Best National Parks in the World

With so much beauty to behold, it's tough to choose which natural wonders you should visit first. To help, U.S. News compiled a ranking of the best national parks in the world using reader votes and expert insights, as well as factors like accessibility, abundance of wildlife, camping opportunities and breathtaking natural landmarks. We need your input to help determine next year's ranking, so vote for your favorite destinations below. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

SUMMARY

Best National Parks in the World

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    Yosemite

    #1 in Best National Parks in the World

    Located approximately 170 miles east of San Francisco, Yosemite offers visitors a plethora of impressive natural wonders to behold. Scenic landscapes, such as the famous Tunnel View and Valley View outlooks, and renowned landmarks like Half Dome and El Capitan are just a few of Yosemite's greatest attractions. What's more, the California park boasts a whopping 800-plus miles of trails for travelers to traverse.

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    Yellowstone

    #2 in Best National Parks in the World

    With numerous attractions scattered throughout its more than 2 million acres, Yellowstone is a national treasure. This protected area in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho is America's first national park, but its age has not dulled its natural beauty. Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful continue to amaze visitors year after year, and less-crowded gems like Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake are also worth a visit.

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    Glacier National Park

    #3 in Best National Parks in the World

    Glacier National Park is Montana's crown jewel. The whopping 1 million acre park, which was named after the remains of glaciers from the last ice age, offers captivating mountainous scenery left and right. Here, you'll find more than 700 lakes, six National Historic Landmarks (including Lake McDonald Lodge, Granite Park Chalet and the Two Medicine Store) and the famous Highline Trail, which follows the Continental Divide.

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    Grand Canyon

    #4 in Best National Parks in the World

    You can't beat the views at this world-famous Arizona national park. The Grand Canyon continually wows visitors with its shifting colors, vast depth and incredible rock formations. Whether you're flying in a helicopter over the canyon, rafting down the Colorado River or simply exploring with your own two feet, the majesty of the Grand Canyon is guaranteed to leave you completely breathless.

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    Serengeti National Park

    #5 in Best National Parks in the World

    Tanzania's Serengeti National Park is the world-renowned home of The Great Migration. Every year, 2 million wildebeests and hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles cross the park in search of food and breeding grounds. Predicting when this momentous event will occur can be tricky, so if you don't have that kind of flexibility, a traditional safari is your best bet. You'll have the chance to see Serengeti's incredible landscape, as well as animals like leopards, lions, elephants, buffaloes and rhinoceroses.

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    Jasper National Park

    #6 in Best National Parks in the World

    As the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper offers no shortage of outdoor fun. Come to this Alberta national park to enjoy an array of adventure activities in summer, including hiking, biking and boating, plus snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice climbing in the winter. No matter when you visit, be sure you take some time to stargaze – Jasper is the second-largest dark sky preserve in the world.

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    Zion National Park

    #7 in Best National Parks in the World

    Most visitors travel to Utah's first national park to see stunning Zion Canyon, but the park's trails are just as impressive. Experienced hikers should traverse sky-high Angels Landing (go early in the morning for fewer people) or brave the Narrows, which is the slimmest section of Zion Canyon. For a less-strenuous climb, try the popular Canyon Overlook Trail or the Pa'rus Trail.

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    Torres del Paine National Park

    #8 in Best National Parks in the World

    You may spot animals like penguins and whales here, but the landscape is the true star of the show. Located in Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park encompasses more than 448,000 acres of stunning geographical features, such as Grey Glacier and the famous Cuernos del Paine. The most popular hikes include the W Trek and the O Circuit, which are both journeys that take a few days to complete and often require guides.

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    Masai Mara National Reserve

    #9 in Best National Parks in the World

    Located just north of Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve is easily one of the most popular safari parks in all of Africa. That's because the Kenyan reserve plays host to the famous wildebeest migration, which takes place from July to October. If you can't travel that time of year, you'll be more than pleased with a safari, where lions, cheetahs and leopards are known to make appearances. For an interesting vantage point of the sprawling landscape, consider splurging on a hot air balloon ride.

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    Grand Teton National Park

    #10 in Best National Parks in the World

    Often overlooked for its northern neighbor, Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is a not-so-hidden gem. This Wyoming destination offers enviable scenery along its miles of scenic trails, including the popular Cascade Canyon Trail and the picturesque pathways by Jenny Lake. The park also features plenty of outdoor activities for all seasons, plus opportunities to spot wildlife ranging from grizzly and black bears to bison and moose.

