Parks That Set the Scene

You'll be surprised which national parks are the setting of your favorite films.
11 photos

Experience the Parks

Stargazing at Joshua Tree National Park 
To the Bridge, Spock

To the Bridge, Spock

Utah’s Natural Bridges National Monument already has a height advantage, rising 6,500 feet above sea level on Cedar Mesa. The rocky catwalks not only bring you closer to the stars, they carry the distinction of being in the first national monument to be certified by the International Dark-Sky Association, an organization that aims to curb light pollution and preserve our celestial views (sort of like a non-profit dimmer switch). 960 1280

  

Star Man

Star Man

Park Rangers at Southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon take their stargazing seriously. They are tasked with protecting the area’s incredible natural darkness for the 100+ astronomy programs that operate every year within the park. How dark is it? It’s so dark that Venus and Jupiter are bright enough to cast your shadow on the canyon floor. For maximum cosmological majesty, plan your trip around the Annual Astronomy Festival in early June.  960 1280

BRYCE R. BRADFORD  

California Stars

California Stars

Just beyond the reach of L.A.’s ring of smog and neon, Joshua Tree National Park is Southern California’s personal planetarium. Winter solstice offers the longest night of the year and best star gawking opportunity. Weave your way through the desert hippie caravans and gaze deeply into the turquoise buckle of Orion’s belt.  960 1280

  

Temple of Stars

Temple of Stars

While perhaps not an obvious choice, Zion National Park in Utah rewards the patient star seeker with some stellar views of the Milky Way. With its towering sandstone cliffs and peculiar rock formations, there’s always something to see in Zion if you look up, even on a moonlit night. Just stay to the paths.

 

 

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The Western Sky

The Western Sky

California’s Yosemite National Park is a popular destination for amateur astronomers who tend to gather at Glacier Point between June and August. Ask politely and they may let you peep through their impressively large telescopes. If you’re looking for a guided star voyage, astronomy walks are offered in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Wawona. DIY-ers can download an app like GoSkyWatch and plot their own trip through the night sky.  960 1280

  

A Star is Born

A Star is Born

Utah’s Arches National Park is one of the most arresting and photographed landscapes in the world, but at nightfall it becomes a darkened theater for the big cosmic revue overhead. Campers extinguish fires and recline their lawn chairs to take in the great celestial spray of the Milky Way as it bends from horizon to horizon, upstaged only by the occasional streaking meteor. 960 1280

Diana Robinson  

Sea of Darkness

Sea of Darkness

If you really want to get away from the city lights, head for the improbably named Dry Tortugas National Park, which is actually a string of seven small islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Go native and camp on the beach for some all-night sky watching. The only non-celestial light you’ll see is the intermittent flashing from the lighthouse on Loggerhead Key.  

 

 

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Picasa  

Party With the Stars

Party With the Stars

Arizona’s Grand Canyon offers one of the best views of the night sky in the U.S. The Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association throws star parties on the canyon’s South Rim, while the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix hosts competing events on the North Rim. Whichever bash you choose, make sure you dress warmly and look down from time to time. That first step is a doozy.  960 1280

  

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserves
White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

This would have to be my favorite park to visit that allows dogs to explore with you. If you want to stay the night, pay $3 for the backcountry camping pass. You will have to haul everything in and out, but it's so worth it. The quiet nights and sunrise are unlike anything I'€™ve ever experienced elsewhere. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks

A great way to feel completely insignificant is to visit this forest. The tall redwood trees will make you feel a bit like you took a step back in time. 960 1280

  

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

This is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. It was more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Over the years, I've visited several times and the best time to visit (in my opinion) is late August or early September. The kids and crowds thin out by then and the weather is gorgeous. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Even if you only have time for a drive-through, it'€™s worth it. However, I would plan on going during the off season (late fall to early spring) to score a spot at Devils Garden, the park's only campground, and take an early hike to Delicate Arch. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

This is the best place to climb a boulder and sleep among the stars. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

I went during the off season so I had the park to myself. If you want to bring a dog along, the off season (read: not summer) is best since the sand is cool to the touch and safe for paws. The views are simply amazing and if you want to hike to the top, you're in for a great workout. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

This is the best park to visit if you don'€™t like crowds. There is always an exception, but I took a hike to a natural arch and was the only person on the trail. The drive to and from the park is exceptional as well. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

I spent a month here during the summer without any reservations and lucked out at several campsites. There is even a hot spring as well as endless places to explore. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

I like to call this park a mini grand canyon without the massive crowds. It is quite spectacular to see. I recommend waking up before the sun to watch it rise on one of the many lookout spots. Simply beautiful. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument

My second favorite national monument is mostly unknown. I stumbled upon it driving and instantly fell in love. There are so many caves to explore and because it's self guided, you can go at your own pace. Bring a headlamp and a flashlight and go as far inside of a cave as you feel comfortable. Feel daring? Turn off all your lights. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Furnace Creek Resort, Death Valley National Park
Historic Luxury in Grand Canyon

Historic Luxury in Grand Canyon

When you first see El Tovar lodge on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, transcendentalism may occur. You could be metaphysically transported to 1905 when guests arrived by carriage or perhaps just back to your sofa and another rerun of National Lampoon’s “Vacation.” Both things happened here. Named for Spanish explorer and conquistador Pedro de Tovar, the Swiss/rustic chalet was constructed to accommodate tourists traveling on the Santa Fe Railway. The lodge’s steam heat, electricity, comfortable beds and freshly grown vegetables were unique luxuries for the time. El Tovar still strives to carry on finer traditions. Even if the rooms are all taken ($215 -$500), a visit to the lounge is a must. If you’d rather commune with nature, hikers swear by the pet-friendly Mather Campground ($18). 960 1280

  

Sleep Famously in Yosemite

Sleep Famously in Yosemite

Nature lovers, architectural purists and people obsessed with Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining” all have the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park on their bucket list – as it should be. Built to woo the wealthy and influential, the Grand Dame of the NPS is a structural wonder and once hosted Queen Elizabeth II, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable and Gertrude Stein, to name a few. At least take a seat in the lobby and enjoy the piano player, who is rumored to accommodate the most obscure requests. Depending on the season, rooms can cost upwards of $500 a night.  960 1280

Buyenlarge  

Best Camping in Yosemite

Best Camping in Yosemite

To the south of the Ahwahnee is Bridalveil Creek Campground, one of our favorite destinations for its proximity to the waterfalls and creek. The crowds are also a little lighter than other camping facilities and it has flushing toilets. Hey, it’s the little things. Sites start at $18 a night and the horse-riding set can hitch up Trigger for an additional $30. 960 1280

  

Pay for the View in Glacier

Pay for the View in Glacier

The Many Glacier Hotel is unique for myriad reasons, including its historic one-of-a-kind parkitecture, unparalleled convenience to the national park’s outdoor activities and jaw-dropping views of Swiftcurrent Lake. Additionally, unlike your favorite Hampton Inn, there are no in-room TVs or air conditioning. 

