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

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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  

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park
Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Near the center of Arches National Park you’ll find the Garden of Eden -- so named because its rocky shapes resemble flowers and trees. 960 1280

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North Window, Arches National Park

North Window, Arches National Park

This 90-foot-wide portal known as the North Window is one of many natural sandstone arches you’ll find at Arches National Park. 960 1280

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Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The 65-foot Delicate Arch is its most famous. 960 1280

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Arches National Park

Arches National Park

In addition to its famed arches, Arches National Park’s colorful geography includes maze-like narrow passages and tall rock columns. You can find this view directly opposite the Delicate Arch. 960 1280

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Hiking at Arches

Hiking at Arches

Two hikers journey back from the Delicate Arch. The 3-mile trail (round-trip) is moderately strenuous, and takes roughly 30 to 45 minutes each way. Bring plenty of water! 960 1280

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Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch

Enjoy a shaded rest from the Moab desert sun. This trail at Arches National Park leads through deep sand; a secluded arch, Sand Dune Arch, awaits up ahead. 960 1280

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Wolfe Ranch Cabin

Wolfe Ranch Cabin

In the late 1800s, a Civil War veteran named John Wesley Wolfe and his son built this 1-room cabin in what is now Arches National Park. For more than 10 years, Wolfe lived on this rugged ranch, where the area’s water and desert grassland were enough to sustain a few cattle. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

The Moab area is also home to Canyonlands National Park. Erosion over millions of years produced the many canyons, buttes and mesas here -- including Mesa Arch. 960 1280

Alex Proimos, flickr  

Hell’s Revenge

Hell’s Revenge

Ready to take on Hell’s Revenge? This steep slick rock trail may make your pulse race as you tackle its hair-raising descents on a Razor ride. It’s located in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, a sandstone plateau of slick rock domes, bowls and fins. 960 1280

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Porcupine Rim Trail

Porcupine Rim Trail

A mountain biker tackles Porcupine Rim Trail, one of 2 trails within the Sand Flats Recreation Area. The steep, rocky terrain, which stretches nearly 15 miles, challenges even the most experienced mountain bikers. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Moab Cowboy

Moab Cowboy

Meet the Moab Cowboy -- that's what locals call Kent Green. For more than 20 years, Green served as a deputy sheriff and search-and-rescue commander in the Moab area. Today, he leads off-road adventures. His no. 1 rule: Never travel alone. 960 1280

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Moab Dinosaur Footprints

Moab Dinosaur Footprints

Check out these fossilized dinosaur footprints during a Razor ride through the Sand Flats Recreation Area with the Moab Cowboy. 960 1280

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Big Bend Recreation Area

Big Bend Recreation Area

Moab is a rock climber’s dream. Enjoy bouldering at the Big Bend Recreation Area along the Colorado River, northeast of Moab. 960 1280

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Colorado River

Colorado River

Take in the view of the Colorado River from Scenic Byway 128, with awe-inspiring views of red standstone cliffs just beyond. 960 1280

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Fisher Towers, Colorado River

Fisher Towers, Colorado River

River guide Arne Hultquist leads a whitewater rafting trip through the Fishers Tower section of the Colorado River. The area comprises a series of towers made of sandstone; they’re named after a miner who lived in the area in the 1880s. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Matrimony Spring

Matrimony Spring

Fill up at Matrimony Spring, a natural spring along Byway 128. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the spring will continue to return to Moab. The water that issues forth begins its journey as snowmelt from the La Sal Mountains, 20 miles southeast of Moab. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Get ready to say “wow” at Dead Horse Point. The park features a stunning overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The area also served as the final film scene for the 1991 classic Thelma & Louise. 960 1280

Mike Nielsen, flickr