There is no better vacation than exploring National Parks in the USA.
To make it easy, we’ve created this list of National Parks by state.
We share national park vacation ideas and tips to help you plan your trip.
• National park packing list
• National park pass
• National park facts
• Free national park days
• Top national parks
• Must-do things at all national parks
• National parks list by state
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National Park Packing List
When you are visiting any national park it is important to be prepared. This includes wearing the proper clothes and shoes to be comfortable for the climate and the terrain.
For most national parks you will want to bring:
→ Hiking socks – we always wear Darn Tough socks to keep our feet happy!
→ Lip Balm – get lip balm with UV protection
→ Sunscreen – sun protection is important in the summer and winter!
→ Hand sanitizer – travel hand sanitizer is good for those times when you can’t wash your hands thoroughly!
→ Flashlight or headlamp – a headlamp is perfect for those morning or evening hikes
→ Maps of the park – national park maps are essential if you’ll do any hiking
→ Guide book for the park – national park guide books are a wonderful resource to keep with you!
→ Sunglasses – UV sunglasses are good for summer and winter
→ First aid kit – carry a first aid kit in your car and in your backpack when hiking
→ Insect repellent – bug bites are no fun!
National Park Pass
If you are a lover of the best US National parks like we are, you definitely want to grab a National Park Annual Pass.
The America the Beautiful Annual Pass costs $80 and is valid for one year from the date of purchase. For the most current information on passes, reference the National Park Service website.
The national park pass allows two signatures so it can be shared, and the two people don’t have to be related. You will need to show photo ID each time you use the pass.
If you’re a US citizen these other passes are also available:
Free Annual Pass for U.S. Military – Available for current U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard as well as Reserve and National Guard members.
Annual 4th Grade Pass – FREE pass available for U.S. 4th graders (including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age) with a valid Every Kid Outdoors paper pass. Educators can also be involved! Learn more at the Every Kid Outdoors website.
Senior Lifetime or Annual Pass – Available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. Applicants must provide documentation of age and residency or citizenship.
Access Pass – FREE pass available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship.
Volunteer Pass -FREE pass available for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.
Free National Park Day
Usually about 5 days a year all National Parks offer free admission.
The free entry days tend to be very crowded. That’s why we love the annual pass so we can go any day for free after buying the pass and avoid those really crowded days.
Facts about National Parks
The state with the most National Parks is California, they have 9. Closely behind them is Alaska with 8 and Utah with 5.
22 states do not have an official National Park.
Yellowstone was the first National park. It was established in 1872.
In December 2019 White Sands was added as a National Park. This park is located in New Mexico.
National Park Passes are the best way to see the National Parks. We love our park pass and we buy it every year. It saves us a ton of money!
Top National Parks to Visit
It is so hard to pick the best National Parks in the US because they are all really great and offer different experiences.
Choosing a favorite national park depends on what you want to see and do while visiting.
If we had to choose the best National Parks in the USA they would be (in alphabetical order):
- Acadia National Park (Maine)
- Arches National Park (Utah)
- Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
- Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
- Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
- Cape Hatteras National Park (North Carolina)
- Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)
- Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
- Death Valley National Park (California)
- Glacier National Park (Mountain)
- Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
- Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
- Great Smoky Mountain National Park (North Carolina/ Tennessee)
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)
- Joshua Tree National Park (California)
- Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
- Olympic National Park (Washington)
- Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (California)
- Shenandoah National Park (Virgina)
- Yellowstone National Park (Montana)
- Yosemite National Park (California)
To see why these are best National Parks, visit our National Park bucket list!
Must-Do Things at All US National Parks
When visiting the best national parks in the USA, there are a few must-do things at all the parks that will totally make your trip unforgettable!
Stop at the Visitor Center
My first tip is to stop at the visitor center! This is often not done and is a huge miss. There you can learn more about the park, talk to the ranger, get recommendations on new hikes, up to date weather and trail conditions and so much more.
Dave and I still visit the visitor center every time we go to a National Park, even if we have already been there on several occasions. There is so much value in stopping!
Many of the National Parks have ranger-led programs. These programs provide a ranger tour and are so fun! You learn so much about the park.
Some of the parks have some incredible ranger-led programs that you want to take advantage of.
It is best to check what the National Park offers before you get there because some of the adventures fill up fast so you will want to preregister.
List of National Parks by State
CLICK ANY IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD your copy of the National Parks by State!
- Denali National Park
- Gates of Arctic National Park
- Glacier Bay National Park
- Katmai National Park
- Kenai Fjords National Park
- Kobuk Valley National Park
- Lake Clark National Park
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
- Channel Islands National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Pinnacles National Park
- Redwood National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Arches National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Zion National Park
There you have it! The complete list of National Parks by state to help you find the one that you are looking for.