If hiking through a forest of trees, wildlife-observing and high peaks are things that inspire you, then this US National Parks bucket list is meant for you. The United States of America is blessed with vast and beautiful landscapes punctuated with awe-inspiring beauty, yet so many people fail to make the time to explore it. Don’t make that mistake! Gas up the Winnebago, and go on a road trip of a lifetime. Whether you visit just one park or them all, you will not be disappointed with the experience of seeing something so dang pretty that it is going to make you question your eyesight.
The List of US National Parks (Arranged by State)
✧ Denali National Park and Preserve
With only one road splitting the park, Denali National Park and Preserve is a true wilderness destination. It covers 6 million acres and contains some of the most fascinating gems of Alaska including North America’s tallest peak ‘ Mount McKinley’, humongous wildlife such as wolves, caribou and grizzly bears, numerous species of birds, an array of snow-kissed peaks and tall ice walls. Not to mention a chance to see the awe-inspiring display northern lights! Whether it is an adventure that you seek, or utter peace, Denali National Park and Preserve will exceed your expectations.
✧ Gates of the Arctic National Park
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be completely secluded from the world, Gates of the Arctic National Park will offer you a true remote experience. Positioned north of the Arctic Circle with absolutely no roads and clamor, the Alaskan park protects the Brooks Range. It is renowned for its wildlife, scenery, breathtaking wild rivers and waterways, and adrenaline-rushing activities. To make it even more special, in order to access the park you either have to take a flight or hike.
✧ Glacier Bay National Park
Here the winters are rather long, and summers are short but active. Embark upon the journey to explore the fantastical range of glaciers and untouched nature. Covering a vast area of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, Glacier Bay National Park is a coastal sanctuary housing massive tidewater glaciers, tall peaks, temperate rainforest and rivers, and fjords flanked by ice walls. On your visit, you are bound to come across mountain goats jumping down the cliffs, sea lions lazing upon ice chunks and humpback whales leaping out of the water. Dare to gaze at the impressive Grand Pacific Glacier, listen to the songs of seabird amplified by the raging ocean waves and explore the bay on a boat.
✧ Katmai National Park and Preserve
Whenever you are in need for a good dose of vast wilderness and a fix of wondrous natural landscapes, head to Katmai National Park and Preserve – featuring world’s most magnificent terrain of tundra, forests, lakes, and mountains sprawling on a peninsula in southern Alaska. Some of the highlights are its abundance of brown bears frolicking in Brooks Camp with salmon, the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes where a devastating volcano occurred, rugged mountains and spectacular glacial valleys.
✧ Kenai Fjords National Park
At Kenai Fjords National Park, you will discover a rich landscape featuring towering glaciers, narrow waterways, craggy headlands, and pristine Alaskan shorelines. The nature reserve spans over an area of 669,984 acres on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska. Come and explore the glacial pathways, listen to the sounds of arctic birds, and lose yourself in the stormy charm of the ocean.
✧ Kobuk Valley National Park
Once upon a time, Kobuk Valley was a grassy landscape where mammoths roamed freely. Today, it houses birch forests, spectacular mountain foliage, a varied wildlife, and some of the biggest active Arctic sand dunes. The statistics say that it is one of the least visited parks. I wonder why?!? It surely is a puzzling oddity, but it is quite a beauty. Situated in the northwestern Alaska far off from the rest of the world, you can add to the bucket list adventure by taking a bush plane to Kobuk Valley National Park.
✧ Lake Clark National Park
Snow-capped mountains and towering glaciers will greet you as you enter Lake Clark National Park. The sprawling tundra, aquamarine lakes and serene river vistas are enough to take your breath away. One of the things that is most loved about the park is its splendid camping spots. Lie down, count the stars, and spot the planets, or enjoy a quiet read by the lakeside. Here you will find utmost seclusion and enchanting beauty.
✧ Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Blessed with four gigantic coastal mountain ranges, the park has the power to remind that how small you are and how big the universe is. I am not kidding when I say that you will feel like a tiny dot at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park thanks to its massiveness. Hike through the Root Glacier trail, try river rafting at McCarthy River, go on a flight-seeing tour over the mountains, and be in complete awe of Hubbard Glacier.