 

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Scott Temme  

Or Get Away in Glacier

Or Get Away in Glacier

The Cracker Campground is a six-mile hike from the Many Glacier Hotel with a 6,000-foot ascent into backcountry. The park requires that requests be submitted online prior to your arrival. Take nothing away and leave nothing behind and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with the experience of a lifetime.

 

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High Life in Death Valley

High Life in Death Valley

Those seeking a high thread count and resort-style amenities should look no further than the four-diamond 66-room Inn at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. It boasts an 18-hole golf course (the world’s lowest if you’re into that sort of thing), an airstrip, tennis courts and a sparkling pool. The cocktail lounge’s expansive windows provide (literally) epic views of the desert and we hear the G&Ts are especially refreshing after a day of 0% humidity. Rooms are from $309 to upwards of $600. 960 1280

Scott Temme  

Or Desert Trailer Park

Or Desert Trailer Park

Attention all glampers: Death Valley van camping is fast becoming the ALT Burning Man with large groups of caravans taking over the RV spots for weekends of desert frolic. Clocking in at roughly 3.4 million acres, that’s plenty of parking space. The bold and the hydrated are rewarded with mysterious sliding rocks, a wacky castle in the middle of nowhere and real ghost towns. Camping at Furnace Creek is $18 a night and four pets per site are permitted. Nearby park concessioner Stovepipe Wells has 14 RV sites with hookups for $33 a night and 190 campsites for $12 a night. There’s also a pool and showers. 960 1280

  

Keys to the Kingdom

Keys to the Kingdom

We’ve taken you to the far west, now let’s turn our attention to the southern extremes. As there are no federally run hotels or sanctioned concessioners at Dry Tortugas National Park, may we suggest Key West’s historic Casa Marina, which opened its storied doors on New Year’s Eve in 1920. Three days later, President Warren G. Harding came to visit and in 22 years the U.S. Navy acquired it and consequently used the facilities as officer's quarters for the duration of World War II. In the 50s, Casa Marina reestablished itself as a luxury hotspot hosting Gregory Peck, Ethel Merman and golden girl Rita Hayworth. The champagne corks have been popping ever since. When you’re ready to rough it, the concierge will gladly arrange everything you need to hop over to the nearby “people’s beach.” 960 1280

Thomas Hart Shelby  

Your Private Archipelago

Your Private Archipelago

Now that you’ve seen the splendor in the grass, may we suggest a splurge on the sand. Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the often-overlooked treasures on the parks roster. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, camping on its sandy shores is a unique and memorable experience. You’ll enjoy world-class snorkeling, bird watching and turtle spotting, or just relaxing in a hammock. Camping fees are only $15 per night and the ferry is $10. Keep in mind that there’s no snack bar, no fresh water source and no bathrooms. In the laid-back spirit that defines Key West, pets are permitted on Garden Key and boaters are welcome to drop anchor and enjoy the island with proper permits, which are free and can be picked up at Garden Key. 960 1280

  

Rock Hopper

Rock Hopper

If your hound is the rugged mountaineering type, head to Acadia National Park on the craggy coast of Maine. Strung across a chain of islands, the oldest national park east of the Mississippi boasts nearly 150 miles of Fido-friendly trails and carriage roads. Rangy hikes yield sweeping views of the Gulf of Maine and scenic Bar Harbor. But watch out where the huskies go … leashed pets are welcome almost everywhere that is not a source of public drinking water.  960 1280

James Kaiser  

Cresting Canines

Cresting Canines

With over 300 miles of hiking trails soaring to an altitude of 12,000 feet, Rocky Mountain National Park is perhaps the country’s most stunning mountain region. Dogs are permitted, but you’ll have to shorten that leash. To protect both pets and native wildlife, Rover can’t roam the backcountry trails, but he is allowed anywhere vehicles are permitted. If park rules curb his enthusiasm, there are several nearby areas like Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Estes Park where he can stretch his paws. 960 1280

Paul Maynard  

Sweet Virginia

Sweet Virginia

When D.C.ers break out of the beltway, they head for the rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park. With 500 miles of hiking trails accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, it will take you a dog’s age to cover all the pet-friendly ground spread over 200,000 acres of parkland. Skyland and Big Meadows Lodges also each offer Pampered Pooch Package accommodations.   960 1280

  

The Road to Zion

The Road to Zion

It’s difficult to imagine anything more breathtaking than the rocky cathedrals and emerald pools of Utah’s Zion National Park, unless you happen to have four legs. Sadly, pets are forbidden on most hiking trails in Zion; however, you can throw Spot a bone and take him down the refreshing Pa’rus trail, a 3.5-mile walkway that skirts the Virgin River. Just make sure to leash up, lest Spot spook at the sight of a lounging mule deer.  960 1280

  

Above the Rim

Above the Rim

Nicknamed the “big ditch,” the Grand Canyon will certainly inspire your four-legged backhoe. While pets are not allowed into the canyon itself due to safety concerns, you and your furry digger can hike the perimeter, including the jaw dropping South Rim Trail. Always keep a firm grip on the leash; dogs have been known to leap before looking. If you want to hike the canyon depths, the park offers a boarding kennel. For pet-friendly lodging, try the Yavapai Lodge West.  960 1280

Dave Biagi  

World's Largest Dog Park

World's Largest Dog Park

Perhaps. While it’s designated a National Scenic Trail rather than a national park, the Appalachian Trail constitutes a 2,174-mile walk from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Northern Georgia. With the exception of three restricted areas, dogs are welcome the length of the trail. Only 40% of the route requires that dogs be leashed, but we recommend you always keep pets tethered in wilderness areas. Because bears.  960 1280

  

A Cautionary Tail

A Cautionary Tail

Because of their restrictive pet policies, we cannot recommend Arches National Park as a dog friendly destination, except for a fast photo op. While pets are allowed, or perhaps only tolerated in the campground, they must be leashed at all times and must not cause a ruckus. If you are visiting Arches, look into boarding options in nearby Moab. 960 1280

  

Bo Versus the Volcano

Bo Versus the Volcano

The iconic profile of Washington’s Mt. Rainier National Park has drawn visitors to the foot of the icy volcano long before it was declared a national park in 1899. Within the 236,381 acres of the park, pets are restricted to roads, parking lots and campgrounds. A great alternative: Dogs are welcome on all trails within the Crystal Mountain Trail system, which is a vigorous nine-mile loop sure to tucker out both two and four-legged friends. Leashed pets are permitted in the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, which share borders with North Cascades National Park. 960 1280

