25 Best National Parks in the USA

Martina Rosado
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Map of National Parks in the USA

National Parks are special places throughout the United States where visitors can go to enjoy the scenery. NPS’s total acreage is 1.05 million acres which is more than all of the National Parks in existence at one time.

This map includes locations for all US national parks, plus other national and famous parks, monuments, places and natural regions. All of National Park’s websites are linked in the section “Websites” under the map.

These are in Alphabetical order.

Big Bend (Texas)

The wilderness stretches over large portions of three states in south-central US. The park is more than twice as large as you might have thought, encompassing a land area of over 1,200 miles.

As a result, the landscape is filled with dramatic eroded outcroppings of rock and rich valleys criss-crossed by rivers and lakes. This is the most recent of the great parks to be designated by the US, being only established in 1962. It also has the highest elevation at over 5,000 feet. The park manages this as well as excellent variety of wildlife that includes over 400 species of birds. You can wander through canyons and red rock formations which are among the finest in the west.

·Grand Canyon (Arizona)

One of the most popular of all our national parks, the Grand Canyon stretches for miles across the Arizona border with Arizona and Utah. It’s a gap in the thick wall of the Colorado Plateau and the largest river canyon in the United States, with a length of 277 miles.

The canyon itself is up to 8,000 feet deep in places and over 1,300 feet high in others. Even today it remains one of the most dramatic and pleasing landscapes in the world, attracting over 5 million visitors annually.

·Yellowstone (Wyoming)

Saguaro (Arizona)

Shenandoah (Virginia)

The Shenandoah National Park is in Virginia and consists of several mountains, valleys, streams, and other natural features. This is one of the best parks to visit in Virginia since it has several things to entertain visitors and also has unique opportunities for camping and hiking.

Shenandoah National Park is located in the northern part of the state of Virginia between the New Market and New Market train stations. You can get there in about one hour and twenty minutes traveling on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

The park is located in the Appalachian Mountains and is comprised of areas in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky. There is a total of three million acres that are set aside as public land and accessible to the people that visit the park.

There are approximately 649 miles of hiking trails in the park that are approximately forty miles in length. There are also many backpacking options for the overnight travelers who will want to experience the beauty of the woods during the night.

The Appalachian Trail travels through this national park and follows the crest of the mountains. The trail is 1,181 miles long, and the hike is considered to be an American classic.

Mesa Verde (Colorado)

Mesa Verde National Park is a US National Park protecting a collection of cliff dwellings of Ancestral Puebloans, protected by the National Park Service.

The park is located in Mesa Verde County, Colorado, USA, on the western end of the mesa.

The site was designated a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site in 1960, and was inducted into the National Parks System in 1978.

Death Valley (California)

Crater Lake (Oregon)

Acadia (Maine)

Acadia National Park is the smallest of the national parks in the contiguous United States. The park is best known for its dramatic coastline with rugged mountains and sea stacks, its impressive geologic features, and its rich biodiversity.

The park appeals to a wide range of travelers, from those who want to view the dramatic coastal scenery to those interested in hiking and climbing the park’s mountains. Acadia is situated at the eastern end of the state, within the towns of Bar Harbor, Newmarket, and Northeast Harbor.

More than three quarters of the park was designated a national monument in 1919, and the park was established in 1916. Approximately 1,531 acres of land, the highest point is Mount Desert, which at 592 feet, reaches the highest point in Maine. The main entrance is at the village of Bar Harbor, where many lodging options are available.

The oldest of the national parks, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis noted, “It is a jewel of a park,” and declared the park a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Canyonlands (Utah)

Redwood (California)

Grand Teton (Wyoming)

The Grand Teton National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Wyoming. The park was established on October 1, 1929 and includes approximately 1,230,000 acres (490,000 ha) of forest and meadows and is the namesake of the Grand Teton mountain range. The park has three entrances, all of which are open throughout the winter. The northern entrance is by highway along U.S. Route 89 from the east between Jackson and the south of Yellowstone National Park at the southern boundary of the Teton Range in northwestern Wyoming.

