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Looking to head into the great outdoors for your next vacation? The USA has some of the top national parks in the world. From beginner to expert, there is something for everyone. Children and adults of all ages will love the spectacular views and exhilarating hikes at these most popular national parks. Let's get started with the Top 10 National Parks in the USA.
#10 Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park was dedicated by Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It was the first national park in the United States east of the Mississippi River and the only one in the Northeastern United States. Native Americans have inhabited Acadia for at least 12,000 years. The park protects the rocky beaches, woodlands, and glacier-scoured granite peaks, such as Cadillac Mountain. Bar Harbor is the nearest town, which is known for being an adorable and quaint bayside town.
#9 Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada in California. This park is notable for its giant sequoia trees, most notably the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. General Sherman tree is 245 feet tall and 102 feet in circumference. You can drive under the Tunnel Tree, climb up Moro Rock, hike along one of 40 different trails in the park, or go underground exploring in the Crystal Cave System.
#8 Arches National Park
Visit Arches National Park to discover a red-rock wonderland. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of other incredible rock structures and landforms. The most famous arch is known as the Delicate Arch. The national park lies above a salt bed, which is the main cause of the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths. When you arrive at Arches National Park, you will be amazed at the land formations, the beautiful hiking trails, and the breathtaking sunsets. If you are looking for the ultimate experience in the canyons, then check out our Top 10 Adventures Around Moab.
Tennessee, North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains park will enchant you with its hazy blue colors, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. You will roam through the wildflowers, dive into the history of 19th-century Appalachia culture, and drink in the breathtaking vistas. Cades Cove, Rainbow Falls, and the Appalachian Trail are just a few of the things that you will want to be sure to hit on your visit. There are countless activities to do here, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and biking. The park is open throughout the whole year, although some roads may be shut down due to snow during the winter. If you are looking for some great adventures, check out our Ultimate Smoky Mountain Bucketlist.
Grand Teton National Park is approximately 310,000 acres and includes the major peaks of the 40-mile long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley, known as Jackson Hole. The park has many lakes, including 15-mile long Jackson Lake. Grand Teton National Park protects the oldest rocks found in any American national park, some have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years. Also, the park protects an almost pristine ecosystem with flora and fauna that can be traced to prehistoric times still existing here. There are over 1,000 campsites, over 200 miles of hiking trails, world-renowned fishing, and several popular destinations for mountaineering.
Zion National Park is distinguished by its steep red cliffs that stand in stark contrast to the bright blue sky. Ancient native people and pioneers once walked these very paths. You can hike down into the Narrows, the most iconic Zion National Park hikes. This where the Virgin River flows through the steep canyon, so you might find yourself wading through the water or it might be closed if there is a flash flood warning. There is also the incredible Angels Landing, which is not for the faint of heart. The trail is very high with steep drop-offs on either side. If you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view. An alternative to Angel’s Landing is the hike along the Canyon Overlook Trail. No matter your skill level or age, there is a hike for you at Zion National Park.
The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most breathtaking sites you will see in your lifetime. The beautiful bands of red rock extend as far as your eyes can see. The canyon is 277 rives miles long, 18 miles wide, and one mile deep. The best viewpoints include Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station, and Lipan Point. The South Rim is open all year, while the North Rim is only open May through November. Learn how to plan the Ultimate Grand Canyon Rafting Adventure.
Explore the vast wilderness and rugged beauty of Glacier National Park. The park protects parts of two mountain ranges, over 130 lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of wildlife. The ecosystem here ranges from prairie to tundra. Discover the alpine meadows, relax by the side of spectacular glacier lakes, and hike to the peak of these majestic mountains. You can also drive down the Going to the Sun Road, which is 50 miles of scenic mountain road that traverses the park from east to west. The road crosses through the Continental Divide through Logan Pass, at an elevation of 6,646 feet. Glacier National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. If you are seeking wilderness and solitude, then look no further.
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is widely known for its many geothermal features, such as the Old Faithful geyser, and its colorful hot springs, such as the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring (pictured above), which is larger than a football field. The geysers and hydrothermal features in Yellowstone are fueled by the Yellowstone Caldera, which is still considered an active volcano. Yellowstone is home to more wild animals than almost anywhere else in the U.S. Animals you might see include grizzly bears, gray wolves, bison, bald and golden eagles, trumpeter swans, moose, and more. Remember this park is not a zoo, these animals are freely roaming the landscape in their natural habitat. If you are looking for unfiltered beauty unlike anything else in the world, then start planning your trip to Yellowstone National Park.
“The mountains are calling and I must go” was first written by John Muir about Yosemite. One visit to this stunning national park and you will be saying the same. Yosemite National park is home to countless waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, clear streams, and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. The most spectacular views are from Glacier Point, where you can take in a panorama view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and three waterfalls. Tunnel View is another famous view of Yosemite Valley, where you can see El Capitan and Bridalview Fall rising from the valley, with Half Dome in the background. In addition to the thousands of years of ancient history here, there is also important U.S. history. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant in 1864, which paved the way for the National Park System. Yosemite was officially established as a national park in 1890. In 1903, John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt went for a camping trip here and this trip persuaded Roosevelt to return "Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to federal protection as part of Yosemite National Park".Back to overview