures the essence of the American wilderness. Known for its dramatic Teton Range, with jagged peaks that rise sharply from the valley floor, this park offers a spectacular natural backdrop that attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world.

Visitors to Grand Teton are often drawn by the opportunity to hike its diverse trails, which range from easy walks around pristine lakes to challenging treks up rugged mountains. The park's alpine terrain, dotted with serene lakes like Jenny Lake, is perfect for activities like boating, fishing, and kayaking.

Wildlife viewing is another key attraction of Grand Teton. The park is home to an array of wildlife, including moose, elk, bison, and bears, providing visitors with a chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Winter transforms the park into a snowy wonderland, ideal for skiing, snowshoeing, and other winter sports. This seasonal change adds another dimension to the park's beauty, attracting visitors who seek the tranquility and unique beauty of a winter landscape.

The uniqueness of Grand Teton National Park lies in its striking mountain scenery, diverse wildlife, and the range of outdoor activities it offers, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the grandeur and serenity of the great American outdoors.

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Olympic National Park

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Probably the best national park on the West coast

Olympic National Park, is a remarkable destination where diverse ecosystems coexist in harmony. It's not just a park but a world unto itself, with rugged coastlines, alpine mountains, and lush rainforests. The park's unique feature is its varied landscapes, which provide a range of experiences for visitors.

Hikers are drawn to its extensive trail network that winds through temperate rainforests, adorned with moss-draped trees, and up into the mountains offering stunning views. The park's coastline offers a different experience with its tide pools and beach walks. Olympic is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with its abundant species including the majestic Roosevelt elk.

Its unique combination of ecosystems within a single park, from rainforests to beaches to mountains, makes Olympic National Park a distinctive and captivating destination for nature lovers, hikers, and anyone looking to immerse themselves in diverse natural beauty.

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Badlands National Park

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Badlands National Park, in South Dakota is a hidden gem known for its striking landscape of layered rock formations, steep canyons, and towering spires. Its unique topography is the result of millions of years of sedimentation, erosion, and weathering, creating a dramatic and otherworldly terrain that captivates visitors.

One of the park's main attractions is its scenic drives, such as the Badlands Loop Road, offering breathtaking viewpoints and easy access to many of the park's highlights. The park is also a paradise for fossil enthusiasts, as it's rich in ancient mammal fossil beds, providing a window into Earth's evolutionary past.

Hiking is another popular activity, with trails winding through the park's rugged beauty, suitable for various skill levels. Additionally, the Badlands offer spectacular stargazing opportunities due to minimal light pollution, allowing for clear views of the night sky.

Wildlife viewing is also a significant draw, with the park being home to bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and the endangered black-footed ferret. The mix of unique geological features, rich paleontological history, and diverse wildlife makes Badlands National Park a captivating destination for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers.

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