The Coolest National Park in Every State



Slide 1 of 51: America’s National Parks are a treasure. A Ken Burns documentary called them "America’s Best Idea." While there are currently 62 of the “big” National Parks (think Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon), the National Park Service is filled with National Forests, National Battlefields, National Historic Landmarks, and more. Some places focus more on natural beauty, while others truly celebrate the history of our great country. While not every state is home to one of the official national parks, each state in the union has at least one site that is run by the National Park system that you should put on your list. And often, the smaller spots are less heavily visited, so you really get a chance to learn and explore something knew. If you’ve got kids, don’t forget to ask about the Junior Ranger program. Kids can do worksheets and learn about the parks to keep them engaged, and they’ll be rewarded with a fancy badge (and sometimes a patch!). So while COVID-19 might be keeping many of us close to home and socially distancing from people, once it is safe to hit the road again to travel, put these spectacular spots on your must-see list. For now, some of the parks are closed due to COVID restrictions, or have limited hours, so make sure to call ahead.
Slide 2 of 51: Russell Cave National Monument This hole in the ground has some major historical importance. Here you'll get to see how prehistoric man lived 10,000 years ago in this cave shelter. This spot is quite off the beaten path in Bridgeport, AL, but totally worth the visit. Make sure you ask the park rangers to demo some of the prehistoric weaponry, it's really neat.
Slide 3 of 51: Denali National Park The Land of the Midnight Sun is home to eight National Parks and a total of 17 sites run by the National Park Service. You can't go wrong with any of them, as they are all filled with some of the most pristine natural beauty anywhere in the world. But Denali is home to North America's tallest peak (the mountain previously also known as Mt. McKinley), and has six million acres of wild land to discover.
Slide 4 of 51: Grand Canyon National ParkClose to six million people visit this unbelievable destination every year for a reason. Covering 277 miles of land, this expansive park is home to the stunning canyon and rock formations like you've never seen before. Hike, camp, or take a river rafting trip during your stay.

Slide 5 of 51: Hot Springs National ParkLocated in the town of Hot Springs this park has natural beauty, to be sure, but is on the map as a former tourist destination for its famed bathhouses. These buildings took advantage of the thermal springs, and were built above them. You can't hop in a spring, but you can book a visit to one of two of the spas that are still operational today.
Slide 6 of 51: Yosemite National Park Like Alaska, California has a lot of National Parks to choose from, and you can't go wrong with a trip to Alcatraz, Death Valley, or Joshua Tree. And the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the most visited spot in the National Park Service in 2019. But if you are looking for a big old national park experience, head to Yosemite. There are waterfalls around practically every corner and mountains that will take your breath away, and ancient Sequoia trees that practically glow in the sunshine.
Slide 7 of 51: Mesa Verde National ParkThis park houses almost 5,000 archeological sites, including the famed cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo people who lived here from 600 to 1300 CE.
Slide 8 of 51: Weir Farm National Historic SiteAt the Wilton home of impressionist artist J. Alden Weir , you'll see some of his art, but you can also explore the 60 acres of woods and fields that inspired his work.
Slide 9 of 51: First State National Historical ParkThis park is actually seven different locations, scattered around the state of Delaware, including the picture Fort Christina in Wilmington where the Swedes originally landed and established their colony, but you can also visit the Green in Dover where Delaware became the "First State."

Slide 10 of 51: Dry Tortugas National Park The Everglades are enormous and cover much of the Southern part of Florida and should definitely be on your list, but if you are looking for a completely unique and cool National Park experience, this one is it. In order to get to Fort Jefferson, you have to take a ferry (that runs once a day) from Key West, or find a seaplane, and head hours out into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Once at the fort you can explore the grounds and snorkel along the crystal clear coral reef and see everything from sharks to sea turtles.
Slide 11 of 51: Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park Explore many Atlanta sites of importance to this powerful leader of the modern civil rights movement, from the Baptist church where he lead with his father to his birth home.
Slide 12 of 51: Hawai'i Volcanoes Normally you'd run far away from an active volcano, but here you can sometimes see the lava slowly flow like a river into the ocean. When the lava isn't flowing, you can still see the amazing craters and unusual terrain that they've left in their wake.
Slide 13 of 51: Craters of the Moon National Monument It's not hard to see why this park got its name. Lava flow left behind some truly bizarre landscaping details that actually look more like the surface of the moon than Earth.
Slide 14 of 51: Lincoln Home National Historic Site Explore the Springfield home of President Abraham Lincoln, where he spent 17 years of his life raising his family.

