The United States is blessed with some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring national parks, each offering an unforgettable experience.
From snowy mountains and gypsum dunes to geothermal geysers and the clear water of the Atlantic Ocean, the national park service contains a large portion of America's natural beauty.
No one can deny that the US has many fantastic parks, but who is to say which is the prettiest American National Park? To unravel this question, we present the best national parks in the USA, including their breathtaking landscapes, things to do, and the best time to visit.
Take at least one hike at every national park you visit. There may be a scenic drive at whichever national park you adventure, but there is nothing like immersing yourself in the environment itself. You will enjoy the experience much more if you take to the trails.
Leave no trace in any national parks you may explore. American national parks are some of the best and most beautiful places in the US that you will visit. The way to keep these places natural and pristine is to carry in and carry out whatever you might bring and never leave any trash.
Take the time to read the signs in the national park. National park signs are put out for a reason, whether it be educational or for personal safety. Signs in parks are always essential to read because they will either expand your mind or keep you following the rules.
Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes. Continuing off of tip number one, you will figure out the value of a good pair of hiking shoes after a long hike.
Be bear aware. If you are headed to a park that has bears, read the guide for being bear aware for that specific park. Each national park has its requirements to be considered bear aware that must be followed. You can find this information by a quick search on the Internet.
Go to all of the iconic areas in a park. This may seem obvious, but you will never regret visiting a particular spot that past visitors have raved about. You will almost always be amazed by the beauty of America's national parks.
Arrive early or late at all the famous spots. Going along with number six to avoid the crowds, always arrive early or later in the day. This may be inconvenient, but it is the best way to experience the best parts of the park.
Always pack enough water. If you plan a hike, make sure to bring more water than you think. You never want to run out of water on a trail. A Camelbak is a popular solution because it allows 2 L of water to be filled.
Always grab a map offered when you enter the park. A large number of parks have spotty phone coverage at best. You cannot always rely on your directions working throughout the park. The best way to have a backup is to grab that map.
Be respectful to others visiting the national park. Certain areas of the park may get very busy, so it is important to share the space. For example, taking a picture and getting out of the way or being conscientious of others while on a trail. By being respectful and courteous, everyone can enjoy the wonders of nature.
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By far, the most beautiful national park in the USA has to be Glacier National Park. Located in Northern Montana, Glacier is blessed with the jutting features of the Rocky Mountain Ridgeline.
Miles of mountains that make up the Glacier National Park are colored by seemingly endless wildflowers that are yet only interrupted by the crisp white glaciers of the park's namesake.
Revered as one of the best parks in the national park community, Glacier National Park's stunning mountainous views can captivate/entrance all who dare/take all right the time to explore.
One will find that no matter how long you stay at Glacier, there will never be enough time to explore it all. The park offers endless activities between the animals, hikes, and scenery.
If you are a hiker, you have come to the right place. You will be busy with countless trails, including the famous Grinnell glacier and Avalanche Lake.
Wildlife watching is also a very popular activity because the park boasts a diverse range of animals. One can expect to see animals like the grizzly bear, brown bear, moose, and bighorn sheep all wandering throughout the park.
The most important activity you cannot miss out on is Glacier's Scenic Drive. The Going To The Sun Road is the main road to travel through Glacier National Park and has been voted one of the prettiest drives in the world.
Due to Glacier National Park's latitude, visitors have a short time to explore the park. One can find the peak season to visit Glacier National Park between June and September.
The park receives frequent snow during the off-season, which requires the national park service to shut down the Going To The Sun Road. Without access to the main road, one cannot fully enjoy this magnificent area.
Not far behind in beauty is Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The three imposing peaks that were immortalized by the famous photo taken by photographer Ansel Adams are bound to render anyone who glimpses them speechless.
The Grand Teton mountain range is a diverse array of canyons, valleys, and alpine lakes, each bringing more awe than the last.
No matter the season, Grand Teton National Park will always be a popular destination. Summer is the peak season for traversing the park's glorious hiking trails on foot. On the other hand, the winter is the best to snowshoe and cross-country ski those same routes.
