Best national parks in the US


The National Park System is the USA’s satisfaction and pleasure, parcelling up the better of America’s yard and offering infinite alternatives for journey. There are 63 parks in whole, defending colossal mountain ranges, forests, wetlands and coastlines, and each has its personal peculiar charms. From geothermal wonders in Yellowstone to the rugged shores of Acadia, these are the finest national parks in the United States, providing a wonderful snapshot of North America’s nice landscapes.

Main picture: Zion National Park, Utah (Getty Images)

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Yosemite Valley is home to one of the best national parks in America
Yosemite Valley with El Capitan on the left (Alamy)

1. Yosemite National Park, California

Even in California — a state blessed with no fewer than 9 national parks — Yosemite shines. The park’s poster little one is Yosemite Valley, the place titanic peaks similar to El Capitan and Half Dome seem to face nearly shoulder to shoulder and Bridalveil Fall crashes over 620 ft.

Tunnel View is the most well-known outlook, however you’ll have extra elbow room when you set your sights elsewhere. Lose the crowds on epic trails wriggling by way of the High Sierra or the wildflower-flecked Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Where to remain Tenaya Lodge has a contact of rustic luxurious. Expect country-style rooms and suites with loads of mod cons, plus a graceful spa for unwinding after a hike.

Yosemite Park Tours

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse in Acadia National Park, Maine
The Bass Harbor Head lighthouse in Acadia National Park (Alamy)

2. Acadia National Park, Maine

Maine’s zigzagging Atlantic shoreline is even longer than California’s and Acadia National Park showcases the better of it. It’s all craggy headlands, granite mountains and forest, with pin ups together with the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse Station, a Nineteenth-century beacon on Mount Desert Island. Some 158 miles of mountain climbing trails get you to the coronary heart of it: drink in stellar views of the coast on the Great Head Trail or stand up excessive on treks throughout Cadillac Mountain.

Where to remain Glamping specialists Under Canvas are taking up the US and their newest providing is in Surry, Maine. Plush safari-style tents are lined up by the waterfront and there are fireplace pits for late-night s’mores.

Acadia National Park Tours

Zion National Park in Utah
Among the peaks in Zion National Park (Getty Images)

3. Zion National Park, Utah

Utah’s epic rockscapes are organised into 5 national parks: Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Zion. All are spectacular, however the sandstone towers of Zion simply nudge it into the prime spot. A trek by way of The Narrows is bucket-list stuff: you’ll observe the curve of Zion Canyon at floor degree, wading by way of Virgin River waters that typically attain to your chest. The Angels Landing Trail is one other huge hitter, swirling to heady heights of 5,790 ft and affording jaw-dropping views over the park’s rocky spires.

Where to remain Zion National Park Lodge will get you as shut as attainable to these rugged pink rocks. Rooms and cabins are cosy and wood-clad and the Red Rock Grill has a menu impressed by the Southwest.

Zion National Park Tours

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park in Washington
Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park (Getty Images)

4. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park scoops up the better of the Pacific Northwest’s wilderness — suppose skyscraping peaks, glacial lakes, rugged shores and woodland. It’s finest seen from the water, with paddlers taking to sprawling Lake Crescent, or wiggling their means alongside the Elwha River. The old-growth Hoh Rainforest is one other of America’s nice wonders. Explore it on the Hoh River Trail, which routes by way of Sitka spruces and pink cedars inexperienced with moss.

Where to remain Operating year-round and inside the park correct, Kalaloch Lodge was constructed from driftwood timber. Opt for a Lodge View Room overlooking Kalaloch Creek.

Olympic National Park

An elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
An elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Getty Images)

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

This is America’s most visited national park — and little marvel. Rippling throughout the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Smokies serve up unimaginable views and a degree of biodiversity that’s earned them Unesco standing. The park is house to round 130 species of tree, in addition to black bears, elk and 11 sorts of bat. Cades Cove Loop Road is a favoured drive for wildlife recognizing, although it has the visitors to match its celeb standing. Rich Mountain Road is a quieter different.

Where to remain Spread out over 4,200 superb acres, Blackberry Farm is one for foodies. It has a trio of eating places whipping up Smoky Mountain delicacies from elements foraged and farmed onsite.

Walking in Great Smoky Moutains

Kayaking on Nine Mile Pond in the Everglades in Florida
Kayaking on Nine Mile Pond in the Everglades (Alamy)

6. Everglades National Park, Florida

Mangroves and cypress bushes plug the waters of Everglades National Park. A wetland wilderness of mammoth proportions, it’s well-known as the solely place on Earth the place the American alligator and the American crocodile coexist. Keep your eyes peeled for critters as you observe boardwalk trails or kayak by way of these wild, watery channels. The Nine Mile Pond paddling route is well-liked, passing marshlands and inserting you in prime bird-watching territory.

Where to remain On Florida’s aptly named Paradise Coast you’ll discover Port of the Islands Everglades Adventure Resort. It’s a behemoth of a resort complicated with a pool, sports activities services and brilliant suites.

White Dome Geyser in Yellowstone National Park
White Dome Geyser in Yellowstone National Park (Alamy)

7. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho/Montana/Wyoming

The matriarch of America’s National Park Service, Yellowstone was the very first website in the system, established in 1872. It brings collectively gurgling mud pots, geysers and kaleidoscopic springs and is roamed by the gray wolf, reintroduced right here in 1995. Most guests come in summer time, amassing on boardwalks skirting Grand Prismatic Spring and watching the waters of Old Faithful Geyser shoot in direction of the sky. But Yellowstone in winter is a distinct beast: one the place the swimming pools of Mammoth Hot Springs hiss into close to silence and the place bison and elk stand stark towards a snowy canvas.