George Matthew Cole  

Border to Border (Collie)

Border to Border (Collie)

The one trail bordering Mt. Rainier that welcomes dogs is the Pacific Crest Trail. Accessed at the top of Chinook Pass on the park’s eastern edge near the historic Entrance Arch, the PCT stretches all the way down to Mexico. Bordering 7 national parks including Crater Lake National Park, Sequoia, Yosemite and Mt. Rainier, the PCT gives hikers the rare opportunity to camp out with furry friends.  960 1280

  

Way to Go, Ohio

Way to Go, Ohio

Just south of Cleveland, you’ll find the deep forests and tumbling hills of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The spacious Ohio preserve is decidedly pet friendly, welcoming dogs all throughout its 20,000-plus acres, including the 20-mile long Towpath Trail, which traces the route of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The only restrictions are that dogs are prohibited from buildings and trains, unless the conductor is Goofy.  960 1280

  

Go West, Young Cur

Go West, Young Cur

Yosemite is probably the most famous national park in the country, but its popularity among dogs is confined to the Wawona Meadow Loop, which is the only trail open to them. However, furheads are welcome on roads, sidewalks, bike paths and most campgrounds. When you’re ready to explore less dog-tolerant areas of the park, there is a kennel in Yosemite Valley that operates from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Insider scoop: The Wawona Meadow Loop, Chowchilla Mountain Road and Four Mile and Eleven Mile fire roads (but not the Four Mile Trail in Yosemite Valley) are dog friendly. At Hodgdon Meadow: Carlon Road from the trailhead to Hodgdon Meadow and on the Old Big Oak Flat Road from Hodgdon Meadow to Tuolumne Grove parking lot will also welcome your best friend.  960 1280

  

The Best of Friends

The Best of Friends

Kyle Rohrig and his dog Katana camp and hike together on a regular basis. They even wrote an inspirational book about their adventures called "Lost on the Applachian Trail." Don't worry, that's just a euphemism about finding yourself and Kyle did most of the typing.  960 1280

  

I Am a Rock

I Am a Rock

Alcatraz Island lies out in the bay a mile and a half off the San Francisco shoreline. For many years, that was enough to keep prisoners like Al Capone on the rock and tourists off it. More than an infamous lockup, Alcatraz was also the first U.S. fort on the West Coast and the site of a 19-month occupation by Native Americans to reclaim disused federal land. Now you can buy a Property of Alcatraz T-shirt and take a selfie in Machine Gun Kelley’s cell.  960 1280

ROBYN BECK  

Torch of Freedom

Torch of Freedom

Once upon a time, newcomers to America would huddle en masse under the gaze of the great green colossus on Liberty Island before entering the country. Times have changed, but the Statue of Liberty is still a go-to American symbol of freedom and inclusion. Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the lofty lady of the harbor since 1933.  960 1280

  

Port of Entry

Port of Entry

From 1892 to 1954, some 12 million immigrants set upon a path to citizenship that led them to Ellis Island in New York Harbor. The Great Hall remained largely vacant until 1990 when it was reopened to the public as the country’s largest museum devoted to our history as an immigrant nation.  960 1280

  

Our House

Our House

You don’t have to win 270 Electoral College votes to get into the White House, you just have to ask your Congressman for a pass. Free, self-guided tours of the East Wing run five days a week and include permanent exhibits and a short film. Requests must be submitted at least 21 days in advance and sorry, you can’t use the bowling alley. 960 1280

  

Steel Rainbow Connection

Steel Rainbow Connection

Like a giant staple holding the country together at the Mississippi River, the St. Louis Gateway Arch is the nation’s tallest and most silvery monument and embodies Thomas Jefferson's vision of the westward expansion of the United States. Yes, you can go up in it.  960 1280

  

Kentucky Underground

Kentucky Underground

The Bluegrass State is famous for its coal mines, but Mammoth Cave National Park takes subterranean pride to new depths. Located in the Green River Valley, Mammoth Cave is the world’s largest known cave system, with more than 400 miles of explored chambers and labyrinths. To paraphrase an early guide, it is a grand and gloomy grotto.    960 1280

Zack Frank  

Private Islands

Private Islands

Head 70 miles away from Key West by boat or seaplane and you’ll come upon Dry Tortugas National Park, a 100-square-mile paradise composed of seven small islands and the majestic 19th-century Fort Jefferson. Yes, this tropical paradise belongs to you. Even more majestic are the eerie blue waters and jutting coral reefs that make for ideal snorkeling territory. Above water, you can enjoy the innumerable species of birds that inhabit the park, as well as the turtles for which it is named.   960 1280

Lorraine Boogich  

Take a Bath

Take a Bath

In the middle of Arkansas, the town of Hot Springs, well, sprang up around what is now Hot Springs National Park, an area known for thousands of years as the “Valley of the Vapors” for its medicinal steaming waters. Since 1921, it’s been a national park nicknamed "The American Spa.” Architecture buffs flock to Bathhouse Row to appreciate the collection of ornate, preserved bathhouses.  960 1280

  

Swamp People

Swamp People

Admit it, you’ve always wanted to wear gumboots and race an airboat through the Florida Everglades National Park. Spend your days deep in sawgrass, clocking manatee, dolphin and alligators. Watch in awe as a giant heron struggles to take flight in a mangrove swamp. Or maybe you just want to hang out at the historic Nike Hercules missile base. Whatever you want to do, you can do it in the Everglades.  960 1280

Terry J Alcorn  

Let's Go to the Mall

Let's Go to the Mall

The Great Emancipator sits in contemplation some 19 feet above you. It’s a sight every American should see in their lifetime. The Lincoln Memorial on the western end of the National Mall in Washington is, unsurprisingly, the most visited site in a space rich with monuments, museums and historical points of interest. It has also been the backdrop for historical events, most notably MLK’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. For an added layer of historical context, visit the Memorial at night.  960 1280

ChangCheng  

American Virgin

American Virgin

No one needs an excuse to visit the Virgin Islands, but if one did, one could do worse than the Virgin Islands National Park. Comprising roughly 60% of the island of St. John, plus another 5,650 acres of submerged territory, the park protects and preserves countless species of tropical and migratory birds, fish and other marine and plant life. Who needs a yacht when you’ve got leatherback turtles?    960 1280

  

Paddle the Pacific

Paddle the Pacific

Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast of Los Angeles, is home to some of the best kayaking on the West Coast. Rich with marine life and boasting the much-photographed Arch Rock, Anacapa is the perfect day trip or overnighter for the city dweller looking to get into some rough water. It’s a cliff island, so beware of winds, currents and fog.  

