Top 10 most beautiful national parks in the U.S
Top 10 most beautiful national parks in the U.S

The United States of America is fortunate to have an abundance of gorgeous places to visit, with the majestic National Parks featuring on the bucket list of most travelers. Whether you are enjoying the shorelines of the East Coast, traveling along the magnificent West Coast, or hiking in the majestic Rockies, there are more than enough opportunities to explore the great outdoors in one of these spectacular parks. All national parks, 63 in total, represent an extraordinary variety of pristine natural environments and ranking them would be unfair since they all offer different experiences. Nonetheless, I hereby present you my ten favorite National Parks in the USA, with my ranking based on overall scenery, wildlife viewing, and hiking opportunities.

List of top 10 most beautiful national parks in the US

10. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (ARIZONA)

9. DENALI NATIONAL PARK (ALASKA)

8. YELLOWSTONE (WYOMING, MONTANA & IDAHO)

7. HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK (HAWAII)

6. ZION NATIONAL PARK (UTAH)

5. GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK (ALASKA)

4. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK (WASHINGTON)

3. GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK (WYOMING)

2. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CALIFORNIA)

1. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK (MONTANA)

Detailed information on top 10 most beautiful national parks in the U.S

10. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (ARIZONA)

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, is the 15th site in the United States to have been named as a national park. The park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World. The park, which covers 1,217,262 acres (1,901.972 sq mi; 4,926.08 km2) of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, received more than six million recreational visitors in 2017, which is the second highest count of all American national parks after Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. The park celebrated its 100th anniversary on February 26, 2019.

The Grand Canyon became well known to Americans in the 1880s after railroads were built and pioneers developed infrastructure and early tourism. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the site and said,

"The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."

9. DENALI NATIONAL PARK (ALASKA)

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

In many ways, Denali is simpler than most national parks. If you plan to understand the park, or plan a visit, it helps to know some basic details:

Denali has only one road, and only one road entrance.

Called the Denali Park Road (or simply "the park road"), it is 92 miles long and runs from east to west. It is a scenic road made mostly of dirt and gravel. It starts in a low, forested area, but rises and falls through mountain passes (and along some precipitous mountain sides!) on its journey west.

The park entrance, where the Denali Park Road meets Alaska Highway 3, is at the eastern end of the park. Like many rural roads and landmarks in Alaska, the Denali entrance is referred to by its mile along the highway. In this case, the park entrance is at Mile 237 on Highway 3 (Mile 0 is in Anchorage, where Highway 3 originates).

Summer travel in Denali

In the summer (May 20—the middle of September), privately-owned vehicles may drive the first 15 miles of the park road, to a place called Savage River. Travel beyond Savage River is mainly limited to a variety of narrated and non-narrated buses, and passengers must board their bus near the park entrance (or in some cases, at their hotel outside of the park). Bus trips are a great way to see the landscape and wildlife of the park.

Denali is home to wild lands and many wild animals

Congress created this park in 1917; at the time, the purpose was to protect Dall sheep from over-hunting. The park's size and purpose grew over time. The park is now around 6 million acres, and much of the park must remain devoid of human development. This means that the only trails in the park are near the park road, and mainly near the park entrance. However, Denali offers visitors a rare opportunity to hike off trail in a wild landscape.

8. YELLOWSTONE (WYOMING, MONTANA & IDAHO)

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in the western United States, largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world.The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular.[10] While it represents many types of biomes, the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

While Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years, aside from visits by mountain men during the early-to-mid-19th century, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. Management and control of the park originally fell under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior, the first Secretary of the Interior to supervise the park being Columbus Delano. However, the U.S. Army was eventually commissioned to oversee management of Yellowstone for a 30-year period between 1886 and 1916. In 1917, administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service, which had been created the previous year. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined more than a thousand archaeological sites.

7. HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK (HAWAII)

Photo: Travel + Leisure
Photo: Travel + Leisure

This special place vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place - renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry.

