Add These 11 U.S. National Parks to Your Road Trip Bucket List

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Maybe you’re going a little stir-crazy. Maybe you just need a change of scenery. Maybe you can’t spend another second in the presence of your roommate who you know is secretly using your conditioner.

Whatever your reason is for needing to get away, you do have options.

But there is a treasure trove of national parks in our very own backyard, with swimmable lakes, snowy mountains, remote campgrounds, and plenty of space.

Keep in mind: Opening and closing times are constantly changing, and hotels, visitor centers, and entire parks themselves may be closed. Before packing your hiking gear, make sure you check the National Park Service website for info on specific state park access.

Below, we’ve listed 11 of our very favorite U.S. national parks in regions across the country, so load up the car and head to the park that’s nearest you.

Acadia National Park (Maine)

Encompassing 47,000 acres of Atlantic coast, this serene park is one of the first places in the country to see the sunrise. Home to towering spruce-fir trees, mountain-climbable cliffs, and the crystal blue Echo Lack, Acadia National Park has something for pretty much everyone —  adventure seekers, hikers, and Netflix-watchers alike.

Arches National Park (Utah)

Arches National Park is named for its otherworldly, highly-Instagrammable sandstone arches. The 76,519-acre park has more than 2,000 formations, the largest concentration in the world. And by the way — Arches isn’t Utah’s only national park. There’s also Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Canyonlands National Park — but good luck squeezing them in on one trip!

Glacier National Park (Montana)

Glacier National Park is so-named for its 25 active glaciers — which, by the way, happen to be melting fast, so you should probably visit sooner rather than later. In addition to jaw-dropping views of endangered glaciers, the one-million-acre-plus park offers ski slopes, hiking trails, and white water rafting.

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Spanning 277 miles from end-to-end, the Grand Canyon is one of those sights you need to see in person to truly understand. Arguably America’s most famous natural landmark, the Grand Canyon attracted nearly 6 million visitors last year, so the National Park Service is taking measures to promote social distancing — like closing off the Desert View entrances and halting shuttle bus operations.

Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

An hour away from Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Teton National Park often gets skipped — making it the better of the two parks when it comes to social distancing. Grand Teton may not have the hot springs or Old Faithful geyser, but the park does boast waterfalls, lakes, glaciers, and unforgettable landscapes.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

It’s the third most-visited park for a reason: Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a staggering 150 lakes and 60 mountain peaks above 12,000 feet. For a safe, socially distanced adventure, you can take the scenic drive up Trail Ridge Road, the “highway to the sky”, without leaving your vehicle.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

Volcanoes National Park encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. The park encompasses 335,259 acres of rainforests, deserts, and volcanic craters, as well as 13th-century ruins and petroglyphs.

Yosemite National Park (California)

California happens to be blessed with some of the nation’s best national parks — including Sequoia National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park — but Yosemite is our favorite.

Signed into protection by President Lincoln back in 1864, Yosemite National Park is a wonderland of waterfalls (including the highest one in North America), valleys, sequoia forests, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The park has also got the Half Dome and El Capitan, two famous granite monoliths that draw intrepid climbers from around the world.

Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Encompassing Nevada as well much of Oregon and Utah, plus certain parts of California, Idaho, and Wyoming, the Great Basin National Park is the continent’s largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds. It’s also considered to be one of the best spots in the USA for stargazing.

Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Thanks to its massive size and minimal light pollution, Big Bend offers spectacular views of stars, planets, and the Milky Way band. The 800,000-acre park contains rivers, mountains, and desert —  including the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

A short distance from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Cleveland and Akron, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park surprises with its lush forests, rolling hills, and diverse wildlife. The park is cut across by a railroad that runs scenic rides and themed trips — including the Polar Express ride.

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