25 Best National Parks in the USA

25 Best National Parks in the USA


The USA is a really big place. Within the wide-open spaces of the contiguous
United States, as well as Alaska and the far-flung islands of Hawaii, there’s just about every
climate and ecosystem you can imagine; from temperate rainforests and pine-clad mountains
to deserts and scrublands. Naturally, there are a lot of national parks
dedicated to preserving the best that nature has to offer in the USA. Otherworldly sandstone monuments, multicolored
hot springs, craggy coastlines, scorching deserts – it’s all here. Have a look at the best national parks in
America. Number 25. Big Bend. The aptly named Big Bend National Park in
Texas is so-called because it’s set in a dramatic meander of the Rio Grande. On one side of the river is Texas, USA, and
on the other side is Mexico. Almost the same size as Rhode Island, Big
Bend is known for it’s diversity and has loads to discover on its many trails. The Chisos Basin is the most popular area
of the park and features mountain views, but the Chihuahuan Desert – home to real-life
roadrunners and coyotes – is really the place to escape into nature. Number 24. Saguaro. Saguaro is home to the classic southwest American
cactus – their iconic shapes of the park’s namesake stand tall in this deserted area
in Arizona. Divided into East and West portions, the two
halves of the park are separated by the city of Tucson. Both portions of the national park offer an
abundance of trails amid its desert landscapes. The Rincon Mountain District is the larger,
eastern portion of the park and serves up adventurous horseback rides and camping opportunities. In the west, the Tucson Mountain District
is spectacular and is well worth the effort. Number 23. Shenandoah. A breathtaking national park, Shenandoah is
full of an abundance of wildflowers in summer. In autumn, however, the trees burst into brilliant
oranges and reds for some prime fall foliage. Situated 75 miles from Washington D.C., there
are lengthy hiking trails to discover in this national park. In fact, part of these trails make up around
100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Hiking is certainly the order of the day here;
the climb up to the peak of Old Rag Mountain, for example, is strenuous, but worth scrambling
for the views. For those less interested in hiking, the Skyline
Drive means stunning vistas from the comfort of your car. Number 22. Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde is the perfect spot for adventures
among nature, and to understand more about mysterious, centuries-old cultures. This is the site where the ancient Puebloans
once lived in their cliff dwellings. Where they went or why they left, nobody knows,
but their houses built in precarious places can be seen to this day. Because of the important history, walking
off-trail is forbidden, as is entering the ancient dwellings without a ranger. Take the Mesa Top Road Circuit that loops
around ten of the excavated pueblos, and you’ll be able to discover more about these fascinating
old dwellings. Number 21. Death Valley. Death Valley National Park might sound like
somewhere that’s quite hot and hellish, but there’s actually an abundance of nature
to enjoy here. There are huge boulders seemingly lying around
on a grand scale, canyons carved by gushing streams that slice through the land, sand
dunes that actually ‘sing’ and soaring mountains to tackle. True to its title it is nevertheless a scorching
area: one of the hottest spots in the US. Dante’s View offers a panoramic vista across
the southern portion of Death Valley Basin from atop the Black Mountains. Number 20. Crater Lake. The only national park in Oregon, Crater Lake
National Park is named after the eponymous lake; formed by a huge volcanic eruption around
7,700 years ago. It’s the deepest lake in the entire United
States. The sparkling waters of this magnificent lake
itself reflect the surrounding craggy mountain peaks in its mirror-like surface for a gorgeous
effect and some inspiring photo opportunities. There are over 90 miles of trails that criss-cross
the park, but most of these are only be accessed in summer as snow covers trails for much of
the year. Number 19. Acadia. New England’s one and only national park,
dating back to 1916, Acadia sits on the coast and boasts some dramatic views of this region’s
storied shoreline. Acadia National Park is all about rewarding
mountain hikes, strolls along the shore, beautiful bike rides, and drives that will induce oohs
and ahhs. There’s a surprisingly varied landscape
to discover in this national park; from its dense forests and languid lakes to boulder-strewn
beaches dotted with lonely lighthouses. There are also sandy beaches and islands,
such as the famous Mount Desert Island, to explore here. Number 18. Canyonlands. Canyonlands National Park is a truly otherworldly
place. With a landscape more like something you would
expect on Mars than Earth, the largest national park in Utah is all about its canyons. These snake around its ancient landscape,
which is also punctuated by 1,000-foot-tall white cliffs above the Colorado and Green
Rivers, as well as strange rock formations. The park itself is divided into four sections
