The U.S.’s national parks have been called “America’s Best Idea,” and it’s hard to disagree as you watch the sun play shadows across the Grand Canyon, or see the mist slide slowly across the Great Smoky Mountains. Every national park has its own beautiful views, from stark desertscapes to colorful autumn foliage to skyscraping mountain peaks. Ready for some seriously gorgeous travel-inspo? Join us for a trip to find the best view at every National Park!
With the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast of the U.S., as well as colorful foliage and charming lighthouses, it’s hard to find a spot at Acadia that isn’t picturesque. While you’re there, be sure to try the lobster.
Arches is one of the most recognizable natural areas in the country, and the contrast between the pristine blue skies and striking red rocks means it’s hard to take a bad picture.
Rising up out of the flatlands of the great plains, the Badlands cover more than 370 square miles in western South Dakota. Along with breathtaking views of formations like eroded buttes and pinnacles, the park is home to bighorn sheep, bison, prairie dogs, and more wildlife.
Big Bend National Park is an adventurous West Texas destination for kayakers, hikers, and mountain bikers. The park, along U.S.-Mexican border, includes some of the Rio Grande River, along with mountains, canyons, deserts, and even thermal hot springs.
With views of a glittering blue ocean and colorful reefs, Biscayne National Park has a lot to admire. The park in the Florida Keys offers a unique opportunity to explore the untouched tropical landscape, much of which can only be seen by boat.
This park in western Colorado consists of 12 miles of the deep Black Canyon created by the Gunnison River. The newer national park has cliffs, the canyon, and the river at the bottom, making it a destination for everything from hiking to rock climbing to kayaking.
The quirky hoodoos at Bryce Canyon make this park easily recognizable, and make it a unique Utah destination! The spire-shaped rock formations were formed over thousands of years by frost weathering and erosion and visitors can hike down among the formations today.
Canyonlands is one of the most stunning national parks in Utah, with sweeping views of colorful desert landscapes. Hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and other outdoor enthusiasts find plenty of things to keep them busy at the park.
This south-central Utah park is full of canyons, cliffs, bridges, and other unique rock formations. The park surrounds the geologic feature known as the Waterpocket Fold, and the result is a fairytale landscape that includes Chimney Rock pillar, the Hickman Bridge arch, and Cathedral Valley.
This underground limestone cave was actually discovered by a teenager in 1898. The more than 119 limestone caves are home to thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats who emerge from the cavern en masse every summer evening to search for food.
Although it’s just off the coast of one of the most densely-populated parts of America, Channel Islands National Park is a pristine area with unique flora and fauna whose isolation has led them to evolve differently than their continental counterparts. The national park includes five of the area’s eight channel islands and the islands show signs of human habitation from 37,000 years ago.
This is the only national park in South Carolina, and some of the tallest trees on the east coast are located at Congaree. The park gets its name from the Native American tribe that used to live there and is one of very few hardwood forests spared by the lumber industry in the late 1800s.
Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon, and is home to the deepest lake in the United States. The lake is also known for its pristine blue clarity, making it a great place for spectacular photos.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park has over 100 waterfalls, including Brandywine Falls, the tallest waterfall in Northeast Ohio. The lush forests, rolling hills, wetlands, and rivers mean there are many beautiful spots worth photographing throughout the park.
Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places on the planet, and yet a variety of desert plants manage to carve out a living at the park. In spring, the desert is abloom with a variety of cacti and other drought-tolerant plants that thrive in the desert heat.
Denali National Park and Preserve is home to the highest mountain in North America – Denali. The vast park includes 6 million acres of forest, glaciers, and rock which make it larger than the state of New Hampshire.
This park 70 miles west of Key West is pristine, thanks to the fact that it’s only accessible by boat or seaplane. The park includes seven islands and their associated coral reefs, and also has a 19th century fortress, a lighthouse, and a large population of sea turtles.
The Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods. It’s the largest tropical wilderness in the country, and it’s home to a wide range of exotic, and many times endangered, animals including manatees and Florida panthers.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in northern Alaska encompasses 8.4 million acres. It’s situated entirely north of the Arctic Circle. The remote park has no marked roads or trails and the traditional lifestyles of those who once lived in the Brooks Range are almost completely preserved.
The famous white arch in St. Louis towers 630 feet above the Mississippi River and marks the starting point of the early 19th century Lewis and Clark expedition. The park includes not only the arch but some historic city buildings and a museum as well.
Glacier Bay National Park is in southeast Alaska and is 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rainforest, coastline, and fjords. The weather is surprisingly mild in winter and cool and wet in summer.
