Looking to escape the crowds and head into wild? Here’s a round up of the best national parks in USA, according to travel bloggers.
The United States is a big-ass country, with 50 states covering a vast swath of North America. From Alaska in the northwest to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, the country stretches across an extremely diverse landscape and terrain.
The best places to experience the beauty of the U.S. are its National parks. They represent the finest that America has to offer. Sandstone arches, glaciers, white beaches, stalagmite-filled caves, tropical rainforests, scorching deserts, and volcanoes: The national parks scattered throughout the United States truly have it all.
To explore all 62 national parks dotted throughout the country, it might take me a lifetime. So, I’ve recruited the help of fellow travel bloggers from the United States to share with us the most beautiful national parks in USA.
20 Best Treks in the World
Best National Parks in USA
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is the first and most famous national park in USA. The park is so massive it sprawls across three states: Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
The park is world known for its spectacular geothermal geysers and hot springs, including the picturesque rainbow-hued waters of Grand Prismatic Spring and the reliable eruptions of Old Faithful geyser.
Yellowstone is also a great place to see wildlife like bison, elk, bears, wolves, and pronghorns. It’s a huge park that is easy to explore by car. But if you want to get off the beaten path, go for a hike and explore hundreds of miles of trails.
- Best Time to Visit: June - September
- Closest City: Bozeman (big city) or Gardiner and West Yellowstone (gateway towns), Montana
- How to Get There: 1.5-hour drive from Bozeman
- Where to Stay: Jackson Lake Lodge
Grand Teton National Park
Located next to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is known for the towering spires of the Grand Teton Mountains. Drink in views of these spectacular peaks from many roadside lookouts in the park, or hike to see them up close.
Grand Teton National Park includes part of the lake-speckled Jackson Hole valley. The boat trip across Jenny Lake to visit Hidden Falls is a must-do. With moose, bears, bison, elk, pronghorns, and coyotes, Grand Teton is also a great place for wildlife watching.
- Best Time to Visit: June - September
- Closest City: Jackson, Wyoming
- How to Get There: Fly into Jackson and drive into the park. Or visit Yellowstone first, then drive south into the park
- Where to Stay: Jackson Lake Lodge, Moran
Yosemite National Park
Another one of the top national parks in the US, Yosemite National Park sprawls across the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. It is home to El Capitan and Half Dome, two of the most spectacular granite features in the world. The hike up to the Half Dome is one of the best hiking trails in California.
Tucked between Yosemite’s granite peaks are serene alpine meadows, raging waterfalls, rivers worthy of rafting on, hundreds of hiking trails, and thriving wildlife. If you're planning a California road trip, be sure to spend a few days here exploring the stunning backcountry of California.
- Best Time to Visit: May and June
- Closest City: Merced, California
- How to Get There: 3-hour drive from San Francisco and 4.5-hour drive from Los Angeles
- Where to Stay: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Redwood National Park
The world famous Redwood National Park is not just one, but three state parks rolled into one: Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks.
This is where you'll find the world’s tallest tree: Hyperion, standing at a soaring 379.7 feet tall. However to prevent it from public vandalism and harm, the location of the tree is kept secret.
Take in views of beautiful redwood in coastal fog and hike through Fern Canyon, which is famous for its wall of ferns. Combine a trip to the Redwood with wine-tasting sessions at the nearby wineries.
Best Time to Visit: June - August
Closest City: Crescent City, California
How to Get There: 5.5-hour drive from both Sacramento and San Francisco. Rent a car from the airport to start your road trip.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Express Redwood National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
A must-see on any California road trip is Joshua Tree National Park. The park is home to a unique landscape straddling the border between the Colorado and Mojave desert ecosystems. The park is named for its unmistakable “forests” of large yucca plants, which combine with distinctive boulder piles to create an otherworldly landscape.
Outdoor adventurers come to experience the terrain up close by hiking, biking, camping, and rock climbing. Visitors of every age and outdoor experience level will find something to learn and enjoy at Joshua Tree National Park.
- Best Time to Visit: April-June or September-November
- Closest City: Palm Springs, California
- How to Get There: 1-hour drive from Palm Springs, 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, 3 hours from San Diego
- Where to Stay: The Joshua Tree House
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the best things to do in Northern California. The park is characterized by its volcanic and geothermal activity, boasting a diverse landscape of mountain peaks, sulfur pools, and thick forests.
One of the must-see hydrothermal sites is Bumpass Hell, with its acres of bubbling mud pots. The summit of Lassen Peak Volcano offers views over the surrounding wilderness. Nearby, the Devastated Area is littered with lava rocks from its last eruption. A network of trails here connect with the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the most famous hikes in the world.
