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21ish Best National Parks in the United States

The United States National Park Service is now over 100 years old and still going strong. After our many travels around the US, including a two month road trip we have decided on the 21ish Best National Parks in the United States.

But why do we say 21ish? Because included in the list is a National Monument, a State Park and a Navajo Park! However they are on the same level if not better than many national parks, so they make it on the list.

If you plan on visiting several national parks within a year we would highly suggest getting the Annual Pass, which costs $80, valid for 12 months and includes entry to all National Parks, National Forests and BLM.

While we have ranked our favorite parks below, you can also check out the 10 most visited National Parks in the US.

1. Grand Teton National Park

Teton National Park

On the way to Yellowstone you must pass through Grand Teton. The best thing is to photograph the Teton mountain range above pristine lakes. Recommended time: two days.

2. Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone national park

Our favorite thing in Yellowstone was all the bacteria pools with different colors. Of course if you visit Yellowstone you need to stop by Old Faithful, it is quite a show. There are many hikes across the park, make sure to check out this complete guide of things to do in Yellowstone. Recommended time: four days.

3. Glacier National Park

glacier national park

Glacier National park is so beautiful and you get to enjoy nature not only in the landscape but with the animals who live there. My favorite part are the mountains with the lakes. Recommended time: three days.

4. Olympic National Park

olympic national park

Hike through the forests to enter a world of greenery you did not know exists. The photos you can get in the forests of Olympic National Park are like you are on an alien planet. Recommended time: three days.

5. Mt. Rainer National Park

Mt. Rainer National Park

Hiking and get an amazing picture and view of Mt Rainier is priceless.Recommended time: at least one full day.

6. Crater Lake National Park

crater lake national park

The blue lagoon in the crater can leave you speechless. All the hikes help you get a better view of the crater. Recommended time: one full day.

7. Yosemite National Park

yosemite national park

Head there in the spring or early summer to see the many waterfalls flowing across the park. The one hike you must do is up Half Dome, a challenge that everyone can overcome. Recommended time: five days.

8. Death Valley National Park

death valley national park

My favorite is the Diable’s Palette. It is so colorful and rare. Recommended time: one day, but not much more because it is tooo hot!!

9. Zion National Park

zion canyon national park

Our favorite part of Zion is the many breathtaking photos of the canyon available from everywhere within the park. You do not even have to leave your car to get some of the best views. Recommended time: two days.

10. Bryce Canyon National Park

bryce canyon national park

Just looking down into Bryce Canyon might surprise you by its beauty. However you must hike to see the coolest feature in the park, Thor’s Hammer. Recommended time: two days.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to visit Bryce Canyon

11. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument


Source: Lobineau/Wikimedia

The photos you can take in Vermilion Cliffs will amaze everyone including you. The Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) is what it is most known for, but you must apply for a lottery to get a permit to visit. Recommended time: two days.

12. Antelope Canyon (Navajo Land)

antelope canyon

WOW! that is how I need to start the sentence. Antelope Canyon is full of colorful canyons. The only thing to keep in mind is that you need to pre-book a tour and you can only visit with a tour. It is definitely worth it. Recommended time: 1/2 day.

13. Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Nothing beats sunrise over the Grand Canyon. If you do not want to do the multi-day hike from rim to river, it is best just to walk along the rim. Recommended time: one or three days.

14. Canyonlands National Park


Take to the wilderness and find a countless canyons. Our favorite is the awesome panoramic views you can get into the canyons, especially at sunset. Recommended time: two days.

Read More: Complete Guide to visit Canyonlands National Park

15. Arches National Park

arches national park

The rock formations in Arches National Park are insane. You can have a fun time there and camp around beautiful landscape. Recommended time: two days.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to visit Arches National Park

16. Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is great to learn more about Colorado’s history and to understand better how the Ancestral Pueblo people used to live in the side of a cliff. Recommended time: one day.

17. Sand Dunes National Park

Sand Dunes National Park

Fun, fun and more fun. The Sand Dunes in Colorado are amazing because of the contrast of the sand dunes and the rocky mountains. It is a must place to visit in Colorado. Recommended time: at least two days.

18. Mammoth Cave National Park

Travertine flowstone-covered columns in Great Onyx Cave (Flint Ridge, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, USA) 4

Enter the underworld of Mammoth Caves to explore just how beautiful it can be, even where the sun never shines. There are guided hikes of different lengths to different places in the cave system. Recommended time: two days.

19. Niagara Falls (State Park)

niagara falls

Hey, it might be a State Park, but there is no way we can keep Niagra Falls off this list. Get your rain poncho and step aboard the Maid of the Mist to get right under the roaring falls. Recommended time: 1/2 day.

Read More: Complete Guide to visit Niagara Falls in the Winter

20. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Hike through the beautiful mountains and rocky beaches of Acadia for a secluded time in nature. Head into the town of Bar Harbor to enjoy an amazingly fresh seafood dinner. Recommended time: three days.

21. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Get up close and personal with the lava flows of Hawai’i. There is no better way to feel the raw power of earth than to feel the heat. Recommended time: two days.

22. Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne might not look like much from above, but the underwater world is what you must explore. Recommended time: three days.

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Top 15 Epic Destinations In The American Southwest That Will Blow Your Freaking Mind - The Mandagies

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

[…] American Southwest is filled to the brim with some of the most iconic and beautiful national parks in the United States. The sheer diversity of landscape, climate, and color bring millions of people every year to […]

Naomi Liz | Roaming the Americas

Tuesday 25th of October 2016

I'd love to see many of those parks out West--there is SO much exploring to do in the US! It's crazy. I always love to see Maine represented so I'm happy to see Acadia on the list. Some other great spots in the Downeast region of Maine--Bold Coast Trail (amazing hike on the coast!), Blue Hill Peninsula (and head down to Stonington for the busiest lobster port in the nation), and Schoodic Peninsula (part of the park is there but it's way less crowded). And if you head back to Maine, you've got to check out the new national monument (and while you're there, head up to Baxter State Park to tackle Katahdin). Great list--thanks for sharing!

Travel To Blank

Wednesday 26th of October 2016

Thank you! We have not yet had the oppertunity to explore Maine in depth, but you have provided us a great starting point of places to see. Thanks.

Susan Anderson

Tuesday 11th of October 2016

What happened to Denali Park in Alaska?

Travel To Blank

Thursday 13th of October 2016

Yes, Also a great national park!