✧ National Park of American Samoa
All hail to the quaint land of coral reefs, rugged coastlines, tropical rain forests, and the rich Samoan culture. The National Park of American Samoa is spread across three islands – Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū. When you are not snorkeling with the marine creatures, stroll across a sun-kissed beach, meet the Samoan princess and discover fruit bats and flying foxes. Experience a true tropical adventure in a laid-back environment.
✧ Grand Canyon National Park
The US National Parks Bucket List can’t be complete without the Grand Canyon of Arizona, considered to be the crown jewel among the national parks in the United States. And it’s no small wonder since every photo taken from its vantage points can compete in a “Photo of the Year” competition with ease!
If you pay this place a visit in summer, choose whether to visit the South Rim, visited by most tourists, or the North Rim, ideal for wildlife watching and solitude seekers. Either way, one thing is certain – rocky formations featuring vivid colors, crisscrossed by canyons (as expected, I suppose), will compete in height and surround you from all sides.
For an added adventure, you can take a helicopter ride from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, then land inside!
✧ Petrified Forest National Park
Wander off into the natural beauty where dinosaurs once roamed, making it a part of the lost world. The Petrified Forest National Park would’ve certainly been filled with luscious thick forests millions of years ago, but the unstable erupting volcanos have turned the place into a historic wonder with sediments and fossils, making it an archeological heaven. The trees are now petrified and entombed with waterways, sediment and volcanic ash. Steady erosions, gargantuan logs and fragments of a once thriving ecosystem are now unveiled for us to explore. Experience the painted desert of northeastern Arizona and take in the historical sites and remarkable fossils that makes our imagination run wild.
✧ Saguaro National Park
Put on your cowboy hat and leather jacket and head towards the land of cactus! Located in southern Arizona, the Saguaro National Park is divided in two sections located on either side of Tucson city. The park has numerous large saguaro cactus plants, from which it takes its name. They grow in the native desert environment and offer a magnificent view of the hilly areas surrounded by wild vegetation. In the western side of the Tucson Mountain District, we see the Signal Hail Trail leading up to the mystical petroglyphs of ancient Hohokam people whereas the Eastern Rincon Mountain District is a looped road offering outstanding views of pristine deserts.
✧ Hot Springs National Park
The thermal springs of Hot Springs National Park invite you to central Arkansas to experience the healing and relaxation powers the warm water holds. The vast forestation and hot springs flowing with pacifying water soothes the senses and takes away all your worries. There’s much to do in the park itself with enjoyable architecture, cultural significance, sunset trails and adventures to explore, but I would highly recommend to just take some time off from all these activities and soak up in the needle showers, steam cabinets and whirlpool tubs. You will feel light as a feather by the end of your trip!
✧ Channel Islands National Park
Have you ever seen a gathering of seals? Don’t be disheartened, just run off to Channel Islands National Park. The park is distributed across five islands off the Southern California coast. Visit Anacapa Island and watch the horizon from the historical lighthouse, check out the renowned Painted Cave in Santa Cruz, traverse the Torrey pines in Santa Rosa Island, attend a seal conference at San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett and watch thousands of seabirds flying to Southernmost Santa Barbara.
✧ Death Valley National Park
Yes, I know, the name isn’t exactly endearing but its staggering beauty makes up for its ominous vibes. Lying between eastern California and Nevada, the national park is renowned for Titus Canyon, multicolored rocks, ghost towns and most importantly, its extreme weather conditions. On one hand, it has to face the wrath of heat waves and droughts, and on the other, it bears frosty snowfalls and rainstorms. The rainfall feeds the Amargosa River and blooms up the flowers in the fields. Despite its menacing tag, life seems to thrive here. Some of the popular activities that you must try at Death Valley National Park include a four-wheel drive, bicycling, mountain biking, hiking, and stargazing.
✧ Joshua Tree National Park
Extending across Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is a desert wonderland in Southern California with two diverse ecosystems. As the name implies, the park features hundreds of bristled Joshua trees as well as several cacti, sand boulders and rattlesnakes. There are over 100 camping sites where you can experience wondrous stargazing and birding. Other popular activities are backpacking, horseback riding and mountain climbing.
✧ Kings Canyon National Park
The majestic sequoia trees form the bulk of King Canyon National Park, which is a famous sightseer location at the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The gigantic General Grant Tree in Grant Grove is akin the tree of life, as I get the same feel from it. It is beautified at its East side with soaring granite canyon walls at Cedar Grove, forming exploratory trails leading to the splendid Zumwalt Meadow where you can enjoy a quiet time, surrounded by deep valleys and rushing waters of Kings River and the Roaring River Falls. Beware of the bears, cougars and rattlesnakes and don’t wander off!
