US National Parks Travel Guides

Our national parks truly are incredible! From badlands to deserts to oceans to mountains, they protect some of the most incredible natural areas in the United States. I’ve been to 39 out of the 63 national parks, and each one has something different to offer.

The first US National Park was Yellowstone, established in 1872. Today, there are 63 national parks across 30 different states. Every few years, another national park is added, and the newest national park is New River Gorge, established in 2020.

Whether you're a big hiker or just looking to take in the views, I highly recommend planning a national park road trip. Below you’ll find many of my US national park guides, as well as tips for planning your trips.

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Tips for Planning a National Park Trip

Heading to a national park soon? Here are some resources and tips to help you plan!

  • Make it a priority to leave no trace while you’re exploring the national parks (and anywhere outdoors). That includes packing out all of your trash, traveling on durable surfaces, never carving on rocks or trees, never approaching wildlife, following rules for campfires and more. It also means planning ahead - every park has its own rules and regulations. Some have reservations, some require bear spray, etc. Make sure to always do your research!

  • Purchase the America the Beautiful Pass if you’ll be visiting multiple parks throughout the year. This can save you a lot of money!

  • Always check the national park website for current conditions and closures before you visit. Things change quickly!

  • As of 2024, some national parks that require entry reservations include Arches, Yosemite, Mt Rainier and Glacier. This can vary depending on time of year, so always double check ahead of time.

  • If you're hiking, I recommend the All Trails Plus Membership! This will allow you to download offline maps and take advantage of other features that will help keep you safe.

  • Check out for an audio tour on the Guide Along app! They have tours for the Utah Mighty Five, Acadia, and many more of the national parks. It's a great way to learn about the park while you're driving.

More Tips for Hiking and Visiting our National Parks:

US National Parks by Region

Below, you'll find the national parks that I've written about, divided by region.

Western National Parks

The western United States makes up a huge region, and is home to some of the biggest and more beautiful natural areas. From sand dunes to mountain peaks to geothermal features, you could spend an endless amount of time exploring the west. Check out my Western US park guides to plan your trip to Yellowstone, Utah, Southern California, Alaska and more.

Southern National Parks

The southern US is certainly underrated when it comes to outdoor adventure. But in reality, the south is home to mountains, oceans, waterfalls, bayous and more. From Florida to Texas, you’ll want to have these national parks on your bucket list.

Midwest National Parks

The midwest is another region of the US that tends to get overlooked when it comes to visiting national parks and going on outdoor adventures. I’ve been to almost all of the midwest national parks, more guides are coming soon!

East Coast National Parks

The east coast Appalachian Mountains are 1.2 billion years old! The west tends to get more love, but there is no shortage of hiking and adventures on the East Coast.

National Parks by Season

While some national parks have similar conditions year round, most vary widely based on the season. For example, you should avoid visiting desert parks (such as Death Valley) in the summer due to high heat. And if you want to avoid icy conditions and ensure all roads are open, you should avoid visiting mountainous national parks (such as Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park) in the winter.

Here are a few seasonal national park guides to aid in your planning.

National Park Hikes

Looking for the best hikes in the national parks? Here are a few of my favorites! When it comes to finding hikes, I also recommend reading the national park website and using All Trails to read recent reviews of trails nearby.

FAQS about Visiting US National Parks

How many national parks are there in the US?

There are 63 US national parks. However, there are 429 units managed by the National Park Service. Other types of units include national monuments, national lakeshores, national seashores, national battlefields, national historic sites, national preserves, and more.

What are the most visited national parks in the US?

The top five most visited US national parks in 2023 were Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain.

What are the least visited national parks in the US?

The five least visited US national parks in 2023 were Gates of the Arctic, American Samoa, Lake Clark, Kobuk Valley and Isle Royale.

Which US national parks have timed entry?

As of this writing, Arches, Rocky Mountain, Mt Rainier, Glacier and Yosemite require timed entry permits (they only apply at certain dates and times). Other parks require timed entry or reservations for certain trails and activities. Those include Haleakala, Acadia, Zion and Shenandoah.

Each national park reevaluates the need for reservations each year. Always check the national park website for the most up to date information!

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