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The US national parks are one of this country’s best ideas…land set aside for the preservation of the natural world and the enjoyment of the people. Every few years, another park gets added and the US national parks list grows a little longer. Over the past 150 years, 63 national parks have been created in the United States.

In this guide, we provide the complete US national parks list with interesting facts and information about how to plan your next national parks adventure.


About the US National Parks

It all started with steaming, bubbling landscape, where geysers erupt on a regular basis, bison and elk roam the grasslands, and colorful hot springs brighten up the landscape. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act, which created the world’s first national park.

This started a worldwide movement. Since 1872, 62 more national parks have been established in the United States, not to mention the hundreds of national parks that have been created around the globe.

Around the world, millions of acres of land have been set aside, to preserve landscapes, animal habitats, and historical treasures. These areas are also places where people can go to learn more about the natural world, explore the wilderness and unique landscapes, and get in touch with nature.

As visitors to the national parks, we have a role to play. There is a phrase “leave it better than you found it,” which is also part of a worldwide movement to “Leave No Trace.” There are seven principles of Leave No Trace, which includes properly disposing of waste, don’t litter, be considerate of other hikers, do not feed wildlife, plan ahead, stay on the trail, and minimize campfire impacts.

How Many National Park Units are in the USA?

At the time of the most recent update of this article, there are 429 national park units in the United States.

In order to be a national park unit, that site must meet specific criteria relating to its national significance, suitability, and feasibility. Once the unit is found to meet these criteria, the national park unit is established by an act of Congress.

There are many different types of national park units, sites such as National Battlefield Parks, National Preserves, National Monuments, National Lakeshores, and National Historical Parks, just to name a few.

And then there is the designation “National Park.”

What Does it Take to Be a National Park?

To be a national park, the unit contains a wide variety of resources and is generally an area of natural and/or cultural importance. In a national park, the land and its resources are protected and there are many restrictions on how that land can be used. In most national parks, practices that alter the landscape, such as mining, drilling, and hunting are not allowed.

A national preserve is very similar to a national park. A national preserve typically protects specific resources but there are fewer restrictions on how the land can be used. Hunting, fishing, and mining are permitted, just as long as these do not affect the resource that the national preserve protects.

There are several national park and national preserve combinations, such as Denali National Park & Preserve and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

A national monument is typically smaller than a national park and a national preserve and only protects one specific resource.

In summary, a “national park” is generally a large area of land that contains a wide variety of resources and/or historical or cultural sites, and that land is protected from activities that would alter the landscape.

US National Park Map

US National Parks List

There are a bunch of ways to organize the US national parks list, by alphabetical order, by visitation numbers, by state, by the date it was created…you get the point.

So, we put together these different US national parks lists, all updated for 2024.

US National Parks List: Interesting Facts

If you have plans to visit all 63 national parks, like we do, it doesn’t take long to realize that these national parks protect a wonderfully wide variety of landscapes.

From the rocky coastline of Acadia to the desert landscapes of Saguaro to the glacier-covered mountains of Kenai Fjords to the wetlands of the Everglades, the United States is filled with many natural treasures.

Here are some interesting facts about the US national parks:

  • Yellowstone was the first national park to be created (March 1, 1872).
  • New River Gorge is the latest addition to the US national parks list (December 27, 2020).
  • The largest national park is Wrangell – St. Elias. At 13 million acres, it is twice the size of Maryland and 6 times the size of Yellowstone.
  • The smallest national park is Gateway Arch…it’s only 91 acres (the next smallest park is Hot Springs at 5,600 acres…big difference!).
  • Great Smoky Mountains tends to be the most visited park every year.
  • The remote national parks in Alaska (Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley) tend to be the least visited national parks.
  • In 2023, Gates of the Arctic in Alaska had just 11,000 visitors…Great Smoky Mountains gets three times that in just one day!!
  • California holds the record for the number of national parks in one state (there are 9 of them…Alaska comes in second place with 8).
  • Not every state has a national park.
  • If you add up all of the land in the US national park system (all of the national park units, not just the “national parks”), there are 85 million acres of protected land.

US National Parks List: 15 Oldest National Parks

  1. Yellowstone National Park: March 1, 1872
  2. Sequoia National Park: September 25, 1890
  3. Yosemite National Park: October 1, 1890
  4. Mount Rainier National Park: March 2, 1899
  5. Crater Lake National Park: May 22, 1902
  6. Wind Cave National Park: January 9, 1903
  7. Mesa Verde National Park: June 29, 1906
  8. Glacier National Park: May 11, 1910
  9. Rocky Mountain National Park: January 26, 1915
  10. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: August 1, 1916
  11. Lassen Volcanic National Park: August 9, 1916
  12. Denali National Park: February 26, 1917
  13. Acadia National Park: February 26, 1919
  14. Grand Canyon National Park: February 26, 1919
  15. Zion National Park: November 19, 1919

US National Parks List: 10 Newest National Parks

  1. New River Gorge National Park: December 27, 2020
  2. White Sands National Park: December 20, 2019
  3. Indiana Dunes National Park: February 15, 2019
  4. Gateway Arch National Park: February 22, 2018
  5. Pinnacles National Park: January 10, 2013
  6. Great Sand Dunes National Park: September 24, 2004
  7. Congaree National Park: November 10, 2003
  8. Cuyahoga Valley National Park: October 11, 2000
  9. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: October 21, 1999
  10. Joshua Tree National Park: October 31, 1994

US National Parks List: Information about All 63 Parks

Here is a brief summary about each of the 63 national parks, with interesting facts and links to more in-depth guides.

1. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, also called the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” protects the rocky coastline in Maine. Granite coastal cliffs, estuary and intertidal habitats, and the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast of the United States are found here.

Acadia National Park

Location: Maine

Top Experiences: Drive Park Loop Road, watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, hike the Precipice Trail, visit Sand Beach and Echo Lake, bike the carriage roads, and watch the sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

When to Go: Mid-April through October

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Acadia National Park

2. American Samoa

Journey to the South Pacific and visit one of the most beautiful US national parks. Because of its remote location, it’s also one of the least visited.

This park is spread out over three islands: Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta’u. American Samoa preserves the Samoan culture, tropical rainforests, and coral reefs. It’s the only US national park located in the Southern Hemisphere.

American Samoa NP

Location: American Samoa

Top Experiences: Go snorkeling, hike through tropical rainforests, hike the Mount ‘Alava Trail to the summit of Mount ‘Alava, and visit Ofu Beach.

