A Tour of U.S. National Parks: Discovering America's Backyard

Stepping into the world of US National Parks is like opening a book filled with stories of our planet’s past, present, and hints of the future.


From stunning landscapes, diverse ecosystems, unique flora and fauna to deep-rooted cultural history, these parks offer a mesmerizing journey into the heart of the natural world.

Us National Parks Map
63 U.S. National Parks map

The Spectacular Pacific West National Parks

If there’s one region in the United States that is blessed with an embarrassment of natural riches, it’s the Pacific West. Home to some of the nation’s most famous parks, this region beckons with its awe-inspiring beauty.

Yosemite National Park: The Crown Jewel of California

As soon as you set foot in Yosemite National Park, you’ll understand why this place has been described as ‘nature’s cathedral’.

Majestic granite cliffs stand tall, waterfalls plunge from dizzying heights, and serene valleys invite visitors to experience their timeless beauty.

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Not to mention, it’s home to some of the oldest trees on Earth – the Giant Sequoias. With every glance, you will feel a sense of insignificance yet a profound connection with nature.

It’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts, and easily ranks among America’s most iconic outdoor destinations.

Sequoia National Park: Giants of the Natural World

Nestled in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, Sequoia National Park houses a spectacular grove of the world’s largest trees. Walking among these ancient giants – some over 3,000 years old – is like stepping back in time.

The sheer scale of these trees, some standing as high as a 26-story building, is enough to leave any visitor speechless.

Beyond the sequoias, the park also offers alpine wilderness and beautiful landscapes, making it an idyllic location for hiking and nature photography.

Olympic National Park: Diversity of the Pacific Northwest

Characterized by its incredible diversity, Olympic National Park in Washington State is like three parks in one. From the rugged, wave-crashed coastlines and rainforests cloaked in emerald green to the glacier-capped peaks, it truly is a natural wonderland.

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Visitors can explore tide pools teeming with life, hike through dense forests, or simply relax in the serenity of alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers. This jewel of the Pacific Northwest is sure to deliver an unparalleled natural experience.

Rocky Mountain Region National Parks

The Rocky Mountain region hosts some of the most stunning national parks in the US, where rugged peaks, serene alpine lakes, and an abundance of wildlife take center stage. This region is a testament to the captivating power of the Rockies.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The Sky-Piercing Peaks

Welcome to the land of towering peaks and verdant valleys – the Rocky Mountain National Park. Situated in Colorado, this park is renowned for its breathtaking alpine views, an array of wildlife, and over 300 miles of hiking trails.

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The drive along the Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the US, offers panoramic vistas of snow-capped peaks, emerald-green forests, and open tundra, making it a highlight of the park.

No matter what time of year, a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park guarantees an unforgettable adventure.

Yellowstone National Park: Geysers, Grizzlies, and Geological Wonders

There’s a reason why Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park – it’s a geologist’s dream and a wildlife watcher’s paradise. Yellowstone is home to more than half the world’s geysers, including the famous Old Faithful.

The park’s geothermal features create otherworldly landscapes, from the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring to the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

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But it’s not all about geology – Yellowstone’s Lamar and Hayden Valleys are some of the best places in the world to watch wildlife, including wolves, grizzlies, elk, and bison.

Grand Teton National Park: Majestic Mountains and Tranquil Lakes

Just south of Yellowstone lies its smaller, but equally captivating, sibling – Grand Teton National Park. Known for its dramatic Teton Range, the park captivates visitors with its rugged beauty.

It’s a haven for climbers, hikers, and wildlife enthusiasts. The serene lakes that lie at the foot of the mountains, like Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake, add to the visual spectacle, reflecting the stunning peaks in their still waters.

Whether you choose to hike, boat, or simply gaze at the majestic mountains, Grand Teton National Park promises a unique experience.

Southwest’s Desert National Parks

In the southwest, National Parks are dramatically different, characterized by deep canyons, red rock formations, and expansive desert landscapes. This arid region is a testament to the beauty of resilience, as life adapts and thrives in these harsh environments.

