There are 60 national parks in the United States, with the first one being created back in 1872, known today as Yellowstone National Park. They have some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country, protect thousands of animals and plant life and offers great experiences for travellers who want to stick to nature for their vacations. They are definitely worth visiting, and in this list, there are plenty of national parks that any travel should make sure to put on their list. The natural environment is protected to ensure it stays this way for thousands of years, so more people can enjoy the beauty of them.
But they aren’t the only parks in the United States worth visiting, as cities in the United States have really put a lot of effort into making their city parks something for people to plan their trip around. Think of New York and Central Park and how much attention that park has gone over the years. It’s on the bucket list of many people to see and offers plenty of amenities and activities. But it isn’t the only one worth seeing and, in this list, tourists will get a glimpse of some stunning city parks they should add to their travel list. Whether it’s a national park or a city park, parks in the United States are worth a visit for their natural beauty.
30 Zion National Park
This picture from Zion National Park shows off the great view a backpacker got of the canyon. It’s an amazing view inside Utah’s first national park and it’s the most popular one, as Slickrock peaks, hanging valleys and towering walls are the centrepieces of the Zion Canyon. According to The Telegraph, the walls can tower over 2,000 feet above the canyon floor. This selfie pretty much shows off every reason to head to Zion National Park and spend the day hiking through the amazing wilderness.
29 Bryce Canyon National Park
This photo from Bryce Canyon National Park showcases the main beautiful hoodoos that are constantly altered by the sun, wind and erosion. It’s a perfect example of nature in action, and if you take a hike through the park, you can see the changing of the landscape by nature of thousands of years. It doesn’t get the same number of visitors as Zion National Park does, its neighbour, but if you’re looking for something with fewer people, this would be the place. Due to its remote location, according to the National Park Service, it saw 2.3 million people last year.
28 North Cascades National Park
If you ever wanted to take the perfect picture of a national park, then North Cascades National Park is most likely the place you want to go to capture this similar picture. In fact, the lake in this photo is properly named Picture Lake, and rests in the valley of the mountain range with beautiful snow capped mountains and evergreens. According to the National Park Service, North Cascades National Park is nearly entirely protected by wilderness and so the park has few roads and other improvements, making it a nature lovers dream.
27 Arches National Park
This photo is exactly the reason you are heading to Arches National Park, but it’s even more amazing at night with the stars in the sky. It is exactly why these parks are so important, as they keep the natural light to just the stars, which makes for some amazing photos. According to the Telegraph, there are over 2,000 arches in the national park made out of sandstone, making it the perfect place for those who want to hike and see some natural landmarks.
26 Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park is perhaps one of the weirdest parks in the entire United States, at it isn’t what anyone would expect going to Colorado. You would expect snow capped mountains and tons of snow, but at Great Sand Dunes National Park, as shown in this picture, it’s plenty of sand and more beach-like atmosphere. According to National Geographic, the elevation of the park is over 8,000 feet, but instead of snow, it’s sand, perfect for sandboarding, as this tourist is doing.
25 Mammoth Cave National Park
Not every national park has their main attraction above ground, as according to National Geographic, over 400 miles of underground caves is what you will find in Mammoth Cave National Park. It’s actually the largest cave system in the world, perfect for exploring and is a World Heritage Site. The National Park Service offers plenty of cave tours for those who want to explore the underground caverns, with lighted tours taking over six hours to complete. Not all national parks have to be above ground to be stunning.
24 Central Park
Perhaps the most famous park in the world that isn’t a national park is Central Park in New York City. And this photo, taken from above, tells the entire story. According to the Smithsonian, Central Park is 843 acres, and is visited by 42 million people each year. It spans from 59th street on the south side to 110th street on the north side, giving you an idea of just how many city blocks the park stretches. It’s just simply amazing to see this massive green space in one of the most populated spaces in the world up against the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
23 Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the United States, and for good reason. There is Old Faithful, the water geyser that keeps a pretty decent time, and the entire area is basically one big super volcano. And then there are stunning photos like this one, with the sun peeking above the horizon and the geyser is close to erupting. According to the Telegraph, Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes, and it’s just one of the 10,000 thermal features in the park, including hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles.