When to Go: May through September, the dry season in American Samoa.

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in National Park of American Samoa

3. Arches

Arches is a beautiful wonderland of arches, rock formations, and short hiking trails. Not only will you find over 2,000 arches here, but you will also see hoodoos, fins of sandstone rocks, massive mesas, and balanced rocks.

Arches National Park

Location: Utah

Top Experiences: Hike to Delicate Arch, see Balanced Rock and the Fiery Furnace, hike the Devils Garden Trail, visit Double Arch, Turret Arch, and Windows Arch, hike Park Avenue.

When to Go: The spring and fall months

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Arches National Park

4. Badlands

The colorful buttes, spires, and pinnacles create one of the most photogenic landscapes in the country. Bison and bighorn sheep roam the largest mixed-grass prairie in the United States. The sunrises and sunsets are magical, the hiking trails are short and sweet, and for those looking for more solitude, you can take your pick from a handful of backcountry experiences.

Badlands National Park

Location: South Dakota

Top Experiences: Drive Badlands Loop Road and visit the overlooks, watch the sunrise and/or the sunset, hike the Notch Trail, hike the Door and Fossil Exhibit Trails, drive Sage Creek Rim Road, explore the backcountry, hike the Castle Trail, and count how many bison you can find.

When to Go: Spring and fall

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Badlands National Park

5. Big Bend

Located on the southwestern corner of Texas, within the Chihuahuan Desert, is an extraordinary mountain range that is a haven for hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

This is one of the most remote parks in the lower 48 states, so crowd levels tend to be low all year round. But even when it is at its busiest, Big Bend feels rather quiet.

Balanced Rock

Location: Texas

Top Experiences: Hike the Lost Mine Trail, go star gazing, hike Santa Elena Canyon, go for a drive on Maxwell Scenic Drive, visit Boquillas del Carmen, hike to Balanced Rock, and hike to Emory Peak, the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains.

When to Go: October through April

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Big Bend National Park

6. Biscayne

Biscayne National Park is 95% water. This park protects one of the largest reef systems in the world.

The best way to explore it is by boat, which makes it very unique from many of the other US national parks. If you love snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, or simply cruising around by boat, you will love this underrated gem of park.

Biscayne National Park

Location: Florida

Top Experiences: Visit Boca Chita Key, go kayaking or paddle boarding in Jones Lagoon, snorkel or scuba dive along the Maritime Heritage Trail, visit Elliott Key, go snorkeling at Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, and cruise through Stiltsville.

When to Go: October through April

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Biscayne National Park

7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison

In some ways, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. You can visit both the North and South Rims, enjoy the views from the overlooks, and, for the ultimate adventure, hike below the rim to the Gunnison River.

Painted Wall Black Canyon

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Drive South Rim Road and visit the overlooks, hike along the South Rim, drive East Portal Road, visit Exclamation Point, hike an inner canyon route, drive North Rim Road and visit the overlooks.

When to Go: April through October, when the weather is warm and the park roads are open.

Plan Your Visit: Complete Guide to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

8. Bryce Canyon

This is an extraordinary place to visit and its unique landscape sets it apart from other national parks. Although Bryce Canyon may not have the same sweeping, expansive vistas as the Grand Canyon, it’s still a breathtaking experience the first time you see this view.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Location: Utah

Top Experiences: Some of the best viewpoints are right along the rim, which are easily accessible by car or the shuttle: Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop, a 3-mile hike past some of the best scenery in the park. Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point are also nice viewpoints.

When to Go: Spring and fall

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park

9. Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park is one of our favorite national parks in the USA. Why? The landscapes, the hiking trails, and the off the beaten path experiences make this one of the top parks for those who crave adventure.

Mesa Arch

Location: Utah

Top Experiences: Visit the overlooks on Island in the Sky, watch the sunrise at Mesa Arch, go hiking in The Needles, drive Shafer Canyon Road, hike below the rim of the Island in the Sky mesa, drive the White Rim Road, explore The Maze.

When to Go: Spring and fall

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Canyonlands National Park

10. Capitol Reef

This national park is full of many wonderful surprises. With an amazing scenic drive, hiking trails that rival those in Zion, rugged, remote areas to explore by 4×4, short, easy slot canyons, historical landmarks, and even delicious pie, this is another one of our favorite national parks.

Capitol Reef National Park Road

Location: Utah

Top Experiences: Drive the 16-mile round-trip drive along Scenic Drive, drive Capitol Gorge Road, hike to Hickman Bridge, and watch the sunset from Sunset Point, hike to Cassidy Arch, drive the Cathedral Valley Loop, and Loop the Fold.

When to Go: Spring and fall

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Capitol Reef National Park

11. Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is an underground fantasy land of limestone chambers, stalactites and stalagmites, and long, twisting tunnels.

Carlsbad Caverns

Location: New Mexico

Top Experiences: Tour the caverns on your own or on a ranger-guided tour. You can also go star gazing, hike a surface trail, or go on a scenic drive.

When to Go: May through October

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

12. Channel Islands

Channel Islands National Park preserves five of the eight Channel Islands. This archipelago sits off the California coast, not far from Los Angeles.

Channel Islands National Park

Location: California

Top Experiences: Go snorkeling, whale watching, hiking, kayaking, swimming, wildlife watching, and sailing.

When to Go: All year, but summer is the best time to visit the park if you want to participate in water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. This is also the busiest time to visit the park.

13. Congaree

Congaree National Park protects the oldest old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern United States. This small park is quick and easy to visit. Walk the boardwalk trail through the forest, go kayaking or canoeing on Cedar Creek, go birdwatching and fishing, and, if you like, venture farther into the park on a number of other woodland trails.

One Day in Congaree Photo

Location: South Carolina

Top Experiences: Walk the Boardwalk Loop Trail, go canoeing or kayaking on Cedar Creek, go on a multi-day canoeing trip on the Congaree River, hike the Weston Loop Trail, and hike to the General Greene Tree.

When to Go: The best time to visit Congaree National Park is in the spring and the fall.

Plan Your Visit: How to Spend One Day in Congaree National Park

14. Crater Lake

Crater Lake is what remains of Mount Mazama, a volcano that erupted almost 8,000 years ago, and then collapsed. The remaining caldera filled with water, forming the deepest lake in the United States.

