25 Most Scenic National Parks in America

25 Most Scenic National Parks in America

These are the national parks in America that wowed us 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 definitely 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.

25 MOST SCENIC NATIONAL PARKS IN AMERICA

Last updated: May 28, 2018     Originally Created: Dec 29, 2014

25. Joshua Tree National Park, California

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, a place we’ve witnessed the most incredible sunsets and stargazing. It also has world-class climbing, and we love going bouldering there. 

Hall of Horrors Joshua Tree NP {25 Must See National Parks in America}

24. Acadia National Park, Maine

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.

Acadia National Park Things to Do

23. Everglades National Park, Florida

22. Sequoia & Kings Canyon, California

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.

15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon National Park // Local Adventurer #sequoia #findyourpark #visittheusa #usa #outdoorsusa

21. Great Basin National Park, Nevada

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.

Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park, Nevada - Everything You Need to Know // localadventurer.com

20. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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.

Great Sand Dunes National Park Sandboarding

19. Canyonlands National Park, Utah

18. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado

9 Amazing Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park // Local Adventurer

17. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park {24 Must See National Parks in America}

16. North Cascades National Park, Washington

15. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN / NC

14. Channel Islands National Park, California

It really is like the Galapagos of the US.

Channel Islands Kayaking

13. Olympic National Park, Washington

Did you know there were rainforests in the continental USA? I sure didn’t until we paid a visit to Olympic National Park.

Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park {25 Epic National Parks in America You Must See}

12. Arches National Park, Utah

Window Arch at Arches National Park

11. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon Things to Do

10. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Washington Summerland Trail Mt Rainier National Park + 15 Best Day Hikes in the US

9. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

8. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

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 having the epic views of the Teton range in the backdrop.

Your Ultimate Guide to Grand Teton National Park Wyoming | Are you visiting Grand Teton? Click this article to see a list of the 11 Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park. There is amazing photography spots, camping, scenic drives, and we include a Grand Teton National Park Hiking bucket list // Local Adventurer #grandteton #wyoming #nationalpark

7. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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.

Yellowstone National Park ( + 25 Most Beautiful National Parks in America) // localadventurer.com

6. Denali National Park, Alaska

The views are absolutely 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.

Best Things to Do in Denali National Park Alaska

5. Zion National Park, Utah

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.

The Narrows Zion National Park {25 Epic National Parks in America You Must See}

4. Grand Canyon National Park, (Arizona)

There’s a reason it’s called grand. It makes you realize how tiny you are in this world.

MORE: Your Ultimate Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park

3. Death Valley National Park, California

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.

Mesquite Flats Death Valley National Park {25 Must See National Parks in America}

2. Glacier National Park (Montana)

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”?

15 Amazing Hikes in Glacier National Park Montana You Don't Want to Miss // Local Adventurer #montana #montanamoment #outdoorsusa #usa #hiking #glaciernationalpark #glacier #nationalpark

1. Yosemite National Park (California)

Yosemite is still our all-time favorite park. Maybe it’s also because it was my 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 were able to enjoy the park at spots like Taft Point with no one else around. Remember going in that you will have to deal with the crowds, and 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 happen to be concentrated in a few spots. 

17 Breathtaking Things to Do in Yosemite

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.

Also, if you didn’t know already by my bucket list, 101 in 1001, monthly goals, I’m obsessed with making lists.

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

“Meet

ESTHER + JACOB

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 25 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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