The Middle Teton Mountain Pass (also known as "Jackson Fork") entrance is located on U.S. Route 22/287 at the northern end of the Teton Range in western Wyoming. The southwestern pass is at the South Park entrance and is accessible from U.S. Route 26 between Moran Junction and the south of Idaho at the northern boundary of Jenny Lake in central Teton County.

The National Park Service suggests that the park be divided into five regions of the Yellowstone Plateau, since the weather of the parks within a few miles of each other is similar. The "western region," which includes the North Gallery, is the largest of the five regions and includes more the 50% of the park's total area. The North Canyon, the area in the northwestern part of the park, is in the "Lower Park" which is the second largest region.

Mount Rainier (Washington)

Mount Rainier National Park (established 1899) is a United States National Park in the state of Washington. It was created as the nation’s fifth national park, and the first in the Cascade Range. They are located in the volcanic Cascade Range. Mount Rainier is the most notable of the Cascade volcanoes. It rises 7,212 ft high, and is covered with glaciers, ice fields, subalpine meadows and forests.

Mount Rainier can be seen from 40 miles away in most directions. The mountain has about 70 glaciers, with ice fields covering a total of 4,866 acres (19 km2), and numerous smaller glaciers. A 7,900-foot-high (2,410 m) quad-stage aerial tramway, the Paradise Express, is used for ascending to the Paradise Glacier, in the southwest portion of the park. There are only two trails on the mountain’s summit. In addition to the trains, a road leading to the top is available to hikers and cross-country skiers. In 1909, two climbers became the first people to reach the top.

Sequoia (California)

Sequoia National Park is one of the oldest parks in the country. The park entered the books as a reserve on April 26th, 1864, protecting the southern third of its area. A year later, it was incorporated into the State of California for administrative purposes and named the Yosemite Forest Reserve. On March 1st, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that officially initiated Sequoia National Park.

Sequoia National Park is the US National Park, and is the fifth oldest in the country, with nearly 300,000 acres to explore. There are several different zones for those who want to visit the park; the Kings Canyon Zone makes up just over half of the land that the park owns. Its headquarters are in the gateway community of Three Rivers, California, where visitors can find a home base for their visit.

Sites in Sequoia that visitors may want to check out include the Giant Forest and Moro Rock. The Giant Forest is a large-scale forest ecosystem neighboring the uplands. Moro Rock is a trail that will take you up and over some of the tallest mountains. In the summer, the water is the real attraction, as the Three Rivers and the North Fork of the Kaweah Rivers flow through the park. There are two campgrounds within the park, each offering a different experience for those who want to camp.

Arches (Utah)

The landmark pale pink arch known as Delicate Arch in Arches National Park has become a quintessential image of the park, appearing on souvenir metal signs and dinner napkins, and inspiring paintings and poetry. The park is located in northeast Utah near the town of Moab.

The park is roughly 307 square miles and was the first national park to be designated in liquid form into a glass stream.

Known as the "Land of the Rainbow" the setting is one of the most spectacular of all national parks. It’s the ideal setting for guided hiking tours or picture-taking stops.

With the highest concentration of wild flowers in the United States, visitors can hike 6-mile-long Land of the Rainbow Trail through the park or look for wild lupine and tansy at the Sunset Campground.

Glacier (Montana)

Rocky Mountain (Colorado)

Everglades (Florida)

In 1542, Juan Ponce de Leon was searching for the mythical Fountain of Youth and landed in Florida. He named this area of land “Perez del Tanto” or “land of many coves.”

More than 500 years later, America’s first national park should be a part of your list when visiting the United States, too. With beaches, tropical mangrove forests and a great deal of opportunities for hiking, fishing and kayaking, the park is a must see for the 21st century.

This park is home to the only natural freshwater wilderness in the southeastern United States. After a wet winter, expect the brown water to flow through this park every year, turning parts of the park into islands.