 

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Great Art Productions  

Float the Border

Float the Border

The mighty Rio Grande runs through Big Bend National Park in Texas, but it also represents the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Rafting down the river not only takes you through some eye-widening scenery, like 1500-foot deep canyons, but will also toss you back and forth across the border. 960 1280

Witold Skrypczak  

Hit the Sandy Slopes

Hit the Sandy Slopes

Colorado has Aspen, one of the most famous skiing destinations on the planet. It also has Sand Dunes National Park, one of the only sandboarding and sandsledding destinations on the planet. Slalom down the granular slopes like some diabolical combination of Jean-Claude Killy and Lawrence of Arabia. Hit the dunes early in the morning or late in the evening, lest you roast in the 150° midday heat. And don’t forget the lip balm.

 

 

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Simon Russell  

Cold Storage

Cold Storage

The upper regions of Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park have over 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow, providing a year-round paradise for hearty souls who consider ice camping a pleasure. If you’re going to stay the night on the mountain, securely lock your vittles to keep them from the clutches of foxes and other aggressive winter wildlife. 960 1280

Peter Haley  

Take in the Lights

Take in the Lights

Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park sits just below the Canadian border and offers campers a ringside seat to the Northern Lights. Voyageurs encompasses 270 campsites only accessible by watercraft, but we recommend the remote Echo Lake Campground for best visibility. Check a variety of weather services to determine your best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. 960 1280

Steve Burns  

Yosemite Gliding

Yosemite Gliding

It may seem crazy, but people have been leaping off Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park for decades. Hang gliding was once sanctioned and overseen by park employees. These days the private Yosemite Hang Gliding Association coordinates it. 960 1280

Celso Diniz  

The Rafters

The Rafters

If a weekend of seething whitewater just doesn’t cut it anymore, try an eight-day Grand Canyon raft trip down the Colorado River. There are a host of operators who will happily guide you down 200 miles of rapids. By the end of it, you’ll have seen Native-American ruins, mile-high cliff walls and countless eagles. 960 1280

  

Hit the Heights

Hit the Heights

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park boasts rock formations that will set a climber’s mouth to watering. The 415-square-mile park is a full-service climbing destination, featuring opportunities for scaling rock, wall, ice and snow. Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak are favorites of local and international climbers. Whether you are an experienced sport climber or a beginning boulderer, be safe and leave no trace of your visit.

 

 

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Forest Woodward  

Lost in America

Lost in America

It makes sense that America’s largest national park is in Alaska, its largest state. Wrangell-Saint Elias stretches across 13,200,000 acres. You could fit Yellowstone, Everglades, and Death Valley inside it, and still have room for Denali, the third largest park (also in Alaska) at 6,075,030 acres. 960 1280

  

Take Me to the River

Take Me to the River

In addition to being the most popular hike in Zion National Park, the Narrows has something for every ability level over its 16 miles. The trail follows the Virgin River, which is convenient during the summer months, since you’ll be at least ankle-deep most of the time. If it starts to rain, head for high ground; flash floods are common and have a tendency to drop by without calling first.  960 1280

  

Shaky Town

Shaky Town

From the hippie to the dippy, the flamboyant to the clairvoyant, San Francisco has it all. Between its mild weather and steep streets, its residents spend a lot of time getting a workout. The cosmopolitan city is the gateway town to Yosemite, Point Reyes National Seashore, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes Alcatraz, China Beach, Ocean Beach and the Presidio on its roster. Whether you’re into opera, jazz or rock-n-roll, we can assure you that there’s a drum circle forming near you. 960 1280

joe daniel price  

Emerald City

Emerald City

The town that gave us Jimi Hendrix, Gypsy Rose Lee, Starbucks and Microsoft is one cool town, literally. In grungy Seattle, temperatures average 58.8°F per year and it rains more than 150 days annually. That makes for some sweet snow at Mount Rainier and plenty of activities in nearby North Cascades National Park and Olympic National Park. Seattle also boasts the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and the San Juan Island National Historic Park. Throw in a night out at the Comet or the Crocodile and your friends will be green with envy.  960 1280

  

I’m Going to Jackson

I’m Going to Jackson

Located less than 10 minutes from Grand Teton National Park and about an hour and a half from Yellowstone’s entrance, the town of Jackson Hole has been described as Aspen without the flash – a bold statement considering you can toss a snowball and hit a billionaire. They come for the slopes, the seclusion, the beauty and the home brews. Celebrities like Harrison Ford and Sandra Bullock laid downed permanent roots. 960 1280

  

Way Down South

Way Down South

At the southern-most tip of the U.S. you’ll find the laidback town of Key West. Its highest point sits 18 feet above sea level with Cuba about 100 miles away. Locals enjoy year-round fishing, snorkeling, street festivals and rum tastings. Offbeat activities include bike tours in an above-ground cemetery and the Aqua West Drag Show. Locals recommend spending time on Duval Street and the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. Key West is also the anchor city for Dry Tortugas National Park, which is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Go there when you’re ready to dry out, so to speak.  960 1280

Raul Rodriguez  

Scruffy City

Scruffy City

Sitting at the foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Knoxville, Tenn., is like the Little Engine That Could. It keeps chugging and chugging, offering more live music, fun outdoor activities and crazy good restaurants. The "Scruffy City," as locals call it, has a respect for historic architecture and continues to protect and preserve areas such as the vibrant downtown. Gone are the days when orange-and-white college football was its best offering; Knoxville has earned its own stripes and colors.  960 1280

Arpad Benedek  

Marfa, Marfa, Marfa

Marfa, Marfa, Marfa

A lot of people think there’s no reason to go anywhere in Texas except maybe Austin, Dallas, San Antonio … let alone West Texas. We’re here to enlighten you: Go to Marfa. You may recognize this sleepy kitschy dust bowl from “No Country for Old Men” or “There Will Be Blood.” It’s got a unique art scene, a film festival, a groovy resort called El Cosmico and less than 2,300 residents. About an hour and a half north of the Big Bend National Park, one of the most remote and overlooked parks on the NPS roster, Marfa is your stop for one last look at civilization. Or how civilization looked about 30 years ago, depending on one’s perspective.  960 1280

  

Band Camp

Band Camp

What was founded as Camp Collins in 1864, Ft. Collins is home to Colorado State University and a burgeoning brewery scene. The college town has since attracted musicians, artists, hucksters, entrepreneurs and ski bums. All enjoy the town’s proximity to the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park and myriad outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing as well as music festivals and farmer’s markets.  960 1280

