In total there are 62 protected areas in the USA which classified as national parks. These national parks are an important aspect of American culture and heritage. The Department of the Interior’s National Park Service looks after the national parks. These national parks are operated by the National Park Service. Yellowstone was the first natural area to be called a national park. President Ulysses S. Grant gave Yellowstone as the national park designation in 1872.
Today, the national parks in the United States draw more than 300 million visitors a year. The United States has some of the most beautiful national parks in the world, attracting millions of locals and tourists every year. Here are the 40 most beautiful national parks in the United States.
Let’s have a look at National Parks in the USA listed by Popularity:
1. The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range in the southeastern United States. It shares its border with Tennessee–North Carolina and the Appalachian Mountains.
It the most visited National Park in the USA. The Great Smoky Mountains are popular for their beautiful landscapes. There are many hiking opportunities within the park. You can find many hiking trails within the boundaries of the park. The Great Smoky Mountains has its boundaries touched with the Appalachian Mountains. So you will get more amazing views from this park.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most well-known and renowned natural landmarks in the world. It is in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in n the US. It is made such as it can accommodate tourists visiting the canyon. This is the largest canyon in existence and covers an area of 1.2 million acres in the northern region of Arizona.
People from around the globe come to see the epic canyon that has there for millions of years. The Colorado River runs through the canyon which makes it’s more spectacular.
Yosemite is one of the most popular National Parks in California. This park has the accolade as a World Heritage Site in 1984. Also, as now it a popular holiday destination for Americans and tourists. Yosemite is famous for its beautiful waterfalls, giant sequoia groves, and granite cliffs. If you love hiking then you should visit here at least once. It also contains several prominent natural landmarks like:
The Rocky Mountains are one of the most well-known mountain ranges in the USA. It consists of a series of immense mountains and deep valleys. It also has several glaciers such as the Andrews Glacier. The park is home to many wildlife including Elk, Wolverines, and Grizzly Bears.
Zion National Park is in Utah, Southwestern United States. It is among the best parks for experiencing thrilling hiking. It covers a small area when compared to other national parks of the United States. The park is beautifully spread in 146,000 acres. Zion National Park is one of the most visited parks in the state. You can’t miss seeing the park’s impressive Zion Canyon. The Zion Canyon is 15 miles long and has a beautiful coloration from the Navajo Sandstone. Some other notable landmarks within the park aside from the canyon include:
The Three Patriarchs,
Horse Ranch Mountain,
The Twin Brothers peaks.
The park has amazing infrastructure and there is a tramline used for transportation.
People usually come to Yellowstone National Park to see the Prismatic Spring. The Yellowstone National Park is in the northwestern corner of Wyoming. The park is famous for its epic supervolcano that is also named “Old Faithful”. The Old Faithful is the major attraction within the park. It erupts like clockwork every 91 minutes. Apart from the volcanic landscapes, the park also has pine forests and mountains.
The northwestern states of the United States are well known for having vast areas of forest. The Olympic National Park boasts one of the most extensive woodlands in the country. This park is in the west of Washington, below Vancouver Island across the bay from Seattle. The Park has four main different regions –
Epic Pacific coastline,
The western temperate rainforest,
Drier eastern forests.
The parks provide an endless option to explore it. Out of which, camping and hiking within the forests or coastline are popular. Near the coastline, a series of sandy beaches and sweeping bays are commonly found. Also, the center of the park contains a series of glaciated mountains. Such as Mount Olympus and Mount Deception.
Acadia National Park is on an Island. The park is on the southern coast of Maine. It also comes under Mount Desert Island and the surrounding archipelago. Before the 1920s Wabanaki Native Americans used to live there. Acadia occupies a varied landscape including woodland, rugged shorelines, and mountains. Some of the notable landmarks within the park are:
The Schoodic Peninsula.
The island includes wildlife such as beavers, deers, minks, black bears, and Gray seals. Acadia is a combination of marine and inland attractions and is one of the highlights of Maine.
