US National Parks – 59 amazing natural wonders in pictures
US National Parks are a real natural wonder. They protect the most beautiful parts of the country. Majestic mountains, wild natural formations, deserts or green forests, grizzly bears or wolfs. There is a total of 59 US National Parks and each of them is unique. 14 of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and they are a guarantee of amazing US holidays. Below I prepared a list of all US National Parks with breathtaking pictures.
US National Parks
1. Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park can be found about 5 hours drive to the north of Boston, on Mount Desert Island. It is situated along the rugged and rocky coast of Maine. Although the park is quite small – only 47,452 acres (192 km2) – it is one of the most visited national parks throughout the US.
You can enjoy beautiful views from the highest mountain on the east coast of the US, Cadillac Mountain. Park Loop Road is then a historic, 43 km long road that offers beautiful views of the ocean, trees, and rocks.
Acadia National Park, US National Parks by Paul VanDerWerf
2. Arches National Park
Arches National Park can be found in the eastern part of Utah and is known for its natural red stone arches. You can find more than 2000 of them here. Some of the most popular of them include Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Double Arch, Landscape Arch among others.
Arches began to form about 300 million years ago when the area was flooded with salt water. National Park is open all year round.
Arches National Park, US National Parks by Robert Montgomery
3. Badlands National Park
In the state of South Dakota in the north part of the United States lies one of the youngest US national parks – Badlands National Park. It doesn’t have any high mountains or deep canyons, waterfalls, and even trees are just a few here. It’s a strange landscape, shaped by drought and a very soft rock.
There are several hiking trails in the park from the short ones that are less than 1 mile long up to longer ones reaching a length of 10 miles. Very popular activity in the Badlands National Park is watching the night sky. Light pollution is minimal here and the stars are very well visible.
Badlands National Park, US National Parks by tsaiproject
4. Big Bend National Park
One of the largest and least visited of all national parks in the US is that of Big Bend National Park. It is situated in southern part of Texas on the border with Mexico. The dominant features of the desert region are not only rocks but also the valley of the Rio Grande.
There are lots of trails around the park and it is very hard to choose the best one. Chisos Mountains, Santa Elena Canyon, Lost Mine Trail or Pine Canyon Trail are just a few of many beautiful parts here.
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, US National Parks by David
Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park, US National Parks by Adam Baker
5. Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is situated close to the city of Miami, Florida and is quite unique. Up to 95% of its territory is made up of water and coral reefs, the rest are mangrove forests and 40 islands, of which only a part is open to visitors.
USA’s largest marine park was established to protect Biscayne Bay. It is suitable especially for diving lovers. Around 500,000 people visit this park annually.
Biscayne National Park, US National Parks by John Brooks, National Park Service photographer
6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in western Colorado, hides one of the deepest canyons in the United States. Some of its parts enjoy a daylight for only 33 minutes a day, which explains the name of the park. Gunnison is then the river that flows through the canyon.
There are three scenic drives thanks to which you can explore this national park. South Rim Road, North Rim Road and East Portal Road and several hiking trails as well.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, US National Parks by Doc Searls
7. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is unmistakable. Dozens of narrow rock formations colored in orange-brown-white really worth a visit. They are called hoodoos and can be found in Utah, only 4-hour drive from Las Vegas.
If you are coming by car, look for the Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Natural Bridge or Rainbow Point which are some of the best places to enjoy breathtaking views. The most popular hiking trail is then Rim Trail.
Bryce Canyon National Park, US National Parks by Bhanu Tadinada
Bryce Canyon National Park, US National Parks by Brandon
8. Canyonlands National Park
The world of canyons in southeast Utah are among the most beautiful places in all of the America. Mesa (tableland), stone arches and two large canyons in the middle are a guarantee of a great natural experience. Welcome to Canyonlands National Park!
Canyonlands National Park, US National Parks by snowpeak
9. Capitol Reef National Park
Another national park in southern Utah is that of Capitol Reef National Park. This one is known primarily for its sandstone cliffs and monoliths set in a desert. It is recommended to spend more days here and visit also nearby Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, and Arches National Parks.