RiverNorth Photography  

Desert Cool

Desert Cool

Considered the gateway town to Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs oozes cool. Frank Sinatra put the sleepy desert town on the map and once shared the grooviest pad with Ava Gardner. Hey, you can even rent it should you have the bones, baby. It’s got great thrift store shopping, film festivals, MCM home tours and detox spas. The only thing you’ll want for is more time.  960 1280

  

Ash-Vegas

Ash-Vegas

Located near the Smoky Mountains and at the Blue Ridge foothills, Asheville, N.C. is one of the hippest towns below the Mason-Dixon. The downtown and River Arts districts, outdoor activities and world-class cuisine attract thousands of new and repeat visitors each year. And of course, we’ll always have the Biltmore.  960 1280

  

Find a National Park Nearby

DC War Memorial
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50 States of National Parks

Learn about all the parks across the country, from east to west, rural to urban. Wherever you go, there's a park to explore.
Little River Canyon National Preserve (Alabama)

Little River Canyon National Preserve (Alabama)

Plan your trip to the Yellowhammer State. See the full list of Alabama national parks here. 960 1280

Jeff Schreier Photography  

Denali National Park (Alaska)

Denali National Park (Alaska)

Explore a world of wild beauty and pure adventure. See the full list of Alaska national parks here. 960 1280

National Park Service/Tim Rains  

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Adventure awaits in The Grand Canyon State. See the full list of Arizona national parks here. 960 1280

Image Bank / Getty Images  

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (Arkansas)

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (Arkansas)

Historic battles, hot springs, the Ozarks and more! See the full list of Arkansas national parks here. 960 1280

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism  

Redwood National and State Parks (California)

Redwood National and State Parks (California)

Iconic landscapes and unforgettable experiences. See the full list of California national parks here. 960 1280

Visit California/Carol Highsmith  

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (Colorado)

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (Colorado)

The Rocky Mountains and so much more. See the full list of Colorado national parks here. 960 1280

Alison Turner  

Twin Brooks Park (Connecticut)

Twin Brooks Park (Connecticut)

These New England landscapes tell a unique story. See the full list of Connecticut national parks here. 960 1280
Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network (Delaware)

Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network (Delaware)

Discover the beauty of America’s first state. See the full list of Delaware national parks here. 960 1280

James River Association, flickr  

Washington Monument (District of Columbia)

Washington Monument (District of Columbia)

Plan your trip to the nation’s capital. See the full list of District of Columbia national parks here. 960 1280

Dennis Govoni / Getty Images  

Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

Everglades, alligators and underwater adventures. See the full list of Florida national parks here. 960 1280

NPS photo  

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Georgia)

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Georgia)

Lush greenery, roaring rivers and plenty of peaches. See the full list of Georgia national parks here. 960 1280

Sebastien Windal / iStock  

Kalaupapa National Historic Park (Hawaii)

Kalaupapa National Historic Park (Hawaii)

Stunning landscapes abound on these mythic islands. See the full list of Hawaii national parks here. 960 1280

  

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (Idaho)

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (Idaho)

Where friendly faces and rugged wilderness meet. See the full list of Idaho national parks here. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Lincoln Home National Historic Site (Illinois)

Lincoln Home National Historic Site (Illinois)

Plan your trip to the Land of Lincoln. See the full list of Illinois national parks here.
960 1280

Joe Scherschel  

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana)

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana)

Start your adventure in the Hoosier State. See the full list of Indiana national parks here.
960 1280

Christine Livingston / Indiana Dunes Tourism  

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail (Iowa)

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail (Iowa)

A celebration of Midwestern history. See the full list of Iowa national parks here.
960 1280

  

Fort Larned National Historic Site (Kansas)

Fort Larned National Historic Site (Kansas)

Prairies, plains and trails await in the Midwest. See the full list of Kansas national parks here. 960 1280

Walter Bibikow  

Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area (Kentucky)

Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area (Kentucky)

Explore vast caves, mountain peaks and more. See the full list of Kentucky national parks here. 960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Poverty Point National Monument (Louisiana)

Poverty Point National Monument (Louisiana)

Discover bayous and blues history down South. See the full list of Louisiana national parks here.
960 1280

zrfphoto  

Acadia National Park (Maine)

Acadia National Park (Maine)

Explore Northern coastlines, trails and mountains. See the full list of Maine national parks here. 960 1280

By Kim Carpenter (Near Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park 8911) [CC BY 2.0],   

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine (Maryland)

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine (Maryland)

Visit historic battlefields, monuments and parks. See the full list of Maryland national parks here. 960 1280

Buyenlarge  

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (Massachusetts)

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (Massachusetts)

Explore peaceful beaches and historic sites. See the full list of Massachusetts national parks here. 960 1280

Kindra Clineff  

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Michigan)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Michigan)

Visit magnificent rock formations and sandy shores. See the full list of Michigan national parks here. 960 1280

Stephen Saks  

Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

Journey to fresh rivers, lakes and waterfalls. See the full list of Minnesota national parks here. 960 1280

StevenSchremp  

Tupelo National Battlefield (Mississippi)

Tupelo National Battlefield (Mississippi)

Scenic roads and sandy beaches await in Mississippi. See the full list of Mississippi national parks here. 960 1280

UniversalImagesGroup  

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Missouri)

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Missouri)

Explore wide open spaces and historic paths. See the full list of Missouri national parks here. 960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Montana)

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Montana)

Experience our adventure in Big Sky Country. See the full list of Montana national parks here. 960 1280

zrfphoto  

Agate Fossil Beds (Nebraska)

Agate Fossil Beds (Nebraska)

See plains and trails pioneers traveled before you. See the full list of Nebraska national parks here. 960 1280

Posnov / Getty Images  

Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Rugged adventures await in the Great Basin Desert. See the full list of Nevada national parks here. 960 1280
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (New Hampshire)

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (New Hampshire)

See beautiful foliage and trails in New England. See the full list of New Hampshire national parks here. 960 1280

  

Gateway National Recreation Area (New Jersey)

Gateway National Recreation Area (New Jersey)

Northern shores, immigration history and much more. See the full list of New Jersey national parks here. 960 1280

E+ / Getty Images  

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

See Southwestern deserts, canyons and petroglyphs. See the full list of New Mexico national parks here. 960 1280
Governors Island National Monument (New York)

Governors Island National Monument (New York)

Majestic waterfalls, historic homes and much more. See the full list of New York national parks here. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (North Carolina)

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (North Carolina)

See mountaintops, scenic parkways and sandy shores. See the full list of North Carolina national parks here. 960 1280

