These are the national parks in America that wowed us the most. We’ll continue to update the post as we make our way through all 400+ US National Park units.
We love a good road trip. Whenever we have free time our favorite thing to do is to explore a new National Park or new areas in our favorite ones. 10 years ago, I knew nothing about National Parks other than the fact that my parents dragged me to them when I was a kid and I didn’t appreciate them. Now, it turns out this indoorsy girl has grown to love certain aspects of the Great Outdoors. Today, we’ve compiled a list of the most scenic National Parks in America – ones that were beautiful and grand and made us feel like tiny people in big places.
25 MOST SCENIC NATIONAL PARKS IN AMERICA
Last updated: October 12, 2022 Originally Created: Dec 29, 2014
I’ll admit that Joshua Tree is not the most scenic in terms of landscape, which also doesn’t make it very exciting for hikers. It is, however, where we’ve witnessed the most incredible sunsets and stargazing. It also has world-class climbing, and we love going bouldering here.
Acadia is the only major national park in the Northeast and is especially stunning in the fall. Our favorite things were hiking the Precipice trail, rock climbing with a guide, and sunset views from Cadillac Mountain.
23. Everglades National Park, Florida
It’s unreal to be walking among such giants. I’m just standing at the base of it and can’t even see where it ends.
In one day, we summited the second-highest peak in Nevada, saw glaciers (yes glaciers are in Nevada!), explored the famous Lehman Caves, and stood next to the oldest trees on the planet.
This is one of our favorite lesser-known national parks. You can hike up the dunes, go sandboarding, and it has some of our favorite and most scenic RV campsites in the country.
19. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
15. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN / NC
It is the Galapagos of the US.
Did you know there were rainforests in the continental USA? I sure didn’t until we paid a visit to Olympic National Park.
10. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
9. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
We loved how peaceful Grand Teton was in contrast to Yellowstone. It’s one of the best places to spot wildlife and it doesn’t hurt to have epic views of the Teton range in the backdrop.
We can’t deny that this park has beautiful features, and we realize that this is a favorite park for a lot of people, but the crowds made it difficult for us to enjoy the scenery. Yes, you can go hike in the backcountry to avoid the crowds, but what’s unique about Yellowstone are the geysers and hot springs. There are so many other parks with stunning hikes without having to deal with the bear jams.
The views are stunning in Denali National Park. The only catch is that the weather can be so fickle that you have to be extremely lucky to get a glimpse of Denali (formerly Mt McKinley). Our driver was saying in all his years of driving, people only see it a third of the time. Make sure you stay multiple days to ensure you can see the highest mountain in North America.
The canyons and mountains don’t feel as massive as some of the other parks, but the landscapes in Zion are unique. We often find ourselves comparing other places to Zion.
There’s a reason it’s called grand. It makes you realize how tiny you are in this world.
We love how diverse the landscapes are at Death Valley. The park is huuuuge and visiting each area sometimes makes you feel like you’re visiting different planets.
The mountain ranges and the pretty blue glacial lakes reminded us of Switzerland. Did you know that they used to call Glacier National Park the “Switzerland of America”?
Yosemite is still our all-time favorite park. Maybe it’s also because it was the first national park I’ve visited as an adult, but no matter where else we go, nothing has compared to how grand the waterfalls, the deep valleys, and the meadows are here. We finally had the chance to conquer Half Dome last year and can’t wait to do the JMT.
Note: The experience is quite different now that tourism has blown up in Yosemite. We could enjoy the park at spots like Taft Point with no one else around, but even though it’s crowded now, I’m okay as long as I go in with the expectation of dealing with the crowds. If you want to avoid them, either hit one of the less popular trails or stay away from the Valley. It’s a big park and there’s plenty of room for everyone, it’s just that most people are concentrated in the popular areas.
We’re still working on going to all the National Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, etc.
PRO-TIP: Last year was the year of road trips, and we always keep our annual America the Beautiful pass handy.
How many of these National Parks in America have you been to? Which would you like to visit next?
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust