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Top 20 of the most beautiful National Parks in North America

North America – the third largest of the world’s continents – is home to some of the most staggeringly beautiful protected areas of natural wilderness in the world. From the geysers of Yellowstone to the mesmerizing fjords of Newfoundland, we’ve teamed up with luxury tour operators Insight Vacations to choose our collective favorite best and most beautiful National Parks in North America…

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA – one of the prettiest national parks to explore in America

Glacier National Park, Montana

One of the few US National parks which you can explore without a car and easily one the most beautiful, Glacier National Park in Montana is home to around two thousand lakes, a thousand miles of rivers, breezy meadows, dense green forests, towering peaks, and plenty of wildlife including bighorn sheep and mountain lions.

Obviously, though the glaciers are the park’s biggest draw  – it’s home to 25 small glaciers and also huge flows of ice that carved these immense valleys thousands of years ago.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Glacier National Park, Montana

Banff National Park, Canada – famously one of the most beautiful national parks in North America

Peyto-Lake1

A place which often tops the most beautiful places in the world lists is Banff National Park – Canada’s most popular and most cherished tourist attraction. It’s the most famous Canadian Rockies park and offers both sublime scenery and plenty of thrilling outdoor activities.

It’s also home to some gorgeous lakes including the very special Peyto Lake and the bustling Lake Louise (where you can go canoeing). Other places that shouldn’t be missed are the Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Tangle Creek. Expect waterfalls, lakes, canyons, spectacular viewpoints and a seemingly unending procession of majestic mountains, rivers, glaciers and stunning forest scenery.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Banff National Park, Canada

Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Death Valley with Moon

Located in the desert in Southern California, Death Valley National Park is home to various exotic creatures, most noticeably migratory birds and other animals. While you’re there, make sure you see Mustard Canyon, Salt Creek, and the Devil’s golf course.

You can also enjoy some amazing sand dunes and sand that is all different colors, something that not everyone has had the chance to experience. Since natives and travelers alike used to travel through this area during the Gold Rush years, it is believed gold is still buried in several places somewhere in this park.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Death Valley National Park, California

Jasper National Park, Canada – one of the best National Parks to explore in North America

Jasper National Park Canada

Jasper National Park – which neighbours Banff – also deserves a place on this list and at an incredible 11,000 square kilometres it’s the largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies. There are also plenty of activities on offer including taking a Harley Davidson tour, mountain biking, trekking, and renting a boat. 

Don’t leave without driving along the phenomenal Icefield Parkway – a scenic highway located between Jasper and Banff – which features bright emerald green lakes, cascading waterfalls that adorn towering rock spires, and more than 100 ancient glaciers.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Jasper National Park, Canada

Yosemite National Park, California – one of the famously top national parks in North America

Yosemite National Park on GlobalGrasshopper.com

This is one of our favorite national parks and one of those places that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime! Created by glaciers which gouge through the canyon of the Merced River, the Californian park is easily one of the most awe-inspiring geological spectacles on the planet.

The park is brimming with 3000ft near-vertical cliffs adorned with tumbling waterfalls, magnificent rock domes, grassy meadows framed by towering oak, cedar and fir trees and wildlife galore – just watch out for the black bears!

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Yosemite National Park, California

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska – one of the most stunning national parks

Glacier Bay National Park

Part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site this one is the largest one of the world’s largest international protected areas. Alaska is home to some spectacular unspoilt scenery and this park offers 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, wild coastlines, dewy rainforests and deep fjords.

The highlights though are the sixteen glaciers that spill into the 65-mile-long Glacier Bay and the chance to spot humpback whales, porpoises, and seals.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Yellowstone National Park, mostly Wyoming USA – one of the most famous national parks in North America

Yellowstone National Park

This is another one of America’s legendary US parks and this one is the oldest and the most famous national park, attracting a whopping three million visitors every year. The popular protected area is a melting pot of jaw-dropping mountain scenery, azure lakes, pretty meadows and varied wildlife (including large herds of heavy-bearded bison). Although its the park’s volcano – one of largest in the world – which really sets the place apart.

