By: Sarah Stone
1: Cedar Breaks National Park, Utah
Sitting at 10,000 feet above sea level, Cedar Breaks National Park offers stunning views of the Circle of Painted Cliffs in southern Utah. Go hiking or backcountry camping here, and enjoy some of the most amazing stargazing you can find in the United States.
2: Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
North of Flagstaff, this amazing crater is the result of a volcanic eruption over 900 years ago! Visit the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument on a hiking tour, or even a day trip from the Grand Canyon.
3: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
A popular destination for people living in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is an incredible getaway if you want to see gorgeous views, and go hiking or camping along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
4: North Cascades National Park, Washington
Spanning more than 500,000 acres and lovingly known as the North American Alps, the North Cascades National Park in Washington state is one of the United States’ most pristine National Parks. Entirely protected as a wilderness, you won’t find many manmade structures or roads here.
5: Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri
The first national park area to protect a river system, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways are comprised of the Current River and the Jacks Fork River. Go canoeing, kayaking, swimming, or even caving through this amazing system.
6: Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joining the Mojave and Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree National Park is an incredible place to enjoy some of the United States’ unique wilderness. Based in Southern California, you’ll see stunning sunrises and sunsets, and incredible stargazing here.
7: National Park of American Samoa
Our National Parks aren’t just relegated to States! The National Park of American Samoa is based in the gorgeous South Pacific and incorporates not only the islands and their mountains, but also some of their underwater coral ecosystems.
8: Zion National Park, Utah
Utah’s first National Park, Zion National Park is famous for its gorgeous sandstone cliffs and breathtaking canyon. Go hiking or take a tour through The Narrows, or explore The Subway, both along the canyon.
9: Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico
A 13th Century home to the Mogollon people, the Gila Cliff Dwellings are unique among our country’s parks in that you’ll be able to see ancient caves where the Pueblo people lived – a natural protector from weather and animals.
10: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee
The most-visited National Park in the United States: the Great Smoky Mountains are an incredible place to see animals, enjoy a weekend in a quiet cabin, and connect with nature. And there’s no shortage of things to do for outdoors adventure: hike to the summit of Mount LeConte, check the view at Newfound Gap, or enjoy the beautiful Rainbow Falls Trail.
11: Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
If you’re not claustrophobic, plan a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park, which is comprised of the cave system of the Green River Valley. Spanning more than 400 miles, this is one of Kentucky’s most popular tourist destinations and is the longest known cave system in the world.
12: Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada
Also not for the faint of heart: Death Valley National Park is known for its extreme temperatures in the summer and winter – or even from day to night. Take a full-day driving tour, or even go backcountry camping here, and you’ll see outstanding views of sand dunes and canyons.
13: Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Located at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park is home to stunning glaciers and fascinating forests. Take a boat tour, go hiking, or head out on a kayaking adventure – summer is the best time to visit, as you’ll have the best weather and the most sunlight.
14: Biscayne National Park, Florida
A wonderful National Park in my home state! Florida’s Biscayne National Park is located off of the east coast of the state, and there is so, so, so much to do here. Go fishing, take a kayak out and explore mangrove forests, go diving or snorkeling, or just hang out at the beach.
15: Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii
Located in Hawaii, Kalok0-Honokohau National Historic Park is home to an amazing array of wildlife. Come here to see ancient petroglyphs, or lava rock carvings, created centuries ago by Native Hawaiians, and view fishponds, a stone slide, and even temples.