22 Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii is a destination everyone dreams of in the cold weather months, but it could get a little hotter under the collar if you visit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, as according to the Telegraph, there are active lava flows ongoing. In fact, the National Park Service keeps an update of where the lava is flowing in the park on their website, so if you have ever wanted to get up close and personal with the insides of the Earth, you can do so safely at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
21 Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree was first a national monument before it became a national park in 1994, encompassing an area in California that is over 790,000 acres of land. It’s so large that according to the Telegraph, it has two deserts, including the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, and Little San Bernardino Mountains traverse the southwest edge of the park. This photo shows the terrain tourists could experience, as the rocky landscape stretches for miles. If you are camping, ensure you get permission to use a stove, as open fires are not permitted due to the dryness of the park.
20 Grand Canyon National Park
Another world famous national park located in the United States is the Grand Canyon National Park, which of course, is home to the Grand Canyon. In this photo, this tourist is taking in the stunning view of the canyon from high above, getting a great view of how the rocks and Earth have been moved by thousands of years of glacier erosion. According to the Telegraph, Grand Canyon National Park is the second most visited national park in the entire system, with over five million people visiting a year.
19 Yosemite National Park
A visit to Yosemite National Park will leave you with plenty of natural wonders to see, but perhaps one of the most famous is the fire waterfall. Except, it isn’t really fire, but rather, perfect timing with the sun going down and reflecting on the water. The Horsetail Fall, according to the National Parks Service, reflects orange at sunset in mid to late February, and this picture perfectly captures what it would be like if the 1,000-foot waterfall was actually made of lava.
18 Acadia National Park
In main you will find the beautiful Acadia National Park, which is the home of the Bass Harbor Head Light, a lighthouse at the entrance to Bass Harbor, which according to the National Parks Service, cost the government $5,000 to build. Today, however, it’s a private residence, but tourists can still get pretty close and take amazing photos such as this one, especially at sunset when the sun is beaming off the rocks. Located in Main, Acadia National Park was the first national park east of the Mississippi River.
17 Forsyth Park
There are plenty of beautiful city parks outside of Central Park, and Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia is one of them. It is best known for this water fountain, which according to the Thrillist, was built in 1858 and was modelled after other fountains in the world in Paris and Peru. It is located in the Historic Downtown District and has plenty of walking paths and gardens to explore, but the centerpiece is for sure the fountain, which would be a perfect location to take a rest and relax.
16 Sequoia National Park
Want to feel small? Head to Sequoia National Park and stand beside some of the massive giant sequoia trees, including the German Sherman tree, which is the largest tree on Earth. According to the National Parks Service, there are over 202,430 acres of giant sequoia trees growing in Sequoia National Park, and as this picture shows, they are truly giants when compared to as, as shown by the man sitting on the ground in what is the massive base of one of the giant trees.
15 Falls Park
There is a very simple reason why Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is called Falls Park, as there are plenty of waterfalls in the park that looks like miniature rapids. According to the Thrillist, over 400 gallons of water drop 10 feet per second through Falls Park, and in this photo, you get a good view of just how large the falls are and the park around it. It’s not a massive waterfall, but it’s still a great place to take a walk on the paths provided and get a great view of the city from the observation deck.
14 National Mall
One park that many people don’t think of is the one where thousands of people gather every four years to welcome in their new leader, and where some of the most important monuments are in the United States. The National Mall and Memorial Park is home to some of the United States most important monuments, such as the Washington Monument in this photo, and the US Capitol building in the distance. It’s looked after by the National Park Service and has the reflecting pool running nearly the entire width of it.
13 Crater Lake National Park
Located in Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is home to the lake of the same name, which has the impressive record being the deepest lake in the United States. According to the National Park Service, the Crater Lake is 1,949 feet deep at its deepest point, which also makes it the ninth deepest lake in the world. This photo gives you a stunning view of the lake and the island in the center, which is known as Wizard Island, where the cone of the island is a capped volcanic crater.
12 Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This photo is from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has the distinction of being a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the National Park Service, Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States, with over 11.3 million people visiting back in 2016. With over 522, 000 acres, it is one of the largest protected areas in the United States. It has plenty of natural things to see, including things like waterfalls.