by both those rivers forming a Y shape in this rocky, alien stretch of land. Island in the Sky sits in the middle, and
is the busiest part of the park – for good reason; the views are incredible. Number 17. Redwood. Home to the giant trees of the same name,
Redwood National Park lies on the northwestern Pacific Coast in California. It’s home to some of the tallest trees in
the world. There’s an enigmatic mix here of lush coastal
scenery and lush prairielands. The redwood trees are also some of the most
ancient trees on the planet, with branches covered in moss and ferns. There are plenty of trails to enjoy walking
through the vast forests, which make for good days out. To really soak up what the park has to offer
it boasts campgrounds and backcountry sites for overnight stays. Number 16. Grand Teton. Grand Teton in the Rocky Mountains is a wild
wilderness of 12 peaks sculpted throughout the ages by glaciers. This includes, of course, the Grand Teton
itself, which stands at an impressive 13,775 feet above sea level. The beautiful landscape here is just begging
to be hiked. There are captivating canyons filled with
fresh forests to explore, crystal alpine lakes to marvel at, and fragrant wildflowers which
provide pops of color. This rugged land plays host to all manner
of beasts, including elks, moose, and bears. ‘
Number 15. Mount Rainier. The fifth-highest peak in the United States,
Mount Rainier itself is an icon of a mountain that can be seen throughout much of Washington
state. Rainier is actually an active volcano that
last erupted as recently as 1854. Close to the urban areas of Puget Sound, Mount
Rainier National Park and its 26 glaciers is a hikers paradise, with fabulous hiking
trails lacing the foothills, and carpets of flowers blooming in spring and summer. Many people attempt to climb to the snowy
peak of Rainier, but it’s tough going; only half the adventurers who try go the whole
way. Number 14. Sequoia. This national park is named after another
species of the Sequoia family, the Sequoiadendron giganteum – colloquially known as the giant
redwood. Drive-through trees and huge, ancient examples
of the redwoods here characterize the park. In fact, it’s here that you will find General
Sherman, a giant redwood that’s claimed to be the largest living tree on Earth. There are also deep, 10,000-year-old caves
that hide supersize stalactites. For a breathtaking vista of the Sierra Mountains,
head to Eagle View. Number 13. Arches. Another of Utah’s national parks that is
made up of Martian badlands, the sandstone landscape here is out of this world. There are a sublime selection of rock arches
striped pink and red buttes, as well as other strange and intricate rock formations. Landscape Arch is actually one of the largest
natural arches in the world, measuring in at 306 feet across. This is an easy access national park with
a selection of short hikes to embark on, but possibly more popular are rock climbing and
canyoning. The Fiery Furnace – a famous formation – blazes
orange and red as the sun sets each day. Number 12. Glacier. Glacier National Park boasts an outstanding
natural world that has been, as you might expect from the name, carved and sculpted
over thousands of years by glaciers. It’s a land of dramatic rocky outcrops,
snow-topped peaks, raging waterfalls, and beautifully reflective lakes. There are an impressive amount of hiking trails
here that wind like arteries of adventure around the jaw-dropping landscape. This is also the place where grizzly bears
roam in abundance in the dense mountain forests. Popular scenic drive Going-to-the-Sun Road
is an excellent way to see the beauty of the national park without stepping foot out of
your car. Number 11. Rocky Mountain. One of the most spectacular slices of nature
in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain National Park is awash with imposing granite mountains,
aqua-colored alpine lakes, and meadows that burst into life come summer. It’s the perfect place for adventures amidst
nature, with a selection of trails where you can find peace, quiet and serenity. The wilderness of the national park makes
the ideal host for many wild animals too, like elk, moose, and black bear. Bear Lake – one of ten lakes in the park
– is a famous scenic spot for visitors, where you can soak up views of the glacial
valleys and mountaintops. Number 10. Everglades. A gigantic area of land that’s as famous
as Florida itself, the Everglades National Park is home to vast tracts of swamp, and
the ubiquitous alligators that make the Everglades what they are. You can take a kayak out and explore the mangrove
waterways for yourself, slicing across the silent waters of the myriad lakes, or you
could opt for a quintessential airboat tour of the swamp. The Anhinga Trail is where you can spot cold-blooded
‘gators basking in the sun, and the eponymous anhinga lying in wait for their prey; you
can even head out on a nocturnal walk with a ranger. Number 9. Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its
rock formations. Known as hoodoos, these spire-like sandstone
rocks jut into the sky for a supremely interesting landscape. It’s been sculpted over time by freeze-thaw
erosion that has morphed the soft sandstone into the marvelous landscape it is today.There
are various trails, such as the Rim Trail, weaving through the rocks. Bryce Point is the perfect spot for views