Outer Banks Visitors Bureau  

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site (North Dakota)

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site (North Dakota)

Find adventure in vast, rugged landscapes. See the full list of North Dakota national parks here. 960 1280

Peter Baer, flickr  

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

Find scenic trails, monuments and aviation history. See the full list of Ohio national parks here. 960 1280

zrfphoto  

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (Oklahoma)

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (Oklahoma)

Visit symbolic memorials, historic trails and more. See the full list of Oklahoma national parks here. 960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Breathtaking views of mountains, valleys and lakes. See the full list of Oregon national parks here. 960 1280

Moment Open / Getty Images  

Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)

Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)

Bucket list trips for the American history buff. See the full list of Pennsylvania national parks here.
960 1280

Ron Cogswell, flickr  

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site (Rhode Island)

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site (Rhode Island)

Where history and culture meet. See the full list of Rhode Island national parks here. 960 1280

Swampyank at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Discover the tallest trees in the Southeast. See the full list of South Carolina national parks here. 960 1280

Eric Foltz / iStock  

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota)

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota)

Discover Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and more. See the full list of South Dakota national parks here. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee)

A go-to destination for outdoor adventure. See the full list of Tennessee national parks here. 960 1280

WerksMedia  

Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Adventure awaits in the Lone Star State. See the full list of Texas national parks here. 960 1280

Ian Shive / Aurora Photos   

Arches National Park (Utah)

Arches National Park (Utah)

Discover "The Mighty 5" and so much more! See the full list of Utah national parks here. 960 1280

Whit Richardson / Aurora Photos  

Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park (Vermont)

Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park (Vermont)

Appropriately dubbed the Green Mountain State. See the full list of Vermont national parks here. 960 1280
Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

The stunning backdrop to early American history. See the full list of Virginia national parks here. 960 1280

  

Mount Ranier National Park (Washington)

Mount Ranier National Park (Washington)

Explore the nation’s Northwest corner. See the full list of Washington national parks here. 960 1280

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.  

Gauley River National Recreation Area (West Virginia)

Gauley River National Recreation Area (West Virginia)

Discover historic mountains, rivers and towns. See the full list of West Virginia national parks here. 960 1280

Trevor Clark / Aurora Photos   

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin)

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin)

Enjoy this state’s ample water and rolling hills. See the full list of Wisconsin national parks here. 960 1280

  

Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

The least populous state has room to roam. See the full list of Wyoming national parks here. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/dmathies  

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Southeast of the Salt Lake, Arches National Park has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. There are more than 2,000 documented arches in the park for visitors to see.  960 1280

Kylie Pearse  

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Only a 26 mile drive from Arches, Canyonlands preserves an extraordinary landscape of mesas, canyons and buttes carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Deemed by Calvin Coolidge as "a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself," this national monument and preserve formed 15,000 years ago by molten lava fountains and flows. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Seeing Craters of the Moon

Seeing Craters of the Moon

Loop Drive is a 7-mile paved road that connects all of the park’s major attractions. Though it's used mostly for cars, the road is said to be ideal for biking. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

As the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone embodies all that the National Park System does — fulfilling a need for solace, beauty and preservation of our wilderness.  960 1280

Tammy Overton  

Under the Surface at Yellowstone

Under the Surface at Yellowstone

Underneath its solace and beauty, Yellowstone has a violent history. The park’s numerous geothermal features like this boiling spring are remnants of the massive volcanic eruption that occurred in the park more than 640,000 years ago.  960 1280

Jamie Abart  

Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons National Park

South of Yellowstone, the jagged peaks of the Teton Mountain Range make Grand Teton National Park the ideal destination for hikers, rock climbers and mountaineers.  960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Grand Glaciers

Grand Glaciers

Fed by glaciers, this clear blue lake at the foothill of the Grand Tetons is easily accessible by road. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Up to 15 miles long and half a mile deep, Zion Canyon is a popular hiking section for every hiking level. From the much easier Emerald Pools Trail to the more strenuous Angel's Landing Trail, there is no wrong way to go about exploring the park's ancient canyons. 960 1280

Martin McCarthy Theasis Photo  

Salt Lake City  9 Photos

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

As a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, Everglades National Park encompasses a landscape that is critical to the environmental health of our world. 960 1280

iStock; Roberto Adrian 2012  

River of Grass

River of Grass

Famously called a "river of grass" by Florida writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Everglades is a complex system of ecosystems including cypress swamps, mangroves, tropical hardwood forests and hammocks, the Florida Bay, and of course, sawgrass marshland. 960 1280

iStock  

Get Up Close

Get Up Close

The wheel-chair accessible Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley Tram tour let park visitors view wildlife at a comfortable distance while guided canoe and kayak tours will take visitors into the mangroves and marshes.  960 1280

iStock; Karen Massier  

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park

With 99 percent of Biscayne underwater, visitors will want boat access to enjoy the park. Those without a vessel can contact the Dante Fascell Visitor Center for guided boat tours. 960 1280

iStock; Robert Zehetmayer  

Lights on Miami

Lights on Miami

At the tip of the Boca Chita Island, this lighthouse stands, with Miami on the horizon, as the park’s beacon and unofficial symbol. 960 1280

iStock  

Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve

For those seeking Florida wildlife, Big Cypress is the place to go. The park offers the most diverse population of plants and animals in the Everglades including ghost orchids, the Florida panther and the giant cypress tree. 960 1280

iStock; David S. Wallace  

Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest

With four natural springs and 600 other rivers, lakes, and waterways, the Ocala National Forest beckons for kayakers to carve paddle strokes through its aquamarine waters. Though not a national park, it's federal land and water worth enjoying. 960 1280

iStock  

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles west of Key West, seaplane, ferry, or a chartered vessel are the best ways to reach this island sanctuary. Upon arrival visitors will be rewarded with beautiful beaches, the impressive Fort Jefferson, and underwater coral reefs perfect for snorkeling. 960 1280

(C)2012 Lorraine Boogich  

Miami  8 Photos

Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Roughly the size of Rhode Island, Yosemite's landscape hosts a diverse array of ecosystems such as scrubby chaparral, old-growth forests of pine and sequoia, and expanses of alpine woodlands and meadows.  960 1280

Benjamin Pack  

Getting to Yosemite

Getting to Yosemite

Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite takes eight to ten hours depending on the time of year. The shorter route is closed from November through May due to snowfall. 960 1280

Patricia Klarner  

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

From the park entrance off Utah Route 63, visitors can take the main road all the way to Bryce amphitheater, a strikingly large horseshoe-shaped canyon that encompasses six square miles. 960 1280

