5 Things, National Parks, US Roadtrips

5 Things: US National Parks to Visit

5 National Parks You Must See in the US

The US National Park Service is pretty expansive.  There are 58 National Parks in the US, along with thousands of federal recreation sites.  I wasn’t always interested in the National Parks, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty and escape that nature provides.  After spending some time in Europe and abroad, we were determined to explore more of our own country, and what better way than through the parks.  Today I am highlighting 5 parks spanning both coasts that highlight the beauty and diversity of the US NPS.

Zion National Park

Located in Utah, Zion Canyon is awe inspiring with its towering red, sand and white striped rock. Pair that beautiful scenery with unique and diverse hikes, abundant wildlife, an excellent shuttle system, and well placed bathrooms and water filling stations and I cannot say enough nice things about Zion.  We spent 3 days in Zion, tackling Kayenta Trail, Emerald Pools, The Narrows and the Observation Point hike.  Zion quickly rose to the top of my list of favorite national parks.

Observation Point, Zion National Park

For more on Zion, check out this post: Beginners Guide: Zion National Park in 3 Days

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Although the rolling blue green Appalachian Mountains are a stark contrast from the Rockies out west, they are beautiful in their own right.  Along the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail that extends from Georgia to Maine, Shenandoah is one of only 2 National Parks along that stretch.  Located in Virginia, just 75 miles from Washington DC, we explored Shenandoah over Memorial Day Weekend.  Most known for the beautiful Skyline Drive, there are plenty of look out vistas and points of interest.  In addition, there are plenty of rewarding hiking opportunities for all skill levels in the park.  Keep your eyes peeled for black bears and various types of wildlife here!

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

 Mount Rainier National Park

A day trip from our time in Seattle during our Pacific Northwest Roadtrip gave us only enough time to scratch the surface of Mt Rainier National Park.  We enjoyed a 10 mile hike to Green Lake and some additional treks along the Carbon River.  The glacier peaked mountains, waterfalls and lush greenery made for an ideal escape from the city.  It was gorgeous and I am anticipating another, longer visit to the park at some point.

Mt Rainier National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Located on Maine’s Mt Desert Island, Acadia does not have soaring mountains (Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak stands at only 1,530 feet).  Rather, Acadia has a beautiful rocky, rugged coastline.  It also boasts the first viewing of sunrise in the US, beautiful lakes and sweeping views of the ocean.  Many of the main highlights in Acadia are accessible by car or short hike.  Some of our favorite stops were Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Point, lunch and popovers at Jordan Pond House, Schoodic Point and of course the view from Cadillac Mountain on a clear day.  For those seeking more adventure seeking, try the Beehive Trail or Precipice hike which utilizes iron rungs to help climbers up exposed rock faces.

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall is a dream with abundant sunshine, moderate temps and bright yellow aspens.  If you manage to hit the fall colors just right, it appears as if a paintbrush of orange, reds and yellows had covered the mountainsides. Rocky Mountain National Park covers 415 square miles of beautiful landscapes.  On our most recent trip we completed the hike from Bear Lake Trail head to Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes.  Rocky Mountain National Park should definitely be on your list of places to see.

Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

For more on RMNP, check out the post: Hiking to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

There are so many parks to explore in the US.  We have yet to explore many still on our list, with the top being Yosemite and Glacier.  Tell me what else is worthy of a spot on the top 5 list.

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5 National Parks You Must Visit

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  • UnaVeronicaVagante

    Gorgeous photos!
    I have been loving natural destinations, and after watching a documentary about the US national parks, I’m totally up for it!
    So, I’m going to pin this post and use it when I’ll go 🙂

  • They all have such beautiful views. I’d love to travel to a different national park every summer or early spring with my family and take in all the nature.

  • Hilary

    Beautiful photos! I’ve visited Zion, and Mt. Rainier (I grew up in Seattle), but have yet to visit the others mentioned. It’s amazing how diverse the landscape of the US is from region to region. It really gives a perspective to just how big America is! #farawayfiles

  • We went to Acadia two summers ago and LOVED it. I agree, seeing the U.S. national parks is a great way to see the country. I’m having trouble deciding what our next national park is going to be as there are so many I want to see. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

  • Clare Thomson

    You have the most incredible national parks in the US. They all look so stunning and I think that hikes have to be some of the best ways to see all that amazing scenery. This is such a useful guide, Jacki. I’ll be sharing it and saving it for when I next visit America. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  • I love the National Parks and just got a park pass. Zion is one of my favorites but haven’t been to the others you posted yet. Let’s make sure to save and protect them for future generations.

  • Sarah Lizana

    Absolutely beautiful pictures, Jacki! The travel bug is biting!

  • Wow – what a great diversity of parks all across the US! I adore Zion National Park and most of the other ones in Utah. Along with Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park – that is one of my favorite areas to explore! Epic! I would love to see Acadia – it looks stunning. Thanks for sharing – great list and fab photos! #FarawayFiles