Slide 15 of 51: Indiana Dunes National ParkFormerly a National Lakeshore, this 15 mile stretch along Lake Michigan got an upgrade in 2019 to National Park. There are many ways to get to the lake, but the wooden staircases that safely traverse the dunes are the most fun (and exhausting).
Slide 16 of 51: Effigy Mounds National MonumentThis scenic preserved space highlights the Effigy Mounds created by American Indian tribes into animal shapes.
Slide 17 of 51: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve While land that looked like this pictured used to cover 170 million miles of America, very little of it still exists today. This preserve in the Kansas Flint Hills helps keep what remains in its natural state.
Slide 18 of 51: Mammoth Cave Mammoth isn't an exaggeration about its size, this is the world's longest known cave system. It's one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and feels completely otherworldly when you are inside. Guided tours are given regularly, but take one of the lantern ones in the evening if you can for an even more surreal experience.
Slide 19 of 51: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Made up of six different locations across Southern Louisiana, you can see nature at the Barataria Preserve or the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, learn about history at the Chalmette Battlefield or learn more about the Acadian (Cajun) settlers at the Acadian Cultural Center.
Slide 20 of 51: Acadia National Park Maine's rocky coastline puts on a show in Bar Harbor at this national park. Greet the sunrise from on top of Cadillac Mountain, walk along the stone-filled beaches, listen to the ocean at Thunder Hole or spend a day hiking one of the 158 miles of trails.
Slide 21 of 51: Antietam National Battlefield In this tragic spot, 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in the span of one awful day during the midst of the Civil War. Bring tissues.
Slide 22 of 51: Boston National Historical ParkThis park covers a lot of ground and history, so make your plan by visiting the visitor center at Faneuil Hall where park rangers will guide you to American Revolution sites like Paul Revere's home, the Freedom Trail and Bunker Hill.
Slide 23 of 51: Isle Royale National Park If you are looking to get away from it all, this Northern Michigan park is an island inside Lake Superior and will give you all the quiet nature you can ask for. You'll need a ferry, seaplane, or your own boat to get here.
Slide 24 of 51: Voyageurs National ParkIf you are into kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, or camping, head to to Northern Minnesota for this park (most easily accessible by boat), which is nestled along the border of Canada.
Slide 25 of 51: Gulf Islands National Seashore Spreading out over Florida and Mississippi, the National Park Service protects historic resources along the Gulf of Mexico's barrier island, like Horn Island pictured here. To keep the land and wildlife safe, much of this land is only accessible on foot or by boat.
Slide 26 of 51: Gateway Arch National Park This St. Louis landmark welcomes visitors to the Western half of the U.S. and officially got upgraded from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 2018. While this park is small, its a must visit. Take the tram to the top of the arch for unbelievable views, unless you are claustrophobic, in which case you might want to enjoy this park from the ground.
Slide 27 of 51: Glacier National Park If you are into the outdoors even a little bit, this park should be on your must visit list. Covering 700 miles, this park has mountains, lakes, forests, and spectacular views.
Slide 28 of 51: Agate Fossil Beds National MonumentA lot of Nebraska is filled with farmland, but this open space makes it the perfect place for wild animals to roam. Find out why paleontologists love this fossil filled spot.
Slide 29 of 51: Death Valley National Park It's weird to call this park one of the coolest as its known for its record breaking hot temperatures in the summer. The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is in California, but the park itself spans the border of California and Nevada.
Slide 30 of 51: Saint-Gaudens National Historic SiteWhile this state does share part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that goes from the Georgia to Maine, this estate is New Hampshire's only solo National Park site. It was the home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a sculptor known for his bronze work.
Slide 31 of 51: Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park A small park with a big payoff. These spectacular falls, which are 77 feet high, were used to help create mills and industrialize the city. Visit in the spring to see them at their most impressive.
Slide 32 of 51: Carlsbad Caverns Sit at the mouth of this cave at dusk and you'll see thousands of bats emerge heading off to find dinner. Once inside the caves, you'll feel like you've been transported to an alien planet with stalagmites and stalactites taking every form imaginable.
Slide 33 of 51: Statue of Liberty National Monument New York has more than 30 National Park sites, and they are all impressive in their own ways, but none is more iconic than the Statue of Liberty who greets visitors in New York harbor. You'll have to take a ferry to get up close, and buy tickets well in advance if you want to climb up to the crown, but it's worth it. Make sure to pair it with a trip to Ellis Island.