Spring brings the end of winter and the best time to see the park's wildlife. Last but not least, the fall allows the magnificent autumn colors to accentuate the beauty of the mountain range.
There is no "bad" season to visit Grand Teton National Park, one of the best national parks in the USA. Deciding on what season is the right time for you to visit would depend on what activities you would like to participate in.
Generally, it is accepted that the time between May and September is the best time to visit Grand Teton National Park. The reason is that the summer allows for the full enjoyment of the park's popular trails with warmer temperatures and full access to the park.
Colorado is known for its mountainous terrain. There are no better mountains along the Rocky Mountain Range than those in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Pristine, towering, and simply stunning is how to describe the Rocky Mountains National Park. The best way to experience this intense beauty is to test the ever-popular hiking trails like Emerald Lake and Sky Pond.
Boredom does not come easy at a fan-favorite national park in the US. Rocky mountain national park boasts incredible hikes through the beautiful mountain range to stunning overlooks and emerald-green alpine lakes.
If hiking does not hold your attention, the scenic drive surely will. The Rocky Mountain scenic drive, Scenic Loop, is a 164-mile-long stretch of road that takes its travelers to brilliant views that can only be seen on this pathway.
Although the snow brings a quaint charm to the Rocky Mountains, most find it the most enjoyable during the summer months between June and September. During these months, you can see the mountains in their peak glory.
When the snow melts and the majestic elk find their way back to the luscious green valleys, summer is truly when the national park is experienced in its full glory. This is also when hikers have the best shot at open trails, which no one wants to miss.
Also Read: 20 Most Beautiful Hikes in Colorado
If you are looking for a jaw-dropping national park in the US, you can look no further than Zion national park. Enter cliffs, hundreds of feet tall, with right orange walls that simply glow in the sun's light.
There is simply no other place on earth quite like the cliffs of Zion national park. This park is a part of Utah's Mighty Five, yet Zion is often referred to as the best national park in Utah.
At the top of the most popular hikes in a national park is the daunting angels landing. On this hike, people here walk along the sheer cliffs of Zion.
It will surely get your adrenaline pumping when you walk along a rock tightrope mere feet away from a drop on either side. This hike is a must do while in Zion National Park, but only if you are brave enough for the climb.
Unlike most national parks, summer brings Zion into one of its worst seasons. With blazing heat and monsoon-like conditions brought at the end of summer, one finds it not the perfect time to visit this beautiful park.
Spring and fall are often considered the best time to visit Zion National Park. It is best to visit in these off seasons because of the fewer crowds and mild temperatures.
Arguably, the most incredible spot along the Sierra Nevada mountains is Yosemite National Park in California. Majestic waterfalls, towering granite features, rolling valleys, and lush meadows are all created by glaciers to make this one of the most stunning national parks in the USA.
Yosemite is famed as the home to some of the most iconic features in the US national park system. Sights including El Capitan, Tunnel View, Bridalveil Falls and half dome are all included with a visit to Yosemite.
There are a few attractions that are a must-see during your visit to Yosemite National Park. Places like El Capitan and half dome are absolute sights to behold.
Half Dome is the most iconic sheer granite cliff where willing hikers can complete the park's most well-known hike. This icon has a 4800-foot elevation with cables that hikers use to pull themselves up the cliff face.
Another Yosemite must is the incredible site of Yosemite Valley. This view is a lookout to a few iconic spots, including El Capitan Bridalveil Fall and Half Dome.
Yosemite is best to visit between the months of June and September. During this time, you can expect everything to be open and accessible, as well as warmer temperatures. If you are looking to avoid crowds, it is best to go during May or October. You must be prepared for colder weather and inaccessible amenities.
Also Read: Top Things to Do in Yosemite National Park
Although this park is often overlooked, Big Bend National Park is a hidden treasure in Texas. Its surrounding desert may turn people away, but this Texas park is worth your travel. In contrast to the green-covered Rocky Mountains, Big Bend has its mesmerizing sandy range.
These peaks are best witnessed when the hot Texas sun is setting, casting them ablaze in reds, oranges, and pinks. You have never seen a desert national park quite as magnificent as Big Bend National Park.