Kylie Pearse  

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

It only takes about four hours to reach the Grand Canyon's South Rim. The South Rim entrance is open all year and on clear days, visitors can see 90 to 110 miles of visible splendor. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Deep History

Deep History

How the Grand Canyon formed is still open for debate, but most geologists agree that the immense canyon we see today is 5 to 6 million years old. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

The seasonal gardens of the cholla cactus are one of 16 attractions in Joshua Tree National Park that are accessible from the park’s 18-mile auto tour. The tour takes approximately two hours round trip. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Arches stands out from its neighboring national parks in Canyon Country for its high quantity of natural stone arches. There are more than 2,000 arches in the park.  960 1280

Addie Navarro  

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Thousands of years of erosion has carved Canyonlands into a rugged playground for outdoor adventurers. Hundreds of mountain bikers, four-wheelers, hikers and backpackers visit every year to explore. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

A mere 160 miles from Las Vegas, Zion offers city-dwellers one of the quickest ways to get away for a weekend.  960 1280

Whitney North  

Las Vegas  9 Photos

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park

Founded in 1890 as one of the first federal parks, Rock Creek is an oasis of natural solace and beauty within our nation's capital, in the northwest part of the district. 960 1280

iStock  

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Less than a hundred miles from the city, visitors can begin their trip to Shenandoah by cruising on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains along Skyline Drive. 960 1280

Jon Bilous / iStock  

Shenandoah's Old Rag Mountain

Shenandoah's Old Rag Mountain

One of the Shenandoah'€™s most popular day hikes is summiting Old Rag Mountain. Old Rag's exposed rocky summit beckons outdoor photography, though some may be more inclined after hiking it to just enjoy the view. 960 1280

Will Hollerith  

Shenandoah for Fall Color

Shenandoah for Fall Color

The best time to visit Shenandoah is during fall when the leaves of the forests turn red, brown and gold. 960 1280

Will Hollerith  

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay

Traveling through the largest estuary in North America can take visitors through significant cities, colonial towns, farms and fishing villages where they can kayak, fish, sample seafood or simply slow down to take in the scenery. 960 1280

Will Hollerith  

Vital Waters

Vital Waters

Traveling through the largest estuary in North America can take visitors through significant cities, colonial towns, farms and fishing villages where they can kayak, fish, sample seafood or simply slow down to take in the scenery. 960 1280

Will Hollerith  

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

A kayak or canoe is the best way to explore Blackwater's wetlands and to glimpse the bald eagle in its natural habitat. This protected area southeast of D.C. and across the Chesapeake Bay is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 960 1280

iStock  

Colonial Parkway

Colonial Parkway

This 23-mile scenic byway connects Jamestowne, Williamsburg and Yorktown, the three points which make up Virginia's Historic Triangle. 960 1280

iStock  

George Washington National Forest

George Washington National Forest

Managed by the National Forest Service, this forest and the Jefferson National Forest together form one of the largest stretches of public land in the Eastern U.S. Vast tracts of forested mountain terrain make the trails of this national forest a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, and especially trail running. 960 1280

iStock  

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road is a spectacular way for first-time travelers to see Rocky Mountain National Park. This scenic byway reaches a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet — making it the highest continuous motorway in the United States. 960 1280

  

Explore On Foot

Explore On Foot

The Cub Lake trail is a good place to start hiking, especially for travelers who aren’t as use to the park’s high elevation. The trail traverses aspen and pine forests and ends at the pristine Cub Lake. 960 1280

Alexandra Vandeventer  

Beat the Crowds

Beat the Crowds

Rocky Mountain National Park is by far the busiest in summer, but late May and early October are far less crowded times. Summer visitors can also plan visits early in the morning or late at night, or seek more solitude be hiking further into the backcountry. 960 1280

Alexandra Vandeventer  

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

About a four-hour drive south of Denver, Great Sand Dunes National Park contains the highest sand dunes in North America. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Sands of Time

Sands of Time

Sprawling across Colorado’s San Luis Valley, the dunes have been collected and shaped for over a millennia by the wind. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

White River National Forest

White River National Forest

The White River National Forest is best known for its ski areas like Aspen, Beaver Creek, Keyston, and Vail. For less developed recreation opportunities, there are fewer places in Colorado more scenic to hike. 960 1280

Addie Navarro  

Searching for Snow?

Searching for Snow?

The Missouri Lake Trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness meanders through forests, meadows, and over a pass that is snow-covered even in August. 960 1280

Addie Navarro  

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Not more than 350 miles away, Arches can be a quick getaway for outdoor adventurers who seek the desert sun and red rock spires. 960 1280

Addie Navarro  

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Like the Great Sand Dunes, the eroded buttes and sharpened spires of the Badlands don’t offer the typical picturesque views of Rocky Mountains. At the edge of the prairie, the sculptured landscape looks like something out of science fiction. 960 1280

www.kishwild.com  

Denver  9 Photos

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite takes approximately five to six hours driving north from Los Angeles. Upon arrival, hiking to Inspiration Point is highly recommended for outdoor photography. 960 1280

Beth Rucker  

Yosemite's Allure

Yosemite's Allure

"No temple made with human hands can compare with Yosemite," wrote John Muir, naturalist and early advocate for the creation of the park. 960 1280

Patricia Klarner  

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the park’s tallest waterfall as well as the highest in North America. 960 1280

Patricia Klarner  

Half Dome

Half Dome

Rising 5,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley, Half Dome is perhaps the park’s most recognized landmark. Its summit is on the bucket list for most adventurous hikers and experienced rock climbers. 960 1280

Beth Rucker  

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Roughly seven hours east of Los Angeles, travelers flock to Grand Canyon to see one of our nation’s most breath-taking natural wonders.  960 1280

John Mulloy  

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Though stark and rugged, the portion of Joshua Tree in the Colorado Desert is speckled with alluring gardens of flowering ocotillo and cholla cactus. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Skull Rock

Skull Rock

Right off Joshua Tree’s main road, visitors can see the eerie yet spectacular human skull shaped rock, aptly named Skull Rock. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Straddling California and Nevada, Death Valley is a land of extremes. This below-sea-level basin is the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere as well as the hottest and driest of our nation’s national parks. 960 1280

David Parsons  

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park

This park is made up of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of California in the Pacific Ocean. Recreation options for island visitors include backpacking, camping, scuba diving, spear fishing and kayaking through the islands' sea caves. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Offshore Diversity

Offshore Diversity

With more than 2,000 different species of plants and animals, the Channel Islands are filled with a spectacular array of wildlife. Visitors are attracted in winter and spring by migrating gray whales and blooming wildflowers. In season, island-goers can go whale watching on the short ferry ride from the mainland.  960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Los Angeles  10 Photos

