Top 25 Most Visited National Parks in the USA You Should Explore This Year

Last Updated on June 14, 2023 by Nikki Jain

There are 62 designated national parks in the United States. You can discover unique national parks in 29 different states, showcasing picturesque landscapes, diverse ecosystems, rare natural formations, and more.

We’ve created a list of the most visited national parks in the US, where you can experience all of the above and more. The parks take you around the country to some of the most breathtaking sights and provide lots of fun and adventure during your visit.

America’s most popular national parks attract millions of tourists every year. There’s a reason why visitors continue to set out in search of an outdoor adventure.

Whether you enjoy hiking record-breaking peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains or enjoying a nature walk amongst towering trees in the Sequoia National Park, a trip to one of these US national parks will surely satisfy your craving for wanderlust.

Explore the best things to do in each of these most-visited US national parks and see why they’re considered America’s favorites.

The Most Visited National Parks in the United States

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1: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee–North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee–North Carolina

Annual Visitors: 12.94 million

Why to visit

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hiker’s dream with the ideal mountainous landscape for an outdoor adventure. It is one of the most visited US national parks, receiving over 12 million visitors every year. With the famous Appalachian Trail passing through it, it gets many tourists arriving for recreation or sightseeing.

Mountains cover most of the park's landscape, positioned across two states – Tennessee and North Carolina. The park includes the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and parts of the Appalachian Mountains chain. With some of the region's highest peaks, you can expect fantastic views.

Clingman’s Dome is the highest point found while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Hikers are rewarded with the Clingmans Dome observation deck, considered the best viewpoint. As an alternative, you can take the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail to reach Mount Le Conte, another notable summit with 360 views overlooking the mountainous landscape.

In addition to hiking, many visitors enjoy activities such as fly fishing, cycling, or sightseeing historical landmarks. Visit the ranger stations to see exhibitions and learn more about the national park.

Best time to visit

Get ready to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Summer is the best time to go between June to August. July is also the busiest month, so plan accordingly before visiting. Weekends in mid-October also draw visitors that are seeking fall foliage and colder weather.

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in North Carolina

2: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Annual Visitors: 4.73 million

Why to visit

Prepare yourself for the jaw-dropping vistas awaiting you at the Grand Canyon National Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Grand Canyon, one of the world's natural wonders and an impressive sight to see. Every year, millions of visitors come to the park to take in the views and enjoy a bit of outdoor recreation in the desert.

Grand Canyon National Park is the second most-visited American national park, covering well over one million acres of predominantly desert landscape in northwestern Arizona. The Grand Canyon is the park's main attraction, an extensive canyon carved out for millions of years by the Colorado River, creating beautiful scenery.

Visitors can explore the canyon's, South Rim, or North Rim, although the South Rim is most popular and has more visitor activities. There are several lookout points around the canyon to sweeping views. Hiking, wilderness trails, or river rafting are just a few of the parks' favorite activities.

There are a few unique viewing experiences available, like the Grand Canyon Skywalk or a helicopter flyover tour.

Best time to visit

The Grand Canyon has a variety of weather. Sometimes it snows in the winter months as well. The best time to visit is between April and June. During those months the rainfall is lower and the temperatures aren’t sweltering.

From July to September, the temperatures can be on the hotter side, not recommended for hiking and exploring all day in the summer sun.

Address: Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Also Read: The Most Beautiful National Parks in the USA

3: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Dreamstime/Steve Lagreca

Annual Visitors: 4.30 million

Why to visit

Whether you’re looking for a great day trip destination from Denver or a place to camp in the outdoors, the Rocky Mountain National Park should be at the top of your bucket list. It’s among the most popular national parks in the US, attracting over four million recreational tourists. You’ll be at one of the highest elevations in the country as you explore the mountain terrain.

Rocky Mountain National Park includes the Rocky Mountain range, with countless towering peaks to ascend – the highest point in Longs Peak. Mountaineering and rock climbing are two favorite activities to reach the summits for a rewarding view of the environment. Visitors can also ride along Trail Ridge Road, a scenic drive on the country’s highest paved road.