Capitol Reef National Park, US National Parks by Wolfgang Staudt
10. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located near the city of Carlsbad in Guadalupe mountains in New Mexico. Magnificent limestone caves are hundreds of millions of years old and are proudly included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. As the name suggests its main attraction is the cave.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, US National Parks by Dschwen
11. Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park consists of 5 eponymous islands on the west coast of the USA. Although located near densely populated state of California, the total population of the islands is less than four thousand inhabitants.
San Miguel island, Channel Islands National Park, US National Parks by Toddclark
12. Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is a floodplain forest in South Carolina, the largest of its kind in North America. Some trees here are permanently flooded due to high groundwater level. The park was named after the Congaree River, that flows at its borders.
Congaree National Park, US National Parks by Scott Oves
13. Crater Lake National Park
Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the US, founded back in 1902. It is dominated by the Crater Lake that boasts incredibly clear and blue water. In its middle, you can then see Wizard Island, which is an extinct volcano.
Toketee Falls or Annie Creek Canyon are then few more places you will also want to visit here.
Crater Lake National Park, US National Parks by Michael Whyte
14. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is not among the best known national parks in the US, and certainly not among the largest ones. However, this has nothing to do with the fact that more than 2 million visitors make their way to this park every single year.
If you are in Cleveland or Akron, why not to visit this place as well? Especially Blue Hen Falls Trail is one of its most beautiful parts.
Blue Hen Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, US National Parks by Erik Drost
15. Death Valley National Park
Driest, hottest, lowest situated… Death Valley is one of the most extreme places in the United States. It lies on the border of California and Nevada and its substantial part is protected by Death Valley National Park.
The most famous place across Death Valley is Badwater Basin with an altitude of 86 meters below sea level. It also has a mystery – the roaming stones.
Death Valley National Park, US National Parks by John Fowler
16. Denali National Park & Preserve
Wild Alaska, pristine nature, incredible beauty, the tallest mountain in North America (McKinley – 20,310 ft / 6,190 m), the white snowy peaks of the mountains and grizzly bears. This is how we could briefly describe Denali National Park, Alaska’s gem designed exclusively for real adventurers.
Mount McKinley, Denali National Park And Preserve, US National Parks by denalinps
17. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas is a marine national park situated in southern Florida, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) west of Key West. Park consists of more than 99% of waters while the rest is a land divided among the seven islands.
The dominant feature of Dry Tortugas National Park is almost 200 years old Fort Jefferson.
Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, US National Parks by U.S. National Park Service
18. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is located in southern Florida. Its typical features are the vast wetlands which are full of crocodiles, frogs, and birds. With an area of 2,357 square miles (6,105 km2), it is one of the largest national parks in the United States.
The park is open all year round but the best time to observe the park’s wildlife is from December to April.
American alligators, Everglades National Park, US National Parks by Miguel Vieira
19. Gates of the Arctic National Park
Untamed wilderness of Alaska, vast plains, high mountains and no tourists at all. Gates of the Arctic National Park is the least visited national park in the USA.
It is not because of being ugly but because of its location. The park lies north of the Arctic Circle – hence the name of the Gates of the Arctic.
Thunder Valley, Gates of the Arctic National Park, US National Parks by Paxson Woelber
20. Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is a large national park in southeast Alaska. It is often confused with the similarly named Glacier National Park, which lies in Montana.
Both parks have something in common: they are mountainous, lies on the borders with Canada and abound in beautiful countryside. Only the temperature in the wild Alaska can be quite lower. 🙂
Glacier Bay National Park, US National Parks by mark byzewski
21. Glacier National Park
And here it is! Glacier National Park in Montana includes two ridges of the rocky mountains, over 130 lakes and it is a real hiking paradise.
A network of 1,130 kilometers of hiking trails will take you to all interesting places in the park including its highest point Mt. Cleveland (10,479 ft – 3,194 m).
Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain (right) – Glacier National Park, US National Parks by Wikipedia / Tobias Klenze
22. Grand Canyon National Park
Who wouldn’t know such iconic place in the US? Grand Canyon National Park is definitely among the most beautiful places in the world. It is located in the state of Arizona and covers an area of 1,901 square miles (4,926 km2).
With around 4.3 million visitors, this UNESCO site is one of the most popular among all national parks in the US.
Grand Canyon National Park, US National Parks by grand_canyon_nps
23. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a mountainous area located in the western part of the state Wyoming. Famous Yellowstone National Park is nearby. Park was named after its highest peak Grand Teton with an elevation of 13,775 ft (4,199 m). There are around 200 miles (320 km) of hiking trails and routes.
Grand Teton National Park, US National Park by Jon Sullivan, PD Photo
24. Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park can be found on the border of Nevada and Utah nestled between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. The rainwater from these mountains creates saline lakes and gradually evaporates into the air. Park with an area of 77,180 acres (312.3km2) is a cold oasis amid the hot desert.
Stella Lake, Great Basin National Park, US National Parks by Famartin
25. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located in Southern Colorado. It is famous for its giant sand dunes, which are the largest in North America. They cover an area of 19,274 acres (78 km2) and the highest of them reach a height of over 200 meters.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, US National Parks by David Fulmer
26. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park may at first glance seem to be unknown, but it is actually the most visited national park in the US. It is located in the eastern part of the country and annually welcomes about 9.5 million of tourists.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, US National Parks by Anne Swoboda
27. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in west Texas near the border with New Mexico and not far from the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
The park protects the massif of Guadalupe with the highest peak in Texas – Guadalupe Peak (8,751 feet/2,667 m). It is full of well-preserved fossil sandstone formations of the Permian period.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, US National Parks by Kirk Y.
28. Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā is a volcano on the island of Maui, which is the second largest island of Hawaii. Haleakalā National Park is named after this volcano which dominates the island. If you have never seen a volcano crater or a flower that grows 50 long years and then die in its full blossom, you should come to Hawaii.
Pools of ‘Ohe’o, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii, US National Parks by Joe Parks
29. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is another protected area situated on the island of Hawai’i (better known as Big Island). It consists of two active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa is with its height of 13,679ft/4,169m the largest active volcano in the world and also the biggest attraction of the park.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, US National Parks by Brian Snelson
30. Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is really unique one. It is not a wilderness nor massive canyons, but a traditional spa town with healing springs. With its area of only 5,550 acres (22.5 km2) it is the smallest national park in the USA.
Old Army Navy Hospital, Hot Springs National Park, US National Parks by Rennett Stowe
31. Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park surrounds the Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes located on the US border with Canada. Park belongs to the state of Michigan and consists of Isle Royale and about 450 smaller islands, of which only around 110 got its name.
Most of the park area is covered by forests and swamps. Park has always been known for its population of wolves and elk.
Isle Royale National Park, US National Parks by Ray Dumas
32. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is located in the desert of southern California, only about 87 miles (140 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. The park protects Mojave and Colorado deserts, two completely different ecosystems. Joshua Tree is the largest of the yuccas and there are plenty of them in the park.
Joshua Tree National Park, US National Parks by Christopher Michel
33. Katmai National Park and Preserve
Katmai National Park is a grizzly bear paradise situated in hardly accessible land in the southern part of Alaska. The park protects the local untouched nature, consisting of 18 volcanoes. Seven of them have been active since 1900.
With its area of 3,674,529 acres (14,870 km2), the park is 4th largest in the US. The top thing to do here is watching grizzly bears in their quest for food.
Katmai National Park and Preserve, US National Parks by Captain Budd Christman
34. Kenai Fjords National Park
Alaska boasts 8 amazing national parks and its smallest, yet most visited one is Kenai Fjords National Park. It is about glaciers, fjords, and beautiful natural landscape. The starting point is Anchorage.
Kenai Fjords National Park, US National Parks by blmoregon
35. Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park can be found in California – in the middle of the triangle formed by the Yosemite, Death Valley, and Sequoia National Parks. It consists of massive rocks, deep canyons, caves and the tallest trees in the world, giant sequoias.