Crater Lake

Location: Oregon

Top Experiences: Drive Rim Drive around Crater Lake, take a boat tour of Crater Lake, visit Wizard Island, hike the trails along the rim, and go camping.

When to Go: Mid-July through early October, when all of the park roads are open.

15. Cuyahoga Valley

Cuyahoga Valley National Park preserves a lush river valley that is home to both natural and historical sites. Among the thousands of acres of forests and wetlands are a network of hiking and biking trails. Visit a covered bridge, ride a train through the heart of the park, learn about the Ohio and Erie Canal, and photograph the waterfalls.

Things to do Cuyahoga Valley

Location: Ohio

Top Experiences: Photograph Brandywine Falls, hike, bike or run the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail, visit Beaver Marsh, go for a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, visit Bridal Veil Falls, visit Deer Lick Cave, hike to Blue Hen Falls, visit the Everett Covered Bridge, and hike the Ledges Trail.

When to Go: May through October is a beautiful time to visit the park.

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Cuyahoga Valley

16. Death Valley

Stand in Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States. Visit Furnace Creek, which holds the record for the hottest recorded temperature in the world. Take in the view from Dante’s Peak, slide down the sand dunes, explore narrow canyons, and journey out to Racetrack Playa, where boulders mysteriously slide across the desert landscape.

Death Valley Sunset

Location: California

Top Experiences: Visit Zabriskie Point, drive Artist’s Drive, visit Badwater Basin, enjoy the view from Dante’s View, visit Ubehebe Crater, drive to Racetrack Playa, hike to Telescope Peak, slide down the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and view the night sky.

When to Go: November through March, when the weather is mild.

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Death Valley National Park

17. Denali

Denali National Park, one of the largest national parks in the USA, is home to millions of acres of remote, rugged wilderness. It is named for Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, and catching a view of this mountain peak is one of the best things to do in Denali National Park.


Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Ride one of the park shuttles to the end of Denali Park Road, take a flightseeing tour, go hiking in the Savage River area of the park, visit the sled dog kennels, hike into the backcountry, visit Eielson, spend some time in Kantishna, take your pick from of many hiking trails in the park, and climb to the summit of Denali.

When to Go: June through September, when the weather is warm and the roads are open.

Plan Your Visit: 16 Epic Experiences to Have in Denali National Park

18. Dry Tortugas

Located 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park makes up the last few islands of the Florida Keys.

Dry Tortugas

Location: Florida

Top Experiences: Explore Fort Jefferson, go snorkeling or swimming, visit Loggerhead Key, and take a stroll on Bush Key.

When to Go: All year, but it is best to avoid hurricane season (July through October).

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Dry Tortugas National Park

19. Everglades

Everglades is the most popular national park to visit in Florida, since it is easy to get to and easy to visit. In just one day, you can hike a few short trails, spot manatees and crocodiles, and go on an airboat ride.

A wooden walkway on the Anhinga Trail winding through the wetlands of the Everglades National Park, Florida, USA.

Location: Florida

Top Experiences: Walk the Anhinga Trail, visit the Flamingo Visitor Center and see if you can spot crocodiles or manatees, walk the boardwalk trail at Mahogany Hammock, take a kayaking tour, and bike through Shark Valley.

When to Go: November through March, when temperatures are mild.

Plan Your Visit: How to Spend One Day in Everglades National Park

20. Gates of the Arctic

Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve is the least visited national park in the USA. Located in Alaska, this wild, remote national park is home to one of the most untouched wilderness areas in the country.

No roads lead into Gates of the Arctic. There aren’t even any maintained hiking trails.

Most of the travelers who visit this park do so on a guided tour, either kayaking or hiking through the park. For those who love the idea of exploring a remote wilderness, filled with wildlife and beautiful landscapes, this a park that belongs on the top of your list.

Gates of the Arctic

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Go hiking, take a float trip, go canoeing or rafting on the Kobuk and Noatak Rivers, go fishing, and go backpacking.

When to Go: June through September

21. Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch, located in St. Louis, Missouri, is a famous American icon. Since its completion in the 1960’s, the Arch has been attracting thousands of visitors every year.

Gateway Arch

Location: Missouri

Top Experiences: Ride the tram to the top of Gateway Arch, watch the Monument to the Dream Documentary, visit the museum exhibits, visit the Old Courthouse, and see the Old Cathedral.

When to Go: All year

Plan Your Visit: How to Visit Gateway Arch National Park

22. Glacier Bay

At 3 million acres, Glacier Bay is one of the larger US national parks. This park protects a portion of the Inside Passage and its fjords, glaciers, and temperate rainforest.

No roads lead into this park, so to get here, you will either have to fly or take a cruise. Cruises are one of the best ways to experience this park, as you drift past glaciers and take excursions to seaside towns and hiking trails.

Glacier Bay Alaska

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Explore Bartlett Cove, go sport fishing, take a flightseeing tour or kayaking tour, see the glaciers, and go hiking in Bartlett Cove.

When to Go: The summer months are the best time to visit Glacier Bay National Park.

23. Glacier

With glacier-capped mountains, dazzling aquamarine lakes, and some of the most exciting hiking trails in the country, it’s no wonder that Glacier National Park is called the “Crown of the Continent.”

Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the best scenic drives in the United States. Along the way, you get jaw-dropping views from the overlooks as the road twists and turns through the mountains. You can also take your pick from a long list of hiking trails, go kayaking, and count how many mountain goats you spot.

Glacier National Park

Location: Montana

Top Experiences: Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road, visit Many Glacier, hike to Grinnell Glacier and Hidden Lake, visit Logan Pass, hike the Highline Trail, visit Two Medicine, see Wild Goose Island, and spend some time at Lake McDonald.

When to Go: July through September, when Going-to-the-Sun Road is open.

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Glacier National Park

24. Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited parks in the USA. People from all over the world travel here to see this place. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Grand Canyon USA Road Trip

Location: Arizona

Top Experiences: Visit the South Rim viewpoints, watch the sunrise and/or sunset, hike below the rim, take a flightseeing tour by airplane or helicopter, visit the North Rim, and hike the rim-to-rim trail.

When to Go: All year but spring and fall have the mildest weather.

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Grand Canyon National Park

25. Grand Teton

If you like hiking, Grand Teton is one of top parks to visit in the USA. Hiking trails lead deep into the Teton Range, to some of the highest peaks in the park, and to beautiful lakes.

