NATIONAL PARKS IN THE U.S. BY STATEApart from hiking, biking and water sports (the most common highlights of national parks) the following highlights are rather special to the individual parks and may help you to make your choice on which to prioritize for your visit.
- Denali National Park and Preserve Highest peak in North America (Mt. McKinley).
- Gates of the Arctic National Park Northernmost park administered by the National Park Service, roughly the size of Switzerland, no established roads, visitor centers or other facilities.
- Glacier Bay National Park Terrestrial and marine sanctuary, no marked trails or roads, many visit on cruise ships.
- Katmai National Park and Preserve Large population of brown bears, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, named for Mount Katmai (stratovolcano).
- Kenai Fjords National Park Smallest national park of Alaska, carved by glaciers flowing from the Harding Ice Field to the sea, rugged arctic landscape.
- Kobuk Valley National Park Only backcountry, half a million caribou, sand dunes.
- Lake Clark National Park Active volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, birch forests and tundra.
AMERICAN SAMOANational Park of American Samoa South pacific paradise, three volcanic islands, only U.S. national park south of the equator; tropical rainforests, beaches, coral reefs, cliffs.
- Grand Canyon National Park One of the symbols of America, one of the most visited national parks, largest canyons in the world.
- Petrified Forest National Park Wide variety of late triassic fossils (incl. trees, ferns and giant reptiles), geological formations, forest with ancient ruins and historic buildings.
- Saguaro National Park Named for the giant Saguaro Cactus, unique desert landscape and grassland.
ARKANSASHot Springs National Park Smallest national park by area, known for its hot spring water, bathhouses of a bygone era.
- Channel Islands National Park Only reachable by park concessioner boat/plane or private boats, one of the least-visited national parks, whale watching (in summer, largest gathering of blue whales in the world).
- Death Valley National Park Part of the Mojave Desert included, hottest and driest national park, yet surprisingly diverse, sand dunes, canyons, salt flats, mountains and valleys.
- Joshua Tree National Park Joshua trees, part of the Mojave Desert included, teeming with life, palm oases, wildflowers.
- Kings Canyon National Park Giant Sequoia Groves, High Sierra Peaks, old-growth coniferous forests.
- Lassen Volcanic National Park World’s largest plug dome volcano, all four types of volcanoes there are – all in one park: plug dome, shield, cinder, stratovolcanoes.
- Redwood National Park Tallest trees on Earth, wild coastal deltas and gorges, colonies of sea lions.
- Sequoia National Park Enormous redwood trees, five of the ten largest trees in the world, massive exposed granite walls.
- Yosemite National Park Waterfalls, giant sequoias, valleys and sheer cliffs.
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Named for the darkness of Balck Canyon, like no other canyon in North America due to narrowness, depth and sheer walls.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Tallest sand dunes in North America, no marked hiking trails, after rain it offers possibilities for sliding down the dunes on sleds, sandboards or snowboards.
- Mesa Verde National Park Cliff dwellings of the ancestral Puebloans, more than 4,000 archeological sites.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Continental divide, haven for off-piste skiers in winter, can be traveled by car.
- Biscayne National Park Third-longest living coral reef in the world, 95% water.
- Dry Tortugas National Park Many people are unaware of it as it is closer to Cuba than to the U.S. mainland, underwater wonderland.
- Everglades National Park Only subtropical wilderness in the country, network of rivers and wetlands.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Two volcanoes which are among the world’s most active, yet predominantly non-violent eruptions, visitors can get very close to watch.
- Haleakalā National Park Cinder cones, a dormant volcano and tropical paradies.
KENTUCKYMammoth Cave National Park Longest known caving system in the world, well-known for its cave tours.
MAINEAcadia National Park America’s first sunrise, without having to abandon modern comforts.
MICHIGANIsle Royale National Park Historic shipwrecks, around the main island plus 400 smaller ones.
MINNESOTAVoyageurs National Park Collage of hardwood tree forests and waterways.
MONTANAGlacier National Park Over 740 miles of trails, historic Swiss-style chalet landmarks.
NEVADAGreat Basin National Park Marble caves, paved scenic drive.
NEW MEXICOCarlsbad Caverns National Park Impressive network of over 110 limestone caves, seventh-longest in the world, impressive bat outflights.
NORTH CAROLINAGreat Smoky Mountains National Park America’s most visited national park, named for the prevalence of fog, one of the rainiest habitats in the U.S., abundance of waterfalls, modern campsites with amenities.
NORTH DAKOTATheodore Roosevelt National Park View the location of Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch.
OHIOCuyahoga Valley National Park Waterfalls and caves along the crooked river, is among the smallest and newest national parks.
OREGONCrater Lake National Park Deepest lake in the U.S., with exceptional purity and clarity.
SOUTH CAROLINACongaree National Park Largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in North America with river sweeping through the floodplains.
- Badlands National Park Buttes, pinnacles and spires, fossils of saber tooth cats, rhinoceroses and other bygone creatures.
- Wind Cave National Park Complex underground labyrinth of corridors with rare boxwork, third-longest cave in the U.S. and fifth-longest in the world.
TENNESSEEGreat Smoky Mountains National Park Same as North Carolina: America’s most visited nation park, named for the prevalence of fog, one of the rainiest habitats in the U.S., abundance of waterfalls, modern campsites with amenities.
- Big Bend National Park More than 200 miles of hiking trails across diverse terrain and scenic drives.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park A seemingly vast emptiness that is anything but empty, ancient marine fossils, highest peak in all of Texas.
UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDSVirgin Islands National Park Warm waters, white sandy beaches, wonderful coral, subtropical climate.
- Arches National Park Red rock landscape, more than 2,000 sandstone arches, natural bridges, towers, rock fins and other impressive formations.
- Bryce Canyon National Park Labyrinth of hoodoos at more than 7,800 feet above sea level.
- Canyonlands National Park Red, orange and yellow canyons, mesas and buttes.
- Capitol Reef National Park Waterpocket Fold (“wrinkle on the earth“), in combination with crevices, canyons, domes and bridges.
- Zion National Park Towering sandstone monoliths, swooping rock arches and painted canyon walls.
VIRGINIAShenandoah National Park Scenic Skyline Drive.
- Mount Rainier National Park Tallest peak in the State (stratovolcano), talks around the campfire by park rangers.
- North Cascades National Park Experience the mix of glaciers and mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, temperate rainforests, marshes and swamps.
- Olympic National Park Habitats ranging from coastline to dense forests, to alpine grassland and glaciers.
- Grand Teton National Park Pleasing combination of majestic natural beauty and tourist-friendly convenience.
- Yellowstone National Park The world’s first national park, more than half of the world’s geysers.