✧ Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Lassen Volcanic National Park is another natural wonderland of California whose indescribable beauty will make you dream while you are awake. Explore hiking paths leading you to Bumpass Hell (hissing vents), Brokeoff Mountain (spectacular views) or areas impacted by the Lassen Peak’s last eruption (1914) during the day. And, when the night comes, lie down on a blanket and examine maybe the brightest stars you have ever seen.
Verdant forests, clear mountain lakes and sunny meadows, not to mention the dominating Lassen Peak, are backdrops that will make you forget to close your mouth. In summer, take advantage of an occasional Starry Night astronomy program while in winter you can enjoy winter sports, such as skiing and sledding.
✧ Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park is California’s latest attraction which holds the ancient wonders left behind after volcanic eruptions. The cliffs, mountain peaks and caves all have a story to tell. The whole area is a visual stunner where you can explore the meandering caves with flashlights, watch the climbers scaling the rocks and spot the California condors, thriving and soaring up high! The spring wildflowers beautify the place and make it an excellent site for hiking and camping, and even though the temperature tends to soar high in the day, the night is always cool with countless twinkling stars sheltering the campers.
✧ Redwood National Park
The stunning preserves of Redwood National Park have nature’s very own skyscrapers. The mounting redwoods make up the bulk of the park and forms a sequence of protected forests, grasslands and beaches along the coast of Northern California. It has five visitor centers where you can have access to the best exhibits and informative videos on redwood bio-network along with a great bookstore and a relaxing sandy beach. Driving a little further, you’ll find a spot to admire the migrating gray whales and intense views of crashing surf, making your experience thrilling and wholesome.
✧ Sequoia National Park
Situated in southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, the Sequoia National Park has humungous sequoia trees that stand high, making it look like a forest of giants. General Sherman Tree is the most noticeable site, and is considered the largest tree in the world—see it is definitely bucket list worthy! The magnificence and grandeur of the tree amid a lush green forest makes it look like a massive Adventureland. The hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the forest with several rest spots. Another noticeable feature of this park is the underground crystal cave.
✦ Yosemite National Park
Once you arrive in the Yosemite National Park in California, you won’t know where to go first, to put it simply. The park is so expansive and its landscapes so gorgeous that wherever you go, the park’s beauty is sure to enchant you. Resting amid the haze and mist of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Yosemite National Park offers you a sanctuary of beauty at its best. Be it the ancient sequoia trees taking you in its massive shades, or the iconic panorama of the soaring Bridalveil Falls that flows like angel mist and mesmerizes your senses, you will truly lose yourself in the brilliance of this place. Don’t miss a stop to ogle the grand granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan!
Of course spring and summer are peak times, but don’t discount the colder season! Winter in Yosemite is the epitome of a winter wonderland.
✧ Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Shrouded in an eerie veil of shadows and straddling a river, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has Precambrian rock that is about 2 billion years old! If the size of the park and its towering cliffs won’t be enough to make you feel tiny, the mystical landscapes will surely take your breath away. It is a playground for seasoned mountain climbers as well as a camping site for those who wish to the beautiful Painted Wall, the highest cliff in Colorado.
✧ Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Nestled in Southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve invites you to play hide and seek amidst the massive sand dunes, go sand-sledding and frolic in the seasonal Medano Creek. The sand dunes are said to be nearly 440,000 years old and are the tallest dunes in North America. The park is open around the clock, so you can plan to spend a night to gaze at vast open skies and possibly meet some nocturnal wildlife.
✧ Mesa Verde National Park
At Mesa Verde National Park, in southwest Colorado, you will bump into some of the best-preserved archaeological sites, a stunning cliff palace from the ancient times, a quaint oak tree house, Petroglyph Point Trail with mysterious rock carvings and adventures ready to be embarked upon. The park was established in 1906 to preserve the sites built by the Ancestral Puebloans, and with over 5,000 sites, it has come to be the largest archaeological preserve in the United States.
✧ Rocky Mountain National Park
Embracing the Continental Divide, magnificent mountains, rivers, lakes and forests and alpine tundra, Rocky Mountain National Park lies in northern Colorado. The park is full of dramatic landscapes and fantastic activities. Walk the secluded Trail Ridge Road, drive through the roads between flowing rivers and quiet tress and climb to the tallest mountain via the Keyhole Route. Go ice fishing in winters, experience whitewater rafting, and revel in the wild scenery.