The park is recognized as a biosphere reserve with lots of diverse wildlife and fauna thanks to multiple climate zones. You can find campgrounds and nature trails in your preferred zone to make sure to experience the park’s best features.

Best time to visit

Rocky Mountain National Park can be a winter wonderland in late fall until April. The winter months are the least crowded times to visit, but you also need to be prepared. Being comfortable with cold weather and winter driving is a must.

For those looking for a warmer option, the summer months are better. The park will be crowded, but more hiking trails and campgrounds will be open from June to August. Keep in mind, Trail Ridge Road, one of the park’s main attractions can close in early October due to snowfall.

Address: 1000 Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517

Also Read: 20 Best Hikes in Colorado

4: Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah
Flickr/Judy Gallagher

Annual Visitors: 4.69 million

Why to visit

Millions of years ago, wind, water, and glacial movements carved and created the land within Zion National Park. Today, millions of people visit the southwest Utah park to revel in its unique beauty and admire the diverse wildlife in the region. The park was even named after the Old Testament name for Jerusalem, a true demonstration of just how heavenly this park is.

Established in 1919, Zion’s most esteemed attraction is Zion Canyon. From endless vistas to hidden areas to wander away from the crowds, the canyon is 15 miles long and nearly 3,000 feet deep. Kolob Canyons is a smaller canyon south of Zion Canyon and features 2,000-foot cliffs and countless waterfalls that attract crowds every summer.

Zion’s unique ecosystem features high-altitude forests and desert plateaus sprawling throughout the region. The park is home to more flowers than anywhere else in Utah and species of animals ranging from kangaroo rats to bighorn sheep.

Besides hiking and camping, visitors can go horseback riding, join a tour, and much more. While the closest airport is hours away in Las Vegas, the park is easy to drive through. Also, there are many opportunities to escape the crowds and enjoy the wilderness on your own.

Best time to visit

Southwestern Utah can be scorching hot in the summer months from June to August, reaching the high 90s. The best time to visit the park is in the late fall and even winter. October has an average temperature of 66 during the day.

The weather can be on the colder side and not all visitor centers are open in Zion National Park during that time. But, you will be able to spend more time outside exploring without the risk of heat exhaustion.

Address: Springdale, UT 84767

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Utah

5: Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California
Flickr/John Tregoning

Annual Visitors: ‎3.67 million

Why to visit

One of California’s most popular national parks, Yosemite’s natural wonders, and diverse wildlife have attracted humans for thousands of years. Located in the western Sierra Nevada range in Central California, Yosemite is surrounded by the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests.

Because of its internationally famous granite cliffs, waterfalls, and towering sequoias, it was first protected in 1864 and became an integral part of the founding of the National Park Service in 1916. Today, an average of four million people flock to Yosemite National Park each year to take in all this beautiful land has to offer.

The park’s main attraction is Yosemite Valley, a glacial valley where visitors stand under the granite summits Half Dome and El Capitan. It’s home to breathtaking waterfalls, including Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls, and is the perfect place to start for first-time visitors looking to camp, hike, or simply drive through the park.

For a unique vantage point, visit Tunnel View Outlook. Drive there and behold the natural wonders of Yosemite sprawled out in front of you. Another popular can’t-miss spot is Glacier Point, another easy drive for breathtaking sights. Find the towering, expansive sequoias you’ll find in epic Instagram pictures at Mariposa Grove, the largest sequoia grove in the park.

Best time to visit

Yosemite is a beautiful park to visit from Spring to Fall. During these months, the park is fully open, making trails more accessible. These peak months are great for hiking and spending time outdoors. June has an average high of 80 degrees, while July and August can reach the 90s.

The higher elevation provides cooler fresh mountain air. During the winter months, a lot of the mountainous roads are closed due to snowfall. You also must have chains in your car when driving in Yosemite in the winter.

