The Best National Parks Worth Visiting This Year

best national parks

As a nature lover, I’m always looking for the next national park to explore. With so many beautiful parks across the country, it’s hard to choose my next destination. That’s why I put together this list of the best national parks worth visiting this year. From the soaring peaks of Yosemite to the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone, I’ve got 10 incredible parks on my must-see list. In this post, I’ll give you a preview of each one and why it’s worth the trip. Whether you’re a fan of wildlife, waterfalls, or just want to experience some of the most stunning scenery in the U.S., you’ll discover an amazing park that will inspire you to start planning your next adventure. So get ready to be wowed by the diverse beauty of America’s national parks!

Introduction to the Best National Parks in the World

As an avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast, I’ve been lucky enough to visit many of the world’s greatest national parks. If you’re planning a trip this year and want to experience some of the best natural scenery on the planet, here are my top recommendations for parks worth visiting:

Yosemite National Park is one of the crown jewels of the U.S. national park system. Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite is renowned for stunning waterfalls like the mighty Yosemite Falls and granite cliffs like the iconic El Capitan. You can hike through massive sequoia groves, camp under the stars, or just soak in the views. Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is ideal for a safari adventure. It’s home to the largest mammal migration on Earth, including millions of wildebeest and zebras. You’ll also spot lions, elephants, rhinos, and maybe even a leopard while exploring the sprawling grasslands.

New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park features breathtaking fjords, rainforests, and hiking. The Kepler Track and Milford Track are world-class multi-day hikes with alpine scenery at every turn. You can also take boat tours to spot dolphins, seals and penguins in their native habitat. The Canadian Rockies contain some of the most stunning mountain vistas on the planet. Banff and Jasper National Parks are filled with snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife like grizzly bears, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. The hiking, camping and other outdoor recreation opportunities are unparalleled.

Whether you want to spot exotic wildlife on an African safari, explore rainforests and fjords in New Zealand or hike through the Canadian Rockies, the world’s greatest national parks offer adventures for every type of traveler. Start planning your trip today – these natural wonders are worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime.

best national parks

The Top 5 National Parks in the United States

If you’re planning a trip to experience the great outdoors this year, the national parks are a perfect place to start. As an avid hiker and nature lover, I’ve been to quite a few and narrowed it down to my top 5 must-see national parks in the US.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of the oldest and most well-known national parks, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s filled with stunning waterfalls, massive sequoia groves, alpine lakes and granite cliffs. You can see some of the park’s highlights on day hikes or multi-day backpacking trips. It’s also a rock climbing mecca, with opportunities for climbers of all skill levels. No trip to Yosemite is complete without seeing the spectacular Yosemite Valley and massive El Capitan and Half Dome rock formations.

Zion National Park

Zion, in southern Utah, is a hiker’s paradise. Slot canyons, sandstone cliffs and scenic trails are around every bend. Some of the most popular hikes are to Angels Landing, with breathtaking views from atop a narrow rock fin, and through the Narrows, a gorge carved by the Virgin River. Zion is also great for camping, with two campgrounds right in the park. The massive sandstone cliffs come alive with color at sunrise and sunset, so bring your camera!

Glacier National Park

If stunning alpine vistas are your thing, head to Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Snow-capped peaks, azure blue lakes, dense forests and abundant wildlife are everywhere. One of the best ways to experience the park is to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic 50-mile road that winds through the mountains. There are also over 700 miles of hiking trails, including trails to Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake. Spotting mountain goats, bighorn sheep and even grizzly bears is common in Glacier.

Grand Canyon National Park

No list of top national parks is complete without the Grand Canyon. This natural wonder, located in northern Arizona, features colorful cliffs, buttes and spires up to a mile deep. The best views are from the South Rim, open all year round. Hike a section of the Bright Angel or South Kaibab trails for a once-in-a-lifetime experience hiking in the canyon. Or take a mule ride along the canyon rim. The Grand Canyon is also ideal for a scenic flight or sunset gazing.

Yellowstone National Park

America’s first national park is still one of the best. Yellowstone, in Wyoming, is filled with geothermal wonders like Old Faithful Geyser, massive Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

best national parks

Must-See National Parks in Europe

When I travel around Europe, I love visiting the stunning national parks. There are so many natural wonders to explore, from snow-capped mountains to Mediterranean coastlines. Here are a few of my must-see national parks in Europe:

Swiss National Park, Switzerland

Switzerland’s only national park is a hiker’s paradise. Located in the Swiss Alps, it’s filled with trails that wind through pine forests, alpine meadows and past massive glaciers. You might spot ibex, chamois or golden eagles along the way. The park has minimal infrastructure to maintain its rugged charm, so be prepared to pack in and out. Camping under the stars surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Alps is an unforgettable experience.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Croatia’s top natural attraction, Plitvice Lakes National Park, is one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever visited. It features 16 turquoise lakes connected by waterfalls that you can view from hiking trails and wooden boardwalks. The lakes were formed by calcium carbonate deposits from the surrounding limestone hills. In the summer, the lush green forests are filled with butterflies. It’s a peaceful, picturesque park that seems straight out of a fairy tale.

Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera is a colorful cluster of fishing villages nestled between rugged cliffs and the Mediterranean Sea. The Cinque Terre National Park protects this stunning stretch of coastline, filled with hiking trails, beaches, and vineyards. You can walk between the villages, sample delicious seafood pasta and local wines, and go swimming in little coves with aquamarine waters. The views of the terraced cliffs and vineyards are breathtaking. It’s a little slice of paradise and one of the most charming places in all of Italy.

If you’re planning a trip to Europe, be sure to add these spectacular national parks to your itinerary. They showcase the diverse natural beauty and landscapes of the continent, from the Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean coast. Each park offers an unforgettable experience you’ll treasure for years to come.

Cinque Terre National Par

Exploring the Natural Beauty of National Parks in Asia

As an avid hiker and nature lover, exploring the stunning national parks in Asia has been a dream of mine for years. Last summer, I finally made it happen and spent a month traveling through some of the most spectacular parks this region has to offer.

My first stop was Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China, home of the towering sandstone pillars that inspired the floating mountains in Avatar. Walking the glass bridge suspended between peaks high up in the clouds was a thrilling way to take in the otherworldly scenery. At night, the pillars were lit up and truly looked like something from another planet.

In Malaysia, I explored the 130 million-year-old rainforests of Taman Negara National Park. Trekking deep into the forest, I spotted colorful birds, mischievous monkeys swinging through the canopy, and insects of every shape and size. The lush greenery and sounds of the jungle were a welcome respite from the modern world. Highlights were camping under a sky full of stars and climbing up to the Canopy Walkway for a birds-eye view of the treetops.

My final destination was Halong Bay in Vietnam, with its towering limestone islands jutting out of the azure sea. I enjoyed sleeping on a junk boat under the twinkling night sky and rising early to kayak around the islands at dawn. The serenity and beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site made it the perfect ending to an unforgettable adventure discovering Asia’s natural wonders.

Exploring these magnificent national parks in person far surpassed my expectations. Witnessing their grandeur firsthand has given me a deeper appreciation for the diversity of landscapes on our planet and inspired me to continue seeking out wild places. I can’t wait to discover what nature has in store for me next!

Planning Your Visit – FAQs About the Best National Parks

As someone who has visited many of the top national parks, I get asked a lot of questions by friends and family planning their own trips. Here are some of the FAQs I frequently answer:

What’s the best time of year to visit?

The optimal season depends on the park, but in general:

  • Spring (April to May) and Fall (September to October) are great times to avoid big crowds while still having pleasant weather. Some parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone are especially stunning in Spring when wildflowers are blooming.
  • Summer (June to August) is the most popular but also the hottest season. Go early and be prepared for potential wildlife activity warnings. I prefer to visit parks at higher elevations like Glacier, Grand Teton and Mount Rainier in Summer.
  • Winter (December to February) offers a unique experience with fewer people and snow-capped vistas. However, many roads and facilities are closed or have limited access. Only some parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon and Death Valley stay open year-round.

How long do I need to see the park?

Again, it depends on the park size and how much you want to see and do. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Large parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon warrant at least 3 to 5 days to experience the major highlights.
  • Mid-sized parks like Zion, Glacier and Grand Teton are ideal for 2 to 3 days.
  • Smaller parks like Arches, Bryce Canyon and Crater Lake can be enjoyed in 1 to 2 days.

I would recommend researching the must-see attractions in each park and building your itinerary from there based on how much time you have. It’s better to stay longer and immerse yourself than try to squeeze too much into one short trip.

What essentials should I pack?

Be prepared for a range of conditions by packing:

  • Hiking boots, comfortable shoes, layers of clothing, jacket, shorts/pants, gloves, hat, rain jacket.
  • Bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, basic toiletries.
  • Reusable water bottle, snacks, camp chairs/blankets.
  • Maps of the park, compass, pocket knife, basic first aid kit, flashlight, extra phone charger or portable charger.
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad if camping overnight. Some parks offer lodging and dining but spots often fill up months in advance.
  • Camera to capture the stunning views and wildlife! Extra memory cards and batteries are a good idea.

With some advanced planning, the right mindset and gear, your national park adventure will create memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy! Let me know if you have any other questions.


Well, there you have it – my personal picks for the best national parks to visit this year. From the epic views in Grand Canyon and Yosemite to the surreal landscapes of Yellowstone, these parks offer incredible scenery and experiences you’ll never forget. Sure, the big names like Glacier and Zion are stunning too, but try to hit some of the underrated spots like Great Smoky Mountains as well. Wherever you go, take time to really soak in the beauty and remember we all have a duty to preserve these lands for future generations. I don’t know about you, but I already have my hiking boots on and my bags packed. Hope to see you on the trails this year!

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