United States National Parks in Photos

Written By: The Planet D

The United States National Parks are beautiful. There are 63 national parks in America and we’ve had the good fortune to visit many from Alaska to Hawaii and everywhere in between.

From the unique rock formations of Zion to the towering bamboo trees of Maui you’ll be mesmerized by the striking beauty of this area. These national parks are made for hiking, taking photographs, and enjoying the wonders of nature. Get lost, enjoy, and marvel at these U.S. National Parks.

Pictures of United States National Parks

Since then, The United States has been leading the way in establishing National Parks, state parks, and national monuments through to the 21st century. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia is America’s newest national park created in December of 2020.

1. Yellowstone National Park

Things to do in Yellowstone National Park Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool Yellowstone

The United States is the birthplace of the national park system with Yellowstone National Park being the very first protected area in the world. While Yellowstone was founded in 1872 with other parks like Sequoia, Yosemite, and Mount Ranier National Park following suit before 1900, it wasn’t until 1916 that U.S. National Park Service was founded.

Things to do in Yellowstone National Park Mammoth Hotsprings

Yellowstone is an incredible national park to visit in the United States and truly lives up to the hype with beautiful sights such as Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. Plus there are amazing wildlife encounters.

2. Yosemite National Park – California

United States National Parks - Yosemite
Looking down the Yosemite Valley, one of the best United States National Parks

Located in California, Yosemite National Park is the mother of all parks. Renowned photographer Ansel Adams made this park his muse capturing its beautiful landscape from El Capitan to the Half Dome. Read more: Things to do in Yosemite National Park

best national parks in photos el capitan yosemite
The famous rockface of El Capitan

Rock climbers flock to Yosemite NP to tackle its world-class routes. Alex Honnold who was featured in the Oscar winning movie Free Solo scaled this mammoth without safety ropes. While the rest of us probably won’t be tackling el Capitan, there are plenty of hikes and beautiful trails in Yosemite to explore. See the national park service of Yosemite for more details on visiting.

Also read: Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park

3. Sequoia National Park – California

beautiful national parks in photos sequoia national park
The magical sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park

Sequoia National Park became a national park in 1890 to protect its huge groves of Sequoia Trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum). These are the oldest and world’s largest trees and they must be seen with your own eyes to truly believe the scope. Another great place to see some of the world’s largest trees in California is Redwood National Park, visit the national park service for details at their website.

4. Death Valley National Park – California

death valley lonely road nevada
On the road in Death Valley

Death Valley is the lowest, hottest, and dryest national park in the world. When you visit Death Valley, make sure you have a full tank of gas, lots of water, and sunscreen because temperatures reach to more than 120 degrees! The hottest day ever recorded in Death Valley was 134 degrees. Check out 7 Epic Places to Visit in Northern California

Death Valley National Park
Looking out over Sand Dunes

It is a truly beautiful landscape. We drove through Death Valley on our way to Vegas from California and were mesmerized by its captivating scenery. Even though it is hot, there are plenty of things to do in Death Valley NP from stopping at lookouts to view places like Zabriskie Point and Dantes View to seeing the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes pictured above. Check out the national park service website for more details.

California has more national parks than any other states with nine national parks. We haven’t been to them all, some others on our list to see are Lassen Volcanic National Park, Pinnacles National Park, and Channel Islands National Park. See the National Parks Service for more national parks in California here.

5. Red Rock Canyon National Park – Nevada

red rocks canyon national park nevada
The striking landscape of Red Rock Canyon National Park

Las Vegas may be the place people go to gamble their lives away, but not too far from this city in the desert is the gorgeous Red Rock Canyon, National Park. Hop on this scenic drive that circles through the canyon for 13 miles and stop at its many hiking trails and viewpoints. If you want to do some rock climbing, this is a popular spot and you can learn to climb here too. Who knows, you may start in Red rock and wind up in Yosemite! Also read: The Best Hikes in Valley of Fire State Park

You may want to check out The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary for a stop in Death Valley.

6. Joshua Tree National Park – California

Hikes in Joshua Tree Boy Scout Trail

Joshua Tree is where the Mojave and the Colorado deserts meet. It is famous for its Yucca trees scattered throughout the landscape. These trees got their names from the Mormon settlers who were reminded of Joshua from the bible. The trees reminded them of Joshua reaching his arms to the sky in prayer. The name stuck.

Ryan Mountain Trail Hike in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree may be famous for its yucca trees, but it also has an incredible landscape that has been sculpted by wind and rain. There are hiking trails, bouldering, and darks skies to enjoy here. So make sure to put it on your national parks to visit list! Read More about Joshua Tree NP at 11 Best Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

7. Zion National Park – Utah

Best Hikes in Zion National Park

Utah’s first national park is filled with incredible sandstone cliffs and rock formations. It was declared a national park by Woodrow Wilson in 1919 and lucky for us, this beauty is protected.

