From hiking and camping to leaf-peeping and star-gazing, national parks provide recreation, entertainment, and family-friendly fun.

National parks offer recreation, sightseeing, and stunning landscapes. We can thank Ulysses S. Grant for the creation of the first national park, Yellowstone, in 1872. Next, give kudos to Woodrow Wilson for signing through the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916, which created the National Park Service (NPS). 

In addition to the 61 official national parks, there are hundreds of national historic sites, monuments, trails, reserves, and recreation areas that fall under the status of protected areas. For the purposes of this post, I’m sticking to the sites with the formally designated title of "national park." So, no offense, Harper’s Ferry, Jamestown, and Cumberland Gap. We’ll get to you next time.  

I’ve also included the U.S. Virgin Islands, because I like islands, and they are a part of the United States. Now that we’ve had our history and geography lesson for the day, let’s get on with the best national park in each state.

Alaska

 

Denali National Park was originally known as Mount McKinley National Park when it was founded in 1917. It's a good place to see bears, whether you're trying to or not. Alaska has the four largest national parks in the U.S., the largest of which is Wrangell-St. Elias at 13.2 million acres. Wrangell-St. Elias is also one of the top 10 least-visited national parks due to the remote location.

Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is 18 miles at the widest point. It's the second most-visited national park in the U.S. Keep reading to find out the first most visited.

Arkansas

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Park 30: Hot Springs National Park- Be sure to tag us in your photos and we’ll add you to our story! - - Water. That's what first attracted people, and they have been coming here ever since to use these soothing thermal waters to heal and relax. Rich and poor alike came for the baths, and a thriving city built up around the hot springs. Together nicknamed "The American Spa," Hot Springs National Park today surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Come discover it for yourself - - #hotsprings #hotspringsnationalpark #nationalparks #nationalparkservice #placetovisit #travelinspiration #travelpics #travelawesome #travellife #traveltheworld #wonderful_places #discoverglobe #worldplaces #exploring #adventure #awesomeearth #wonderer #nature #outdoors #wanderlust #hiking #camping #hikingadventure #mountains #roadtrip #sharpmountain

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Hot Springs National Park is 5,550 acres and has 43 thermal springs. There's a section of the park that runs through downtown Hot Springs and "Bathhouse Row." This area features bathhouses in Gilded Age architecture and is considered a National Historic Landmark District.

California

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This must be the Winter Wonderland they were singing about! A visit to a grove of giant sequoias is like entering a forest cathedral. An encounter with these massive, ancient trees instills us with a deep sense of wonder and connection to the natural world. Visiting Yosemite’s giant sequoias in winter can be a challenge! The Merced Grove is a 1.5-mile walk each way from Big Oak Flat Road, and the Tuolumne Grove is a 1-mile walk from the parking area near Crane Flat. Both trails have 500 ft of elevation change and plenty of snow, so snowshoes are highly recommended this time of year! The Mariposa Grove, accessible by shuttle from late spring through fall, can only be reached on foot this time of year. It’s a 2-mile walk each way (with 500 ft of elevation gain) to the entrance of the grove from the parking area, via the Mariposa Grove Road or the Washburn Trail. Snowshoes are recommended. #Yosemite #NationalPark

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Yosemite National Park has the tallest waterfall in the United States—Yosemite Falls. El Capitan and Half Dome are popular, and challenging, for hikers and climbers.

Colorado

 

Established in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park covers 415 square miles and offers 355 miles of hiking trails and 260 miles of horseback riding trails. There are 156 lakes and 476 miles of creeks and streams. There are also 600 buildings within the park. 

Florida

The gorgeous Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the top 10 least-visited parks. This is due to its remote location. It's located on 64,700 acres in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles west of Key West. It takes about two hours and 15 minutes by high-speed ferry from Key West to get there, or you could also take a seaplane. The park consists of Fort Jefferson, which was used as a military prison during the Civil War. There's a "moat," around the fort and you can snorkel and swim in crystal clear water.