On General Grant Tree Trail you will see more than 81 meters tall sequoia which is one of the tallest trees in the world.
Kearsarge Lakes, Kings Canyon National Park, US National Parks by Jeff P
36. Kobuk Valley National Park
Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska is among the most remote national parks of America. It lies beyond the Arctic Circle and is named after the river Kobuk. The park is known mainly for the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.
Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Kobuk Valley National Park, US National Parks by alaskanps
37. Lake Clark National Park
Lake Clark National Park is situated around the Lake Clark in southwest Alaska. However, this lake is not the only one in the park. Lakes, streams, rivers and volcanoes are what is typical for this national park. Port Alsworth is a great starting point for the trips to the park.
Bears at Lake Clark National Park, US National Parks by Sanjoy Ghosh
38. Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park is relatively unknown and unjustly neglected national park in Northern California. Its main landmark is now inactive volcano Lassen Peak (also known as Mount Lassen).
You will like Lassen Peak Parking Area and Viewpoint, which is the highest point in the park accessible by car (8,512 feet 2594 meters above sea level).
Lake Helen in Lassen Volcanic National Park, US National Parks by Daniel Schwen
39. Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is a home to the longest cave in the world with 400 miles (640 km) of explored paths. The second largest cave system Sac Actun in Mexico is not even half as large. Mammoth Cave is so exceptional that it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mammoth Cave National Park, US National Parks by Daniel Schwen
40. Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park in southeastern Colorado is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the US. Perhaps no other park has the richer history than this one.
Anasazi Indians who lived here since 7th century made this place unique thanks to the paintings and rock formations they created here. These are now main attractions in the park.
Mesa Verde National Park, US National Parks by Anna Irene
41. Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State consists of an active volcano Mt. Rainier. Mount Rainier became the 5th US national park in 1899. It is popular among all lovers of mountain tourism. Its most popular hiking trail Wonderland Trail is 93 miles (150 kilometers) long.
Mount Rainier National Park, US National Parks by J Brew
42. National Park of American Samoa
The National Park of American Samoa is situated on the island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This one is different from all other parks in the US – it is not situated in any of the US states but on one of its territories.
American Samoa lies roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, so it is the most remote national park of USA.
National Park of American Samoa, US National Parks by usinterior
43. North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park is located in the northern part of Washington state near the border with Canada. Less than three hours drive from Seattle you can admire the rugged peaks of the high mountains, 318 glaciers and around 300 lakes. Goode Mountain is its highest mountain with a height of 9,220 ft (2,810 m).
North Cascades National Park, US National Parks by Marshmallow
44. Olympic National Park
However Olympic games never took place here, Olympic National Park is unique for its diversity. It is wild but also offers sandy beaches, it is mountainous but also a home to the rainforest. Thanks to these features the park was included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Olympic National Park, US National Parks by Ralph Arvesen
45. Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is situated in the eastern part of the state of Arizona. It is named after its main attraction – petrified wood, which is over 200 million years old.
You should drive through a 45 km long Petrified Forest Road stretching across the park. There are several points, where you can stop and enjoy the views of the rocks.
Petrified wood at Petrified Forest National Park, US National Parks by Park Ranger
46. Pinnacles National Park
The youngest national park in the United States can be found in California between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mountains of old volcanoes were divided into hundreds of smaller monoliths, peaks, and rocks.
You can expect about 30 miles (50km) of hiking trails in Pinnacles National Park, all of which offer great views.
Bear Gulch reservoir at Pinnacles National Park, US National Parks by Inklein
47. Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is located in northwestern California on the Pacific coast. The park was named after redwood which means Sequoia, the tallest tree on earth.
45% of all Sequoia trees in the world crops this tree grows in this national park. Besides these, the statute also protects the park 65 km of untouched coastline, vast prairie, a few wild rivers and oak forests.
Redwood National Park, US National Parks by Michael Schweppe
48. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado covers an area of 265,761 acres (1,075 km2) and boasts high mountains with clean air, wonderful views, and clear forest streams.