Situated on the Rio Grande River, Big Bend is a stone's throw away from Mexico. One of the most unique features of the park is its border crossing. Here, one can take a trip to the border town of Boquillas and explore Mexico for a day.
Boquillas is a little authentic town that thrives off the tourists coming in from the national park. The adventure begins when you are towed across the Rio Grande.
Once you reach the other side, buy a ride on a donkey that will take you to the town, where you will receive a tour and where you can stop for a margarita as well.
When you get back to the US, there are plenty of hikes you do not want to miss, like Hot Springs Hike, Santa Elena Canyon, and Boquillas Canyon. Have your fill of desert oases and a Mexican getaway at the severely underrated Big Bend National Park.
Although Big Bend may be one of the prettiest national parks in the USA, it is also one of the hottest. This dry arid park can only be visited from late fall through early spring to evade the infamous Texas heat.
The most well-known national park in America is Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Its claim to fame is that Yellowstone is the first national park created in the world.
Erupting geysers and other brightly colored hydrothermal features are the highlights of one of the most popular and most visited national parks in the USA. Yellowstone National Park also boasts picturesque views like a painted canyon and a variety of wildlife.
Top sites in Yellowstone national park include the iconic Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs, Grand Prismatic Hot Springs, Thumb Geyser, and Old Faithful Inn.
In addition, you simply must drive through Lamar Valley because you will have the best chance at seeing the best of Yellowstone's wildlife. The most iconic is the herd of more than a few thousand bison, but you can also expect to see coyotes and black bears in the park.
The most optimal time to adventure through Yellowstone national park would be in April, September and October. These are the national park's off-season, where crowds will be thin, but temperatures are still mild enough.
It's imperative to go during a time when there are fewer visitors because the attractions fill up and dampen the experience of this prettiest US National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the national park system. Irregular orange hoodoos of all different shapes and shades jut into the sky at this park.
Erosion and weathering is the creator of the strange formations. Come witness a beautiful US national park that contains the largest concentration of hoodoos anywhere on earth.
Bryce Canyon National Park offers a unique experience where visitors can walk among these beautiful rock formations. Four hikes allow you to do just that: Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop, Peekaboo Loop, Tower Bridge, and Mossy Cave Trail.
The Queens Garden Trail through the Navajo Loop is the most popular of these hikes. This trail is a 2.6-mile path that ventures into the canyon, where hikers may see the most picturesque views of the entire park. No matter the trail, you must take a hike during your visit to Bryce Canyon National Park.
There is no wrong time to visit Bryce Canyon. The time of year you plan your trip to Bryce depends on what you want to get from your trip.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Bryce, but spring and fall will have fewer people, and winter offers the chance of snowfall and winter activities.
Home to the most renowned namesake arches in America, Arches National park is the peak of the American desert aesthetic.
With over two thousand unique arches within the park, you cannot turn your head without spotting one. With its arches and hoodoos, this red rock terrain creates the entrancing desert national park that is Arches.
Located just thirty minutes from Moab, Utah, Arches is a hub for outdoor desert adventure. Hiking is the most popular activity because of the park's incredible trails.
Hikes that will take you to the most iconic and beautiful arches include Delicate Arch, the Windows and Turret Arch, Double Arch, Landscape Arch, and Devils Garden. The arches scene drive is highly recommended by visitors to the park.
Contrary to most other national parks, do not plan a trip to this beautiful US national park in the summer. Blistering miserable heat looms over the summertime at Arches.
For a more enjoyable visit during April or September when temperatures are still warm but not unbearable. Another benefit of choosing either of these months is that there will be fewer crowds.
Also Read: Best Things to do and Tips for Visiting Arches National Park
Olympic National park in Washington has three equally impressive yet vastly different ecosystems to experience. Reach the soaring Washington mountains on Hurricane Ridge, or take a seaside walk along the Olympic Peninsula to see rock iconic rock stacks.
Possibly the most bewitching area of the park is the Hoh Rain Forest. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States, but the dense moss that covers the trees makes it a true beauty.
