National Parks in the U.S. was not always in existence. The early years involved several voices who demanded that specific areas were so beautiful and so precious, that they needed to preserve it for all time. Voices of people such as John Muir published many writings on his travels and journeys and to the beauty and scenic splendor of areas across the United States. He pushed that wild places needed to be kept as such, for now, and also for future generations.
This way America could have places that are unspoiled and could be kept preserved and wild. This was not only for wild animals and beautiful scenery but also for historical and cultural purposes. Cultural and historic sites and places also were urged to protect so that people could see their history right before their eyes. Nowadays millions of people a year visit the numerous national parks in the U.S., making it one of the most popular things to do in the USA.
One of the first national parks in the U.S.
In 1872, President Grant declared Yellowstone National Park as America’s first National Park. As time went on, more Presidents created National Parks in the U.S. and historic sites. This way they could preserve our past and the natural beauty of the land. President Roosevelt was one of the park system’s greatest contributors. He alone designated five new parks and 18 national monuments during his term as President.
The National Park Service
As new parks and monuments are created and born, the need for people to maintain and uphold the preservation and operation of these parks became apparent. Stephen Mather was a millionaire industrialist in the early 1900s. With his encouragement and demands that something had to be done to maintain the preservation system of these parks; the National Park Service was born. Today the National Park Service staffs every monument and park, preventing poachers, artifact thieves and damage to these beautiful historic and scenic places. They help preserve some of the best of America. Millions flock to the parks and monuments to learn about the history and the spectacular beauty of each different place.
With almost 400 different parks, monuments and sites to choose from, America continues to preserve its past, for its future. The National Parks in the U.S. listed below are the ten most visited National Parks, each offering their slice of heaven. Visit a National Park when you visit the U.S. and see what has been called “America’s best idea.” In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday. Experience the top ten most visited national parks in the U.S., preserving the best of the country, culturally significant areas and places and precious resources and wildlife.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park lies on the U.S. and Canadian border. It is the 10th most visited park in the United States. This Park in Montana was established in 1910 and makes up over a million acres. Its name derives from the glaciers that still exist. As of 2010, 25 still living glaciers remain in the park. The glaciers carved deep passes, valleys and whittled away at the mountings, leaving a dramatic and ever-changing landscape full of lakes, rivers, and gorgeous mountains. Bighorn sheep, grizzly and black bears and a large variety of wildlife can be seen out and about in the spring and summer months. In this time of the year, the snow has melted, and the area returns to the snowcapped peaks surrounded by green trees and grass.
The park is well-known for its “Going-to-the-Sun Road,” which was constructed in 1932. The drive is one of the best scenic drives in the entire United States. For over 50 miles, you’ll see the most astounding views of Montana as the road wraps around mountains and through the best areas of the park. The road is best driven before October when the weather turns cold. Parts of the road may be closed off until late spring when the snow finally begins to melt. There are scenic lookouts and pullovers to stop for amazing photos on one of the best drives you will ever take.
Acadia National Park
The ninth most visited national park in the U.S. is none other than the beautiful Acadia National Park. Located in the northern U.S. in the state of Maine, the park lies on the Atlantic Ocean and has many smaller islands, as well as the larger island known as Mount Desert Island. It was created in 1916 under the name Sieur de Monts National Monument but renamed eventually. The coastline is quite mountainous and provides the surreal beauty of the mountains meeting the ocean. Tall pine trees make up some of the inland. In the early 1900s, John D. Rockefeller designed and executed the construction of the famous Carriage Trails in the park.
There are over 50 miles of trails, along with 17 bridges and two gate lodges which are still in use to this day. They placed large granite stones strategically along some of the trails near the rocks or cliffs edges. These were called “coping stones,” used to help visitors “cope” with the steep drop-offs that loomed nearby. The famous Cadillac Mountain offers stunning views of the area and due to its easterly and northern location. It is one of the best places to see the sunrise first. You can drive Cadillac Mountain and the park loop road, that offer views of the famous rocky coastline and some fantastic sunsets.
Grand Teton National Park
The Teton Range of Grand Teton National Park draws over 3 million visitors to see the jagged, yet beautiful mountains. Stretching 7,000 feet above the valley floor in wild Wyoming, it is a place of serene and unparalleled beauty. The park has stunning lakes, glaciers and granite pinnacles of the famous park have attracted many to see what the talk is about. Located only 10 miles from Yellowstone National Park, they have been considered to be “sister” parks, due to the proximity. The park has approximately 310,000 acres, complete with historical homesteads with fantastic views.