Zion National Park in Utah

Hike through the stunning Zion Canyon of pink, red, and creamy yellows and be amazed by the patterns in its rocks, and take a scenic drive through Zion Canyon drive. Enjoy these amazing 10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

Riverside Trail in Zion National Park

Utah houses 5 U.S. national parks which surprised us. Other parks not to miss besides the ones on this national parks list are National Reef National Park, Canyonlands and Arches. (We haven’t made it to Arches national park but it is high on our list!)

8. Grand Canyon National Park

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon American Road Trip
The sun illuminates the Grand Canyon

Perhaps the most famous national park in the United States is the Grand Canyon. Every time we write about the Grand Canyon we say that it truly does live up to the hype.

North rim of the Grand Canyon
The rain threatens over the Grand Canyon

With an area of 4931 square km (1,904 square miles) the Grand Canyon is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. To see it with your own eyes is a sight to behold. Read more about the Grand Canyon at 15 Fun Facts That You Need to Know About the Grand Canyon and The Absolute Best Things to do in The Grand Canyon

9. Badland National Park – South Dakota

badlands wall loop road

Badlands National Park surprised us. We didn’t expect too much from it but once we gazed upon the Badlands Wall, we were hooked. With 244,000 acres to explore, it is huge! While visiting South Dakota, Badlands was definitely at the top of our favorite experience, and we had a lot of them! Read more here.

Pinnacles Overlook in Badlands National Park

While exploring Badlands, you may come across bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and bison roaming the mixed-grass prairie landscape. From wildlife watching to scenic lookouts, there are plenty of hikes in Badlands National Park, but it can also be visited by car too. Read all about it at 10 Not to Miss Attractions Badlands National Park Hikes and Things to do

10. Wind Cave National Park – South Dakota

south dakota attractions buffalo

Wind Cave National Park houses one of the most complex cave systems in the world and one of the world’s largest caves, Wind Cave. Sitting within prairie grasslands, Wind Cave not only has one of the longest caves in the world, but you’ll also be able to view incredible wildlife from bison to elk and prairie dogs.

11. Denali National Park – Alaska

Denali National Park in Alaska

Mount McKinley stands proud over Denali National Park in Alaska. With a whopping 6.1 million acres, Denali may not be the biggest national park in the United States. That title goes to its nearby neighbor, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve at number one with Gates of the Arctic National Park at #2) but it is the largest national park that we’ve been to. Read more: Best Places to Visit in Alaska

Mount McKinley Denali Alaska

If you want to enjoy massive and rugged national parks in America, make your way to Alaska to enjoy its unspoiled beauty. Enjoy more from Denali National Park at Things to do in Alaska and 28 Amazing Things to do in Juneau, Alaska

12. Glacier Bay National Park – Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park is best explored by small ship. We went out to explore its glaciers by kayak and zodiac making it a trip to remember. Check out our experiences at Glacier Bay Uncruise Alaska – The Best Alaskan Cruise

Alaska is one of the final frontiers and if there is one time to take a cruise in your lifetime, this is it. Read: What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

13. Dry Tortugas – Florida

dry tortugas national park
Arriving at the Dry Tortugas

The Dry Tortugas National Park located south of the Florida Keys, just may be the most remote national park in the United States. The only way to get there is by boat or plane. This former fort is a great addition to a visit to Key West. See more of the Dry Tortugas at 27 of the Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida

dry tortugas national park

You can visit Dry Tortugas NP on a day trip or spend the night camping on the island. The beaches are soft white sand and the waters are crystal clear where you can snorkel in search of sea turtles. It’s a place you don’t want to miss. Visit the national park service for more details. Also, read Best Stops on a Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary

14. Haleakala National Park – Maui

The Haleakala National Park is on the Hana highway and listed as one of these Best Stops on the Road to Hana. Making our way from Paia to Hana, we spent a day exploring the hiking trails and waterfalls of this beautiful national park.

Haleakala National Park Maui

Haleakala National Park not only has a bamboo forest and green jungle, but the Haleakala Crater is also a part of this huge park. Standing 10,023 feet above sea level it is the cornerstone of the park on Maui. See the US national park service for more details here.

Pipiwai Trail Hana Maui

Spanning 30,000 Haleakala NP has everything from lush jungle trails to the stark red deserts and waterfall trails. Read more: Top 12 Hikes in Maui to Take your Breath Away

15. Glacier National Park

The Two Medicine Area is a great place for hiking and camping in Glacier National Park – Photo by Julie Mclain of Outdoorszer

Glacier National Park shared its border with Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Together they are known as the International Peace Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is also one of the premier places to go hiking in the US. We had hiking expert Julie Mclain share her favorite hikes in Glacier NP. Read more here: The Best Glacier National Park Hikes

16. American Samoa

Not many people think of American Samoa when listing US National Parks but we had the chance to visit while taking a South Pacific Cruise with Holland America. American Samoa is a remote island in the South Pacific filled with tropical rainforests, beaches, and a rich South Pacific Culture. This American territory will definitely give you bragging rights as one of the most well-traveled national parks explorers.

