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Top 12 Best National Parks in the US 2024

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The best national parks in the US are must-visit destinations for those seeking to enjoy series of outdoor and recreational activities. In this post, we would drive you through 12 of the best US national parks so you can have numerous options to choose from.

The United States of America is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, having more than 400 parks to thrill its residents and visitors.

Great presence of nature has been sighted and acknowledged in majority of the US national parks. About 63 of them are rated as magnificent because of their scenic beauty and natural wonders.

Be prepared to be dazzled by the rich ecosystem, wildlife, and recreational opportunities you will experience in America’s national parks.

Whether you are hiker, wildlife enthusiasts or just seeking a great spot to relax, these national parks have it all.

Without wasting any more time, let’s uncover the 12 best national parks in the US.

List of Top 12 Best National Parks in the USA

The United States is home to about 424 national parks, but these are the 12 best national parks in the US.

  • Yosemite National Park, California
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Zion National Park, Utah
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  • Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  • New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

Related: The Top Longest Bridges in the US

The Best National Parks in the United States

1. Yosemite National Park, California

The best national park in the US is Yosemite National Park. Located in California, Yosemite National Park is known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, and vast forests filled with plants and animals.

Yosemite National Park covers an area of 747,956 acres, featuring over 800 miles of hiking trails. The park was established in 1890 and has become a crowned jewel among the American national parks.

An iconic feature of the park is EL CAPITAN, a massive granite monolith that climbers love to visit from around the world. The park is also home to the Half Dome, another granite formation for challenging hikes and unparalleled views.

Yosemite is also home to one of the largest and oldest giant sequoias in the world, the Mariposa Grove. Some of the animals you will find in Yosemite Park amongst others are mule deer, black bears, bob cats and several bird species.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities including camping, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding and skiing in winter season.

2. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The next on the list of the best national parks in USA is Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and is in Wyoming, USA. Its geothermal wonderland is a favorite spot for geysers, hot springs, and other geothermal features.

The most popular of its geysers is the Old Faithful geyser, which attracts visitors from around the world with its ability to erupt hot water and steam into the air every 1-2 hours.

The park is home to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is about 20 miles long. Guests can enjoy the park’s trail series, fishing, horseback riding, guided tours, and many other recreational activities.

Campfire talks and educational programs for kids are some of the ranger-led programs that are available in Yellowstone Park.

Yellowstone National Park is also home to several wildlife, including wolves, elk, bison, ospreys, and bald eagles.

3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is a top destination for US visitors and residents as it is indeed one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Although, the Grand Canyon you usually observe on pictures is beautiful, but it is even more astonishing when you visit.

It was established as a national park in 1919, covering over 227 miles long and about 18 miles in width.

The Grand Canyon was shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years of erosion, and it offers insights into the geological history of the earth.

Its colorful rock formations and beautiful landscape can be explored by visitors from both the South Rim and North Rim.

Camping, hiking, river rafting, and mule rides to the canyon floor are popular activities to enjoy within this park.

4. Glacier National Park, Montana

Upon hearing the name, Glacier National Park is undoubtedly one of the best American national parks. It is found in the territory of Montana in USA.

This US park, just as the name suggests is known for its breathtaking glaciers, lakes, and forest areas. Its most notable feature is the glaciers, and it is home to more than 25 of them.

Park visitors can enjoy guided tours around the glaciers to ensure they get a unique view of the park’s beauty.

Aside the glaciers, Glacier National Park also harbors different plants and wildlife including mountain goats, big horned sheep, grizzly bears, and birds.

For recreational activities, hiking, camping, and fishing are some of the popular activities to enjoy in Glacier National Park.

5. Zion National Park, Utah

Covering approximately 229 square miles, Zion National Park is located in Southwestern Utah, United States, attracting millions of visitors yearly.

It was established in 1919 and is known for its landscapes, sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and high plateaus.

The park’s narrow canyon is a well-liked location for visitors to hike. Another popular hike is the Angels Landing, which gives room for hikers to enjoy a glimpse of the park’s beauty.

Zion National Park also offers interesting activities, such as rock climbing, camping, and horseback riding.

Animals like mountain lions, mule deer, and bighorn sheep can also be sighted from many of the park’s hiking trails.

Visiting Zion National Park is eventful as it is one of the best national parks in the US.

6. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Located in the northwestern area of Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is a site known for its stunning mountain views, lakes, and wildlife.