The famous town and valley of Jackson and Jackson Hole are favorite places to visit. One of the most photographed locations in the park is that of the John Moulton Barn, with the Teton Range immediately in the background. Jenny Lake is a favorite stop within the park, and its beauty and surrounding landscape are legendary. Visitors can take the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive that skirts along the shore and also has perfect views of the towering peaks. Watch for elk, bison, moose and mule deer along the routes and in the park. The park is famous for mountaineering, camping (droning the warmer months), skiing, wildlife, and fishing. The scenery and mountain peaks are unlike any other, and it is one of the top ten National Parks in the US.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park has tucked away in Washington State and still attracts over 3 million visitors to its surreal beauty. The U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Olympic in 1909. Finally, in 1938 the park got the title of a National Park. In most of the park, stricter rules apply about camping, damage and human interference because of its designation as Olympic wilderness. Olympic is famous for its diverse regions that have very different ecosystems as well as the Pacific coastline, the temperate rainforest, the drier forests and the alpine areas. The three ecosystems are the sub-alpine forest, the temperate forest, and the Pacific Shore.
The rainforest regions are remarkable. It seems as if you have stepped into a tropical jungle in Washington State. Opposite of the rainforest-like area is the Pacific coast, which has darker sand and massive rocks protruding from the water. The park has the Olympic Mountains towards its center and is also home to several glaciers, like the Hoh Glacier. In the park, you can find stunning tree species like the Western redcedar as well, and some are bigger than several vehicles stacked together. Make sure to see Ruby Beach and take the scenic Hurricane Ridge Drive to see the best of the ocean and shoreline, as well as snow-capped mountains, glaciers and elk, mountain goats and deer in the beautiful and diverse park.
Zion National Park
The mighty Zion National Park is the 6th most visited national park in the U.S., drawing over 3.5 million visitors to see the main feature of the park known as Zion Canyon. The park lies in the southwestern part of the state of Utah and has a desert-like setting. The red, orange and tan colors of the rock walls of the canyon are stunning. Many people flock to Zion National Park to see some of the best of the U.S. Sunsets and sunrise are very impressive as the light illuminates the walls, making the colors even brighter.
One of the most popular hikes in the park and even the nation is the Angel’s Landing Hike. Angel’s Landing is a trail cutting to solid rock that leads to the top of one of the tallest rock formations proving unique scenery of the park and the canyon below. The trail can be treacherous as you reach the final point known as Scout Lookout. Most visitors are unwilling to journey the remainder of the trail to Angel’s Landing because you must do so by sharp drop-offs and narrow paths. There are chains along portions of the trail for hikers to hold onto during the last half mile due to the sheer cliffs and terrain. The Virginia River snakes its way through the canyon. The scenery, as well as the number of people that travel to see this beautiful park every year speaks for itself.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park was the very first national park created in the U.S. Established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. This first national park established slides in as the 5th most visited park, with a little over 4 million visitors a year. The park has many different types of features in the park including the famous “Old Faithful” geyser and a “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.” The park has mountain ranges, canyons, lakes, rivers and geothermal features like the geysers. In fact, you’ll find half of the world’s geothermal features in the park, due to the ongoing volcanism still occurring there.
The park covers 2.2 million acres and spans several states including Idaho, Montana, and also Wyoming. Bison is commonly seen along the roadways and bears and elk as well. The geothermal features and the wildlife are some of the biggest attractions to the park. Watch Old Faithful erupt daily from a safe distance. Or visit the Mammoth Hot Springs. Here you’ll find wooden walkways from which you can see the hot springs and the steam that rises off the unique feature. From The Old Faithful porch, visitors can see the geyser erupt. Boardwalks lead through the basins to see the geothermal features and geysers. Yellowstone is one of the most famous and well-known national parks in the U.S., and 4 million people can’t be wrong.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park was established in 1916 in eastern-central California and is also one of the most famous and well-known parks in the National Park system drawing in a little over 4 million visitors annually. The beauty of the Yosemite Valley and the Bridalveil Falls are favorite among many people and photographers. The valley with its steep rock sides, one in particular known as “Half Dome” was cut by a river and then widened and deepened by glacial activity. The valley is a mile-wide and 7-mile-long canyon that draws millions to see the beauty created. Other rock cliffs tower above the valley, many of which exist of granite.
Favorite features of the park include Cathedral Peak, Sentinel Dome, and El Capitan. Visitors should see Glacier Point, one of the most scenic places in the park that offer views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, as well as the stunning and picturesque landscape. Watch the sunset from the point as well for incredible beauty. In the winter an ice skating rink opens with views of the massive rock called Half Dome. So, go ice skating under the beauty of the cliffs and drink hot chocolate, because it’s something you mustn’t miss. Another visitor favorite is views from the floor of Yosemite Valley. There are hiking trails, rafting, and many other adventures to take as you explore the floor of one of the most beautiful places in the states and the U.S. National Parks.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Sweeping vistas are the main attraction that draws over 4 million visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. This huge amount of visitors makes it a close race for third place with Yosemite. Within the park boundaries, there are 150 lakes and over 400 miles of streams. You’ll also find mountains, snowcapped peaks and the scenic beauty that the state of Colorado offers. The view from Bear Lake, for example, is a prime example of the fantastic views visitors can expect. You’ll see sparkling water leading up to high green forests with the Rocky Mountains in the background as the final layer to the masterpiece.