11 Prospect Park
In New York, Central Park gets all the love, but Prospect Park, located in Brooklyn, is the counterpart to it and it’s a beautiful park as well. It has open-air venues for concerts, a zoo, ice rink and even a carousel, everything you may find in the big Manhattan park, without being in the middle of all the traffic. In this photo, you see the great view you can get from Prospect Park of the Brooklyn skyline. It was named a New York historical landmark in 1975 and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
10 Death Valley National Park
For the largest national park in the mainland United States, visit Death Valley National Park. According to the National Park Service, it’s also the hottest, driest and lowest of all national parks in the United States. This photo shows just how dry it can be, as it’s pretty much a desert, with plenty of challenging landscapes to cross. It runs as the interface zone between the Great Basin and Mojave deserts, and because of its location, it’s known as a dark sky park.
9 Denali National Park and Preserve
This photo is a beautiful photo of Mount Denali, located in Denali National Park and Preserve. It’ perhaps best known as the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet, according to the National Park Service. Located in the state of Alaska, Denali National Park only has one road that travels through the park but is known for its trails, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, and of course, this stunning view of a high peak. Over 642,000 people visited last year alone.
8 Golden Gate Park
These two people have the right idea when visiting Golden Gate Park. Despite the name, it doesn’t actually go near or under the Golden Gate Bridge, but that still doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a bunch to see and do, as Segway tours are available which includes stops at a bison farm, Academy of Science, the de Young Museum, and pictured here, the Conservatory of Flowers, according to the Thrillist. With plenty of gardens and stops along the hour long tour, there is something for everyone in this over 1,000-acre park.
7 Redwood National Park
These Redwood trees make for an amazing place to walk and are one of the tallest trees in the world. Redwood National Park, as well as the state parks on the coast of California, protect 45 percent of all remaining Redwood trees in the world, according to Redwood National Park visitor guide, which makes up over 139,000 acres of land. It’s purely amazing to see these gigantic trees rise from the floor and into the sky and make us look small when taking a walk through the national park.
6 Olympic National Park
This traveller has the right idea when taking a photo in Olympic National Park. Get the best view and show off everything that makes Olympic National Park amazing. From mountains to the forest to the beautiful water, Olympic National Park has something for everyone and all types of terrain to travel on, including coastline. According to the Telegraph, Mount Olympus makes its home in the national park, as does plenty of other 7,000-foot mountains. Most of the park has been left untouched, so it’s one of the natural beauties still in the national parks system.
5 Griffith Park
Griffith Park doesn’t get the same attention Central Park does in New York, but the Los Angeles based park should get more attention, as according to the Thrillist, it is five times the size of Central Park and also comes with this amazing view of Los Angeles, which looks even more amazing at night with all the lights on in the big city. It’s hard to believe that amidst all the track and stardom of Los Angeles is this amazing park, but Griffith is definitely something to check out, as it includes the LA Zoo and the famous Griffith Observatory.
4 Grand Teton National Park
This photo is exactly why you would head to Grand Teton National Park, as the mountain range is simply stunning to look at. Imagine taking a dip in the water in the summer months, spending the day at this beach or on this lake paddling a boat and having these mountains as your background. The national park is one of the most visited parks for mountaineering, and according to the National Park Service, there are more than 1,000 drive-in campsites and over 200 miles of hiking trails.
3 Everglades National Park
The Florida Everglades house some pretty dangerous creators, as shown by this picture, as crocodiles call this place home and are available to look at safely from these pathways. According to the National Park Service, the national park is home to many endangered species, including the Florida panther and crocodile, along with 350 species of birds. The wetlands may not be the many people’s idea of a national park experience, but it’ still doesn’t take away from the beauty of the park and what can be found there.
2 Balboa Park
Balboa Park isn’t located anywhere near Philadelphia or named for the Rocky character, but rather is located in San Diego and is over 1,200 acres and one of the most culturally diverse parks on the west coast. According to the Thrillist, Balboa Park has 15 museums and is the home of the San Diego Zoo, which has giant pandas. This photo is of the Botanical Gardens, just another thing for tourists to check out when visiting California and taking a trip, which would be more than a day trip, to Balboa Park.
1 Forest Park
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, based on the name of the park, but Forest Park is the largest wooden urban park in the United States, according to the Thrillist. Located in Portland, Oregon, this park does some amazing open space as well with plenty of green grass to spend the day on, which many beautiful gardens. It could easily be called a breath of fresh air park, as it’s just a calm place to visit, with horseback riding, hiking and biking typical daily adventures available.