Olympic National Park belongs on the list of the best national parks in the USA because of all the incredible environments it entails.
Olympic National Park has amongst the most scenic trails in all of Washington. There are simply some hikes that visitors must go on, like Marymere Falls Trail, Hall of Mosses, Hurricane Ridge Trail, and Sunrise Point Trail.
If you are looking for something a little adventurous, attempt the climb of Storm King Trail. Another thing you should not miss at Olympic is taking the famous rock stack photos at Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach.
Since there are so many different parts of Olympic National Park, it is hard to figure out what time of year is best to visit. Overall, it is usually the wisest to go during the summer for optimal weather conditions.
Winter offers unique experiences, like skiing down Hurricane ridge or storm-watching off the coast of the Olympic peninsula. This park does not have a lousy season since there are activities for every season, and Olympic is a pristine piece of nature.
Also Read: Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park
In the US national park system, there is a park in Florida that protects and preserves parts of the iconic Florida keys. The park provides refuge for its reefs, mangrove forests and islands, as well as sea creatures, including dolphins and sea turtles.
Explore everything from coral reefs to underwater shipwrecks while enjoying a warm breeze at Biscayne national park. Although a small part of the park is off the lamp, most of this game is only accessible by boat.
Because Biscayne National Park is primarily in the water, the best way to experience this underwater paradise is out on the sea.
The Biscayne national park institute offers a unique paddling adventure where it will take you out on the ocean for a fun day of snorkeling and paddling the seas.
Snorkeling is a popular activity in Biscayne. Due to its Crystal Clearwater, coral reef and underwater shipwrecks, Biscayne is widely known as one of the best places to snorkel in the US.
Biscayne National Park is one of the best national parks in the USA to go to during the winter. Escape the winter snows and cold by snowbirding down in Biscayne national park. Florida's sunny skies and warm weather will make sure you have a great time at the park. Also, this time of year will steer you clear of hurricane season.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Florida and The Best East Coast National Parks
Between the bright lights of Seattle's city skyline lies the great Mount Rainier. This active volcano giant is looked upon kindly by the people of Washington for its natural beauty. Mount Rainier's true glory is best appreciated in the national park.
Mount Rainier national park has its peak during the summer season. During this time, visitors can expect wildflowers dotting the surrounding area of the glaciated peak. With tons of trails, Mount Rainier national park is the place to be in Washington during the summer.
This amazing US national park is best enjoyed when on the trails. Mount Rainier national park hikes are the most fun way to view the volcano in all its splendor.
A popular trail is hiking the Mount Fremont trail, which provides spectacular Alpine scenery as well as views of the mountain itself.
Another fun activity enjoyed by all is wildflower peeping, known as one of the best places on earth to see wildflowers. You have to look at Mount Rainier's wildflowers if you go during the right season.
Since Mount Rainier National Park receives the most snow anywhere in North America, you definitely do not want to go from late fall to early spring.
It is simply best to avoid Mount Rainier national park during snowfall because it can receive 645 inches of snow. On the other hand, if you go during the peak, spring and summer seasons, you're greeted with the most beautiful display of wildflowers you have ever seen.
The colors of the flowers with the background of Mount Rainier will put you in heaven on earth.
A unique addition to Utah's mighty five national parks is Canyonlands National Park. Besides being another canyon carved by the Colorado River, Canyonlands has outstanding desert scenery.
The national park is split into three parts: islands in the sky, the maze and needles. Island in the sky is a bird's eye point of view down into the canyon where you are situated on top of the Mesa with stunning views.
Needles are the rock particles down in the remote part of the canyon. Finally, the maze is gorgeous gorges inside the canyon. Another noteworthy point is that Canyonlands is just 30 minutes away from Arches National Park.
This massive red rock national park will humble you but enormity, as well as shock you from its landscapes.
The most iconic hike of Canyonlands National Park is the Mesa arch trail. It is only a half-mile and excellent for all ages and hiking skill levels. Mesa arch frames the mountains and canyon behind it so beautifully you just have to get a picture.
