My dream is to visit all 58 national parks in the U.S. but, since reality sometimes gets in the way of our dreams, I made a list of the top 10 National Parks that are on my bucket list.

* Indicates parks we’ve visited

Yosemite National Park*

  • State: California
  • Best Time to Visit:  Summer/Fall
  • Why go to Yosemite:  Yosemite has been called the crown jewel of the National Parks, and it’s easy to see why! Yosemite Valley alone houses views of Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and the Merced River, just to name a few.  The park offers tons of beautiful hiking and backpacking trails that could keep any hiker busy for as long their feet could keep moving! There is just so much awe inspiring beauty in this place that it’s a must see for any outdoor enthusiast!

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Glacier National Park

  • State: Montana
  • Best Time to Visit:  Late Summer
  • Why go to Glacier:  If it wasn’t obvious, Glacier National Park is home to lots of glacial formations, including some that may not be around for too much longer. If you want to see one of the famous glaciers before they disappear you will have to work for it, but the journey will be half the fun! The park is filled with stunning vistas of Rocky Mountain peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes, and beautiful meadows covered with wildflowers. I don’t think you could go wrong no matter how you decide to spend your time in this photogenic park!

 

Sequoia National Park*

  • State: California
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer/Fall
  • Why go to Sequoia:  Sequoia National Park is the Land of Giants. The Giant Sequoia Trees can only be found in the Sierra Nevada area of California, and are among the largest trees on the planet! In fact, the park is home to six of the top 10 largest trees in the world. If you want to feel small, this is the place to go! And, if these giant beauties aren’t enough to draw you in, there are also stunning mountain views and alpine lakes all within this park!

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Denali National Park

  • State: Alaska
  • Best Time to Visit:  Summer
  • Why go to Denali:  First and foremost, Denali, North America’s tallest peak, is located in this park at 20,310 ft.  In addition to protecting this mammoth, Denali National Park offers up 6 million acres of pure wilderness! Alaska is one of the few U.S. places one can go and experience truly untouched, rugged, wild lands, so if that’s your thing, why not do it in Denali? You can even see the Northern lights here if you time it right!

Olympic National Park

  • State: Washington
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer
  • Why go to Olympic:  Olympic National Park contains some of the only rain forest ecosystems in the United States.  The lush, green, Hoh Rain Forest looks like something you would find in a fairy tale book, and those who choose to visit can immerse themselves in this nature lover’s paradise.  Aside from the unique ecosystems, the park also hosts glacier capped mountains, and miles and miles of coastline, which makes for a diverse resume of natural beauty.

Kings Canyon National Park*

  • State: California
  • Best Time to Visit:  Summer/Fall
  • Why go to Kings Canyon:  If you like the landscape of Yosemite, but want more solitude, Kings Canyon is your park!  Situated just south of Yosemite, Kings canyon is full of large granite walls and beautiful California forests, just like its famous neighbor.  While it might not have as many recognizable formations, it does have the same grandeur and wonderment, but with fewer tourists!

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Katmai National Park

  • State: Alaska
  • Best Time to Visit:  Summer
  • Why go to Katmai:  One word. BEARS! Katmai is one of the best places in the world to observe brown bears in the wild.   There are believed to be over 2000 brown bears that live in Katmai National Park, so your chances of encountering one are pretty good! Brooks Camp offers viewing platforms where you can watch bears feeding in the Brooks River.  If that doesn’t sound like a bucket list adventure, I don’t know what does!

Grand Teton National Park

  • State: Wyoming
  • Best Time to Visit:  Late Summer
  • Why go to Grand Teton:  While Grand Teton usually gets overshadowed by is well known, Northern neighbor, Yellowstone, the Tetons are not to be skipped over.  The Teton range dominates the park, rising above the scenic valley that is Jackson Hole.  There are lots of wonderful hiking and backpacking trails that include views of picturesque lakes with the Tetons in the background that would make for a great adventure for any hiker!

Zion National Park*

  • State: Utah
  • Best Time to Visit:  Spring/Fall
  • Why go to Zion:  Zion has lots to offer for those who love an action packed vacation! All kinds of different outdoor activities, including river hiking through the famous Zion Narrows, canyoneering in The Subway, and climbing  world renowned big walls, can be found in Zion.  Not to mention, the red sandstone cliffs contrasting with the beautiful evergreens make for some eye popping, colorful views!  The landscape is stunning and can truly make you feel like you’ve entered a different geological time period.

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Yellowstone National Park

  • State: Wyoming
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer
  • Why go to Yellowstone:  Yellowstone is probably most famous for its large collection of geysers – there are more more geysers inside the park than anywhere else on Earth.  While the geysers definitely deserve their fame and are a worthwhile reason to visit the park, there are also plenty of other natural spectacles to observe in Yellowstone, such as hot springs, mud pots, travertine terraces, and bountiful wildlife.  This park is one of the most famous of all the National Parks for good reason!

 

Which National Parks are on your bucket list?