Address: Yosemite Village, CA 95389

Also Read: What to bring for camping in the National Parks

6: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Annual Visitors: 3.29 million

Why to visit

As the first U.S. national park and possibly the first in the world, Yellowstone has a lot to live up to, and it goes beyond expectations. The park, which spreads across three states (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming), is famously known not only for the abundant wildlife of bears, moose, lions, and more but more so for the geothermal features scattered throughout the region.

The most visited attraction is the Old Faithful Geiser, whose searing hot water bursts into the sky around 20 times a day. The park is also home to Yellowstone Lake, one of North America’s highest elevation lakes. The lake is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the dormant supervolcano responsible for the geysers and hydrothermal features covering the park.

Grand Prismatic Spring is another widely visited hot spring in the park, and its vibrant colors and bubbling liquids are a sight you can't find anywhere else. Many of the park’s main attractions are accessible by car and a short walk, but miles upon miles of trails welcome hikers and campers to enjoy.

Flora and fauna in Yellowstone can't be missed, with hundreds and thousands of unusual plants and animals. Yellowstone also has the largest bison herd in the United States, and they’re often seen crossing roads and blocking traffic, especially during the summer.

Best time to visit

Visiting Yellowstone from April to September is recommended. This national park is 3,471 miles long and requires a lot of driving. Montana and Wyoming get heavy snow in the winter months, causing most park roads to close.

The summer allows you to drive through the park and see every attraction. Keep in mind that the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park closes in the late fall and early winter.

Address: Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

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Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

7: Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Annual Visitors: 3.97 million

Why to visit

It’s no secret why over three million people visit Acadia National Park annually once you lay your eyes on the scenic natural surroundings. Located on the shores of Bar Harbor in Maine, the park consists of several islands – the largest is Mount Desert Island. Each island offers something different, so it's worth spending a few days in the park to experience its best features.

Mount Desert Island is the premier destination for tourists visiting the park, where you can enjoy a variety of landscapes such as mountains to beaches along the shoreline. Climb atop Cadillac Mountain for a rare opportunity to be the first person in the US to see the sunrise.

The Bass Harbor Head Light is another famous landmark as the only lighthouse on the island. It even has some peculiar landmarks like the Bubble Rock that makes you question physics.

Acadia National Park is one of the most visited US national parks and best for year-round recreation. Hiking, rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding are just a few ways to get active in the park during the warmer months. In the winter, many people enjoy cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Best time to visit

The most gorgeous time to visit Acadia National Park is in October. Visitors come from all over to see the famous fall foliage of the park. Watch the trees turn bright reds, oranges and yellows. Late spring into summer is another great time to visit the park. The warm summer weather is perfect for hiking and exploring.

Address: Acadia National Park, Maine

Visit Website

Also Read: 15 Least Visited National Parks in the USA

8: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Dreamstime/Linda Bair

Annual Visitors: 2.81 million

Why to visit

Images of the Great American West seem to be stuck in a time when you visit the Grand Teton National Park. Located in Wyoming, the Teton Range and Jackson Hole valley are well-preserved thanks to the park efforts – many of the region's endemic plant life and wildlife remain undisturbed.

The Teton Range only extends for approximately 40-miles, but it’s one of the most recognized ranges in the country with its notable peaks. The highest peak is Grand Teton, rising over 7,000-feet above the valley.

The peaks provide impressive picturesque scenery from the Jackson Hole valley. Some of the summits' best views come from the valley, where you can enjoy sights of abandoned cabins or grazing bison against the mountain backdrop.

Grand Teton National Park has over three million visitors annually to participate in recreational activities. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails winding through the valley or up the mountain slopes. Mountaineering is the best way to reach the highest peaks in the park.

Best time to visit

September is the best time to head over to Grand Teton National Park. The air becomes cooler and the roads are still open. Summer months are also preferred but prepare for it to become a bit hotter. Campgrounds and popular hikes are open from spring to early fall. In the winter, most of the park's roads are closed due to heavy snowfall.

