I recently downloaded a new app to my phone that tracks National Parks in the USA. I didn’t know exactly how many I had been to, and wanted to know. Over the PanDamit year we did several road trips and I added a few to the list. So today I thought I would share my favorite USA National Parks.
This list below of my favorite USA National Parks is parks only. It does not include National Monuments or National Forests. Maybe I’ll blog about that in the future. The majority of National Parks are located in the more rural western half of the USA – while the eastern half of the USA is home to more of the nation’s National Monuments.
Lucky me to have visited all 50 states and 36 USA National Parks. There are a total of 60 USA National Parks from Alaska to Florida and even one in the Virgin Islands. So of the 36 today I want to share with you my top ten…even though I still have a few I need to see. But this might give you some ideas of great places to visit in the USA. I hope you have a future post-PanDamit road trip in your future in the USA. Here are my favorite USA National Parks.
In no particular order;
The beautiful state of Arizona is home to three national parks, and two of them make my list today;
- SAGUARO – we visited this small but amazing park this past year on one of our PanDamit road trips. And I fell hard for the unique beauty of this park. Much less busy than many of my favorite USA National Parks, Saguaro is a great place for hiking, bird watching and enjoying the unique desert flora.
2. GRAND CANYON – the grand-daddy of all national parks in the USA, as well as one of the most remarkable places in the entire world. I have visited this gem three times, and we have it on our destination list again coming up next fall. I absolutely love the Grand Canyon National Park.
The diverse state of California is home to a whopping eight national parks, and I have been to all of them. Although only one made my favorites list….but several get an honorable mention including Yosemite, Death Valley and Redwoods.
3. CHANNEL ISLANDS – it’s not easy to get to the Channel Islands, one of my favorite USA National Parks located between 12 and 70 miles off the coast of California depending on where you start. We took a boat from Ventura about an hour and spent the whole day hiking this dry and hilly island. What a special day that was.
4. EVERGLADES – This park eluded me for many years, until we did a fabulous Florida trip in 2019, spending time in Miami, Key West and of course, the Everglades. When I was a little girl I loved the show ‘Flipper” and always wanted to go to the Everglades where the boy Sandy lived with his ranger dad. So, I finally got there and it did not disappoint. So many alligators!
Hawaii is home to two national parks both focused on Hawaii volcanoes. I have been to both and both are fantastic. But only one is my favorite;
5. HALEAKALA – I’ve lost track how many times I have visited my favorite Hawaiian Island of Maui, home to Haleakala National Park. Every time we go to Maui, we visit Haleakala to hike. Twice we have gone up for sunrise too, but mostly we just love to hike into the spectacular crater.
The state of Montana is home to two very important and beautiful National Parks; Yellowstone and Glacier. Now it’s hard to rival Yellowstone…and most would argue it should be in my top ten list. And perhaps it should, but I find it just too crowded for my liking. So my favorite USA National Park in Montana is Glacier.
6. GLACIER – this beauty in the Rocky Mountains can also be very crowded at times. But play your cards right, come in the Spring or Fall and midweek and you will find the most jaw dropping scenery and wildlife spotting. I adore Glacier National Park.
Five amazing National Parks call Utah home and I love all five of them. But this magnificent state gets two of my favorite USA National Park votes.
7. ARCHES – the first time I went to Arches I had never seen anything like it. The Hoodoos and rock formations and of course the arches…astonishing. I love the dry weather and it’s such a beautiful place to hike year around.
8. BRYCE CANYON – the first time I went to Bryce Canyon we arrive after dark and went straight to our hotel. It was April and we got up and found a dusting of snow on the ground. I really didn’t know too much about Bryce, but we drove to the park and walked up the hill to the edge of the canyon. OMG. To this day I will never forget how that view literally took my breath away. I have been there two more times and I love it so much.
Growing up in the state of Washington I had no idea what a treasure it was. It was just where I lived and I rarely gave it much thought. Today I know…Washington State is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and home to three national parks. Two of those make my favorite USA National Parks list.
9. OLYMPIC – as a kid we hiked and camped every summer in Olympic National Park. The Rainforest, rivers and ocean were a big part of my growing up years. Back in the 60’s and 70’s you could always find a campsite without a reservation, but today that is not the case. It is popular and it’s easy to see why.
10. MOUNT RAINIER – from my window as a child we could see Mount Rainier off in the distance and we took that view for granted. Locals refer to it as “the mountain” and the national park that surrounds it provides visitors a never ending list of hikes. Camping, history, rivers, wildlife and the most incredible views you could ask for are what you will find in Mount Rainier National Park. Read about all my other favorite things to do in Washington State here.
These are my favorite USA National Parks. What an amazing thing it is to have access to all of these unique and varied parks within the borders of my diverse country. I hope to visit them all in the next few years. Thanks for reading about my favorite USA National Parks.
Learn more about the USA National Parks here.
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