Let’s go on a journey through the diverse landscapes of the United States, discovering the best national parks in each of the states!
From the iconic Grand Canyon in Arizona to the lush beauty of Acadia in Maine and the historic grounds of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, each park offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
Whether you are into camping, hiking, horseback riding, or simply sightseeing and birdwatching, you’ll get to enjoy each activity in these parks!
Keep reading this article to find out the best national parks in the country. Read this article and start packing right away.
1. Buffalo, Arkansas
Nestled in the Ozark mountains, Buffalo National River is America’s first national river, offering over 135 miles of pristine waterways. This park is a haven for nature lovers, providing opportunities for canoeing, hiking along the riverbanks, and exploring scenic limestone bluffs.
Fishermen also enjoy this river as it is filled with numerous types of fish, most commonly smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and catfish. Immerse yourself in this Ozark gem, where hiking trails, clear waters, and scenic landscapes await.
Keep an eye out for the infamous Rocky Mountain Elk!
2. Acadia, Maine
Discover the captivating landscapes of Acadia, where rocky shorelines meet lush forests and granite peaks.
Situated next to the thriving New England town of Bar Harbor, Acadia boasts diverse ecosystems, inviting you to hike, bike, or simply marvel at the mesmerizing coastal views.
Cadillac Mountain provides breathtaking sunrise views, making it the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. You’ll be the first to see the sunrise in the whole country if you wake up here!
3. Hudson River Valley, New York
This National park extends from New York City to Albany, and is dotted with charming towns, historic sites, and picturesque landscapes. If you like history, then you’ll definitely want to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library or the famous Museum.
But if you prefer rock climbing, you’ll definitely enjoy the Shawangunks or hiking the trails of Bear Mountain State Park. The Hudson River itself is a focal point, offering opportunities for scenic boat rides.
4. Grand Canyon, Arizona
We can’t go on without mentioning the magnificent Grand Canyon!
The Colorado River sculpted this geological wonder over millions of years. It stretches 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, which makes this canyon the largest one in the country.
Visitors can enjoy awe-inspiring views from the South Rim, hike into the canyon on trails like Bright Angel, or experience the tranquility of the North Rim. The Grand Canyon is a must-visit destination for its unparalleled natural beauty and profound sense of wonder.
5. Pony Express, Missouri
Delivering mail by horseback seems unreal nowadays, but this was the only way to get your mail back in the days!
Mail was transported by horseback over an 1800-mile route from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. This was done in just ten days between April 1860 and October 1861.
Now, visitors can follow the trail where riders once carried mail. This trail invites visitors to explore the legacy of the Pony Express through interpretive sites, preserved structures, scenic landscapes, and a glimpse into the daring spirit of the riders.
6. Big Bend, Texas
The breathtaking monotonous desert landscape and powerful river cutting deep into the limestone is what makes this part of Texas so popular.
From the towering Chisos Mountains to the meandering Rio Grande, the park offers diverse ecosystems. Hikers, stargazers, and nature enthusiasts flock to Big Bend for its unmatched wilderness, diverse flora and fauna, and the opportunity to soak in the soothing hot springs.
If you plan to visit this park, here’s a useful website: https://visitbigbend.com/
7. Indiana Dunes, Indiana
The Indiana Dunes National Park encompasses the southern shore of Lake Michigan, showcasing over 15,000 acres of diverse landscape. With over 50 miles of long hiking trails, visitors can enjoy kite-flying, dunes, wetlands, and wildlife.
Sandy beaches are also popular, as well as vibrant nightlife on the lakeshore area. But if you are more into calming activities, this park is a haven for birdwatchers, with hundreds of species frequenting the area!
8. First State, Delaware
As the “First State” to ratify the constitution in 1787, Delaware holds a unique place in American history. The First State National Historical Park preserves and interprets significant sites, including the Old New Castle Courthouse and the Dover Green.
You can walk through the forest trails of Woodland, visit the Courthouse, or come in the spring when there’s an annual celebration of Delaware’s independence!
9. Everglades, Florida
If you enjoy wilderness and mangrove waterways, you’re definitely going to love the Everglades.
Known as the “River of Grass,” the Everglades is a vast wetland ecosystem unlike any other. Spanning over 1.5 million acres, it is home to a unique array of wildlife, including crocodiles, manatees, and an abundance of bird species.
Visitors can explore the park through airboat rides, walking trails, and scenic drives. Plenty of fish living in the Everglades will make fishermen happy!
10. Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico
Tucked into the Gila Wilderness, the Gila Cliff Dwellings are ancient homes built into the cliffs by nomadic people over 700 years ago. You’ll get to experience the true nature of ancient living by looking at the handmade pottery and built-in rooms.
Visitors can hike to the dwellings, marvel at the well-preserved architecture, and imagine the lives of the people who once called this rugged landscape home. You can also go on educational tours, birdwatching, or wildlife viewing tours.
11. Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake is known for its deep, dark blue waters that have collected in the crater of an active volcano for thousands of years. Today, it is the deepest lake in the United States, with a depth of 1,943 feet.
Its intense blue color and surrounding cliffs and forests create a mesmerizing landscape. Visitors can drive the Rim Drive for panoramic views, hike trails offering glimpses of Wizard Island, and appreciate the tranquility of this pristine natural wonder.
In the winter, cross-country skiers and snowshoers should not pass up the chance to enjoy this park’s solitude.
12. Congaree, South Carolina
Congaree, a designated wilderness area covering 26,500 acres of South Carolina, is a showcase of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest.
One of the highest deciduous tree canopies in the world is maintained by the Congaree and Wateree Rivers, which flow right through the park. Boardwalks and trails lead visitors through towering trees, swamps, and diverse ecosystems.
The park is perfect for birdwatching, with opportunities to spot woodpeckers, owls, and migratory birds. Canoeing and kayaking on the Congaree River are also available for visitors.
Find out more about the park here: Congaree National Park
13. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg is a popular military park located in south-central Pennsylvania. It preserves the site of the pivotal Civil War battle.
General Lee of the Confederate Army marched north after experiencing great victory in the Shenandoah Valley, only to be brought to a complete stop at Gettysburg. On the restored battlefields today, one can almost hear the eerie shouts of the troops engaged in combat.
Visitors can explore the battlefield, view historic landmarks like Little Round Top and Devil’s Den, and gain insights into the events that unfolded during the summer of 1863.
The park commemorates the sacrifice of those who fought in one of the most significant battles of the Civil War.
14. Lincoln Home, Illinois
Step into the life of Abraham Lincoln by visiting his family home in Springfield, Illinois!
Preserved as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, this residence offers a glimpse into the domestic life of the 16th President of the United States.
The house, which is situated in Springfield’s downtown, has been accessible to the public since 1887 and still offers tours of its twelve rooms.
You get to explore the neighborhood where Lincoln lived before assuming the presidency and gain a deeper understanding of the man behind the iconic figure.
15. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Located in the hilly countryside of south-central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s largest known cave system. With over 400 miles of explored passages, the park offers guided tours to showcase the stunning underground landscapes.
Above ground, the park features hiking trails and a diverse surface landscape for outdoor enthusiasts. You can go canoeing on the Green River, camping, and even horseback riding!
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