Grand Teton is also a top pick for photographers. Ansel Adams was a frequent visitor here, photographing the Teton Range and the Snake River. Oxbow Bend is a great place to photograph wildlife and Mormon Row makes a prime sunrise photography spot.

Grand Teton National Park

Location: Wyoming

Top Experiences: Visit Jenny Lake, hike to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls, visit Mormon Row and Schwabacher Landing, visit Oxbow Bend at sunrise, visit the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, and hike the trails that run in and along the Teton Range.

When to Go: Mid-May through October

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Grand Teton National Park

26. Great Basin

This park preserves the Lehman Caves and Wheeler Peak, the second highest peak in Nevada. Also found in the park are groves of bristlecone pines, which are some of the oldest species on the planet.

Despite its location in eastern Nevada, not far from Utah’s Mighty 5, Great Basin is one of the least visited national parks in the USA.

Great Basin

Location: Nevada

Top Experiences: Hike to the top of Wheeler Peak, take a tour of Lehman Caves, drive Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, hike the Bristlecone Trail, go star gazing, and hike the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail.

When to Go: Mid-June through October

27. Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of those parks that is pure fun to visit. Sure, there are a few hikes to do, but the best experience is to go sandboarding or sand sledding on the dunes.

Great Sand Dunes

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Go sandboarding or sledding, hike on the dunes, watch the sunset, camp on the dunes, go stargazing, hike to Star Dune, drive the Medano Pass Primitive Road, and hike to Zapata Falls.

When to Go: This park can be visited all year. The spring and the fall have the mildest weather.

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Great Sand Dunes National Park

28. Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains runs through the center of the park and it is here that you will find some of the tallest peaks in eastern North America.

Great Smoky Mountains Cabin

Location: Tennessee and North Carolina

Top Experiences: Enjoy the view from Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap, hike the Alum Trail to Mount LeConte, drive through Cades Cove, and drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

When to Go: April through November, when the temperature is mild and the trees have leaves (or are at least starting to bloom)

Plan Your Visit: Weekend Getaway to Gatlinburgh and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

29. Guadalupe Mountains

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in Texas. Canyons, gypsum sand dunes, fossilized coral reefs, and some of the highest peaks in Texas are all things that you can see in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

McKittrick Canyon Trailhead

Location: Texas

Top Experiences: Hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. Visit the Salt Basin Dunes, hike to Devil’s Hall, visit El Capitan Lookout, hike the McKittrick Canyon Trail or the Permian Reef Trail, and visit Dog Canyon.

When to Go: September through May

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

30. Haleakala

Haleakala is a massive volcano that makes up more than 75% of the island of Maui.

Watching the sun rise above the clouds and hiking into the crater are two of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park, but there is more to this park than visiting the summit of a volcano. You can also visit the lush forests and waterfalls in the Kīpahulu District, which is located along the Road to Hana.

Hiking in Haleakala

Location: Hawaii

Top Experiences: Watch the sunrise above the clouds, hike the Sliding Sands Trail, visit the viewpoints on the Haleakala summit, hike the Pīpīwai Trail, visit the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o, and go stargazing.

When to Go: All year

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Haleakala National Park

31. Hawai’i Volcanoes

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kīlauea. You also have the chance to catch Kīlauea in action, as molten lava oozes up from below the Earth’s crust.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Location: Hawaii

Top Experiences: See the lava flow, drive Crater Rim Drive and visit the viewpoints, hike the Kīlauea Iki Trail, drive Chain of Craters Road, hike out to the Pu’uloa Petroglyphs, and walk through the Thurston Lava Tube.

When to Go: All year

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

32. Hot Springs

Hot Springs National Park is one of the most accessible national parks in the US. This land was set aside in the 1800’s to preserve the hot springs, which were believed to have medicinal properties. Soaking in these hot springs is the best thing to do on a visit to this park, but you can also go hiking, biking, and birding.

Gulpha Gorge Bridge

Location: Arkansas

Top Experiences: Soak in the hot springs, visit Bathhouse Row, hike the Goat Rock Trail, hike the West Mountain Trail, go biking through the park, and see Balanced Rock.

When to Go: The park can be visited all year, but the weather is the best for outdoor activities May through October.

33. Indiana Dunes

This has been a popular beach destination for decades, but it is also one of the most biodiverse national parks in the USA. Exploring the sand dunes and relaxing on the beach are two of the best things to do in Indiana Dunes National Park, but hiking and bird watching are also top experiences in the park.

Indiana Dunes Hiking

Location: Indiana

Top Experiences: Relax on the beach, hike the Dunes Succession Trail , go bird watching, and visit Indiana Dunes State Park.

When to Go: May through September is the best time to go, for warm weather. If you like birding, May and October are top months to visit the park.

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Indiana Dunes National Park

34. Isle Royale

Isle Royale is an archipelago of over 400 islands. It’s remote location in northern Michigan makes in one of the least visited national parks in the USA. Top experiences include backpacking and camping, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.

Isle Royale

Location: Michigan

Top Experiences: Ride the ferry to Isle Royale (the main island in the park), hike the 150+ miles in the park, go on a multi-day backpacking trip, go canoeing or kayaking, go fishing, and keep an eye out for moose.

When to Go: June through October

35. Joshua Tree

With its desert scenery, hiking trails, rock climbing routes, hidden oases, scenic drives, and trees that look like they have been plucked from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, Joshua Tree National Park is a joy to explore.

Joshua Tree National Park

Location: California

Top Experiences: Hike the Hall of Horrors, see Skull Rock, explore Hidden Valley, hike to an oasis, hike to Arch Rock and Heart Rock, drive Geology Tour Road, visit the Cholla Cactus Garden, and go stargazing.

When to Go: October through May

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

36. Katmai

Katmai is the place to watch brown bears feasting on salmon. Every July, the salmon make a run up the Brooks River. Hundreds of brown bears arrive at Brooks Falls to fatten up on these fish, in preparation for the upcoming winter hibernation season. Watching this in action is one of the most unique national park experiences.

Brooks Falls Katmai National Park

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Bear watching at Brooks Falls, day trip to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, go fishing, take a flightseeing tour, visit Naknek Lake, hike to the top of Dumpling Mountain.

When to Go: late June through mid-September. July is typically the best month to watch the bears feasting on salmon.

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Katmai National Park

37. Kenai Fjords

Kenai Fjords National Park, which is located in Alaska, preserves and protects the Harding Icefield, which is the largest icefield that is located entirely within the United States.

