If you were to ask 20 bloggers or travel experts the question “What’s your favorite US National Park?” I’m sure you’d get at least 30 answers, if not more. There are well over 400 sites that are part of the US National Park Service system, and it’s hard to pick just a single favorite. That said, I’ve asked some blogger friends of mine to share their thoughts (and their articles!) on their favorite US National Parks – their thoughts are below. Please enjoy, and leave me a note about your favorite park site in the comments below!
- 1 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- 2 Grand Tetons National Park
- 3 Petrified Forest National Park
- 4 Glacier National Park
- 5 Fort Frederica National Monument
- 6 Mesa Verde National Park
- 7 Craters Of The Moon National Monument
- 8 Arches National Park
- 9 Big Bend National Park
- 10 Bandelier National Park
- 11 Tent Rocks National Monument
- 12 Zion National Park
- 13 Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument
- 14 White Sands National Monument
- 15 Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
- 16 Zion National Park
- 17 John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historical Site
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
According to the locals of Montrose, Colorado, Black Canyon National Park is the number one hidden gem of Colorado. There are so many sights to see without too many heads in your way, unlike at Yellowstone. In the park, there are two rims of the canyon, the North and the South Rim. Where you are coming from might determine which rim you visit due to the fact that the two rims are so far apart by car.
– Allison Mayhue Shorter, Healthy Living In Colorado
Grand Tetons National Park
Grand Teton National Park has some truly amazing spots for nature and wildlife photographers. If you’ve never GTNP been before, you might not know what you’ve been missing! The best time to visit the park is from mid-May to the end of September, when all the trails are open. This allows you the best access to the park and some of the best weather for photos.
– Marissa Zurfluh, Our Roaming Hearts
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park, located in northeastern Arizona, is one of the jewels of the National Park System. Rainbow Forest, located in the southern part of the park, is full of colorful fields of petrified wood. It’s also home to the Rainbow Forest Museum, which is full of paleontology exhibits. The Museum is also a convenient point to access many of the hiking trails.In the center of the park are ruins of the village of Puerco Pueblo as well as the petroglyphs of Newspaper Rock. To the north, the Painted Desert Inn, a 1930s adobe building, is a museum with Hopi murals.
– Marissa Zurfluh, Our Roaming Hearts
Glacier National Park
If you want a unique and stunning hike (or trail run!) in Glacier National Park, check out the Highline Trail. Just make sure to bring your camera – and your bear spray! This hike starts at the summit of Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun Road and runs to the Loop, a popular parking and scenic area below. This is one of the more popular trails in the park, but many people only venture a few miles down it. Try hiking the entire length for some breathtaking views unobstructed by other visitors.
– Carleen Pruess Coulter, Snack Rules
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Frederica, located in St. Simons Island, showcases colonial times in Georgia. Visitors can explore the fort ruins & they’ve got an award-winning Junior Park Ranger program for kids! Known as the site where Spanish and British forces battled on St. Simons Island, Fort Frederica National Monument is part of the National Park Service and a must-do attraction. If you’re looking for things to do in St. Simons Island GA, Fort Frederica is both a kid-friendly and historical destination. Dating back to the 1700’s, the archeological remains tell us a story that’s important to understanding Georgia’s history.
– Kimberly Stroh, Savvy Mama Lifestyle
Mesa Verde National Park
If you’re making a trip out west consider a stop in Cortez, Colorado to visit the Mesa Verde National Park. It was not only beautiful, it was also interesting to learn about the history of the Pueblo people, see their ancient cliff dwellings and then to get to discover the modern high dessert town of Cortez. The thing that Mesa Verde National Park is probably best known for is its ancient cliff dwellings which are some of the best preserved in the United States. The Ancestral Pueblo people made Mesa Verde their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. They hunted and farmed on top of the mesa at 7,000 feet elevation and made dwellings in the cliffs below. The Mesa Verde National Park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites including cliff dwellings and petroglyphs (prehistoric rock carvings).
– Scarlet Paolicchi, Family Focus Blog
Craters Of The Moon National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument is like walking into another world. If you’ve ever dreamed of going to the moon, this will be a bucket list adventure for you! There are VERY few places that look like Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. That’s why we should be protecting it in the National Park System. And why you should make plans to visit it, too.