The Grand Teton National Park is in the mountain range of Teton. It is in the northern parts of Wyoming. The park lies to the south of Yellowstone National Park and covers an area of 310,000 acres.
Apart from the Tetons and the Rock Mountains, there is much more to explore here. Some of the main tourist attractions are Jackson Lake, the National Elk Refuge, and the Snake River. These places altogether are famous as Jackson Hole.
The park has a beautiful ecosystem compromise of wildlife, glaciers, and mountains. The Grand Teton offers a great opportunity to study wildlife. Apart from that, it is also the best place for hiking.
The Glacier National Park shares its boundary with the United States and Canada. As it is in the northern region of Montana. The park has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. This amazing park covers an area of over 1,000,000 acres.
The park has several ranges, including Chief Mountain. Also, it has a plethora of frozen lakes and natural lakes like Two Medicine Lake and Hidden Lake.
Not only this, but Glacier also has over 50 species of mammal. It includes Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Moose, Black Bears, and Cougars.
The main tourist locations in the parks include:
The Sun Road,
Apart from hiking and climbing, fishing is also a popular activity in Glacier Park.
Joshua Tree National Park is in southeastern California. The park got it named after the park‘s native Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia). The abrupt transition between the Colorado and Mojave ecosystems surprises many visitors. Some of the popular activities within the park include hiking climbing and astronomy.
The Joshua Tree Park landscape will leave you exhilarated. For more information read our guide on everything you need to know about Joshua Tree National Park.
Cuyahoga Valley is one of the smallest national parks in the nation. However, still, it attracts a high amount of annual visitors. The Cuyahoga River runs through the center of the park. Its surrounding is fully covered with verdant forests.
Some of the main attractions of the park include:
Apart from this, the Ohio and Erie Canal trailhead is a very popular walking route. As it passes by a range of historical sites and follows the path of the old Erie Canal.
The most popular activities in the park include cycling and hiking. Furthermore, many people come here to seek out wildlife. Some of the commonly found wildlife are falcons, otters bald eagles, and herons.
Utah has several National Parks Bryce Canyon is one of the most popular next to Zion National Park. Bryce Canyon is in the central-southern region of Utah. The park is nearby to the Grand Staircase Escalante.
The park has many things to amaze you. But, the main feature of this park is Bryce Canyon itself as it contains a series of the rocky amphitheater. Although the canyon looks like a desert landscape. But it contains a myriad of fir tree forests and during the winter months, you can see snow on the ground.
The popular pursuits are Horse Riding and Hiking, especially along Rim Trail.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on the southern coast of the island. It encompasses two of the state’s largest and most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea comes in the category of one of the most active volcanoes in the world. On the other hand, Mauna Loa is one of the largest shield volcanoes.
The park occupies an area of 323,000 acres. To see volcanoes either take guided tours or head to the visitors center and Volcano Art Center.
Arches National Park is one of the most beautiful desert landscapes in the United States. It has over 2000 natural sandstone arches in it. The park covers an area of 76,679 acres, lies between the eastern part of Utah to the north of the town of Moab.
Arches National Park is a place for a person who enjoys scenic drives. It is one of the most enthralling roads in Utah. You will find many laybys where you can stop to take photos or go hiking. The main activities that you can do in the park are rock climbing and hiking. Some of the notable landmarks include:
The park is in the town of Hot Springs in central Arkansas. The Hot Springs National Park is one of the few parks that lie within a town. The park surrounds a main street and houses. The people believe that the waters of the park have fantastic healing properties. This park has many gorgeous historical bathhouses. Some of the main attractions of this park are:
Most of these bathhouses are available for public use. Not only the bathhouse, but the park also has a wonderful array of walking trails.
The park is in the state of Virginia. It is famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley. It is the most popular park in Virginian and has also been in serval classic songs. One of the main features of Shenandoah is the epic Skyline Drive. This Skyline is 105m long, runs the entire length of the park from north to south. It also offers some stunning views of the luscious forests.