Slide 34 of 51: Wright Brothers National MemorialIt's hard to visualize the distance the Orville and Wilbur traveled during their first attempts at flight, until you stand on this hill in Kill Devil Hills and see the markers for where they landed. Learn more about how they got air travel off the ground at this national memorial in the Outer Banks.
Slide 35 of 51: Theodore Roosevelt National Park President Theodore Roosevelt was a notable supporter of the National Park system and spent a lot of time in the Dakota territories as a young man. This experience changed him, and this park filled with wide open spaces and bison, is named in his honor.
Slide 36 of 51: Cuyahoga Valley National ParkNot too far from Cleveland, you'll find this scenic park filled with beautiful hiking, waterfalls, and some really spectacular bird and wildlife watching.
Slide 37 of 51: Washita Battlefield National Historic SiteThis is the spot of the tragic battle between George Custer and Cheyenne village Peace Chief Black Kettle. While this awful battle is part of a darker time of American history, its important to learn about these events and pay our respects to the fallen.
Slide 38 of 51: Crater Lake National Park Nature can be kinda wild, and that's on display here. A volcano erupted almost 8,000 years ago and then caved in on itself, creating this beautiful, deep lake that is filled by rain and snow. Its sparkling color is magnificent in the sun.
Slide 39 of 51: Independence National Historical HallMuch of Philadelphia is covered with cool historic sites from the time of the American Revolution, but a trip to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed is a must.
Slide 40 of 51: Roger Williams National Memorial You'll learn something at almost every National Park. Spend two minutes with a park ranger, and they'll give you some fascinating facts. Here you might learn about someone you didn't study in history class, Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island who was kicked out of Massachusetts because he wanted religious freedom for all.
Slide 41 of 51: Congaree National Park This swampy and marshy landscape is filled with hardwood trees that grow alongside cypress trees (keep an eye out for the cypress knees jutting out of the ground). You'll walk on a raised walkway through this diverse and largely untouched forest.
Slide 42 of 51: Badlands National Park Obviously if you are in South Dakota you are probably going to go see Mount Rushmore, and you should. It is an amazing landmark. But while you are in the state you should also make time to visit Badlands. This expansive park has rock formations that make you feel like you are in the Grand Canyon, alongside some amazingly colorful hills, desert vibes, and beautiful prairie land. A daylong drive through this park will make you feel like you've seen four parks in one.
Slide 43 of 51: Great Smoky Mountains National Park This mountain range spans the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina and is the most popular national park, meaning you can expect crowds. But you can also expect stunning views and these smoky sunsets!
Slide 44 of 51: Big Bend National Park You know that song "Deep in the Heart of Texas," where they sing about the stars at night being big and bright? This is what they meant. If you camp or stay at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, you'll be treated to some of the most amazing night skies imaginable. During the day you can hike or explore the Rio Grande.
Slide 45 of 51: CanyonlandsArches, Zion, Bryce Canyon... Utah has a bounty of beautiful parks to explore with some of the most stunning hiking around. You can also explore on a four-wheeler, by horse or by boat, since there are plenty of rivers coursing through the park.
Slide 46 of 51: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park Vermont is filled with outstanding outdoor space, and its only national park is just one spot where you can see their amazing forestry.
Slide 47 of 51: Shenandoah National ParkThis park is great even if you aren't into getting out and hiking. The spectacular 105-mile-long Skyline Drive has scenic viewpoints frequently where you can get out of your vehicle and be in for a visual treat. Plus, you are very likely to see bears in your travels (just keep your distance and stay in your car).
Slide 48 of 51: Mount Rainier National ParkNot only is this spectacular mountain one of the tallest in the country, but it's also an active volcano. Visit in the summer to see the vast variety of wildflowers and in the winter to try your hand at snowshoeing.
Slide 49 of 51: Harper's Ferry National Historical ParkThere's a quaint little village where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. Stand at The Point and you'll be able to see Maryland and Virginia, and you'll see plenty of thru-hikers from the Appalachian trail.
Slide 50 of 51: Apostle Islands National LakeshoreIf you thought exploring watery caves was just for tropical vacations, think again. This Northern Wisconsin park covers 21 islands in Lake Superior and is filled with all kinds of caves, including ice caves in the winter.
Slide 51 of 51: Yellowstone National Park Let's go out with a bang. This was the first official National Park, established on March 1, 1872, and is filled with gorgeous scenery and wildlife, of course, but also some wild hydrothermal activity. From the legendary Old Faithful geyser, to the beautiful but toxic and deadly Grand Prismatic Spring.

