Located across the U.S., visitors flock to national parks for hiking and driving through varied terrains and climates and amazing views. In fact, the National Park Service reports over 14 billion visits to their more than 418 parks since the early 1900s. Put one of these top parks on your bucket list to visit this year.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS
With more than 11 million visitors in 2018, these 800+ miles of hiking trails stretch between North Carolina and Tennessee. Known as the “salamander capital of the world,” it’s roughly within a one-day’s drive of one-third of the U.S. population.
Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon had nearly 6.5 million visitors in 2018. One mile deep, 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide in some spots, it’s one of the largest canyons on Earth.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
More than 4.5 million people visited Colorado last year to view the 150 lakes and 450 miles of streams, through wetlands, forests, mountains, and alpine tundra. Drive along the Trail Ridge Road, a 48-mile stretch of highway two miles above sea level for spectacular views.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
Carved by the Virgin River and complete with rock towers, sandstone canyons and sharp cliffs, Zion in southern Utah even has a 9-mile long underground tunnel where visitors can dodge boulders, climb down waterfalls, and swim through creeks.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
The world’s first national park covers 2.2 million acres in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Known for its explosive geysers, you’ll also find peaks, lakes, forests, and a variety of wild animals.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite Valley, a 7-mile-long canyon cut out by a river and widened by glaciers, is where you’ll find the most visitors. Famed for its sequoia trees and Tunnel View, also view Bridalveil Fall and El Capitan cliffs.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
If you want to be the first person in America to see the sunrise, visit the top of Cadillac Mountain between Oct. 7 and March 6. The highest point along the North Atlantic, the sea meets the water in this park along Maine’s coast. Most of the park is on Mount Desert Island, featuring parkland and seaside villages.
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
With peaks towering nearly 7,000 feet above the Wyoming valley, the park features icy blue lakes, glaciers, and granite pinnacles.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Home to one of the world’s few temperate rainforests due to moisture from the Pacific Ocean, you’ll also walk through a subalpine forest and wildflower meadow. No roads cross through this park in Washington, which makes it unspoiled for the more than 3 million visitors per year.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Expanding over one million acres in Montana, visit Goat Lick Overlook for an up-close-and-personal interaction with the park’s mountain goats, or drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road through the park for great views.