You will find 150 lakes here, 450 miles (720 kilometers) of streams, dominating by the highest mountain Longs Peak with a height of 14,259 ft (4,346 m).
Rocky Mountain National Park, US National Parks by Steven Bratman
49. Saguaro National Park
Some national parks are all about the beautiful countryside, some of the local ecosystem – animals and plants. Arizona’s Saguaro National Park fits into the second group.
It is named after saguaro cacti, which grow here up to a height of 20 meters. Saguaro National Park is sought after also by the photographers, they just love these sunrises and sunsets here.
Saguaro National Park, US National Parks by Saguaro Pictures
50. Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is located in California, east of Visalia. It is a neighbor to the Kings Canyon National Park, both forming one unit.
Sequoia National Park was established as the second national park in America. As the name suggests its main feature is a Sequoia tree. The tallest tree in the park is the General Sherman – which is 83.8 meters high and 31.3 meters in circumference.
Sequoia National Park, US National Parks by Gilad Rom
51. Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is not among the best known national parks in the United States, but it is quite popular among the residents of the Washington, DC as it can be found not far from the US capital. Old Rag is the most popular trail in the park, measuring 7 mi (11.5 km).
Shenandoah National Park, US National Parks by Shenandoah National Park
52. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in the western part of North Dakota. It consists of dry terrain known here as Badlands. The park has about 20 hiking trails.
Boicourt Overlook Trail leading to a beautiful viewpoint is one of the most interesting ones. Another one is Buck Hill Trail leading to the highest point of the park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, US National Parks by Tim Griffin
53. Virgin Islands National Park
Virgin Islands National Park can be found, where else, on the Virgin Islands of the United States. It is a group of small islands in the tropical Caribbean Sea.
The park is thanks to the clear water and beautiful beaches very popular among fans of diving and snorkeling but it also has several hiking trails leading through the rainforest.
Virgin Islands National Park, US National Parks by National Park service
54. Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park is situated in the northern Minnesota near the border with Canada. The name refers to Voyageur, old French-Canadian fur traders, who were the first Europeans to travel through the area. Today, visitors can admire the old rocks here, coniferous forests, lakes, and waterways.
Voyageurs National Park, US National Parks by jck_photos
55. Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park is located in South Dakota next to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial – a rock into which American presidents are carved.
Just like in the case of Mammoth Cave or Carlsbad Caverns even this national park is all about the cave. Every year around 516,000 people makes their way to this national park.
Wind Cave National Park, US National Parks by National Park Service
56. Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve is another park located in Alaska and it is the largest national park in the USA. It includes four different mountain ranges.
Due to its remoteness, only about 70,000 people visit this park every year. But they all have experience of a lifetime. The highest mountain of the park is that of Mount Saint Elias with the height of 18,008 ft (5,489 m).
Guyot Glacier, Falls, Icy Bay, and Mount St. Elias, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, US National Parks by alaskanps
57. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is probably the best known national park in the country. It lies mainly in the state of Wyoming to the northwest of the country, partly extends into the states of Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone lies above the vast underground volcano, which is why you will see lots of geysers and hot thermal springs here.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, US National Parks by James St. John
Read more about Yellowstone National Park – oldest national park in the world.
58. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is considered by many as the most beautiful national park of America. Huge granite massifs, high waterfalls, and redwood forests are what make it so amazing. Yosemite National Park is located in central California near the border with Nevada.
The park is home to the highest waterfalls in North America – Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite National Park, US National Parks by TravelingOtter
59. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is the last on this amazing list but it has nothing to do with the fact that it is still one of the most beautiful places in the state of Utah. It consists primarily of massive canyons, rock walls, and large valleys.
Among its most beautiful and popular places include Court of the Patriarchs, Angel’s Landing, and Great White Throne.
Subway, Zion National Park, US National Parks by God of War
So these were the US National Parks. Which one did you choose for your next US Holidays? It is a hard decision, but the best option would be to choose all of them. 🙂 Have you already been to any of them? Tell us your story below in the comments!