Best National Parks in the US
National Parks

22 U.S. National Parks to See Now

The National Park Service has dedicated over 100 years to crucial conservation efforts—and with 58 national parks to look after, they deserve some major appreciation. Here, we visit 22 of the most gorgeous, from the goliath glaciers of Kenai Fjords to the pink sandstone canyons of Zion.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the U.S. thanks to a show-stopping combination of spruce-fir forests, roaring waterfalls, year-round wildflower blooms, a lively black bear population, and historic Southern Appalachian homes and churches. You can find it all on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

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Badlands National Park

Grass prairies, jagged pinnacles and spires, and ancient fossil beds converge in Badlands National Park, in southwestern South Dakota. The rugged landscape was once home to rhinos, wild horses, and saber-toothed cats, but today you're more likely to catch glimpses of bison, prairie dogs and bighorn sheep.

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Saguaro National Park

Just a short drive from Tucson, you'll find the largest collection of cacti in the U.S., some 90,000-acres-worth, within Saguaro National Park's borders. Well-maintained hiking paths provide visitors with the opportunity to spot coyotes, jack rabbits, and Mexican spotted owls along the Sonoran Desert panorama.

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Acadia National Park

White-tailed deer, moose, beavers, bobcats, peregrine falcons, and black bears roam Acadia's rugged Atlantic coast. The stunning Maine landscape can be distinguished by its snow-capped mountain peaks, rocky stone shores, and pink granite summits.

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Yosemite National Park

The vast Sierra Nevada Mountains frame the waterfalls, wetlands, valleys, and soaring sequoia groves of central California's Yosemite National Park. For some of the most impressive views of the glacier- and river-formed Yosemite Valley and the commanding granite Half Dome, visitors head to Glacier Point.

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Denali National Park & Preserve

Alpine tundras meet snowy mountain peaks, icy lakes, and clean, clear air in Alaska’s Denali National Park, where some six million acres of rugged wilderness and free-roaming wildlife are broken only by a single 92-mile road.

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Glacier National Park

More than 700 miles of trails weave through Glacier National Park's alpine meadows, chilly lakes and sheer wilderness. Broken only by the landmark two-lane, 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, visitors should set aside some time to drive at least a portion of the scenic byway.

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Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone's hot springs, mud pots, and spewing geysers earned it national park status in 1872. Most visitors head for Old Faithful Geyser which reliably erupts every hour and a half.

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Everglades National Park

Manatees, American crocodiles and Florida panthers all call the Everglades wetlands home. As the largest tropical wilderness in the U.S., the park fosters a delicate ecosystem of 36 different threatened and protected species.

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Kenai Fjords National Park

Some forty glaciers from the Harding Icefield dominate this national park on the southeastern side of the Kenai Peninsula. The goliath glaciers also harbor quite an array of plant and animal life including humpback whales, bald eagles, sea lions and peregrine falcons.

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Grand Canyon National Park

"Immense" simply can't describe the magnitude of Grand Canyon National Park's 277-miles of eroded river gorge, but it's the best we've got. The more than a million-acre park, in Arizona's remote northwestern corner, is often considered one of the world's seven natural wonders.

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Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park is navigable by 200 miles of trails and the Snake River. While the park's 40-mile Teton Range is a sight to see, many visitors also include a stop at Yellowstone, just 10 miles north.

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Mount Rainier National Park

The active Mount Rainier volcano, which stands 14,411 feet above sea level, is the highest mountain in the Pacific Northwest's Cascade Range. Its glacial icecaps feed six different rivers and runoff makes it all the way to the Puget Sound.

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Canyonlands National Park

The rushing Colorado is responsible for carving out this park's unmistakeable canyons, mesas and buttes. Canyonlands is also known for having four distinct districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers.

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Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes: Kīlauea and the subaerial Mauna Loa. Pu'u 'Ō'ō, one of the park's volcanic cones, has been continuously erupting since 1983 and regular viewing hours are held for visitors to witness the lava flow.

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Arches National Park

More than 2,000 naturally-formed red sandstone arches along with a countless number of otherworldly rock formations, pinnacles and fins dot the landscape of Arches National Park in eastern Utah. The Fiery Furnace, Tower of Babel and Delicate Arch, among others, attract more than 700,000 annual visitors.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve shelters the tallest dunes in the country along with ancient spruce and pine forests, grasslands and wetlands. Medano Creek—depending on its water level—attracts crowds of surfers, skimboarders and swimmers.

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Crater Lake National Park

As the deepest lake in the U.S., visitors from all around the world converge on the rim of Crater Lake just to stare in awe at its pristine surface. The famously clear and crisp caldera was born from a volcanic eruption some 6,000-8,000 years ago, and is fed today by snow and rain.

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Big Bend National Park

Ancient limestone canyons, tenacious cactus blooms and diverse bird populations draw thousands to Big Bend in west Texas each year. The park's territory runs along the Rio Grande for 118 miles and encompasses the largest protected tract of Chihuahuan Desert this side of Mexico.

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Joshua Tree National Park

Sprawling across much of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, and silhouetted by the Little San Bernardino Mountains, Joshua Tree is best distinguished by its spiky namesake trees. The species of native yuca lives an average of 150 years.

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Zion National Park

Steep plateaus, cliffs covered in more than 1,000 plant species, and mazes of sandstone canyons in shades of pink and red dominate Zion National Park's 229 square miles.

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Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is best known for its dramatic Giant Forest which is home to towering sequoia, spruce, redwood and Douglas fir, some of which can grow up to 36.5 feet across and 300 feet in height.

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