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contemplating Yosemite valley from the river

The Ultimate National Parks Travel Guide

Everything you need to know about experiencing America’s best idea



Essential Travel Tips for 2022

Four more parks have begun or expanded their ticketing systems, and many have renewed what was already in place

A park-by-park list of entrance charges and reservation information

Granting access to more than 2,000 national parks and recreation areas, the America the Beautiful pass is a game changer for any park-hopping traveler. Here’s how to know if the pass is right for you—plus how to buy it and use it.

From miles of accessible trails to nearby boarding services to dog safety, these are the best (and worst) parks to visit with your best friend

Planning a vacation to Yellowstone involves many details, one of which is deciding how you will enter the park

National parks get a lot of attention, but there’s so much more to the National Park Service

Park by Park

Think you already know everything about our nation’s most iconic park? Think again. There’s so much beyond its famed Yosemite Valley, from seldom visited waterfalls to the underappreciated backcountry beyond Tuolumne Meadows.

It isn't just the astounding geological wonders that give our country's first national park its allure, from 500 geysers that erupt up to 400 feet into the air to deep glacier-carved valleys and fossil forests. The vibrant megafauna and endless backcountry terrain make it one of the wildest areas in the country. And if you know where to go, you can avoid the crowds.

This Maine destination is a place of rugged coastal wonders and an immersion in Down East culture

Despite being one of the most popular destinations in the U.S., the Smokies make it easy to plan a last-minute trip and avoid crowds year-round. Here’s our definitive guide on what to know before you go, how to make the most of all the park has to offer, and can’t-miss experiences in every season.

Of Utah's five national parks, Zion stands out for its geological wonders, a place where water and sand meet to form arguably the most dramatic landscape in the country. Here's our primer on how to see it all, from big hits like Zion Canyon and the Narrows to the gems many visitors overlook.

A visit to this northwestern Wyoming park, which is as thrilling for wildlife watchers as it is for climbers, hikers, and backcountry skiers, comes with a warning: it’ll be the beginning of a lifelong love affair

With more than a hundred 11,000-foot peaks, five glaciers, and some 150 alpine lakes, Colorado's most popular park has served as an idyllic backdrop for some of our writer's bigger life moments: it's where he proposed to his wife, where his kids earned their first Junior Ranger badges, and where he said goodbye to someone special. While you'll be among 4.7 million visitors who visit every year, there's something personal to be found here.

Grand Canyon National Park is turning 100 in 2019. Here's how to make the most out of a visit, from hiking to boating to biking to camping and so much more.

Those iconic bulbous boulders, lucid skies, and namesake trees are mere backdrops to a Californian desert playground filled with jaw-dropping vistas, dynamic hiking trails, and that famous grippy rock. Here's everything you need to know to explore it.

Drawing parallels with the Galápagos Islands, this marine wonderland is a similarly diverse treasure found just off the Southern California coast, home to 2,000-plus species, some 150 of which can be found nowhere else

This central California park is one of the hottest, driest, and lowest places in the country. It's also one of the most beautiful—a place where sculptural canyons, undulating sand dunes, abundant wildlife, and a luminous sky abound.

An entire mountain range to itself, dramatic stretches of the Rio Grande, and 118 miles of shared border with Mexico are just a few reasons why this 801,163-acre range in southwest Texas is worth a visit

This 76,000-acre wonderland is less a park and more a sandstone sculpture garden of sunset-hued arches and domes that look like they were carved by some alien magic. Here’s how to outsmart the crowds.

At the most recently declared national park, the adventure starts and ends with the 1,000-foot-deep New River Gorge. The 73,000-acre stretch of rugged canyon in West Virginia is home to Class IV+ whitewater rafting, some of the best rock climbing on the eastern seaboard, purpose-built singletrack, and more than 100 miles of hiking trails that capture this dramatic part of the country.

A trip to the largest of Hawaii Island's five national and historic parks is a step back in time, a place where two active volcanoes have long altered the landscape. From 1983 to 2018, lava poured into the Pacific Ocean, as it pounded and shaped the craggy shoreline. Today, endangered birds and rare orchids fill the rainforest and grasslands, geological wonders dot the terrain, and sacred cultural sites speak to the park's mythic roots.

This pastoral stretch of the Southern Appalachian mountains in Virginia is packed with hiking, fishing, road biking, and other adventures—if you know where to look

Everglades National Park is turning 85 years old in 2019. Here's how to make the most out of a visit to one of the wildest places in the U.S., from kayaking to birding to fishing and so much more.

Unique Adventures

This amazing 1,453-mile trip starts in Salt Lake City

Visit 13 of America’s best-loved national parks on this cross-country national-park train loop

Some of the most popular national-park sites come alive this season, offering vibrant hikes, cool camping weather, and amazing wildlife spotting

Load up the car to see snow-covered volcanoes, cool desert landscapes, and empty beaches without any of summer's big crowds

If you’re willing to brave the cold, winter can be one of the best seasons to visit America’s best idea

Family vacation? Find fun for all ages with these kid-friendly activities in and around the park.

