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The 30 Best National Parks in the USA

Discover America’s most beautiful landscapes, recommended by Travel Experts

Where is the best national park in the USA? From Alaska to Arizona, there are 62 world-class national parks across the country for you to explore. As there’s never been a better time to explore the great outdoors right here in the United States, we’ve produced a special guide to the most extraordinary natural landscapes across the country. While all 62 are worth visiting, the final 30 were selected based on their immense biodiversity and range of activities. 

Our Travel Experts have compiled an unprecedented amount of info to help you choose the national park that best suits you. Does bear spotting in the wild sound like a roaring good time, or do kayaking and canoeing float your boat? No matter your preference, this guide details exactly what each park offers to visitors, including the number of animals, activities, bird species, and accommodations. Grab your hiking boots—it’s time for a road trip around the best national parks in the USA! 

Introducing: The 30 Best National Parks in the USA

Best National Park Overall: Yosemite

Yosemite offers an unparalleled range of activities for visitors to enjoy, so it’s best to spend a couple of days here in order to enjoy everything that the famous park has to offer. Go biking, birdwatching, boating, climbing, fishing, hiking, and even horseback riding during your visit, admiring the towering trees, raging waterfalls, and endless mountains as you go.

As you explore the park, you may come across coyotes, deer, and sheep who roam around the park. There’s even a chance that you get the ultimate thrill—the sighting of one of the hundreds of black bears that live in Yosemite.

Best National Park for Activities: Everglades

If you’re in Florida and looking for an action-packed vacation, look no further than the Everglades. Located just outside Miami, this vast wetlands preserve is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, offering visitors the chance to go biking, birdwatching, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. 

Numerous endangered species call the Everglades home, making it a great choice for animal enthusiasts. Expect to see alligators, manatees, and bears during your visit—and if you’re lucky, the famed Florida panther

Best National Park for Animals: Yellowstone

Yellowstone, famous for being America’s first national park, also has the most impressive range of animal species residing in its vast wilderness. Keep an eye peeled for bears, bison, wild cats, elk, and wolves roaming around freely during your visit! Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and is one of the most remote in the ranking.

Aside from being an animal paradise, Yellowstone is also fascinating for those interested in geology and geography. You'll be amazed by the bubbling mud, erupting geysers, and brightly colored hot springs that are dotted around the park.

Best National Park for a Peaceful Retreat: Lake Clark

Lake Clark is one of the largest national parks in the United States. However, it attracts less than 20,000 visitors per year, making this expansive park the perfect destination for adventurers seeking a secluded getaway. Its dramatic lakes, turquoise waters, and snow capped mountains are roughly 100 miles from Anchorage, which has direct flights to a wide range of U.S. cities.

Most Reachable National Park: Sequoia, Joshua Tree

Famous for the gigantic sequoia trees from which the park gets its name from, this beautiful park enchants visitors with its mystical forests and winding hiking trails. Sequoia ties as the joint-most reachable national park in the ranking, with four major U.S. metropolitan areas within a six-hour drive: Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco, and San Diego. 

Equally accessible is Joshua Tree, which also has four big conurbations within a six-hour drive. Named after the slow-growing tree that defies the odds and grows in the extremely arid conditions, this national park is a natural stop-off point for those road tripping between Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Best National Park for Birdwatching and Stargazing: Big Bend

Are you cuckoo for birdwatching? Fittingly nicknamed “Texas’ Gift to the Nation,” the immense and vast Big Bend National Park boasts more than 380 bird species within its 1,250 square miles. Not only does this park’s remoteness suit its thriving bird community—it also makes it one of the best places for stargazing in North America.

How We Produced This Guide 

We compiled the information on wildlife, things to do, and accommodation using information provided by the NPS. In order for national parks to be included in the top 30, we had the following selection criteria: 

  • Parks needed to have at least one of the following six animal species living there: bears, bison, wild cats, elk, wild horses, and wolves.  

  • Parks needed to offer at least two of the following ten activities: bicycling, birdwatching, boating, canoeing, climbing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and boat cruises. 

  • Parks needed to offer at least one type of overnight accommodation to visitors (camping, lodging), in order to accommodate guests traveling from further afield. 

To help travelers across the United States identify which park is most reachable by car, we also included the accessibility score, which denotes the cities that are within a six-hour drive. Having a city within a six-hour radius was not part of the selection criteria, as we wanted to avoid excluding more remote national parks. We used a leading online mapping tool to calculate this.

The Total Score is a weighted score based on the number of animals, bird species, activities, and accommodations in the respective park, as well as its reachability from major U.S. metropolitan areas. For more information about our research, please contact inbound@tourlane.com.


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