Trail Ridge Road is a visitor favorite and one of the best scenic drives to take in the park. The road climbs to 11 miles of highway above the tree line. It offers perfect views of the park from a high elevation. Mountain peaks, wildlife, sweeping views across the country and lovely wildflowers in the spring. Some of the first travelers to ever take the road long ago called it the “scenic wonder road of the world.” Visit one of the five different visitor centers. And also try some of the 355 miles of hiking trails available. Winters can be harsh and cause road closures. So the best time to visit this number 3 park is during the warmer months.
Grand Canyon National Park
The 2nd most visited National parks in the U.S. is none other than the Grand Canyon. “Grand” is an understatement to those who have seen it in person. The Grand Canyon exists of two rims, the north rim, and the south rim. The south side is the most visited, and the north rim is harder to get to and draws fewer crowds. Sunsets and sunrises at the canyon are phenomenal.
The winter months bring a white blanket that gives the park a whole new, stunning look. Over 5.5 million visitors make the Grand Canyon a stop on their travels. It is, therefore, one of the top two most visited national parks in the U.S. The canyon itself is a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide in some places. It is so large that even from the best view you can only see a small percentage of the 277 miles of the canyon.
This park is the 15th oldest park in the U.S., and you can find in northwestern Arizona. The Canyon is famous as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Hiking, views from the rims, rafting down the Colorado River that cuts through the Canyon are favorite things to do. You can also go to the Havasu Falls, take helicopter tours or take mule trips down into the canyon. Camping and the Bright Angel Trail are also popular things to do while in the canyon.
Try the addition called the “Skywalk.” This is a glass walkway built out over the Canyon for breathtaking views if you can handle the thrill. There are thousands of miles to explore in the canyon. There are waterfalls, scenic views from the bottom up, historic structures and many more hidden treasures available to you. You’ll have the time to venture from the rim down into the Grand Canyon.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The number one most visited national parks in the U.S. is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, attracting over 10 million visitors every year, more than twice the amount than the Grand Canyon receives. The park encompasses part of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. It spans the border of Tennessee and North Carolina into both states. The famous Appalachian Trail also runs partway through the park, and many people attempt to hike the trail from start to finish every year. The sweeping mountains, running streams through much of the park and the fall views with the brilliant colors of the changing leaves are enough to attract 10 million people a year.
The park has hiking trails, fishing, camping grounds, and bicycle trails. There are also waterfalls, wildflowers, horseback riding, wildlife and much more for visitors to experience. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the number one most popular drive in the park. The highway follows along the crest line of the mountains for over 400 miles all the way to Virginia. There are many stops and pullovers to capture photographs of the mountains and the scenery. It is a popular drive during the changing of the leaves in the fall. At this time a year, thousands upon thousands of trees on the mountains show red, yellows and oranges as far as the eye can see. Enjoy the views and attractions of a park that 10 million people journey to see.
The National Park Service Centennial
In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday. The achievements the system has made over the last 100 years have included the continuation of preserving and protecting the best of the U.S. Besides that, also its wildlife within the parks, including endangered species, precious resources, and artifacts. And also culturally important structures and allowing people to enjoy the natural beauty of an uncivilized area. The park service has significantly promoted this and has encouraged travelers to enjoy one or many of the 407 national parks and monuments available to them.
Parks have ranger-led programs and wonderful exhibits. There are also short films to watch to introduce you to the park and much more for people to enjoy. The Centennial is a time to share the love and beauty of these parks with the world. And also with new generations that may have not ever been to a national park. The Centennial represents more than just a birthday; it is a milestone in protecting and preserving the best lands for future generations to enjoy. Which of these National Parks in the U.S. would you like to visit and enjoy? There are all sorts of choices from the desert to the mountains to beaches, and beyond. There is something for everyone at one of the amazing National Parks in the U.S.
Top 10 U.S. National Parks
The Best Travel Places loves National parks, and we hope you’ve enjoyed these top 10 national parks in the U.S. Do you prefer another list of best parks? Or have you experienced some better parks that you would like to share with us? Please let us know your experiences with national parks in the U.S. and leave a comment. And also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends on social media and spread the word about these beautiful national parks in the U.S.