The USA is full of many different kinds of national parks. These parks are scattered all around the country and can range from hiking, climbing, sightseeing, or just relaxing.
This article will go through the 31 best national parks in the USA and give an overview of each one. It will include pictures, coordinates, and a brief description of what they offer. Without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Yosemite National Park – California
Yosemite is one of the best national parks in the USA. It has beautiful mountains with waterfalls and rivers. The park also has unique flora (like Sequoia trees) and fauna (like bears).
The hike to Half Dome, El Capitan, and numerous other peaks are all great things to see. This park is a must-see for anyone visiting California. Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful and popular national parks in America. It has a lot of wildlife, waterfalls, and mountains.
2. Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
This park offers some of the most stunning views of high peaks and open meadows along its scenic drive. Many people enjoy visiting in order to camp and hike the backcountry. The view from Colter Bay, which is at the southern end of Jackson Lake, is a spectacular place to see. This park hosts over 700 species of animals and plants.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Tennessee and North Carolina
This park is famous for its high peaks, dense forests, and numerous waterfalls. The tallest peak in the park is Mt. Buckley, which rises to 6643ft. This park also offers scenic drives along the Newfound Gap Road, which provides views of lush green mountains and gorgeous scenery that many people come here to see.
4. Zion National Park – Utah
This park has towering sandstone cliffs and peaks that people can hike on or explore with a small amount of rock climbing. These rock climbing opportunities are few and far between, but those who are adventurous can find them here. There are also many magnificent waterfalls that cascade down the cliffs and into the Virgin River. These waterfalls have a unique appearance because of the different colored rocks and minerals in them. If you come to this park you must make time to visit Angel’s Landing, which is an especially beautiful overlook. This lookout offers a fantastic view and has a 90 degree bend in the path that you must walk on.
5. Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
This park is a very popular place. Visitors come here to hike down either the North Rim or South Rim trails and experience the breathtaking views of this canyon. The Grand Canyon is over 1 mile deep and 431 miles long, which makes it one of the largest canyons in the world. Another popular activity for visitors here is rafting. The Colorado River has many rapids here that people can experience from a safe distance on a raft.
6. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii
This park is a great place to do some hiking along the eroded volcanic rock and active lava fields. Here you can see ‘a’a lava, which is black and crumbly, and pahoehoe lava, which is smooth and ropy. These two different kinds of lava can be seen flowing into the ocean here. Some visitors come here to witness this awesome sight because it provides a spectacular photo opportunity.
7. Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
This park is famous for its geothermal features and wildlife. It has a large number of thermal features and many species of animals can be seen here. The park also has excellent hiking trails that take visitors through the mountains. There are two mountains in Yellowstone, called the Tetons, which rise up to over 6000ft. These mountains are a popular destination for hikers because they provide scenic views of Yellowstone Lake and surrounding areas.
8. Sequoia National Park – California
This park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains and offers stunning views of the mountains themselves and beautiful creeks. It also has a large number of giant trees here. The giant sequoia trees can grow to be over 300ft tall, weighing between a ton and a heap. These trees are one of the most sought after sights in this park and there are many hiking trails here that take you past these magnificent giants.
9. Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado
This park hosts a large number of mountains and extensive alpine tundra. It is home to many snow-covered peaks, which makes it a popular place for winter recreation. The highest peak in the park is Longs Peak, which stands at over 14000ft tall. Winter recreation opportunities include downhill and cross-country skiing, ice climbing and snowshoeing.
10. Olympic National Park – Washington
This park is located in the Coast Range mountains and has incredible coastal scenery that people come here to enjoy. This park is full of tall trees, which provide a great deal of shade here so it feels pretty green. There are many hiking trails here that take visitors on scenic drives to overlooks and cool waterfalls. The Mt Olympus trail is a popular area for visitors to visit here because it offers views of the rainforest and coastal forest terrain along the coastline. It is also a great place to see mountain goats in the wild.
11. Haleakala National Park – Hawaii
This park has some of the most spectacular mountain and ocean views that people can enjoy. It has some of the tallest mountains found in the USA here, rising up to over 10,000ft over the Pacific coastline. The highest peak here is at 12016ft tall. This park also has some beautiful rainforests and dense forests here, as well as large black sand beaches for swimming along both coasts.
12. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Utah
This park is a very scenic place to see. Visitors can see many different species of animals here, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, wild horses, elk, and antelope. There are also a great number of diverse plants that grow here too including juniper trees, sagebrush, and cottonwood trees. There are many scenic drives in this park that take visitors through the many different landscapes found within its borders.
13. Mount Rainier National Park – Washington
This park has some incredible mountains here that are covered in snow in winter. It is home to many beautiful glaciers and alpine lakes which provide some excellent scenery. Visitors enjoy coming here for skiing, hiking, and camping in the summertime. There are also many waterfalls that cascade down the valleys of these mountains.
14. Zion National Park – Utah
This park is known for its amazing natural beauty that people come here to see. People can come here to hike through the red rock cliffs, see the sunrises, sunsets and enjoy other natural wonders. There are many hiking trails in Zion National Park that take visitors down off of these mountains as well.
15. Olympic National Park
This park borders a large area of coastland, including the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. Many people come here to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery that this park offers. Another popular activity at this park is hiking in the mountains. Hiking trails here take visitors through dense forests, across streams and up steep mountain cliffs too though.