Hawaii

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Where can I see the waterfalls?” This is a common question throughout Haleakalā National Park. Unfortunately, it is commonly asked at the summit district of the park which is over 60-80 miles (96 km-128 km) away from Waimoku Falls by car! When visiting the park, make sure you know where you are headed and what is available. It’d be a bummer to drive two hours hoping to see a waterfall in a rainforest only to end up at the summit of a high desert 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) in the air! The Pīpīwai Trail at Kīpahulu is 4-miles (6.4 km) roundtrip and contends with an 800-foot (244-meter) elevation change. You can access the Kīpahulu District by driving 12 miles past the town of Hāna on the Hāna Highway. Learn more at this link: https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/kipahulu.htm Have you hiked the Pīpīwai Trail? Share your impressions with us in the comments! #NPS #NationalParkService #EncuentraTuParque ##findyourpark NPS Photo CP

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Located on the island of Maui, Haleakala National Park can be visited via the famous Hana Highway. It became a national park in 1960. The dormant Haleakala Volcano, waterfalls, lava flows, and bamboo forests can be found there. 

Indiana

At 15,000 acres, Indiana Dunes National Park is the newest national park to join the NPS (February 2019). It's located along Lake Michigan and features landscapes of dunes, bogs, swamps, rivers, and forests.

Kentucky

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Beautiful view entering the cave this morning. #mammothcavenationalpark #findyourpark #worldslongestcave

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Mammoth Cave National Park has the world's longest cave system. It's believed to have started forming at least 10 million years ago. More than 400 miles of it have been explored, and hundreds more are believed to exist. 

Maine

Acadia National Park encompasses 47,000 acres of rocky beaches, glacier-like peaks, and wooded forests. It's famous for the Bar Harbor area and Cadillac Mountain, which is the East Coast's highest point.

Michigan

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Have you ever been to Isle Royale National Park? Share your experience below! . This week’s national park feature brings us to the largest island in North America’s largest lake. . ICONS: Isle Royale is a volcanic rock island 15 miles from mainland between Michigan and Minnesota. It has no roads, cars, and not much development. It’s actually the least-visited park in the Lower 48! The park is an archipelago that includes 400 small islands — check out Greenstone Ridge, Scoville Point, Moskey Basin, and Ryan Island for views you won’t forget! Mt. Desor is the island’s high point at 1,394 feet tall. . THINGS TO DO: Hike the moderate Greenstone Ridge Trail, which runs for 42 miles northeast-southwest across Isle Royale or the 4.2-mile hike from Rock Harbor to Scoville Point to catch a glimpse of Dassler Cabin. The Rock Harbor Lighthouse, built in 1855, is also a museum to learn more about the island’s history. And with plenty of shipwrecks, there’s some exciting scuba dives you can do if you’re willing to brave the cold water and have experience diving! . HISTORY: People of inhabited Isle Royale dating back to 3000 BC, when it was mainly used for copper mining and hunting and fishing. Ojibwe, Cree, and Assinboin people lived in the area when trappers visited. By the mid-1800s, the Ojibwe were forced to cede Isle Royale to the US government, and it became home to modern copper mines, a resort, and lighthouses on several islands to guide ships along. . LEAVE NO TRACE: Hike and camp on durable surfaces & pack out all waste. Leave natural and historic artifacts where you find ‘em for others to enjoy. If you do scuba dive, keep in mind that you must get a dive permit and have experience in cold, dark environments. Campfires are only permitted at a small number of campgrounds. . Next week’s feature: Mammoth Cave National Park . PHOTOS: 1. @jonathan_irish 2. @amy_kennnedy 3. @oscar_harley_boy 4. NPS 5. NPS . #seekmorewilderness #smwparkfeature

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Isle Royale National Park is made up of Isle Royale and hundreds of islands along Lake Superior. There's 209 miles of land and 685 miles of water. It's accessible by ferry, seaplane, and passenger ships and is the only U.S. national park to completely close during the winter. 

Minnesota

Located in northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park features four large lakes and 26 smaller lakes, which makes it very popular for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. It became a national park in 1975. 

Montana

Glacier National Park lies in the Rocky Mountains and encompasses 1,583 miles. Going-to-the-Sun Road, mountain goats, glaciers, and historic chalets are popular points of interest. 

Nevada

 

Great Basin National Park features bighorn sheep, limestone caverns, mountain lakes, and the marble Lehman Caves. Lexington Arch is one of the largest limestone arches in the west. 

