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Best National Parks in the USA

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

For more than 100 years, the National Park Service has managed millions of acres solely for the "enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations." Today, 59 national parks in the United States draw more than 200 million visitors a year to unique natural wonders and unforgettable terrains. To determine the best, U.S. News took into account the opinions of both travel experts and recent park visitors. Got a favorite park? Cast your vote below and take a photo tour of the Best National Parks in the USA »

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#1 Grand Teton National Park

#1 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: Jackson Hole's backcountry is a wild wonderland begging to be explored. Once home to ranchers, farmers and fur trappers, the park now offers more than 200 miles of trails that weave through breathtaking prairies, lakes and the park's most remarkable attribute, the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Grand Teton mountains. The 11-mile Cascade Canyon Trail shows off the best of the park's striking topography. 

Grand Teton National Park
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#2 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

#2 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: This massive 520,000-plus acre park straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee state line and is home to one of America's oldest mountain ranges as well as a chunk of the famous Appalachian Trail. The Smokies feature traditional wilderness offerings – hikes through lush forests, along bubbling brooks and creeks, and to tucked away waterfalls. Read More »

Autumn at Clingmans
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#3 Grand Canyon

#3 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: The Grand Canyon is so magnificent, even the highest quality photos don't do the park's beauty justice. You just have to see it in person. The 277-mile-long and 18-mile wide UNESCO World Heritage site offers endless hiking opportunities as well as the chance to raft the Colorado River. The turquoise waters of the Havasu Falls are also a must-see attraction. Read More »

Grand Canyon at sunset
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#4 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

#4 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: Visit this park for a chance to get up close and personal with two of the world's most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The latter continually erupts, which visitors can witness from multiple points in the park, including the famous Crater Rim Trail or along the ocean on the Chain of Craters Road.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
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#5 Yellowstone

#5 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: Even if Yellowstone didn't hold the incredible distinction of the world's first national park, the 2.2 million acre park could easily stand on its own for its unique natural attractions and diverse geography. Here, travelers can get lost in the splendor of Yellowstone's many lakes, mountains, buffalo-filled valleys and, of course, its unmatched geysers and hot springs. Read More »

Inspiration Point
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#6 Sequoia National Park

#6 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: Make sure to do a few neck stretches before visiting this California park. Home to the tallest, widest and grandest sequoias, trees here average the height of a 26-story building. The park's greatest attraction, the 275-foot-tall General Sherman tree, is the largest tree in the world.

Sequoia National Park
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#7 Rocky Mountain National Park

#7 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: The Rockies earn lots of points for their convenience. Sitting just 70 miles north of Denver, the area makes for an easy daytrip. But you could spend days exploring this park. The Rockies' magnificent landscape is one for the books, featuring 355 miles of scenic trails, 147 lakes and 77 mountains taller than 12,000 feet. Read More »

Loch Vale
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#8 Yosemite

#8 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: California's most-visited national park stands out for its bevy of awe-inspiring waterfalls, such as Vernal Fall and Bridalveil Fall, as well as unique granite rock formations like the Half Dome and El Capitan. Whatever your itinerary may be, make sure to stop by the breathtaking Tunnel View Outlook. Read More »

Colors of Yosemite
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#9 Mount Rainier National Park

#9 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: This national park's namesake comes from Mount Rainier, a 14,000-foot active volcano that is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous USA. Powder hounds will no doubt enjoy the park's winter offerings, and come springtime, surrounding valleys spout wildflowers and alpine vistas inspire awe as evergreen leaves from forests below flourish.

Mount Rainier National Park
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#10 Zion National Park

#10 in Best National Parks in the USA

Why go: This Utah national park is a paradise for thrill-seekers. Hike Angel's Landing, which brings travelers up a nearly 1,500-foot natural staircase, or trek The Narrows, a 10-mile hike through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, which requires hikers to travel upstream through the Virgin River. Read More »

Autumn at Watchman Trail
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Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park

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Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

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Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

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