Second in popularity to the Mesa arch is the Grand View Point Overlook. On this trail, you will follow along the island in the sky mesas to some of the most gorgeous sandstone cliffs. There are also plenty of well-maintained hiking trails in the needle district, so try your hand at a few.
To experience one of the most beautiful National Parks in the USA, you should visit during the spring or fall. Much like Arches National Park, temperatures in Canyonlands are relatively high during the summer, so it is best to go during the off-season.
Along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina is the pristine forest of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
This iconic American landscape known for its sprawling mountains is a hot spot for hiking in the eastern half of the United States and is the most visited national park in all of America.
The Great Smoky Mountains contain lush forests like you have never seen, filled with wildflowers, rivers and waterfalls. To add to this, it has one of America's most famous trails, the Appalachian trail, which follows the ridge line of the Smokies.
With beautiful scenery, and tons to do, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fun and fabulous place to visit.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park has the best hiking in the Appalachian Range. The Great Smokys contain about 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
There are many entrances to the trail throughout the national park, and you have to visit one to walk the iconic Appalachian Trail.
Another famous attraction in this national park is Clingmans Dome. Clingmans Dome provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area on top of the tallest point in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most scenic national parks in America. To see the park in its full beauty, it is best to visit during the fall.
During this time, the park became one of the most beautiful leaf-peeping areas in the United States. Furthermore, the Great Smoky Mountains is America's most visited national park, but the fall provides a reprieve from summer crowds.
Also Read: Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The national park system protects the tallest species of trees on earth. These trees can be found in the forests of Redwood National Park in California.
Situated right on the coast, the redwood trees have a peculiar phenomenon that allows them to grow so tall. Between the hills of California, Redwoods are protected from winds while receiving precipitation from the sea, allowing them to rise upwards of 300 feet tall.
Redwood trees make up one of the most magical forests in the whole world. Be dwarfed by this natural peculiarity when you walk among the tallest trees on earth.
This beautiful National Park in America has tons to do in its wonderful forests. Begin on a 4-mile walk on tall trees, which is often described as one of the best in Redwood National Park.
Along this trail, you will find Hyperion, the world's tallest tree standing at 379 feet tall. Next, you should head to Stout Grove to walk to the mystical old-growth redwoods.
Finally, wander through Fern Canyon. This canyon is covered in ferns from top to bottom. It is also a filming location for Jurassic Park Two.
Because of the Redwood National Park's position on the coast, it receives mild to warm temperatures year-round. You will be good no matter the time of year you visit, but the winter months tend to have more rain, so the best months to visit are between May and September.
Pinnacles National Park in California is covered in a spectacular display of volcanic remains. Pinnacles volcanic remnants come in different forms across the park, including spires, canyons, caves, and towers.
These interesting rock formations make for a perfect red rock mountain landscape and rock climbing and have been chosen by the endangered California condor to be their home.
Pinnacles are still making a name for itself, as it is a recent addition to the US National park service. Nonetheless, this newbie is certainly making an impression and deserves its place among America's most beautiful national parks.
Pinnacles national park has drawn the attention of the climbing community because of its oddly stacked rocks. The park has over 300 climbs which make for a climber's playground. One of Pinnacle's most popular attractions is the California condor.
This endangered bird has made pinnacles it's home; if you are lucky enough, you will spot its massive wingspan soaring through the sky. The best place to spot the condor is at the Condor Gulch Overlook.
The park also has its fair share of hikes, including the adventurous Bear Gulch Cave Trail, where hikers wind through mossy caves and over bridges.
Pinnacles National Park is best visited from October to May. During this time, there are optimal weather conditions. The only thing to be careful of is the rain the Park receives because it can make a large majority of the hikes inaccessible.
Crater lake national park in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States. Crater lake was formed by the collapse of a volcano and is subsequently how the lake received its name.
Crater Lake national park contains many famous attractions, including the iconic Rim Drive and Sun Notch trail. Many islands dot Crater Lakes, which can be viewed from some of the park's fantastic hikes.
Crater Lake national park deserves its rightful place as one of the prettiest national parks in the US.