out over the so-called Silent City, with the vista below made up of walls of rock and hoodoos
looking like somewhere from another time and place. Number 8. Hawai’i Volcanoes. Set on the Big Island in the Pacific Ocean,
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park encompasses Mauna Loa. This massive volcano has a summit that, surprisingly,
is sometimes covered in snow. The national park also features volcanic coasts
made from cooled lava flows, rich rainforests, magnificently green meadows in the mountains,
and geological formations such as lava tubes. Kilauea – a shield volcano in the national
park – has erupted as recently as 2018. The last eruption quite literally changed
the shape of the park itself – an insight into the power of nature. The park remains open, but some areas are
understandably closed. Number 7. Carlsbad Caverns. Located 25 miles from a former ranch town,
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a network of caverns, and is in equal parts an eerie
and incredible sight to behold. The main chamber of the cave itself – called
the Big Room – is impressive, to say the least: to access it, you can choose to take
an ear-popping elevator that runs the equivalent to the entire height of the Empire State Building. Or you can take a snaking pathway into the
subterranean abyss below. The Big Room is a cathedral-like opening complete
with a trail and the largest stalagmite in the world. Number 6. Great Smoky Mountains. This national park is a world of beautiful
nature. Think verdant forests as far as the eye can
see, glistening waterfalls, and undulating mountain peaks. The forests themselves come alive in springtime,
with a rainbow of wildflowers blazing between the trees. Autumn brings the famous fall foliage for
a sea of auburn, and winter is all about snow. Dubbed ‘the Smokies’ because of the misty
mountaintops, exploring this national park is like stepping into the past; there are
still remote mountain communities who call this region home. It’s a great spot to truly unwind and leave
the modern world behind. Number 5. Denali. Denali National Park is the monumental tract
of land that makes up Alaska’s most famous national park. The centerpiece, by a long stretch, is Denali. Formerly known as Mount McKinley, this towering
mountain is the tallest in North America at 6,190 meters above sea level. It’s truly a sight to behold, as its snowy
tip seems to actually pierce the sky. Snowy boreal forests, desolate tundra, jagged
mountains, and lakes all play host to caribou, moose, grizzly bears, and wolves. For those seeking true wilderness, this might
just be the place. Number 4. Zion. Utah’s splendid national parks don’t get
better than Zion. The red and white cliffs and buttes that make
up Zion Canyon slice into the air; they’re edged by greenery, making for a colorful place
to soak up this amazing wonder of nature. And there are some great ways to get right
into the thick of things. The Narrows, for example, is a 16-mile adventure
through the canyon and along the Virgin River at the base of it; elsewhere, there’s the
Big Springs, a hike that weaves along the eponymous fern-edged spring itself. Number 3. Yosemite. This famous national park is a popular place
to explore some of California’s best nature. There are giant sequoias that tower into the
air at Mariposa Grove; there’s the glorious green of the Yosemite Valley with its granite
walls; and there’s the spectacular Vernal Fall – falling 317 feet to the a below. Owing to its popularity, Yosemite National
Park welcomes a whopping four million visitors annually, but thankfully, there’s space
for everyone amid the sweeping peaks of Half Dome and the gleaming lakes. Number 2. Grand Canyon. Renowned the world over, the Grand Canyon
needs no introduction. One of the largest canyon in the world really
has to be seen to be properly appreciated. Whether you visit the North, South, East or
West Rim areas, it’s always a giant sculpture of light and shadow that barrels its way across
an awesome landscape. Around the national park that encompasses
it there are a whole host of trails and viewpoints; Cape Royal on the North Rim is a top vista
of many major parts of the Grand Canyon. You can even reach down to the canyon floor,
over a mile down in some places, via steep, meandering trails. Number 1. Yellowstone. The granddaddy of American national parks,
Yellowstone is the oldest in the United States (and the world), having been founded in 1872. When it was first discovered, stories of the
magnificence of the area were passed off as lies and tall tales. You can see why: erupting geysers here belch
steam and water, such as the clockwork Old Faithful. There are boiling hot springs, like the Grand
Prismatic Spring; thanks to differing temperatures and minerals as the waters spread out, this
is a veritable rainbow of unbelievable colors. There’s even the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
– a natural wonder in granite. This place is a true icon of must-see nature.

11 thoughts on “25 Best National Parks in the USA

  1. Beautiful parks
    But I taught drone we’re not allowed in the park ?
    Hélène et Serge 💑
    From Boisbriand Québec Canada 🇨🇦

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