America’s National Parks are a treasure. A Ken Burns documentary called them “America’s Best Idea.” While there are currently 62 of the “big” National Parks (think Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon), the National Park Service is filled with National Forests, National Battlefields, National Historic Landmarks, and more. Some places focus more on natural beauty, while others truly celebrate the history of our great country.

While not every state is home to one of the official national parks, each state in the union has at least one site that is run by the National Park system that you should put on your list. And often, the smaller spots are less heavily visited, so you really get a chance to learn and explore something knew.

If you’ve got kids, don’t forget to ask about the Junior Ranger program. Kids can do worksheets and learn about the parks to keep them engaged, and they’ll be rewarded with a fancy badge (and sometimes a patch!). So while COVID-19 might be keeping many of us close to home and socially distancing from people, once it is safe to hit the road again to travel, put these spectacular spots on your must-see list. For now, some of the parks are closed due to COVID restrictions, or have limited hours, so make sure to call ahead.

Alabama

Russell Cave National Monument

This hole in the ground has some major historical importance. Here you’ll get to see how prehistoric man lived 10,000 years ago in this cave shelter. This spot is quite off the beaten path in Bridgeport, AL, but totally worth the visit. Make sure you ask the park rangers to demo some of the prehistoric weaponry, it’s really neat.

Alaska

Denali National Park

The Land of the Midnight Sun is home to eight National Parks and a total of 17 sites run by the National Park Service. You can’t go wrong with any of them, as they are all filled with some of the most pristine natural beauty anywhere in the world. But Denali is home to North America’s tallest peak (the mountain previously also known as Mt. McKinley), and has six million acres of wild land to discover.

Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park

Close to six million people visit this unbelievable destination every year for a reason. Covering 277 miles of land, this expansive park is home to the stunning canyon and rock formations like you’ve never seen before. Hike, camp, or take a river rafting trip during your stay.

Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park

Located in the town of Hot Springs this park has natural beauty, to be sure, but is on the map as a former tourist destination for its famed bathhouses. These buildings took advantage of the thermal springs, and were built above them. You can’t hop in a spring, but you can book a visit to one of two of the spas that are still operational today.

California

Yosemite National Park

Like Alaska, California has a lot of National Parks to choose from, and you can’t go wrong with a trip to Alcatraz, Death Valley, or Joshua Tree. And the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the most visited spot in the National Park Service in 2019. But if you are looking for a big old national park experience, head to Yosemite. There are waterfalls around practically every corner and mountains that will take your breath away, and ancient Sequoia trees that practically glow in the sunshine.

Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park

This park houses almost 5,000 archeological sites, including the famed cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo people who lived here from 600 to 1300 CE.

Connecticut

Weir Farm National Historic Site

At the Wilton home of impressionist artist J. Alden Weir , you’ll see some of his art, but you can also explore the 60 acres of woods and fields that inspired his work.

Delaware

First State National Historical Park

This park is actually seven different locations, scattered around the state of Delaware, including the picture Fort Christina in Wilmington where the Swedes originally landed and established their colony, but you can also visit the Green in Dover where Delaware became the “First State.”

Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park

The Everglades are enormous and cover much of the Southern part of Florida and should definitely be on your list, but if you are looking for a completely unique and cool National Park experience, this one is it. In order to get to Fort Jefferson, you have to take a ferry (that runs once a day) from Key West, or find a seaplane, and head hours out into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Once at the fort you can explore the grounds and snorkel along the crystal clear coral reef and see everything from sharks to sea turtles.

Georgia

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

Explore many Atlanta sites of importance to this powerful leader of the modern civil rights movement, from the Baptist church where he lead with his father to his birth home.