Hiking and ice climbing on the Exit Glacier is a popular thing to do in this park, but Kenai Fjord is also one of the best US national parks for wildlife spotting. On land, you can see moose, black bears, brown bears, and wolves. Sea lions, seals, dolphins, humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, and fin whales can be spotted in the sea. In the sky, look for bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and tufted and horned puffins.

Kenai Fjords Sea Stacks

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Hike the Harding Icefield Trail, go ice climbing or glacier hiking on the Exit Glacier, take a wildlife cruise, walk the Glacier Overlook Trail, go glacier kayaking, go fishing, or take a flightseeing tour.

When to Go: May through September

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Kenai Fjords National Park

38. Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon preserves a glacially carved valley (named Kings Canyon) and Grant Grove, which is home to General Grant, the second largest tree in the world.

Kings Canyon Panoramic Overlook

Location: California

Top Experiences: Visit Grant Grove, drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway and visit Zumwalt Meadows.

When to Go: May through October

Plan Your Visit: One Day Itinerary for Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks

39. Kobuk Valley

Kobuk Valley National Park is located to the west of Gates of the Arctic. This national park preserves the enormous Great Kobuk Sand Dunes and caribou migration routes.

This park is located within the Arctic Circle, so like Gates of the Arctic, in early July, you can see the midnight sun. No roads lead into the park, so to get here, you will take a flight from a nearby town. It’s one of the least visited national parks in the USA, getting just a handful more visitors than Gates of the Artic.

Kobuk Dunes

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Go backpacking, boating, hiking, flightseeing, and wildlife watching in the summer months. You can also go hiking on the sand dunes.

When to Go: May through September

40. Lake Clark

Lake Clark National Park protects an area of land that is almost 3 million acres. The park is named for Lake Clark, but this park also contains several active volcanoes, a temperate rainforest, numerous lakes and rivers, three mountain ranges, and a tundra plateau. It is also one of the best places in the USA to see brown bears.

Things to Do Lake Clark National Park

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Take a flightseeing tour, go fishing, rafting, hiking, kayaking, and camping. Visiting Proenneke’s Cabin on Upper Twin Lake is another popular activity.

When to Go: June through September

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Lake Clark National Park

41. Lassen Volcanic

This national park protects Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world. In Lassen Volcanic, you’ll see steaming fumaroles, pretty lakes, colorful landscapes, and Lassen Peak.

Lassen Volcanic

Location: California

Top Experiences: Walk Bumpass Hell Trail, capture the reflection of Lassen Peak in Manzanita Lake, go for a scenic drive on Lassen Park Highway, visit Kings Creek Falls and Mill Creek Falls, visit Devils Kitchen and hike to the top of Lassen Peak.

When to Go: July through October

42. Mammoth Cave

With over 400 miles of explored caves and passageways, Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave system. On a visit to Mammoth Cave, explore this subterranean world of immense rooms, long canyons, and tight passageways.

Mammoth Cave

Location: Kentucky

Top Experiences: Take a ranger guided tour of the cave. Tours range from 30 minutes to 6 hours, depending on the tour and how much of the cave you want to explore.

When to Go: All year

Plan Your Visit: How to Pick the Best Cave Tour at Mammoth Cave

43. Mesa Verde

Located in southwestern Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the United States. This park preserves the ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings and archeological sites that are hundreds of years old. Short hikes, scenic drives, and viewpoints make the to-do list, but the best way to experience this park is to get up close with the cliff dwellings on a tour.

Mesa Verde

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Take a ranger guided tour of a cliff dwelling, see the Spruce Tree House, hike the Petroglyph Point Trail, drive Mesa Top Loop, explore the Far View sites, and hike the Point Lookout Trail.

When to Go: May through October, when the roads are open and you can tour the cliff dwellings.

Plan Your Visit: Top 10 Things to Do in Mesa Verde National Park

44. Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier is a glacier-capped, active volcano that can be seen from hundreds of miles away. In the summer months, the lower slopes are carpeted with wildflowers. With its old growth forests and network of hiking trails, this is an outdoor paradise for many travelers. It’s also one of the best hikes to visit if you are an avid hiker.

Things to Do in Mount Rainier

Location: Washington

Top Experiences: Hike the Skyline Trail, visit Sunrise and hike the Sourdough Ridge Trail, see Myrtle Falls, visit the Grove of the Patriarchs, hike the Wonderland Trail, ride the Mount Rainer Gondola to Crystal Mountain, and hike to a fire lookout tower.

When to Go: July through September

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Mount Rainier National Park

45. New River Gorge

For millions of years, the New River has been carving out a 73,000 acre gorge in West Virginia. The sandstone cliffs and whitewater rapids create world-class rock climbing and whitewater rafting destinations. Hiking and mountain biking trails wind through the forests, leading to overlooks and historic settlements.

Sandstone Falls

Location: West Virginia

Top Experiences: Do the Bridge Walk, go white water rafting, hike the Long Point Trail, drive Fayette Station Road, go mountain biking and rock climbing, enjoy the view from Grandview Overlook, hike the Castle Rock Trail, and visit Sandstone Falls.

When to Go: April through November

Plan Your Visit: New River Gorge National Park Itinerary for 1 to 3 Days

46. North Cascades

With jagged, snow-capped mountain peaks stretching as far as the eye can see, North Cascades is also called “The American Alps.” At times, it really does look like you are standing in Switzerland.

This is one of the most wild, rugged, and remote areas in the lower 48 states. The North Cascades Range, which runs through the park, is the largest glacial system in the United States outside of Alaska. In fact, there are an estimated 300+ glaciers here.

This is also consistently one of the least visited national parks in the USA. Despite its close proximity to Seattle, North Cascades National Park was the 7th on the least visited list for 2023, getting only 40,000 visitors.

Diablo Lake North Cascades

Location: Washington

Top Experiences: Go for a scenic drive along North Cascades Highway, hike to Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm, enjoy the views from the Washington Pass Overlook and the Diablo Lake Vista Point, hike the Maple Pass Loop, and visit Stehekin.

When to Go: June through September

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to North Cascades National Park

47. Olympic

Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse national parks in the United States. In just one national park, you can climb peaks as high as 8,000 feet, walk through old growth temperate rainforests, and stroll along beaches littered with driftwood.