New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park has more than 100 caves and is a great spot to see stalactites, stalagmites, and other rock formations, as well as bats, birds, and other wildlife. The deepest limestone cave in the U.S. can be found here. It became a World Heritage Site in 1995. 

North Carolina

Remember when we said to keep reading to find out the most visited national park? Well, here it is. Wildflowers, waterfalls, and black bears can be found as well as hiking paths, horseback riding trails, and historic buildings. Part of the Appalachian Mountain Range, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park actually encompasses two states. Yep, you guessed it. Keep reading to find out the other one. 

North Dakota

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy #parkiversary to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 🎂 ••••• Thanks to Dawn @wilderness_dawn for the celebration and history. ・・・ Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt National Park was originally called Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park?⁠ ⁠ On this day in history, November 10th, 1978, the area was given national park status when President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 95-625 that changed the memorial park to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.⁠ ⁠ Theodore Roosevelt is often considered the "conservationist president." After becoming president in 1901, Roosevelt used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the United States Forest Service (USFS) and establishing 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments by enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230 million acres of public land.⁠ ⁠ His devotion to conserving our natural and cultural history helped establish a precedent at an important time in our nation's history. When many still considered our resources inexhaustible, Roosevelt saw them as something to protect and cherish. We need to keep this in mind today and into the future. ⁠ ⁠ Theodore Roosevelt National Park continues to memorialize the 26th president for his enduring contributions to the safekeeping and protection of our nation’s resources.⁠ ⁠ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~⁠ ISO 200 f/11 32mm 1/6 sec⁠ Processed in @lightroom⁠ @nikonusa Nikon D5500⁠ ⁠@tamronusa f/3.5-6.3 18-400mm⁠ Di II VC HLD⁠ ⁠~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~⁠ ⁠ @theodorerooseveltnps⁠ ⁠#theodorerooseveltnationalpark⁠ #badlands⁠ ⁠ #northdakota ⁠ #mytrnp ⁠ #capturenorthdakota⁠ #ndlegendary ⁠ #⁠sky_brilliance⁠ #⁠landscapescapture⁠ #⁠bns_sunset⁠ #⁠amazing_shots⁠ #⁠midwestmoment⁠ #national_park_photography #⁠publicland⁠ #⁠americasbestidea⁠ #⁠nationalparklife⁠ #yourpubliclands ⁠ #optoutside⁠ ⁠#nationalpark ⁠ #nationalparkservice⁠ #nationalparkgeek ⁠ #nationalparkspartnership ⁠ #nationalparkobsessed ⁠ #goparks ⁠ #findyourpark ⁠ #mypubliclands⁠ #yourshotphotographer ——- #nationalparkgeek

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park sits among the Great Plains and the Badlands. It's known for the Painted Canyon, Roosevelt's home at Maltese Cross Ranch Cabin, the Scenic Loop Drive, and prairie dogs, among many other plains animals. 

Ohio

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There are waterfalls, hiking trails, and a restored section of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

Oregon

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Knotty by nature…⁣ ⁣ Knots are common blemishes in trees, often causing lumps or holes within the trunk of the tree itself. In most cases knots are caused by the natural growth of the tree, though the specific circumstances under which they form determines how they will appear. Traditionally, as a tree continues to grow, its lower branches tend to die off and their bases may become overgrown and enclosed by subsequent layer of trunk wood, or hollowed out. This leads to the formation of an imperfection, or knot, in the tree trunk.⁣ ⁣ Image: A view of Crater Lake through a tree knot. NPS/ L. Powell ⁣ ⁣ #FindYourPark #nationalparkservice #thisweekoninstagram #treeknot #nature #craterlakenationalpark #oregon

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Located in the Cascade Mountains, the lake at Crater Lake National Park was formed by the collapsed volcano Mount Mazama. The lake is 1,949 feet deep, which makes it the deepest in the U.S. Rim Drive offers a scenic viewpoint of the stunning lake. The park was established in 1902 and is the fifth oldest national park in the U.S.  