The park is the best destination for campers. The forests of Shenandoah provide endless opportunities for camping and hiking. Also, the Shenandoah contains many gorgeous waterfalls. Many wildlife such as Black Bears and Deer can be seen easily.
Mount Rainier is also known as Tahoma or Tacoma. It is a large active stratovolcano in the Cascade.
The mountain range is 59 miles long in south-southeast of Seattle. This mountain is the tallest in the State of Washington and the National Park. It covers an area of 236,000 acres. You can finish the whole park tour in 14 days. It includes a 93-mile long hiking trail which is also known as Wonderland Trail.
The park has many sub-parks such as Ohanapecosh Park that can be seen from the trail during hiking.
Haleakalā National Park is an American national park located in the state of Hawaii. The national park covers an area of 33,265 acres and is on the island of Maui. It one of the smallest National Parks in the USA.
The key feature of this park is the massive but dormant Haleakalā Volcano. The Haleakalā Volcano hasn’t erupted since the 17th century.
Another main feature is the Haleakalā Observatory and the Kipahulu forest reserve.
You can take tours of the volcano and the surrounding regions. There are numerous hiking trails throughout this amazing landscape.
The Sequoia forests of the western regions of America are some of the oldest and largest trees in the world. The Sequoia National Park is full of these ancient and immense trees and sits in the northern part of the vast forests that start at Lassen National Forest in the north. The park spans over 404,000 acres and much of this region are covered in Sequoia groves. This park is known in particular for containing General Sherman which is the largest living tree in the world. Other features include the High Sierra Trail, Moro Rock, and Crescent Meadow.
The area that now includes Sequoia National Park was the first habitat of “Monachee” (Western Mono) Native Americans, who lived mostly in the drainage of the Kaweah River in the park’s Foothills district, although there is evidence of seasonal housing as high as the Giant Forest. Native Americans will ride across the high mountain passes in the summertime to trade with tribes to the east. Pictographs can be seen at many places throughout the park to this day, especially at Hospital Rock and Potwisha, as well as bedrock mortars used for grinding acorns, a staple food for the residents of Monachee.
A cabin built out of a hollowed-out giant sequoia tree, Tharp’s Log
Smallpox had already spread to the region by the time the first European settlers settled in the area, decimating the populations of Native Americans. Hale Tharp, who famously made a home out of a hollowed-out fallen giant sequoia log in the Giant Forest next to Log Meadow, was the first European settler to homestead in the area. Tharp permitted his cattle to graze the meadow, but he cherished the grandeur of the forest at the same time and fought early battles against logging in the region. Tharp got visits from John Muir from time to time, who would remain in Tharp’s log cabin. It is still possible to visit Tharp’s Log today in its original location in the Giant Forest.
Utah has a plethora of National Parks and Capitol Reef is one of the more understated. This desert landscape has some interesting features such as canyons, and rock ridges. There is no better place than Capitol Reef for those who love exploring desert terrain. Most of the tourists visit the park from the town of Torrey and prefer to camp within the park itself.In south-central Utah, Capitol Reef National Park is an American national park. On its north-south axis and just 6 miles (9.7 km) wide on average, the park is about 60 miles long. The park was founded to protect 241,904 acres of desert scenery in 1971 and is open all year round, with the peak visitation months being May through September.
In south-central Utah, Capitol Reef National Park is an American national park. On its north-south axis and just 6 miles (9.7 km) wide on average, the park is about 60 miles long. The park was founded to protect 241,904 acres of desert scenery in 1971 and is open all year round, with the peak visitation months being May through September.
The Badlands is an amazing park in the southwestern region of South Dakota. It contains a varied landscape that is like no other in the United States. The major part of the Badlands is the formation of a series of eroded buttes, rock pinnacles, and spires. These beautiful rock formations have a stunning and unique coloration. The park is submerged in vast grass prairie lands. These prairies were used as hunting grounds for the Native Americans. Wildlife found in the Badlands includes Bison, Prairie dogs, Bighorn Sheep and Elk. The Badlands park has two overnight campgrounds and a series of hiking trails.