Address: Grand Teton National Park, WY

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Wyoming

9: Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington

Annual Visitors: 2.43 million

Why to visit

Nature is abundant in the Olympic National Park, where you’ll encounter everything from mountains to forest, and an extensive coastline. With most of the park designated as a preserved wilderness area, visitors can enjoy some of the untouched landscape and discover the wonders hidden within it.

Olympic National Park derives its name from its location on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Visiting the park lets you experience unique landscapes – The Olympic National Forest, the Olympic Mountain range, and the Pacific Coastline. There are several other features, such as waterfalls and rivers.

More than three million tourists come to the park every year to immerse themselves in the lush natural surroundings. From the old-growth forest area to the pristine beach, visitors have plenty to keep busy during a trip to the park.

Several hiking and nature trails wind throughout Olympic National Park to reach incredible viewpoints or wildlife sightseeing. Many of the best features of the park are in the interior, only accessible through backpacking.

Hurricane Ridge viewpoint is one of the most popular areas for great views, access to the visitor center, picnic areas, and more.

Best time to visit

Spring through fall is the best time to visit Olympic National Park. The area is known to get about fifty inches of rain in the winter. This results in the rainforest turning a vibrant lush green in the Spring.

The surrounding areas bloom with spring flowers and leaves. Late spring to early summer is the best time to go. You can still visit in the winter months but prepare for the area to be cold and some of the mountain roads to be closed.

Address: 3002 Mt Angeles Rd Port Angeles, WA 98362

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Washington State

10: Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana
NPS Site

Annual Visitors: 2.90 million

Why to visit

Hidden away in northwestern Montana near the Canadian border is a Rocky Mountain paradise known as Glacier National Park. Aptly named for the many glaciers that carved the land and those that still reside in the area, this park features beautiful forests, crystal clear lakes, and more than 700 miles of trails.

The iconic peaks and valleys seen here are unforgettable. One of the musts to do here is the 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road. This scenic mountain highway traverses the park and passes through the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, where you can walk to an outlook viewing mountain peaks alongside mountain goats.

The Trail of the Cedars is a wheelchair-accessible trail at the park and features beautiful cedar trees surrounding a boardwalk trail. Hikers can branch off to access Avalanche Lake, a crystal-clear lake that sits beneath one of the park’s famous glaciers. Visitors can rent boats at Lake McDonald or enjoy shopping, dining, and a relaxing stay at the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Glacier National Park is home to thousands of plant species, and grizzly bears, moose, mountain goats, wolverines, and many other mountainous animal species inhabit the region. Visitors are more than likely to see at least one of these animals during their time at the park.

Best time to visit

Glacier National Park is a summer destination due to its grueling winters. This part of Montana gets an average of 157 inches of snow each year. Causing the Going to the Sun Road to close from early fall to late spring.

Therefore, visiting in July and August is the best time to go to get the full Glacier experience. The daytime temperatures during these peak months hit a high of eighty degrees and a low of forty into the night.

Address: West Glacier, MT

Visit Website

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Montana

11: Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Annual Visitors: 3.06 million

Why to visit

Located in Southern California is a national park that is known for being unique and spiritual. Joshua Tree National Park is where two desert ecosystems meet, the Mojave and the lower Colorado Desert. There are over 1,800 miles of desert in this park, so don’t worry about seeing it all!

Joshua Tree is known for its plants and animals. The distinctive Joshua trees are a type of Yucca tree located all around the park. They are some of the most photographed trees in the whole country.

Common wildlife spotted here are bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas. Not for the faint of heart, so be sure to check before you step when hiking.

Most visitors come to Joshua Tree to see the sky. This national park was awarded the title of an International Dark Sky Park, allowing travelers to see the majestic Milky Way right from their tent.

There are many unique lodging options around the park, from glamping to remote cabins. Check our Airbnb for some quirky stays. A must-see when wanting to escape in a beautiful place.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Joshua Tree is in the spring. March to April provide cooler temperatures in the desert. Ideal for camping and stargazing.

Address: Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in California

12: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Dreamstime/Franco Ricci

Annual Visitors: 2.35 million

Why to visit

Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park displays the state’s quintessential but stunning geological formations. It’s home to the largest collection of distinctive red-rock spires called hoodoos.