– Kimberly Button, Kim and Carrie
Arches National Park
Mother Nature is a master sculptor and in no place is that more evident than at Arches National Park.
Arches National Park offers visitors a front row seat to some of the most stunning sandstone formations in the world. Over 2,000 documented sandstone arches within the park’s boundaries – more than any other place on the planet. Located in central eastern Utah near the Colorado border, Arches National Park offers visitors a front row seat to some of the most stunning sandstone formations in the world. Over 2,000 documented sandstone arches within the park’s boundaries – more than any other place on the planet. (An arch, by definition, is “an opening in the rock that stretches at least three feet in one direction.”)
If you’re interested in doing some hiking in Arches National Park, read this excellent guide on hiking the Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park.
– Renée Butcher, The Good Hearted Woman
Big Bend National Park
The hiking trails of Big Bend National Park offer a fantastic setting for a multigenerational active vacation. Big Bend’s rugged beauty and gorgeous sunsets will capture the imagination. This National Park is three times the size of the state of Delaware– you should not expect to see it all. Three days of hiking was plenty for most visitors. Anyone staying longer would likely need a rest day due to the length and difficulty of most of the hikes. Know how much you and your family can cover in a day and how much downtime is needed.
– Karen Shopoff Rooff, Well Balanced Women
Bandelier National Park
Bandelier National Park is a 33 677 acre United States National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico. The monument preserves the homes and territory of the Ancestral Puebloans of the Southwest. It contains some of the most unusual and interesting ancient ruins in the Southwest including petroglyphs and pictographs. The monument is a short drive from the scientific research town of Los Alamos and about an hour drive from Santa Fe.
– Adrienne Carrie-Hubbard, Hubbard Family Travels
Tent Rocks National Monument
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, is an expansive geological park featuring hiking trails & wildlife amid cone-shaped tent rock formations located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the Pueblo language, Keresan. Learn about this family friendly hiking area with spectacular views in all directions that will leave you speechless. The Santa Fe Tent Rocks are an awe-inspiring attraction. Lace on your hiking boots and get ready to experience one of the Southwest’s most observed geological wonders.
– Adrienne Carrie-Hubbard, Hubbard Family Travels
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of America’s most beloved National Parks! The name Zion alone instantly brings thoughts of several iconic popular hikes within the National Park System and is a big reason for the parks tremendous popularity. There are few better ways to spend a day outdoors then going out and exploring the best hikes in Zion! There is a trail for everyone from easy hike to strenuous hike, trails to go for a bike ride, horseback ride and even take your pet for a walk. Even better is that most of the hikes require you to take a park operated bus along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument
Never been to Mt St Helens? There is a lot of family activities and learning opportunities as well! Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument is one of the places in Pacific Northwest that will really open your eyes to how amazing Mother Nature really is. It is amazing to think how much destruction was done alone on May 18, 1980. Being so close to Mt Rainer in Puyallup, WA lets you see up close what could happen if it the volcano were to erupt again.
– Jenny Johnson, Cook Eat Go
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument was just designated an official national park in December 2019. It’s located just a few miles outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico and is an incredible, never-forget, kind of experience! White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum dune field and one of the most beautiful sites in the US. It’s breathtaking to witness nothing but white sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
– Randi Wilton-Clark Dukes, Dukes & Duchesses
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
We went into the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument barracks, a chapel, and explored various rooms throughout the locally quarried coquina structure. Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It was in continuous military possession and use until its decommissioning in 1933. It was declared a National Monument in 1924.
– Carlee Colonneso, Fun Learning Life
Zion National Park
If you’re planning on a visit to Arizona, don’t miss the opportunity to see Zion National Park! It’s got lots to offer year round, and is only a 4-hour drive from Salt Lake City. The park is full of hiking paths for all skill levels and of varying lengths. If you have limited time, make sure to check with park rangers as they can advise you of the best places to spend your time.
– Maria Long. Longs On The Fly
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historical Site
On a tree-lined street in Boston’s Brookline neighborhood, the president who would later have Marilyn Monroe breathlessly sing him Happy Birthday was born at home the afternoon of May 29, 1917.
For even more information, read this great guide to America’s National Parks and how to visit them!