Native Americans have used this area for their hunting grounds for 11,000 years. The little-studied Paleo-Indians preceded the Arikara people long before the Lakota. Their descendants remain as one of the Three Related Tribes of North Dakota today. Combined with oral myths, archaeological documents suggest that these persons camped in secluded valleys where year-round fresh water and game were available. Today, the rocks and charcoal from their campfires, as well as the arrowheads and instruments they used to butcher bison, rabbits, and other sports, are eroding from the stream banks. They could search the region from the top of the Badlands Wall for enemies and roaming herds. They could hold on to winter if hunting was healthy, before retracing their way to their villages along the Missouri River. The first to call this area “mako sica” or “land bad.” were the Lakota people. This term contributed to intense temperatures, lack of water, and the rough rocky terrain. The French-Canadian fur trappers named it “les mauvaises terres pour traverser,” or “bad lands to travel through.” The Great Sioux Nation, consisting of seven bands, including the Oglala Lakota, had expelled the other tribes from the northern prairie one hundred and fifty years ago.
Canyonlands is another intriguing park in Utah state. Situated in the southeastern part of Utah. This National Park features a landscape filled with vivid desert colors. The landscape of the Canyonlands is formed by the enormous Colorado River. The water eroded the rock and created a series of breathtaking canyons, buttes, and mesas.
Its epic landscapes, gorgeous desert scenery draws a large number of annual visitors. There are numerous hiking opportunities. Also. it is possible to go rafting and kayaking in both the Colorado and Green rivers.
Named after the 26th president of the United States. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in North Dakota.
Park has three distinct geographical areas. It also includes a vast range of Badlands that separated by Interstate 94 and Highway 85. The main feature of the park is the Little Missouri River that runs through the center of the park.
This park is accessible because of the developed array of scenic by-routes.
Some of the famous trails like the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Provides fantastic opportunities for hiking and cycling.
The park’s habitat includes Bison, Coyotes, Cougars, Dogs, and even Golden Eagles.
The National Park is in the north-eastern region of Arizona. The park has a barren desert landscape and Badlands. It got its name after a large amount of petrified wood. The petrified woods are being found in deposits throughout the landscape. Some of the main features found within the Petrified Forest includes colored mesas. It also has beautiful conical tepee rock formations and the gorgeous Painted Desert. You can also find a visitor center and the Rainbow Forest Museum.
There are many hiking trails throughout the park. Some of the hiking trails including the Crystal Forest Trail and the Painted Desert Rim. However, cycling is not allowed there.
This cave has the distinction of being the first cave in the world to dedicate itself to a National Park. The cave is one of the most intricate networks in the world and runs for about 140 miles. It features beautiful frostwork and interesting box work formations. You will take guided tours of this vast cave and observe firsthand the elegance of the frostwork. Also, the park contains one of the largest open-plain prairies in the US. Hence it is a perfect place for camping and hiking.
You can see Bison’s herds wandering the prairies in the park. Other commonly seen animals include ermines, cougars, and bobcats as well.
In the upper 76 m of the Mississippian Pahasapa (Madison) Limestone, the three stages that compose the Wind Cave system are found. Deposited in an inland sea, lenses of chert, gypsum, and anhydrite within the limestone are confirmation of strong evaporation times. Dissolution of the limestone created a Kaskaskia paleokarst terrain, filled with solution fissures, sinkholes, and caves when sea levels fell at the end of the Mississippian. Therefore, between this limestone and the overlying Pennsylvanian Minnelusa Formation, there is an inconsistency.
