Ask 100 people to name America’s best national parks, and you’ll probably get way more than 100 answers. There’s no definitive list of America’s best national parks (although many websites publish annual lists of their favorites!), since “best” is really a subjective term. But for those that enjoy the outdoors and experiencing flora and fauna in their natural settings, US National Parks are like cathedrals. I asked a few of my travel blogging friends to share their stories and photos from their favorite places. So, please enjoy this look at our favorite US National Parks!
Our Take: America’s Best National Parks
Shenandoah National Park
Maggie from Pink Caddy Travelogue shares one of her favorite US National Parks:
Shenandoah National Park is the perfect getaway for those who spend their time working in the hectic world inside of the Beltway, and is one of America’s best national parks. The 200,000 acres of protect wilderness are only 50 miles from Washington, DC and provide a haven for couples, families, and solo travelers.
With over 500 miles of trails, it’s a hiker’s paradise. Take a few days to hike the 100 miles of the famous Appalachian Trail that runs through the park. Or climb to the park’s highest peak, Hawksbill Mountain, for one of the best views in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are also a numbers of waterfalls within walking distance, and even trails that are handicap and young-child friendly.
If you’re not a hiker, you can also spend your time cruising along the scenic Skyline Drive, or mountain biking, horseback-riding, or swimming in a backcountry watering hole. Shenandoah has a little bit of everything for everyone.
There are two resort-style lodges, as well as numerous campgrounds, so you can spend the night in the park in whatever degree of comfort you prefer. And keep your eyes open for lots of wildlife – deer, bobcats, bears, and numerous other animals call the park home.
For more about Shenandoah National Park, visit https://pinkcaddytravelogue.com/shenandoah-national-park/
Glacier National Park
Lisa from The Hotflash Packer shares one of her favorite US National Parks:
Glacier National Park is arguably the most beautiful national park in the USA. It’s open year-round but like other high elevation parks in the west, the best time to visit is the summer, when all roads have been cleared. For Glacier National Park, this is usually in May or June.
A must-drive is the “Going to the Sun” Road that goes from east to west, through the center of the park with a stop at the very high Logan Pass Visitor Center – it’s hard to believe this building is completely covered by many feet of snow in the winter. You many need to take the shuttle.
One of the easy and most beautiful walks starts from Logan Pass – up and over the hill to Hidden Lake with views of Bearhat mountain. Despite being one of the busiest trails in the park, it’s full of wildlife. You are almost guaranteed to see Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, and Ground Squirrels on this hike. It’s also possible to see more dangerous animals – Bears (Black and Grizzly) or even an elusive Wolverine.
For longer hikes, the Many Glaciers area is a favorite base. I love the Iceberg Lake hike – you walk along a ridge with views all day long and then end at a basin lake with floating icebergs. Another great hike is the Grinnell Glacier. See the glaciers while they last!
NOTE: Read Lisa’s full article on Glacier National Park on her blog.
Yellowstone National Park
Heather from Trimm Travels shares one of her favorite US National Parks:
For me, it’s hard to name an outright favorite national park here in the US. They are all so vastly different. However, Yellowstone is definitely in my top three if not number one! It also consistently ranks near the top of annual lists of America’s best national parks.
I happened to visit the first week of June which is still springtime there and, in my opinion, the best time to go to Yellowstone. It is the week before “the season” starts. Although not everything was open, most things were and we didn’t have the ginormous crowds that Yellowstone draws in the summertime.
In addition to not being as crowded, the temperatures are still cool and comfortable and most importantly, the wildlife is moving! The bears are out of hibernation and have just had their cubs and it’s a beautiful thing to see.
We got to see this mama black bear put her cubs up in a tree while she grabbed a bite to eat and a nap. In another area of the park, we got to see a grizzly bear feeding her cub. It just doesn’t get much better than that!
Probably my favorite thing about Yellowstone and why it ranks so high for me is the geothermal pools and their colors! By far, I enjoyed Grand Prismatic the most, but there were so many other pretty, colorful pools!
And we can’t leave out the icons, can we? Old Faithful was truly amazing and gorgeous, especially at sunset.
I’m still thoroughly amazed that we have these kinds of absolutely stunning unique places here in the United States. Grand Prismatic looks like something you would have to go to a faraway remote island for. But, nope, it’s right here in Wyoming, USA!
I highly recommend Yellowstone National Park and a bonus is that Grand Teton National Park is right next door!
Heather Trimm is the owner and content creator of Trimm Travels, a travel, food and photography blog. Discovering as much of God’s creation as possible, Heather shares her experiences in hopes of making travel easier for you! Visit Heather on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Roxanna from Gypsy With a Day Job shares one of her favorite US National Parks:
With only 60 National Parks in the entire United States, they are all pretty amazing places. But only a mere 10 of those parks also hold the distinction of also being both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, AND International Protected Biospheres. Mammoth Cave, in western Kentucky, is one of those elite few that hold all 3 of those distinguished titles. It is a very special place and I consider it one of America’s best national parks.
When the lands were originally purchased to designate a National Park, supporters were not entirely aware of the wonder they were protecting. It was believed there were multiple cave systems in the area, but in truth, explorers would learn that it was all one huge system, a Mammoth Cave. Today, there are over 400 miles of documented passages. It is the longest known cave in the world, containing all types of intriguing formations. Cave tours are a big highlight at the park.
Above ground there are over 85 miles of trails. In the area near the Visitor’s Center, trails are paved and accessible. Further out in the park there are those that can be used for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. These trails incorporate a number of stunning features, including sinkholes, bluffs, waterfalls, and riverside views. The Green River and Nolin River flow through the park, providing opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, and they are known for good fishing.
Entrance to the park is free, but cave tours have various prices based upon the length and location of the tour. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time. Those who wish to stay overnight in the park have several options, including a lodge, cabins, full service campsites, and primitive backcountry sites. Believe me, there are enough cool things to discover to stay a few days!
Badlands National Park
And last but not least, here is my favorite US National Park:
It’s really hard for me to say which US National Park is my all-time favorite…there’s no clear winner in my mind. To me they’re somewhat similar to the way parents look at their children: all different, all special, and all loved equally. I really like all of them I’ve visited, and Muir Woods National Monument is right up there near the top. But in my opinion, The Badlands National Park is one of America’s best national parks. It’s one of my favorite US National Parks because it’s the first place I ever experienced solo tent camping.
In 2016 I went on a national park road trip for my 50th birthday. I was fortunate enough to visit Yosemite, Grand Tetons and the Badlands. I’d been to the Badlands before – as I noted in my article on the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, the Badlands are considered sacred ground by the Lakota people. I’ve had the opportunity to visit sections of the Badlands that can only be entered by registered members of the Lakota tribe and their guests, but I hadn’t seen the larger, public part of the park.
I was absolutely blown away by the deep, rich colors of the sky in the evening and I had a spectacular view from where I was camping. The next morning I was treated to a spectacular sunrise that was enhanced by lingering fog in some low-lying areas. Later that morning I drove through the park and took a couple very short hikes. I was really moved by the natural beauty of the rock formations and by the wide variety of animal life I saw while there.
I wish I could have stayed longer but needed to get back on the road to head to Yellowstone. But when I have the chance to go back to the Badlands again, I’m definitely going to stay longer and really experience the park in all its glory.
What place makes your list of America’s best National Parks?
Tell us in the comments below!
- Badlands National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Mammoth Cave National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Yellowstone National Park