Thankfully, it hasn’t exploded for 640,000 years but it still provides the incredible displays of thermal activity including geysers, thousands of fumaroles jetting plumes of steam, mud pots gurgling with acid-dissolved muds and clays, and plenty of hot springs!

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Yellowstone National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, South California USA

Joshua Tree National Park

This is another of our favorites. The 1250 square mile park is known for its unearthly and unsettling beauty filled with incredible rock formations and grotesquely gnarled plants, which aren’t trees at all, but a type of yucca.

We drove to the park’s highest point – an eerily silent vista overlooking Coachella Valley and Salton Sea (only slightly marred by the smoggy air pouring out from the Los Angeles Basin) and stayed until sunset.

As dusk arrived the desert floor become bathed in red light and the spiky trees turned into ghost-like black silhouettes. A very unique National Park which is not to be missed!

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Joshua Tree National Park

Zion National Park, Utah, USA

Zion National Park

Utah is a western state home to some seriously beautiful natural scenery and Zion National Park is one of the places to head to see some of the finest landscapes in the area.

It’s known for its huge sandstone cliffs, narrow sheer-walled canyons, scenic drives, emerald lakes with cascading waterfalls and forest trails but most visitors head for Zion Canyon. Probably the most immediately spectacular of the many geological wonders in Utah it’s where sheer red and white sandstone cliffs tower up to 2,500 feet above the North Fork of the Virgin River.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Zion National Park, Utah

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, The Grand Canyon appears on many a traveler’s bucket list. It’s so vast and so hypnotically beautiful you can’t quite believe you share the same planet and can often leave visitors (like us) feeling like they’re visiting a surreal movie set.

It’s an endless expanse and inconceivable abyss – more than one mile deep and at its widest is eighteen miles across. For a little bit of extra excitement take a helicopter tour, swim in the waterfalls, or raft through the park’s whitewater rapids.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Grand Canyon National Park

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Gros Morne National Park

Newfoundland only joined Canada in 1949 but it offers some stunning unspoiled scenery, with its most mesmerizing scenery is contained within Gros Morne National Park.

Filled with beautiful bays, scrawny beaches, straggling villages, and wizened sea stacks with a gorgeous backdrop of fjord-cut mountains, this protected wilderness definitely deserves a place on this list. The park’s forested lower slopes are home to thousands of moose, snowshoe hares, and woodland caribou and minke whales regularly feed in Bonne Bay.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Acadia National Park

Although it is considered a relatively small national park, Acadia is popular because numerous U.S. presidents have visited it. It is especially popular in the fall months when the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold.

In addition to beautiful leaves, the park also boasts beautiful pinewood groves and the Egg Rock Harbor Lighthouse, which provides you with a 360-degree view of the area that is nothing short of spectacular. You can visit it anytime and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever been exposed to.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Acadia National Park, Maine

Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

Everglades Florida

Everglades National Park is the biggest national park in the United States, but since it consists mostly of swampland, it is not accessible to most people most of the time. Still, there are ways you can get there by getting into a small boat or rowboat, and a few of the areas people love the most include Eco Pond, Shark Valley, and Royal Palms.

On the outskirts of the park you can find a few homesteads and B&Bs, and thanks to preservation efforts in the area, there is still a lot for you to see if you do decide to visit it. In fact, it is one national park you are certain never to forget.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Everglades National Park, Florida

Redwood Forest National and State Park, California, USA

Redwood National Park

One of the most popular and best national parks in North America, the Redwood Forest National, and State Park is found along the Northern Coast of California, and not only are the trees extraordinary in size but if you view them from above, you can tell that they are truly a beautiful shade of red in color!