✧ Biscayne National Park
Preserving Biscayne Bay’s cerulean waters, viridescent isles and barrier reefs, Biscayne National Park is situated in southern Florida. Come to the park and travel back in time. There are fierce pirates with shipwrecks to show and hardworking pineapple farmers. Once you are done with history, snorkel into the water adorned with a myriad of marine creatures, go boating and watch the glorious sunset, or just kick back and laze around the bay.
✧ Dry Tortugas National Park
Spanning over seven islands and bejeweled coral reefs, Dry Tortugas National Park is sprawling in the Gulf of Mexico. The reserve features long sandy stretches of sun-bleached beaches, shipwrecks and rich dive spots, an imposing lighthouse at Loggerhead Key and a large fort at Garden Key and plenty of sea turtles and birds. Dive in the clear, warm water rich with sea creatures, camp and explore the beaches and soak in beautiful scenery.
✧ Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park sprawls over an area of 1.5 million acres on the southernmost edge of Florida. The wetland comprises of coastal mangroves, marshes, sawgrass, and pine flatwoods. Walk on to the Anhinga Trail, and you will see how the swampland is flourishing with wildlife including crocodiles, alligators, leather-back turtles, herons, flamingos, Florida panther, dolphins, and manatee. A short tour boat will allow you to meet with some of these fascinating creatures. Don’t miss a chance to explore the pinelands and traverse the mangroves.
✧ Haleakalā National Park
At Haleakalā National Park, experience the mountain air, swim in freshwater pools, and catch glimpses of cascading waterfalls. The park is located within Hawaiian island of Maui and is renowned for its dormant Haleakalā Volcano and endangered Hawaiian geese. Step up to the Leleiwi and Kalahaku and gaze at the majestic West Maui Mountains, hike through rocky pathways in the Summit District and walk past the cinder cones and lava flows and explore the surreal bamboo forests.
✧ Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Housing the two most-active volcanoes, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa, to the deep waters of the sea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses diverse environments and wondrous landscapes. Visitors travel from all over the world in hopes to see ‘Kilauea’ erupt, the world’s only drive-in volcano and to experience wildlife unique to Hawaii that evolved about 70 million years ago. Hike across the park to check out the lava flows, sulfur banks, and remote greenery.
✧ Indiana Dunes National Park
Though the Indiana Dunes National Park is a new addition to the US National Parks list (it was added in 2019) it is making up for lost time by delivering breathtaking beauty and some of the best hiking trails. Located in Northwestern Indiana, it runs along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and offer 15,000 acres to explore.
✧ Mammoth Cave National Park
In central Kentucky lies the Mammoth Cave National Park which encompasses part of the 400 miles long Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest cave system. Offering a range of activities including biking, camping, horseback riding and canoeing, this is the perfect setting for tourists and explorers alike. You can also traverse through the winding caverns and witness a plethora of exciting features of the cave by going on the various tours offered by the park all year round.
✧ Acadia National Park
Witness all of Maines quintessential features from the Cadillac Mountain and Mount Desert Island to the Thunder Hole and Sand Beach by visiting Acadia National Park. Explore the park by hiking on almost 130 miles of hiking trails or traveling the 45 miles of carriage roads on bikes. Offering breathtaking views of the rocky coastline and primeval lakes, this is the first national park east of the River Mississippi. At night, visitors can indulge in stargazing and observe stunning views of the Milky Way.
✧ Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park is a stunning collection of one large island encircled by 450 smaller islands by Lake Superior in Michigan, USA. Walk through the paths lined with coniferous trees and firs, and watch the moose play hide and seek with the wolves. There are around 36 camping sites within the wilderness and only two developed areas, Windigo and Rock Harbor. The park is accessible through ferries and float-planes.
✧ Voyageurs National Park
The Voyageurs National Park is a fascinatingly vast area filled with forests, waterways, and lakes in northern Minnesota. Over 40% of the park area consists of lakes including Lake Namakan and Sand Point Lake. You can also enjoy a series of intricate and beautiful abstract sculptures on a ridged outcrop in Ellsworth Rock Gardens. Stay at the cozy red roofed hotel with a magnificent view of the remote Kettle Falls and enjoy picnics and boat tours surrounded by natural beauty.