Being one of the most-visited national parks in the United States, millions of visitors head to the park each year to stand beneath them and get a close look at many of the park’s geological attractions.

The park welcomes hikers, skiers, rock climbers, and those just looking for a leisurely drive through one of the most beautiful spots in the United States. Though it’s in the name, there is no real canyon in the park. The park follows the Paunsaugunt Plateau, a natural amphitheater where visitors will find thousands the yellow, red, and orange hoodoo stacks.

While the desert formations are the most visited, visitors will also find alpine forests and meadows at the high altitudes. The free Bryce Canyon Shuttle takes visitors throughout the park and runs to the visitor center, campground and lodge, and a few outlooks.

The 11-mile Rim Trail is a pedestrian-only attraction that gives visitors the opportunity to find panoramic views and unforgettable experiences with the region’s topography. There’s also an auto tour that takes guests to several viewpoints, including a stop at the Grand Staircase, a sedimentary phenomenon made of layers of eroded rocks.

Best time to visit

The warmest weather of the year is May through September for Bryce Canyon National Park. This Utah park draws visitors from all over to explore the canyons. A lot of the ranger-led activities are running during these summer months. To avoid crowds, winter is a magical time to visit. As long as you are okay with the chilly weather with an average in the low 30s.

Address: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

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Also Read: Best Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

13: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Dreamstime/Kenneth Keifer

Annual Visitors: 2.913 million

Why to visit

Located between the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio cities of Akron and Cleveland is Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is the only National Park in all of Ohio and one of the most visited US National Parks for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park is easily accessible and has entrances close to the highway. With over 125 miles of thick forest, there are many things to do here!

Hiking and biking are the most popular activities in Cuyahoga Valley. The trails bring you through the wetlands and the forest. There are even trails that showcase cascading waterfalls.

Brandywine Falls is the most famous waterfall in the park. Sitting at sixty-five feet tall and accessible by a wooden boardwalk. This 0.8-mile trail takes you out and back, a quick way to see the views of this stunning waterfall.

In addition to hiking, biking is also common here; bike the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail to end your adventure.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park is from August to October. The forest has remarkable fall foliage that can be viewed by hiking or driving. Take advantage of the crisp fall weather while enjoying the scenery.

Address: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Ohio and The Best East Coast National Parks

14: Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri

Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri

Annual Visitors: 1.62 million

Why to visit

It is bizarre to think that a National Park is located in the middle of a big city. St Louis, Missouri, is home to the Gateway Arch National Park. Due to its convenient location, it is one of the most popular US National Parks.

The history behind it is what makes it so special. The infamous Arch tells the story of the Western Expansion of the United States of America.

In the 19th century, Thomas Jefferson played a part in opening the west to pioneers. Today, it sits as a memorial for this historic event.

The Arch is unique because you can take a retro elevator to the top. This tram ride is the only one in the whole world that operates like this. The pod can hold up to five passengers at a time. The four-minute ride involves the tram rotating at 155 degrees as it brings you along the curve of the Arch.

Afterwards, be sure to walk the main path from the North Leg to the South Leg. It is a beautiful stroll alongside green grass with stunning views from below the Arch. This National Park may not be the biggest but is sure packed with loads of history.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit this National Park is pretty much whenever you want! Since the activities here are mostly indoors, you can even visit in the heart of winter. It should be on everyone's National Park bucket list, whether passing through or making it your primary destination.

Address: Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis, MO

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Missouri

15: Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Dreamstime/Delmas Lehman

Annual Visitors: 2.83 million

Why to visit

When you think of sand dunes, you most likely don't picture them being in Indiana. But, sitting on the southern shore of Lake Michigan is the Indiana Sand Dunes National Park.

It is made up of fifty miles of sand dunes, wetlands, rivers and forests. This special place has something for every visitor.

The national park has over 15,000 acres of beauty. Hike the sand dunes to get your heart pumping which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all adventurers in one of the most visited US National Parks.