There are several visitors centers and lots of areas to hike and camp, and while you’re there, make sure you check out the many picnic areas, groves, and campgrounds, one of them being the Jebediah Campground, which you are certain to enjoy.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Redwood Forest National and State Park, California

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA

Rocky Mountain National Park

Some of the settlements in this park are more than 10,000 years old, and the park itself stretches from Colorado into New Mexico. You can stay in either Aspen or Denver to enjoy the park, which consists of log cabins, various campgrounds, and lots of hiking trails.

You can also enjoy kayaking in the Colorado River, so if you love the great outdoors, this is the place for you. Of course, if you visit this park, you’ll also have to watch out for some of the grizzly bears that are notorious in this area of the state.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Arches National Park

This is a great park when you’re a thrill-seeker because it offers more than 2,000 stone arches and huge rock formations to climb, mountain-bike on, and even jump off of. This is indeed a red rock wonderland because it is both gorgeous and a lot of fun.

Of course, you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy this park. You can take a leisurely stroll through it and enjoy its amazing beauty. Arches National Park truly has something for everyone, and you’ll never regret visiting it.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Arches National Park, Utah

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan, USA

Isle Royale National Park

Whether you like to scuba dive, backpack, or go boating, Isle Royale National Park can quench your desire for a little outdoor activity. This park is a true gem even though many people don’t even know it’s there.

Located on an isolated island in Lake Superior, you’ll find a lot of things to do once you get there. This remote island offers a little more than 200 square miles of wilderness, waterways, and so much more, so if you love any type of outdoor activity, this is the place for you.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA

Denali National Park and Wonder lake

Located at the highest peak in the United States – Mt. McKinley – this national park has lots of animals that many people have never seen, including caribou, reindeer, grizzly bears, and moose, to name a few.

Attractions there include Polychrome Park, Savage River, and Wonder Lake. Touring the park is a breeze because there are regular bus tours offered all throughout the day. Because of its rare wildlife, the park is protected, and you’ll be able to enjoy its snow-capped mountains all year long!

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA

Grand Teton National Park

Many people consider this the best national park to visit if you love photographing beautiful sites. The landscape of the park is phenomenal and it has a rugged, cowboy-like feel to it. There are a lot of wide-open spaces there and nature that is untouched by the modern world.

The park stretches from the Teton Mountains to Jackson Hole to Jenny Lake, and if you’re anywhere near the state of Wyoming, you owe it to yourself to visit this park because it is truly a gem.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee, USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park,

One trip to this great park and you’ll understand why it is the most visited park in the United States. It truly offers something for everyone, so whether you love to go camping, biking, or hiking, you’ll feel welcome here. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts nearly 80 historical landmarks all throughout the area.

You can enjoy beautiful wildlife and plant life, and whether you’re a nature-lover or a history buff, you’ll find something about the park that you love. It is also rich in Cherokee Indian Native American history.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.

24 Comments

  • Avatar

    Clare

    25 July, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    It’s true about Grand Canyon National Park, it is really an unbelievable site when you see it in person! People come from all over the world to see this breathtaking wonder. The great thing about visiting Grand Canyon National Park is that you can take a one day trip to it from Las Vegas. This gives you the chance to see two world famous locations in just one vacation!

    Reply
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    Adam

    23 December, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Becky,
    I’m really glad I accidentally found your blog this morning. A lot of great information floating around here. Nice write up. It shows you have put a lot of time and effort into the design, layout & delivery. Nice work.

    You definitely picked the true gems over here. Not so sure about Joshua Tree over Rainier or Teton National Park, or crate lake, or the boundary waters, but still a beautiful place. Having lived in 7 of these parks I can honestly say they are must see for everyone. I am currently writing a 10 part blog series on Glacier National Park for my travel blog http://www.aowanders.com. I spent the last 6 months there, and hiked all 734 miles this summer.

    I also recently just moved to Grand Canyon, and will be here for the next 6 months if you would like me to write something or take some photos for you to expand upon your National Park post I’d be more then happy to help you out.

    Reply

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