✦ Glacier National Park
The Glacier National Park in Montana is a paradise on earth for both hikers and drivers. While the former have hundreds of miles of hiking trails available for getting around, the latter use the Going-to-the-Sun Road for visiting attractive areas in the NP. Whichever type of a traveler you consider yourself to be, the result is pretty much the same – the discovery of scenic landscapes, rich fauna and even richer flora.
Let picturesque lakes, giant mountains dominating the skyline, incredible waterfalls, cedar forests, meadows and environments ranging between the prairie and the tundra amaze you. To discover this magnificent blend of various landscapes called the Glacier National Park at its best, plan to arrive here either in spring or summer.
*See Wyoming for Yellowstone National Park
✧ Great Basin National Park
Located in Eastern Nevada near Utah, the Great Basin National Park carries awe inspiring and captivating beauty with mystical fog covered peaks of South Snake Mountains. Immerse yourself in the towering beauty of lush green teas, lakes, and wildlife with the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive along with ancient bristlecone pine groves and unique stalactites. There are several campgrounds near beautiful creeks and trees as well as hiking trails to enjoy.
✧ Carlsbad Caverns National Park
The fascinating Carlsbad Caverns National Park is named after the most famous cave of Carlsbad Caverns. The park holds over 119 caves out of which three are accessible to public. It is essentially a Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico. You’ll be taken aback by the rustic natural entrance and pathways with stalactites clung to the roof and large underground chambers in the grotto. Take a drive at the Walnut Canyon Desert Loop and marvel at the unique bird species and reptiles at the Rattlesnake Spring.
✧ Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere you feel free. Away from the hustle and bustle of life, this charming mountain ranges and landscape offers you just that, with beautiful wildflowers blossoming throughout the year. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park extends along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, and is covered with lush green forest trees and waterfalls, rivers and streams sparkling like crystals. There are several hiking trails dispersed throughout the national park, including a part of the Appalachian Trail. You can go up the observation tower at the highest peak to take in the breathtaking beauty of misty mountain peaks and extravagant greenery.
✧ Theodore Roosevelt National Park
This historic Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named after the well-known President who ensured the preservation of public lands and wildlife in the USA. The park is located in western North Dakota and a habitat for elks, bison, and prairie dogs. The huge and magnificent park has three sections linked together by the Little Missouri River ideal for strolls and picnics. The park has Great Plains and craggy Badlands, psychedelic Canyons, and the famous Maltese Cross Cabin where President Roosevelt lived. Enjoy the scenic loops and beautiful treks and trails of the park.
✧ Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The beautiful, picturesque beauty of this park runs along the Cuyahoga River located between Cleveland and Akron in Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has natural, private, and man-made attractions to explore. There are over 100 waterfalls throughout the park, but the Brandywine Falls is the tallest one. It is highly recommended to take a day and explore the natural beauty of the park with Talus Caves, wetlands, ravines and rolling hills. Enjoy hiking on the Towpath trail and ski through the Kendall Hills during snowfall.
✧ Crater Lake National Park
Around 7,700 years ago, the Native Americans must have been quite bewildered when Mount Mazama in Oregon violently erupted and left a deep and symmetrical caldera. Centuries later, it has evolved into the deepest lake in the United States, thriving on snow and rainfall. The lake is crystal-clear encompassed by Cascade Mountain Range, cinder cones, craters, and picturesque trails. It is no wonder that it lures adventure-seekers and photographers from all over the world. The pristine water, verdant greenery of old-growth forests, the ashy Pumice Desert and the scenic Rim Drive make Crater Lake National Park tremendously Instagram-worthy.
✧ Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is spread across 26,276 acres in central South Carolina. It is a designated wilderness area with primitive campsites where you can set up tents and toast marshmallows under the stars. The park offers activities like bird watching, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and much more. There are several hiking trails including the popular Weston Lake Loop Trail where you are also likely to come across a friendly deer or bobcat along the way!
✧ Badlands National Park
Explore the dramatic landscapes adorned with inimitable layered rock formations, soaring spires, and steep canyons at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The park is a natural habitat for bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and bison. The South Dakota highway offers wonderful scenic lookouts and sprawling grasslands. Get all the information about the various hiking trails and activities at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and take a boardwalk along the Fossil Exhibit Trail displaying beautiful fossils and greenery.