Water lovers can kayak on the lake while spending the day out on the water. Bird watching is a fun activity to enjoy here, with migrations happening every April to September.

In addition, there are over forty-six types of mammals and sixty butterfly species. Take a walk along the sandy shores near the Port of Indiana. Or spend your day lounging on the beach and swimming in the refreshing water.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the park is from April through October. The summer months are great for those wanting to indulge in beach days and watersports. Swimming is recommended during July and August for warmer water temperatures.

Address: Indiana Dunes National Park, IN

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Indiana

16: Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park, California
Dreamstime/Mykola Lukash

Annual Visitors: 1.7 million

Why to visit

Don't let the name fool you; Death Valley National Park is an absolute treasure. Sitting on the border of Nevada and California is one of the largest National Parks in the United States.

It is 3.4 million acres that is part of the northern Mojave Desert. It is unique since it sits in a below sea level basin.

The weather here can be very hot in the summer month, causing extreme risk for visitors. In the winter, snow can be common here. The valley does get rain every now and then, but it is not common.

The most popular thing to do in this national park is to drive! The driving routes throughout the one thousand miles of road have become famous for their photo opportunities and unique landscapes. Be sure to pack lots of water and plan to have your AC cranking during your drive!

Best time to visit

The best time to visit is when the heat begins to cool down. Fall months are when this happens and it is also when the camping season starts. The temperature in fall ranges from fifty to seventy degrees. Winter can also be a good option for those that don’t mind colder temperatures and sometimes even snow.

Address: Death Valley National Park, CA

17: Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah
Dreamstime/Josemaria Toscano

Annual Visitors: 1.46 million

Why to visit

Arches National Park features a rare natural rock formation of arches made of sandstone. It was designated a national park to preserve the fragile environment and regulate visitors to protect the unique landscape. Visit the park to explore the land once home to Native Americans.

The park has thousands of arches, considered the most in one region in the world. The arches formed from wind and water erosion are still at risk of falling. It's best to visit the park as soon as possible to see some of the most recognized arches.

The arches come in all shapes and styles – the most famous structures in the Arches National Park include the Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Balanced Rock. As tempting as it may be, climbing the structures are prohibited.

Over 1.4 million visitors come to the park every year. There are still many fun recreational activities, including hiking, biking, and backpacking. Several tours take tourists to notable points of interest.

Camp overnight in the park to experience the dark sky area.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Arches National Park is September and October. The temperatures cool off, and the average temperature sits between 60 and 80 degrees. The summer months are a beautiful time to visit, but they can hit grueling temperatures past 100 degrees. This can make hiking unsafe due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. If you are planning longer hikes, September would be your best option.

Address: Arches National Park, Moab, UT 84532

Also Read: Best Things to do and Tips for Visiting Arches National Park

18: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Annual Visitors: 1.62 million

Why to visit

Spotted easily from downtown Seattle is one of the most stunning mountains in Washington, Mount Rainier. This majestic mountain sits at 14,410 feet above sea level and can be viewed from many spots throughout the state.

What makes it even cooler? It is an active volcano that is also the most glaciated peak in the USA.

The National Park is filled with vast hiking trails that take you through the vibrant green forest. With over 260 miles of trails, there are routes for every skill level.

You can also drive the 147-mile road that brings you throughout the park. It takes about six hours to complete the full drive and the road is only fully open during the summer months.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit this Washington National Park is in the summer months. The road is fully open and snowshoes are not necessary. Visiting in the winter is still an option too for those wanting to play in the snow.

The road is only partially open but still has access to some popular hiking spots. Snow chains for your tires are required to have in your car during winter months in order to enter the park.

Address: Mount Rainier National Park, WA

19: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Annual Visitors: 2.65 million

Why to visit

Located in the small town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, in Garland County is Hot Springs National Park. A small National Park with tons of history. The building architecture is from the 1800s and is gorgeous to marvel at.

Enjoy the walking paths that surround the Hot Springs Reservation. There are two areas to hike within the park, perfect for those wanting to enjoy the outdoors before heading to the main attraction.