Glacier National Park encompasses over one million acres of land straddling the border between Montana and Canada. The park has over 130 lakes, more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, and some of the best natural beauty in the country.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most easily recognizable national parks in the country. The gorge, carved over millennia by the Colorado River, is obviously the focal point and visitors can walk around the rim, hike to the bottom, or dip into one of the several visitor centers to learn more about the park and the people who, for hundreds of years, called it home.
Grand Teton is a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, and sometimes gets passed over for the more famous Wyoming national park. But Grand Teton has much to offer – breathtaking vistas, sparkling mountain lakes, and abundant wildlife that make a visit to the park well worth your time.
Great Basin National Park protects a part of the larger Great Basin region, which spans almost all of Nevada along with parts of Oregon, Utah, California, Idaho, and Montana. The ancient bristlecone pines are the big draw in the park, but visitors can also explore a collection of caves, along with the Wheeler Peak Glacier.
The sand dunes at this national park are in south-central Colorado, and include the tallest sand dunes in North America. Some of them reach as much as 750 feet tall. The park also has grasslands, wetlands, conifer forests, and other landscapes.
There’s a reason this is the most visited national park in the country. The Great Smoky Mountains have much to offer, whether you want to take a leisurely drive and stop to look at scenery, or whether you want to engage in more strenuous hikes in the park.
One of the newer parks in the country is Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. The park is home to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in all of Texas, and also has the ruins of an old stagecoach station, and the restored Frijole Ranch which hosts a museum of ranching history.
Haleakalā National Park, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, is a landscape you don’t expect when you think of Hawaii waterfalls and flowers. The terrain offers everything from red rock deserts near the top of 10,023 foot Haleakalā Crater to waterfalls and streams in the coastal area near Hana.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to the Kilauea Volcano, which erupted in May of 2018. The eruption destroyed more than 700 homes in the area. Visitors can learn more about the volcanoes, the cultures and people who lived in the area, and the studies done at the park even now to better understand volcanoes.
This national park may lie in the middle of a city, but it’s a place of healing and relaxation for the many people who visit. The thermal waters of “The American Spa” still attract people who enjoy relaxing in the thermal baths and learning about the wild history of the park.
Long considered a sacred and enchanting site by modern Indiana residents and Native Americans before them, the Indiana Sand Dunes were recently designated a national park. The park along the southern shore of Lake Michigan has many picturesque spots.
Isle Royale is on an island in Lake Superior. There are no cars on the island, and it’s been preserved and is a home to moose, wolves, fox, and more wildlife. The lighthouses are quaint and are a charming fixture on the island.
The park is named after the alien-like plants (they’re actually related to the yucca plant) and is at the collision of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. The park offers stunning mountain views and unusual rock formations that were a result of movements of the underlying tectonic plates.
This park was established to protect the area around Mount Katmai, but it’s also a region that has 9,000 years of human history and is especially known for the thousands of brown bears who fish for salmon in the area. The park is accessible by plane or boat, leaving much of the wildlife untouched by humans.
Kenai Fjords National Park is home to towering glaciers, lush forests, and abundant wildlife. Almost 40 glaciers flow from Harding Icefield, the 700-square mile crown jewel of the park. There is one road, which leads to Exit Glacier, and ensures that the remote, rugged landscape of Alaska remains pristine.
Kings Cayon, which is next to Sequoia National Park, is home to giant sequoia groves. The park is best known for the General Grant Tree, which President Coolidge designated “The Nation’s Christmas Tree.” The trees, along with stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and sparkling mountain lakes and streams, mean the park is full of beautiful spots.
The remote, almost untouched Kobuk Valley National Park lies just 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The Kobuk River cuts through the middle of the park, and it is bordered by the Baird Mountains to the north and the 25-square mile Great Kobuk Sand Dunes to the south. Almost half a million caribou use the park as their own personal highway, migrating through twice a year.
Lake Clark, in south-central Alaska, is an untamed wilderness that is home to alpine tundra, glaciers, glacial lakes, rivers, and two volcanoes. It also has a dizzying array of wildlife including grizzly bears, caribou, and wolves.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is in the northern part of California, near the state’s border with Oregon. It’s home to steaming fumaroles, bubbling mud pots, geysers, and numerous volcanoes, along with crystal clear mountain lakes and gorgeous mountain scenery.
The green hills of central Kentucky give no hint of what lies beneath – the biggest cave system in the world that covers more than 400 miles of explored caverns and even more undiscovered area. The Frozen Niagara formations are especially impressive.