Hawaii

Hawai’i Volcanoes

Normally you’d run far away from an active volcano, but here you can sometimes see the lava slowly flow like a river into the ocean. When the lava isn’t flowing, you can still see the amazing craters and unusual terrain that they’ve left in their wake.

Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument

It’s not hard to see why this park got its name. Lava flow left behind some truly bizarre landscaping details that actually look more like the surface of the moon than Earth.

Illinois

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Explore the Springfield home of President Abraham Lincoln, where he spent 17 years of his life raising his family.

Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Park

Formerly a National Lakeshore, this 15 mile stretch along Lake Michigan got an upgrade in 2019 to National Park. There are many ways to get to the lake, but the wooden staircases that safely traverse the dunes are the most fun (and exhausting).

Iowa

Effigy Mounds National Monument

This scenic preserved space highlights the Effigy Mounds created by American Indian tribes into animal shapes.

Kansas

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

While land that looked like this pictured used to cover 170 million miles of America, very little of it still exists today. This preserve in the Kansas Flint Hills helps keep what remains in its natural state.

Kentucky

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth isn’t an exaggeration about its size, this is the world’s longest known cave system. It’s one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and feels completely otherworldly when you are inside. Guided tours are given regularly, but take one of the lantern ones in the evening if you can for an even more surreal experience.

Louisiana

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Made up of six different locations across Southern Louisiana, you can see nature at the Barataria Preserve or the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, learn about history at the Chalmette Battlefield or learn more about the Acadian (Cajun) settlers at the Acadian Cultural Center.

Maine

Acadia National Park

Maine’s rocky coastline puts on a show in Bar Harbor at this national park. Greet the sunrise from on top of Cadillac Mountain, walk along the stone-filled beaches, listen to the ocean at Thunder Hole or spend a day hiking one of the 158 miles of trails.

Maryland

Antietam National Battlefield

In this tragic spot, 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in the span of one awful day during the midst of the Civil War. Bring tissues.

Massachusetts

Boston National Historical Park

This park covers a lot of ground and history, so make your plan by visiting the visitor center at Faneuil Hall where park rangers will guide you to American Revolution sites like Paul Revere’s home, the Freedom Trail and Bunker Hill.

Michigan

Isle Royale National Park

If you are looking to get away from it all, this Northern Michigan park is an island inside Lake Superior and will give you all the quiet nature you can ask for. You’ll need a ferry, seaplane, or your own boat to get here.

Minnesota

Voyageurs National Park

If you are into kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, or camping, head to to Northern Minnesota for this park (most easily accessible by boat), which is nestled along the border of Canada.

Mississippi

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Spreading out over Florida and Mississippi, the National Park Service protects historic resources along the Gulf of Mexico’s barrier island, like Horn Island pictured here. To keep the land and wildlife safe, much of this land is only accessible on foot or by boat.

Missouri

Gateway Arch National Park

This St. Louis landmark welcomes visitors to the Western half of the U.S. and officially got upgraded from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 2018. While this park is small, its a must visit. Take the tram to the top of the arch for unbelievable views, unless you are claustrophobic, in which case you might want to enjoy this park from the ground.

Montana

Glacier National Park

If you are into the outdoors even a little bit, this park should be on your must visit list. Covering 700 miles, this park has mountains, lakes, forests, and spectacular views.

Nebraska

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

A lot of Nebraska is filled with farmland, but this open space makes it the perfect place for wild animals to roam. Find out why paleontologists love this fossil filled spot.

Nevada

Death Valley National Park

It’s weird to call this park one of the coolest as its known for its record breaking hot temperatures in the summer. The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is in California, but the park itself spans the border of California and Nevada.

New Hampshire

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

While this state does share part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that goes from the Georgia to Maine, this estate is New Hampshire’s only solo National Park site. It was the home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a sculptor known for his bronze work.

New Jersey

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

A small park with a big payoff. These spectacular falls, which are 77 feet high, were used to help create mills and industrialize the city. Visit in the spring to see them at their most impressive.

New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns

Sit at the mouth of this cave at dusk and you’ll see thousands of bats emerge heading off to find dinner. Once inside the caves, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an alien planet with stalagmites and stalactites taking every form imaginable.

