An overnight trip to a national park is the perfect way to get away from the chaotic energy of everyday life. There's something truly magical about being surrounded by nature, and national parks offer some of the best scenery in the country. Whether you're looking to hike among the towering mountains of Colorado or explore a secluded forest in California, there's a national park that's just right for you. And an overnight trip is the perfect way to make the most of your time in nature. With no worries about returning to civilization before dark, you can wander trails at your leisure and take in all the park has to offer.

The national parks of the United States offer stunning landscapes, thousands of miles of hiking, fall leaf peeping, and countless lakes for fishing and are the perfect place for an overnight adventure to wherever the road may take you.

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10 Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and each year nearly 4 million guests visit for hiking excursions and overnight trips. Located on the coast of Maine, the park is home to natural landscape features such as Bubble Rock and Thunder Hole, pristine lakes, and numerous scenic overlooks.

Visitors can hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain, paddle along the shoreline of Frenchman Bay, or explore the many trails that wind through the park. There are also plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, including moose, eagles, and seals.

The park has over 158 miles of trails to venture down, and when you’re done for the day, you can set up camp at Blackwoods Campground, which has 281 campsites to choose from (60 RV, 221 tent only). At Blackwoods, you’re just a short walk to the ocean and an evening of watching the stars along the water.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $30 / per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: May - October

9 Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah is a gorgeous park that is sometimes overlooked thanks to the popularity of Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, respectively. The park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, as well as a variety of other geological formations. The most famous of these is Delicate Arch, which is often featured in photos and videos around the world and has become a symbol of the park and Utah itself.

Visitors can hike through the park's miles of hiking trails, camp overnight at the aptly named Devils Garden Campground, or take a scenic drive and visit each of the famous viewpoints in the park. If you’re traveling with young children, consider attending the ranger-led programs available, such as guided hikes and Junior Ranger activities. Also within driving distance are Nevada and Colorado to continue your adventure.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $30 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: April - October

8 Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is one of the most stunning natural wonders in the United States. Carved over millions of years by the Colorado River, the canyon is a mile deep and up to eighteen miles wide in places.

Every year, millions of people come to witness the awe-inspiring vistas of the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and it makes for the perfect overnight trip. The best way to experience the grandeur of the canyon is to take a hike down into it. There are a variety of trails to choose from, including the iconic (and strenuous) Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails. No matter which trail you take, you are sure to be amazed by the natural beauty of the canyon. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as it gets extremely hot during the popular summertime months.

Staying at, or near, Grand Canyon National Park is an overnight trip experience everyone should have at least once. Desert View Campground provides easy access to the canyon for early morning starts and makes for a great base camp for traveling around to other nearby attractions.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $35 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: April - October

7 Denali National Park And Preserve

Nestled in the heart of Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve is truly a nature lover's paradise. From its towering mountains and pristine valleys to its abundant wildlife, the park offers something for everyone. Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails, take a scenic drive through the park, or even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

The park is six million acres of wild land, which grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep all call home. Because of the abundance of natural life in the area, guests should consider a guided wildlife tour for photography. Visitors also enjoy stunning views of the Alaska Range, which includes Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), the tallest mountain in North America at 20,310 feet tall.

Although most of Denali is open for backpacking and there are a number of campgrounds for overnight stays, families or those with young children will definitely enjoy Riley Creek Campground, which is close to the highway, has a close by camp store, but still preserves enough of the rugged beauty to make a perfect overnight trip location.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $15 per individual
  • Camp Season: May - October

6 Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is over 400 square miles of stunning mountain terrain in Colorado. The park is a must-see for anyone visiting Colorado. With its towering peaks and majestic forests, the park is truly a sight to behold.

There are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and bird watching. Even just driving through the park is an enjoyable experience, as there are numerous pull-offs where visitors can take in the stunning scenery.

A popular and quick hike in the park is the trail near Bear Lake. It’s a short but amazingly beautiful hike that’s perfect for an afternoon excursion with the family. The Alberta Falls and Alpine Ridge trails are also extremely popular and offer plenty of photography moments.