Bryce Canyon (Utah)

Hawai'i Volcanoes (Hawaii)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a United States National Park in the U.S. state of Hawaii that protects the beginnings of the volcanic chain that extends at least 40,000 miles from the Arizona-Nevada border in the United States, through the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Philippine Sea, the Bismarck Sea, the Arctic Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, including Iceland, Greenland, and the Azores. It is the youngest of the world's national parks, having been established in Hawaii on March 1, 1916, with the mission of preserving the island's natural and cultural history for the benefit of the public. The National Park Service manages Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The mountain that forms the centerpiece of the park, the summit named Kīlauea, rises 3,023.4 feet (914 m), from sea level to its base in a place with an elevation of 1,050 feet (320 m). Mokuaweoweo ("Moku") means "many waters" in the Hawaiian language.

Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Southwest. One of the largest and most impressive caves in the world, it is home to over 4,000 known prehistoric and Native American archeological sites out of the estimated 30,000 that exist within the park and is the second-most visited U.S. national park after the Grand Canyon. The route to the cave passes through the Carlsbad Caverns Overlook, a quiet, paved overlook that offers outstanding views to the San Andres Mountains to the northwest.

The cave is known for the scenic and "fairy-like" quality of the cave and underground river; however, the cave is also famous for the thousands of speleothems that decorate its walls. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Mexico, drawing over 1.3 million visitors annually. There are several campgrounds in the park, as well as several lodging facilities located near the park's entrance off of State Route 528.

The park's caves are formed by carbonate bedrock. The primary feature of the area is Carlsbad Cavern, discovered in the early 1900s by local resident guano miner David Roberts, whose exploration led to further exploration by Charles and John Hentz. In 1906, the Hentzes discovered the Sistrunk-Kling Entrance, another popular tourist attraction featuring the Living Canyon and the Lost River.

Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee, North Carolina)

Denali (Alaska)

This is the first national park in the world. It is truly a natural wonder and a true experience of nature, in addition to being our most visited national park.

It is the tallest mountain peak in North America and is the fourth most popular national park in the United States of America. What makes this mountain so special is that it is home to spectacular glaciers, massive waterfalls, fantastic ice fields and it is the source of some of the greatest rivers on earth.

The park features over 100,000 square miles of wilderness with no roads, not much in the way of accommodations and no services of any sort, which makes it exciting and a wonderful experience for those who would like to get up close and personal with nature.

With an elevation of 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America. The peak and the surrounding area are the most challenging thing to get to in this park. The surrounding terrain is a series of sharp cliffs, jutting peaks and endless glaciers that are constantly changing.

The first explorer to reach the mountain was John Cook in 1883, followed by two other expeditions. The first group to reach the summit was led by Robert E. Peary in 1906.

Zion (Utah)

This is one of the most visited parks in the US, accounting for 2 million visitors a year. There are over 2,000 species of plants here, making this park a good place to see the beauty of nature. Because of the protected ecosystem, this park is also home to a lot of rare species and ecological wonders.

Yosemite (California)

National Park Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5 Stars)

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

BEST FOR: Climbing, camping

Grand Canyon National Park

Canyonlands (Utah)

BEST FOR: Hiking, backpacking

Canyonlands National Park

Yosemite (California)

BEST FOR: Backpacking, rafting

Yosemite National Park

Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

BEST FOR: All forms of sight-seeing

Yellowstone National Park

Acadia (Maine)

BEST FOR: Backpacking

Acadia National Park

Petrified Forest (Arizona)

BEST FOR: Hiking

Petrified Forest National Park

Zion (Utah, Arizona)

BEST FOR: Hiking, backpacking

Zion National Park

Canyon de Chelly (Arizona)

BEST FOR: Shooting some targets

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Black Canyon (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Kansas)

BEST FOR: Rock-Scaling

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Olympic (Washington, Oregon)

BEST FOR: Driving on cliffs, camping

Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

When you think of the USA and National Parks, Yellowstone probably comes to mind. Yellowstone in Wyoming is the oldest National Park and is a truly mind-blowing place that you have to see. It is the flagship of National Parks, and you can do a lot of things in between visiting all of the great things that Yellowstone has to offer.

Because of the variety of ecosystems that you can experience and numerous opportunities to explore-from the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to the Wildnerness of the North American Sentinel Range, there is something for everyone at Yellowstone.

So if you have a week or two, Yellowstone is a great park to visit. I’ve only been to Yellowstone twice and both times I was in awe.