Olympic National Park

Location: Washington

Top Experiences: Go hiking on Hurricane Ridge, photograph the moss dripping from the trees in the Hoh Rainforest, stroll along Rialto Beach until you get to Hole-in-the-Wall, hike to Mount Storm King, see lovely Sol Duc Falls and Marymere Falls, and hike along Shi Shi Beach.

When to Go: June through September

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Olympic National Park

48. Petrified Forest

Visiting Petrified Forest National Park is like taking a step back in time. The petrified logs date back hundreds of millions of years, to a time when this land was once lush and fertile. These trees fell and became the mineralized versions of their original forms even before dinosaurs walked the earth.

Petrified Forest National Park

Location: Arizona

Top Experiences: View the Painted Desert from the overlooks, see the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock, see the Teepees on Petrified Forest Road, walk the Blue Mesa Trail, hike the Blue Forest Trail, and see the petrified wood at Crystal Forest and along the Giant Logs Trail.

When to Go: September through May

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Petrified Forest National Park

49. Pinnacles

Pinnacles National Park preserves and protects the mountains on the eastern end of Salinas Valley. These mountains are the remnants of an extinct volcano. The rocky pinnacles are a popular rock climbing destination and wildflowers in the spring draw the biggest crowds of the year. This park is also one of the few locations where you can spot the California condor in the wild.

Bear Gulch Reservoir

Location: California

Top Experiences: See the wildflowers in the spring, hike the High Peaks Loop, hike the Bear Gulch Cave Trail, explore the Balconies cave, spot California condors, enjoy the view from Condor Gulch Overlook, and go rock climbing.

When to Go: October through June

50. Redwood

Redwood National and State Parks preserve some of the oldest and largest living creatures on Earth. Some of the redwoods in this park are more than 2,000 years old.

This complex of parks (Redwood National Park plus three state parks) protects about 45% of the remaining coastal redwood old-growth forests. These parks are also home to an abundance of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, coyote, Roosevelt elk, osprey, the Northern spotted owl, flying squirrels, California sea lions, and Pacific gray whales.

Redwood Park

Location: California

Top Experiences: Hike Tall Trees Grove, hike through Lady Bird Johnson grove, go for a scenic drive on Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway or Bald Hills Road, visit Fern Canyon, hike the Prairie Creek and Foothill Loop, and go whale watching (November, December, March, April).

When to Go: All year

51. Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks in the USA. There are sixty mountain peaks over 12,000 feet and many of these top out over 13,000 feet.

Rocky Mountain National Park Hike

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Drive Trail Ridge Road, hike to Emerald and Dream Lakes, drive Old Fall River Road, hike to Sky Pond or Chasm Lake, take a stroll around Bear Lake, and take your pick from more of the great hikes to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

When to Go: All year, but the best time for hiking is June through September

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park

52. Saguaro

This national park is named for the Saguaro Cactus, which only grows in the Sonoran Desert.


Location: Arizona

Top Experiences: Drive Bajada Loop Drive, walk the Valley View Overlook Trail and the Desert Discovery Nature Trail, see the Signal Hill Petroglyphs, and drive the Cactus Forest Drive. Just outside of the park is the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum which is well worth the time.

When to Go: October through April

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Saguaro National Park

53. Sequoia

At Sequoia National Park, you will walk among towering sequoia trees and see the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman.

Sequoia National Park

Location: California

Top Experiences: See the General Sherman Tree, hike Moro Rock, and visit Crescent Meadows.

When to Go: May through October

Plan Your Visit: One Day Itinerary for Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks

54. Shenandoah

Shenandoah National Park preserves a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Skyline Drive is the main thoroughfare through the park, a road that twists and turns for 105 miles from north to south. For those who want to explore the park beyond Skyline Drive, 500 miles of hiking trails travel through the park.

Shenandoah NP

Location: Virginia

Top Experiences: Drive Skyline Drive and visit the overlooks, hike to the top of Bearfence Mountain, hike Old Rag, visit Dark Hollow Falls, enjoy the view from Hawksbill Mountain, hike to Mary’s Rock, and hike a section of the Appalachian Trail.

When to Go: May through early November is a great time to visit Shenandoah, when the trees have leaves and the park is lush and green. In May, you can see wildflowers and the end of October is the best time to visit Shenandoah if you want to see fall colors.

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Shenandoah National Park

55. Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a picturesque wilderness of grasslands and badlands. Bison, feral horses, and elk roam the landscapes, hiking trails meander through the colorful bentonite hills, and scenic roads take visitors to numerous stunning overlooks.

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt

Location: North Dakota

Top Experiences: Hike the Caprock Coulee Trail, enjoy the view from Sperati Point and the Wind Canyon Trail, drive the Scenic Drive in both units, visit the Petrified Forest, hike the Ekblom and Big Plateau Loop, and visit River Bend Overlook.

When to Go: May through October

Plan Your Visit: How to Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park

56. Virgin Islands

With pristine beaches, snorkeling spots, and secluded coves, Virgin Islands National Park is one of the most beautiful parks we have visited.

Virgin Islands is one of the few parks that when you are here, it really does feel like you are on vacation. Sip on tropical drinks in the shade of a palm tree, go stand up paddle boarding, visit the historic landmarks, or go for a hike. Or, simply spend all of your time lounging under a palm tree on a white, sandy beach.

Virgin Islands

Location: US Virgin Islands

Top Experiences: Visit Trunk Bay and snorkel the underwater trail, visit Maho Beach, walk the Leinster Bay Trail and snorkel in Waterlemon Bay, visit the overlooks on North Shore Road, and visit beaches along the north shore of St. John.

When to Go: All year, but the best time to go is December through March, during the dry season.

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Virgin Islands National Park

57. Voyageurs

Voyageurs National Park protects the waterways, wetlands, and forests in northern Minnesota. This park sits right on the Canadian border and due to its location, the Northern Lights can be seen all year long, even in summer.


Location: Minnesota

Top Experiences: See the Northern Lights, go fishing, explore the park by houseboat or on a guided tour, see Junction Bay Falls and Kettle Falls, hike the Echo Bay Trail, enjoy the view from Anderson Bay Overlook.

When to Go: May through October

58. White Sands

White Sands National Park is home to the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. These pure white dunes create a fun place to explore, for both kids and adults. Hike out into the dunes, learn about the wildlife that calls this park home, and go sledding on sand as white as the snow.

