Some national parks, like Yellowstone, are so enormous you could take two weeks and still not see the whole thing. Other national parks, like Joshua Tree, can be comfortably enjoyed within one day. We have compiled a state-by-state list of 58 national parks in the United States. We hope this list will help provide you with all the information to help you plan your route.
NATIONAL PARKS IN THE U.S. BY STATE
Apart 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.
National 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.
Hot 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.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Longest known caving system in the world, well-known for its cave tours.
Acadia National Park
America’s first sunrise, without having to abandon modern comforts.
Isle Royale National Park
Historic shipwrecks, around the main island plus 400 smaller ones.
Voyageurs National Park
Collage of hardwood tree forests and waterways.
Glacier National Park
Over 740 miles of trails, historic Swiss-style chalet landmarks.
Great Basin National Park
Marble caves, paved scenic drive.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Impressive network of over 110 limestone caves, seventh-longest in the world, impressive bat outflights.
Great 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.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
View the location of Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Waterfalls and caves along the crooked river, is among the smallest and newest national parks.
Crater Lake National Park
Deepest lake in the U.S., with exceptional purity and clarity.
Congaree 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.
Great 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 ISLANDS
Virgin 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.
Shenandoah 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.
44 NATIONAL PARKS IN CANADA
While we have visited most of the national parks in the United States, Canada is in no short supply of natural beauty. Canada’s geographic size is much larger than the United States, and some national parks can be found in very remote areas. While Banff, and Jasper belong to the more common national parks that can be combined with a U.S. road trip, there are quite a few unknown areas that would be worth exploring. For complete information about Canada’s national parks, you can find more information here.