National Park Sites Near San Francisco

Explore some of the national park sites just outside of San Francisco, including an infamous prison and that world-famous bridge.

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Golden Gate National Rec Area, California
Golden Gate National Rec Area, California

Golden Gate National Rec Area, California

Go for the majestic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, stay for the people watching. Surfers, dog walkers, fishermen and moms with jogging strollers are all drawn to the beach at former airfield Crissy Field. 960 1280

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Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

Float down the Merced River when temps soar in the summer and pull off for a picnic at one of the 2 main beaches, Cathedral or Sentinel. 960 1280

  

Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands

Turquoise water and gleaming white beaches at a national park? That's what you'll find if you venture outside of the US. The Virgin Islands National Park is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Trunk Bay. 960 1280

Ben Whitney, Wikimedia Commons  

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

It's not easy to get to most Colorado River beaches, but consider a several-day rafting trip the highlight of your trip. Before you dive in you should know the water rarely gets above 60 degrees, but you probably won't mind in 100-degree heat. 960 1280

Al_HikesAZ, flickr  

Santa Monica Mountains National Rec Area, California

Santa Monica Mountains National Rec Area, California

Just 10 miles up the coast from Malibu, you'll find surfers, sunbathers and sea caves tucked along the rocky coasts and sandstone cliffs. 960 1280

Doug Dolde, Wikimedia Commons  

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Get lost exploring Point Reyes's narrow stretches of sand and over 1,500 protected species of plants and animals. 960 1280

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Glen Canyon National Rec Area, Utah/Arizona

Glen Canyon National Rec Area, Utah/Arizona

Set among the red rocks, Lake Powell is perfect for water sports and cruising around coves in your boat. 960 1280

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Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington

If you're not blown away by the rocky sea stacks at the Point of Arches, at low tide check out the glowing tidal pools full of neon pink anemones and orange sea stars. 960 1280

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Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Filled with lighthouses, quaint towns and picturesque beaches, Cape Cod is postcard-ready -- the only thing missing is you. 960 1280

Anne Homyak, flickr  

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Home to the tallest US mountain on the Atlantic, the rocky coast of Maine lures people to hike granite peaks, observe the wildlife, bike historic carriage roads or simply relax in the resort town of Bar Harbor. 960 1280

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Assateague Island, Maryland

Assateague Island, Maryland

Assateague Island conjures up images of wild horses, salt marshes and sandy beaches -- and because it's a protected national seashore that's exactly what you'll find. 960 1280

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Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Most of Hawaii's national parks protect volcanoes, but Haleakala or "House of the Sun" also features a beach of basalt stones and breathtaking waterfalls. 960 1280

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Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park, California

A herd of Roosevelt elk is often seen in the meadow near the Gold Bluffs Beach campground in a 10-mile stretch of northwestern California beach and sand dunes. 960 1280

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Biscayne National Park, Florida

Biscayne National Park, Florida

Biscayne is for serious water lovers since it is made up of only 5% land -- mostly coral reefs and shoreline. 960 1280

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Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park, California

Getting away from it all will take roughly an hour on a catamaran from the Southern California mainland, but then you'll be free to kayak, snorkel or swim to your heart’s content. 960 1280

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Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

Cumberland Island is the largest sea island and home to the ruins of Dungeness Manor, originally constructed in 1803. 960 1280

Jon Dawson, flickr  

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is a paradise for stargazers. The park is so remote that light pollution is among the lowest in the entire US. Here, you can clearly see the Milky Way and a shooting star! Visit photographer Nick Parisse’s website to see more of his photos. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Chisos Mountains

Chisos Mountains

High in the Chisos Mountains, a hiker surveys the land as he decides which trail to take. Big Bend is often referred to as “3 parks in one” because of its size and diverse environments -- mountains, desert and river. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Chihuahuan Desert

Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert, one of the wettest in North America, has dense shrubbery that blankets the Chisos Basin. Here, the sun begins to set behind the mountains as a cold front moves in. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Backcountry Critter

Backcountry Critter

A tarantula makes its way across a backcountry trail in Big Bend National Park, TX. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Pinnacles Trail

Pinnacles Trail

Cacti cover a meadow along the Pinnacles trail in Big Bend National Park. Fall temperatures are mild, and colorful flora is still blooming in the winter. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Rio Grande

Rio Grande

A narrow stretch of the Rio Grande acts as a natural border between the US and Mexico. This view from Santa Elena Canyon, located in the southern region of the park, shows the US on the left and Mexico on the right. The Chisos Mountains are also visible in the distance. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Even on an overcast day, the sun still finds a way to illuminate the mountains. This photo was taken on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

The Big Room

The Big Room

A cluster of stalactites hang from the ceiling of “The Big Room” in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Cozy Home for Bats

Cozy Home for Bats

With a little natural light, this is a view from inside Carlsbad Caverns. In the summer months the caverns are home to thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Stunning Stalagmites

Stunning Stalagmites

Light shines on the cavern floor and ceiling, providing visitors with a view of huge stalagmites that can take thousands of years to form. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Scenic Walkway

Scenic Walkway

Visitors get an amazing view of this scenery along a walkway that turns into the entrance of the deepest part of Carlsbad Caverns -- nearly 750 feet deep. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Mineral Deposits

Mineral Deposits

Massive mineral deposits mushroom up from the floor of the caverns. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Natural Cavern Entrance

Natural Cavern Entrance

The natural entrance to the caverns is a paved switchback trail leading visitors underground to discover numerous geological wonders. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Stargazer's Heaven

Stargazer's Heaven

Even the light from a full moon and a few passing clouds couldn’t diminish the clarity of the stars in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, in Salt Flat, TX. Stargazers should add this park to their must-see list. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of America’s least-visited parks. It’s hard to understand why with unobstructed views like this. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Tejas Trail

Tejas Trail

Visible on the left, the sun lights up the switchbacks along the mountainside on Tejas Trail. The strenuous 10-mile, round-trip hike offers visitors some of the most beautiful views in the park. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Devil's Hall Hike

Devil's Hall Hike

The spectacular hike into “Devil’s Hall” brings visitors around mountains and through a dry river channel. In an effort not to unnecessarily detract from the natural views, rock cairns act as trail markers. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Devil's Hall

Devil's Hall

Here’s a view from “Devil’s Hall” as the path narrows. “Hiker’s Staircase” is visible in the foreground. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Epic Mountain View

Epic Mountain View

This is one of many mountain views visitors will encounter while on a backcountry hike through Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument offers visitors several recreational activities, including picnicking, hiking, camping, scenic drives and sledding. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Morning at Monument

Morning at Monument

The sun breaks through the clouds on an early morning in White Sands National Monument. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Gem Hunter's Paradise

Gem Hunter's Paradise

Covering over 275 square miles, White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Capoeira on a Dune

Capoeira on a Dune

A well-traversed dune is the perfect place for this traveler to occupy his time and practice the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

National Park Camping

National Park Camping

It’s time to pack up camp and move along as the sun rises. White Sands offers backcountry camping for guests who want to sleep under the stars. Visit Nick Parisse’s website to see more of his photos. 960 1280

Nick Parisse