Get ready to soak in the thermal water at Bathhouse Row. The outdoor springs are not allowed for soaking, but the Bath House has two areas that are! The spring is four thousand years old and is still in its natural state.

The temperature of the water is 143° Fahrenheit and is known to kill most bacteria from visitors. Fun fact, you can even drink the water from the hot springs! They have fountains throughout the park for you to fill up at.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Hot Springs National Park is in the winter. It is recommended to take a cold hike around the hot springs first. After, get warm by soaking in the Bathhouse. Summer months are also a great option for those who don’t want to brave the colder weather.

Address: Hot Springs National Park, AR

20: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Annual Visitors: 1.44 million

Why to visit

Visit a volcano on a gorgeous island in Hawaii! Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a geological treasure. At 13,677 feet high sits two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

These summits are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the best national parks in the US. The volcano even had a fissure eruption in September of 2021. The eruption created an eighty-nine-foot lava lake.

This park is accessible by vehicle. There are two main roads, Chain of Craters Road and Crater Rim Drive. You can take this road to Kilauea Overlook and then head around the rim.

Be sure to visit the villages in the area, including Kamoamoa, Lae 'Apuki and Kealakomo, during your drive. There are also hiking trails throughout the park for those wanting an adventure.

The best time to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is during spring. This is the end of peak season, and the park is less crowded. The cool temperatures help you be able to explore the park longer than during the hotter months.

Address: Shenandoah National Park, VA

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Virginia

21: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Dreamstime/Shane Myers

Annual Visitors: 1.58 million

Why to visit

Located along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia is Shenandoah National Park. With over 200,000 acres of land, this scenic National Park should be on your US National Parks bucket list.

Waterfalls, wildflowers and vistas are just some of the things you will see when visiting. Wildlife is spectacular in this area as well, spot black bears, deer, and even songbirds.

Shenandoah is known for its extensive hiking trails. There are over five hundred miles of trails for you to explore. It is no wonder why it is one of the most popular US National Parks.

Areas of the park are even part of the iconic Appalachian Trail, making it a stop along any backpacker's journeys. There are five campgrounds throughout the National Park that offer stunning views of the Virginia sky.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the park is in the fall, when the temperatures are cooler. Since Shenandoah is primarily forest, the leaves change to vibrant colors. Drive Skyline Drive, which goes more than a hundred miles to see the leaves for yourself.

Address: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Hawaii

22: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Flickr/Steven Bratman

Annual Visitors: 1.2 million

Why to visit

Any time is a great time to visit the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks because it’s always open. Located in California, the two-park system contains some of the most impressive natural scenery in the US. It’s no wonder that these popular US parks attract approximately two million people every year to see record-breaking landmarks.

The combined Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks operate jointly to manage better and preserve the environment. It’s considered a UNESCO Biosphere, preserving an environment ideal for abundant, diverse wildlife and flora. There are hundreds of bird and animal species, but some of the most impressive sights are the plants.

Sequoia National Park is home to a giant forest consisting of giant sequoia trees. Hike along the Sherman Tree Trail to reach the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree. You can also drive beneath the Tunnel Log.

Kings Canyon National Park appears straight from a postcard with the iconic views in Paradise Valley. The entire valley was shaped by historical glacier activity to create perfectly sculpted mountain slopes and forest scenery. It’s an excellent location for backcountry hiking and camping.

Best time to visit

June through August are the recommended months to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in California. The weather sits in the low 70s and high 60s. A comfortable temperature to explore the park.

In the winter, these parks commonly get snow. In Sequoia, you need snow chains or snow tires to drive the park roads. Luckily, both parks stay open in the winter months, so the option is there for those comfortable driving in the snow.

Address: 47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271

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23: Everglades National Park, Florida

Everglades National Park, Florida
Dreamstime/Giovanni Gagliardi

Annual Visitors: 1.15 million

Why to visit

Located in the wetlands of Florida is Everglades National Park. The park has over 1.5 million acres, covering most of South Florida. So there is no wonder why it is one of the most visited US National Parks.