The park was established in 1929 and it spans over 310,000 acres in size. It is home to the Teton Range, which has the highest peak in the park and is one of the most popular mountain ranges in USA.

Grand Teton National Park’s visitors can enjoy a range of activities including kayaking, fishing, and camping. Some of the animals you could possibly find in this park are black bears, grizzly bears, moose, bison, and elk.

Another fascinating thing about the park is its hiking opportunities, which offers over 200 miles of hiking trails.

7. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is also among the top best national parks in the US. It is situated in the north-central of Colorado, United States.

This park was established in1915 and it is home to some of the highest peaks in the Rockies. Rocky Mountain National Park’s elevation ranges from 7,860 ft to 14,259 ft, which the highest peak is the Longs Peak.

It also has over 300 miles of hiking trails, giving visitors opportunities to explore the beautiful landscapes of the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a great spot to spectate wildlife and visitors are likely to find animals like mule deer, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, and black bears in the park.

Other recreational activities to enjoy in the park include rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding and snowshoeing during the winter.

8. Arches National Park, Utah

This national park is famous for its sandstone formations, including its natural stone arches of over 2,000. It is located in eastern Utah and is one of the best US national parks.

The park’s geological formation is because of million years of erosion, which has transformed Arches National Park into a unique destination.

Arches National Park’s most popular spot is the Delicate Arch, which is a free-standing arch located within the park. Other interesting geological features of the park include deep canyons, natural bridges, and the towering red rock formations.

At night, the park’s sky is often clear, leaving visitors with a clear view of the beautiful stars and the Milky Way.

Guests can also enjoy beautiful photography moments, and rock climbing with family and friends in Arches National Park.

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is situated between the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Apart from being among the best US national parks, it is also one of the most visited national parks in America, welcoming over 11 million visitors early from around the world.

Covering over 522,000 acres of pristine wilderness, the park is home to one of the most beautiful landscapes in USA.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also rich in history, with several historic structures and sites pointing to its ancient inhabitants.

There are over 800 miles of trails along the park’s mountains and valleys, which serves as great spots for hikers. Also, animals like white-tailed deer and black bears amongst others can be spotted from majority of the hiking trails.

10. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Located in Southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon Park is yet another best national park in USA.

The park is renown for its geological formations, especially its hoodoos, which are tall and slender rock spires that formed up from the floor.

Bruce Canyon National Park was established in 1928 and it covers an area of about 56 square miles in size.

The park’s popular trails are the Navajo Loop, Queens Garden and the Rim Trails which offers visitors breathtaking views. Another way to explore the park’s beauty is by taking a scenic drive along the park’s main road.

The best time to visit the park is at sunrise and sunset as the rays from the sun usually reflect beautiful colors across the canyon.

11. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

The next on this list of the best national park in USA is the Voyageurs National Park. The park is in northern Minnesota and is famous for its lakes, forests, and abundant wildlife.

Established in 1975, Voyageurs National Park covers an area of over 218,000 acres. It was named after the French-Canadian fur traders who were the first Europeans to discover the area.

Voyageurs National Park is home to more than 500 islands and several waterways, which creates opportunity for fishing and kayaking.

For land recreational activities, hiking is the most popular but during the winter, snowshoeing, ice fishing and skiing are also enjoyed.

12. New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park is one of the newest US national parks, following its establishment in December 2020.

So far it has attracted different tourists from around the world and has been rated among the best national parks in the US.

The park is located in southern West Virginia, where an ancient river has formed a magnificent gorge.

New River Gorge National Park is new famous spot for water recreational opportunities like fishing, whitewater rafting and kayaking.

The park is home to one of the world’s longest single-arch bridges called the New River Gorge Bridge. The bridge is about 3,000 feet long and it offers tourists scenic views of the park.

Whether you are looking for an eventful location or a place to relax, this park has a spot for everyone.

Just in: These are the top 10 smallest states in USA by area

Conclusion

The United States national parks serves as a testament to the natural beauty of the country. Our exploration of the best national parks in the US have showcased the wonders of nature and great spots to enjoy outdoor activities.

As you plan your next adventure, you can try adding any of these U.S. national parks to your list. From Yosemite National Park to New River National Park, these interesting parks offer something for everyone.

This concludes our list of the best National Parks in USA, feel free to identify your favorite in the comment-box.

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