16. Civil War Battlefields National Park – Virginia/Maryland
This park commemorates some of the most bloody battles of the Civil War that took place in these two states. Visitors can see the ruins of many buildings and monuments that were built in remembrance of these battles. These battlefields include the places where many famous generals fought, killed, and died. Visitors may also visit places like Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia and Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland.
17. Arches National Park – Utah
This park is one of the most popular parks in Utah because it is so visually stunning. This park has some very tall red rock cliffs here called arches. The park is full of natural arches that span over 60 different archeological sites and structures. This park also has excellent opportunities for hiking, biking and camping.
18. Glacier National Park – Montana/Idaho
This park offers beautiful scenery and waterfalls, which makes it a popular place to visit. There are many hiking trails here that take visitors on scenic drives through the wilderness. This park is located at the edge of a large glacier in the Rocky Mountains, making it a great place to view this natural wonder too. Visitors enjoy hiking and biking here in the summertime and climbing mountains in this park too.
19. Badlands National Park – South Dakota
This park was originally established to preserve the natural landscape of these badlands that are found here this park. These badlands are very unusual because they are formed by geologic processes in the area. These formations were created millions of years ago when a huge number of mountain-building events took place here and exposed these unique lands to erosion and weathering. Over time, this erosion has exposed many layers that can be seen here too.
20. Acadia National Park – Maine
This park offers some wonderful views of the surrounding ocean and mountain ranges. It is full of pine trees and forested areas here, which makes it colorful and very green in color. The Saco River runs through this park, which has a lot of waterfalls in it here too. Visitors enjoy hiking here in the summertime as well as boating through the old-growth forests found here too.
21. Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky
This is the largest natural cave system in the world. It is located in a large limestone plateau that has been eroded over millions of years. These caves are incredibly vast, as they stretch for more than 400 miles through southern Kentucky. This park was first established to preserve this cave system and protect it from being looted by people that came here to mine it. Today, visitors can tour this huge cave system.
22. Chaco Culture National Historical Park – New Mexico/Colorado
This park was established as a way to preserve the existing native history of these Native American tribes that lived here many centuries ago. There are many different archeological sites in this park that tell the story of their lives and history. Most of the archeological sites in this park are located on the Navajo Reservation itself, which provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to come here and learn more about this tribe’s culture.
23. Denali National Park & Preserve
This park is huge, stretching more than 6 million acres in total. This is the largest national park in Alaska and the second-largest national park in the United States. Here, visitors can see bears, moose and other wildlife that roam this area. Denali National Preserve & Park also has many glaciers that surround it within its borders too. These glaciers are constantly melting and creating wild rivers full of huge rapids for visitors to enjoy as well.
24. Kenai Fjords National Park
This park is one of the most beautiful parks in Alaska. There are fjords that run through this place, which are full of glaciers and many other beautiful features just like in Denali National Park. There is also a large section of coastline in this park, so visitors can enjoy some amazing views of the ocean here too. This area has many lakes and rivers too, creating a very scenic landscape to look at.
25. Everglades National Park
This park is located in southern Florida, which creates a very wet area here. The Everglades are full of swamps and water which makes this place very unique. This area also has mangroves trees and many other habitats that are found in other parts of the world too. The Everglades National Park is a great place to come to see some wildlife because there is an abundance of it here as well. This is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.
26. Golden Gate National Recreation Area – California/Nevada
This place is located on the western tip of San Francisco Bay, making it a great place to enjoy beautiful views of the ocean here too. Visitors can see many parks and beaches here as well, including Crissy Field and Ocean Beach Park at Golden Gate Bridge. This park is full of coastal scenery here too, so visitors will be able to enjoy many beautiful views here.
27. Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
This park is located in Bryce Canyon, which is a canyon that is formed by erosion and many other natural forces in this area. This park was created so that it could preserve this unique landscape and was named after the canyon itself. This park has many different geological features here, which are made of different rock types too. There are red rock formations here that look like those found at Arches National Park.
28. Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Ohio
This park is located in southeastern Ohio and is mostly covered by forest. This park has many different ecosystems found here, which gives visitors a look into many different environments. There are very large cliffs that run through this place, which make it a beautiful place to see here too. There are also freshwater lakes found in this park that provide many opportunities for visitors to come here and enjoy the scenery too.
29. Joshua Tree National Park – California
This park was established in 1994 to preserve the unique desert landscape that is found here. There are large rocks and small boulders found here that create textures like sandstone and granite. Visitors can also see a lot of desert vegetation when they come here. This is a great place to enjoy some sunshine, as well as some beautiful scenery too. There are many hiking trails and hiking routes available in this park as well for visitors to enjoy.
30. Redwood National Park – California
This park is located in northwestern California and is one of the oldest parks in the United States. There are also numerous redwood trees here that are over a thousand years old and found within this park. This park was established to protect these giant trees from being cut down or damaged by logging companies that came to this area many years ago. This is a great place to enjoy beautiful scenery, as well as hiking trails and wildlife too.
31. Saguaro National Park – Arizona
This park was created to preserve the unique cactus and other desert vegetation found here. There are many different cacti found here, as well as Native American artifacts that were discovered in this area too. This is a very unique park because of the different geology and flora that are found in it here. This is also a great place to enjoy beautiful views of the sky too, which can only be seen on clear nights within this national park.
There are many beautiful parks in the United States that have been preserved for all to enjoy. These places have an abundance of natural beauty and scenery that many people will never get the chance to see anywhere else in the world. Many of these parks are also located in beautiful areas, so it is a perfect spot for tourists to come to see some breathtaking views here.
This list only represents a small sampling of all of them, so there are many more national parks available for visitors too.
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