- Best Time to Visit: June - September
- Closest City: Redding, California
- How to Get There: 1-hour drive from Redding or 4-hour drive from San Francisco
- Where to Stay: Manzanita Lake Campground
Grand Canyon National Park
Receiving over 6 million visitors per year, Grand Canyon National Park definitely tops the chart as one of the most popular national parks in America. The Grand Canyon is nearly 300 miles long and 18 miles wide in some places.
Most people visit the South Rim which is open year round. To escape the crowds, we recommend visiting the North Rim but it is a 4-hour drive north ( and only open from May-October each year).
The best part of visiting the Grand Canyon is how much it changes with the seasons and the wildlife you can spot there with bison and elk and mule deer. Don't forget to go on one of the hiking trails down into the canyon to experience it in a different way than just the viewpoints.
- Best Time to Visit: March-May and September-November
- Closest City: Tusayan, Arizona
- How to Get There: 4-hour drive from Phoenix or Las Vegas
- Where to Stay: One of the best places to stay near the Grand Canyon is The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon.
Arches National Park
Located in Utah, Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 sandstone arches in shades of red, orange and brown. The majestic arches have been carved by wind, water and erosion for millions of years. The most sought-after arch in the world is definitely Delicate Arch, which is plastered on Utah’s license plates and millions of websites around the world.
But Arches National Park is home to many more spectacular sights. Don't miss the 306-foot wide, 11-foot thick Landscape Arch that’s predicted to be the next to crumble. Also countless naturally formed stone-columns lining the park’s only road like Mother Earth’s skyscrapers.
- Best Time to Visit: April - November
- Closest City: Salt Lake City, Utah
- How to Get There: Fly to Salt Lake City and rent a vehicle (4-hour drive)
- Where to Stay: Red Cliffs Lodge
Bryce Canyon National Park
Part of Utah’s Mighty 5, Bryce Canyon is one of the coolest national parks in USA thanks to its crimson-colored hoodoo. Hoodoos are spire-shaped rock formations that create an incredibly unique landscape in the canyon.
The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. The best viewpoints are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are around sunrise and sunset.
Best Time to Visit: May to September
Closest City: Moab, Utah
How to Get There: 4 hour drive from Moab, and 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City
Where to Stay: Panguich Red Brick Homes
Canyonlands National Park
Not to be overlooked by Utah's more popular national parks, Canyonlands National Park is equally impressive and well worth a visit. Located just outside of Moab, Canyonlands offers a diverse desert landscape featuring canyons, arches, and spires carved from rock.
The park is divided into 3 areas: the main one is Island in the Sky, which is the most accessible part of the park, with several incredible scenic lookouts. The other two areas (The Needles and The Maze) are more remote and best explored by 4WD vehicle or on foot.
- Best Time to Visit: April-May or September-October
- Closest City: Moab, Utah
- How to Get There: 40-minute drive from Moab, or 4-hour drive from Salt Lake City
- Where to Stay: Springhill Suites by Marriott Moab
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park doesn't get quite as many visitors as the nearby Bryce Canyon, but in our opinion it has every right to be on this list of top US National Parks.
The park surrounds a long wrinkle known as the Waterpocket Fold, with layers of golden sandstone, canyons and striking rock formations. Among the park's sights are the Chimney Rock pillar, the Hickman Bridge arch, and Capitol Reef, known for its white sandstone domes. In the north are the towering monoliths of Cathedral Valley.
The closest towns with any accommodations are Escalante and Green River, otherwise you can camp at the park.
Best Time to Visit: September to November
Closest City: Moab, Utah
How to Get There: 2-hour drive from Moab and 3.5-hour drive from Salt Lake City.
Where to Stay: The Inn of Escalante
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is increasing in popularity, and rising to become one of the top 10 national parks in USA. Located in southwestern Utah, Zion is a hiker's paradise with endless trails that weave their way through the park.
One of the most popular hikes is Angel's Landing which is only suitable for advanced hikers. I would not recommend this hike to those who suffer a fear of height or vertigo as you need to pull yourself up with chains towards the peak and there is a shear drop on each side.
If you would still like to see magnificent views, check out the hike to Observation Point. This point overlooks Angel's Landing and offers the same beautiful views. No matter which hike you choose there is plenty to do in Zion.
Best Time to Visit: April-June or September-November
Closest City: Springdale, Utah
How to Get There: 3-hour drive from Las Vegas or a 5 hours from Salt Lake City
Where to Stay: The Holiday Inn Express Springdale