The red sands and the clay covered the cavities. They were wrapped in dogtooth spar for those cavities not filled in. The Permian Opeche Shale, Permian Minnekahta Limestone, Triassic Spearfish Formation, and Tertiary White River Group accompanied subsequent deposition. The deforestation of the Paleocene and Eocene eroded these overlying sediments, down to the Minnelusa in the region of the caves. During the Laramide Orogeny, which lowered the water table, filled the cave system, and widened it, the geological uplift began. The water level is currently 150 m below the surface, which every 1000 years amount to a decline of 0.4 m.
Denali is the highest mountain in the whole of North America. Its National Park is the largest by area in the country too. The park and Denali Wilderness stretch over 4.7 million hectares. It includes a wonderful blend of woodland taiga, glaciers, and mountainous scenery.
Although the park is immense in size, it has only one road. The road is famous as the Denali Park Road. It passes by some absolutely jaw-dropping scenery.
This park and the epic Denali Wilderness are a real sanctuary for those who enjoy the outdoors.
You can do a wide variety of activities in the park. Such as snowboarding, hiking, climbing, dog-sledding, and even cross-country skiing.
Mesa Verde National Park is in southwestern Colorado. This park has achieved legendary status in the United States. It has a huge array of cliff dwellings and is the largest archaeological preserve in the country.
These dwellings have been carved into the Cliffside. In fantastic condition due to the protection of the cliffs from the elements. Throughout the park, there are several museums and tourist offices. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum has an exhibition on ancient American culture.
The Redwood Forests is in Northern California. These are among the world’s oldest temperate rainforests.
Also, this national and state park system consists of four different parks. The forests within the parks are home to some of the world’s oldest and tallest trees. Both the coastal regions of the park and the forests themselves are wonderful spots to visit. It offers visitors to stroll through some of North America’s remaining intact forests.
You will also encounter some uncommon species within the parks. Such as the Northern Spotted Owl, the Bald Eagle, and the Sea Lion of Steller.
Glacier Bay National Park is in Alaska. It lies on the eastern coast of the state near the Canadian Territory of British Columbia. The park is made up of glacial mountain ranges including the Fairweather Range, the St. Elias Mountains, and the Takhinsha Mountains. Some of the notable glaciers include Margerie, Grand Pacific, Lamplugh, and John Hopkins.
This park is mainly visited by ships, and many enter Glacier Bay by cruise ship. The ships sail by and stop at each of the formidable glaciers on the tidewater. The park is also a great location for outdoor events such as hunting, climbing, and rafting.
The Carlsbad Cave network is in the southern region of New Mexico. It’s about 20km from the border of Texas. The main feature of this National Park is Carlsbad Cavern. It shows some excellent subterranean landscapes and rock formations.
Much of the park was declared to be a protected wilderness area above ground. Inside the cave, you can see a range of different named rooms. Such as Bell Cord Room, Bifrost Room, Balloon Ballroom, and the Bat Cave. Every room has some beautiful features like stalactites, bridges, and underwater lakes.
Visitors will easily enter the cave network and stroll along the wooden walkways. Guided tours are also available and special night time and evening viewings are available to see the bats.
The Virgin Islands National Park covers most of St. John’s. This park is a hugely popular Scuba Diving spot. Due to the beautifully clear waters that surround the island and the abundance of marine life. To travel to the park you can catch one of the regular ferries that travel from St. Thomas.
Aside from snorkeling, it also features beautiful bays such as Caneel Bay and Trunk Bay. If snorkeling or lounging on the beach isn’t your definition of fun don’t worry. You can follow one of the hiking trails and explore magnificent tropical regions.
The Channel Islands are an archipelago in the English Channel off the French coast of Normandy (Norman: Îles d’la Manche; French: Îles Anglo-Normandes or Îles de la Manche). These comprise two dependencies of the Crown: Jersey’s Bailiwick, which is the largest of the islands; and Guernsey’s Bailiwick, composed of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, and several smaller islands. The remains of the Duchy of Normandy are considered and, while they are not part of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom is responsible for the islands’ defense and foreign relations. The dependencies of the Crown are not members of the Commonwealth of Nations or of the European Union.