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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.

CHECK OUT: National park packing list for summer and winter

For most national parks you will want to bring:

→ Hiking shoes – we like Merrell Moab and Oboz hiking shoes

→ Hiking socks – we always wear Darn Tough socks to keep our feet happy!

→ Lots of Water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack

→ Food – healthy food that portable and filling!

→ 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 parknational park maps are essential if you’ll do any hiking

→ Guide book for the parknational 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!

Camera gear

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.

why you need a national park pass

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!

25 amazing national parks to visit

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! 

Ranger-led programs

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!

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado 

Florida

Hawaii

Kentucky

Illinois

Indiana

Maine 

Michigan

Minnesota 

Missouri

Montana

Nevada

New Mexico

North Dakota

North Carolina

Ohio

Oregon

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virgina 

Washington

Wyoming

There you have it! The complete list of National Parks by state to help you find the one that you are looking for. 

National Park Gift Ideas

CLICK TO PIN FOR LATER: US National Parks List by State

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