South Carolina

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Prior to visiting Congaree National Park, I’ve been “warned” by a number of folks how underwhelming this park can be and how I shouldn’t visit it in the summer time. Well folks, I’m happy to share that none of those opinions hindered me from enjoying my short but timely visit at this park. Got to the park past 2pm after driving from Kentucky and took the time to sit through the park movie and learned couple of new things about the park. • Went on the Weston Lake loop trail but couldn’t walk more than ten steps on the boardwalk without stopping to snap photos and listening to the trees and birds. The trail was well shaded throughout the 4+ miles so it kept it cool throughout my hike. The mosquito meter was places at 2 (mild) and it wasn’t bad at all. Once I got to Weston Lake, I came across a family that were fishing by the boardwalk and the wife asked me if I saw the alligator. I was so confused, thinking that I overshot my trip to Everglades (lol) but sure enough.... the alligator was there, swimming by and watching us. • Her husband was off the boardwalk to get closer to the lake and we saw the alligator turned 90 degrees from the direction it was swimming and started to pick up its speed as it headed towards the husband. As it got closer to inland, it went underwater and the wife yelled “babe, I love you but I don’t know if my life insurance would cover you being eaten by alligator so hurry back up!!!”. The husband did run back to the boardwalk and started to sort through the fishes he caught and started yelling “oh hell no the snake just ate my fish!!!”. It was a water moccasin that came up from the water to snatch the fish and went back into the lake. The husband said “okay I’m done fishing for a while now” 😂😂😂 • I know sometimes my stories sound ridiculous or unreal but, when you travel so often and meet so many people and wildlife, you’re bound to have interesting stories to share! 🐊 Definitely glad that I lived through it to tell the stories! #congaree #gator #southcarolina #swamplife #congareenationalpark

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Congaree National Park gets its name from the Congaree River that flows through it. The park features 500-year-old cypress trees, 159-foot loblolly pines, and a 135-foot American elm. There's an elevated Boardwalk Loop walkway that takes visitors around the park. 

South Dakota

Badlands National Park is well-known for its rock formations, bison, bighorn sheep, canyons, and grassland habitats. The highest point in the park is at Red Shirt Table, which soars to 3,340 feet. 

Tennessee

Congrats! You made it. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also in Tennessee (and probably more known for being in that state than NC). It gets its name from the smoky blue hue seen around the mountain tops and valleys.  

Texas

Big Bend National Park has more than 450 species of birds, more than any other U.S. national park. It's popular for star-gazing because of the wide open space. 

Utah

Arches National Park has the most amount of natural sandstone arches in the world (more than 2,000). The biggest arch has a span of 306 feet. 

Virginia

 

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park can be seen via overlooks along Skyline Drive, as well as by hiking the many trails. Skyline Drive runs from Front Royal south to Waynesboro (about 105 miles). At this point, it becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway and runs to Cherokee, NC (about 469 miles). This path connects up with Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park is an impressive 14,410 feet above sea level. It's an active volcano and has 42 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is mainly in Wyoming, but spreads out into Montana and Idaho. It's popular for geysers, hot springs, rivers, and canyons, as well as wildlife such as bison, bears, wolves, and elk.

U.S. Virgin Islands

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Oooooh, Barracuda!⁣ ⁣ Virgin Islands National Park is rich in natural resources. There are 140 species of birds, 302 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 22 species of mammals and 740 species of plants inhabiting the Island. In addition there are about 50 corals species and numerous gorgonians, and sponges providing St. Johnian's and visitors with some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Do stay clear of the barracuda. They tend to reside near the top of the water and near coral reefs and sea grasses. Barracudas generally attack schools of fish, speeding at them head first and biting at them with their jaw. When barracudas age, they tend to swim alone. Nothing wrong with that! Stop all that splashing! They may mistake snorkelers for large predators, following them hoping to eat the remains of their prey, but injury to humans is rare and possibly caused by poor visibility. ⁣ ⁣ Image: Barracuda swimming near reef at Virgins Island National Park. @virginislandsnps ⁣ ⁣ #FindYourPark #nationalparkservice #virginislands #barracuda #underthesea #thisweekoninstagram ⁣

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Virgin Islands National Park is found on the island of St. John. Coral reefs, white sand beaches, sea turtles, and 18th-century sugar plantations are prevalent. Two-thirds of the island is made up of the park, so it's not hard to find. 

Did your favorite national park make the list? Let us know in the comments.