Spring has finally sprung and the summer is nearly upon us, so it’s time to start planning your next getaway. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a loved one, or if you’re looking for a great family vacation spot, the national parks throughout the United States offer great options with amazing waterfalls, towering mountains and lush forests.
Whether you want to climb the imposing Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska or you'd rather relax in a rustic cabin in the Cumberland Gap Historical Park, there are options for every traveler across the nation.
Take a look at the best National Parks in the U.S. and get ready to book your trip.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States. The park covers more than 800 square miles of mountain terrain between North Carolina and Tennessee and has black bears, hundreds of species of birds and much more wildlife. With such a rich diversity of plant and animal life and the vestiges of Appalachian culture, it’s easy to see why tourists flock to this amazing park.
Plan a hike to visit historic buildings, go camping in the untamed wilderness, or just relax with a family picnic.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon isn’t only one of the most popular parks in America, it’s also one of the most famous parks in world, drawing almost five million people every year. The Grand Canyon consists of the North and South Rim and at the bottom of the canyon you can find rocks that are 1.8 billion years old.
Activities include hiking, bicycle rentals, whitewater rafting and camping. You can also take the whole family aboard the Grand Canyon Railway or take a scenic desert view drive. Any nature lover will find endless possibilities awaiting them.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine was the first national park to be established east of the Mississippi River. The park has the tallest mountain on the East Coast and provides great things to do in the water and on land, including cruises, historic carriage roads you can bike on and they offer boating, fishing and climbing.
The park offers different activities based on the season so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.
Bryce Canyon National Park
When walking through the landscape at Bryce Canyon Park you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world. This vibrant destination isn’t actually a canyon but many horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters that have been carved into the Paunsaungunt Plateau and has many strange formations, such as the spires that are called ‘hoodos.’
Want to go hiking, stargazing and even take a moonlit guided hike? The park has that and much more.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984 and supports hundreds of wildlife species. Enjoy groves of sequoias, stunning cliffs and world famous waterfalls. The lush beauty of the park will transport you to another time and wow you with its endless beauty.
The park offers lodging and camping and activities such as backpacking, fishing, biking and rock climbing.
Everglades National Park
Florida’s Everglades National Park provides protection for almost 1.5 million acres of land where endangered species such as the Florida panther, manatee and American crocodile have their habitat. With the abundance of water in the park be sure to take advantage of the fishing, canoeing, kayaking and boat tours that are available. You can even take an airboat ride.
Mesa Verde National Park
Step back in time with a visit to Mesa Verde National Park where you will find the famous cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people, often referred to as the Anasazi. The Anasazi made Mesa Verde their home for over 700 years, leaving thousands of archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings.
In addition to offering visits to the Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House, visitors to the park can also camp, hike in the area and pay a visit to the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center.
Grand Teton National Park
The Grand Teton National Park is a near pristine park that still has some of the fauna and flora that have existed since prehistoric times. The park offers more than two hundred miles of trails and, of course, the majestic Teton Mountain Range itself.
Go backpacking, camping, climbing and canoeing in the summer and ski and snowshoe during the winter months. For the nature lover, The Grand Teton National Park has it all.
Volcanoes National Park
In addition to the beach combing and surfing you can enjoy in Hawai’i, no trip to the Big Island is complete if you miss out on visiting the Volcanoes National Park. The park is home to the world’s most active volcano, Mt. Kilauea.
You can explore the site by car and drive through both desert and tropical climates and maybe even get to witness some lava flow activity. You can also decide to hoof it and hike an abundance of trails that will offer you a journey you can't experience when sitting in a tour bus or rental car.
Denali National Park
Denali Park boasts the colossal Mt. Mickley, the tallest mountain peak in America at 20,320 feet. With over six million acres of land and animals of all kinds roaming the park, Denali is the wildlife watcher’s dream.
The park offers backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, cycling and fishing and you can even go hunting. If you can brave the cold Alaskan winter you might even catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has been attracting adventure seekers for years. Native Americans knew the 700+ miles of wilderness as the, ‘Backbone of the World’ and the ‘Shining Mountains’ and the majestic awe of the mountains continues to awe travelers from all over the world.
Visit the historic chalets, amazing wilderness and go wildlife watching.
The effects of climate change, however, are visible in the disappearance of glaciers throughout the park. In fact, some scientists think the park’s glaciers could entirely vanish within the next several decades.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
The Appalachian Mountains contained in this park were once the passageway that Native Americans, buffalo and hunters crossed to enter the wilds of Kentucky when the state was considered the first gateway to the west.
Hike the amazing trails and discover waterfalls, wildlife and historical buildings. You can also explore the hidden world underground by going on a ranger led cave tour. Cumberland Gap National Park has options for every traveler.
Zion National Park
Utah’s first national park, Zion National Park offers travelers a glimpse into a world forgotten by time. This land was originally inhabited by ancient people who hunted mammoth, giant sloths and camels as they crossed what is now southern Utah.
Go backpacking, birding, climbing or explore the beautiful park on horseback. They also offer river trips and ranger guided activities.