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    Kruger National Park

    #11 in Best National Parks in the World

    South Africa's iconic Kruger National Park is one of the most tourist-friendly game parks on the continent. Kruger is home to hundreds of animal species, including the big five – lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and rhinos – and a variety of birds. What's more, the national park boasts a variety of excursions and luxury lodges, as well as camping spots and specialty packages for honeymooners and families, meaning travelers with various budgets will be able to find something that suits their needs.

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    Guilin and Lijiang River National Park

    #12 in Best National Parks in the World

    Southern China's Guilin and Lijiang River National Park stuns visitors with its misty peaks and tranquil river scenes. You'll encounter jagged limestone-formed karst hills, as well as caves and cliffs across the park that have inspired Chinese artists and poets throughout history. Explore by river cruise for the best views of can't-miss sites like Elephant Trunk Hill, which resembles an elephant bending over to drink water with its trunk.

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    Sagarmatha National Park

    #13 in Best National Parks in the World

    Situated in the Himalayas in northeastern Nepal, Sagarmatha National park is characterized by striking mountains, sweeping valleys and impressive glaciers. Many know this national park because it's home to Mount Everest, the world's highest peak. While most travelers won't tackle a journey to Mount Everest's summit in their lifetimes (it typically costs thousands of dollars and years of hard training), there are plenty of villages to explore and guided tours and treks that can take moderate to advanced hikers through the national park to admire its beauty.

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    Rocky Mountain National Park

    #14 in Best National Parks in the World

    Spanning the Continental Divide, this 265,600-acre national park in Colorado is home to more than 350 miles of hiking trails, 140-plus lakes and the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of more than 12,000 feet. Adventurous visitors should also check out must-see spots like Longs Peak, Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain along the popular Emerald Lake Trail for spectacular views.

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    Bryce Canyon National Park

    #15 in Best National Parks in the World

    After Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon is Utah's most popular national park. This southwestern Utah wonder is awash with unique hoodoos (tall, thin spikes of rock formed by erosion), which can be found in stunning mass at the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. Take in the views at Inspiration Point, then venture into the canyon at Sunrise Point to get a closer look at the amphitheater's striking natural architecture.

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    Arches National Park

    #16 in Best National Parks in the World

    Like the name suggests, you'll find a bounty of natural arches in this eastern Utah national park – more than 2,000, to be exact. The most iconic of these stone structures are Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch. However, visitors are equally wowed by Balanced Rock and the Windows Section, the latter of which is home to the largest arches in the park.

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    Fiordland National Park

    #17 in Best National Parks in the World

    New Zealand's largest national park is awash with fjords so stunning, they'll put Norway's famous natural attractions to shame. The fjords were carved by glaciers and can be found at multiple points in the park, though the most popular places to see them are Milford and Doubtful sounds. The park also features lakes, mountains and plenty of wildlife, including owls, seals, penguins and dolphins, making it an adventure traveler's ultimate destination.

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    Haleakala National Park

    #18 in Best National Parks in the World

    Maui's Haleakala National Park offers a unique landscape for travelers to take in. The park comprises Haleakala Crater, which sits 10,000-plus feet above sea level and is visible from nearly every vantage point on the island. Its landscape includes everything from black and red lava rocks to waterfalls to lush green forests, which hikers can access via numerous trails. To have an unforgettable visit, arrive at sunrise to see vibrant colors splashed across the sky.

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    Kluane National Park and Reserve

    #19 in Best National Parks in the World

    Head to the Yukon region of Canada to discover Kluane National Park and Reserve's abundance of wildlife and incredible natural features. The national park boasts Canada's highest peak (Mount Logan) and the country's largest icefield. Plan on spending your time here enjoying activities like kayaking on Kathleen Lake, hiking along the various trails (from shorter jaunts to multiday journeys) and seeing the icefields via helicopter or propeller plane.

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    Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

    #20 in Best National Parks in the World

    Located in central Australia, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features stunning geological formations across more than 327,000 acres. Managed by the indigenous Anangu people and Parks Australia, the park welcomes visitors interested in learning about the cultural and spiritual significance of the area. Travelers can also hike, embark on ranger-led tours, go bird-watching and learn about rock art painted many centuries ago.

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