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Most Popular National Parks, Ranked

25. Gateway Arch National Park

The Gateway Arch is definitely one of the first things people think of when they visit St. Louis. The arch was originally recognized as a national monument, but when it was renovated back in 2018 it was changed to a national park. 

The Gateway Arch National Park represents the modernization of St. Louis that blends the urban world with the natural world. The park may seem a bit underwhelming at first because it’s extremely small, but it’s still worth a visit. 

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24. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a mix of natural and manmade attractions, helping the park stand out among other famous parks. Located in rural Ohio, the park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for wildlife and native plants. 

 

Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot tall waterfall is a must-see at Cuyahoga Valley. Other activities include biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and of course hiking. 

23. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah Natioanl Park  extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The park is best known for Skyline Drive, a scenic 105-mile road that runs along the ridge of the mountains. 

With over 500 miles of trails, there are endless options for the nature and scenery you can explore in Shenandoah National Park. Hike a section of the Appalachian trail, enjoy birdwatching, or explore the gorgeous waterfalls at this park. 

(Image via Wikipedia)

22.Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is a paradise for both rock climbers and geologists. Utah is home to 13 national parks, but Capitol Reef is certainly one of the best. Nothing beats the beautiful cliff formations, the wildlife, or the unique views.

Capitol Reef is known for the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long buckle in the Earth's crust. Other sites such as Cassidy Arch Trail, Burr Trail, Cathedral Valley and Freemont River Waterfall attract visitors to this national park year-round. 

(Image via Wolfgang Staudt on Wikipedia, CC)

21. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is open year-round and it's fun to visit in the different seasons. Enjoy the winter snow activities and views, or the breathtaking wildflowers in the summer. There really is something for everyone to do here. You can even enjoy most of the sites without leaving your car!

Mount Rainer National Park hosts hundreds of hiking trails that lead you to paradise. However, if you aren't an experienced hiker Mount Rainier probably isn't your best option. The hiking options are challenging and so diverse that aspiring Everest-climbers use them for training. For the inexperienced hikers, we would suggest you to check out the lava fields, waterfalls, and glaciers. 

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20. Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is another national park that is on the small side, but it’s still pretty cool. This national park is credited as the United States oldest national park – yes, it even predates Yellowstone! 

Although you can’t bathe in the hot, natural springs, you can visit one of the several bath houses in downtown Hot Springs. Hot Springs is on the must-see list when you visit Arkansas! 

 

(Image via Chris Light on Wikipedia, CC)

19. Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park is certainly for the outdoorsy people. Haleakala is probably one of the best places on the planet to enjoy a scenic bike ride at sunrise. You can also take a challenging climb into an active volcano! 

Though swimming isn't recommended, Haleakala is home to several beautiful freshwater pools. Take a walk through bamboo forests, or enjoy searching for endangered species. Haleakala is known to have more endangered species than any other national park in the United Sates. 

(Image via Unsplash)

18. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is Utah’s most popular national park. According to Thrillist, the only reason it’s not ranked better on the list is it’s inaccessibility and limited activities. If you are planning a trip to Zion National Park, be prepared to get your steps in! 

 

Zion National Park is a true climber's paradise. The park offers over 2,000 foot sandstone cliffs, spectacular views, and archeological sites. Angels Landing is one of the most beautiful views in the nation, but it's also one of the world's most dangerous. 

(Image via Doc James on Wikipedia, CC)

17. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park has many things going for it. It’s one of the oldest national parks east of the Mississippi River, it’s the biggest tourist attraction in Maine, and it’s extremely close to the charming New England towns. 

Acadia offers 125 miles of hiking trails, serene campgrounds, and hidden beaches. Plan to get to the park early in the morning as it tends to get crowded quickly.

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16. Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park was deemed a national park in February 2019. The park was originially called Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Indiana Dunes hugs the southern shore of Lake Michigan. You can enjoy the woods, beaches, prairies, and marshy wetlands. According to Thrillist, it's one of the most biodiverse places in the country. 

15. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If you ever make the trip to Hawaii, make sure you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Visitors can view two active volcanoes, including the world's largest volcano! 

Take a drive around Crater Rim or hike through Mauna Loa Backcountry. It's best to visit the park in the spring or the fall because the weather will be perfect and it will be less crowded.

(Image via Facebook)

14. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

As the most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountain National Park is wildly popular due to it’s beautiful views. The location of the park couldn't be more perfect. It's very close to some pretty large cities and other attractions, such as Dollywood. Many people make a stop here on their way to somewhere else. 

 

If you ever stop at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, make sure you visit the Clingman's Dome observation tower. The panoramic views can honestly not be beat! There are quite a few things you can do here besides hike such as pick wild strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries or take a dip in one of the many swimming holes. 

(Image via Wikipedia)

13. Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park sits on the border between Canada and the northern region of Montana. As you might have guessed, Glacier National Park is popular for its beautiful glaciers.  Unfortunately, with the recent climate changes, some of the glaciers have been melting.

Glacier park is known to have some of the most pristine landscapes in the nation. Aside from hiking, fly fishing is a wildly popular activity at this park.