Where to remain Named for the park’s famed geyser, Old Faithful Inn is a log resort that oozes Old West spirit. The foyer’s colossal stone fire is a spotlight.

Yellowstone National Park Tours

Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota
Sunset in Voyageurs National Park (Getty Images)

8. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

This Minnesota park is just not usually excessive on travellers’ hit lists — however it ought to be, not least as a result of it’s one among the few locations in the States the place you would possibly glimpse the northern lights. Its ink-black evening skies are excellent for stargazing too. Forty per cent of the park is water — from huge lakes to wetlands — so the finest strategy to discover is by boat. Guided excursions run from late spring by way of to autumn.

Where to remain Thunderbird Lodge sits proper on Rainy Lake, a stone’s throw from the park. Its cabins are decidedly comfortable, inviting lazy afternoons spent holed up, consuming in views of the water.

Hiking on the Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
Hiking on the Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park (Getty Images)

9. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The fabled Rocky Mountains start in Canada and sweep proper all the way down to New Mexico — and this national park protects a mighty slice of them. Trail Ridge Road is the stuff of legend, skimming alongside the peaks from Estes Park to Grand Lake and placing drivers above the timberline for a minimum of 11 miles. On foot, the four-mile Emerald Lake Trail punches above its weight in terms of watery wonders, from Tyndall Creek to Emerald Lake itself. Incredible wildlife like mountain lions roam these elements too.

Where to remain The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is finest referred to as the inspiration for Stephen King novel The Shining. Spooks-aside, the 1909 property is a comfortable base replete with old-world touches like brick fireplaces and chintzy wallpaper.

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Skywalk seen from the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park
The Skywalk seen from the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park (Alamy)

10. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The mighty Grand Canyon wants little introduction. Its burnt-red rock, chiselled by the Colorado River over hundreds of thousands of years, is one among America’s hero sights. Its sheer scale is finest appreciated from above so, when you’ve received a abdomen for heights, make for the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This horseshoe-shaped platform at the West Rim juts out above the gorge, granting heart-stopping views. Easy entry from cities similar to Flagstaff means the canyon’s South Rim is the most-visited spot — however the quieter, extra tough and prepared North Rim is nicely value the pilgrimage.

Where to remain If it’s a back-to-nature expertise you’re after, you’ll be able to’t go flawed with Clear Sky Resorts Sky Domes. These tremendous swish pods have skylights so you’ll be able to stare upon the stars.

Grand Canyon National Park Tours

Mount Jackson in Glacier National Park
Mount Jackson in Glacier National Park (Alamy)

11. Glacier National Park, Montana

Visit Glacier National Park and also you’ll see why Montana is named Big Sky Country. The skies listed below are huge certainly — broad open and studded with stars — and so too are the lakes, the forests and the nice, jagged mountains. The solely factor that’s sadly shrinking is the glaciers themselves, so make time to see these ephemeral beauties when you nonetheless can. You can see the Jackson Glacier from the Going-to-the-Sun highway, a scenic drive that routes by way of the mountains.

Where to remain Plonked proper between the peaks and on Swiftcurrent Lake, the Many Glacier Hotel is the place for putting views in a pleasingly woodsy setting.

Glacier National Park Tours

Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California, USA
Kayaks and boats off Santa Cruz island in Channel Islands National Park (Alamy)

12. Channel Islands National Park, California

Standing in the shadows Yosemite and Joshua Tree, Channel Islands National Park is commonly missed — although its 5 islands, organized like an emerald necklace in the Pacific, are an adventurer’s paradise. Snorkelers exploring waters close to Santa Barbara and Anacapa will see rippling kelp forests, whereas eager surfers can catch stellar waves off Santa Cruz. Whale-watching excursions are a well-liked exercise too.

Where to remain The retro trailers at Waypoint Ventura are effortlessly cool — and you may even deliver your personal classic experience when you’re road-tripping Highway 1.

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park
Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park (Getty Images)

13. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

In the far southwestern nook of Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is a glimpse right into a Native American tradition that flourished right here greater than 1,000 years in the past. The Ancestral Pueblo individuals left behind an unimaginable maze of cliff dwellings that unfold out like tiny castles in the excessive desert. Explore them on guided excursions and strike out on hikes that take in canyons, historic petroglyphs and pinyon-juniper forest.

Where to remain Open from spring by way of to autumn, Far View Lodge has charming Western-style decor and an in-park location. The Kiva Deluxe View Rooms promise panoramas throughout the mesa.

Mesa Verde National Park Tours

Gates of the Arctic National Park
Exploring the Gates of the Arctic National Park (Getty Images)

14. Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska

Due to its remoteness, Gates of the Arctic is one among the least visited national parks in the system. This is actual, uncooked, uncharted Alaska and there aren’t any roads, campgrounds or customer centres inside its eight million acres. Instead, its glacial valleys, razor-sharp peaks and huge lakes are left untouched and wildlife like lynx and caribou roam undisturbed. Guided expeditions discover the park, which is just accessible on foot or by flight.

Where to remain Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge is a fly-in lodge constructed for outside journey. Make the most of organised excursions from wildlife watching to canine sledding.

Alaska tours

Take me there

Inspired to go to the US however but to e book your journey? Here are the finest packages from TUI Holidays* and BA Holidays*. Luxury journey operator SevenTravel* has itineraries which characteristic visits and experiences to numerous national parks, similar to the final southwest USA highway journey which incorporates visits to Zion, Capitol Reef and Arches National Park.


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