✧ Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park is named after the world’s longest cave and is rich in wildlife prairie lands. The park encompasses the underground wind cave with chambers, elk room and primeval walls with fascinating honeycomb shaped calcite formations. It also has pine forests and beautiful hills and towering trees of the southwestern corner in South Dakota. The wind cave is open for year-round tours. Don’t forget to take a hike at the Rankin Ridge with pristine views of the Black Hills.
✧ Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Fill up your senses with the lush green forest air and wildflowers blooming in every pathway at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located across the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the beautiful area is filled with rivers, magnificent waterfalls, and crystal-clear streams. The hiking routes offer picturesque beauty and also include parts of the great Appalachian Trail!
✧ Big Bend National Park
The Big Bend National Park has a little bit of everything. The park has splendid Chisos mountain ranges, a large band of the Chihuahuan Desert, desert wildlife, Santa Elena canyon and the Langford hot springs. The canyons are carved with mystical Rio Grande and intoxicating limestone cliffs. Explore the gardens and rivers and climb the Emory Peak and Lost mine Trail.
✧ Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park encompasses the great Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas. The park is famous for its pearly white Salt Basin Dunes and vast grasslands serving as habitats for exotic wildlife. The fossilized reef mountains are a sight to behold and you can explore the conifer forest and views of the rocky El Capitan by hiking up the Guadalupe Peak Trail.
United States Virgin Islands
✧ Virgin Islands National Park
The beautiful and exotic Virgin Islands National Park are filled with thick forests, mangroves, beaches and colorful coral reefs with glamorous marine life and birds. Drake’s Seat is a popular lookout at the park offering spectacular panoramic views of Magens Bay and surrounding Islands. Stop by the white sand beach at Magens Bay and enjoy thrilling watersports and take a swim in the clear blue water.
✧ Arches National Park
If you have ever wondered what it would be like living on Mars, make a beeline for Arches National Park. The precarious piece of land is the closest thing to our neighboring planet. Located near Moab, Utah, the park sprawls on 76,679 acres of high desert on the Colorado Plateau. It boasts thousands of sandstone arches, natural red rocks and uniquely configured land-forms bound to make your jaw drop. As you hike across the crimson treks, flashes of warm sunlight and drowning shadows will chase you. Dare to climb Balanced Rock, go hiking and backpacking, and when the night takes over, gaze at the blanket of twinkling stars and learn some cool Astronomical facts.
✦ Bryce Canyon National Park
If there’s one thing Bryce Canyon National Park is known for, it’s the otherworldly spires colored in different hues of orange and red contrasted by the greenery of the surrounding forests. There is no doubt that Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the top national parks in the world thanks to its exquisite geological wonders.
Dramatic viewpoints, horseshoes-shaped canyons, whimsical rocks and much more – the park quite literally looks like something straight out of a movie.
- Hiking – You could spend hours or days or weeks hiking around the park, and you could find different trails and hikes with varying levels of difficulty that you can choose from. (Queens Garden is the easiest while Riggs Spring Loop and Fairyland Loop are the hardest)
- Horseback Riding – Some parts of the park are actually designated as horse-only, and you can explore all this grandeur while on the back of a horse! Talk about exciting.
- Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing – If you’re lucky enough in to visit during winter, then you’d be happy to know that there are ranger-led snowshoe hikes that you can take. Don’t worry about the gear too, because it’s provided.
✧ Canyonlands National Park
The Canyonlands National Park is located in southeastern Utah and famous for the histrionic and vivid desert landscape along the Colorado River. The park has an Island in the Sky Visitor Center which is a flat-topped plateau with park information and awe-inspiring panoramic views of the landscape. Visit the gigantic rock pinnacles – famously called the Needles and explore the beautiful canyons and riverbeds.
✧ Capitol Reef National Park
Located in the south-central desert of Utah, the Capitol Reef National Park is a sight to behold. The most popular attraction of the park is the Waterpocket fold, a long wrinkle in the Earth. It has layers upon layers of sparkly golden sandstone, remarkable rock formations and beautiful canyons. Other popular sites include the Hickman Bridge arch, Chimney Rock pillar and the mystical white sandstone domes of Capitol Reef.
✦ Zion National Park
The oldest national park in the states is also Utah’s crowning jewel and should definitely be on your bucket-list when it comes to national parks. Words fail to describe just how jaw-dropping the scenery is at Zion National Park. The place is brimming with all sorts of juxtaposing geological formations – from red rocks, to lush vegetation to unreal views all with the backdrop of soaring dramatic cliffs.