This park in southwestern Colorado has some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan ruins in the country. There are more than 600 cliff dwellings and 4,300 archeological sites, including Cliff Palace which is believed to be the largest such dwelling on the continent. The park has been occupied by humans since approximately 7500 BC.
The mountain is a majestic backdrop to the Seattle skyline, and the park dedicated to one of Washington’s most iconic landmarks is worth a visit. Mount Rainier is 14,410 feet tall and is both an active volcano and the most glaciated peak in the continental U.S.
This U.S. territory is spread over three small islands in the South Pacific, and is filled with strange and interesting wildlife, plants, and one of the oldest cultures in all of Polynesia.
Contrary to the name, the New River Gorge was carved by eons of persistant flowing water. The park has a variety of activities, both on land and water, for visitors to explore and is about an hour from Charleston, West Virginia.
North Cascades is more remote than other national parks in the state, but the park on the US-Canadian border has snow-capped mountains, turqouise lakes, glaciers, and fields of wildflowers in spring and summer. Almost one-third of all glaciers in the continental United States are in the park.
Olympic National Park encompasses mountain peaks and ranges, but also rugged coast and temperate rainforests. It’s one of the most diverse national parks in the country and it’s proximity to Seattle and Tacoma makes it easy to visit.
Arizona’s less-famous national park has impressive features all its own. Covering 220 miles of Technicolor desert, the park includes the namesake fossilized wood…and also numerous paleontological exhibits, petroglyphs, and a wide range of living flora and fauna.
Pinnacles National Park in central California was formed through volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The park is now home to a large number of towering pinnacles, giving the area an interesting landscape that includes grasslands, canyons, and bat caves.
The redwoods are not just the tallest trees in the U.S., but on the entire earth. The park is home to 45% of the remaining coastal redwoods in the world, as well as being home to animals including Stellar’s sea lions and northern spotted owls.
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to Longs Peak, one of the mountains in Colorado that stretches above 14,000 feet. There are more than 300 miles of hiking trails, fields of colorful wildflowers, and wildlife including moose and black bears roaming the park.
Saguaro National Park is, as the name implies, the best place to see the awe-inspiring saguaro cactus. These cacti can only be found in the Sonoran Desert, and have become a well-known symbol of the American Southwest.
Adjacent to Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia is home to giant seqouia trees that grow in the Sierra Nevada. The mountain range and the gargantuan trees make for spectacular scenery and you’ll find many ideal picture spots on your visit.
This park in the Blue Ridge Mountains is home to diverse plant and wildlife, with forests, waterfalls, and mountain peaks throughout the park. Skyline Drive runs along the crest of the park’s mountains and is a beautiful way to see the scenery.
It can be argued that no president has done more for national parks than Teddy Roosevelt, and he credits his experience in North Dakota for his desire to preserve wide swaths of the country as parks. Visitors to this park can expect beautiful views and abundant wildlife viewing, including bison, elk, horses, coyotes, pronghorns and more.
The Virgin Islands National Park is two-thirds of the island of St. John, and is a beautiful destination for visitors around the globe. The national park protects the lands and wildlife from the mountaintops to the submerged reefs and more than 750 species of plants live in the protection of the park grounds.
More than 40% of this park is water, and it’s known for its forests, waterways, and lakes. Visitors can camp, kayak, hike, and swim, or ice fish, snowshoe, or snowmobile in winter. Also, the night sky is one of the darkest in the county, and visitors can see shooting stars, the Milky Way, and sometimes even the Northern Lights.
Although White Sands was a national monument for years, it was only recently designated a national park. The gypsum sand dunes present a striking backdrop, and the area’s military and cultural history are a fascinating study.
Wind Cave is one of America’s oldest national parks, and has one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. The park is also home to wildlife including bison, elk, and other animals.
Wrangell-St. Elias is America’s largest national park at 13.2 million acres – the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks and Switzerland combined. The park is filled with several living cultures, historic sites, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, and wildlife.
Yellowstone was the very first National Park ever formed in the country. It covers areas of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho and sits on top of a dormant volcano. The park is home to more geysers and hot springs than anywhere else on earth.
Yosemite has several iconic landmarks including Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. The park includes numerous other waterfalls, ancient seqouias, and other spectacular natural formations.
The 15-mile long Zion Canyon is the focal point of this park and has been inhabited by people for around 8,000 years. Visitors can hike, climb, bike, soak in the river, and participate in a variety of other outdoor activities. Wading through The Narrows is a popular experience for Zion adventurers as well.