The deep blue waters of Crater Lake can best be viewed while on the Rim Drive. This 33-mile stretch around the rim of Crater Lake is named one of the most scenic drives in the United States. The drive offers panoramic views from its viewing points and trailheads throughout the route.
One unique way to experience the park is on a boat tour. Boat tours are an educational and intriguing way to take in Crater Lake. Another way to get a closer look at the lake is the Cleetwood Cove Trail. This is the only hike that brings you down to the shoreline of Crater Lake.
It is best to visit Crater Lake National Park during the summer because the park receives warm weather and access to all amenities. If anything, you do NOT want to come to Crater Lake during the winter. The park gets cold weather and heavy snow from fall to late spring that blocks off parts of the park, like Rim Drive.
Often wrongly overlooked, Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado should be listed among the most beautiful national parks in America. Rolling dunes with a background of snow-capped peaks are what you are greeted with upon arrival at the park.
These sand dunes are unique because they are the tallest in North America. Colorado may be known for its snowy mountains, perfect for snowboarding, but at this national park, you can have a unique experience of snowboarding down dunes.
The most fun activity in Great Sand Dunes National Park is snowboarding down the dunes. It is a fun, adrenaline rush to slide down these sandy hills.
After a tiresome trek up the dunes, you can be rewarded with your choice of snowboarding or sledding down these ginormous hills.
If that's not your style, try hiking Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America. This sand dune is a whopping 755 feet tall and is quite a hike up to the top.
Unfortunately, the summer heat brings the dune temperature to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes walking on the sand an extremely uncomfortable experience.
The winter brings its problem since it snows in Great Sand Dunes National Park. This means that the best time of year to visit this park is during the spring and fall months.
The aftermath of millions of years of erosion has left behind the magnificent landscape of the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is one of America’s most well-known natural treasures.
This American beauty is truly a sight to behold. Layers upon layers of red rocks sandstone miles long have led to one of North America’s largest canyons.
One of the most adventurous activities and all of the national parks occurs here in Grand Canyon national park. There is a hike that many outdoor enthusiast attempts because of its wild nature.
In the Grand Canyon, hikers can walk from one side of the canyon to the other. To begin undertaking this astounding feat, start on the North Kaibab Trail. The entire hike is 24 miles which means hikers are out in the wilderness on their own for a days-long backpacking trip.
This requires the hikers to carry all the gear they need to survive, including tents, clothes, food, water, and more along their journey. If you are brave enough to take on the task, you will be treated with views like no other.
The best time to visit one of the Most Beautiful National Parks in the USA, also known as the Grand Canyon, is during the winter.
Timing your trip to the Grand Canyon may be tricky because winter is the best time to avoid crowds, but there is also the chance that trails might be slippery and impassable.
If you find the right combination of the two, you will be treated with the perfect experience of Grand Canyon National Park.
Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do In The Grand Canyon National Park
In the Arizona desert, there is a national park that calls wonder to all who witness the natural anomaly it is famous for. Forty-foot tall cacti, each of a different shape, stand tall outside the city borders of Tucson, Arizona.
These plants are called the Saguaro Cactus and are the tallest in the world. To see them, you must visit the Saguaro National Park. Saguaro is a unique place that can't be found anywhere else on earth; thus, it has to be on the list of the most beautiful national parks in America.
The best way to fully experience the beauty of Saguaro National Park is to see it at sunset. When the sun hits the Arizona horizon, it sets the desert on fire.
This spectacular display of reds and oranges creates a natural desert skyline of all the Saguaro Cacti. Dusk is the best time to get a gorgeous cactus photo to take an evening hike to enjoy the sunset.
The best time to visit this desert park is NOT in the summer. Arizona is famous for its scorching heat, which makes for a less-than-enjoyable trip into the desert. If you are looking to visit Saguaro National Park, it is best to go during the winter when temperatures are mild.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but everyone will certainly be able to see the beauty of these twenty beautiful national parks in America.
There may still be some debate over the best American national parks, but we can all agree that the USA has some prettiest national parks. Whether you enjoy mountains, plains, deserts, or oceans, the United States has a national park waiting for you to go explore.