17. Everglades National Park – Florida

everglades national park

I cannot tell you how many times we’ve driven through Everglades National Park and never stopped. These wetlands of Florida house incredible wildlife from the endangered manatees, the Florida crocodile (yes, I meant crocodile, not gator), and the Florida Panther.

When you visit Florida, get away from the theme parks and explore a bit of its preserved lands. Enjoy information about the Everglades NP at the Best Places to Visit in Florida

18. Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado

rocky mountain national park

Take in the Rocky Mountains with the park that was named for them! No matter what part of Rocky Mountain National Park you travel to, you are treated to 360 degrees worth of stunning views. If you’ve got a particular affinity for certain nature hike features like waterfalls or wildlife spotting then perhaps you’ll appreciate some hikes more than others. Check out Best Places to Visit in Colorado

However, if you love all that the great outdoors can offer then Rocky Mountain National Park trails deliver in spades. Whether it’s the famed Twin Sisters near Estes Park or friendly Bear Lake, you can take it as easy as you want or head up into the tundra region for a real adventure.

Read more about Rocky Mountain N.P. at 15 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

19. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. The lake was created by a volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago and it is considered one of the most pristine lakes on earth.

20. Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

Best Bryce Canyon Hikes

Filled with hoodoos and rock formations that seem out of this world, Bryce Canyon is one of the most picturesque US national parks. It may be called Bryce Canyon, but it is actually made up of several canyons carving through a high plateau. Make sure to spend more than a day enjoying its hike or to even take a horseback ride through its rugged landscape. Read more: 12 Bryce Canyon Hikes That Will Blow You Away

21. Grand Teton NP – Wyoming

Best Grand Teton National Park Hikes

Grand Teton national park is located just a short distance from Yellowstone NP, so you can visit two iconic U.S. national parks at once! Many people also visit the area to ski Jackson Hole which is only a few miles from Grand Teton. Read more: 15 Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park.

22. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – North Carolina and Tenessee

Located in North Carolina and Tenessee, the Great Smoky Mountains are super to visit during the summer months. We’ve mostly driven through the Great Smoky Mountains in the height of winter, but with 500 miles of hiking trails including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, this is the place to get outdoors. Read more: 24 Best Hikes in the USA to Add to Your Bucket list

23. Isle Royale National Park – Michigan

Located in the largest great lake of them all, Lake Superior, Isle Royal is one of the more isolated U.S. national parks. It is only accessible by boat or floatplane and offers backcountry hiking and camping through its north woods forest. Read all about Michigan Travel at Fun and Unique Things to do in Northern Michigan

We have kayaked on this lake and it is one of the greatest adventures. When visiting Isle Royal, get on the water and see it by canoe or paddling. Read more at: The Very Best Places to Visit in Michigan

24. U.S. National Parks Wish List

With 63 national parks in the United States, we have barely scratched the surface, there are still so many more for us to see. A few that are high on our bucket list are:

  • Petrified Forest National Park – This has bee at the top of my list of US national parks to see for years. I’ve wanted to see e fossilized trees and animals from prehistoric times since I was a kid
  • Virgin Islands National Park – We are always a little envious of our American neighbors that they have Caribbean Islands as part of their territory. I’ve always wanted to go to the Virgin Islands.

And these are the best national parks in America in photos. How many national parks have you been to in the United States?

The United States National Parks are beautiful. There are 59 protected areas and some of the most dramatic are found in the Southwest corner of the country.
United States National Parks

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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17 thoughts on “United States National Parks in Photos”

  1. Born and raised in the Great Southwest. These are my old stomping grounds. Too majestic to ever be taken for granted. I love the desert and the mountains. Another favorite of mine, not depicted here is Yellowstone.

    • Yes, Yellowstone is sadly omitted because we haven’t been there yet. But we’re hoping to go one day soon. The US National Parks are amazing.

  2. Bookmarked! This looks like an amazing road trip route! The USA has never been high on my travel wish list, although I do admit, the national parks look amazing. I think the main reason I would visit the states is for the parks and them alone.

  3. Wow, your photos are just beautiful. I have been to the Grand Canyon and Red Rock, but haven’t yet made my way to the other national parks. One day I will have to go on a road trip and visit all these beautiful places.

  4. You’re inspiring me to plan a road trip through the USA, I’d forgotten just how many incredible landscape blanket the States!

    • Thanks Charli. You are so right, it’s easy to forget just how beautiful a place is when we haven’t seen it in a while. That’s why we love going through our photos too, it’s like traveling twice!

    • Hi Emily, Antelope Canyon is pretty amazing. It’s a short window of light in the canyon so it makes for a challenge and adventure to get the perfect shot. Definitely a must visit for photographers.

  5. You guys, this post just comes at the perfect time! I’m planning a road trip in the US and needed an overview of the different national parks and nature highlights. Yosemite, Antelope canyon and stargazing in Utah is right at the top of my list. THANKS!

    • Awesome! Have an amazing time. I think a road trip through this area is so magical. We can’t wait to hear all about your upcoming trip and we’ll be sure to check out your blog for updats.