(Image via Robert M. Russell on Wikipedia, CC)

12. Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is truly magical. You can enjoy beautiful snowcapped mountains, the rocky Pacific coastline, and towering forests on a single trip! Some people believe Olympic offers some of the best hiking trails in the United States. 

Heading to Olympic National Park? Make sure you visit Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch Beach,  and Lake Crescent. 

(Image via Adbar on Wikipedia, CC)

11. Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is often overlooked due to is close proximity to Yellowstone. Yeah, it might not be as famous as Yellowstone, but it’s every bit worth a visit. 

Grand Teton offers breathtaking views, waterfalls, and beautiful fall foliage. If you are taking a trip to Jackson Hole or Yellowstone, be sure to spend a day at Grand Teton. You won’t regret it, we promise! 

(Image via Unsplash)

10. Bryce Canyon National Park

Utah has several national parks, and Bryce Canyon is one of the most popular – after Zion National Park, of course. Bryce Canyon is famous for its naturally formed amphitheaters and stone pillars, called hoodoos. 

Bryce Canyon is seriously one-of-a-kind. You can enjoy over 100 species of birds, more than 1,000 plant species, and many different kinds of mammals. One piece of advice get up at the crack of dawn and catch the sunrise. 

(Image via Unsplash)

9. Joshua Tree National Park

You guessed it! Joshua Tree National Park is named after and famous for its Joshua Trees. It's located to the east of Los Angeles, and has a beauiful desert landscape. Joshua Tree National Park is part of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts.

Some of the most popular activities at Joshua Tree National Park include hiking, astronomy, and bird watching. The park is home also to over 500 archaelogical sites. 

(Image via Unsplash)

8. Arches National Park

Arches National Park is known as one of the most beautiful desert landscapes in the United States. For those who enjoy truly scenic drives, take the Arches Scenic Drive. Trust us, it's one of the most fascinating roads in Utah and it cuts through the middle of the park! 

Arches National Park contains over 2,000 sandstone arches, which took millions of years to form. The most famous arches are Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Balanced Rock, so be sure to visit those. 

(Images via Unsplash)

7. Rocky Mountain National Park

If you're heading to Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park better be at the top of your must-see list. This national park consists of enormous mountains, deep valleys, and even some glaciers. Keep your eyes peeled as you may stumble upon some wildlife such as elk, grizzly bears, bobcats, or maybe wolverines!

Enjoy over 350 miles of trails, wildlflowers, and woodlands at Rocky Mountain National Park. You can choose from easy, flat hikes to challenging backpack trips. This park is one of the most visited parks in the country. Rocky Mountain National Park is a true hiker’s paradise.

6. Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is located in the southwestern region of South Dakota and contains a truly stunning landscape. The striking beauty of the Badlands attracts visitors from all over the world. Badlands National Park hosts a maze of canyons, fossilized animal species, and ancient trails. 

Badlands isn't all dirt and rocks though. The park is also home to one of the country's largest prairies. Badlands is full of history, and if you're lucky you may stumble upon some ancient fossils. 

(Images via Unsplash)

5. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is the a land of extremes. It's the hottest, driest, lowest, and largest national park in the lower 48 states. This national park offers more than just the scorching hot desert though. Snow lies on the towering mountain peaks and there are lush wildflower meadows. 

If you are planning a trip to Death Valley National Park, you may consider going in the spring. Spring is the perfect time to visit Death Valley because you will beat the insanely hot temperatures and the beautiful wildflowers will be blooming. Make sure to drive up to Zabriskie Point, where you can see some of the most magnificant rock formations in California.

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4. Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is something you must witness firsthand. Not only is Sequoia home to the biggest tree in the world, it’s home to half the planets largest and longest-living trees. Some of the trees are towering over 300 feet high. Can you imagine the beauty? 

Be prepared to get your steps in when visiting Sequoia National Park. Most of the park is not accessible by car, only on foot or horseback. But trust us, every step is worth it. 

3. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is beautiful year-round, making it a very popular destination. Another perk is it’s fully accessible to everyone – young or old – actually many of the park’s most iconic attractions can be viewed on a scenic drive.

2. Grand Canyon National Park

You honestly can’t beat the views at this world-famous national park. People travel from all over the world to visit the Grand Canyon. Pictures do not do justice – the Grand Canyon is massive – it’s over 270 miles long, 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep! 

If you plan on visiting the Grand Canyon, you will need to decide how you want to see it. The options are endless – a helicopter tour, a boat tour, a mule ride, hiking, rafting, a ride in an open-air jeep, or on a free shuttle bus. Lots to think about when visiting this national park. Just make sure you get the iconic picture of standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon! 

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1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is the most popular national park in the United States. Yes, that’s right – it’s ranked above the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. Yosemite is famous for it’s immense granite cliffs, beautiful waterfalls, and huge sequoia groves. 

Yosemite National Park seriously offers a little bit of everything. It’s the perfect vacation for a diverse family or group of friends. You can swim, hike, float, or drive around the park. Your pick! 

(Image via Unsplash)