Grand Canyon National Park: Arizona’s Indomitable Natural Wonder

With layers of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history, the Grand Canyon National Park is a sight to behold.

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Its vastness can be overwhelming, stretching 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. The play of light throughout the day paints the canyon in a rainbow of colors, creating a dramatic landscape that’s simply awe-inspiring.

Whether you choose to hike down into the canyon, raft the Colorado River, or simply admire the view from the rim, the Grand Canyon is an unmissable spectacle of the Southwest.

Joshua Tree National Park: The Desert’s Mystical Beauty

Named for its iconic, twisted, bristled Joshua Trees, the Joshua Tree National Park is a showcase of desert ecosystems.

Straddling the junction of the Mojave and Colorado deserts in Southern California, the park is an intriguing mix of rugged rock formations, stark desert landscapes, and vibrant desert flora and fauna.

The region is also a paradise for rock-climbing enthusiasts and stargazers, with its clear, unpolluted night skies offering a dazzling display of the cosmos.

Zion National Park: Utah’s Heavenly Landscape

Deep in the heart of Utah’s desert lies a sanctuary of natural beauty, Zion National Park. Known for the Zion Canyon’s stunning red cliffs, the park also hosts a wide array of plant and animal life due to its unique geography.

The park’s most iconic hike, The Narrows, takes visitors through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, wading through the Virgin River, surrounded by towering cliffs.

With a myriad of trails and sights, Zion National Park encapsulates the spirit of the American Southwest’s captivating desert beauty.

The Southeast’s Lush National Parks

From subtropical wetlands to sprawling forests, the Southeast region of the United States offers national parks teeming with biodiversity. These parks paint a picture of lush and vibrant life, reminding us of the delicate ecosystems that need our protection.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The Heart of Appalachia

Stepping into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is like entering a vast living museum. The park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, making it a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Named for the smoky haze that often enshrouds its peaks, the park offers stunning panoramic views, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and historic Appalachian homesteads.

In the fall, the changing leaves paint the landscape in vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

Everglades National Park: Florida’s Wetland Paradise

Everglades National Park is a tapestry of marshland, mangrove forests, and subtropical wetlands that serves as a sanctuary for numerous endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.

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Spread across 1.5 million acres, it’s the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.

This park isn’t just about wildlife watching; it also offers a unique blend of experiences, from hiking and camping to bird watching and scenic drives.

Congaree National Park: The Largest Intact Expanse of Old Growth Bottomland Hardwood Forest in the Southeastern U.S.

Tucked away in South Carolina, Congaree National Park is a hidden gem among American parks. It preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the U.S.

The park is a labyrinth of swamps and forests, creating a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can hike or canoe under the towering canopy of ancient trees, some of the tallest in the Eastern U.S.

Whether you’re an avid bird-watcher, a seasoned hiker, or someone who just enjoys the tranquility of nature, Congaree has something to offer you.

The Stunning National Parks of Alaska

Alaska, the last frontier, is a world of pristine wilderness where nature reigns supreme. The state’s national parks are known for their stunning beauty and unparalleled opportunities for wilderness exploration.

Denali National Park: The High One of America

Denali National Park is home to North America’s highest peak, the 20,310-foot tall Denali. Beyond this colossal mountain, the park offers diverse landscapes, from tundra at low elevations to glaciers and snow-covered peaks.

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Here, you’ll witness a remarkable array of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and eagles.

The park’s solitary road offers one of the most beautiful drives, with opportunities to see wildlife and, if you’re lucky, the mountain itself emerging from the clouds.

Glacier Bay National Park: Where Glaciers and Ocean Collide

In the southeast part of Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park unfolds as a dynamic landscape where tidewater glaciers meet the sea.

It’s a marine park accessible only by boat or plane, offering unique views of floating icebergs, deep fjords, and marine wildlife such as seals, sea otters, and whales.