It’s almost hard to imagine that this same exact place used to be a desert millions of years ago, but thanks to the flowing water, it looks the way it does now. There are plenty of major attractions you can check out there including:
- Angel’s Landing – Here you would get the best views of the park.
- Weeping Rock – This nature trail ends in water traveling through sandstone.
- Emerald Pools – Simply magical. Think cliffs, trees and streams to relax by .
✧ Shenandoah National Park
The Shenandoah National Park has the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia as a backdrop. You can sightsee the area via Skyline Drive or take a hike along an extensive network of trails including parts of the Appalachian Trail. The park area has dense forests and wetlands with serene waterfalls and fog covered mountain peaks. Try to spot the exotic native birds, deer, and squirrels along your trek!
✧ Mount Rainier National Park
The Mount Rainier National Park is a great place to visit in Washington, especially during the winter months. The whole park is surrounded by glacier capped Mount Rainier. It is a great spot for a drive through and you can reach the highest point of the mountain peaks via car. The park also has numerous waterfalls and trails to climb. During snowfall, you can indulge in various snow sports and go snowshoeing!
✧ North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park is an ideal place for a long wilderness retrieve. Located in northern Washington State, the park is filled with conifer clad mountains, lakes, and beautiful glaciers. The North Cascade Highway leads to the Thunder Creek Trail which offers beautiful views of the park and surrounding hills. Spend your time camping, kayaking, or backpacking across the beautiful lush green forests hosting over 200 exotic bird species.
✧ Olympic National Park
As soon as I stepped on the premise of the Olympic National Park, I felt as if I am being swallowed whole by Mother Nature. The lush green skyscraping trees with hills and valleys outlined by misty wonder makes you feel like you are in a magical realm. Located on Olympic Peninsula in Pacific Northwest, Washington, the place is filled with arresting scent of fresh mosses, coniferous bushes and trees, fresh water and beaches that make you feel calm and grounded. The rainforest seems to have a life of its own and the trails stretch for miles, providing ample space for camping. Enjoy a soothing long walk at sunset on the beautiful beach extending for several miles, go on a hike, and take in the beauty of waterfalls, glaciers and thriving wildlife.
✧ Grand Teton National Park
The Grand Teton National Park is Wyoming’s most exquisite destination. The land is over 310,000 acres of opulent valley grounds, mountainous lakes, highland meadows and the mounting peaks of magnificent Teton Range. The picturesque beauty of Moulton Barns and Mormon Row will encaptivate your senses. It has several campgrounds for all the outdoor adventurers out there. Explore the natural landscapes of the park with pristine lakes, hike up to the mountain peaks or stay in comfortable wood cabins. Other recreational activities include kayaking, biking, fishing, wildlife watching and photography. The park is beautiful all year round, be it the colorful spring or snowy oasis, you are sure to have the time of your life.
✦ Yellowstone National Park
If you happen to be a lover of nature, place a visit to the Yellowstone National Park at the top of your US National Parks bucket list. While getting around, you will lay eyes on magnificent examples of the nature’s creativity, including hot springs, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Old Faithful geyser. Not to mention a large animal kingdom whose representatives seem to compete in getting your attention.
So, forget your watch when you arrive in the Yellowstone and let the rhythm of nature guide you through the day. But, if you can’t afford that luxury, don’t let Yellowstone Lake, Grand Prismatic Spring and Hayden Valley miss your eye besides the aforementioned highlights.
This list of US National Parks is just a small part of what is waiting for you in these breathtaking areas crafted by nature. The possibilities are endless once you are face-to-face with Mother Nature’s best creations.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure.
You Might Also Enjoy
Beach Bucket List: 60 Fun Things to Do at the Beach
Outdoor Activities Bucket List: 75+ Fun Things to do Outside
Yosemite Bucket List: 30 Things to Do in the National Park
Cody Wyoming Bucket List: 15 Fun Things to Do
African Safari in Tanzania: The Ultimate Itinerary and Tour
Pulau Komodo Dragon Island: An Adventurous Indonesian Tour
Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls: One of South America’s Best Waterfalls
Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano Hike: What to Expect
Canada: Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Manitoba
Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia
Swim With Whale Sharks. Cancun, Mexico.