If you were to put together a list of the finest “wings in the proverbial nest” of the United States, one of the most visible entries on that list would be the country’s national parks. We believe that these 15 parks are the best examples of what the national parks stand for, which includes the protection of natural wonders, archaeological sites, and delicate ecosystems. Although there are debates that can be had about which of them is the best, we believe that these 15 parks are the best examples.
1. Acadia National Park, located in Maine
The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport is the closest airport, located less than 10 miles from the park. The bigger Bangor International Airport is located a little over 46 miles away from the park. Almost 170 miles separate you from the Portland International Jetport (about three hours drive).
Acadia is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River, and although it may not have the broad majesty of its western counterparts, it more than makes up for it with its rough terrain, incredible ocean vistas, and breathtaking sunrises. The park encompasses the whole of Mount Desert Island (about half of the island is protected as parkland) and has over 125 miles of hiking trails for visitors to take advantage of. In addition, the charming town of Bar Harbor is located nearby in case you feel the need to satisfy your need for lobster.
2. Arches National Park
State: Utah The closest major airport is Salt Lake City International Airport, which is located around 230 miles away from the park. Grand Junction Regional Airport (109 miles) and Canyonlands Field are also smaller airports that are located closer (11 miles).
Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 red sandstone arches, ranging in size from very little to quite enormous. As the park’s name suggests, the arches may be found throughout the park. Each formation is an astonishing illustration of the might of Mother Nature since it was formed over eons of time by water and wind. You have most likely seen photographs of the arch that is referred to as Delicate Arch, but there are many more to take in. Since it is one of the greatest spots in the nation to see the night sky, photographers will want to camp in the area so that they may take pictures of the arches against a starry backdrop.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park
Both McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City International Airport are around 270 miles apart from the park, making them the closest major airports.
Hoodoos are the name given to the otherworldly rock formations that constitute the primary draw in Bryce Canyon National Park. The natural occurrence of formations comparable to these may be found in a great number of places around the globe, but the greatest number of examples can be seen in this park. You may take a journey through the series of canyons to reach excellent view points above the hoodoos, and then you can wander among the spires themselves on the canyon floor after your climb. A road that spans the whole of the park and is 18 miles long provides visitors with spectacular views, including those from the highest point in the park.
4. Denali National Park and Preserve is located in the state of Alaska
Both Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport are around 240 miles apart from Denali National Park, with Fairbanks International Airport being the closer of the two.
The mountain that bestows its name to Denali National Park and Preserve is appropriately referred to be the park’s “Grand Mother.” Denali is the highest peak in North America, standing at more than 20,000 feet above sea level. Not only does it provide opportunities for outdoor leisure, but it also makes for a breathtaking background in photography. The majority of the paths are not designated and are not very long; nonetheless, hikers with sufficient expertise may go off route to investigate the glacial environment.
5. The National Park Dry Tortugas
Closest airport: The Dry Tortugas ferry dock is almost 260 kilometers from Miami International Airport, which is the nearest major airport; nonetheless, Key West International Airport is the nearest airport (three miles from the dock).
There are seven smaller islands that make up Dry Tortugas National Park, as well as the historic Fort Jefferson, which takes up almost the whole space of one of the larger islands. The hexagonal fort, which was constructed in the 19th century, is one of the largest in the nation (it encompasses 16 acres), and it serves as the focal point of many tours of the park. Due to the fact that the majority of the “land” that makes up the park is really water, it is an excellent location for boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The underwater landscape has a variety of beautiful corals as well as shipwrecks.
6. Everglades National Park
The two airports that are closest to the park are Miami International Airport, which is about 56 kilometers away, and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which is approximately 91 kilometers away.
Everglades National Park has earned a reputation for being exceptional in a number of different ways. In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also one of the most extensive national parks in the United States, the most extensive tropical wilderness in the country, and the location of the mangrove ecosystem that is the most extensive in the country. The large park is well-known for the wetland areas inside it, which are home to a variety of animals, including manatees, dolphins, flamingos, panthers, and crocodiles. Canoeing or kayaking in this sensitive habitat, either on your own with equipment that you rented or as part of a trip, is often considered to be the most effective method of discovery.
7. Grand Canyon Park
The airport that is closest to the South Rim is the Flagstaff-Pulliam Airport, which is located 87 miles away. The bigger McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport are both located 263 and 229 miles away, respectively.
The Grand Canyon exemplifies the meaning of the term “epic” to its fullest extent. It is absolutely hard to have a feel for the magnitude of the canyon’s enormity without actually seeing it, however the following statistics should give you a general indication of what to anticipate: At its broadest point, the canyon is a massive 18 miles across and reaches a depth of up to one mile. With more than six million people each year, it is the second-busiest national park in the United States. As a result, the day trip destinations along the South Rim, which is quite popular, may become rather congested. If you are wanting to avoid the majority of the visitors, your best bet is to go to the North Rim or (if you are an experienced hiker) spend a couple of days trekking into the canyon itself. Both of these options are great ways to get away from the crowds.
8. Grand Teton National Park
Wyoming as a state
The Jackson Hole Airport is located less than five miles from Yellowstone National Park, while the Idaho Falls Regional Airport is around 96 miles distant from the park.
The proximity of Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park means that the latter park is often neglected, which is a pity. The name of the park comes from the summit of the highest mountain in the Teton Range, which is 13,775 feet above sea level and about 7,000 feet higher than the neighboring town of Jackson Hole. Hikers are generously rewarded with breathtaking scenery for the work of hiking those high slopes, while rafts flock to the Snake River that runs through the park. Rock climbers appreciate the rugged mountains. The best part is that you may save money by purchasing entry to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks together.
9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – included in the states North Carolina and Tennessee
Closest airport: The McGee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, is about 45 miles away from the park’s Gatlinburg entrance. The Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina is around 60 miles away from the park’s Cherokee entrance. It is around 200 miles and will take you three hours to go there from Nashville.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is visited by more than 12 million people every year, making it the most popular national park in the United States. This may not be the first national park that comes to mind when you think of the most popular national park in the United States. There’s little question that the proximity of Dollywood has something to do with it, but because a major US highway and the well-known Appalachian Trail both pass through the park, a lot of people wind up stopping there on their route somewhere else. Yet, taking advantage of the fact that entry into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is completely free and that the park itself spans an astounding 816 square miles is something that should strongly be considered while planning a vacation. There are 850 miles of hiking paths that range in difficulty, so hikers of every ability may explore the area and view waterfalls, lakes, and rivers.
10. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii as a state
The park’s location on Hawaii’s “Big Island,” which has two airports, makes it the most convenient airport for visitors. The Hilo International Airport is the primary airport that is located the closest to the park, and it is around 48 kilometers away. The biggest airport on the island, where the majority of flights to the island land, is located in Kona, which is about 130 kilometers away from the park.
If the word “volcanoes” were all the motivation you needed to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then that would be entirely acceptable; nevertheless, further information is never a bad thing to have. The park is home to two active volcanoes, Klauea (one of the most active volcanoes in the world) and Mauna Loa, both of which routinely put on performances of lava eruptions and flows that are absolutely beautiful. Klauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road both provide overlooks that gaze out over lava tubes, steam vents, and craters. Depending on the level of volcanic activity that is occurring at the time, you may even be able to stroll along the rim of the Klauea crater itself.