Gates of the Arctic in northern Alaska is one of the last truly wild national parks. There are no roads or trails, and the park boasts the stunning Brooks Range, six wild and scenic rivers, and gets fewer than 3,000 visitors a year. Our 62 Parks columnist was awestruck by her 39th stop on her quest to visit every national park in the U.S.

Perfect Days

Even if you don’t climb Washington’s highest peak, the spectacular views and scenery in Mount Rainier National Park will leave you invigorated, says our 63 Parks columnist of the 42nd stop on her quest to visit every U.S. park

This isn't your typical national park, but a day spent on mellow hikes followed by soaks in mineral hot springs makes a visit here really unique

Last year, the region around North Cascades National Park was suffering from devastating fires when our 63 Parks Traveler arrived for her 43rd park visit. Finding a smoke-free day was almost impossible, but a shift in the wind allowed for a stunning wilderness hike.

At Olympic, you can go from luscious rainforests, to snowcapped peaks, to the stunning Pacific Coast—all in one park. What more could you ask for?

Alaska’s Kobuk Valley National Park is an overlooked gem. It offers up the great caribou migration, stargazing and miles of solitude, and massive dunes you’d expect to find in the Sahara. This is the 40th stop on our 62 Parks Traveler's quest to visit every national park in the U.S.

Mountaineers come to summit this Alaskan park’s namesake 20,310-foot peak, the highest in North America. Our 62 Parks columnist set out on a mountain bike to see the stunning terrain and bountiful wildlife during the 36th stop of her quest to visit every national park in the U.S.

Plan a trip to this Alaskan treasure to explore vast glaciers and to see huge whales and a diverse array of other fauna, says our 62 Parks columnist about the 35th stop on her quest to see every U.S. national park

Not much tops seeing the the massive glaciers and vast empty wilderness in Glacier Bay—that’s the verdict of our 62 Parks Traveler about the 33rd stop on her quest to visit every national park in the U.S.

Put this Alaska gem high on your bucket list for epic backpacking, rafting, and mountaineering, says our 62 Parks columnist about the 34th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park

There’s nothing quite like swimming in Oregon’s Crater Lake for the first time, an experience our 62 Parks Traveler enjoyed at her 32nd park on her quest to visit every national park in the U.S.

The least visited park in the lower 48 has no roads, no cars, and empty hiking trails, and it’s home to moose, wolves, part of Lake Superior, and beautiful forests. It’s the 29th stop on our 62 Parks Traveler’s quest to visit every park in the U.S.

Northern California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park is an undiscovered hiker’s dream, and it’s the 31st stop on our 62 Parks Traveler’s quest to visit every park in the U.S.

Vast mountains, majestic waterfalls, and a hungry bear are some of what our 62 Parks traveler encountered at her 30th park on her quest to visit every park in the U.S.

Welcome to Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes and home to the Boundary Waters. Our 62 Parks Traveler found her own private island at her 28th stop on her quest to visit every national park in the U.S.

Wildlife and endless grasslands to explore in a remote corner of North Dakota made the 27th park on our 62 Parks columnist's list a must-visit destination

Despite cold temperatures and rain, our 62 Parks columnist still found plenty of hiking and mountain vistas at the 26th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park

If you want a swath of stunning wilderness all to yourself, book a trip to Lake Clark, says our 62 Parks columnist of the 37th stop on her quest to visit all the parks in the U.S.

Our 62 Parks Traveler meets bison and sees surreal geography at this South Dakota stop, the 23rd visit on her journey to see every U.S. national park

Our 62 Parks Traveler explores miles of hiking trails and one of the largest remaining mixed-grass prairie ecosystems in the country at South Dakota's Wind Cave, the 21st stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park.

Explore the dwellings and terrain of the Ancestral Pueblo people at this western Colorado park. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's 20th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park.

Rock climbing, getting lost, and scouting for rare birds are all perfect pursuits in California's Pinnacles National Park. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's second stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Welcome to America's newest national park, with endless and huge sand dunes to explore. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's fifth stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Exploring the desert and cacti is so awesome and surreal that you'll feel like you're on another planet. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's fourth stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Explore underground and see a famous bat colony in southern New Mexico. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's seventh stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Hike to the top of Texas and take in the views of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's eighth stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Wander amid 200-million-year-old stone logs in Arizona. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's ninth stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Seek out slot canyons and sandstone cliffs at this lesser known park in Utah. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's 12th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

See 300-foot-tall redwoods, banana slugs, and more in this dreamlike landscape. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's 16th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

While most bristlecone pines are between 2,000 and 3,500 years old, a special few can live to be nearly 5,000—and they're easily found in this area of Nevada. It's our 62 Parks Traveler's 17th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year.

Scrambles, climbs, and spectacular scenery: it's our 63 Parks Traveler’s 18th stop on her journey to visit every U.S. national park in a year