White Sands

Location: New Mexico

Top Experiences: Drive Dunes Drive, hike the Alkali Flat Trail, go sledding in the gypsum dunes, walk the Dune Life Nature Trail, take a ranger-guided hike, and go backcountry camping.

When to Go: September through May

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in White Sands National Park

59. Wind Cave

Wind Cave National Park gets its name for its large, underground cavern and maze of passageways. What many people may not be aware of is that above ground, this park is home to one of the largest prairies in the USA, and with that comes amazing wildlife viewing opportunities.

This is a great place to see bison. The herds may not be as large as those you see in Yellowstone or Badlands, but if you choose to go hiking at Wind Cave, there’s a good chance you see bison right from the hiking trails.

Bison in Wind Cave

Location: South Dakota

Top Experiences: Take a cave tour, spot bison from the park roads, hike the Rankin Ridge Trail, and hike the Lookout Point and Centennial Trail Loop.

When to Go: April through October

Plan Your Visit: Best Things to Do in Wind Cave National Park

60. Wrangell-St. Elias

Take Yellowstone National Park, multiply it by 6, and that’s roughly the size of Wrangell – St. Elias. Throw in four mountain ranges (and some of the tallest peaks in North America), massive glaciers, wildlife, and about 100 miles of road, and you have a rugged, remote, spectacular wilderness to explore.

This is one of the most underrated national parks in the United States. Wrangell – St. Elias is full of wonderful adventures. Walk on a glacier, take an ice climbing lesson, hike to the highest peaks, and soar over the mountain ranges in an airplane.

View from the airplane

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Visit McCarthy and Kennecott, hike on the Root Glacier, take a flightseeing tour, visit the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, hike to an abandoned mine, drive Nabesna Road, and explore the backcountry.

When to Go: June through August

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

61. Yellowstone

People visit Yellowstone to see its wildlife and natural wonders. Hot springs, thermal pools, and bubbling mud pots can be seen throughout the park. Bison, elk, and bear frequently make appearances along the roads. Waterfalls can also be seen throughout the park and hiking trails lead into the wilderness, away from the busy roads.


Location: Wyoming and Montana

Top Experiences: Visit Old Faithful, see the Grand Prismatic Spring, spot wildlife in Lamar and Hayden Valleys, visit the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, hike the short trails in Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin.

When to Go: June through October

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Yellowstone National Park

62. Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is home to one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States. Rising from Yosemite Valley are El Capitan and Half Dome. Waterfalls tumble over the granite cliffs, hiking trails weave their way from the valley floor to top of the highest peaks, and massive sequoia trees form a quiet sanctuary within the park.


Location: California

Top Experiences: See Bridalveil Falls, hike the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls, visit Tuolomne Meadows, hike to the top of Half Dome, enjoy the view from Glacier Point and Tunnel View, hike the Yosemite Falls Trail, visit Taft Point, and visit Mariposa Grove.

When to Go: To visit Yosemite when all of the park roads are open, plan your visit from mid-May through September. To see the waterfalls at their peak, plan your visit for late spring to early summer.

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Yosemite National Park

63. Zion

Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. This relatively small park is packed with some of the most thrilling trails in the United States.

Hiking definitely tops the to-do list in Zion National Park, but you can also go on a very nice scenic drive, go horseback riding, rock climbing and canyoneering, photograph the extraordinary landscapes, and get a history lesson about this park.

Observation Point Zion

Location: Utah

Top Experiences: Hike Angels Landing, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, Riverside Trail, Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and Canyon Overlook. One of the best experiences in the park is hiking the Zion Narrows.

When to Go: Spring and fall for good weather; the winter months for lower crowds

Plan Your Visit: The Complete Guide to Zion National Park

US National Parks List: Most Visited National Parks in 2023

Here is a list of the US national parks by visitation in 2023.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains: 13.3 million
  2. Grand Canyon: 4.7 million
  3. Zion: 4.6 million
  4. Yellowstone: 4.5 million
  5. Rocky Mountain: 4.1 million
  6. Yosemite: 3.9 million
  7. Acadia: 3.9 million
  8. Grand Teton: 3.4 million
  9. Joshua Tree: 3.3 million
  10. Olympic: 2.9 million
  1. Glacier: 2.9 million
  2. Cuyahoga Valley: 2.9 million
  3. Indiana Dunes: 2.8 million
  4. Hot Springs: 2.5 million
  5. Bryce Canyon: 2.5 million
  6. Gateway Arch: 2.4 million
  7. New River Gorge: 1.7 million
  8. Mount Rainier: 1.7 million
  9. Hawai’i Volcanoes: 1.6 million
  10. Shenandoah: 1.6 million

US National Parks List: Least Visited National Parks in 2023

Want to visit a park without the crowds? Here is a list of the least visited US national parks in 2023.

  1. Gates of the Arctic: 11,000
  2. American Samoa: 12,100
  3. Lake Clark: 16,700
  4. Kobuk Valley: 17,600
  5. Isle Royale: 29,000
  6. Katmai: 33,700
  7. North Cascades: 40,000
  8. Wrangell-St. Elias: 78,000
  9. Dry Tortugas: 84,000
  10. Great Basin: 143,000
  11. Voyageurs: 221,000
  12. Guadalupe Mountains: 227,000
  13. Congaree: 250,000
  14. Channel Islands: 329,000
  15. Pinnacles: 341,000
  16. Virgin Islands: 344,000
  17. Black Canyon of the Gunnison: 357,000
  18. Kenai Fjords: 387,000
  19. Carlsbad Caverns: 394,000
  20. Redwood: 409,000

US National Parks List: By State

Next is a US national parks list, organized by state. Some states have many national parks (California tops the list with 9) and not every state has a national park.

Some national parks cross a border. For example: Yellowstone is mainly located in Wyoming but it also crosses the border into Montana and Idaho. So technically, Idaho has a national park.

Here is a list of states with no national parks: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Here are all 63 national parks, organized by state (the states are in alphabetical order). Only the states that contain a national park are on this list.