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Not more than 175 miles from the Atlanta metropolitan area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is by far the most visited national park in the country. 960 1280

Beth Rucker  

A Park for All, and All Seasons

A Park for All, and All Seasons

Most park visitors explore by car on one of the major scenic roads such as Cades Cove Loop or Newfound Gap Road. To beat the crowd, you can avoid busy times of year like July, August and October. 960 1280

Katie Hausauer  

How to Escape the Crowds

How to Escape the Crowds

Fortunately, with 384 miles of mountain road, the Smokies offer plenty of space to escape the crowd. Hiking is also enjoyed all year where the park'€™s old-growth deciduous forests bring a different reward with each season. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Stretching approximately 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is the premier hiking trail of the Eastern U.S. The trail is so popular that there is an entire subculture of books, memoirs, websites and fan clubs for passionate enthusiasts. The southern terminus of the trail is Springer Mountain approximately two hours north of Atlanta; many thru-hikers choose to start there. 960 1280

Beth Rucker  

Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park

As an important bird sanctuary, visitors to Congaree National Park, one of our nation'€™s newest parks, can stroll boardwalks watching wood duck, wild turkey, barred owls, and whippoorwill amongst cypress trees. 960 1280

Eric Foltz / iStock  

Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest

Though not technically a national park, Cherokee National Forest is well worth nothing. A truly notable feature of Cherokee National Forest is the Ocoee River, used during the 1996 Summer Olympics; the Ocoee has some of the greatest whitewater rafting and kayaking destinations in the Southeast. 960 1280

Tim Doyle  

Chattahoochee National Recreation Area

Chattahoochee National Recreation Area

This national park north of the city gives access to a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River. Residents of large northern suburbs like Marietta and Roswell can access the recreation area within minutes, while those living downtown or other coordinates along the city’s perimeter can be there in less than an hour. 960 1280

Sebastien Windal / iStock  

The Lowcountry

The Lowcountry

Made up of a stretch of coastline that extends through South Carolina and into Georgia, the Lowcountry is a region bustling with natural as well as cultural beauty. One national park is Fort Sumter outside Charleston, S.C. 960 1280

Will Hollerith  

The Lowcountry

The Lowcountry

Tidal marshes, rivers, estuaries, barrier islands and the Atlantic Ocean make the Lowcountry rich with national forests, wildlife preserves, and cultural heritages sites that provide a bounty of recreation and accommodation options to visitors. One such site is Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia's largest barrier island and former Carnegie family escape. 960 1280

Will Hollerith  

Atlanta  9 Photos

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

A new option for Grand Canyon visitors with adequate cell phone service is listening to the free audio tours offered through the National Park Service. On this web application, park rangers give two-minute narrations on topics including the park'€™s unique geology and Native American history. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Grand View

Grand View

Seen from even its best viewpoints, the unexpected grandeur of the Grand Canyon is so impressive in scale that viewers can see only a fraction of the gorge's 227 miles from any one viewpoint on the plateau 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

The Island In The Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the combined Green and Colorado Rivers make up the four districts of Canyonlands National Park, which author Edward Abbey described as "€œthe most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth." 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon NRA is a recreation and conservation area that encompasses 1.25 million acres and offers limitless water recreation and camping opportunities around Lake Powell and lower Cataract Canyon. 960 1280

John Gillanders  

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

The junction between the rugged Colorado Desert and the 3,000 feet higher, wetter and more vegetated Mojave Desert at Joshua Tree National Park makes for a stark and striking contrast. 960 1280

Jamie Abart  

Cholla Gardens

Cholla Gardens

Though from far away the gardens of cholla (pronounce choya) cacti in Joshua Tree appear soft and fuzzy, these distinctive succulents are actually covered by barbed spines that have a reputation for easily detaching and sticking to skin, fur and clothing. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Eroded and weathered by water, the orange, red and white spires (called hoodoos) of Bryce Canyon will give the most spectacular views during sunrise and sunset. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is about a six-hour drive from Phoenix, but visitors can make it seven if they choose to take the longer route through Las Vegas to roll some dice. 960 1280

Whitney North  

Canyoneering

Canyoneering

Zion is one of the premier national parks for canyoneering. Not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart, this outdoor activity combines hiking, navigation, swimming, caving and sometimes rappelling. 960 1280

Whitney North  

Phoenix  9 Photos

San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands National Monument

San Juan Islands National Monument

The San Juan Islands is an archipelago located between the Washington mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 960 1280

Addie Navarro  

Getting to the San Juans

Getting to the San Juans

To reach the San Juan Islands, travelers can take the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes, WA, or fly to any of small airports located on one of the four major islands: Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, or San Juan. 960 1280

David Hollerith  

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park protects 73 miles of wild Pacific coast located on the Olympic Peninsula.  Further inland, the land extends out into temperate rainforests and the towering glacier-capped Olympic mountains. 960 1280

Andrew Carey  

Check Out the View

Check Out the View

At an elevation of 5,242 feet, Hurricane Ridge holds spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains leads to hiking trails that traverse mountain ridges and descend into the subalpine valleys full of lush forests. 960 1280

Andrew Carey  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

Known for its wild snow-capped peaks and the countless waterfalls that spill down the sides of the mountains, the Cascade Mountain Range is often called the "American Alps." 960 1280

David Hollerith  

The American Alps

The American Alps

Ross Lake in North Cascades is a major travel destination that offers tons of opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking and camping. 960 1280

Addie Navarro  

Find Your Way

Find Your Way

Though North Cascade National Park Highway provides an adequate way to see the park's rugged beauty, visitors who want to explore the park’s alpine wilderness can plan their route at one of the park’s eight visitor centers. 960 1280

John Mulloy  

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Over the dormant volcano Mount Mazama, Crater Lake is 21 square miles of intensely blue water and the deepest lake in America. 960 1280

Jarrod Clift  

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Though it's a long car ride from Seattle, Glacier National Park is well worth the journey. Naturalist John Muir, also known as the Father of the National Parks, referred to the Glacier landscape as "the best care-killing scenery on the continent." 960 1280

Matt Koher  

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Though it’s a long car ride from Seattle, Glacier National Park is well worth the journey. Naturalist John Muir, also known as the Father of the National Parks, referred to the Glacier landscape as "the best care-killing scenery on the continent." 960 1280

Bailey Brandon  

Seattle  10 Photos

View the Parks Up Close

Top National Parks of the West

With its vast open space, the American West is the cradle of the national park system. Get advice for planning your ultimate road trip.

The Hot List

Explore America’s most stunning scenery.
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