New York

Statue of Liberty National Monument

New York has more than 30 National Park sites, and they are all impressive in their own ways, but none is more iconic than the Statue of Liberty who greets visitors in New York harbor. You’ll have to take a ferry to get up close, and buy tickets well in advance if you want to climb up to the crown, but it’s worth it. Make sure to pair it with a trip to Ellis Island.

North Carolina

Wright Brothers National Memorial

It’s hard to visualize the distance the Orville and Wilbur traveled during their first attempts at flight, until you stand on this hill in Kill Devil Hills and see the markers for where they landed. Learn more about how they got air travel off the ground at this national memorial in the Outer Banks.

North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

President Theodore Roosevelt was a notable supporter of the National Park system and spent a lot of time in the Dakota territories as a young man. This experience changed him, and this park filled with wide open spaces and bison, is named in his honor.

Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Not too far from Cleveland, you’ll find this scenic park filled with beautiful hiking, waterfalls, and some really spectacular bird and wildlife watching.

Oklahoma

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

This is the spot of the tragic battle between George Custer and Cheyenne village Peace Chief Black Kettle. While this awful battle is part of a darker time of American history, its important to learn about these events and pay our respects to the fallen.

Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

Nature can be kinda wild, and that’s on display here. A volcano erupted almost 8,000 years ago and then caved in on itself, creating this beautiful, deep lake that is filled by rain and snow. Its sparkling color is magnificent in the sun.

Pennsylvania

Independence National Historical Hall

Much of Philadelphia is covered with cool historic sites from the time of the American Revolution, but a trip to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed is a must.

Rhode Island

Roger Williams National Memorial

You’ll learn something at almost every National Park. Spend two minutes with a park ranger, and they’ll give you some fascinating facts. Here you might learn about someone you didn’t study in history class, Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island who was kicked out of Massachusetts because he wanted religious freedom for all.

South Carolina

Congaree National Park

This swampy and marshy landscape is filled with hardwood trees that grow alongside cypress trees (keep an eye out for the cypress knees jutting out of the ground). You’ll walk on a raised walkway through this diverse and largely untouched forest.

South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Obviously if you are in South Dakota you are probably going to go see Mount Rushmore, and you should. It is an amazing landmark. But while you are in the state you should also make time to visit Badlands. This expansive park has rock formations that make you feel like you are in the Grand Canyon, alongside some amazingly colorful hills, desert vibes, and beautiful prairie land. A daylong drive through this park will make you feel like you’ve seen four parks in one.

Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This mountain range spans the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina and is the most popular national park, meaning you can expect crowds. But you can also expect stunning views and these smoky sunsets!

Texas

Big Bend National Park

You know that song “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” where they sing about the stars at night being big and bright? This is what they meant. If you camp or stay at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, you’ll be treated to some of the most amazing night skies imaginable. During the day you can hike or explore the Rio Grande.

Utah

Canyonlands

Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon… Utah has a bounty of beautiful parks to explore with some of the most stunning hiking around. You can also explore on a four-wheeler, by horse or by boat, since there are plenty of rivers coursing through the park.

Vermont

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

Vermont is filled with outstanding outdoor space, and its only national park is just one spot where you can see their amazing forestry.

Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

This park is great even if you aren’t into getting out and hiking. The spectacular 105-mile-long Skyline Drive has scenic viewpoints frequently where you can get out of your vehicle and be in for a visual treat. Plus, you are very likely to see bears in your travels (just keep your distance and stay in your car).

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Not only is this spectacular mountain one of the tallest in the country, but it’s also an active volcano. Visit in the summer to see the vast variety of wildflowers and in the winter to try your hand at snowshoeing.

West Virginia

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park

There’s a quaint little village where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. Stand at The Point and you’ll be able to see Maryland and Virginia, and you’ll see plenty of thru-hikers from the Appalachian trail.

Wisconsin

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

If you thought exploring watery caves was just for tropical vacations, think again. This Northern Wisconsin park covers 21 islands in Lake Superior and is filled with all kinds of caves, including ice caves in the winter.

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park

Let’s go out with a bang. This was the first official National Park, established on March 1, 1872, and is filled with gorgeous scenery and wildlife, of course, but also some wild hydrothermal activity. From the legendary Old Faithful geyser, to the beautiful but toxic and deadly Grand Prismatic Spring.

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