At night, settle down at the Moraine Park campground on the east side of the park for stargazing and s’mores around the fire pit.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $30 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: Year round

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5 Grand Teton National Park

To state it plainly: Grand Teton National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The towering mountains, pristine waters, and abundant wildlife make it a must-see destination for anyone interested in nature.

The best way to experience Grand Teton National Park is by hiking or biking through it, and there are plenty of trails to choose from, ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes. And, no matter which trail you take, you're sure to be rewarded with stunning views. If you're lucky, you might even spot some of the park's resident wildlife, including elk, bighorn sheep, bears, and, if you’re lucky, a bald eagle.

For an easy in-and-out basecamp, try Jenny Lake campground, which is a short distance from the water and gives guests a pristine landscape highlighted by Teewinot Mountain and Mount St. John. Whether you're an experienced hiker or just enjoying a scenic walk, Grand Teton National Park is sure to impress.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $35 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: Year round

4 Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is over 260,000 acres of wildflower meadows and glacial formations surrounding the state’s highest peak, Mount Rainier. The towering mountain is an incredible sight, and there are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy.

Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in the park, and there are trails of varying difficulty levels to suit all abilities. For those looking for a more relaxing experience, there are also several scenic drives that wind through the park. Wildlife watching is another popular activity, and lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of deer, elk, or even a black bear.

The legendary Wonderland Trail is over 90 miles long and circles the mountain. That may be a bit too much for an overnight experience, so try Nisqually Vista, which is an easy trail that the entire family can enjoy without sacrificing landscape quality. And when you’re done for the day, pitch your tent at the Ohanapecosh Campground for great sleep and easy access out of the area in the morning.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $35 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: Year round

3 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In 2021, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee saw over 14 million travelers visit its borders which is more than Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon combined. With its stunningly beautiful landscape and abundant wildlife, it's no wonder that people flock to the park every year.

There are many different things to see and do in the park, from hiking and camping to fishing and horseback riding. This is also a perfect place to chase waterfalls with iconic locations such as Abrams Falls, Grotto Falls, and Ramsey Cascades. Fun day hikes such as Clingmans Dome Trail and Chimney Tops Trail are perfect for short escapes into nature.

Cades Cove and Elkmont campgrounds are popular overnight locations that will give you and your crew a great start into the Smokies in the morning and a comfortable place to return to in the evening.

  • Park Entrance Fee: No Entrance Fee until 2023
  • Camp Season: Year round

2 Glacier National Park

Situated in the northwestern corner of Montana, Glacier National Park is home to a diverse array of landscapes, including forests, meadows, lakes, and mountains. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, such as hiking on over 700 miles of trails, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching.

For a fun day hike, enjoy Grinnell Glacier, which takes you to the foot of one of the park’s most beloved glacial points. The trail meanders around lakes, cliffs, and alpine meadows to give you some of the most dazzling views in the entire park without expending too much daylight or energy.

Apgar Campground is the easiest place to set up camp for a quick visit to the park. It’s within walking distance of Apgar Village, the park entrance, and visitor shuttles. It’s convenient and will have you in the park and back out on the road with minimal effort.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $35 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: Late Spring to Early Fall

1 Yosemite National Park

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California. With its soaring cliffs, rushing waterfalls, and abundance of wildlife, Yosemite is an experience of a lifetime.

Visitors can explore the park's many hiking trails, go for a swim in one of the lakes or rivers, or take a scenic drive through the majestic landscape. There are also numerous campgrounds located within the park, offering visitors the chance to experience Yosemite's natural beauty up close.

Of the many miles of trails in Yosemite, the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is one of the easiest and most popular hikes that the entire crew will enjoy while visiting the park. The Mirror Lake Loop is another easy to moderately difficult trail that the entire family can undertake together without losing too much daylight.

When it’s all said and done, head to the Upper Pines Campground, which is popular and has a family-friendly vibe to it. It’s spread out but cozy, and you can get in and out with no problem.

  • Park Entrance Fee: $35 per private vehicle
  • Camp Season: Late Spring to Fall