  • ALASKA: Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, and Wrangell-St. Elias
  • ARIZONA: Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro
  • ARKANSAS: Hot Springs
  • CALIFORNIA: Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Sequoia, and Yosemite
  • COLORADO: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain
  • FLORIDA: Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, and Everglades
  • HAWAII: Haleakala and Hawai’i Volcanoes
  • IDAHO: Yellowstone
  • INDIANA: Indiana Dunes
  • KENTUCKY: Mammoth Cave
  • MAINE: Acadia
  • MICHIGAN: Isle Royale
  • MINNESOTA: Voyageurs
  • MISSOURI: Gateway Arch
  • MONTANA: Glacier and Yellowstone
  • NEVADA: Great Basin
  • NEW MEXICO: Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands
  • NORTH CAROLINA: Great Smoky Mountains
  • NORTH DAKOTA: Theodore Roosevelt
  • OHIO: Cuyahoga Valley
  • OREGON: Crater Lake
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: Congaree
  • SOUTH DAKOTA: Badlands and Wind Cave
  • TENNESSEE: Great Smoky Mountains
  • TEXAS: Big Bend and Guadalupe Mounatains
  • UTAH: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion
  • VIRGINIA: Shenandoah
  • WASHINGTON: Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic
  • WEST VIRGINIA: New River Gorge
  • WYOMING: Grand Teton and Yellowstone
  • AMERICAN SAMOA: National Park of the American Samoa
  • US VIRGIN ISLANDS: Virgin Islands National Park

US National Parks that Require a Reservation

As of July 2024, there are ten National Parks and one National Monument that requires an advance reservation.

Here is the list of National Parks that require a reservation:

  • Acadia National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Haleakala National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Muir Woods

These parks either require a timed entry reservation, an advance reservation for a hiking trail, or an advance reservation to drive a scenic road. Learn more in our Guide to the National Parks that require advance reservations.

Yosemite | National Parks that require reservations

Yosemite National Park

How to Plan a National Parks Trip

There are several important steps to take while planning your trip. On our website, we have resources for every step of your planning process.

#1 Where Do Want to Go?

If you already know where you want to go, step #1 is done. But if you need some inspiration as to the best national parks to visit, you can get started with our National Parks Bucket List, which contains 15 amazing US parks to visit.

#2 When Should You Plan Your Trip?

With a few exceptions, most national parks have an optimal time to visit, based on factors such as weather, crowd levels, and road closures. In some parks, such as Grand Teton and Glacier, the main park roads are closed from late fall through spring, creating a very narrow window of time to visit these parks (and get to everything).

In our National Parks to Visit By Season guide, we list the prime time to visit each national park. This is a great resource for determining the best time to visit a specific national park, or you can look at our top picks for the month you prefer to plan your trip.

#3 Coming Up with an Itinerary

Figuring out how much time to spend in each park and coming up with an itinerary is a lot of work. Let us take the guesswork out of planning your trip with our sample national parks itineraries. We have LOTS of options, from one day itineraries in a park to much longer road trips that link several national parks together.

And if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section on any of our articles and guides.

US National Parks Checklist

Here is a US national parks checklist with all 63 national parks. For a free, printable PDF version of this checklist, click here.

US National Park Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

How many national parks are in the USA?

There are 63 national parks in the United States.

Is there a national park in every state?

No, there is not a national park in every state. 20 states do not have a national park: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

What state has the most national parks?

California has the most national parks, with a total of 9: Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Sequoia, and Yosemite.

What are the most visited national parks?

Visitation varies by year. In 2023, the top 5 most visited national parks in the United States were Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain National Parks.

What are the least visited national parks?

In 2023, the five least visited national parks in the USA were Gates of the Arctic, National Park of the American Samoa, Lake Clark, Kobuk Valley, and Isle Royal National Parks.

If you have any questions about these US national parks lists or how to plan a national parks trip, let us know in the comment section below.

More National Parks Resources

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

GREAT HIKES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS: From hikes to the tallest peaks to beautiful coast trails, read our Guide to the Best Day Hikes in the US National Parks. If you prefer to keep your hikes short and sweet, read our guide to the Best Short Hikes in the National Parks.

FOR FAMILIES: If you have children, here are 12 great national parks to take your kids.

UNITED STATES: To read all of our articles about the United States, read our United States Travel Guide.

US National Park Map Checklist


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Comments 18

  1. Avatar for Lisa Witt
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      No, we don’t have that. Ranking by those that are physically demanding would be challenging, since there are so many hiking/rafting/rock climbing/scuba diving/etc. experiences in the parks. But hardest to get to…those would be Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk, American Samoa, Lake Clark, and Katmai. Dry Tortugas is somewhat hard to get to as well. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Anusha Gopalakrishnan
    Anusha Gopalakrishnan

    Hi Julie, What do you think of Amache Historic site now established as the 64th newest NP? I am still unable to realize that War relocation area as a NP. But wanted to find your opinion on it. I was hoping to see it in your newsletter, but since it was not there, thought id check with you. Cheers!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Anusha. The Amache Historic Site is not a “National Park” it is a historical site, so there are still just 63 national parks at the moment. We don’t cover a lot of the other national park units, not unless they coincide with a trip that we are taking, so I am not familiar with this national park unit, but I did find this on the official website. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Shannon E.
    Shannon E.

    Hi there! I love your site! I am a teacher of 4th grade and we are getting ready to do a slideshow project on National Parks. I would love to print the map that you have on here but I cannot figure out where to download it at.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Shannon. If you scroll down (or use the table of contents at the top of the article) to “US National Parks Checklist” there is a link that takes you to the PDF of the map. This will give you a copy of the map and the checklist. If you still have trouble, let us know. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Christina Strong
  5. Avatar for Susan Gremillion
    Susan Gremillion

    I am in the beginning phase of creating a National Park class trip for my high school classes. I love our National Parks, and I want to share that love with my students!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      What a great idea! You can print the checklist off for your students and see where everyone has been. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Auntie Emmm
    Auntie Emmm

    Is there a reason why you don’t include Valley Forge National Historical Park? Is it because of the word “historical”? It’s been a national park since 1976, the year of the Bicentennial. I grew up about 10 minutes from the park.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, since it is a “historical park,” it is a national park unit, but it does not have the same designation as the 63 official “national parks.” You can learn more about this under the sections How Many National Park Units are in the USA and What Does it Take to Be a National Park. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Belinda
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  8. Avatar for Christine Hicks
    Christine Hicks

    This an absolutely amazing website! I had no idea where to begin my research for visiting the National Parks and until I found your website. Thank you for all your hard work in putting this together!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
    2. Avatar for claire
  9. Avatar for Amy

    Interesting National Parks list with so much detail! I love the US National Parks and can’t wait to explore more of them. Thanks as always for sharing quality content!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

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