There are three entrances to the park, none of which are connected. Make sure to plan your trip by which entrance you want to go through.

Wildlife throughout the park is unique, featuring turtles, herons and even alligators, so it is essential to be prepared when hiking.

Take a tour boat if you want a guided experience. You can explore Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak if you feel brave. The Pinelands area of the park is best for biking, hiking and camping.

Since this park is so huge, it is important to zone in on the activity you want to do the most and plan your trip around that.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Everglades National Park is during the dry season from December through April. During this time, there is low humidity and not as much rain. This means fewer mosquitos and also less sweat when visiting Florida.

Address: Everglades National Park, FL

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Florida

24: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Flickr/Ray Bouknight

Annual Visitors: 0.75 million

Why to visit

The pure blue hues of Crater Lake make it seem like a surreal sight – one that you can’t take your eyes off once you visit the Crater Lake National Park. Although one of the oldest national parks in the US, it ranks among the most-visited thanks to the lake, unlike any you’ve seen before.

Crater Lake is the centerpiece of the national park – the lake formed inside of the Mount Mazama volcano crater in Oregon thousands of years ago. Water from precipitation filled the crater, and since there is no outflow, the water sits to create the deepest lake in the country.

The popular Rim Drive gives an overview of the lake as a scenic drive, but you can also have fun at the lake swimming, fishing, and boating. There is plenty of hiking and horseback riding trails, such as the Pacific Crest Trail, where you might encounter some of the arctic wildlife like lynxes, bobcats, and elk.

For the lake’s best views, climb atop Mount Scott, the park’s highest point for panoramic views of Crater Lake and the surrounding landscape.

Best time to visit

Visiting Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is a fun summer activity. The park is recommended to visit in July through September. During those months, the park roads are open, as well as the hiking trails. Winter and June can still show signs of winter, including snow on the roads. The north entrance and Rim Drive are closed to vehicles in the winter months.

Address: Crater Lake National Park, OR 97604

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25: Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Annual Visitors: 0.60 million

Why to visit

Time your visit to Denali National Park & Preserve perfectly, and you can join an exclusive club of people who’ve seen the unobstructed breathtaking peaks of Denali without a cloud in the sky. Even on beautiful days, the peaks are hidden by the clouds – it’s the highest peak on the entire North American continent that reaches over 20,000-feet above sea level.

Denali National Park & Preserve is Alaska's best national park (and one of the most visited American national parks), attracting over a million visitors. You'll see the mountain from nearly all corners of the six million acres of the park's area. More than a third of the land is a wilderness area.

Be sure to dress warmly for the cold climate. Glaciers, snow-capped summits, and ice tundra are just a few of the arctic landscapes you’ll encounter while exploring the park.

If you can bear the climate, it’s a fun place to enjoy winter recreation. Cross-country skiing and dog sledding are a few of the best things to do in the park. You can learn more about the park with special ranger programs hosted throughout the year.

Best time to visit

It is no wonder that Denali National Park gets a lot of snow. This Alaska National Park can start seeing heavy snowfall from September to late May. This can result in roads being closed. Even the shuttle buses can’t run during these times if the weather is bad. The best time to visit is June to August, to ensure you can see the whole park. Alaska normally has beautiful summers with extended daylight hours as well!

Address: George Parks Hwy, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Alaska

FAQs about the Most Visited National Parks

What are the top 3 most visited national parks?

The top 3 most visited national parks are:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 12.94 million visitors
  • Grand Canyon National Park – 4.73 million visitors
  • Zion National Park – 4.69 million visitors

What is the most visited national park in the World?

The most visited national park in the World is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which received 12.94 million visitors last year.

Rounding Up the Most Visited US National Parks

The most visited national parks are places of beauty and wonder. From the majestic peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the pristine beaches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, these locations are bursting with beauty, adventure, and culture. Some are filled with American History, while others are home to unique landscapes. 

Every National Park offers a new experience and adventure that will stay with you long after your trip ends. So begin planning your next adventure in exploring one of our nation's incredible treasures.

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