For those who venture here, the sheer beauty and grandeur of Glacier Bay create an unforgettable Alaskan experience.

The Diverse Parks of the Midwest

While the Midwest may not boast towering mountains or coastal views, the region’s national parks capture the spirit of America’s heartland with their lush forests, tranquil lakes, and abundant wildlife.

Isle Royale National Park: Michigan’s Isolated Archipelago

Isle Royale National Park is a remote island cluster in Lake Superior near Michigan’s border. Free of cars and accessible only by boat or seaplane, it offers an isolated wilderness that is unique among U.S. parks.

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Hikers, backpackers, and boaters can explore the island’s rugged landscapes, peaceful shorelines, and serene inland lakes. The park is also renowned for its wildlife, including moose and wolves, which are part of a critical long-term predator-prey study.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Ohio’s Reclaimed Nature Sanctuary

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron in Ohio, is a testament to nature’s resilience.

It stands as a refuge for native plants and wildlife, protecting the rolling hills, ravines, and the winding Cuyahoga River.

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Visitors can enjoy over 125 miles of hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls like Brandywine Falls, and historic sites like the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. The park is also home to a rich variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and over 200 species of birds.


Who Manages America’s National Parks?

America’s National Parks are managed by the National Park Service (NPS), an agency of the U.S. federal government. The NPS was created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916.

The agency is entrusted with the responsibility of preserving and protecting the natural and cultural resources found in the parks for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of current and future generations.

What Is a National Park?

A National Park is a park that is used for conservation purposes and is designated and protected by a nation’s government. These parks are often a rich storehouse of a country’s most spectacular landscapes, ecosystems, and biodiversity.

They may include mountains, forests, deserts, wetlands, archaeological sites, and other significant natural areas.

Besides conservation, National Parks also focus on public enjoyment and education about nature and history, provided it does not impair their conservation.

They serve as major hubs for recreation, adventure, and learning, making them invaluable assets for tourism.

How Old Is America’s National Park System?

The U.S. National Park System is over a century old. The first National Park, Yellowstone, was established by an act of Congress in 1872. However, the National Park Service, which currently manages the National Parks, wasn’t established until 1916.

This means that the concept of dedicating and preserving large swaths of natural and historical significance started in the United States over 150 years ago, but the system we know today is just over a century old.

The establishment of the National Park System was a significant milestone in the history of conservation, underlining the importance of protecting natural and cultural resources for future generations.

How Many National Parks Are There?

There are 63 National Parks in the United States. However, the National Park Service manages a total of over 400 parks, monuments, conservation areas, and historic sites combined.

What Is the Most Visited National Park?

The title of the most visited national park frequently goes to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the park boasts a diverse range of plant and animal life and offers visitors breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains. Its accessibility from a number of urban centers and the scenic beauty of the changing leaves in the fall contribute to its popularity.

What Is the Least Visited National Park?

The least visited national park often varies from year to year, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska often holds this title.

Its remote location north of the Arctic Circle makes it inaccessible by roads, and it requires a significant amount of planning and preparation to visit.

Despite, or perhaps because of, its isolation, it offers some of the most pristine wilderness experiences in the country.

What Is the Largest National Park?

The largest National Park in the United States is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. With over 13.2 million acres of wild and scenic landscapes, it is bigger than each of the nine smallest U.S. states.

The park’s vast expanse includes mountains, glaciers, rivers, and an incredible array of wildlife, offering visitors unparalleled opportunities for exploration and adventure.


The U.S. National Parks are a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering a diverse range of experiences across different landscapes, from majestic mountains and dense forests to expansive deserts and pristine coastlines.

Each park tells a unique story of the land and its history, beckoning explorers, nature lovers, and adventure seekers.

Whether you’re a seasoned park-goer or planning your first national park visit, the journey through these protected lands is an enchanting voyage of discovery that speaks to the soul.