Haleakalā National Park is an American national park located on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. Named after Haleakalā, a dormant volcano within its boundaries, the park covers an area of 33,265 acres (52.0 sq mi; 134.6 km2), of which 24,719 acres (38.6 sq mi; 100.0 km2) is a wilderness area. The land was designated a national park in 1976 and its boundaries expanded in 2005.

6. ZION NATIONAL PARK (UTAH)

Photo: National Geographic
Photo: National Geographic

Zion National Park is an American national park located in southwestern Utah near the town of Springdale. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to 2,640 ft (800 m) deep. The canyon walls are reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone eroded by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest point in the park is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest peak is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park has a unique geography and a variety of life zones that allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.

5. GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK (ALASKA)

Photo: Brittanica
Photo: Brittanica

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is an American national park located in Southeast Alaska west of Juneau. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the area around Glacier Bay a national monument under the Antiquities Act on February 25, 1925.[4] Subsequent to an expansion of the monument by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enlarged the national monument by 523,000 acres (817.2 sq mi; 2,116.5 km2) on December 2, 1980, and created Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.[5] The national preserve encompasses 58,406 acres (91.3 sq mi; 236.4 km2) of public land to the immediate northwest of the park, protecting a portion of the Alsek River with its fish and wildlife habitats, while allowing sport hunting.

Glacier Bay became part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and was inscribed as a Biosphere Reserve in 1986. The National Park Service undertook an obligation to work with Hoonah and Yakutat Tlingit Native American organizations in the management of the protected area in 1994. The park and preserve cover a total of 3,223,384 acres (5,037 sq mi; 13,045 km2), with 2,770,000 acres (4,328 sq mi; 11,210 km2) being designated as a wilderness area.

4. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK (WASHINGTON)

Photo: Sunset Magazine
Photo: Sunset Magazine

Olympic National Park is a United States national park located in the State of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. The park has four regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west-side temperate rainforest, and the forests of the drier east side. Within the park there are three distinct ecosystems, including subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, temperate forest, and the rugged Pacific coast.

President Theodore Roosevelt originally designated the park as Mount Olympus National Monument on March 2, 1909. The monument was re-designated a national park by Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt on June 29, 1938. In 1976, Olympic National Park was designated by UNESCO as an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1981 as a World Heritage Site. In 1988, Congress designated 95 percent of the park as the Olympic Wilderness.

3. GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK (WYOMING)

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Grand Teton National Park is an American national park in northwestern Wyoming. At approximately 310,000 acres (480 sq mi; 130,000 ha; 1,300 km2), the park includes the major peaks of the 40-mile-long (64 km) Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. Grand Teton National Park is only 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park, to which it is connected by the National Park Service–managed John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Along with surrounding national forests, these three protected areas constitute the almost 18,000,000-acre (7,300,000 ha) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the world's largest intact mid-latitude temperate ecosystems.

The human history of the Grand Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years, when the first nomadic hunter-gatherer Paleo-Indians began migrating into the region during warmer months pursuing food and supplies. In the early 19th century, the first white explorers encountered the eastern Shoshone natives. Between 1810 and 1840, the region attracted fur trading companies that vied for control of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. U.S. Government expeditions to the region commenced in the mid-19th century as an offshoot of exploration in Yellowstone, with the first permanent white settlers in Jackson Hole arriving in the 1880s.

2. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CALIFORNIA)

Photo: National Geographic
Photo: National Geographic

Yosemite National Park (/joʊˈsɛmɪti/ yoh-SEM-it-ee) is an American national park in Northern California, surrounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 748,436 acres (1,169 sq mi; 3,029 km2) and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet (648 to 3,997 m) and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral and oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone, and alpine. Of California's 7,000 plant species, approximately 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% are within Yosemite. The park contains suitable habitat for more than 160 rare plants, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.

1. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK (MONTANA)

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Glacier National Park is an American national park located in northwestern Montana, on the Canada–United States border, adjacent to the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses more than 1 million acres (4,000 km2) and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), more than 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the "Crown of the Continent Ecosystem," a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles (41,000 km2).

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